Busy times lately trying to get about the business of being a (hoping to be) survivor. It has not yet been a year since my diagnosis and as with everything else, time really does heal all wounds. There are times that I forget about what I have been through (until I look in the mirror).
This was always the goal, to get through it and then to put it in the rear view mirror and get back to the business of living but it does not always work that way. No matter what, cancer is a part of my story, a part of my plot and it is something I have to watch and actively attempt to keep from coming back - or at least, that is how I feel. This feeling is a big part of why I am blogging, too, to keep sharing my thoughts and experiences for others and even just to keep my family and friends informed of this big thing called life with cancer. The main thing behind sharing my story, warts and all, for those who are in this world with me dealing with this disease. I have heard from women in Ireland, Australia and right next door in Brooklyn who have all said they felt the same way and/or that they understood what I am writing about and that is so damn powerful and empowering.
My focus is, of course, to be cancer free and I guess "cured". I was told that breast cancer that is Stage 0-3 is curable; stage 4 is not. I want to be cured but I also know that really it is not something I can control. I understand that cancer is a wily bitch of a disease. I know that I can be no evidence of disease as I was post surgery but still have things going on that I do not know about. The human body is a mystery, even our own bodies.
I am now so open about my experiences with the disease that I am building a community of people who are also dealing with their cancer plot twists and I am no longer hiding from the facts that cancer does, at times, kill. I am learning of people who have done everything "right" and still did not get to be a survivor. I am doing all I can to not fall into that category but I do know it also takes miracles, faith and luck. Yes, luck.
Most people are walking around with the potential of cancer in their bodies but not everyone gets cancer. I wrote about this in my review of the AntiCancer book --> learning-about-the-beast-breast-cancer-anti-cancer-book-review.html. So for those of us who do get cancer, it is like entering an alternate universe where your doctors have to hurt you to heal you and the question, "Am I ok now?" is most often answered with a "Well, for right now, we do not see any evidence of disease BUT..."
To help with this "but", I am doing the PALLAS worldwide clinical trial (more here lets-get-clinical-clinical.html). As I have written before, this drug is FDA approved for Stage 4 breast cancer - it turns off the proteins that drive cancer and comes with a whole slew of potential side effects, such as low blood counts. I take the drug for 21 days a month; 7 days off and then the next cycle begins. My body and blood counts have been in the words of my oncologist, "Perfect." on the trial. Some folks need to get the equivalent of the Neulasta shot we did post chemo to increase our blood counts. I did not need that shot so yeah! At this point, I am at day 15 of the drug and my counts are probably going up again now (they did seem low at my last blood work on 9/12 but oncologist said "perfect" so that is what I will accept as truth).
To help with the other BUTT (that of my weight and fitness plans), I will also share about my visit with the integrative medicine doctor at Sloan Dr Deng-
I also have written about changing my eating and exercise habits to help get fit. Breast cancer loves fat cells, I am learning. Many people have asked me about my "clean" eating and I wanted to share about it along with the alternative medicine doctor's appointment I had at Sloan.
Once I finished treatment, I stopped eating meat, dairy and processed foods. I added in more vegetables, lean protein with fish and chicken (all antibiotic free and organic) and I added in soy milk and soy yogurt. I learned from Dr Deng that I should avoid soy in large quantities as it also has hormones. I can have a soy yogurt but not add in extra soy milk with it.
With these dietary changes I also experienced an increase in grocery costs. Holy moly it is expensive to eat "well". Also, I was not seeing a change in my weight with the small amount of foods I was eating. I would have a smoothie in the morning, wheat pasta and fish for lunch and a salad for dinner with nuts during the day for snacks and a soy yogurt. That was it. Along with that, I was doing about an hour of cardio a day almost 5 miles total of movement per day. And with that, I was stuck at a 22 pound weight loss and no more. Really those 22 pounds were a fight but once I lost it, the scale was not moving anymore.
When I met with Dr Deng we discussed a bunch of stuff around terrain, herbs, supplements, diet and lowering my risk of recurrence. He was happy I knew as much as I did from my research so he did not have to cover basics. When he examined me, he said right away that I have to work on my waist line. My waist line has always been an issue - I look perpetually pregnant if I am being honest and I looked this way even before I even actually was ever pregnant.
He suggested that I drop just 10 more pounds. Ha. 10 more pounds when 22 was so hard to lose?? It seems impossible. For the longest time, I have been making smoothies in the mornings for breakfast with kale, spinach, orange, banana, strawberries and mixed berries with water and having that WITH a carb like a whole wheat bagel and/or whole grain english muffin. Dr Deng suggested I expand on these smoothies by doing the 10 day smoothie challenge using the book by JJ Smith. I got the book yesterday and began the cleanse last night.
Why? 1) I am vain and would love to weigh close to what I weighed in high school - who wouldn't? 2) I am nothing but in love with a challenge - oh breast cancer and 2 kids and working - let's do it! So now I am going to attempt to do the smoothie challenge but with a few modifications. I will be eating food at lunch time. I cannot get over not chewing. With the smoothie plan you can have nuts, fruit and veggies in small portion sizes but I am also going to include lunch.
So today, I had my smoothie mentioned above along with a handful of almonds. At lunch time, I had an apple. Then I had a 1/2 whole wheat pita wrap with chicken salad. I had a handful of nuts and now I am having my dinner, which is another smoothie.
I have no clue if this will help or not but I am looking forward to working on abs - on finding abs first and then actually having them. Anything I can do to keep my risk as low as possible is what I will do and along with that, I will try not to get too obsessive because at the end of the day, I am not in control. I am praying and hoping I will be cured but it is not truly all in my hands - only part of it.
What are you trying to do post breast cancer to regain a sense of control? I will let you know if I can maintain this smoothie challenge...
Search the blog here: