Archive for Cancer

Let’s do this!

Hi All!!

It feels really good to be typing again and wanting to be back in a routine! I know that the blog updates and posts have been lacking and its time to get back into the swing of things.

We all have to get back in the proverbial saddle on occasion. ūüėČ

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On that note.. I feel as though I should explain a little about the reason for the radio silence.

Unfortunately, in April I found out that I was no longer in remission.

This was the biggest sucker punch I have ever felt. Not only was cancer back that but¬†it was back in my brain.¬†BIG TIME. Really, this was the only place it could go (I’ll talk about that in a later post.) The¬†diagnosis was straight out of a horrible Hallmark Movie. The Radiation Oncologist¬†told us with a stone face less than 6 months of life, and within the month I would¬†likely be unable to fully function-as in coordination, communication, the whole gamut. He¬†gave us zero hope.

SERIOUSLY.

Here was my diagnosis: Leptomeningeal Metastases

This is not common. Here is a science-y description from http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1156338-overview

  • Leptomeningeal carcinomatosis (LC) is a rare complication of cancer in which the disease spreads to the membranes (meninges) surrounding the brain and spinal cord. LC occurs in approximately 5% of people with cancer and is usually terminal.

 

Guess who’s passed¬†6 months?? ME.

And I, along with the fam, friends, God, an amazing team of doctors, am driving this horrible disease into remission.

How?

First we cried. A LOT.

Then:

We took control.

Guess what? Doctors can be wrong and just because one guy in a white coat said I had a snowball’s chance in Hell, didn’t mean it was time to give up. We then¬†dove into research mode and decided¬†to go to the most amazing place on earth (not Disney):

 

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

 

So, here I am, six months later and still able to function fully and take care of my little family and myself. I’m also¬†debating on sending that doctor a little note letting him know he was incorrect and I’m still kicking.

I just want him to know that there are options and he should not tell people to give up.

Yes, somedays are harder than others but my treatment is working and it’s worth it! I have now gone thru 2 brain surgeries, multiple rounds of radiation, IV and oral chemo, mastectomy, reconstruction, and various other not so fun cancer related activities.

That’s the thing, all of us have trials and tribulations. We have to realize that everyday we make choices; ¬†diet,¬†exercise, getting out of bed, how we treat our neighbor, and¬†especially how we treat ourselves. And most days-even if we fail, we have to pick our selves up and try again.

That is why today I chose to type again-to put myself out here again. To advocate for this way of life and know that I am making choices to better myself and those around me by telling my story. There is no way that I could have made it this far without making choices to put myself out there, lean on those offering support, and find for what works for me.

 

And yes, I still believe I have been truly blessed.

 

 

Galveston!

Teeth, Chemo, Cutting Sugar, and Keto

Oh My!

 

This past week I went to the dentist, the hubs goes tomorrow, and our bright eyed 4 year old went today. She LOVED it!

E dentist

Keep smiling sister!

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I was a bit anxious it has been a good while since I was in ‘the chair’ and really I was a bit anxious. ¬†The longer you put off the dentist¬†the odds of serious scraping and further discomforts only increase. But the reality is, life happens. Back I went through my chemo lesson (this is when you are sat down and given a large booklet before round #1) there is a list of to-do’s and and definite to-don’ts. Right up there with¬†no crowd events, wear mask while flying, wash hands often, don’t get pregnant, was NO DENTIST.

 

Seriously. Not during treatment.

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The nurse told me if I needed to go I would HAVE to clear it with them. And likely that answer would be no. We all have heard how dirty people’s mouths are and oncologist don’t want to add mouth infection on to a patient’s¬†chart as well.

 

I’m a good student; so of course I listened. But then after chemo was surgery then expanders followed by a finish up surgery¬†make things “normal-ish.” Again, the fear of infection pushes lesser pressing things, like going to the dentist, down the taking care of yourself totem pole.

 

But get this, last week I was told, “No cavities.” NOT. ONE.

 

This is kinda a big deal for me. For a few years(before my little dentist hiatus) it was a given, would go in for a cleaning and would be walk out with a follow up filling appointment OR maybe 2. I had come to believe that I just had wimpy teeth.

 

The reality is my teeth are great-Strong like Bull. But the sugar in my diet was even stronger.

Make that Grass Fed Bull (Guess where he is now…)

 

Even though I was bushing and floss like a normal and maybe even not so normal(for years I have kept floss in my purse and car at all times.) I was still getting cavities, it was not until I changed my diet and really cut out sugar, the obvious and the not so obvious, did my dental reality change.

 

Chemo can cause major side effects on your entire body and but your mouth can really be one of the hardest hit. The effects of the drugs can cause serious dry mouth, mouth pain, bleeding gums, infection, etcetera. Fun Stuff.

 

It was not until I changed my intake of SUGAR that my dental issues subsided. I have not wavered on my dedication to this way of life, but getting the all clear from the man holding the tooth drill gave me another reason to fall in love with our lifestyle all over again.
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Constantly Learning

I met a lovely (newish) friend the other day for coffee. She is also a young breast cancer survivor and we both have young daughters, so naturally we have plenty to talk about.

 

I’m curious if anyone was to over hear us what they would think. Really. We were literally talking about hot flashes, changing bodies, diagnosis, and various other battle¬†stories. I had tears in my¬†eyes. Not the type you think, we were cracking up!


She and I are both passionate about health in general and (likely due to the cards we have been dealt) have taken extra steps to ensure that not only are we staying healthy, and have taken to poking those around us to make healthier choices too.

 

Both of us changed many every day choices that at one time may have been difficult and have turned them into second nature. Granted our motivation is a bit different than most. But what is really interesting, is we both making these changes not because of things we were told by our oncologists but rather primarily from research that we have done on our own.

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My friend is a fitness instructor, is an essential oil connoisseur, and also sells a natural¬†skin care line. So I asked her, “Do you have people interested in learning more, who haven’t had a major health issue?”

 

You can guess her response.

 

The reality is, people are not that motivated to change until something drastic and likely very scary happens. ¬†Looking back before my diagnosis, I ate basically garbage, worked out only when there was a special occasion approaching, and¬†didn’t ¬†give much regard to labels (out side of price tag) on basically anything.

 

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I believe now, after enduring chemo, radiation, multiple surgeries, and countless scans, I am healthier than I have ever been due to the diet and lifestyle changes I have made. I just honestly wish I would have woken up to what I was doing to myself before I had to go through all of that. But would I haven listened?

 

A while back someone posted on a group I follow on Facebook- If you could give one piece of advice to yourself back when you were in middle school, what would it be?  While thinking of my middle school self basically gives me the heeby jeebies. I really believe if I would have known when I was younger (like mid 20s) what I know now in regards to how to take care of myself; things likely would have been completely different.

 

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Back in my early 20s ūüôā

 

That is why today I am still constantly reading, researching, and making changes. So that in 10 or 15 years I can look back and again think how much I have learned.

 

 

T is for Turmeric

Have you heard of turmeric?

 

Turmeric is what gives curry is robust yellow color and it is one of the most incredible antioxidants known.

This orange packs a punch and can be a little messy if you spill it on your desk at work..

While going through what I wanted to say about this wonder food I located this article and its just has all the information on Turmeric and Curcumin that I would be doing you a disservice by not simply linking to this top 10 list.

http://authoritynutrition.com/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-turmeric/

Here’s is a rundown of what the article is all about. If you want to read further into ANY of the following I highly suggest you click on the link above.¬†This article is a bit sciency but I think it’s easy to understand and straightforward.

 

1. Turmeric Contains Bioactive Compounds With Powerful Medicinal Properties

2. Curcumin is a Natural Anti-Inflammatory Compound

3. Turmeric Dramatically Increases The Antioxidant Capacity of The Body

4. Curcumin Boosts Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, Linked to Improved Brain Function and a Lower Risk of Brain Diseases

5. Curcumin Leads to Various Improvements That Should Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease

6. Turmeric Can Help Prevent (And Perhaps Even Treat) Cancer

7. Curcumin May be Useful in Preventing and Treating Alzheimer’s Disease

8. Arthritis Patients Respond Very Well to Curcumin Supplementation

9. Studies Show That Curcumin Has Incredible Benefits Against Depression

10. Curcumin May Help Delay Ageing and Fight Age-Related Chronic Diseases

 

I started taking a daily supplement of Turmeric once I was diagnosed with cancer. Cancer thrives on inflammation. Turmeric (the Ketogenic Diet) and Curcumin are inflammation crushers. A great supplement can be found at Costco or through Amazon. But you can also find Turmeric in the spice and seasoning isle at most grocery stores as well.

That being said, I try to consume turmeric fairly regularly in my diet. I actually really like Indian Food and curry dishes. On occasion I will sprinkle either curry powder or straight turmeric on eggs (not too much, I don’t want my 4 year old to notice ;)) as well as add curry seasoning or turmeric to my salad along with black pepper and olive oil. A girlfriend of mine made lunch not too long ago out of chicken, avocado, and a heavy hand of curry powder. It was fantastic. Now I¬†almost¬†to add curry seasoning to my avocados. I have in the past added it to coffee making my BPC super BPC. I have a friend who grew up in a traditional Indian home and she gives her sons warm milk with a dash of turmeric before bed when she is worried about the sickies. She¬†always prefers the natural route, just as many of us do, especially when it comes to people in footed pajamas.

 

We could all benefit from less inflammation in our lives; especially those dealing with chronic pain, arthritis, and cancer. Adding this spice into your diet, tea, or vitamin box is one of the easiest and most natural ways to feel better.

 

 

Someone I Love Just Diagnosed, Now What?

There are so many articles and videos about what to and what not to say to certain people- Pregnant women, someone who just lost a spouse, first time parents, stay at home moms, working moms, and the list goes on.

Here is MY¬†version of what to say or do when someone you love has just been diagnosed with cancer. There are actually full books on this topic-but like any thing not 100% universal. I’ve read to not tell a cancer patient they look, “Too healthy to have cancer.” ¬†I actually loved hearing that.

 

Say:

 

“I love you.” This is universal and easy ūüôā Cancer can feel extremely isolating, but knowing that people are still thinking about you as they carry on with their day-to-day is nice.

 

“Can I help ¬†you with _____?” Be specific, for example: When can I bring over dinner? Do you want me to watch the kiddos for an evening? Can I come over Wednesday afternoon¬†if you want to get out of the house or take a nap.

 

“Let me know when your next treatment¬†is, I’ll come sit with you.” HUGE! Having that friend or loved one sitting next to you is so nice. You can even Be that super friend and bring a blanket and a trashy magazine.¬†Very few (if anyone) wants to be the alone person in the treatment room. Honestly,¬†you don’t have to stay the whole time or even talk the whole time – just having you there is AMAZING.

Positive stories – DO NOT tell the story of someone that died or got this crazy infection after surgery. ¬†Seriously?! ¬†We are already scared, even if we don’t say it. Yes, this happens – A LOT!

 

If you stick your foot in your mouth (SO EASY TO DO) just apologize and move on.

 

 

DO:

 

Pray.

 

Send a card or a note- I still have all of mine in a box.

 

Call/text. Even if your reach out doesn’t get returned, try¬†again a few days or week later. Even let them know in your message that the call doesn’t have to be returned, you¬†just wanted to¬†say hi¬†and see how it was going.

 

Bring over dinner, do laundry. Try to be helpful, but not intrusive.

 

Please don’t complain about¬†little things that the person getting treatment would be grateful for – needing¬†your hair¬†done was¬†something I overheard in a treatment room once. ¬†Grrrrrrr…

 

Remember the whole family is affected, not just the one getting chemo. Think about the spouses and kids Рthis is REALLY hard on them too.  A book, some golf balls, small toy, coloring book; these things can uplift in a matter of moments.

 

 

Do NOT start looking up statistics and diagnosis outcomes on Google – you can, and likely will, end up in some very dark places.

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Cancer is incredibly hard on the person going through treatment and the ones that love them. Being there for your friend or the one you love is really all they want. I was absolutely amazed by the love and thoughtfulness that my family and I received when we went through diagnosis, treatment, and recovery.

 

I can speak from first-hand experience that I did lose friends when they found out I had cancer.  I get it.  Crummy, but I get it.  Being a friend or loved one of someone going through cancer is hard.  Watching them morph before your eyes is hard.  Not knowing if they will be okay is hard.  They may, and likely will, be a different person after they have traveled this road.

 

The reality is – being there for a loved one or friend is not always easy, it’s not always sunshine moments. Sometimes it’s just hot sad tears. But being that solid person¬†that sticks around through the really hard and¬†low times makes those¬†laugh-til-you-cry moments even better.

Get a Little Sunshine

 

 

When I was diagnosed with cancer in September 2013 one of the very first things my oncologist tested me on was my level of vitamin D.

It was off the charts low. This really should have been no surprise with amount I was working in a cube everyday and making sure to fully coat myself in sunscreen when I (infrequently) played outdoors. I had wrecked havoc on my level of the oh-so-important sunshine Vitamin. I was given a prescription to bring my level up to optimum amounts.

 

This deficiency is incredibly common. Not just for cancer patients but for most people that spend most of their time in doors and likely too much time in front of a screen.

 

Vitamin D is incredibly important for basically every cell in our body especially that of our immune system.

 

Think about cold and flu season, typically during the short day cold weather months where most are covered and bundled if outside at all.

But so many of us are scared to be outdoors or without sunscreen due to the fear of skin cancer. The reality is the threat of skin cancer is very real and very dangerous. I have met several skin cancer patients in treatment rooms getting very significant doses of chemo.

 

I am not advocating tossing the sunscreen! But what I am advocating is that we give ourselves a little time without it. Enough to satisfy our bodies need for the sun.

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Think about that warm comfortable feeling when the sun first hits your skin. This feeling doesn’t last that long maybe 10-20 minutes (for fair skinned.)The best way I can describe it is therapeutic. ¬†Turns out that’s because it is! I am talking about the time before you start to get pink or hot, and definitely well before you burn!

 

The amount of sun time a person needs varies from person to person, just as our skin tone itself. Pasty folks like me may need as little as 15 minutes to get their vitamin D fix for the day where as darker skinned person may need a couple hours. The Vitamin D Council  goes into depth about the variables. This site even has a suggested amount of sun time needed based on your skin tone and location.

Image result for terrier in the sun

I think he’s on to something here.

As another survivor told me, “It’s hard for cancer to live in a body getting a bunch of¬†Vitamin D.” She has recently celebrated her 5 year cancer free status and throughly enjoys her time gardening outside and taking daily walks.

 

Here are my suggestions:

  1. Daily get outside and get a bit of sunshine-drink your coffee outside, watch part of your kids game or practice in the sun, roll down the windows, open the blinds
  2. Get your Vitamin D level tested*
  3. Consider taking a Vitamin D3 Supplement
  4. When playing outside all day-WEAR sunscreen/cover up!

 

 

As with most of the tests taken at your doctors office-shoot for optimum not for normal. “Normal” doesn’t necessarily mean healthy it’s based on the average person’s numbers¬†including cube dwellers.

Enter (and stay for 10+ hours) at your own risk.

 

My Diagnosis Story (Cliff’s Notes Version)

While it may not quite be October, it’s close.

 

October is for pumpkins, the leaves start to change, and it begins¬†to cool off down here in south Texas. It’s also Breast Cancer awareness month.

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Daughter’s Halloween Costume 2013

Today I thought I would begin start the pink month a little early and share the cliffs notes version of my my diagnosis story.

 

The reason I changed the way I eat (and even look at food) was because in September 2013 I was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. At the time, I was 31, mom to a 1 year old, and healthy (so I thought.) My numbers were always in the good to optimal range despite my lack of working out and watching what I ate. I didn’t really think too much about my health in general. I didn’t even have a general practitioner.

 

My daughter was about 18 months old when I visited my OB. We were trying to have #2, and for some reason or another, my plan wasn’t playing out like I wanted. After the normal inspection, she gave me the green light and told me it may just take longer this go round. Then I told her about the lump in my left breast. “Nothing” she told me, likely cystic and something a woman my age should not worry about.

 

That was that, and on my way I went.

 

A few months go by, and this lump, which my doctor brushed off as “no big deal” was now something¬†I could feel as it pressed into my arm when I laid down.

 

I decided to go back. There was something inside that told me I needed to. The last thing I wanted to hear was that I was over reacting, but I really knew something had to be going on inside.

 

I went back and saw the nurse practitioner. She agreed that I was not crazy and actually pointed out a second lump. She said that likely they were nothing but that she would send me for imaging to be sure.

 

The following week I went into imaging. My no big deal ultrasound changed from a chat session into something else as the technician started getting quieter and quieter. I remember her leaving the room and scrambling to get my doctor on the phone to order a mammogram.

 

All the jokes about the mammograms are justified. That was an experience I will never forget. I’ll leave it at that.

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I then waited to speak to the radiologist. She was in a darkened room with a wall of screens. Those screens were the images I had just taken and to her they were “Very Concerning.”

 

If there was ever an “I told you so,” moment I¬†didn’t want to have it was now.

 

In the following weeks more imaging, biopsies, blood draws, and tests. None of the results came back the way we wanted at the time. It was definitely cancer, and it had spread. Significantly.

 

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Not your typical cancer patient

 

The moral of the story and why I share it, is because, likely I would not be here had I not followed my gut. I am not the “typical cancer patient”, and I am frequently reminded of that in waiting and treatment rooms. But I knew something was wrong well before I was diagnosed. I had to be the¬†squeaky wheel to get something I knew I needed.

 

When it comes to your health,¬†YOU¬†have to take care of it. Not only before and after your doctor’s appointment but also during. SPEAK UP, if you have questions, ask them if you are not satisfied, do something about it. Be that patient that errs on the side of annoying.

 

I have learned so much about healthcare, doctors, insurance, and time. While there are no blanket statements for any of these things, what I can say is that taking care of yourself is your responsibility and hopefully a priority. No one can do it better than you.

 

New (School) Year Resolutions

The kids are heading back or have headed back to school, and in so many ways it feels like a new year in general. The new school year brings on thoughts similar to that of the new calendar year.

What are you going to do differently?

One of the easiest things you can do is to add in healthy fats.

Toss the margarine –¬†along with any other vegetable oil spread or Crisco type products. ¬†What¬†is that stuff anyhow?!



Bring back butter! The real stuff – preferably grass fed. Have you heard of Kerrygold? It’s amazing, and I know more than a few people who eat this stuff straight off their knife.

 

Try coconut oil.  If you have not heard of the amazing health benefits of coconut oil, there are countless websites that are singing the praises of this superfood! Authority Nutrition has a top 10 list. Add it to your coffee, use it place of your conditioner or moisturizer Рreally this stuff is down right great.

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Bring back whole milk and cream. Quit using sugar water skim milk in your coffee, enjoy your coffee and/or tea with heavy cream or at least half and half. You will enjoy the cup so much more. Reading the ingredients on the bottle of non-dairy creamer likely requires a degree in chemistry.

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If the kiddos are on skim and are whole milk phobic, try to stair step them up. Up it to 2% and then whole. Before they realize it, they will be in whole milk Heaven.

 

We will post more ideas in the upcoming days and weeks!

 

Have a great new school year!

 

Spreading the Word!

Erin and I are super passionate about health and healthy eating!  We have both struggled with sugar addiction and were able to kick the habit.

We love sharing our stories and are super excited about our “Sweet Surprise” discussion tomorrow at Fit Fusion Studio.

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Please join us Thursday, August 27th at 9:00 AM!

Cindy will be sharing both stories about how sugar wreaked havoc in both lives, and how changing your eating habits can change your life for the better!

 

Send your friends, your parents, your kids and your siblings!  It is FREE!

A Natural Way to Settle a Tummy

We have all been there – you know you’re not sick but your stomach is just… off.

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I remember when growing up, the go-to would be 7-Up. Not exactly Keto Friendly.

 

There are a TON of medicinal remedies, and back before being diagnosed with the Big C, I would have reached for the “pink stuff.” But these days I’m trying to be nicer to my insides and make healthier and more natural choices.

Today has been one of those days, and I have been sipping on Ginger Tea. There are MANY varieties that can be found in the coffee and tea aisle, but it is also incredibly easy to make at home.

 

What you need for a single serving of super simple Ginger Tea:

  • 1 1‚ĀĄ2 cups boiling water
  • 1 1‚ĀĄ2 teaspoons freshly grated or sliced ginger root

Boil your water, add the grated ginger, and let it steep for roughly 10 minutes.

Strain out the ginger, and you are ready to sip!Image result for ginger tea  images

 

 

**This is a starting point – adjust the amount of ginger to your taste.

 

Ginger is great for you, and while for some it can be an acquired taste, it’s ability to settle a tummy is amazing. I absolutely loved ginger ale, but once I cut out sugar, it had to go.

 

The source of my recent onset of nausea is related to my radiation treatment. I was told that due to the location of the radiated tumor I would likely experience nausea and vertigo. This is all new territory for me! I was extremely lucky to not experience morning sickness, but I have several friends who are dealing with not just morning but all day sickies. Y’all are troopers!! This is NO FUN! ¬†The ginger tea is great for that too though.

 

I will post more about my treatment in the future. I have completed radiation but have several other balls still in the air about the next steps.

 

http://dailynaturalremedies.com/10-health-benefits-of-ginger/

 

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