Archive | 2012

When Fear Raises Its Head – Again

4 Nov

When Fear Raises Its Head – Again

November 1, 2012

Whenever someone has been diagnosed with breast cancer, the specter of fear is always waiting, ready to haunt again. After taking a long hiatus, it raised its ugly head again recently.

There is a beautiful Cherokee elder who lives in Bucks County.  I had met her many years ago and recently had the opportunity to reconnect with her because she knows my housemate well.  One day a couple months ago, we sat down and had a nice long chat on the back patio.  In the course of the conversation, I had casually mentioned I’d had a health scare last year.  When she asked for more details, I told her briefly and afterwards I noticed her gazing at my chest a few times, as if trying to discern something.

She showed up again the end of September and knocked on my door.  She asked me if I’d be interested in trying some mushroom medicine she had.  (Turkey tail mushroom has had remarkable success in altering the course of some people’s cancers.)  She also wanted to pray for me.

We were outside at this point and I stood facing her with my hands upturned in a receiving posture.  She placed her hands over mine facing downward but not touching, and then she began to sing in a loud and clear voice this beautiful prayer in the Cherokee tongue.

I stood there in humble gratitude with a huge smile on my face, filled with the grace and beauty of this prayer.  The prayer came to an end and then she spoke a prayer in English so that I would understand.

Interesting, isn’t it, that such an act of grace and beauty would subsequently begin, once again, the niggling dance of fear?

I found myself thinking, ‘What did she see?  What does she know?  Do I have cancer again?’

I found myself looking for other clues.  I began to notice that once again my breast, after being completely pain-free for many months, would sometimes be a little achy/uncomfortable/sore.  (And no, it is not related to my menstrual cycle which has been “on hold” for a few months now.  And yes, I’m quite aware that this could be psychosomatic.  But that doesn’t mean it’s not  uncomfortable and disconcerting.)

I decided to do an inventory of my dreams from the last month, as the elder had indicated I might have a significant one.  I noticed the following:

  • I was startled to remember I’d had a “cancer dream” just a couple days before  the Cherokee prayer.  At the end of the dream I said, “Okay, I’ll get myself checked out.”
  • In the first dream after her visit, I wrote in my journal:  “Waiting for a little message.  Instead it’s a big wave – an over-the-heads, can’t-be-ignored, get-everything-clean message.”  (That’s all I remember about the dream and it’s all I wrote down.)
  • I had two doctor dreams.  In one, a doctor was helping me birth a baby.  He knew I was stubborn and literally prayed I would come to my senses and do things in a way he felt was safe.
  • There is a coffin-sized box downstairs with someone in it.  I am freaked out by the thought of that coffin.  (Yes, I’m sure this is symbolic of me being afraid of death.)
  • In another, I am signing into a cancer center.  In this cancer center, the patients are expected to dance every day.  I am dancing – kind of cha-cha-cha-ing backwards, and am full of joy.  It’s fun!
  • Three young women approach a health food store.  It’s dark and looks closed.  The door appears to be locked.  But then I see them inside walking down the aisles.
  • I have a few dreams of family members being sick or in dangerous situations or being suicidal.
  • I have one dream of an explosion, and one dream of a gun being fired.
  • I have two dreams about rats.  In one, I am being bitten on the toe by a rat and call out, “Help me help me help me help me help me!”
  • I dream also of sharks (they don’t appear ominous), and I have a wonderful dream of a praying mantis on a flying carpet-type leaf which comes to land on me, and also a dream about finding beautiful feathers that look like they belong to a phoenix.

In the face of all this, I have decided to get another mammogram. The last one was in January.  My breast doctor wanted me to get another one in July.  A November mammogram will be my compromise.

I also started acknowledging my fears to a few friends, which helped emotionally but did not necessarily help the fears to fade.  Then I found myself voicing my fears to my therapist, and that helped greatly.  (Thank goodness for both good friends and good therapists!)

Meanwhile, I am getting back on track with my supplements.   And my diet.   My diet is largely “not bad,” but there is certainly room for improvement!  I confess I do still veer off-track with my food choices, but I come back on track more quickly and stay on track longer.  (I don’t know if I’ll ever be the kind of person who can be totally strict and rigid with anything.  But I am the kind of person who can keep fairly balanced.)

This is my update, friends.  I share it not so that you’ll worry about me, but so that any women out there in a similar boat will know that this dance with fear is normal.

(And yes, I will keep you updated.)

May you be well.

Tips for the Newly Diagnosed

2 Sep

 

I found out this morning that another friend was diagnosed with breast cancer.  It really does feel like a bit of an epidemic–especially among those over 40 years of age.

It’s such a shock when we get this news.  It brings up so many questions–of mortality, of whether we’ll lose a breast or our hair, of what will happen with our jobs and our children.  It can be completely overwhelming.  I know because I’ve been there.  And so, as a veteran of this fight, I’d like to pass along some tips–not just regarding treatment, but about the need for radical self-care, about changes we can make in our environment and lifestyle, and not least of all, the spiritual ramifications of finding out we have what could potentially be a life-threatening disease.

So here you are, Lisa.  And anyone else out there who has just received the news that they have breast cancer.

Give yourself the time and space to feel your feelings.  It is normal to freak out emotionally when you get this news.  You may look normal to the outsider, but on the inside, there will certainly be some panic going on.  Even if you seem strangely calm, do not be deceived; you are likely in shock.  You may notice, for instance, that your normally assertive and intelligent self fails to ask for definitions of the many new terms being thrown at you by the clinicians you suddenly have appointments with.  You may notice that when asked if you have any questions, your mind draws a blank.  Don’t worry.  The questions are likely to come later–probably when you’re trying to sleep.

If you don’t give yourself time to feel your feelings and begin to process them, you may find yourself a bit vulnerable to accidents (hopefully minor) or unexpected outbursts.  Like the time I was getting ready to go for a consultation with the breast specialist, for instance.  I found myself bumping into furniture, stubbing my toes, and dropping things.  I was a wreck.  I finally realized that if I didn’t take the time to sit down and really breathe–or cry, as I soon found out–I was probably going to really hurt myself!  If you allow time and space for emotional outbursts, you are also less likely to break down in a less-than-ideal situation–like at work or in the middle of a grocery store or with your children.  If you actually schedule time to be alone–at home, at a park, or with a dear friend (which I know is a bit oxymoronic, but you know what I mean), you can allow yourself to scream, to cry, to rant, or to curl up in a fetal position.  It’s really essential to give space for all your feelings.

Make sure you’re comfortable with your doctors, surgeons, radiologists, etc.  There is a good chance you are going to be seeing each of your clinicians several times and it is imperative that you trust them and that they show you respect.  If you have a good working relationship with them, it makes the whole process ever so much easier.  The very last thing you need right now is someone who is overbearing, rude, arrogant, abrupt, or untrustworthy.  If you have any doubts whatsoever, get a second opinion.  I changed doctors early on and it made a world of difference.

Take time to make the decisions regarding treatment that are right for you.  This was the most helpful advice I ever got.  My dear friend, Julia, who was the first friend of mine to be diagnosed, reminded me that the vast majority of cancers grow slowly over a long period of time.  If you need a week or two or three to sort through the many options, do it!  This is your body and you must feel comfortable with your course of treatment.  Do not let doctors or clinicians pressure you to do something unless or until you have decided that it is an appropriate course of action for you.  Take the time to do research.  Look online, read books, talk to other breast cancer patients and survivors.  My advice is this: use your brain, but in the end, trust your gut.

Change your diet right now.  Chances are there is room for improvement.  If you eat meat and dairy, greatly reduce consumption of both or make sure you are using hormone-free products–preferably also organic and/or locally raised.  (Locally raised livestock are less likely to be filled with all the chemicals and toxins that agribusiness routinely uses in their “food production.”)  Double, triple, quadruple the number of vegetables and fruits you consume.  Most veggies and fruits are not only extremely nutritious and supportive of your immune system, but many actually fight cancer.  They fight free radicals, they slow tumor growth, they neutralize nitrosamines and toxins, they balance out hormones, and they even help make changes at the DNA level.  You can’t afford NOT to eat lots of produce.  (Again, please try to make it organic if at all possible, or from local farms and gardens.)  Consume lots of salads and soups and smoothies.  And throw things like chopped kale, onions, carrots, and ground flaxseed into almost everything you consume.

Make your environment as pure as possible.   Drink pure, filtered water whenever possible.  Use natural cleaning products and detergents.  Don’t use air fresheners, hair sprays, and certainly no weedkillers on your lawn or pesticides around your home.  Consider not using nail polish or hair gel or perms or harsh dyes.  Don’t drink out of plastic drink containers that have been left in a hot, sunny car and definitely don’t microwave in plastic containers.  (The plastics leach into the water or food.)

Cut way back on alcohol consumption and try to quit smoking cigarettes.

Exercise.  Being overweight is one of several risk factors for breast cancer.   If possible, try to find ways to move more.  Personally, I find walking outside good for my spirit as well as my body.

Try to get as much sleep as you can and make your bedroom dark at night. (Except for moonlight.  Moonlight is very good for you.)

Under your doctor’s guidance, make sure you are getting enough Vitamin D.  Those lacking sufficient Vitamin D are more prone to cancer.  Consider also the possibility of adding other medicinal herbs or supplements to your health regime.

STOP DOING THOSE THINGS THAT STRESS YOU OUT!  If you hate your job, now might be an excellent time to leave it.  If the company of certain people makes you anxious, stop spending time with them.  If you are over-committed and overwhelmed, let go of as many commitments as possible.  This is major TAKE-CARE-OF-YOURSELF TIME!!!  Everyone and everything else must take a lower priority right now.  Even if you have children, you must place your needs at the top of the list right now.  After all, if you don’t do all that you can to get well, they could lose their mother.  YOU are the priority!  YOU!!!

Enlist and/or accept the support you need right now.  If someone offers to take care of your kids, and if they are a responsible person, by all means, say yes.  If someone offers to accompany you to an appointment or to drive you, and if that would be comforting and helpful, say yes.  If someone offers to make you dinner, say yes!  Now is not the time to be a martyr and do it all yourself.  Allow yourself to be supported.

If you are uninsured or do not have the funds to pay for your treatment, ask the doctor’s office to put you in touch with a social worker.  All hospitals have social workers and they can navigate the system and help you get the care you need.  I learned that in Pennsylvania, for instance, if you have breast or ovarian cancer, they will expedite your medical assistance.

Give yourself time to work on your emotional, psychological, and spiritual issues.  Oftentimes unexplored or unresolved old issues or habits can be contributing factors to your illness.  For instance, many women are trained from a very young age to take care of everyone else first.  If this describes you, you may need to learn the lesson that you are important and worthy of care.  For others, they may have had a lifelong dream to do something exciting or meaningful.  It may be time to dust off that dream.  For others, they may have a deep spiritual yearning for greater connection with the divine.  This may be time to deepen your spiritual practices.  Find friends that you trust or a good counselor or spiritual advisor and give yourself permission to get healthier on many levels–not simply at the physical level.

Above all, now is the time for MAXIMUM SELF-CARE!  Now is the time for flowers on your table, delicious healthy food, movies, books, time in nature–whatever represents nurturing to you.  And now may be the time for massages, facials, Reiki, or acupuncture.  (Check with your doctor about any contraindications.)  Treat yourself the way you would treat an especially beloved friend or family member.  You deserve to be treated well!!!

May you be healthy and well. This is a scary time, but it can also be a powerful, life-changing time.  Take it one day at a time.   And take care of you.

The Courage to Say No

13 Aug

So today I called to cancel my doctor appointment for September.   It was a regular follow-up/check-up with my breast surgeon – a little over one year after my lumpectomy.

My doctor/surgeon wanted me to get another mammogram prior to the appointment.  She wants me to get them every six months, for the time being.  My girlfriend, Julia, a breast cancer survivor, said this is typical after a cancer diagnosis.

The problem is I know a mammogram every six months following a cancer diagnosis is the standard recommendation for the first year or two.  But I don’t like it.

I have already voiced my concerns multiple times in this blog about the problem of the primary diagnostic method in this country also being a risk factor for contracting the very disease it is supposed to be diagnosing.  It’s a little crazy, to me, that we could be endangering ourselves while attempting to diagnose ourselves.  But there’s another issue.

Every time there is a mammogram that shows a slight irregularity – ie, microcalcifications, or something that could be either a tumor or a cyst, they’re going to want to do a biopsy.  And many of these biopsies are somewhat invasive – at least from my perspective.  When there are microcalcifications, they must do a stereotactic biopsy in order to properly locate the problem area.  For me, this was a painful procedure.  Twice.  And it does leave a little scar.  I could be wrong, but I have some concern that there will be several times my mammograms are “concerning,” and then several times I’ll have to have a subsequent biopsy, and before you know it, I’ll have received several extra doses of radiation and several more scars on my breasts.

I know what you’re probably thinking.  If it catches cancer in time, then of course it’s worth it!

But here’s the thing.  Most of us carry a few cancer cells in our body at any given time.  This is actually normal.*  The problem is when they multiply.  But if we live right – ie, eat well, keep our stress level low, exercise, keep our weight down, and stay away from toxins, excess estrogen, and radiation(!), those cancer cells will likely not multiply.  What particularly interests me is knowing that most vegetables and fruits, as well as some other foods like seaweed, nuts, beans, and grains, can actually prevent those rogue cells from multiplying.

So my own personal choice is this:  get off the clinical hamster wheel.  I don’t want a steady succession of mammos, followed by biopsies, potentially followed by more lumpectomies.  It feels like it could happen repeatedly – and with each time I’m sure I would experience the resulting stress and fear – all of which can further cause dis-ease!!!  Instead, I want to TRUST that I know what to do within my own inner wise self.  And I want to trust that my beautiful wise body can fight off cancer when I live right and eat right.

 

And I can guess what many of you are thinking.  ‘But I know so-and-so, and she has been a vegetarian and a yoga practitioner for years!  And she got cancer!’  Well, who knows what other factors were present in her life?  Who knows what part genetics played in her health?  Who knows what kind of emotional stressors or psychological issues were at play?  And besides, that’s not the point.  I am talking now only about me.

FOR ME, at least for now, I will do occasional mammograms and check-ups.  But I am NOT going to obsess about it and do it every six months. FOR ME, the obsession adds to the fear factor and is counterproductive to my health.

For whatever various reasons, I feel healthy now.  I’ve been healthy my whole life until last year and I trust that I got the message, I heard the wake-up call, and I responded by making some changes.  I feel back on track.  I am trusting my feelings.  I believe that I am cancer-free right now.

 

My current plan is to get another mammogram in December or January.  That will be eleven to twelve months since my last one.  And if that’s good, I will probably get the next one two years later.

This may sound wayyyy too risky or crazy for many of you.  And I get that and I honor your opinions and choices.  But I know I need to listen to my inner voice.  And I believe in her wisdom.

 

My hope is that gradually, I will shift my lifestyle to one that breeds truly exceptional health.  As I get my ducks in a row – greater financial abundance, more exercise and yoga, more consistent exceptionally healthy eating, wonderful healing herbs and supplements, and a joy-filled, love-filled life, I trust that I will live to a very ripe and wise old age.

But in order to stick with this plan, I have to have the courage to say no to many of the recommendations of the medical establishment.  And believe me, it does take courage to stand up to these clinicians.  I am very blessed with a practice who, though somewhat traditional in terms of allopathic recommendations, also respects the right of their patients to make their own choices.  And even so, I have felt extremely nervous voicing my own opinions.

When I spoke with the office manager on the phone yesterday, she was very nice and very respectful.  And I still had knots in my stomach just from talking with her and “sticking to my guns.”  My very non-invasive, intuitive, first-do-no-harm, personal choice guns.

 

I know I will probably receive a few comments from some readers and friends who will be worried that I’m not being aggressive enough in keeping tabs on what’s happening in my body.  But I ask that you please respect my choices.  I am choosing a slightly more moderate, less fear-based road.   For now.  If I find myself getting too far off-track, or if my intuition or dreams start ringing alarm bells, I promise to make an appointment for a mammogram immediately.

 

May you be blessed and healthy and happy and well.

 

* “Cancer is a perfectly natural process. A very small percentage of cells in every person who has ever lived turn cancerous. And the body usually gets rid of those cancerous cells before they do harm. This process has been going on for eons. It is only when more cancer cells are being created than the body can get rid of that the problem comes. With increased toxins, viruses, carcinogens, etc. our immune systems have become significantly overworked and weakened.” (http://www.angelfire.com/az/sthurston/understanding_cancer_and_cancer_cells.html)

 

PREVENTING BREAST CANCER

8 Jul

This is my most important blog post to date.

It’s about PREVENTING breast cancer.   And indeed ANY kind of cancer.

Good food and healthy eating is the key.  I had always known that it was important to eat healthy, unprocessed food, but it wasn’t until I found out I had breast cancer that I began to learn that many foods actually work to prevent cancer and/or assist the body in fighting cancer.   The key is to focus on foods that come from plants (the green growing things, not the factory kind) and especially to eat as many colorful vegetables and fruits as possible.

We can take all the medicine and drugs we can stand; we can pull out the “big guns” of chemo and radiation to fight our cancer; but unless and until we SUPPORT our body in its healing – through good food, healthy thoughts, plus emotional and spiritual work, our chances for true healing will be greatly diminished.

The following is excerpted from a book in process and I want to share it here and now so that you will support yourself in either getting well or keeping well, whichever the case may be.

You can memorize this list (below) or you can simply try to eat a more vegetarian diet.  Please note that I don’t tell people they must be a vegan or vegetarian or raw foodie because we are all different and we each have different body types, different temperaments, different physical demands, and different taste preferences.  However, the more vegetables and fruits, beans, whole grains, and nuts we can incorporate into our diet, the better.

One more thing to remember: if you can, please try to eat organic as much as you can.  Or at least eat food that is grown by local farmers who are more likely to use less herbicides and pesticides than huge industrial farms.  I know it’s usually more expensive.  I, too, was reluctant to spend the extra money because I was truly financially challenged for quite a while.  However, when I realized my health and life were on the line, the choice became clear.  The bonus is I feel better ethically supporting those who are being kind to our planet.

 

 

CANCER-FIGHTING FOODS!

 

(Much of this I got from the website:  http://www.cancure.org/cancer_fighting_foods.htm)

  • All fruits – preferably organic and especially berries which are exceeding high in anti-oxidants!  Grapes can “put primary tumors into remission and prevent recurrences.”  And raisins are “antimutagenic and particularly good at preventing breast cancers that arise with age.”[1]  Apples, raw and cooked, in fresh-pressed cider and in vinegar block the formation of cancer and help prevent recurrences. Apricots, especially dried, are exceptionally high in anti-cancer carotenes. [2] The bromelain found in pineapple “disrupts the glycol-protein shield that tumors use to protect themselves” and has been found to “reduce metastatic recurrence.”[3] Among 1, 271 elderly Americans, those who ate the most strawberries were least likely to develop cancer.[4] (Strawberries should be organic.)
  • All veggies – preferably organic and especially cruciferous veggies like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, horseradish, bok choy.  Cabbage, broccoli and brussel sprouts are purported to be the best anti-cancer foods. [5]  A compound found in cruciferous vegetables, as well as kale and collard greens, changes the way estrogen metabolizes and makes one’s estrogen less apt to promote cancer.[6] Besides cruciferous veggies, the next best choice is: Dark, leafy greens, which “are rich in cancer-preventing carotenes, chlorophyll, antioxidants, folic acid, flavanoids, and – if fresh and lightly washed – Vitamin C.”[7]  Cucumbers are also anti-cancer (and taste great in smoothies.) Carrots contain a lot of beta carotene, which may help reduce a wide range of cancers including lung, mouth, throat, stomach, intestine, bladder, prostate and breast.  But the carrots should be raw, not cooked.[8] Cancer researchers have found that eating … one raw carrot daily can prevent certain kinds of cancer.[9]  Sweet potatoes can lower cancer risk and “are especially good allies for women exposed to environmental organochlorines and for those wishing to avoid breast cancer recurrence.”[10] “High consumption of tomatoes correlates strongly with lessened risk of cancer.”[11] In fact, all red foods appear to be really good for fighting cancer – red peppers, beets, red grapefruit, red/purple grapes, etc. Turnips and watercress are also very high in anti-cancer compounds.
  • Garlic. “Garlic, the queen of cancer-preventive and cancer-inhibiting foods, counters the initiation, promotion, and recurrence of many kinds of cancer.”[12] Garlic has also “been clinically proven to inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells…. Raw garlic is far more effective than cooked or encapsulated garlic; the active principle is linked with the smell.  As little as half a clove of raw garlic a day strengthens immunity and increases the number and power of natural killer cells.” [13] 
  • Ginger.  Used even in small doses, ginger helps prevent the initiation of breast cancer.
  • Legumes.  This includes all kinds of beans – black beans, lentils, kidney beans, split peas, etc.  Peanuts are also legumes but are probably not as healthy as other legumes (or nuts.)  Legumes should be a large part of your protein intake.  They are very high in fiber and very nutritious.  They offer cancer-inhibiting enzymes. Lentils especially are “capable of reversing cancerous cellular changes.”[14]  Chick peas/garbanzo beans are one of the richest sources of protease inhibitors.[15]
  • Nettles/stinging nettles.  You will not find nettles in a grocery store.  But you can find them in many fields.  Or look for an area herbalist to guide you.  Nettles are one of the most nourishing plants we can consume (taken as a tea).  Well-known herbalist Susun Weed says, “Nettle is the world’s riches source of carotenes and chlorophyll, as well as an excellent source of folic acid and selenium.  Nettle is a powerful ally for women choosing chemotherapy, as it protects the blood itself from the mutagenic changes (which can lead to leukemia) caused by the chemotherapeutic drugs.”[16]  Well-known herbalist David Hoffman says that nettles “strengthen and support the whole body.”[17]
  • ·        Whole grains – especially brown rice. (Pre-menopausal women eating the most fiber (>30 grams daily) more than halved their risk of developing breast cancer, enjoying a 52% lower risk of breast cancer compared to women whose diets supplied the least fiber (<20 grams/day). Fiber supplied by whole grains offered the most protection. Pre-menopausal women eating the most whole grain fiber (at least 13 g/day) had a 41% reduced risk of breast cancer, compared to those with the lowest whole grain fiber intake (4 g or less per day). www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=128  Amaranth is also anti-cancer. Oats, barley and rye are also good.  Wheatgrass is extremely alkalinizing and “the enzymes and amino acids found in wheatgrass can protect us from carcinogens like no other food or medicine.”  It is also extremely detoxifying.[22]
  • Mushrooms.  Not the kind normally found in supermarkets, but certain wild and exotic mushrooms like puffballs, reishii, oyster mushrooms, shiitake, straw mushrooms, maitake, Zhu ling, polyporacea, chaga, enokidake, and tree ears are exceedingly healthy and important in the fight against cancer.  However, foraging for these mushrooms is very risky as mistaken identity can lead to serious poisoning or death.  Therefore, buy from Chinese herbalists or other reputable sources who know what they’re doing.
  • Nuts contain the antioxidants quercetin and campferol that may suppress the growth of cancers. (Note: Many people are allergic to the proteins in nuts, so if you have any symptoms such as itchy mouth, tight throat, wheezing, etc. after eating nuts, stop. Consider taking a selenium supplement instead or work with someone on how to eliminate this allergy.)  www.cancure.org/cancer_fighting_foods.htm “All nuts and seeds are good sources of anti-cancer protease inhibitors, essential fatty acids, and antioxidants.” [18]Almonds are especially anti-cancer.
  • Seaweeds like wakame, kelp, and kombu.  Seaweed and other sea vegetables contain beta-carotene, protein, vitamin B12, fiber, and chlorophyll, as well as chlorophylones – important fatty acids that may help in the fight against breast cancer. Many sea vegetables also have high concentrations of the minerals potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, and iodine. www.cancure.org/cancer_fighting_foods.htm  “Seaweed in the daily diet protects the thyroid, strengthens the lymphatic and immune systems, and prevents the initiation of cancer.”  Seaweed is anti-tumor and helps prevent a cancer recurrence.[19] Kelp also helps protect the body from the effects of radiation, which often leads to cancer.
  • Seeds – especially flax.  Flax contains lignans, which may have an antioxidant effect and block or suppress cancerous changes. Flax is also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are thought to protect against colon cancer and heart disease.  www.cancure.org/cancer_fighting_foods.htm  Best of all, flaxseed appears to be anti-estrogenic and quite specific against breast cancer.[20]
  • Tea.  Both black and green tea “checks the initiation, promotion, and growth of breast cancer (and eight other cancers including lung and liver.)”[21]
  • Yogurt.  Christiane Northrup, M.D. says that organic yogurt or other potent forms of Lactobacillus acidophilus help to minimize hyperestrogenism and reduce the risk of breast cancer.[23]
  • A note about soy.  There are numerous studies both encouraging and discouraging the use of soy as a cancer preventive.  I consulted my surgeon as the evidence was confusing.  She told me it was okay in moderation but not as my primary source of protein.

That’s all for now, folks.  Enjoy!  Because once you start eating this way, you will feel so much better!  And it tastes good!

Stay tuned for the “cookbook” I’m completing which gives tips on how to make your healthy food more interesting, healthy, and inviting!

Bless you, bless you.


[1] Susun S. Weed, Breast Cancer?  Breast Health!  The Wise Woman Way, Ash Tree Publishing, Woodstock, NY (1996), p.34.

[2] Weed, p. 28.

[3] Weed, p. 39.

[4] Weed, p. 42-3.

[5] Weed, p. 30.

[6] J. Michnovicz and H. Bradlow, “Altered Estrogen Metabolism and Excretion in Humans Following Consumption of Indole-3-Carbinol,” Nutrition and Cancer, vol. 16 (1991), pp. 59-66, as referred to by Northrup, p. 357.

[7] Weed, p. 34

[8] http://www.cancure.org/cancer_fighting_foods.htm

[9] Earl Mindell, Earl Mindell’s Herb Bible, Simon and Schuster/Fireside, NY (1992), p.248.

[10] Weed, p. 43.

[11] Weed, p. 44.

[12] “Garlic fights nitrosamine formation… as do tomatoes and other  produce,” Science News, Vol. 145, February 1994, as referenced in Weed, p. 33.

[13] Weed, p. 33.

[14] Weed, p. 35.

[15] Weed, p. 31.

[16] Weed, p. 42.

[17] David Hoffman, The New Holistic Herbal, Element, Shaftsbury, Dorset and Rockport, Massachusetts (1900), p.218.

[18] Weed, p. 36.

[19] Weed, p. 41.

[20] Lilian Thompson and M. Serraino, “Lignans in Flaxseed and Breast Carcinogenesis,” Dept. of Nutritional Sciences, Univ.  of Toronot, 1989, as referenced in Weed., p. 32.

[21] Bonnie Liebman, “Tea  for 250 Million,” Nutrition Action Newsletter, Nov. 1994 (Cancer Research, 52:3875, 1992 and Journal of National Cancer Institute, 85: 1038,  1993) as mentioned in Weed, p. 43.

[22] Ann Wigmore, The Wheatgrass Book, as referenced by Carr, p. 110.

[23] Northrup, p. 357.

The Latest Results and… What Next?

9 May

For those of you who may not yet have heard the results of my most recent stereotactic biopsy (I just realized the whole world is not my Facebook friend)….

It was benign.

Yea!  I am so grateful.

I find that since that acknowledgement, I have been able to live my life with considerably less fear.  And for that I am very grateful as well.

I continue to modify my diet.  Sometimes I fall off the wagon and eat stuff I know isn’t good for me.  But then I simply get back on track and eat wonderful mostly vegetarian food again.  And I can feel my body being grateful that I am truly nourishing it.

I am also continually in the process of re-evaluating what I need to do to nourish my spirit.   Because, as many of us are realizing, physical diseases and discomforts are often a result of the needs of our souls going unaddressed for too long.

Being healthy is a process.  I got wayyyyyy off-track for a while.  (For maybe ten years or so.)  And now I’m in the process of living what I hope is a more radiantly healthy life.

Interestingly, people have been telling me lately that I have been glowing.   I figure that’s a good thing.  (And no, I’m not pregnant!)

Thank you, as always, every one of you.

May you be well.  May you be happy.

Facing another biopsy – not very calmly

16 Apr

April 16, 2012

So, today is my second stereotactic biopsy.

I realize a few things:

  1. I have been underplaying the significance to everyone who asks, saying, “I’m sure I’m fine.  I just want to make sure and then I can celebrate and be about my life.”
  2. I’m incredulous that I had called my doctor/surgeon to ask her some questions about the procedure a few weeks ago and somehow I missed her call when she called back and then I never called her back again! What the hell is up with that???  I just “forgot.”
  3. It was strongly suggested to me that because my last experience with this procedure was a bit traumatic (ie, very painful), that I should get Reiki beforehand  (and after) to help ease my body into a relaxed and healing state.  I didn’t do this.

I am really distressed with myself that I’m not following through on these important things.  It’s like I’m either sabotaging myself or that I’m  telling myself I’m not worthy –  of people’s concern, of having my questions answered, of having my body be at peace.

And because I’ve been underplaying this to everyone – including myself, I’ve been postponing the small anxiety that I feel this morn.  I haven’t let myself feel it.  I’ve been “being macho” and stoic about it. Darn it. I am nervous.  I am.

I probably did all the above because I’ve convinced myself I’m okay.  But the body feels what the body feels.  And mine feels a bit anxious.

Hmmm.  Maybe I need to do some visualizations of happy memories before they start sending that awful drilling needle into my poor breast.  (It’s not a simple needle biopsy.   It’s this scary kind of electrical drill kind of thing.  I can’t read about it again.  It’s pretty scary to read about what they actually do during this procedure.)

I’m thinking that maybe I can still ask my girlfriend if she’ll do some Reiki this morn.  I bet she would.  But there’s one more thing I have to do.  Or should do.  Whatever.

Yesterday I took the time to get some new sports bras.  You are absolutely advised to wear a sports bra after this procedure because 1) the breast needs extra support in order to heal properly, and 2) I imagine the compression helps manage the swelling.

The problem is they didn’t have my size.  There were racks and racks of sports bras there and they didn’t go up to my size.  (I’m not really that huge, am I?  I don’t feel like I’m that out of the ordinary.  Surely there are many other women my size!)  So I went one size under figuring it’s better in this case to be a bit more smushed than unsmushed (unsupported.)

I wore the bra to bed.   (If I go more than two nights without a sports bra on in bed, my breasts feel sore the next day.  Especially my right one.)  It barely contains me.  If I’m the slightest bit swollen, it is not only not going to contain me, it is clearly not going to adequately support me.

That means I should make that stop on the way, too.  (Fortunately there apparently is a Walmart right on the way to the doctor’s office/women’s health center.)

Clearly I should be doing some meditating this morning, but my anxiety is a bit high.  Perhaps I should have taken my friend’s advice and gotten some anti-anxiety medication just this one, since my body is, at some level, aware of its previous trauma.

Sigh….

Perhaps I should just go for a walk and see if I can get more clear-headed and calm. Maybe then the next steps will be clearer.

If you’re reading this, thank you.  You’re very kind to care about me in this way.  I find myself wanting to apologize, but I am conscious enough to realize that that’s inappropriate.

I find it interesting that I shield everyone about my concerns in person, but for some reason I am able to let it all out when I’m writing.

Anyway, thank you for being my allies and my friends.  Thank you for caring about me.

Healing as a Process

15 Apr

April 10, 2012

 

I will be getting another stereotactic biopsy on Monday.  I’m hoping it’s my last one.  I’m ready to be done with all this cancer drama.  I’m ready to be “just me,” as my friend Art used to always say.  (“How are you?”  I’d say.   “I’m just me,” he’d reply.)

 

Also, it’s been a little over ten months since this saga has begun.  It feels like a good time for reflection.

 

This is what I’ve noticed.  For about eight of the last ten months, I feel like I’ve been pretty worthless on a productivity level.   I like to think of myself as being pretty strong, but it seems clear this health scare threw me for a much greater metaphysical loop than I’d ever have imagined.

 

I truly did not have much energy for doing much of anything.  I certainly didn’t have energy for work.  Or for being responsible.  Or for doing things for other people.  If I put on my judgmental hat, I would have all kinds of rather nasty, disapproving things to say about myself.  But if I put on my wings and look at myself from a place of greater compassion, I realize I was a bit more fragile than I thought I was.  And whether it was completely conscious or not, I ended up giving myself plenty of time to truly process things.

 

I’d written a blog post a couple weeks ago in which I was wallowing in my shame about this non-productive time in my life.  I ended up not publishing it, and have to say I’m glad.  Because since that time, I’ve had a couple instances of reassurance that I wasn’t just a total slug, that important work was going on.

 

First, I had a session with a friend who is highly intuitive.  (She has a great gift and she offered me a session as part of an exchange.  I took care of her house and her wonderful dog. Along with some money, she gave me a reading. Yay!)  One of the things she told me was that I’d done a lot of work in the last two years and that the next two years would be good ones as a result.

 

I’d done a lot of work?  I can’t tell you how happy my spirit was to hear that!  I had been bashing myself quite a bit, flagellating myself for not getting myself more together. (My eyes are flooding with tears as I type this.)  I was so embarrassed about how little paying work I’d been doing.   I hadn’t had a lot of work, and I hadn’t had the energy to go look for it.  Nor had I any idea what I really wanted to do.  Except, that is, those things that I love to do – all those things which were not yet bringing me much money.  (ie, writing, art, teaching.)   To receive the acknowledgment that I had indeed been “doing work” was a huge, huge gift for me.

 

I’m sure when she said “work,” she was referring to emotional/spiritual work.  This kind of work is very hard to do in the workaday world.  The soul requires time and space to do this kind of work. And this culture doesn’t really look kindly upon people taking time off for soul-searching. Not that I was consciously “taking time off.”  I was simply in a one-day-at-a-time mode. I just didn’t have the usual reserves of energy, nor the usual font of ideas and inspiration for anything more far-reaching than the next day or two.

 

The second thing that happened was a dear friend of mine said that I’d been a catalyst for a really big change and growth process in her life.  She said that I had had a major impact on her just by being me, just by being a loving presence.

 

This was also so affirming for me.  I had asked her, several months ago, for a favor.  I had offered some services in exchange for this favor.  What I discovered was, though these services were and are appreciated, it was apparently my presence which had been most valuable. What this told me was that Spirit was at work, whether I realized it or not.  There was grace happening in the midst of struggle and in the midst of this not-so-honored-by-society fallow time.

 

Once these two events of affirmation happened, I began to lighten up.  I began to trust that I was being of service in the world – even without trying so hard.  I began to realize that even such mundane things as making posts on Facebook and giving hugs at church were benefiting the world in a small way.  Maybe I didn’t have to do the “big” things – like midwife people into the afterlife with hospice work, or bring in a large paycheck.  Maybe it was okay to just “be me.”  Maybe I wasn’t such a slacker after all.

 

And with that realization, I can – right this minute, feel my heart opening.  I feel a greater connection to Spirit. I imagine the angels cheering as I realize I am okay the way I am; that I don’t have to be more, better.

 

I also notice that in the past month or two, my energy has been returning. I’m not talking about physical energy.  I’m talking about the energy to be more present to other people.  I’m talking about the energy to be more responsible for something larger than myself.   I’m talking about the energy to be of service in the world again.

 

Just as cancer generally takes quite a while to grow, perhaps our spirit takes a while to heal.  Perhaps it’s a process that can’t be rushed.  Like grieving or childbirth, it unfolds in its own time, and no amount of rushing will make it go faster.

 

Maybe I’m okay just the way I am.  Cancer or not.  Money or not.  Busy or not.  Maybe it’s all okay.  It’s all just a process – life is a process; healing is a process.  I am healing in process.  But I think… I think it just may be possible that this chapter in my life is coming to a close.

 

And if not, well that’s okay, too.  In ten months, no doubt I’ll have another realization or two.

 

Blessings to each of you.  Thank you for reading this.