Archive | 2012

The Positivity of Gwyn

6 Apr

April 5, 2012

This blog post is dedicated to my friend, Gwyn.

While I complained today about not getting as much done as I should have, Gwyn was in too much pain to do much of anything.  She’s in pain because just four months ago she found out that the excruciating pain in her back was not from a slipped disc or a pulled muscle, but cancer that had, completely unbeknownst to her, traveled from a breast to her spine – and actually caused it to fracture.

For those who don’t know, cancer that spreads from one part of the body to another part is considered Stage IV cancer.  Can you imagine blithely walking through your days, then going to the doctor to inquire about back pain, and then discovering you have Stage IV cancer?

But the amazing thing is, in spite of the pain, the zillions of doctor appointments, the side effects of the treatments, the drain of all these visits and treatments on their finances, Gwyn is remarkably positive most of the time.  Or perhaps she would rather I say:  in addition to the days where she’s in pain and emotional distress, she has many days where she is extremely positive.

Some days, Gwyn has energy.   Some days, Gwyn is creative.  Some days, Gwyn writes in her blog for us, inspiring us to learn the lessons from the situations we’re given.  Many days, Gwyn has a positive attitude.

As you all know from reading this blog in the past, I waded through a huge amount of fear for a diagnosis of very early stage cancer.  Gwyn is wading through a much scarier diagnosis.  I don’t know what Gwyn’s “official” prognosis is (and I don’t like prognoses anyway,) but like her, I am holding out hope that with a good combination of allopathic and natural treatments, plus a much fine-tuned kick-ass diet and a hugely positive attitude, Gwyn is going to come through this and she is going to wow the pants off us with the things she will do with her life – now and in the next post-cancer phase. .

I’m dedicating this post to Gwyn for two reasons.

  1. She humbles me and inspires me and helps me keep my situation in perspective.
  2. She and her husband have been through not just a physical and emotional ringer, but also have a fair amount of stress triggered by their financial situation.  They are insured, and yet each and every single doctor visit, consultation, x-ray, MRI, prescription, radiation treatment, etc. comes with a co-pay.   The co-pays are taking their toll.  There is no money left for the “good stuff.”  This includes, among other things, herbs and supplements and alternative/adjunct methods of healing, not to mention ordinary living expenses and even some “fun money.” Because Lord knows if ever there were a time it would be helpful to have some discretionary funds for fun, this would certainly be it!  Therefore, a few of us are throwing Gwyn a fundraiser – a gala concert/art show/feast/fundraiser.

5/9/12  Folks, we had to postpone this fundraiser because Gwyn has been facing such severe pain in the last couple of weeks that it was decided she should get spinal fusion surgery.  Originally scheduled for 5/16, Gwyn had to call last week and plead for mercy.  Pain due to her deteriorated spine had become unbearable.  As a result, she had surgery THIS MORNING, May 9th.  

We are sending Gwyn lots of love and healing energy.  May this surgery go beautifully well.  May she be relieved of her pain and may her cancer disappear.

If she recuperates as well as we all hope and pray she will, we hope to have the fundraiser in September.  Meanwhile, I hope you will consider this Non-Event Fundraiser.  Feel free to send Gwyn money anyway! She still needs it even though she is unable to be present physically for a concert.

Please see more details below.  Thank you!


Gwyn has been a fine artist for many years.  (This artistic gene was also evident in her mother, Lillian Michael.)  In recent years Gwyn has married two loves – art and photography – to create some beautiful work, often inspired by nature.  And now, Gwyn is creating fascinating and potent work utilizing the scans, MRI’s, x-rays, and other images obtained during the course of her treatment.  I have never seen work like this.  I truly can see some of these images in a huge gallery in New York, but you will see them first, at Pebble Hill Church, during the merry month of May.

If you don’t live in the Bucks County area of Pennsylvania, or even if you do, there are other ways to see Gwyn’s art.  (And don’t forget to buy some!  Even without a scary cancer diagnosis, artists need our support to continue to offer their gifts to the world!)

  1. Check out her blog:  http://www.arthopetruth.com
  2. Check out her website:   http://gwynmichael.com

As Gwyn’s friend, and as a human being who cares about this particular human being and her struggles and joys, I am asking you to please support her.  Buy some art.  Send a donation.   Share her blog and website and this post with your friends.  Send good positive healing energy and prayers.  Friend her on Facebook.

We all need friends.  And there are times in our lives when we need them more than others.  This is a time when Gwyn needs us.

PS   If you can send Gwyn even a small amount, her address is Gwyn Michael, 2233 Bethel Rd., Lansdale, PA 19446.  Bless you!!!

Six-month Follow-up Doctor Visit

14 Mar

March 12, 2012

 

So, last Thursday I went for my six-month follow-up appointment with my breast surgeon.

 

The first thing of note happened when I was updating my information with the receptionist.  She asked, “Is Dr. Kracht still your primary care physician?”  “Yes,” I replied.   “And _____________, _______________, and _____________?”  I stared at her blankly. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said.   She said, “That’s odd.  They’re right here on your chart.”  I was puzzled also. Then she must have said something about oncologists and the light bulb went off.  I said, “Oh!  I chose not to go to them.”

 

When my doctor arrived to the examining room she was very warm and friendly but also surprised and a little disappointed that I didn’t at least go and talk to the oncologists.  (One was a radiation oncologist and one a hematology oncologist.)  I replied that I hadn’t been interested in either the radiation therapy or the anti-estrogenic drug and I knew it would be hard to stand my ground if I had been face to face with them.   I knew they’d be pushing for me to go the direction they thought was best.

 

(All things considered, I still agree with my decision FOR ME!  I needed to do my own research and come to my own conclusions and decisions before allowing “experts” to exercise their sway.  However, I do, OF COURSE, honor all those who choose differently from me.  We are each individuals and we have to make our own choices.)

 

Okay, back to the doctor visit.  As I suspected, she wants me to get a biopsy.  A stereotactic biopsy.   For those who have been following my blog, my experience with a stereotactic biopsy last August was NOT pleasant.  In fact, that was the most unpleasant of all my breast-related experiences to date.  However it’s not the fear of discomfort which makes me hesitate.  It is the following two factors:

 

  1. I worry about my body having to process additional radiation.  If I were to get this biopsy done in the next month or two, that would mean that during the course of one ten-month period, my body would have been subjected to about 15 x-rays (about  7 or 8 “shots” per set of mammograms) plus two stereotactic biopsies – which would entail at least two more x-ray views each time.  That’s a LOT of radiation.  And radiation, as you know, is a great risk factor for getting cancer!  (“According to Dr. Gofman, MD, PhD, in Radiation and Human Health: A Comprehensive Investigation of the Evidence Relating Low Level Radiation to Cancer and Other Diseases, ionizing radiation is a known carcinogen, there is no safe exposure level to ionizing radiation, and the effects of radiation exposure are cumulative throughout one’s life.”  http://www.holisticcarehawaii.com/Stereotactic.htm)
  2. There are a few articles which express concern about the wisdom of “poking around” surgically or otherwise in an area that already exhibits the presence of cancer cells or cancer growth. The very act of having more surgery at that site could potentially spread that cancer farther.

 

I expressed my concerns and she heard them.  Her concern is that the one calcification showing on my January films could mean something.  If I had had radiation therapy, that one calcification could be (likely would be) a by-product of the RT.  But I didn’t, so to be safe she feels I should check it out.

 

Of course, doctors have to anticipate worst-case scenarios, while I as the patient, want to be aware of them but NOT focus on them!

 

She did say she would like me to have another set of mammograms done before the next six-month follow-up appointment.  I asked her if there were ANY alternatives.   I again expressed my concern about the radiation involved with mammograms. She reiterated that thermographs aren’t able to find anything at this earlier stage of the game.  They are not an adequate early diagnostic tool.  She said they’re working on diagnostic ultrasound technology, but it’s not ready yet.

 

So, in a nutshell, it seems I have three choices:

 

  1. Do neither of these clinical/diagnostic options (neither biopsy nor mammogram) and trust that my natural course of treatment is sufficient.
  2. Skip the biopsy and get another set of mammograms in six months’ time.
  3. Get the biopsy and then go from there.

 

When I left the office yesterday, I was leaning toward Option #2.  However last evening and this morning, I’m leaning toward the last option.  Because if this calcification represents a benign condition, then I feel I can safely wait at least a year for another set of mammograms.  If it proves to be a spot of cancer, then it would be good for me to know this now, rather than later.  However I am choosing not to worry about those decisions until I know what I’m working with!

 

Okay, it sounds like I’ve just talked myself into the stereotactic biopsy.   I guess I’d rather know for sure what is going on in my body.  Or perhaps, if I’m very lucky, I’ll be able to have the opportunity to say, “See! I’m doing just fine!”   And that would feel very good indeed.

 

Thanks for listening.

 

PS  When I woke in the middle of the night the day of my doctor appointment, I found myself thinking about my right breast and what to do about it.  I must have dozed off because I suddenly realized I’d seen an image of my breast with a vertical knife next to it.  I think that perhaps that was a sign that some surgery (a biopsy) is a good idea.

Moving through Fear into a Greater Connection with the Divine

3 Mar

March 2, 2012

So I am continuing to process my last two blog entries regarding food and fear and I am realizing they are related.  This is where I am today:

  1. I think the scary dreams are warning dreams, as opposed to prophetic dreams. I think they are messages sent to me which say: If you don’t get on the right course, this is what is likely to happen.
  2. I’m feeling a little bit less anxious because three or four times now this week, I have had pH readings in the optimal alkaline zone.  (Yay me!!!)   This is extremely encouraging.  If I can stay in this zone 5-6 days out of the week, I will feel like I’m on the right track.
  3. This morning’s card was labeled “Fear.” The message was to look at my fears to see if they are valid or if perhaps my imagination is running away with me.  In my case, I think they are reasonable concerns, but I also think I have allowed them to become too consuming.   This card confirms that “fear is a crippling companion.”  It indicates “a loss of faith and connection with the Divine.”

I really need to look at this.   I think of myself as a spiritual being, but have I been walking the walk?  Have I been immersing myself in the presence of the Divine?  Have I been having conversations with God/Goddess/Great Spirit on a regular enough basis?  Have I allowed the healing energy of Divine Presence to flow through me?

This takes commitment on my part.  I need to carve out time in which I can really sink into Sacred Space. One cannot do deep healing or spiritual work in a fast-food, drive-through kind of way.  Although one can certainly offer small prayers all day long, true connection with Source probably requires a slightly larger allocation of time.

I ask myself, What are ways I can sink into a deeper Sacred Space?

Here are my answers.  Yours may very well be different.

  • Spend time in Nature.  This can mean a walk through the woods, it can mean sitting on a chair under the trees, it can mean lying on the sand at the beach.  The most important thing is being present to the Beauty that is all around.  Let the Beauty feed your soul.
  • Prayer/chanting/singing/meditation.  I’m putting them altogether because chanting and singing are forms of prayer and meditation for me.  Whenever I try praying in a more traditional way (with spoken words), it never feels like enough.  It doesn’t feel deep enough, heartfelt enough.  But if I sing or dance my prayers, they take on greater meaning. I can feel my yearning come through more readily.
  • Art/painting/drawing.  This is something I love to do, and for some reason, resist.  But when I feel inspired and allow that creativity to flow through me, I find myself really happy.  And I imagine the Spirit of Divinity is present in me and through me.
  • Massage/healing.  This pertains to both the giving and receiving of it.  Both can be enormous opportunities for grace and healing and peace.  I continue to practice being in sacred space when I give massage.  However, it is clear I need to find a  way to receive more massage, reverent touch, and healing.
  • Find a wonderful dream group.  I continue to be blessed with an abundance of dreams.  (Relatively few are scary, but I seem to share more of those kind with you!)  What I would love to manifest is a dream group which knows how to enter the sacred space in which dreams and insights can be gently shared in a respectful way.  There is so much richness in our dreams!

May you discover the ways in which you can deepen your connection to the Divine.  As for me?  I’m going to go paint.  Right now!!!

Intuition, Intent, and Finding the Proper Path toward Healing

28 Feb

February 28, 2012

So I had started a blog a couple days ago about how I seem to have come to a  turning point.  Before there had always been  an undercurrent of fear about cancer returning and the subsequent loss of a breast.  But, through grace, recently I’ve come to a place of greater peace.

A few things had converged to create this shift.

  1. I’d gone to a healer.  She worked with me to release and clear old energy patterns and ill-advised thoughts that were lodged in my consciousness.  These thoughts were often the result of beliefs held by my parents or ancestors or others whom I’ve encountered in my life.   After this session, I felt considerably lighter, as if the weight of the world (which I hadn’t realized I’d been carrying) had been lifted from me.
  2. I’d gone to a healing sweat lodge – a lodge specifically for women.   During the third round – the round of personal healing, I’d had an insight.  I realized I needed to let go of my attachment to my breasts.  I needed to stop focusing on them as a part of my attractiveness.  I needed to realize that in the overall scheme of things, what is most important is that I LIVE MY LIFE.  I need to focus on my purpose – what is important for me to do – this day, this week, this month, this year.  I need to stop focusing on what I fear and instead focus on my path. This may seem so obvious to you all, but to me, it was a really important shift.
  3. A friend has a daughter who is healing from a more advanced form of breast cancer using many natural treatments, including spiritual ceremony.  This daughter was advised “not to listen to anyone who tells her anything about cancer.”  Everyone has a story to tell about cancer.  And often the story they choose to tell will be about someone dying.  (How does this serve the person who is struggling to get well?  It does not.)  In addition, doctors often focus on worst case scenarios and treat accordingly- ie, if there’s a possibility one could die, then of course the most aggressive form of treatment is essential.  But we always have a choice in our thoughts and our focus.  If we focus on the worst case scenario, we may very well “call it to us.”   (This does not apply to passing thoughts but to obsessive worries.  For instance, the hypochondriac who always focuses on being sick is likely to become sick more often.)

So after this succession of events, I was recently  surprised to realize ‘Oh!  I don’t feel afraid anymore!”  I realized it might not necessarily be a permanent feeling, but for the time being, I was profoundly grateful to have felt the shift.  I realized I didn’t want to be “that woman who has breast cancer” anymore.  I wanted to be me, living boldly and vibrantly and doing wonderful things in the world.

And then this morn I had another dream. Sigh…

In this dream I discover that my right breast (the one in which cancer had been discovered and removed last August) was puckered and misshapen in the upper left quadrant.  (The lumpectomy had been in the upper right quadrant.)  I was able to manually pull out the tissue and reshape my breast again.  But the dream scared me.

Two weeks ago I dreamed that white dots were discovered throughout my right breast. These dots I knew represented cancer.

So, what do I make of these dreams?  On the one hand, they could be indicative of remaining fragments of fear. On the other hand, these dreams could be signs.  And I realized this morn that the latter explanation feels more likely.   I am not necessarily a prophetic dreamer, but in the past I have been blessed with some “big” dreams which have been gifts and/or messages.

I decided to consult an oracle.  The card I pulled was the High Priestess, representing “discernment, prescience, prophecy, vision.”  Hmmm. That seems pretty darn clear, doesn’t it?

The book that accompanied this oracle deck* also said, “Go beyond the ordinary, past the chaos of modern life, and trust your inner vision to guide you on your path.   Pay attention to your dreams, and keep track of your intuitive hunches, for when the High Priestess appears, she asks you to look for the thread of truth in these places.  Be discerning in all that you do at this time, for the High Priestess reminds you that not all is as it seems to be.”

Sigh….   I have an appointment with my doctor next week.  It’s been on the schedule for 2-3 months.  She will be looking at the mammogram from January which showed a calcification and she will compare it to the films from last May.  I wonder what she will say.  More importantly, I wonder what I will choose to do.

I have been so wedded to the intention of fighting this as naturally as possible.  But based on these (and other) dreams, I wonder if I may need to reconsider the medical treatments I have been so wary of.  I think my next course of action may have to include a vision quest.  I truly need more clarity.

Thanks for listening.

* Wisdom of Avalon Oracle Cards, by Colette Baron-Reid, p. 4-5.

Confessions of a Yoyo-ing Health Food Convert

28 Feb

February 28, 2012

(Note: A dear friend said he found the following blog entry “more than a little obsessive.”  My initial reaction was embarrassment.  I immediately wanted to delete the post.  However, I’m going to leave this up here  because it’s real.  For those fighting cancer who are educated and somewhat health-conscious, there is a tendency to get obsessive about the foods we put in our body.  It’s one thing  we do have control over and, as research shows, it definitely can make a difference.  So the upshot is, obsessive or not, I feel this is an important blog and I’m keeping it.)

Let me assure you that I’ve always been a fan of healthy eating (aside from when I was a child and didn’t know better – eating Lebanon baloney on white bread for lunch every day, along with a Tastycake for dessert.)  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that eating “foods” that have very little actual food left in them (but tons of additives) are not really good for you. I may not have been as healthy as some of the slim vegetarian yoga aficionados we see trotting around in Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, but I certainly knew how to cook a good healthy meal with real food, brown rice, veggies, etc.  However, I do confess that I became much more lax the last decade or so.

Like many people who have busy lives, taking the time to prepare healthy food was not always among the top contenders on my to-do list.   I began eating out more, and more and more often, I am quite embarrassed to say, I would resort to fast food figuring that anything was better than nothing and at least  I’d have some protein or carbs to keep me going energy-wise.  (I hasten to add that I now know that I was deluding myself big-time with that theory.)

Having a cancer scare quickly makes one take stock of delusional thinking like that.  I got myself back on board quickly!  I knew I needed to be more vegetarian.  While vegetarians may not necessarily agree that the vegetarian lifestyle can include the words “more” or “less,” for me it made sense to aspire to the lifestyle without having to be a complete and total purist.

I consider myself fairly well educated in general, and specifically with regard to nutritional issues, I am probably more well-read than most.  However there’s nothing like the big C word to make one read a bit more voraciously on the topic. I quickly learned that there were foods that were not only generally healthy, but specifically important in the fight against cancer.  I strove to incorporate as many of them as possible.

Living in a vegetarian household for which I have agreed to prepare a fairly large percentage of the dinners has helped me to eat quite well for several days of the week. Consider, for instance, my diet today:

  • For breakfast:  Smoothie – almond milk, homemade hormone-free yogurt, kale, half an organic banana, and a teaspoon of organic peanut butter.
  • For lunch: Sesame tofu stir fry with local cabbage, organic onions, organic carrots, and daikon, seasoned with lots of cancer-fighting turmeric, some garlic, and a couple dashes of tamari.  Brown rice cooked in organic vegetable broth.
  • For dinner:  Red lentils cooked in organic vegetable broth and seasoned with turmeric and coriander.  Salad with organic baby greens, shredded cabbage, local organic micro-greens, shredded organic carrots, diced daikon, cucumbers, zucchini, and local organic watercress.  Dressed with olive oil and organic lemon seasoned with tarragon and marjoram.
  • For snacks: One small square of dark chocolate, off-the-charts in anti-oxidants.  A gluten-free peanut butter cookie.

Not bad, right?  I confess, even I was impressed with today’s feast.

Now let me confess to you yesterday’s diet:

  • Small smoothie (See above.)
  • 2 chicken tenders (prepared by Carversville General Store.)
  • One bottle Snapple Peach Tea.
  • Mug of blackberry tea.
  • Brown rice with dribble of chicken drippings.
  • Blanched broccoli.
  • 3 slices of whole grain bread with butter.
  • Purified water.
  • Homemade unsweetened iced tea.
  • 2 large helpings of salad (See above, but without the daikon, carrot, or watercress.)
  • 2 1/2 pieces of iced carrot cake (with only a modest amount of carrot observed in it.)
  • Fairly good-sized bowl of microwave popcorn (with very little butter in it.)
  • Bowl of homemade (by friend’s son Adam) soup with chicken, carrots, rice, and seasoned with sesame oil.

Well, on second thought, that may not be too horrifying, but I confess to feeling no small amount of guilt about the cake and the Snapple.  (I did enjoy both though.  I did, I did.)  Plus, although I don’t have a problem with butter specifically, this was not organic butter and so it no doubt contained the hormones that are very uncool for someone with estrogen receptor positive breast cancer issues to ingest.   The chicken may have had been raised in an unhealthy corporate farm as well.

And while one day like yesterday is not a huge deal, I am chagrined to confess that it followed a week of some indulgence.  I was out of town for 3 days last week. Those of you who travel can attest that it is much harder to eat healthfully when one is on the road.

In the car ride to the destination, I did eat a couple of delicious locally grown apples (from Solebury Orchards) and snack on things like organic nachos, nuts, and rice thins.  And for the first lunch from the small buffet at corporate headquarters I had egg salad on half a piece of whole grain bread with lettuce, spring water, and fresh fruit salad.  But that night at a wonderful and very fine Italian restaurant I did allow myself one piece of bruschetta, two fried risotto balls, a salad, and half of a large plate of spaghetti and meatballs.  (Oh was it ever good.  It was really, really good.)  And the next day I had, among other things, the rest of the spaghetti, the dessert I’d taken home (the best and lightest cheesecake I’ve ever, ever had), and, on the road, some local candied pecans.

Perhaps you’re thinking, Cindy, this is not such a big deal. You are allowed to eat real food that doesn’t look like it was prepared at an ashram.  The problem is: once you’ve had a cancer scare, you tend to be a bit more nervous about what you do and don’t eat.  I have several friends who’ve had breast cancer who were/are MUCH more disciplined about their food intake. One dear friend was so afraid to put anything non-organic or unhealthy in her mouth that she was literally afraid to eat for a couple months.  Another ate a strictly macrobiotic meal the whole time she was getting treatments – even taking containers of the “good stuff” with her to parties and social gatherings.  Another friend is able to refrain from putting a single piece of cheese in her mouth.  Her boyfriend confirms that she does not veer from healthy eating.  Ever.  Sadly, I don’t seem capable (yet) of such discipline.

Here is the test to see whether I’ve gone too far off-balance.  A couple days ago I finally received in the mail some pH strips with which to test the alkaline/acid balance of my body.  For those who don’t know, disease of any kind has a much harder time getting a foothold in an alkaline environment.  Sadly, most Americans are way on the acidic side.  I was eager to see how my body was doing.

I returned from my trip on Thursday night.  The next morning I found the mail carrier had delivered my package of pH strips while I was gone. I eagerly opened it and went to take a pee so I could test it out.  The result?  I was one step below the target alkaline range.   In other words, I was acidic, but on the lowest end of the acidic scale. I was pleased.  After a couple days of indulgence, I was close to the alkaline zone.  I could get back on track, I was sure.

The next day, I had the same exact reading.  Okay, so taking my supplements and getting back on track for one day was not going to be enough.  I tried to make up for it by eating lots of salads that day, even though I was out and about and not at home. I began the day with a smoothie and by the time I finally had time for lunch, I was ravenous.  So in addition to a salad, I had another Peach Snapple, some baked potato crisps, a bit of tunafish, and two gluten-free peanut butter cookies.  For dinner I had a Caesar salad (light on dressing, no added cheese) with wonderful grilled chicken.   I was only halfway good. And the accumulation of all of the past days’ dietary digressions led to a more seriously acidic reading this morn.

Let me add here that part of the reason for my added anxiety about my diet is that about two months ago I had asked a professional intuitive/channel whom I know if I was “doing enough” to stay cancer-free.   What she was told was that I was on the right track but that I needed to focus on staying alkalinized. (I knew the importance of alkalinization from my research as well.)

This is why I’m sharing with you the monotony of my dietary dealings.  I want you to learn from me!   If you want to be healthy, stay alkalinized and eat healthy!  Lots and lots and lots of greens, lots of veggies, lots of salads and raw foods. You can do it!  And hopefully, in another month or two, I will be more consistently on track and a living, breathing, beautifully energetic and radiant model of glowing health.

Thanks for listening.  Be well, friends!

PS  In the afternoon on the 29th and in the morning  on March 2, I made it into the “green zone!”   The green colors on the color scale of the pH strips indicate one is in  the alkaline zone.  The optimal  zone is 6.75 to 7.5.  I was there twice! YAYYYYY!!!!

PS2  (Added March 3, 2012)  Rather than write a separate entry, I decided  to add a postscript to this blog.  If anyone thought I didn’t misbehave too badly diet-wise (above), let me assure you, I really really really did last night and this morn.   There will be no dispute about how far off my healthy eating plan I fell.

Let me confess.  I began the morning well – leftover brown rice with spinach and almonds plus red lentils, followed shortly thereafter by one organic egg (from the chickens who live on my property) with red onion, goat cheese and herbs.  I also made a big pot of vegetable soup, but only ate about a cup of it.   All well and good, right?

Well about 3 hours later I remembered the Breyers chocolate ice cream my housemate  had in the freezer.  I indulged in not one, but TWO bowls of it.  (Oh my, it was good.)

Four hours later I am ravenous.  Of course.  I’ve waited way too long for my next good meal.  And  when that happens, look out.

I was craving something salty and crunchy and I had nothing.   So I went to the grocery store and debated between several options before getting a bag of Herr’s popcorn, which my companion and I began eating as  we walked through the store. Then the subject of (yes, I am in confession mode, I have to tell you) McDonald’s came up.  And we ended up going and I had a $1.00 double cheeseburger, a small fries, AND an apple pie.  The only thing I DIDN’T do wrong  was have a small cup of unsweetened iced tea.

Oh, it’s not over, friends.  This morning I got up early and decided to join my parents on their weekly Saturday breakfast out.  They chose Perkins.  Perkins does not have too many healthy options.  I looked over the menu and the only thing that was calling to me was… pancakes.  Ay yay yay, Cindy.  White flour is soooo not good for me.  It makes me bloat.   Syrup is sooo not good for me.  (Or for fighting cancer.   Simple sugars like syrup actually feed cancers.)  (I did have a side of fresh fruit cup.)

And ya know what?  I notice my physical energy is low today.  When I eat healthy food, my energy is usually pretty good.  But I can officially vouch for the fact that junk food, fast food, carbs and sugars will deplete your energy!  Guilt is one thing (and yes, of course I feel it), but low energy is another.  Perhaps I will eventually remember that when I eat this kind of thing  the feel good part is only temporary!  Then I crash energy-wise.

I  obviously can’t do anything about the crap I put into my body the last  twelve hours or so.  But what I can do is eat lots of soup and salad today.  I will also drink lots of water and take extra drops of my detoxifier.   (Pure Body.  Go to http://ToYourHealth.MyTouchstoneEssentials.com)  I also need to  take a long walk and get some extra  exercise and fresh air.

Back on track.  That’s all I can do – get back on track and resolve to go longer before falling off the wagon next time.  I know myself well enough that I won’t be able to be a total purist any time soon, if ever.  But I can go for longer periods before any indulgences….

Please disregard my lapses, dear body.  I want what’s best for you.  I will try to consider your needs more diligently next time!

Playing the Second-Guessing-Myself Game

11 Feb

January 26, 2012

Fighting Doubts

So, here is the latest.  I went to pick up my radiology report at the hospital. As I suspected, they rated my most recent mammogram results a BI-RADS 3.   This indicates that the one microcalcification they found near the site of my surgery is “probably benign” but that some follow-up with my doctor would be wise.

I looked at the digital image of my films.  I am clearly not an expert at reading films, but I did see one big bright white spot, which is what I assume is the calcification to which they were referring.

How interesting:  “one bright white spot.”  So what is the bright side of all this?  The bright spot is I am more acutely conscious of my health and have made significant lifestyle changes as a result. The bright spot is I am learning a lot and I have the opportunity to share some of that knowledge with others.  The bright spot is I AM ALIVE and I have both my breasts and I feel quite good!  I can’t ask for much more than that, can I?!

Here, however, is my current challenge:  to stay in this place of gratitude and trust, even when I am the recipient of someone else’s fears and concerns for me.   I am noticing that when I read a message that is fearful, it takes great will for me to stand balanced in my own internal knowing and not get knocked off-course.  This does not mean that I am unwilling to consider alternate points of view, however I truly don’t want to “catch” other people’s fears or projections. I don’t believe that serves me..

Here are a couple examples of messages I have received recently:

  •  “From someone who has used diet for cancer for over 35 years … the people with the greatest success use a combination of standard treatment, meditations for guidance (spiritual help), and clean diet. Especially when caught early and handled aggressively. Once certain cancers get a foothold it is very hard otherwise. (Emphasis mine.)  If I had it to do over I would have had a complete mastectomy like I was guided to to do with my visions back in 2003 instead of the skin sparing one I opted for. So here I am dealing with it a third time. It is my diet and chemo that helped keep it local though. Don’t mess with breast ca, it ain’t leukemia that has been documented to go into remission with dietary changes alone. :)”
  • “I too was diagnosed with DCIS. That was 5/1/2008. Because by accident the US tech found another suspicious area on the day of my biopsy, that also turned out to be cancer, I decided to have a mastectomy. Good thing, the pathology study found that my entire breast had DCIS. A lumpectomy and radiation would not have been a cure for me. That was my left breast.
    I have to be honest, I worry for you. Lumpectomy without radiation is not standard treatment for DCIS. The radiation is done to kill any cells left behind. Since nothing showed on my Mammo for the second spot on my left breast, and nothing at all on the MRI, but pathology provide my entire breast had DCIS, I believe we need to go the full course. (sic)
    Certainly healthy eating will help, but I worry about you using that as a cure.
    When any woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, all women are affected. Just want you to have a long, happy life.
    Be well.”

So, just reading these comments, my guess is that you, too, will start worrying for me.  Fear is insidious, isn’t it?

Here is what  I told  myself  after reading the above comments from  very well-intentioned friends or  readers:

  1. Obviously both these women have had more aggressive or widespread cancers.  And, I believe in both cases (but I could be mistaken), the technology used originally missed something important.  Understandably, these women therefore have a greater fear of cancer and are in favor of more aggressive treatment.
  2. There are untold numbers of women who treated their cancer conservatively – with surgery alone, and survived/thrived.  So one could argue either way.   ie, Either be safe and fight this with all the tools the medical establishment throws your way, or take your time and choose what feels right for you because most cancers are slow growing and some never do  threaten  our lives.

Here are some reasons I am suggesting moderation is also an appropriate tool FOR ME:

First of all, ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is not considered life-threatening. The problem with DCIS is sometimes it develops into a more invasive form of cancer and sometimes it doesn’t.  Approximately 80% of the time, it never escalates into a more serious form of cancer.

One site says the following:

“DCIS is considered noninvasive (meaning it has not spread), but does have the potential to spread to other parts of the breast if not treated. (Usual treatments include lumpectomy with or without radiation, use of tamoxifen after lumpectomy, or mastectomy.)” (Italics mine.)  http://health.msn.com/health-topics/breast-cancer/breast-calcifications

Meanwhile, an article about UCSF breast cancer oncologist Shelley Hwang, MD says the following:

“…(U)nlike invasive breast cancer, DCIS is not life-threatening.

Unfortunately, women who are diagnosed with DCIS have a higher than average risk of developing invasive breast cancer later – although some never will. (Italics mine.) As it stands, there is no proven way to predict which women diagnosed with DCIS will eventually develop invasive breast cancer. But because of the elevated risk, surgery to remove DCIS – generally a lumpectomy with radiation, or mastectomy – has become standard treatment. Treatment options are the same as for early-stage invasive breast.”  (Italics mine.) http://www.ucsf.edu/news/2009/03/8165/dcis-not-invasive-breast-cancer-and-might-not-require-surgery

I think most people consider radiation following a lumpectomy standard treatment.  However there are most certainly many women who choose not to go the radiation route.

I do want to mention that I am very grateful I got the lumpectomy.   It does give me an element of piece of mind.  It’s everything else the medical establishment recommends after the surgery that I personally have concerns about, although if I had a more aggressive form of cancer, I would likely consider them much more seriously.

Oh dear.  Guess what.  I was doing research to try to back up my point of view.  And in the process, I am finding that I really am going against the grain of  recommended treatment.  Here is something I just read which is concerning me:

“Of all the debates surrounding the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer in recent decades, the most persistent and perplexing one involves a very early cancer called D.C.I.S., or ductal carcinoma in situ.

This cancer is noninvasive, confined to the milk duct where it arose. Some of these cancers will eventually become invasive, others never will. In autopsies, about 10 percent of women are found to have a ductal carcinoma that never became evident.

Then it is up to the pathologist to determine whether cancer is present, and if so, what type of D.C.I.S. it is. There are two main categories, a more aggressive type called comedo, which resembles a blackhead because it contains a core of dead cancer cells, and noncomedo. The comedo type may become an invasive cancer and, thus, less curable in three to five years; the noncomedo type may not progress to invasive cancer for a decade. (Italics mine.)

The guide continues, “Lumpectomy without radiation therapy is usually considered an option only for women with small areas of low-grade D.C.I.S.” An eight-year study of 814 women found that radiation after lumpectomy significantly reduced the risk of recurrence. Radiation also greatly reduced the risk of a later invasive cancer.  http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/22/health/22brod.html

And this:

“In the case of DCIS, cells multiply rapidly and are different from normal ductal cells—they’re different in size, shape, and architectural arrangement and more closely resemble invasive cancer, says Arnold Schwartz, professor of pathology at George Washington University Hospital in Washington and a member of the NIH panel. Not all DCIS is alike; there’s a spectrum. The less closely the cells resemble their normal parent cells, the greater the potential danger seems to be, particularly in the presence of necrosis (dead cells) and in younger women (among other risk factors). All those factors suggest a potentially more-aggressive form of DCIS that may recur or become invasive cancer, says Schwartz.”   http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/cancer/articles/2009/10/22/the-confusion-over-dcis-what-to-do-about-stage-zero-breast-cancer

I confess “my” DCIS is the comedo type.  And it was not graded a 1 but a 2-3 out of 4.

So in the process of writing this blog I find myself, once again, faced with some nagging doubts.

Can I fight cancer with diet, herbs, and supplements alone?  Actually, that’s not my entire plan of attack.  I have heard multiple stories of advanced cancer disappearing when the person chose to live the life they always wanted to live.  There are certainly emotional/psychological factors that affect our healing and I will continue to work on these issues as well.

My current intentions include the following:

  • Eat a primarily vegetarian diet.
  • Strive to make 75% of my diet vegetables and fruits.  (I’m not there yet.)
  • Eat as many greens as possible.
  • Eat more raw foods.
  • Keep my body in the alkaline zone.
  • Take the following supplements, all of which aid in preventing cancer, inhibiting tumor growth, eliminating toxins, helping to neutralize the effects of radiation, and/or aiding in the proper metabolism of excess estrogen (The cancer I was diagnosed with was estrogen receptor positive.)  Vitamin D, Vitamin C, flaxseed, DIM-3, kelp, curcumin, garlic capsules, a mushroom product called Agrigold, and a product called Natural  Cellular Defense are all now a part of my health regimen.
  • Exercise more.

In addition, I am going to a healer next week.

So, friends, the process continues.  Can I trust my intuition to guide me?  Can I get healthy following my own instincts?  Am I doing enough to prevent a recurrence or a more invasive cancer?  Or  (I am challenging myself to be brutally honest here) was I perhaps more afraid of the treatment than the disease?

Whichever is the case, I am determined to not let fear rule my life.  I am claiming good health.  I will feed myself not only with healthy and healing foods, but with success stories.  Stories of people who have healed themselves of cancer abound.

I think I will save that for another blog.

As always, thanks for “listening.”  May you be blessed with abundant health and happiness.

Preventing Breast Cancer

10 Feb

February 9, 2012

Recently some dear friends threw me a benefit concert so that I could better afford the herbs, supplements,  naturopathic doctors,  and  healing  sessions  that  neither insurance nor medical assistance  covers.  I decided that at this concert  I would share  some of what I’ve been learning about  what  we each can do to prevent (not diagnose, but prevent) breast cancer.

So here in this blog I’m posting one of the handouts.  If  it  resonates with you,  please feel free to share it.   Print it, email  it, Facebook it, whatever.  Let’s just spread the word  so that  more  of  our sisters, friends, mothers, and daughters  don’t have to face this  disease.

STEPS  WE CAN TAKE TO HELP PREVENT  BREAST CANCER

(Not just early diagnosis, but prevention!)

First, let’s educate ourselves on the risk factors.  We all know that if other women in our family have had breast cancer we may be genetically predisposed.  But what else constitutes a risk?  Once we are aware of risk factors, we can try to minimize those which are in our control.  Then our next step is to do whatever is possible to try to prevent the disease from taking hold.

(Hints: 1. Live as “green” as possible – avoiding toxins in your home, office, and natural environment.  2. Clean up your diet by eating lots of organic vegetables and other “plant” foods.)  (See below for more details.)

 

Breast Cancer Risk Factors 

Setting aside genetic factors, you are at greater risk of contracting breast cancer if:

  1. You’ve never been pregnant/never given birth, you’ve never breastfed, and/or you began your periods early or you began menopause late, or you took the pill for many years. (This is related to the amount of estrogen in our bodies.)
  2. You’ve had radiation therapy for a previous cancer, or have lived near a nuclear reactor, or have been exposed to nuclear fallout, or even if you’ve received too many x-rays or mammograms. (Exposure to radiation significantly increases cancer risk.  Ingestion of kelp, iodine, or various seaweeds can reduce this risk.)
  3. You’ve eaten lots of processed meats – like lunchmeat, hot dogs, bacon, and ham.  (Sodium nitrate, used to process all these meats, is a known carcinogen.  And the FDA/government knew it but bowed under meat industry pressure.  But there are foods, such as green tea, which can help process or inhibit nitrosamines.)
  4. You live in an area exposed to chemicals or toxins.  This can include living near a golf course or turf farm or non-organic farm, all of which routinely use lots of herbicides.  Many of our neighbors also apply toxic weedkillers to their lawns. Also being exposed to a lot of air pollution, including cigarette smoke, is a risk factor for cancer.  (There are supplements which can help detoxify our body.)
  5. You eat a lot of non-organic meat or dairy.  (The meat and dairy industry routinely put hormones into the feed of cattle, pork, poultry to fatten up the livestock faster and this can lead to estrogen-sensitive breast cancer. DIM-plus and cruciferous veggies can help remedy this.  But it’s better to either avoid meat and dairy altogether or to find hormone-free sources.)
  6. You are overweight.  (Fat cells store estrogen.)
  7. You are under-exercised.  (Studies show that increasing exercise to even 4 hrs/week reduces breast cancer mortality.)

So if any of these apply to you, please take extra precautions!   See tips for preventing cancer (below.)

Breast Cancer PREVENTION

The US National Cancer Institute estimates that 70% of all breast cancer deaths are avoidable through dietary change. Scientific research published in hundreds of biomedical journals worldwide has demonstrated dramatic ways in which dietary choices can affect your risk of breast cancer – by influencing not only genetic expression, but also hormone levels and immune function.” http://www.beatbreastcancerkit.com/main/

“Study after study shows that a healthful diet – eating less fat and more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes – can vastly reduce the risk of cancer.  In fact, research indicates that if we all ate more of the right foods and less of the wrong ones, the incidence of all cancers would be reduced by at least 30 percent.”[1] “Some scientists think that you could reduce your cancer risk by as much as 40% by eating more vegetables, fruits, and other plant foods that have certain phytochemicals in them.”[2] “Women can help themselves stay healthy by eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans and by getting plenty of exercise and maintaining a healthy weight.”[3]

You can help prevent or heal breast cancer if:

  1. You keep your body alkalinized.  Disease doesn’t manifest as easily in an alkaline environment.  The easiest way to do this is to eat a balanced vegetarian diet.  Ideally, 75% of your meals should be vegetables.  Some especially alkalinizing foods include:
    • Broccoli, Cucumbers, Kale
    • Alfalfa grass, Barley grass, Wheatgrass
    • Avocados
    • Soybeans, Navy beans
    • Baking soda
    • Beets, Radishes, Green beans, Cabbage, Celery, Spinach
    • Garlic, Ginger
  1. Eat anti-cancer foods.  These include:
  • Cruciferous vegetables:  broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower
  • Dark leafy greens:  kale, collard greens, dandelion greens, spinach
  • Red and orange vegetables and fruits:  carrots, pumpkin, winter squash, red pepper, tomatoes, pink grapefruit, red grapes.
  • Flaxseed and other nuts and seeds
  • Seaweeds and sea vegetables
  • Berries, red grapes, oranges, apples (organic if at  all possible)
  • Garlic, leeks, onions
  • Mushrooms, “exotic” – Shitake, reishi, Murrill, and turkey tail mushrooms
  • Asparagus
  • Papayas, mangoes, figs, apricots
  • Green tea
  • Lentils and other legumes/beans
  • Brown rice, oats, and other whole grains

3.   Eat food that mostly comes from plants.   Eat much of it raw, if possible.

4.  Avoid sugar.  Here is one link that explains why: http://beatcancer.org/2014/03/5-reasons-cancer-and-sugar-are-best-friends/

5.  Take extra Vitamin D and C and consider taking anti-cancer herbs.[4]  These can include:

  • Astragalus
  • Chapparal
  • Red Clover
  • Turmeric and Saffron
  • Chlorella and Spirulina

A Partial List of Resources in the Prevention and Healing of Cancer:

  • www.BeatCancer.org
  • www.CanCure.org (The Cancer Cure Foundation)
  • lslw.stanford.edu  (Live Strong, Live Well)
  • Cancer Fighting Foods, by Vern Verona
  • Crazy, Sexy Diet, by Kris Carr
  • Crazy, Sexy Cancer Tips, by Kris Carr
  • A Cancer Therapy, by Max Gerson, M.D.
  • The Plant Programme: Recipes for Fighting Breast and Prostate Cancer, by Professor Jane  Plant
  • The Doctors Book of Food Remedies, by Selene Yeager and the Editors of Prevention

 

This handout was created by Cindy Greb, author of The Breast Blog  (https://thebreastblog.wordpress.com) on February 9, 2012.

You have permission to distribute this freely.


1. The Doctors Book of Food Remedies, by Selene Yeager and the Editors of Prevention, p. 131.

4.  Feel free to talk to your doctor first. Studies have shown that women with breast  cancer are often deficient in Vitamin D.