Get On With It


It’s been a little over a year since my diagnosis, and a year yesterday for surgery. Wow, what a whirlwind ride this has been.

I’m thankful to still be here. I’m thankful to have hair, even though it’s white now.

I promise I am not going to dwell on this forever, but since I’ve been riddled with anxiety for the past week over just about everything, this is part of my healing process.  I have to process these thoughts, learn to manage the emotions and the overwhelm.

What has changed?  Everything.

OH, on the surface onlookers may think I’m the same old same old. but I’m not. I am learning to make myself a priority –  still learning, still trying to use that word NO, and still doing the self-talk to tell myself I’m worth it. Because you know what?  I am!

We all are.  Each one of us deserves a fulfilling life and to achieve our own happiness.  Each of us is a unique one of a kind original. It’s hard to keep that in mind at times when the lemming tendencies of our society scream that we need to fit in and do what everyone else is doing.

How are we ever going to stand out from the crowd if we are doing the same thing, looking the same, wearing the same hairstyle?  There is nothing wrong with being ourselves.  There is nothing wrong with being who you are, regardless of that mean bitch from school says.

Screw her! OH wait,  most of the guys already have!

That was a joke, sort of.

We need to stop being influenced by those mean girls and the pretty people. They are a minority and we outnumber them into the millions. Why do we ever care what they think?

For me,  I’ve always had this element of people pleasing. It’s a lifelong habit that I’m working on breaking.  It’s part of exercising that word NO.

What do you think?  What do you want to do? I”m not saying that you do whatever you want even if it’s illegal or immoral. I’m talking about pursuing your dreams, setting goals for yourself and learning to get our thoughts in line with drawing what we truly want out of life.

There are times when the overwhelm is just too much for me. This was never an issue before cancer. I’ve been thinking about why that is.  Part of it, as listed in the side effects of the chemo meds I have to take is increased anxiety. OH, joy! But I take the meds because I want to live cancer free.

Part of it, I’ve deduced is because I’ve spent a lifetime stress eating and putting myself into a food stupor when I was overwhelmed so that I could numb myself from the pain and anxiety.  Do you think overweight people simply eat too much?  It’s so much more than that.

OK, you take someone who has put on twenty pounds because they’ve been hitting the pizza and beer too often and no biggie,  they cut down on their consumption and within a short time have taken the weight off. But a fat person?  I mean someone who has been overweight for a long time, maybe their whole life, it’s a psychological issue as much as it is about overeating.  Hence the yo-yo up and down the scale.

Anyway,  this isn’t about being fat or me being frustrated that the weight isn’t coming off faster. This is ultimately about change and learning to control the thoughts and emotions.

Some things change quickly –  surgery – I had cancer, they removed the tumors.

Some things take time –  it took many treatments for the radiation to be effective.

Some things take even longer – learning to eat differently, learning new habits, learning new limitations.

Ultimately though, aren’t we all learning? Whether we are adjusting to dietary limitations, or physical limitations or emotional,  we have to overcome, adapt, and learn what our best is each and every day.  Maybe today it’s learning that “I’m OK. Tomorrow it may be “I can’t do that but I can tackle this.”

Early in the week, I was a whirlwind of energy and productivity. Yesterday I fell into a pit of overwhelm and could barely function.  I was a mess of tears, snotting and snorting and nearly hyperventilating. My friend Misty talked me down. She walked me through the sensory steps,  reminded me of the four agreements, and then my husband called around lunchtime and told me to throw away my list.

 NO, not my list! The LIST is like, THE PIRATE CODE.

Cue increased panic.

He reminded me that nothing on my list was mandatory. (But,  it’s my list.  I don’t list unnecessary things to do.) Nothing is mandatory and has to be done today.  The only mandatory things on the list were my day job, getting my blog post up (because it was a personal goal) and making sure I did my physical therapy.

As I glanced over my precious list of twenty-seven items, I realized he was right. As much as I wanted to get those other things accomplished and checked off the list –  only list makers will get that – the world was not going to end if I waited for another day to try to tackle them.

One of those items was a social situation with someone that causes me continued stress. At the end of the day, I realized that it was in my own best interest to say NO, and bow out. The second part of that is allowing myself to not fret over the decision and accept that I need to take care of myself.

Why does it have to be so hard to say no? What is it that I was so afraid of? That they would be mad at me? They don’t like me anyway. Hard to imagine, but they don’t.

I refer to Agreement Number 2: Don’t take anything Personal. Nothing others do is because of you. What others do or say is a product of their own reality, their own dreams and actions. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of suffering.

Breathe.

Inhala . . . exhala . . . and now I can get on with it.

Write on my friends, write on!

 

 

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Tasty Treats!


In my quest for finding recipes that I can eat and don’t taste like cardboard, or consist of a bowl of kale. . . I’ve come across a few winners.

So, I decided to share a few of those with you here.

My dietary constraints are cancer and diabetes. Sugar-free is an absolute necessity, and with diabetes, low carb count is essential as well.

I have been cooking with whole grains, fresh foods, mostly lean proteins – fish and poultry, and very few processed foods of any sort.

I feel great most of the time. I feel so much healthier than I was at this time last year. Small changes add up to big results.

Here’s a tasty recipe if you want to make just one healthy switch in your diet.

Banana – Blueberry Muffins

  • servings – 12 muffins
  • Prep – 20 minutes, Bake 15 minutes
  • Oven – 400 F

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1  cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar ( I use Swerve baking brown sugar substitute)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup mashed ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup fat-free milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 400.F Grease 12 muffin cups. set aside.

In a medium bowl stir together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Make a well in the center of flour mixture, set aside. IN another bowl, combine banana, milk, butter, egg, and vanilla.

Add banana mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened. Batter will be lumpy. Fold in blueberries. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. filling each about three-fourths full. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown on top. Cool on wire rack, just five minutes then serve warm.

Nutritional info per muffin: 172 calories,  4 g total fat, (3 g saturated with real butter) 11 mg cholesterol, 135 mg sodium, 25 grams of carbs, 3 g protein.

I gotta be honest,  I used a few more blueberries than the recommended amount. What can I say, I like blueberries!

It’s good to have nutritious tasty foods! Hope you enjoy. Let me know if you try the recipe and what you think! Write on my friends, write on!

Get Your Mojo On!


Monday morning, rise and shine! It’s a new beginning, a fresh start, a day for opportunities to abound! 

Don’t even talk to me before I’ve had my coffee.

Then get your coffee Ms. Crabpatch and get busy. Just take a look at the gorgeous sky.

Do you realize the temperatures are in the single digits? Maybe I’ll just crawl back into bed.

Now is that any way to accomplish your goals? Where’s your resolve for those plans you made? Are you giving up that quickly?

~~~~~

Please tell me I’m not the only one who has those self-talks.  It’s like the angel on one shoulder, demon on the other, each of them whispering into my head, but I have to make the choice.

It’s true –  the week is full of opportunities. Monday is the start of a fresh new week, a chance to have this week count as a success in my planner. Before I started using my bullet journal,  I had plans in my head.  I kept a mental to-do list and rarely got past the first two.

But then I discovered the bullet journal! This amazing tool is priceless to me.  I don’t keep it up every day, and I’m not going to stress over that.  Life has gotten pretty crazy over the past year and I’ve learned to chill out and do what I can and go with the flow when I need to.

One of the ways that I feel that my bullet journal, or bujo for short, has helped me is that I have my daily to-do list. When I first started,  I wrote out my daily wishlist as my todo list. It looked something like this:

  • Housekeeping (sweep, mop, vacuum, clean counter, clean bathrooms, dust, clear clutter out of living room)
  • writing – blog, Point #3, 2 scenes, 2500 words
  • exercise – walking, aquacise, weights
  • appointment if I had one that day
  • MLO job – correspondence with emails, check sop updates, check rates, make calls, upload documents.

Now my daily to-do list looks more like this:

  • MLO job -make calls, correspondence, upload documents, etc ( there really isn’t much I can do to change what needs to be done at a job that someone else is paying me to do a specific job.)
  • HOusekeeping: chore of the day – focused on one room
  • Writing -1000 words minimum,
  • exercise: aquacize 45 minutes
  • Scheduled appointments

At first glance, you may not notice a big difference but it’s there. realistically, I know I am not going to get the entire house clean in one day. I’ve decided to focus on one area per day. Since I’ve been doing it this way, my house is cleaner. It’s not where I want it to be yet, but that’s because of the clutter. Much improved, but still room for more improvement.

I have to do certain tasks for the dayjob, so that doesn’t change other than I don’t stress out about it like I used to. There are days when I only get a couple tasks completed, and that’s OK. Some processes take longer than others.

My daily word count used to be 2500. It will go back up to that but for now, I am trying to hit at least 1000 words daily. To be honest,  on days when I have appointments or therapy, it may not happen. Last Friday I had an appointment, I couldn’t concentrate before the appointment,  then afterwards I crashed! I didn’t realize that I had been so keyed up over that appointment,  but apparently I was. I got a whole whopping 460 words last Friday –  I still count that as a win because I got some words.

My point is, back to the opportunities; by not putting a bunch of constraints on my schedule,  I have the flexibility to adapt to those urgent things that pop up unexpected.  Before, I never allowed ten minutes downtime so if anything happened, anything,  I was stressed and freaking out because I didn’t have the wiggle room. For instance –  being stuck in traffic. I sat in traffic for nearly 2 hours on a drive that should have been thirty-five minutes. It was aggravating,  but I took the opportunity to enjoy the music on the radio.  It was soothing. What could have been a very stressful 2 hours turned out to be calming. I couldn’t do anything about it anyway but in the past I would have been biting my nails, yelling at the moron driver who caused the accident up ahead and probably using some colorful metaphors in my monolog!

We can take the opportunity to take charge of our lives,  how we deal with what life throws at us or we can take the approach that we are helpless victims being tossed about by the wind and waves. The storms are going to happen so be prepared! Some of them can be avoided. Sometimes we get caught out in the rain. Other times, we have plenty of warning.

Seize the day while you can!

By the way, I stayed up, I went to my exercise class, I did the things, and I feel better for it. Regret is a hard task master that I plan to avoid! There is nothing that can beat you down faster than a bad case of the ‘should-haves’.

Is there one thing that you can do today to improve your outlook or  decrease your stress levels?

Write on my friends, write on!

This Year’s Plan


You may have noticed my absence. I got one post in for this year’s 52 week blog hop and then I got hit with the flu. Along with feeling ill,  I’ve been uber frustrated with not getting my blog up. Sorry guys and gals!

This is the first time I have ever gotten a flu shot,  at the direction of my oncologist and I got the flu anyway. *Levels look*

The past few days I haven’t been online because I have been tackling the decluttering/organizing for our home that is at the top of my goals for this year. OK, part of this is avoiding the anxiety I am having over my scheduled mammogram –  the first since my diagnosis last year.

Timeout for a sec:  It is my intention to avoid talking about cancer,  to stay focused on the present,  the future, and not give any more attention to the hell that was last year. Having said that,  ultimately this is the cause of my current anxiety because I sure didn’t expect the diagnosis last time.

I’ve removed 5 bags of stuff- clothing, bedding, linens, miscellaneous stuff to take to Goodwill,  but it’s still sitting by the front door as it’s been too cold to get out if I didn’t have to. It’s going to be warmer tomorrow,  so it goes bye bye with me when I leave!!

I think that is a fair amount of progress for this week, that equates to a full trash bag per day!  I’ve been too embarrassed at the mess – seriously,  the whole time I was going through treatments,  it was all I could do to cook a few meals,  to sweep the floor on occasion, and swish the toilet. Since nobody else bothered, the accumulation of stuff is overwhelming.

Stuffitis is a serious issue here. But this year,  2018 –  the Year of the Dog, we are going with close to austere existence.  Minimalism is my new favorite word.

In fact, I’ve been pondering my word for this year.  I’ve seen several of my friends post here or there that their word for the year is. *fill in the blank*. I didn’t have a word.  I was looking for something spiritual I think, but yesterday it hit me like a 12-pound bowling ball on a rope –MINIMIZE!

  • Minimize the clutter and stuff.
  • Minimize the clothes that no longer fit or suit me.
  • Minimize the pantry contents.
  • Minimize my schedule.
  • Minimize my measurements –  making progress on that one!!!!
  • Minimize the emotional baggage I’ve been carrying.
  • Minimize wasted time.

Yeah, I’m pretty sure I figured out that this is my word for the year.

So for this year on the blog,  I have a few things planned but I’m not promising that I won’t go off track.

There may be recipe shares, craft shares, writing shares,  health and diet information. ( I found a couple really interesting things I want to share.)

So,  I realize we are in the third week of January –  but my first two weeks have been mostly occupied with sickness.  So, here’s hoping for a great year –  for all of us!

Write on my friends, write on!

 

 

 

What Awaits in 2018? #MFRW


Week 52 – the last, final post for 2017 blog challenge.

Colorful fireworks over a night sky

I gave up on New Year’s Resolutions several years ago,  but I do set goals for myself for the coming year. What’s the difference? A resolution is something you hope happens.  A goal, a smart goal is something you set for yourself with a specific framework and a deadline.

This past year – 2017 my goals were as effective as resolutions. Why? CANCER.

I’ll admit, I didn’t see that one coming.  I let it derail me. I was shocked, stunned, reeling from the diagnosis. Then the whirlwind of prompt action from the doctors had my head spinning. The only time doctors act swiftly is when it’s a serious matter,  so I felt an additional stress imagining the worst –  what if it was stage 4, what if it had metastasized, what if . . .  but it wasn’t the case. THANK GOD, mine wasn’t nearly as bad as some. Praise the Lord –  it was found early.

The point is though,  they were swift in all their actions and then rushed me to treatment. I barely had time to think. It was the next appointment, the next treatment.  I lost control of my life from March through August.

In August, I evaluated where I was in comparison to the goals I had set for myself and cried. Seriously,  I just sat there crying for nearly an hour before I decided to do something about it. Then I looked at what I could do and pushed myself to get Roxy completely revised so that I would have at least one book for Penned Con.

I did manage to lose some weight, although the goal I had set for myself was 50 pounds,  I have lost 46 pounds. Still a win! (It was a 48 but I had extra portions over the holidays.)

From September through now, it’s been a difficult battle with dropping pounds as the medication that I have to take is known to cause weight gain. In addition to my slow fat storing metabolism,  I now have an additional obstacle, but I’m winning, slowly!

I had set a goal for myself to read 100 books this year, didn’t make that one.  I have read 25. Most of those have been hard copy print books. The ability to focus was lost during treatments. Chemo brain is a very real thing. So, I’m cutting myself some slack and counting this as a win as well because I have managed to read most of those since August.

What about 2018?

What goals will I set for myself this coming year?

  1. Publish 5 books in 2018: Valkyries Curse: The Awakening, Book 2: Trial of Aegir, and Realm WArs book 1 –  I haven’t decided on a title for that one yet. This is the precursor to Faere Warrior: Passion’s Price – which has been finished for ages,  but held back because my former media coach advised me to write the prequel first. In addition,  the release of The Blood Key in a fantasy anthology, then I will release in paperback in September. And one other one – I may have to do a poll with my readers to see which one they are more interested in because I can’t decide.
  2. Continue with healthy eating and lose 40 more pounds.
  3. MOVE! We plan to move closer to where my husband works because now he commutes for an hour each way. I have discovered one major flaw in our moving plans,  they don’t have a community pool in that area, so my aquacize classes will be gone. My solution?  We need a pool of our own! (You like how I worked that in there?  You think I could maybe get a tax write off for medical therapy??)
  4. Finally get my office! We’ve been through this before, I’ve worked hard to clean an area in the basement, shared pictures on here then it was promptly taken over for another use. Can’t even tell you how pissed off it made me. Then with cancer, I honestly didn’t have the energy to fight it.
  5. Enjoy living! Carve out time to spend with ones I love and care about, do the things I enjoy, have some fun in life! This will become a priority because I am prone to get overwhelmed with all the things that should happen that I forget to enjoy everyday life. Stress less and live more!

That’s it. Those are my goals for this next year. Not a twenty point bulletin of overachiever perfection. Not a ten point attack on every area of my life. Not even a 12 month, 12 item list of things I’d like to see happen. Simple, basic, achievable yet challenging goals that will improve our quality of life.

Cancer changes things.  It really made me see how much time I waste on fretting over things that don’t really matter, conceding on things that do matter to me, and wishing I had more time for what really matters –  the people in our lives.

What about you? What are your 2018 goals and dreams? Not going to say resolutions, because we blow those before the end of January!

You can find the other authors participating in this blog hop HERE!

This post is included in the prize drawing for the flash fiction fest –  so leave your comment!  All commenters are entered in drawing for this week’s prizes. (See post yesterday for the list of prizes, I don’t feel like typing it in yet again!) All entries will be put through randompicker and the winner will be selected!

Best wishes to each of you, and have a Happy New Year!

Write on my friends, write on!

That’s A Win!


Welcome to Flash Fest December!

I have a few author friends who have joined me in this challenge and are contributing to the prize baskets!

 

This week’s prize basket:

  • $5 Amazon gift card
  • ebook for Red Wine & Roses
  • Author Swag bag
  • ebook of Protected By His Grace by Grace Augustine

This is how the prize giveaway will work:

Leave a comment throughout the week on any blog post, whether it’s the blog hop, flash, guest spot, or weekend writing warriors. I will select one of the commenters through Randompicker and post it on Monday’s post. The winner can contact me on Facebook or email me at: l.e.mcatee@gmail.com.

I apologize for not getting it posted on Monday, it’s been a rough couple of days.

The challenge is to write a flash piece, 500 to 1000 words based on a Holiday tune as a prompt. The author was given the option to select their own or I would assign one. Trust me,  my list of holiday tunage is anything but traditional!

I am still posting for the MFRW blog hop on Fridays and the WEWRIWA on Sundays. The comments on those posts count as well!

MFRW blog hop week 50 – My Biggest  Accomplishment.

You know,  just when I think I got this in the bag,  they throw a wrench into my gears.

Uh, give me a few minutes to figure this one out.  Have a cup of coffee, a few snacks while I fish out the wrench.

I was going to post this animated short about a guy trying to fix an engine and tossing all sorts of parts around,  but then I saw Harry and well. . . I’m partial.

~~~~~~~

I think that my biggest accomplishment, pertaining to being an author was getting my first book published. It was the barrier that I just couldn’t seem to break through, then a small print publisher showed interest in me. I was over the moon ecstatic!

I’ve learned a lot about the business of writing, about publishing, marketing – got a lot more to learn on the marketing front. I will always be grateful that they published me!

Fast forward, the small publishing house and I have parted ways, and I’ve published 2 more books.  Most of what I learned through this experience, helped me have the confidence to publish the others. There is definitely some satisfaction in each one,  but getting past that first barrier . . . well, I spent years submitting my work to multiple publishers, large houses and small, and I was on the verge of quitting and shelving my dreams permanently.

In my personal life, you already know what I’m going to say. You knew it was coming so I’m just going to lay it out there –  I beat cancer! So far! I am 7 months cancer free, but they won’t say a survivor until you’ve been clear for 3 years.  I have 2 years and 5 months to go! This year has changed my life profoundly, it would take an entire year to tell you every aspect that has been affected by this diagnosis.

It helped me sort my priorities.  I made myself a priority – something that was foreign to me as a mom and caregiver. I had neglected me for many years. I made my health a priority.  I’ve lost 42 pounds so far this year. I guess there is hope that I might squeeze in a few more for the year, but I count that as a win also.  I eat a healthy diet now that is cancer patient friendly. Very limited in carbs, zero sugar, (not counting fruit –  I eat fresh fruit), and packed full of phytonutrients.

My skin is clearer than it has been for years.  My hair,  well I have hair, hallelujah!  It’s a different look for sure,  but . . . I’m cancer free.

This picture was taken in 2015 at my sister’s wedding. Doesn’t the hubs look sexy as hell in a suit????  We both clean up pretty good on occasion.

 

 

This was the back. I miss my long hair.

 

 

 

 

 

Then cancer treatment took over my life:

Still adjusting to this new look. Sorry for the no makeup shock – I guess there should have been a warning!

OH, and if you were wondering what to get me for Christmas,  ear muffs, sock caps, hats, and those crochet bands that cover ears would be great! I’m not used to my ears being exposed. I don’t know how guys do it!

I’m exercising regularly.  Not running marathons or anything super strenuous,  I’m doing an aquacise class and loving it.  45 minutes of cardio a day for four to five days a week. It was one of the things recommended for cancer patients,  that is easy on the joints.  I haven’t talked about it too much,  but the tamoxifen causes joint pain.  There are days I’m nearly in tears. It’s a constant reminder for me to drop the excess weight and continue on a healthy road and to eat right.

I’ve eliminated environmental toxins from our home, from our food, from anywhere that I can control. I don’t eat processed foods – no sausage, bacon or anything with carcinogens. No lunchmeats, hot dogs, bologna, processed cheese, or Doritos. ( Yeah, I even gave up my Doritos.) I don’t eat the processed cereal, prepackaged anything.  The closest to processed that we get is an occasional splurge by buying chicken strips from the deli.

I’m making meditation, prayer time, mental health a priority to reduce stress. I spend a lot of my time driving back and forth to lymphedema therapy and doctors appointments. I have good music in the car that is relaxing to me, as well as audiobooks.

I’m making my goals and dreams a priority and not pressuring myself with ridiculous schedules. I see some authors bragging about running on the frazzled edge all of the time. They have more books out than me,  but you know what? I’m at peace.

I can do what I can do,  and do my best every day. Somedays my best is managing to get to appointments, maybe get  100 words down, a little bit of housework done. Somedays I can go 90 to nothing for a short time. Then there are those days when I can manage to feed myself and have my wits about me.  I have learned to accept that on those days I need rest.  On those days, I can’t push.

I have learned to take care of me.  When I am at my best,  then I can give out to others and be a blessing to them. But if I am depleted,  I have nothing to give.

I think I have to change my biggest accomplishment –  it’s not getting my first book published, it’s learning to take care of myself so that I can be a blessing to others.

Call me a sentimental sap if you will. I’ve learned a lot this past year. Being the true strong-willed person and blockhead,  I had to learn it the hard way. Lessons learned the hard way are not soon forgotten!  I can honestly say that I have a better quality of life than I did before the cancer diagnosis.

Now if I could just say the same for the state of my home. Maybe I’ll tackle the clutter for a bit before I start wrapping gifts.

What would you say that your biggest accomplishment is?  As always, you can find the other MFRW blog hop participants HERE.

Write on my friends, write on.

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!

 

 

 

 

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.