First Love #MFRW


Welcome to week 42 of the 52-week MFRW blog hop – My First Love. Wow – do you realize there are only ten -TEN weeks left in the year??? Holy moly where did the time go?

My first love . . . hmmm. Does that mean the first man I fell in love with?  That would be my husband of 32 years, and we dated for 6 years before that.

Does it mean my first love as in God and Jesus? That should be all of our first loves, but I don’t really think that is what it is referring to in this blog hop. Although, if you are writing Christian romance for Steeple Hill, then I guess that would be a suitable topic.

OR does it mean my first love in reading? Sometimes I get confused as to what the intent was for these prompts, like the week about the open door, yeah I totally missed that one!

I need to think over a cup of joe while I sort this out in my head. In the meantime,  you can listen to this:

Alright, coffee consumed and I think I will share about my first love – my hubby. After all, our view about romance and how romance works is filtered through our own perceptions. I will be breaking a rule by sharing this because the hubs doesn’t like for me to talk about him, or us, on the blog.

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I was fifteen years old when I was crushing on this gorgeous hunk. Muscles, oh my! Ripped abs, bulging biceps, but not too bulky. His voice – a deep rich baritone, think Lou Rawls!

His sexy grin sent shivers down my spine before he ever cast a look in my direction. He was the Captain of his football team, I was a band geek. I never thought in a million years he would even look my way and was speechless when he asked me out. Please understand, for me to be speechless is a feat!

He had a full head of thick luscious hair, and back in the 80’s, his hair brushed his shoulders. Our first 3 dates were Friday night – school dance, Saturday night – my school dance, and Sunday – a bowling outing with our youth group from church.

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I was a goner from the first kiss. Man, can he kiss! The kind of toe-curling, knee popping, my insides turn to mush kiss.

This is one of my favorite photos of the hubs, taken long before we were married. He had been working on his car – a 64 Chevy Impala SS, you can see he’s inside the engine compartment and had been laying on the ground beneath the car.  He wasn’t too thrilled with my photography, but I just love this shot!

But, you know . . . true love is more than the physical relationship. We connected. We talked. We shared common interests while maintaining individual interests. He still loves sports, I don’t. I still love the creative crafty stuff, he is meh.

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We’ve had our share of ups and downs, highs and lows. This year has been a lot of lows, but through it all, he’s been my rock. I don’t know that I could have made it through all this cancer stuff if he hadn’t been my biggest supporter, encourager, hand holder, chauffeur, and above all, my best friend.  He was willing to shave his head with me for support!

He puts up with all of my quirks. I’ve put on a lot of weight since we first began dating and he’s rarely complained. If anything, he encourages me to be healthy and regularly tells me I can do it!

True love goes so far beyond the physical attraction, it’s difficult to put into words for the younger crowd. When you find someone who loves you and wants to be with you even though they know your flaws, your hang-ups, and every one of your bad habits. . . . that is true love and worth hanging onto.

This is the kind of love that inspires me to write love stories,  to write romance. This is what inspires me to face the next day when I’m tired of being a pincushion, tired of Dr’s offices, and tired of facing yet another change caused by cancer.

We aren’t wealthy financially by any means, but when I count my blessings,  I feel I am the richest woman alive to have found my Mister Right!

Sure, he has flaws. He’s human after all but they are easily overlooked when looking at the big picture. The big picture for me is a life full of happy memories,  two beautiful children, a loving home, and my best friend to grow old with!

I’m curious to see what the other authors have done with this prompt, so let’s go check them out.

Write on my friends, write on!

 

 

 

 

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Chill Out!


This post deals with the third factor that we can have control over to improve our odds of not having cancer or having a recurrence.

There are four areas. They are:

  1. Nutrition
  2. Activity
  3. Stress Management
  4. Toxins

Today my focus is on stress management.

I am all ears.  I seriously need to learn how to handle stress. Many of the times I get sick it was stress induced.  I  tend to stuff it down until things are so volatile I explode emotionally.

 

There are numerous things that you can do to relax and unwind. I’m going to share with you the ones suggested to me, and the ones I have found to help reduce stress.

Yoga, meditation, Tai Chi, and  a daily devotional were at the top of lists of suggestions. My attemps at yoga were not stress reducing.  The instructor was good,  the moves weren’t  beyond a normal person’s range,  but with a back injury, any pressure on the lower spine caused pain and all floor moves were a strain. I am interested in trying Tai Chi. I have asked at our local YMCA if they offer it,  if not I may look it up on Youtube.

I have a daily devotional, and I journal in my bullet journal.  I find that by writing down my thoughts in my bujo,  I tend to write it down, and not vent to others.  This seems to be somewhat calming because as I write it out, I can often think of how to resolve or  see that I need to shake it off.

Exercise in various forms can be a huge stress releiver. The swim classes that I have been taking are relaxing to me. Walking on a treadmill is not relaxing,  but  going for a walk at the park is very relaxing. OK, maybe not while I am huffing up that little hill on the backside,  but when I am finished and have walked the distance,  there is a satisfaction of accomplishment and a soothing effect on the entire body.  When I was exercising regularly a few years ago,  I would use the elliptical and I participated in a kickboxing class. I really enjoyed the kickboxing,  but then they dropped it.  I didn’t feel like the elliptical was helping in stress reduction, although it was helping me to achieve better cardiovascular fitness so in effect it really was helping to reduce my stress!

A healthy nutritious diet can also reduce stress whereas a high junkfood diet can contribute to additional stress in your body.

Adult coloring books. There is something very gratifying about coloring in those little spaces! My husband bought me a couple different types of coloring books, and I recently purchased a coloring book planner.  My attention lately has been fully devoted to the planner.  If I’m not jotting my to do list, and scheduling apointments, I’m coloring in the margins. The only time this isn’t relaxing is when my eyes are strained, and it becomes aggravating and can actually lead to a headache.

A glass of wine. Red wine has  many benefits,  one of which is to relax you. My oncologist stated that a glass of red wine, three times a week would be  beneficial for my health and well being. Three glasses, not three bottles.

Some  people find fishing relaxing and a way to cope with stress. Others  will paint furniture or landscapes. I am going to try my hand at the rock painting, and leave them around our area. I’ll take a picture of them once I go find some flat river rocks.

Even with all of these options,   I  have a hard time with stress management. I tend to be one of those people who wears their heart on their sleeve and take things to heart. I get wound up when things don’t go as planned, which is most of the time. I get upset when others don’t do their part. I worry about my kids,  where they are what they are doing, whether they are safe. I worry about the cancer –  what if it comes back, what if it spreads next  time,  what if my girls end up with it, what if . . . and then I am so wound up that even the bottle of wine doesn’t help.

My sister’s solution is Xanax.  I don’t have a prescription to Xanax, but I am wondering  how in the world I am going to manage this emotional rollercoaster that I have been on ever since being diagnosed. The medications only contribute more, causing my emotions to be heightened.

While you are reading this, I will be practicing my favorite form of relaxation: toes in the sand.

What do you do to unwind? How do you manage the daily stress? The emotional stress? What form of stress releif do you practice?

I will do everything within my power to never have to go through this again, including changing my lifestyle completely.

Write on my friends, write on.

 

You’ve Got to Move It!


There are four things that you can do to improve your odds of not having cancer or having a recurrence of cancer. They are:

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Nutrition
  2. Activity
  3. Stress Management
  4. Toxins

Today my focus is on the second one, activity.

It is recommended that we move 10,000 steps a day and that we are active for at least 30 minutes a day, six days a week. Now, that is the bare minimum.

Coming off the end of radiation treatment,  the fatigue was overwhelming. I had very little energy to do anything more than going to my treatments, walk up and down the hall a few times a day, and slept the bulk of the time.

Now that I am recovering from the fatigue,  it’s still lingering but not nearly as bad.

The first time I went to the park to walk, I had to sit on a park bench after just a few minutes. I ended up doing a half mile but stopping three times because I was so weak. My mind goes instantly to a few years ago when I was diligently doing my cardio, working for an hour at a time on an elliptical, tread mill, or multi-trainer.  But I kept at it.  The next week I was able to do fifteen minutes continuously. The following week I was up to 18 minutes.

I started doing some videos at home with Fitness Marshall. I could barely do one, then rest and do another later. Little by little though I am gaining strength and endurance.

For everyone,  it is recommended that we get 30 minutes of cardio movement daily. For a cancer patient, it is vitally important. Movement increases your blood flow, it strengthens your veins, it strengthens your heart.  You don’t have to run marathons –  thank God or I’d be screwed.

In fact, starting off it is recommended that we engage in a moderate exercise of 30 minutes. Coming off of radiation 30 minutes was overwhelming. Nobody was pressuring me to do more except my own inner drive.  I had to come to terms with the reality of where I was,  what I had been through, and know that if I kept at it,  I would see improvement.

Well, I have. I’m not there yet but I’ve improved.  I can stay on the treadmill for nearly 30 minutes at a time.  I can keep up with the Zumba class for nearly the full 45 minutes. I started an aqua aerobics class today and managed the entire class without having to stop. That may not sound like much to some of you, but considering just a few weeks ago, I had to sit on the park bench after only ten minutes,  it’s progress.

I see many people that set a goal to run a marathon or a 5K. If you like to run go for it. I need to lose a significant amount of weight before I would feel comfortable running.  I think it would be damaging to my knees at my current weight.

I want to be able to walk down the beach to the pier without sucking wind. I want to be able to go  up the stairs without feeling exhausted.  I want to be able to do the things I need to do throughout the day without feeling like I need a nap. Not that there is anything wrong with naps,  but when you feel drained every day after just cleaning the bathroom,  it doesn’t get the house clean.

I know it will be there waiting for me tomorrow,  but when you go in the bathroom and it smells like toilet. . . . .  some things have to be done now.

Speaking of current weight . . . I haven’t been making weekly posts or anything,  but I am down 32 pounds since surgery on May 3rd.

A lot of that was due to not having much appetite with new medications to take, general nausea from chemo medicines, facing side effects of treatments, learning what foods would stay down and be tolerated because I do not like to puke.

The last ten, however, has been hard fought. I have reached a point where nausea has subsided or I’ve just learned which foods to avoid. My appetite on some days makes me feel ravenous. I have to be careful,  a lot of bread type things do not cause nausea and they are easy to grab. Pretzels, toast with peanut butter, crackers,  are all former go to snacks.

I have to limit my carbs. Whether caused by the stress of all of this or just timing with genetics and being overweight,  but I was also diagnosed with diabetes so I have to learn how to eat differently. As I mentioned last week,  the dietician has been one of the best parts of my treatment plan.  When my primary doctor told me to watch my carbs, he said no more than 15 carbs.

I was very careful not to eat more than 15 carbs for the entire day. That isn’t a  lot.  So, I go to the dietician and she says limit each item to 15 grams of carbs,  but I should have 45 grams a day. Well,  That was also why I lost a few of those pounds.

Exercise can help in weight loss. My goal, however, is not to exercise to lose weight. My goal is to exercise, to a minimum of 30 minutes a day in some form or other to improve my quality of life and prevent the recurrence of cancer.

I have been active at least three days a week for the past month. That is a big improvement from the previous three months. This week starts my five days a week plan.  I don’t know how long it will take me to be comfortable at this level, but I’ve always heard that beyond your comfort zone is when you see improvement.

The important thing is to start where you are.  If you walk to the end of your driveway and back and that is all you can do,  then shoot for doing that every day for at least a week before increasing.  Then, do it twice a day for a while until that is comfortable. Then add something else.

You don’t have to join a gym,   you can walk in your neighborhood.  You can exercise with youtube videos.  You can do jumping jacks in your living room – well, maybe you can.  I couldn’t a few weeks ago.  I didn’t have the energy after radiation. Who knows, maybe next week I will.

Most of us need to take better care of ourselves. I certainly do. This is a hard lesson for me,  to make myself a priority and take care of myself.

As I prepare a lesson for tonight and will have to wear one of those paper hospital masks to protect myself from germs because I will be around people,  I am reminded that this is worth it.  I am worth it.

 

I will do everything within my power to never have to go through this again.

Write on my friends, write on.

 

Proper Nutrition for Preventing Cancer Reccurrence


Last week I posted No Cancer formed against me shall prosper,

today I’d like to address the first of four areas that is within our power to control.

Obesity increases your odds for a heart attack and diabetes, the two most medicated conditions in our society.

Obesity increases your odds for cancer. This is something I never heard before the diagnosis of breast cancer. Certain cancers like breast cancer feed off of the hormone estrogen, which is carried in the fat cells, and the more fat cells, the more estrogen, the higher your risk for cancer.

Don’t believe me?  Go here:  American Cancer Society

Sugar feeds cancer as well.

Let me tell you,  there is nothing that will put the fear of dying into you like CANCER.

Much like diabetes, cancer can be self-inflicted.

There are four areas that we can have control of whether or not we get cancer or get a recurrence of cancer.  Once you have been diagnosed with cancer,  there is always a risk of it returning. You’re always looking over your shoulder.  I want to put as much distance between me and cancer as I can.

IF I CAUSED THIS,  THEN I CAN FIX THIS.

I can at least do everything within my power to improve my odds of survival.  The first major area to help prevent or avoid a recurrence is proper nutrition.

A well-balanced diet, consisting mainly of plant-based nutrients with lean proteins as the best dietary plan that I ‘ve seen prescribed by doctors and the American Cancer Society.  I looked at various diet plans: juicing, (not recommended for diabetic patients) vegetarian, (also not recommended for diabetic patients) Mediterranean, South Beach, and the recommended My Plate diet plan.

The dietary plan that works best for me is a modified MyPlate plan that leans towards Mediterranean. This excludes sugar, soda, processed meats, processed foods, chemical laden anything. Which means  no more: soda, (yes I occasionally would enjoy a Coke, or Mountain Dew) bacon (ouch that really hurts but carcinogenic) hot dogs, bologna, processed meats, smoked sausage, processed cereals,  Kraft mac and cheese in a box (no more powdered cheese sauce mix), alcohol (I’m going to miss my wine),anything soy (soy doesn’t play well with breast cancer), and reduced red meats.  No turkey bacon– have you ever read the list of ingredients to make that? Talk about processed!

Think about the sugar alone –  have you ever checked the labels for ingredients to see if it has sugar? How many sugars? There is sugar in things you would never imagine. Crackers, for instance, some of them contain sugar.

I can have red meats once a week. So if I opt for a burger,  that is my red meat for the week.  If I have a slice of ham for breakfast, that counts for the week.

Just about the entire center section of the grocery store I can bypass. The bulk of my diet – no pun intended – is fresh fruits and vegetables. I am limited on the number of carbs I can have because of the diabetic issues, and I am hoping that over time and by following this plan, as my weight drops that I can lose the diabetic medications as well.

Part of the whole cancer treatment plan is seeing a dietician. Best part of the plan for me! It certainly beats the radiation therapy by a mile!

In all honesty, this has been a difficult change to make. A lifetime of bad eating habits have to be changed. So, I’ve been learning to adapt to a new way of eating because quite frankly,  my old habits were killing me – literally. It’s really easy to say no to the foods I shouldn’t eat,  all I have to do is look at my scars.

In order to give myself the best chance of beating cancer, I employ the top 10 list of nutrient dense foods. These are high in phytochemicals, which contain antioxidants, which help fight cancer. I eat  at least one of these a day.

TOP 10 Nutrient Dense Foods:

1. Salmon

Not all fish is created equal. Salmon, and other fatty types of fish, contain the greatest amount of Omega-3s. Omega-3 fatty acids are extremely important for the optimal function of your body. They’re linked to improved wellbeing and a lower risk of many serious diseases .

Although salmon is mainly prized for its beneficial composition of fatty acids, it also packs a massive amount of other nutrients.

A 3.5 ounce piece of wild salmon contains 2.8 grams of Omega-3s, along with lots of high quality animal protein and a ton of vitamins and minerals… including large amounts of Magnesium, Potassium, Selenium and all the B-vitamins .

It is a good idea to eat fatty fish at least once or twice a week, to get all the Omega-3s that your body (and brain) desperately need. Studies show that the people who eat fatty fish regularly have a lower risk of heart disease, dementia, depression and a plethora of common diseases.

Also,  salmon tastes awesome and is fairly simple to prepare. It also tends to make you feel full with relatively few calories.

2. Kale

Of all the super healthy leafy greens, kale is king. It is loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and various bioactive compounds.

A 2/3 cup portion of kale contains:

  • 200% of the RDA for Vitamin C.
  • 300% of the RDA for Vitamin A (from beta-carotene).
  • 1000% of the RDA for Vitamin K1.
  • Large amounts of Vitamin B6, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Copper and Manganese.

This is coming with 2 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein and only 50 calories.

Kale may be even healthier than spinach. Both are super nutritious, but kale is lower in oxalates, which are substances that can bind minerals like calcium in the intestine, preventing them from being absorbed.

Kale (and other greens) are also loaded with various bioactive compounds, including Isothiocyanates and Indole-3-Carbinol, which have been shown to fight cancer in test tubes and animal studies.

BOTTOM LINE: Kale is one of the most nutrient dense vegetables you can eat, with large amounts of vitamins, minerals and cancer-fighting compounds.

3. Garlic

Garlic really is an amazing ingredient. Not only can it turn all sorts of bland dishes into delicious treats, it is also incredibly nutritious. It is high in vitamins C, B1 and B6, Calcium, Potassium, Copper, Manganese and Selenium.

But garlic is also loaded with another incredibly important nutrient called Allicin, which is the active ingredient in garlic. There are many studies on the health benefits of allicin and garlic. It has been shown to lower blood pressure and total and LDL cholesterol, while raising HDL… which should lead to a reduced risk of heart disease down the line.

It also has various cancer-fighting properties. Studies show that the people who eat a lot of garlic have a much lower risk of several common cancers, especially cancers of the colon and stomach. Garlic is also very potent at killing pathogens like bacteria and fungi.

BOTTOM LINE:Garlic is both tasty and extremely healthy. It is highly nutritious and the bioactive compounds in it have known disease fighting properties.

4. Shellfish

Out of all the wonderfully nutritious organisms found in the sea, shellfish may be the most nutritious of all. This includes clams, oysters, scallops, and various others.

Clams are among the best sources of vitamin B12 in existence, with a 100 grams of clams supplying over 16 times the RDA! It is also loaded with other nutrients, including Vitamin C, B-Vitamins, Potassium, Selenium and Iron.

Really, shellfish are among the most nutritious foods in existence. Unfortunately, people rarely consume them.

BOTTOM LINE:Shellfish are among the most nutritious organisms found in the sea. They are very high in important nutrients like Vitamin B12 and Zinc. Really,  who needs encouragement to eat more shellfish, right?

5. Blueberries

When it comes to the nutritional value of fruits, blueberries are in a league of their own. Although they’re not as high in vitamins and minerals as vegetables (calorie for calorie), the antioxidant content is where they really shine. They are loaded with powerful antioxidant substances, including anthocyanins and various phytochemicals, some of which can cross the blood-brain barrier and exert protective effects on the brain.

Several studies have examined the health effects of blueberries in humans. One study found that blueberries improved memory in older adults. Another study found that obese men and women with metabolic syndrome had a lowered blood pressure and reduced markers of oxidized LDL cholesterol, when they added blueberries to their diet.

This finding makes sense, given that eating blueberries has been shown to increase the antioxidant value of the blood. Then multiple studies in test tubes and experimental animals suggest that blueberries can help fight cancer.

BOTTOM LINE:Blueberries are very nutritious compared to most fruits and are loaded with powerful antioxidants, some of which can increase the antioxidant value of the blood and have protective effects on the brain.

6. Dark Chocolate (Cocoa)

Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content is one of the most nutritious foods you can eat.

It is loaded with fiber, iron, magnesium, copper and manganese. But the biggest factor is its amazing range of antioxidants. In fact, a study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate scored higher than any other food they tested, which included blueberries and acai berries.

There are multiple studies in humans showing that dark chocolate has powerful health benefits… including improved blood flow, a lower blood pressure, reduced oxidized LDL and improved brain function .

 

Make sure to get dark chocolate with a 70% cocoa content, at least. The best ones contain 85% cocoa or higher. Eating a small square of quality dark chocolate every day may be one of the best ways to “supplement” your diet with additional antioxidants. Permission to eat chocolate!

7. Spinach

Popeye knew what was up: Spinach is one of best sources of potassium and is also rich in vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese, folate, and iron. One cup raw provides over half of your daily recommended value (DV) for vitamin A, which is necessary for healthy vision, immune system, and reproduction. Want even more? Cooked leaves provides over 100 percent! Sauté in a little olive oil and garlic to accompany your dinner or add to a salad.

8. Brussel Sprout:

Brussels sprouts get a bad rap, but their nutrient profile will set the record straight: One cup cooked provides 195 percent daily  of vitamin K—crucial in helping your body absorb calcium—and 125 percent of vitamin C, which plays an important role in the formation of collagen, the main support system of skin, which helps to reduce wrinkles. Plus, they offer more than 10 percent of your vitamin A, vitamin B-6, folate, potassium, and manganese needs for the day. Try roasting brussels sprouts with olive oil and then tossing in balsamic vinegar to enhance their flavor.

9. Almonds:

We might not always think of almonds as produce, but remember they do come from a tree. Almonds are a great source of vitamin E, biotin, manganese, copper, magnesium, phosphorous, fiber, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. They’re the perfect afternoon snack to rack up nutrients and help hold you over ’til dinner. Just be sure to stick with a one-ounce serving (shot glass size) or you’ll wind up consuming too many calories.

10. Sweet Potatoes:

Sweet potatoes are, of course, best known for being a great source of beta-carotene (hence the deep orange color), which may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer, decrease heart disease, protect against asthma, and slow down the aging process. But one medium sweet potato also provides over 100 percent of your daily needs for vitamin A, 37 percent for vitamin C, 16 percent for vitamin B6, 15 percent for potassium, and 28 percent for manganese. You’ll also find small amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, and folate in the bright veggie.

I have had either spinach or kale nearly every day. Brussel sprouts makes a good side with salmon. Half of a sweet potato with a little salt and pepper is very satisfying. Blueberries are one of my favorites.  I like to have blueberries with cottage cheese, with a little lemon zest.

There are more nutrient dense foods, but these are my fast go to foods to ensure that I get the nutrients I need. I hope this helps some of you,  it’s sort of my go to cheat list when I am pressed for time,  haven’t thought out what to cook for dinner or what sides to have. It’s super simple to throw together a salad that includes either kale or spinach.

Any excuse to add shellfish to my diet is a good one.  Since I have to eliminate red meat from my diet most of the time, shellfish and fish have been staples. Plus, a light meal of crab salad replacing that burger is much more satisfying.

If you find this interesting,  then leave  a message.  I’m considering sharing recipes for this new eating plan.  It may not be a big deal for most of you,  but growing up in middle America, in a large family that celebrated with food, it’s certainly a deal for me.

Let me know what you think.  Would you like to see recipes?

Cancer took a big part of my peace of mind and has left me with a compromised immune system.scars, I am determined to do everything within my power to never have to go through this again.

Write on my friends, write on.

 

No Cancer Formed Against Me. . .


My husband recently bought me a tee shirt that states: NO Cancer formed against me shall prosper.  A take on the scripture:

 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; . . . 

Isa.54:17  – King James Version

The fight against cancer is like no other battle that you will ever face. The doctor can tell you, you’ve got high blood pressure, it could lead to a stroke.  But many people go right on with what they have been doing until the day it happens and then everyone is shocked that  Uncle Joe had a stroke.

You have a family history of diabetes, chances are you will get it too.  I have three generations of diabetes in my family –  maybe more but I don’t think medical practice documented anything prior to that, and they didn’t live long either. OK,  I know I should make some changes.  I don’t want to be taking insulin.  Then I go right back to devouring sugar laden brownies, and a bag of cheetos, and fast food fries, and, and, and.

You will see all over the news,  the tv commercials for hospitals supposedly to help us as a nation improve our health that obesity is linked to heart disease and diabetes. Statistics puts 2 out of 3 adults in America today as overweight or obese.

This is scary: Obesity increases your odds for a heart attack and diabetes, the two most medicated conditions in our society.

I’ll tell you something even scarier: Obesity increases your odds for cancer. This is something I never heard before getting it. Cancer is far scarier than heart disease or diabetes because we know people who live with it.  “Oh yeah, my dad takes heart medications. My sister has diabetes, I don’t know how she administers her shots every day.”

This is something I never heard before getting it. Cancer is far scarier than heart disease or diabetes because we know people who live with it.  “Oh yeah, my dad takes heart medications. My sister has diabetes, I don’t know how she administers her shots every day.”

Certain cancers like breast cancer feed off of the hormone estrogen, which is carried in the fat cells, and the more fat cells, the more estrogen, the higher your risk for cancer.

Don’t believe me?  Go here:  American Cancer Society

I don’t think it’s any secret to anyone here that I am overweight.  I am obese. My whole family is large. I contributed it to my genes, upbringing, yes and learned habits. We all ate wrong foods, too large portions, and lots of sugary desserts. (My mother was an excellent baker!)

Sugar feeds cancer as well.  I have dabbled with going sugar-free for a few years, but then at Easter or Christmas there would be a dessert table laden with scrumptious sweets and I would indulge.  I have been sugar-free since May 3rd, the day of my surgery.

Let me tell you,  there is nothing that will put the fear of dying into you like CANCER.

I’m not ready to go yet. I want to live to be a pain in the butt for my girls and hopefully, some day have grandkids. Therefore, I have been reading everything I can to keep from having a second bout with cancer. I count myself as blessed to have been given a second chance,  I don’t want to waste it.

It is with mixed emotions that I share this next bit – because a part of me wants to claim the victim role.

Breast cancer? Why me?  What did I do? I don’t have any family history. 

Much like diabetes, cancer can be self-inflicted.

But how? 

There are four areas that we can have control of whether or not we get cancer or get a recurrence of cancer.  Once you have been diagnosed with cancer,  there is always a risk of it returning. You’re always looking over your shoulder.  I want to put as much distance between me and cancer as I can.

So, logic would dictate:

IF I CAUSED THIS,  THEN I CAN FIX THIS.

There are four areas that we can take control:

  1. Nutrition
  2. Activity
  3. Stress Management
  4. Toxins

Over the next four weeks on Monday I will be addressing these. I’m not trying to tell anyone what to do, or what to eat. The fact is, these past four months have scared me witless in a way that the doctor telling me I need to lose weight never could.  NOT ONCE did anyone ever say, being fat can cause cancer. I was told, ‘You need to lose weight’ (Tell me something I don’t already know.) ‘You have a family history of diabetes.’ (I know, I really need to watch my carbs and sugar.) ‘Being overweight is hard on your joints.’ (Ya think? You try carrying around this extra weight all the time!) It can lead to heart disease. (I need to get back to the gym.)

But not once did anyone ever tell me, You know, I know you feel like you’re a victim in this but if you continue in this lifestyle, obesity is linked to breast cancer and you could get cancer.

I’m pretty smart about most things but when it came to my own health, I was a moron. I knew I needed to make changes just like everyone knows that pizza isn’t on the biggest loser diet plan. I knew I needed to get back to the gym but . . . . and then the excuses begin. Cancer, however, got my full attention, woke me up out of the stupor I was in. A sugar laden processed food lack of movement Michelin man stupor.

Cancer took part of my breast,  part of my dignity,  a big part of my peace of mind, and has left me with a compromised immune system, scars, and a determination that I will do everything within my power to never have to go through this again.

Now, having said that. . . you can do everything right and cancer isn’t selective. But I want to do everything I can to decrease the chances of it returning.

What about you?  How would you react? Do you think I am overcompensating? Do you think I am irrational?

Write on my friends, write on.

 

Road to Recovery


Hey!

It’s been a while.

Surgery was a success! They removed the cancerous mass from my breast, about 8.5 cm in circumference with clean margins. That’s the part that made it worth it – clean margins and it had not spread to my lymph nodes! If I felt better, I would be doing the happy dance!

The incisions are healed, mostly. The one under my arm where they removed the lymph nodes opened back up during radiation treatments. I was assured that it is not a problem but it’s disconcerting that there is an opening in my skin under my arm! OK, it downright freaks me out.

Radiation therapy was completed on July 7th – with a celebratory dinner out! In all honesty, it was the first social outing since before my diagnosis. It seems that any “outing” has been to doctors, medical appointments, treatment, picking up prescriptions, or obtaining necessary food stuff. That last week of treatment, the burns started getting pretty bad. I had four days of intense pain – and little to take the edge off.

For those four days, it was how do I get through the next few minutes? Then the next hour? It wasn’t a day to day thing,  it was intensely minute by minute. I spent a lot of those four days in tears. The skin had begun to peel away in the area of the burn which extends from the top of the breastbone to just below the breastbone, and around my side up to the underarm area. For those four days, the area was flaming red, skin gone, several spots of open sores and weeping blisters. not pleasant! Oh the joys of being a white girl!

If you know someone who is going through radiation – do something nice for them! Maybe not hug them, because it hurts. The treatments themselves are painless. Just lay on the metal table, get into the exact location, and let the machine do its thing. Simple – it takes all of about fifteen minutes from donning the hospital gown to redressing.

But later, the after effects of radiation are cumulative. In the digital age of Google and WebMD, I can honestly say my burns were not the worst I’ve seen. I am thankful for that! They were/are painful never the less. What I wouldn’t have given for a morphine IV drip for that week!

I smell like burned flesh – gee, I wonder why?! My husband tries to say he can’t smell it but I catch him cringing on occasion as he brushes by in the kitchen, or if I move my arm in bed. He is trying so hard to not make me feel bad about it. He’s been my champion. I am very thankful for his support.

So, why am I telling you all of this?  I’m not looking for your pity. I’m not even looking for sympathy. This is where I am. I’m not sharing to lament and whine. I’ve had numerous friends call me or say to me that I need to stay positive. A positive outlook is a key tool to fighting cancer. I have a positive outlook. I have a positive view on the whole overall deal.

Let’s be honest though, life isn’t all sunshine and lollipops. Sometimes we have to go through the hard times. I could have opted not to have treatment and then live with the constant fear that it may come back. It might anyway,  but I am doing everything I can to win this battle.

Just because I am being real and honest doesn’t mean I am depressed. It doesn’t mean I feel hopeless. If I felt it was hopeless, then it would be moronic to endure the radiation! There are parts of this that absolutely suck! There is no way to pretty it up.

You can hang streamers on an IV pole all you want but it doesn’t change the fact that the IV is there. You can laugh and joke about all the crazy things people say when they come out of anesthesia but then there are people like me who can’t say a single funny thing because of the violent vomiting post surgery. It’s hard to be happy when you burst a blood vessel in your eyeball from straining because of the vomiting. These things do not make me happy! But, being happy isn’t really the goal, is it?

Isn’t the goal to fight to live another day? To live a better day in the future?

I think part of that 8.5 cm mass they removed also held my tolerance for stupid people. Not that I had much of it to begin with, but my tolerance for things are at an all time low.

  1. Pretentious people – Just don’t. For all of the effort in trying to appear to be something they are not, it’s blatantly obvious to everyone but the most obtuse that they do not possess such skill.  Or those who try to act like caring individuals but in reality  are mentally checked out as soon as they say “how are you doing?” They don’t really care, they don’t want to know. They really didn’t plan on seeing you. It’s much easier to post a smiley face on your social media page.
  2. Perpetually happy people – AKA PLastic Barbie world. Seriously, life isn’t always happy. The day your puppy got run over is not a happy day. The day your fiancee’ breaks up is not a happy day. My guess is they are either in denial because they believe the lies that if you admit that you aren’t 100% happy then you are depressed and may need to take medication.  I’ve got a news flash – you may need it anyway. Seriously, life has some pretty crappy days. The fact that you can dry your eyes and move beyond them to see the bigger picture and a future sunrise is an absolute miracle. I rejoice that they found this cancer early I rejoice that they got all of it in surgery, and I rejoice that I am through the treatments! I still feel like crap. I still am recovering from radiation burns. I have to take this medicine for the next 5 years – but I can make the most of today. And tomorrow. And many tomorrows to come.
  3. Rude people that say rude comments about anyone who is not one of the pretty people. This stems from a couple of experiences I’ve had. The first was an incredibly rude woman dressed like white trash waving her arms around in line at the pharmacy. She elbowed me post surgery in her demonstration of her actions to the other person on the phone – yeah, I don’t get it either. Then yesterday, while waiting yet again at the pharmacy – I got to hear the whispers of people, pointing, whispering, commenting on the horrible burns that I dared to expose to their sight.  I mean the nerve, right? How dare I expose people to an uncomfortable “condition”. Shame on me!

Yes, I’m sarcastic.

So here’s the deal: some days suck. Most days rock. I  plan to have the percentage of good days far exceed the sucky days from this point on. I’m still not up to 100% but I may have to find what the new 100% will be.

I see better days ahead! OH! and writing days as well!

Write on my freinds, write on!