During Lisa Kalison's childhood, the food on her family's dinner table and between-meal snacks resembled the kinds of foods that recently made a big splash on Food Revolution, Jamie Oliver's new TV show. "I don't know how I survived childhood," laughs the founder of Discovery Screening, "because I was a 'sugarholic' who grew up on Ding Dongs and Twinkies by the box, Big Macs, Jell-O, Kool-Aid and soda pop. I must have eaten at least a pound of sugar a day."
Kalison gives thanks every day that she awoke to her bad eating habits at age 21, after her first intestinal cleanse, now part of her health and wellness regimen. "When I realized 30 years ago how much better I could feel and how my energy improved from cleansing, I set myself on a preventive health trajectory, eating mostly raw and organic foods and opting for procedures like thermography as part of my regular health checkups," advises Kalison.
In 2007, after finding a cyst on the outer edge of her left breast near her rib cage, Kalison made an appointment with her gynecologist for a breast palpation exam. The doctor confirmed the lump and referred her to a surgeon. "I felt like she was skipping a very important step," notes Kalison, who called the surgeon to review her options—mammogram first, then one of three possibilities: needle aspiration, biopsy or lumpectomy.
"I was diligent about my preventive health measures and had never had such a scare before," Kalison recalls, "but I knew intuitively and from my research that the radiation of a mammogram wasn't good for my breast tissue. I also discovered that only thermal imaging can show inflammation, usually the first sign of trouble, which is why I decided on a thermogram first. Thermal imaging showed no inflammation in the area of the cyst, and that was a major relief."
As an extra precaution, Kalison followed up with an ultrasound. To her surprise, it showed a second fluid cyst in one breast and three in the other. "My extensive research on breast procedures convinced me that 40 to 60 percent of them are unnecessary and that 'benign fluid cysts' come and go, often without notice, because they are malleable, like water balloons," explains Kalison, whose cysts disappeared within months.
Kalison's experience with thermography affected her deeply. Impressed with medical infrared thermal imaging, its non-invasive early risk assessment and its ability to detect inflammation, vascular change, lymph activity and abnormal physiology changes, she chose to become a certified clinical thermographer. Today, her Avoid Breast Cancer seminars inform women that their lifestyle, especially their stress levels and what they eat, affects their breast health. "I'm passionate about saving breasts and saving lives with thermal imaging, not only because of my experience, but because my mother had her first benign fluid cyst removed at 17 and couldn't breastfeed me beyond three days," explains Kalison. "She had lumpectomies to remove two more benign cysts and couldn't breastfeed my sister at all."
Adamant about gaining support for a grassroots movement to promote thermography as standard breast care, Kalison is on a mission. "I just want women to keep their breast friends," she says.