In my own journey I find myself constantly searching for specific information in other blogs and sites about how people are dealing with their cancer… What books do they turn to? What does their treatment plan look like? What actions did they take that seemed to help?
So I’ve decided to add this information to my own blog. I’ve been getting requests and questions about what I did to keep my immune system strong, how I’ve avoided taking certain drugs, and what i’ve done to kick cancer’s ass. So here is my “Plan of Attack”…
BEFORE I START… Let me preface everything with what I believe to be the most important factor in my recovery and healing… The drive to survive. I have always believed in my heart of hearts from the get-go that I would beat this. I am not in denial about the statistics. But just determined and full of faith and hope that I will be one of the few folks that defies the odds. In all my reading and chatting with others who have gone on to live long lives with metastatic BC hope, faith, and a commitment to do whatever is necessary to keep on living seems to be a common thread.
So here we go… In general, this is what I am doing:
EXERCISE - I aim for 30 mins or more of cardio every day. Yes, EVERY day. Which can be anything from a good walk, hike, swim, or workout on my elliptical machine. (Because the cancer was in my bones before I’ve been advised to steer clear of high impact activities like running or tennis). Plus, it is my goal to fit in weekly yoga and strength training sessions in the near future.
SLEEP - I aim to get 8-9 hours of sleep each night. Sleep is extremely important for our bodies to rest and do repair work. My holistic team told me it’s best to go to sleep at or before 11pm so generally I’m in bed between 10:30/11pm and up around 7/7:30am.
DIET - I have pretty much converted to a whole foods plant based alkaline vegan diet. I’ve given up dairy (milk, cheese, eggs) as well as most animal meat. But I still eat fish a few times a month. For the most part, my diet is veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans/lentils, and minimal whole grains (no white bread, white pasta, or pasta). Plus, I’ve mostly eliminated sugar (aside from naturally occurring sugar in fruits), I no longer drink alcohol, and I avoid unhealthy fats. I drink tea from wild medicinal mushrooms that my dear nutritionist friend sends me from Bowen Island. Plus I avoid processed tofu and soy products because of their connection to estrogen (my cancer feeds on estrogen). For more on my diet regime see my posts on Healthy Eating.
GREEN JUICING/SMOOTHIES – I make either green juice or a green smoothie every day. My go-to recipe is usually a variation of kale/greens/spinach, cucumber, celery, parsley/cilantro, apple, and lemon. My usual green protein smoothie recipe is mixed greens, frozen berries, frozen banana, apple, unsweetened coconut, raw cacao nibs, unsweetened almond milk, and protein (hemp seeds, whey, chia).
MENTAL & EMOTIONAL HEALING - This includes regular psychotherapy, 10-20 mins of meditation most days of the week, as well as visualization exercises where I do things like imagine my white blood cells growing and squeezing the life out of the cancer cells, and regularly doing things that bring me joy (like trips back to NYC and spending time with positive & uplifting people).
STRESS RELIEF - Meditation, focused breathing (in breath for 4, hold for 4, and breathe out for 4), regular cardio exercise, going for walks in nature, listening to the birds, yoga and stretching, reading a good book, dancing around the house with Miss M, blasting my favorite “happy” tunes & singing real loud.
VITAMINS & SUPPLEMENTS - Every day I take a whole bunch of vitamins and supplements to boost my immune system, balance my hormones, give me energy, and fight the cancer. My amazing Naturopath continues to monitor and fine tune the list. Currently I am taking 30+ pills spaced throughout each day.
ELIMINATING TOXINS - Toxic chemicals are everywhere these days. It is virtually impossible to avoid them all. But I am trying. I have switched to all natural makeup, soaps, moisturizers, cleansers, and household detergents. I have stopped wearing commercial antiperspirant. I no longer wear perfume. I don’t use air-fresheners. I buy mostly all organic non genetically modified foods. I try to do dry skin brushing. My naturopath wants me to take regular epsom salt baths.
If you’re interested in learning more about the dangerous chemicals in your everyday life and finding alternatives two amazing resources are: (1) the Environmental Working Group has a cosmetics database that rates personal care products and tells you about potentially harmful side effects of each ingredient … (2) the book What’s In This Stuff?: The Hidden Toxins in Everyday Products and What You Can Do About Them.
COMPLEMENTARY HEALING TECHNIQUES - I am open to trying them all… I am now a firm believer in the healing power of Reiki and acupuncture (having done both weekly throughout chemo). Plus I also used principles of Chinese Medicine and some Chinese herbs. But make sure you do all these with licensed practitioners.
HOW I BOOSTED MY WHITE BLOOD COUNT…
For those of you looking for the specifics behind how I kept my immune system strong and my white blood count up while doing chemo and avoided (for the most part) having to take those painful white blood count booster shots like Neulasta, Neupogen, or Leukine – here is what I think helped:
- Exercise (I swear it’s a cure-all for practically everything!)
- Diet (lots of healthy antioxidant rich fruits and veggies plus regular green juicing)
- Supplements (specifically – Vitamin C, Selenium, Astragalus Root – liquid 3x/day, Ginseng, Echinecia)
- Acupuncture (weekly)
- Reiki (weekly)