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Two Rethinkers Sound Off On Dry January

By Rethink Breast Cancer January 10 2019

It’s January, which means most people are talking about their new cleanse or lack of something else. More green juice. Less sugar. No alcohol in January. Wait, what? In all seriousness, we’re here for being influenced by January’s restart mode but only if it’s something you believe in.

Take Dry January, where people give up the drink as a way to either balance things out after a “busy” holiday season or simply use when resolving to drink less in the new year. We’re no strangers to the idea as it can serve as a good reset button. But for others, it just feels restrictive.

So, we asked two Rethinkers for their opposing point of views on Dry January. Here’s what they had to say:

 

“I don’t participate in Dry January because I like drinking alcohol.”

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago, my doctors told me to limit my alcohol consumption (as recurrence is lower in those who do). To be honest, it has been really hard for me because of the social aspects it represents in my life. One of my favourite pastimes is to try a new brewery or go on a winery tour with my husband. We always buy a few of our favourite bottles to save for a special occasion and relive the fun we had when we enjoy them at home. Every celebration and adult milestone is accompanied by cheersing with alcohol – yes, I know you can cheers with something other than booze but it doesn’t feel as celebratory for me.

We all make decisions daily that affect our health, cancer or no cancer. What I focus on all year long is to make sure I exercise at least three hours a week and eat mostly fresh, whole, and organic food. I try to make the best decisions for me, but trying to be “perfect” is stressful in itself. So instead, I’m focusing on doing my best without the guilt. If I want that glass of wine while I watch the new season of The Bachelor, I’m going to have it!

Just because I had cancer doesn’t mean that I feel the need to eliminate alcohol from my life. However, I can be cognizant of how much I’m drinking and drink responsibly. I figure we only live once and I want to enjoy it.                                                           

– Emily 

 

“My Dry January (more like dry life) began the moment I was diagnosed last February.”

Hearing the word CANCER come out of my surgeon’s mouth was enough of a shock to for me to say bye to the bottle. And bye to bad habits. Not only do I say no to alcohol, I say no to cookies and potato chips and cheese and cured meats and fried foods. And yes to healthier choices across the board.

The role alcohol played in my past life was a very social one. After work drinks, summer cider festivals, and boozy brunches were all mainstays on my social calendar. Even my book club is called “Read Between the Wines”. The hardest part of going dry has certainly been navigating the social landscape without making my alcohol free choices the center of the conversation. There is so much social pressure to join in on libations, something I myself have been guilty of in the past. However, with the help of lime with soda, I’ve been able to still do most of the things I did before.

What has affirmed this as the right decision for me is that this new lifestyle provided me with an instant reward of feeling healthier. In the past, even two drinks with friends would leave me feeling groggy and less sharp the next day. Now I can wake up the day after a wedding ready to take on the day. Not only has the decision empowered me to I feel like I am doing everything I can to ward off a recurrence, but it has also positively impacted my overall health and enabled me to lead a more active lifestyle.

So yes, there was some initial awkwardness to overcome, but I feel so much better overall that the benefits of going dry are worth it for me. I am painfully aware that good habits don’t guarantee good health, but so much of my control was snatched away from me when I was diagnosed, so this is a small way I am able to take some of my agency back in a chaotic situation.

– Shauna