Nontoxic Zone


I know it’s been a while since I made my “cancer” posts. It occurred to me last week that I hadn’t finished my series that I started. I really hate it when I do that! You have my sincere apologies.

Today, let’s wrap that up! First, let’s have a little review since it’s been so long. (In my defense, I’ve been going to lymphedema therapy two to three times a week and it takes three hours of my time every time I go unless I get stuck in rush hour traffic, in which case it took four hours.)

On August 28th, I posted No Cancer formed against me.  In this post, I kicked off my series about the four areas that you can protect yourself from getting cancer, or have a recurrence of cancer.

Much of what I’ve shared has been gleaned from hours of research. In this post I shared

that 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

The next post covers Nutrition. You can find that one here: Proper Nutrition for Preventing Cancer Recurrence. The diet plan outlined by my doctor and nutritionist closely resembles the Mediterranean diet, based on the MyPlate system. Mostly vegetables, lean protein, some fruit, and dairy. It is a carb restrictive diet, but not carb free. It seems to be working, I’ve lost nearly 40 pounds. WOOHOO!

Now I just need to keep it up. I will say this,  the longer I go, the easier it gets.  I had to go back to checking my portions last week. I’ve been stressed with physical issues from lymphedema, and the long drive to and from the appointments stuck in traffic, and had gravitated towards larger portions and heavy carb comfort foods. I know, these things shouldn’t really cause stress, but they do. It seems to me that little things get to me more than they used to, which is yet another reason to learn to deal with stress.

I’ve discovered that chicken and dumplings are off my menu, spaghetti is off limits, white potatoes in just about any variety is a no-no, and I have to limit my fruit to very small portions.  I’ve gone back to measuring my portions, and making sure to check the labels for whole grains.

I’m thankful for the cooler weather because I can make soup. Soup is very satisfying to me. I know it’s a comfort food, remembering when my mother would make a huge pot of her vegetable soup on cold winter days. A bonus with having soup,  the broth helps to keep you hydrated.

The next post covers exercise: You’ve Got To Move It!

All copyrights of this photo belong to Jenny Sugar.

In this post, I shared the pitiful state of where I was after coming off of radiation. It was sad! I could barely do ten minutes on the treadmill. Now I regularly participate in an aquacise class at the Y, Monday through Friday. I take two classes back to back actually,  one is in the shallow end, the other is deep water.  I love the deep water one, I can really feel my heart rate go up in that one.

This is what my doctor recommended for me with the lymphedema, and with the joint pain caused by the medications I have to take. Good thing I enjoy it!  On weekends, we go for walks at the park, do housework, yard work, and usually end up doing far more than the recommended 30 minutes.

Next, I shared about stress management: Chill Out!

I covered some of the stress management things that were suggested to me, and the things that I actually do. I would still like to try Tai Chi but haven’t found a class.  The adult coloring books are therapeutic! I have procured rocks and have painted them. I promise pictures to follow.

ladybug, dragonfly on leaf, ocean Son of a Beach, and a fairy house. The other three belong to my daughter.

Which leads us to the fourth area that you can control, or at least practice some control over  – toxins. 

The easiest place to eliminate toxins in our food. If the ingredients on the labels include some preservatives and chemicals that you can’t pronounce,  then don’t eat it!  We no longer eat anything that is processed.  No more Doritos! No boxed dinners. No frozen prepackaged foods.

I buy chicken, turkey, fish, and seafood frozen. The only preservatives on them may be a saline solution. Salt has long been used as a preservative and I thankfully don’t have a problem with sodium. Our fruit and vegetables are bought fresh which means I have to take the time to clean them, chop and cook them. We rarely use the microwave –   it damages the phytonutrients in your vegetables.

The second place to eliminate toxins is in our home. Be careful of the cleaning products that you use.  My immune system is still very weak. I rented a Rug Doctor because the carpet was a disaster. I have never had such a terrible reaction to anything in my life! I had red blotches all over me, I couldn’t seem to catch my breath, had that tickle at the back of my throat that I couldn’t get rid of. This was the last time I will ever buy those chemically laden rug shampoo detergent. Very soon we will have hardwood flooring. We’ve known carpet was bad for allergens anyway, but now I have an even better reason to get those hardwood floors I’ve been wanting!

Laundry soap  – look at the harsh chemicals in your detergent. This affects the clothes that you put on your body every day, some in more intimate areas than others, as well as your bedding. You spend 6 to 8 hours every day between the sheets, and if you have one of those harsh chemical detergents,  is it any wonder that I was having a rash over my legs?

Shampoo and conditioner –  do you really know what you are putting on your head?

Burning candles can produce toxins especially if you are using cheap discount store candles.

Certain construction materials can emit chemicals into your home.  If your home is made of those particle board panels which a lot of newer homes are,  then your home itself can be emitting formaldehyde into your living space! Crazy right?

We can’t really do anything about the pollutants in the air around us other than not contribute to it,  but we can be aware of our own space.

I’m not trying to be a scaredy cat over every little thing.  I’ve become aware of these things because of the effects it is or has had on my weakened immune system.  It would be the same for an elderly person, or a small child. We don’t want to expose our kids to poisons! We’ve got to open our eyes to the things that are causing us issues.

 

Quotidiandose does not own the rights to this image, all rights reserved to artist.

Here’s an example of a toxin in foods –  I used to love Lucky Charms cereal. I loved those little marshmallows in it. Of course, the sugar-laden oaties were good too,  but I really loved the marshmallows.  Then I read the ingredients after someone burst my bubble.  They contained TSP –  trisodium phosphate. Do you know what that is?????

It’s a product that you use with heavy rubber gloves to clean the grime off of your walls before you paint! If we have to wear rubber gloves to protect our skin, should we really be ingesting it?  I haven’t eaten a single bite of Lucky charms or their generic ever since.

The kicker is,  this is FDA approved,  that it has “tolerable” levels that are accepted to be in our food source. Not in my food it isn’t!

Be kind to yourself and become aware of what you put into and on your body. Don’t wait until you hear the diagnosis of cancer, be proactive. I am much more aware now, I wish I had been from the start!

Sorry, it has taken me so long to wrap this up. It has been weighing on my mind ever since I first started this series back in August.

I hope that some of this information is helpful to you.

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, treadmill, 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!

Lamentations and Ecclesiastes


Breast Cancer awareness ribbons

Have you ever hit that point where you feel everything in your life is meaningless? The goals that you set for yourself seem like chasing the wind? Have you ever wondered what’s the point, when for all of your hard work, anxiety, stress, and aggravation that finish line seems elusive or when you cross it, it’s a day late and a dollar short? There has to be more to life than this, right?

I tip my hat to those men and women who continue in their daily roles after getting the diagnosis of cancer. The initial shock hit me hard. Making the decision for surgery seemed like a no brainer to me, I mean if there is cancer in my body – then get it out!

My blood pressure was the highest it has ever been the day I went in for surgery. I had never had a surgery before minus oral surgery which isn’t the same at all. Of course, Mother Nature thought it was funny to have major flooding in the area to cut off the major highways between us and the hospital. That had its own share of aggravation, but we managed it. It did mean, however, the day of the surgery I had one person in my corner to be there with me through all of it. My husband is a saint! He has been amazing through all of this, has been encouraging, loving, supportive and has been my champion every day.

It makes sense, of course, we are partners in life. When we took those vows years ago. . . we promised for better or for worse, through sickness and in health. . .

Funny how when you are young and in love, you never really think about the worse or sickness. Maybe it’s just me,  but there was a certain amount of moon-eyed happily ever after when I said my vows.

Honestly, I’d be in worse shape without him in my life. I know this for an absolute certainty. This wasn’t meant to be a “sing the hubby’s praises” post, but it needs to be said.

For all of his help and support, he can’t fix what’s inside my head. OH, that I wish he could. It has been a whirlwind of tests, needles, doctors, more needles, surgery, more doctors, back to the tests, the dreaded needles, and now radiation.  While I am thrilled beyond measure that I am not having to go through chemotherapy, I am trying to cope with the current radiation and oral medications.

Everyone around me keeps encouraging me and telling me how brave I am, how strong I am. . . not feeling it. At some point every day I feel exhaustion, fatigue, nausea, and that doesn’t even begin to get into the mental battles: the continued struggle to lose weight, the dietary restrictions because of cancer, the fear that cancer will be found somewhere else, the sense of failure as I slip further behind on my goals. At times the weight of it gets the better of me.

I think that one is the hardest for me. I can tough it out when I don’t feel great, but can still manage. I see my author friends cranking out one project after another and I get more discouraged. I know I’ve suffered from a lack of focus with too many projects in my queue. I’ve allowed criticism to derail me when I had a full head of steam working towards completion. I’ve  allowed the poison words of certain individuals to affect my mental state to the point that I quit working on particular projects.

You want to know what is really sad?  I have volumes of stories mostly written. For example, I was diligently working on Valkyrie’s Curse. I had the first draft completed, was 78% finished with second draft revisions when I realized that the story didn’t end at my ending. The overall story spans five more books which I outlined and have key scenes written for them.  I was excited, I was on a roll. I  can see the destination over the far horizon then the white haired witch rose up before me, hissing and flailing in wild gestations spouting words of her own self-righteousness, singing her own praises and that my methods and styles were wrong because they aren’t like hers. She was right, I’m nothing like her. I don’t want to be. After three rounds of being put off to review the manuscript, I got discouraged and set it aside. I will get back to it,  but I have been working on getting Roxy ready for her debut. I had my manuscript for VC ready to go,  had the second book first draft completed, so I needed something else to work on. In all honesty, I’ve had a dozen new ideas since then with a brief intro or scene written, enough to remind myself what the idea for that story is.

I sent my revised story of Roxy to a fabulous lady, who is an awesome author and mentor. She pointed out – very nicely I might add – plot holes and glaring errors. Hmmm, this wouldn’t do. I had to make it a story that I was proud of and that readers would want to read. I rolled up my sleeves and got busy. Very little of the original story remains, but  I think it’s by far better. So what’s the problem?

Finishing it.  I have nearly 60K words on this story. I’m adding in some transition scenes as well as some other scenes to take it to the final destination. I was on a roll right up to April 12th, when my world came crashing down around me. It galls me to admit that I can’t get it out by the deadline that I wanted. If that was the case it would have been published at the beginning of May.

There have been more than a few days since my surgery that I didn’t even get online. I didn’t crack my computer open. I didn’t have the mental energy to write a few hundred words. Now I am struggling to allocate my daily limited energy to what is important. I feel like a huge weeny because I  don’t have the energy to be superwoman – having my house immaculate, serving healthy nutritious and tasty meals to my family – five star restaurant quality because I am the overachiever, keep up with my day job – because I have medical bills to pay, this one has to go to the top of the list, writing, blogging, exercise, mental health activities.  Pick a day, any day and at least three of those things fall by the wayside. Care to venture which ones?

Most often the taking care of me part has been at the bottom of my priorities. Maybe it’s a mom thing or a woman thing but either way, I can’t do that anymore. I want to live to see my next several birthdays so I have to learn to make myself a priority. Why does this make me so emotional???  You’d think it was a good thing. I see people all of the time taking time for themselves, doing things for themselves, pampering themselves, yet I struggle to allow myself downtime to cope with cancer.

I will finish my books and get them published because that is a goal I have set for myself. The deadlines have been erased and pushed out even further. (I swear, if I were employing me I’d fire me to get a different content writer.) I may be in turtle mode, but by darn, I will get there.

So what doe this have to do with Ecclesiastes and Lamentations?  In the book of Lamentations, it was basically David crying out – lamenting his sorrows. Sometimes we want to vent or get it off of our chest. Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon,  astute observations and conclusions about life. Let me

Let me briefly summarize: Life sucks. It is like a wild rollercoaster ride that didn’t pass safety inspections and no one tells you when the dangerous curves or broken tracks will appear. We make the best of it, lick our wounds, recover, get stronger, and go on. We all die eventually and when we do, what will you have to show for your legacy? What will be your lasting mark on this world you’ve left behind? What of value have you contributed to this world? Or have you lived a self-serving existence that didn’t impact any other living soul in a positive way?

(This is by no means a church sanctioned summarization. For exact interpretation go read it for yourself.)

I know this is far from my usual uplifting encouraging post and I apologize for that. This is where I am.  I have been trying to remain positive, but there are days when I fail.

Tomorrow is another day and here’s hoping that it’s a better day!

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

 

 

This Changes Everything


Today I  will be having surgery to remove the tumor that has changed my life.  Not in a “Biggest Loser”  winner way.  Not in a “you survived the great outdoors” Wilderness Challenge sort of reality show. This is real life, change how you think, change your priorities in a second, change the way you process life.

I’ve never made myself a priority, I’ve always been on the back burner ever since I became a mom. I’m not the only one, it’s epidemic. Women often don’t take care of themselves. Maybe it’s better with younger generations, I hope it is.

I have had to shift my priorities radically. The twenty irons that I had in the fire are nearly all set aside and cooling until I can afford to address each one. Some may be tossed but that’s ok. If they are, they weren’t important.

So what has changed? Everything.

Dieting is no longer a choice –  I have to change my diet to follow what the oncology doctors say. Whether that is low carb or calorie restricted only, I know it will have to include mostly lean proteins and lots of fruit and vegetables. Sugar is out. I’ve been trying to cut down but allowed myself a dessert once a week. Nope – dessert isn’t worth cancer.

Exercise – no longer an option because a better circulation system and better cardio health mean that I am stronger and better able for my body to fight during radiation and chemotherapy.

Fewer tasks on my daily todo list – this is a biggie for me. I’ve always been one of those too many irons in the fire juggling them to meet deadlines and last minute all out like my pants are on fire types. NO more! I will have to manage my time and reduce the stress which means I will have to assess tasks and learn a simple word – NO!

I can’t afford negative energy. I can’t afford negative people stealing my energy. I can’t afford to give the power over to anyone else. I have supportive famil members and friends and I will call on them as needed.

Here’s a biggie –  I need to learn to ask for help. OUCH! So far this is the hardest one on my list. Do you have any idea how frustrating it is to HAVE to ask for help? Alas, I need to focus on the important things and let the rest go. That also means learning to trust and depend on others and ask for help. Right now I feel strong, invincible, I can beat this! Hear me roar! I know though, this is before surgery, this is before the results of pathology, beforeI have gone through one day of radiation and after a day of meditation to help get in the right positive headspace.

A really good friend of mine gave me a picture last year of a woman warrior and told me this reminds me of you. I was touched but didn’t see it. 

At first I didn’t feel like I could even do this. I didn’t feel like I had a chance it was so unexpected. Let’s be real, nobody chooses cancer. Nobody chooses this battle. Every one of us has our own battles to deal with and nobody I know would jump up and volunteer for this road. Having said that, it isn’t really about what I feel.

I KNOW that I am made of sturdy stock! German and Russian blood are comingling in there with some ScotsIrish and other assorted mutt mixed races. I won’t go down without putting up a big fight.

I KNOW that the doctor stated they caught it early, and the tumor isn’t large. This is good news which means the odds of survival are great! As scary as it is to hear “You’ve got breast cancer”  it could have been far worse than it is and my odds are pretty good.

I KNOW that there are people who love and care for me. You couldn’t have convinced me of that a few weeks ago, but when I shared this horrible news the outpouring of friends and relatives have been overwhelmingly positive and encouraging. I must say it was more than a bit humbling.

I KNOW that wherever this path takes me from this day forward, I am going to LIVE each and every day that I have, pursuing my dreams and goals and making sure to show love to at least one person every day.

Whether you are a believer or not, my faith will see me through. My faith is strong and I know without a doubt that my God is well able to see me through this. I know that His will is for life and not death. I know that the power of prayer is a very real thing and I have many friends praying. This is what it is all about, the people in your life. People that you impact around you. I’ve tried not to be preachy to anyone, I have never condemned anyone for their faith or lifestyle because that’s not my place to do so.

I’m instructed to love people, and that’s what I try to do. Y’all know it’s hard to love some people – God knows I try but some of you  . . . I mean there are people who like liver! There are some of you who don’t like dogs! There are some people that choose to listen to country music for Pete’s sakes! Anyway, putting those things aside we are all people and we need to love one another not judge or fight against or criticize others. Just think how boring it would be if everyone was exactly like you. Or me –  can you imagine the chaos that our world would be if everyone was like me????? Good grief –  we need organized people who can get things done!

What I’m trying to say is I love the diversity of our world. I’ve been meditating most of today ( writing this on Tuesday preparing for my big day today, er tomorrow when you’ll read this.) and I am starting to feel more like the warrior in that picture. I can do this,  this will not defeat me. It’s going to take more than this to take me out. Besides, legend has it that the Amazon warrior maidens cut off their left breast as a sign of strength. Alright, so mine is going to be removed via anesthetic and scalpel, but  I’ll wear the scar as my Amazon tribe initiation.

I found out that when I start the radiation treatment they will tattoo a series of dots on my left breast where the radiation will be focused. I’m considering getting it altered to a fancy schmancy tattoo over it.

So after today, everything changes.

Write on my freinds, write on! And say a prayer for me if you think about it – I would appreciate it!

Ellie

 

Suddenly


Hey, everyone!

How to write the post I need to write . . .  there is no real clever way so with all the tact I can muster, I’m going to plunge in.

With the A to Z Challenge, I left off with the letter O. I have a new word, that inadvertently has everything to do with my own writing right now –

ONCOLOGY

On March 28, I had my annual OBGYN visit. I shared some concerns with her about the girl parts, namely issues that indicate menopause.  She sent me to the Imaging center for a pelvic sonogram, and the annual mammogram. I expected some news on the lower region but not the tatas.

A scheduled date for a routine procedure for the girl parts was made. Later that day, I got a call saying I needed to return for an additional mammogram and breast ultrasound because I had some areas of concern. OK, that’s a bit disconcerting but no biggie, right? I figured fibrocystic breast syndrome because the girls aren’t exactly smooth like a muscle,  they are kind of like a well-used pillow. NO, I’m not going into detail on that but after nursing two babies, being a ‘mature’ woman I’m grateful they don’t drag the floor.

April 6th I go back for these additional tests and the Dr. that oversees the imaging center came in and told me that it’s cancerous. BUT, don’t worry, most of the time it’s benign.  He had one of those plastic forced smiles that is used to break bad news. I instantly don’t trust him.

April 12th, I have a Fine Needle Aspiration biopsy. Don’t let anyone fool you – it hurts. “Oh, you’ll just feel some pressure and hear a click” LIARS!!! 

IT HURT!  IT HURT FOR DAYS AFTER!  IT still hurts as the bruised area changes from purple to greenish yellow.

I wait for the verdict phone call which was supposed to happen either last Tuesday or Wednesday that never came. On one hand, no news is good news.  If they don’t call it can’t be too urgent right?

WRONG!

I called on Thursday because I suck at waiting patiently.

STAGE 1 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.

Yeah, that’s something you want to hear when you are in the office alone. I mean, literally alone. There wasn’t another breathing soul in the office complex.

The only time I’ve ever known doctors to act fast is when it’s serious so it didn’t alleve my fears when they called back to confirm an appointment with an oncology surgeon for the next day. Friday the 21st was a marathon. I would gladly attempt a running marathon as opposed to my day. The doctor explained completely with drawing little illustrations to emphasize the points. My options were presented to me, initial treatment assessment was discussed, and then it was off to the labs for more tests.

Bloodwork – one of my big fears about this whole thing is the needles. I have small veins, they are deep (being fat isn’t the only reason for this) and they roll. When I get blood drawn they use a child’s butterfly needle. What is going to happen if I have to go through chemotherapy and they blow my veins? I don’t have enough time to build my cardio level to have super veins like my husband. He makes a fist and the veins just pop out. Of course, that would look bad on me as a female.

Chest x-ray, EKG, new mammogram, additional close up mammogram slides, 3D Ultrasound – I was there from 8 in the morning until almost 5 at night.

I’ve had the weekend to digest all of this.  I’ve shared with close family what the diagnosis is and the plan for treatment, and have even shared on my Facebook account.  I was almost at a place of peace about accepting this. Nobody wants to go through this. Nobody chooses cancer.

Then, I get another call. Just a few minutes ago actually. I have to go back for an MRI and a second biopsy of additional spots that they found. This may determine whether or not I can have a lumpectomy or have to have the full mastectomy.

I’m not sharing to gain your sympathy. I’m not sharing because I overshare – if anything I hear from people that I don’t let others in, don’t share what’s really going on.

This isn’t about writing yet it is.  I write with passion. My passion. Passion for life, passion about love relationships, passion about the emotions we go through. My plan for today was to share some more from Roxy, a segment that I’ve recently tackled – one that was very difficult to tackle and I had to be in the right headspace to do. Ironically I had to draw on the raw emotions of my own mother’s funeral to write this. I’d put it off for weeks, but finally tackled it and was quite proud of myself for not only tackling it,  I think I did a pretty good job on it as well.

Then I get this news.  Well hell!  Oh trust me, I could write the emotional scene now. I could pour my heart out on the pages and nobody is the wiser that it was me going through this emotional tidal wave with the diagnosis of ‘You have breast cancer’.

Ironically, Roxy’s mother died after a long battle with breast cancer. Should I wait and experience first hand and rewrite? Should I proceed with it as scheduled? I know that women dying from breast cancer is rare, it’s usually when it’s metastasized beyond the breast and invaded other organs. Ultimately it started with breast cancer, and Roxy’s mother was a woman that put off her own medical treatment until it became critical.

For me, they caught it early with the mammogram. Of that I am grateful. Ladies, don’t put it off.  I still can’t feel any lumps even knowing that it’s there. I don’t have a family history of it. I don’t have the usual symptoms that indicate cancer.  In all of my regular doctor’s comments about concerns for being overweight he never said cancer was one of them. Now as I am reading the material provided to me by the breast cancer center, obesity can lead to cancer. Heart disease and diabetes were on my mind, not cancer. Never cancer.We hear the words “save the tatas” and kind of laugh, but we do the self-exams. It has become a reality for me now. This is a path I never wanted to go down but am forced to embark on this journey.

We hear the words “save the tatas” and kind of laugh, but we do the self-exams. It has become a reality for me now. This is a path I never wanted to go down but am forced to embark on this journey. April 20th is a day of demarcation for me. My life as I knew it ended that day, so tears were to be expected. Tears of grieving for what was,  what dreams may die, all of the changes that have to be made and tears to face the great unknown.  A little encouragement for saving the woman would be appreciated.

I’ll try to stay away from the pity parties but from time to time I will be sharing my struggles in this battle. I’m not looking forward to the needles. Not looking forward to losing part of my breast or the full breast or breasts depending on what they find. Not looking forward to possibly losing my hair. Not looking forward to much of any of this,  but it’s the path I’ve been put on and I’ll make the best of a bad situation.  I come from good stock and I am my mother’s daughter. My mother was ” a tough old bird”. I hope I have half as much chutzpah as she did.

I plan to continue writing, still pushing for my delayed deadline and praying that I don’t have to push it back further. The A to Z challenge . . . I don’t have the energy to continue that now. I thought about making a video, but I didn’t think I could get through it without an ugly cry and who needs to see that?

Hope you stick around to see me come out the other end of this!

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie