Archive for Treatment

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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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.

 

 

Atkins Vs Keto


The reason we started consulting with individuals, families, and groups is because we absolutely love the positive changes we have been able to make in our lives and those around us. Really, we just had to share.
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One of the most common questions we get is, “What is the difference between this (Keto) and Atkins?

 

Many aspects are similar between Keto and the Phase 1 and 2 of Atkins.

 

I actually really like the book, The New Atkins for a New You, by Colette Heimowitz. This book was my reference for this post.

The New Atkins Made Easy: A Faster, Simpler Way to Shed Weight and Feel Great -- Starting Today!

 

Dr. Robert Atkins gained a significant amount of weight after starting his medical practice, and through research, created a diet that was based on the removal of sugar and starch from meals. Atkins believed that starchy carbohydrates were the main culprit of weight gain.

Dr Atkins

Atkins has four phases:

Phase 1 Induction: Dropping the carbs, increasing the healthy fats, and watching the calendar. Keep carb count between 18 and 22‚ÄďBasically totally Keto!

 

Phase 2 Balancing: Add carbs back into your diet in 5 gram increments until weight loss levels slow. For some people, this can mean as high as 70 to 80 grams of carbs per day. (Kinda Keto depending on where you fall)

 

Phase 3 Pre-Maintenance: Add more carbs back into the diet in 5 to 10 gram increments until you are in your weight happy place.

 

Phase 4 Life time Maintenance: Transition to a way of eating that you can do forever. Adjust carbs as needed, hormonal changes, age, etc.

 

Dr. Atkins, in my humble opinion, was brilliant and way ahead of his time. He also did not die of a heart attack or stroke, he died from a Traumatic Brain Injury. He died after slipping on ice at the age of 72.

 

I also believe he is likely doing summersaults in his grave with all these Atkins boxes, bars, and packaged meals (oh my!) ¬†These were not his intention at all! ¬†Let’s stay away from pre-packaged please!

 

The Ketogenic Diet, on the other hand, came to be much earlier, around the 1920’s and was established more for therapeutic reasons, initially for Pediatric Epilepsy. The Ketogenic diet being prescribed to seizure prone children has since declined with the rise of anti-convulsion drugs that have been developed.

 

The Ketogenic Diet is wonderfully effective for weight loss, but has so many more benefits.

 

I personally started this diet once I was diagnosed with breast cancer. ¬†Cindy started after struggling with PCOS and being diagnosed as pre-diabetic. ¬†The therapeutic benefits of the Ketogenic Diet can help most people, if they chose to do it for a short amount of time or even decide to become “lifers” like we have.

 

On Keto, you limit your sugar and carb intake to roughly 20 grams or try to keep it at 5% of your food. 70% of what you eat should be fat, and the remaining 25% protein.

 

The way I have approached Keto was to consume fat and above the ground veggies. I do not worry too much about the actual macro nutrient counts (grams.)

 

Keto and the beginning phases of Atkins have the same theme. However, Adkins on face value, does not stress the importance of adding high quality fat and keeping people feeling satisfied.

Fats that fight fat

Cindy and I both also feel very strongly about the quality of our food. While neither of us are perfect, we try to consume and serve our families as little processed food as possible.

 

The benefits of our new way of life have truly been astounding. I believe we have added years to our lives, become so much more efficient, and all around feel a ton better. Having clearer skin and weight loss were just an amazing bonus.

 

If you would like to learn more about our way of living, the therapeutic benefits of Ketosis, or just how to quit the sugar addiction please contact us.

Health Nuts

Health Nuts

 

 

‘Stock’ Pile Your Health Arsenal!

I have started hearing some sounds of fall, football, leaves crunching,squirrels scurrying all across my roof, way too early Christmas commercials, and those raspy sniffly coworkers.

That’s right.

It’s that time of year!¬†

 

Dealing with those under-the-weather-friends is similar to most everything else; meaning that the best offense, is a great defense.

 

Image result for go broncos

Sorry, I had to throw in some football.

 

One of the absolute best ways to take care of yourself this time of year is to regularly drink grass-fed bone broth. The vitamins, minerals, and overall good health feeling of this wonder drink can really make a difference in your immune system function.

I usually have a solid stock pile of my broth¬†as well bones in my freezer. I have purchased ‘just’ bones before from a grass-fed farmer as well as buffalo bones from Whole Foods. Yes I am that serious about my broth.¬†But more recently, when Cindy and I had our cow butchered, we had them box the bones for us as well. These bones are AMAZING!

Right now, we have enough bones to last us a very long time. Annnddd provide us with ample to share with friends and family that might need help getting over one thing or another. ¬†I love sharing this stuff. ¬†Plus, here in south Texas, we are predicted to have a nice wet fall this year, so really you can’t have too much in your keeping healthy arsenal!

 

Making broth/stock is SUPER simple, and not at all, labor intensive. The hardest part is finding storage space once you realize how great this stuff makes you feel.

 

Here is my super simple Bone Broth recipe:

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Bone Broth

Ingredients:

  • 3 to 5 pounds grass-fed beef bones (soup bones) and/or knuckle bones
  • ¬Ĺ cup raw apple cider vinegar (ACV)
  • filtered water
  • 3 celery stalks,
  • 3 carrots, halved
  • 3 onions, quartered
  • Sachet of herbs (parsley, peppercorns, thyme, rosemary, Bay leaf, etc)-you can also omit here and just add to your mug when you drink.

Method:

  1. Roast Bones at 400 for 30 minutes to 1 hour until fragrant
  2. In a large stock or crock pot, place roasted bones, and pour in cool filtered water to cover.  Add your apple cider vinegar.  Do not heat yet.
  3. Allow mixture to rest for 30 minutes to an hour.  This will allow the vinegar to pull the nutrients from bones.
  4. Bring the pot to a boil, and add more water if needed
  5. Reduce to a low simmer, cover, and cook for 24-72 hours – just leave it going!
  6. With about four hours remaining, add the vegetables
  7. During the last 30 minutes of cooking, toss in the herb sachet-or omit and add as you drink.
  8. Remove bones, veggie, and herb sachet (knock out any remaining marrow back into broth)
  9. Pour broth through a strainer or cheese cloth into a glass container

Drink with generous amounts of quality Himalayan or Celtic salt, or use in any recipe calling for broth, stock, or added water.

The broth can be consumed immediately and stored in the fridge up to 5 to 7 days.  You can also store in the freezer up to 6 months.  We like to freeze into ice cubes so we can pop them in a mug to reheat when needed.

When reheating, bring broth back up to boiling for one minute.

Enjoy!

 

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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.

Image result for mammogram joke

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.

 

A Natural Way to Settle a Tummy

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

Image result for feeling unwell stomach

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/

 

The Warrior Continues Her Cancer Battle!

Warrior Button

What a difference a week can make!

Last Wednesday, we received a phone call at dinner telling us that we needed to get Erin and Charlie’s daughter, Elise, from the neighbor. ¬†Charlie had to call EMS because Erin had a seizure after a completely normal day at work.

Imagine, waking up to a regular schedule, getting ready for work, dropping the kids at school, working all day, returning home thinking about dinner, and boom, your world is black.  This is what happened to Erin last week.  A normal day, and then she awakened in the Emergency Room with no memory of how she arrived there.

As family descended, the discussion centered on a panic attack, because she had experienced a few over the past three months, or so we thought. ¬†In fact, as Erin and I worked on the conception¬†of The Sweet Life Sugar Free the very first night, I witnessed her first “attack.” ¬†Her hands were shaking as she tried to type, and she got flustered. ¬†We took a break and discussed her day. She had experienced a hectic day at work and was not able to drink her water, take her supplements, or eat anything substantial. ¬†She drank two bottles of water and took some magnesium and potassium. ¬†She was obviously dehydrated, and possibly excited and nervous about starting our new venture. ¬†After a few minutes she felt better, and we got back to work as our girls played “Princess” in the adjacent room. ¬†Later that evening, as she was leaving the house, she came to get me because she couldn’t buckle Elise into her carseat or get her keys into the ignition of her car. ¬†She said she just “couldn’t get her hands to do what she was telling them to do”. ¬†I gave her yet more water, and she and Elise stayed for the night.

Illustration depicting a sign with a dehydration concept.

The next day, Erin was better and carried on as normal.

About a month ago, she called me from home early in the afternoon, and told me she had the same experience at work and had to leave because she couldn’t type. ¬†“My hands just aren’t working,” she said. ¬†This time she chalked it up to too much coffee and being nervous about her upcoming PET scan. ¬†Again, she slept and felt better the next day.

She was certain that both of these “panic attacks” centered around her anxiousness about her PET Scan on May 13, 2015, dehydration, lack of nutrients, and too much coffee. ¬†Makes sense, right?

I reread her post yesterday from May 15th, which discussed her clear PET scan, and how she was thanking Cancer for helping her have courage and appreciate the little things in life. ¬†She was so relieved when the scan came out clear just one short month ago. ¬†She closed her post by telling Cancer, “You are not welcome back!”

Fast forward to last Wednesday evening. ¬†I had Elise (Erin and Charlie’s daughter) and my¬†kids at home, and my husband, Chip, returned from the hospital at 11:30 pm after sitting with Erin’s husband, and his cousin, Charlie. ¬†Erin was awake, and they were awaiting the results from the CT Scan. ¬†As soon as Chip¬†walked into the bedroom, he received a phone call from his aunt in Denver that he needed to return to the hospital immediately…the CT results did not look good. ¬†There were two spots. ¬†I sat straight up in bed, and all I could think was, “No!” ¬†She had a panic attack, right? ¬†And, it certainly couldn’t be Cancer because she just received an “All Clear” on May 13th! ¬†That was less than one month ago! ¬†She was doing everything right! ¬†There was no way – the radiologist had to be wrong!

I got updates throughout the night without much information.  As with many diseases, the waiting is horrible, terrible, endless.  No one tells you anything.  (Doctors, take note!) Chip returned home again about 6:30 am with no more information, other than Erin was scheduled to be transported to a different hospital.  They had been waiting for hours for the transport so she could get an MRI which would show more detail in the brain.  The hope was that the CT was showing something insignificant.  She was to be observed by her oncologist and an awaiting Neurosurgeon.  Everyone was just waiting, in holding mode, as if the clock remained still.  Finally, she was transported about 8:30 am, on Thursday morning and taken to the MRI.  Then, more waiting.  At this point, more family members were on planes making their way to Texas.

In the meantime, Erin’s oncologist arrived and had taken a look at the CT scan. ¬†She told Erin and Charlie that it appeared the Cancer from the breast had taken root in the brain. ¬†Basically, Breast Cancer in the brain. ¬†I know what you are thinking…what about the clear PET scan? ¬†I hope you are as outraged as the rest of us were. ¬†The response was, “Insurance only covers a scan from the neck down.” ¬†I was stunned! ¬†Are you kidding me? ¬†They were told that day, for the first time by Erin’s oncologist, that 1 in 10 Breast Cancer patients with HER2 breast cancer, develop tumors in the brain! ¬†(Click here for more information on HER2.) ¬†Yet, they don’t scan for this? ¬†It is absurd! ¬†It was disturbing to all of us there that not only do they not scan the brain, but that Erin was never told to watch for symptoms or told that this was a possibility. ¬†All of these “panic attacks” she was having were small seizures caused by the tumors! ¬†Outrage, contempt, and anger seized every muscle and nerve in my body! ¬†No mention, no¬†warning, no prevention – is that really what we call healthcare?

We also all learned that the tumors have more than likely been in her brain this whole time.  Since the beginning of the story!  I did not know that the particles in the chemotherapy cannot travel up the brain stem, therefore, leaving the brain as a free for all.  The rest of her body is completely clean, and looks great, according to all the doctors.  Seeing that the tumors in the brain are breast cancer tumors, they had to get there before she started chemotherapy almost two years ago since the rest of her body is cancer free.  They were trapped in the brain without a chance of being eliminated by the chemotherapy and treatments she was receiving for the rest of her body!

Later in the day, the neurosurgeon entered the room and gave Erin the news that, yes, there were definitely two tumors in the brain, and there was an additional one near the brain stem for a total of three.  She was scheduled for brain surgery the next morning at 10:30 am.  Not much time to think, which was good for Erin, and probably everyone in the room for that matter!  He was going to be able to remove the two higher tumors, but would have to do radiation for the third because it was too close to the brain stem.  It is by the grace of God, and the advantage of a Ketogenic diet, that the tumors did not raise their evil heads until two years later, spread, or cause more havoc.  Erin is still a believer!  She was able to recover from her earlier surgeries before she had to do this one!  This VERY big one!  Whew, this was a lot to swallow! More Cancer and Brain Surgery in less than 24 hours!  We all thought she was fine!

Friday roles¬†around, and thanks to many prayers, and an excellent neurosurgeon, nurses and staff, “the surgery could not have gone more smoothly,” according to the surgeon! ¬†Praises for everyone in that operating room, all of her caregivers, and more than anything, the strength of our amazing warrior, Erin! ¬†She is amazing!

Warrior

The day after surgery, she was up walking, and ready to go home. ¬†A little impatient, maybe, but strong as an ox! ¬†She was not waiting or relying on anyone! ¬†In fact, she said to me, “I just really don’t like asking others to do things for me!” ¬†Really?!?! ¬†She had just come out of brain surgery! ¬†We are all still in awe at her strength and determination. ¬†It is going to take an army to get her to sit still and recuperate. ¬†She was able to come home yesterday, and already talking about paint colors, as she stared from her chair to¬†her fireplace. ¬†“Goodness!” was all I could say and smile.

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My what a difference a week makes, and what a week it has been for my dear friend!  She is not just a fighter, but a warrior.  She is not just a patient, but a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a mighty encourager for those suffering through cancer, those that have fought the same battle, and those that may in the future.  If only the insurance companies could see through the patient to the person.

Erin stands without fear and encourages the rest of us!  May this be an encouragement to everyone that the battle carries on, and Erin will fight not only for herself, but for all the others out there as well!  Be strong you amazing woman!  You will win this battle, if only by your own will and determination!  I have no doubt, and I love you dearly!  You ARE an amazing warrior!

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And yes, this is Erin yesterday Рafter brain surgery just four day earlier!  Amazing!!!