Terri Got Her Groove Back

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Spring is officially here (well at least in Ohio it is).  My surgery is done.  I have no more treatments scheduled or drugs to take.  I’m feeling good.  Ready to leap forward & embrace life.  Got myself a new pixie haircut and am starting to feel like I’m getting my groove back again.  Hallelujah!

Saw my oncologist Dr. K this week.  He agreed that my NY surgical team did a great job on my breasts.  Said everything else looked fine.  We did some blood work that my naturopath requested to monitor the nattokinase i’m taking (in lieu of the coumadin to prevent more blood clots).  Still don’t have the results on that yet but i’m assuming all is good.  I’m not feeling any of the blood clot signs…  No pain or swelling in my legs.  No shortness of breath.  No headaches.  Knock on wood…

Dr. K asked if I had gotten my period again and I was thrilled to tell him “Yes!” (I’ve only had 3 visits from ‘aunt flo’ since i was diagnosed in November 2011).  To me, getting my period again is a signal that my body is finally starting to re-balance itself.  Detoxing the chemo and other meds.  Getting back to normal.

But of course in the estrogen positive breast cancer world getting your period is something you don’t want.  And Dr. K said as much, encouraging me to consider options like surgery & more meds to permanently put my ovaries out of commission and end my periods once & for all.  I nodded politely, murmured a few “I knows” under my breath, but thought secretly in my head, “No way!”

No way am I going back to menopause land at age 38!  No way am I going back to a world where sex is painful and devoid of pleasure!  No way am I giving up this recent upsurge in my sex drive that actually has me wanting sex with my husband for the first time in almost 2 years!  No way am I going back to hot-flashes, brain fog, night sweats, and sleep problems!  Screw that!  Nobody talks about the sexual side effects of cancer.  But we so need to.

Luckily Dr. K is open to the work I’m doing with my naturopath to naturally lower and re-balance my estrogen levels.  Although western medicine takes the approach that estrogen is bad and we need to remove it all from the body to prevent cancer from happening, the reality is much more complex.  In fact, there are 3 different types of estrogen in our bodies (Estrone, Estradiol, and Estriol).  The first two are more aggressive and associated with increased breast cancer risk when tested at high levels.  But the final type is very healthy and has anti-cancer properties.  So the goal is to lower the first two & boost the healthy one.  This can be done with diet (cruciferous vegetables, fiber, flax, fermented soy products), supplements (calcium d-glucarate, indole-3 carbinol, DIM), and avoiding unhealthy xeno-hormones which damage cells & lead to mutations & cancerous tumors (ie. pesticides, herbicides, & other chemicals in our food, household & beauty products).   Estrogen is produced primarily in the ovaries but also in the adrenals and fat cells.  And those nasty xeno-hormones love fat cells!  So it’s really important to keep body fat to a minimum (one of the main reasons I’m looking to lose another 10 lbs).

The full story on hormones is of course way more complex than this.  Which is probably why most conventional doctors don’t address the issue in a more in depth manner.  It’s a lot of information.   Instead most offer the standard response: take Tamoxifen and suppress activity in your ovaries (either through surgery or more meds).  Period.

The last time I had my estrogen levels checked (through urine & saliva tests ordered by my naturopath) was almost 6 months ago.  At the time my Estradiol and Estrone levels were both at the very lowest end of the normal range (2.9 pg/mL and <0.3 pg/mL respectively) .  And my 2:16 hydroxyestrogen level was strong at 8.9 (ratios less than 2.0 indicate increased long-term risk for estrogen sensitive cancers).

So as long as my estrogen levels remain at healthy levels and my body continues to have no evidence of disease I will continue to say no to “preventative” surgery and medication.  And I’ll keep taking action the natural way instead.

Besides, I am loving the fact that I’ve got my groove back again after going for such a long time wondering if it would ever return (and I think hubby is loving it too 😉

Life is pretty good these days…  Having my dad here has been great for both me and Miss M.  She follows grandpa around all day.  Can’t wait to wake him up in the morning.  Requests that he be the one to read her bedtime stories.  Sits as close as possible to him at the dinner table, in the car, and everywhere else.  The two of them are a great pair…  Chatting away with each other.  Listening to each other’s goofy theories and stories.  And just being silly.  It’s adorable.  And it’s giving me a much needed break to write, rest, and have a few moments to myself.

On Monday the party gets even better with the arrival of our beloved Auntie ‘Cole who’s coming for a week-long visit.  Hooray!  Miss M is overjoyed to have one of her favorite “aunties” coming to town (as am I to have my best friend around for some good ol’ girlfriend bonding time).

So far, the recovery from this surgery has been a hell of a lot easier than the last one (for everyone involved).  And I am determined to make this surgery my last.  Although I am not in denial about the realities of metastatic disease, I am confident that I can beat the odds.  That I will continue to heal, grow, and thrive.  I have a strong belief that anything is possible.  And I refuse to live through a lens of fear.

Life is tough.  Shit happens.  Challenges are inevitable.  But I for one, am determined to let go of suffering & fear and stay in the groove instead.

Peace.  – T

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15 Responses

  1. I’m happy for you, Terri–and I’m happy for your dad–Miss M’s grandpa. I’ve been kinda worried about him lately. I hope he stays with you long enough that his mood is lifted back to where it ought to be!

    • I’m touched Steve. I too worry about him. Especially because grandpa lives so far away. But the community on Bowen is amazing! I know everyone there keeps an eye on him for me and I can’t imagine him living anywhere else. I assure you his mood is lifting (as is Miss M’s). Thanks for the love. Hugs, – T

  2. Wonderful, wonderful news, Terri! And thanks for the photo of Miss M and her grandpa having such a good time. I have been concerned about them both, and it’s good to see them being silly. Much love to all of you (albeit from someone who’s never met any of you except through your blog and grandpa’s books). Be well.

  3. I’m so very relieved that you continue to do well. And I’m thrilled to my toes for your daughter and her grandfather that they have this time to spend together. (My own grandson turned 4 on St. Patrick’s Day, and the moments I spend with him are the highlight of my day.)

    Be sure to have a look at a recent low-dose aspirin study (appears to prevent the growth of cancer stem cells). I think there are some recent supplement studies that may be useful too. You might also want to consider metformin. Side effects are low, and the results so far are promising.

    FTR, I take Tamoxifen without issue (it was a year in February, and only the first three months were trying), but I can understand why you don’t want to. I will hold tight to the thought that the course you have chosen will keep you healthy for many years to come.

    • There is most definitely a special bond between grandparents & their grandkids. It warms my heart to watch the two of them together. I remember my mom saying her visits with Miss M were the highlight of her day as well.
      Thanks for the tips on aspirin and metformin. I’ll do some research and bring it up with my oncologist & naturopath to see what they think.
      I’m glad your experience with Tamoxifen has been good. I’ve heard many people go through their 5 years without incident & minimal side effects. And I figure if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
      Thanks for your continued support and helpful suggestions. Wishing you much health & happiness!

  4. Your dad, reading stories? Miss M is the luckiest kid in Ohio.
    So glad to continue reading about your recovery and journey to healthy living. It’s truly inspirational.

  5. Laughing and reading, rollicking in your joy. YAY YOU!! So glad you got joy and humor and sex and your groove back!!

    Clinically I have some questions — curiosity, not criticism — re the course your naturopath is choosing. If you (or s/he) could point me towards some articles, I’d be happy to go get edumacated further. But the proof of any theory is in the pudding, so let’s see what the next few years bring!

    But right NOW brings joy, and fulfillment, and you in a great place. That part makes me boodles-very happy!! Enjoy your company … sounds like you’re in great company all around! Best and blessings — Dana

    • Thanks Dana! In terms of my path… It’s largely based on my own research (which has been so extensive at this point that I can’t even remember where the studies & articles I read are housed anymore). My general approach has been to consult with a ton of different healthcare practitioners of all types & persuasions plus read as much as I possibly can – And then find the common threads. Those are the recommendations I go with. So the hormone path I’m on now is partly from my naturopath in NY, partly from the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment in Chicago, partly from a functional nutritionist I’m working with in Portland, and partly from my personal research. And it’s all just one tiny piece of my entire plan. So as you said, the proof is in the pudding. Only time will tell if my plan works. But so far (knock on wood) it seems to be working pretty well.
      Thanks as always for your blessings and positive encouragement. Cheers! – T

  6. Thank God for the news.

    You’re not only uplifting, but informative. That the very hormone that makes for normal female-ness can be a problem sounds like the worst sort of Catch-22, but knowing what you have to know is better than not. And having normal happy intimacy is so important. Seems hard to imagine a really fulfilling marriage without it, other things being equal. Cheering you on, hoping things move on an even keel, and that you all enjoy the Spring.

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