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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Eliminating Environmental Toxins

What a week!!!

Thanks to everyone for your calls, emails, comments, and messages of congratulations.  I had no idea how many people there are out there cheering for me.  I hope you all realize there is NO WAY I could achieve such amazing results without your support and love.  I get teary eyed just thinking about it.

Tomorrow hubby, Miss M, and I are off to Mexico for our week long celebration.  Hooray!  But I thought I’d post one more piece of my healing puzzle before we go…

Today’s puzzle piece is about eliminating toxins.

Unfortunately, harmful chemicals and toxins are everywhere.  It is impossible to get rid of them all but we can get rid of many.

I firmly believe that the growing use of toxic chemicals plays a significant role in cancer.  There are specific chemicals that are known endocrine disruptors, hormonal imbalancers  and carcinogenic compounds that are in our every day products.  While one chemical alone may not produce cancer, together, the synergistic properties are definitely toxic.

For a complete list of what is in your products go to the Environmental Working Group‘s website.  It is amazing.  Check out the book What’s In This Stuff: The Hidden Toxins in Everyday Products & What You Can Do About Them.  As well as Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History by Florence Williams.

MOST COMMON CHEMICALS TO AVOID:

  • parabens (personal care & baby products)
  • phthalates  (personal care products and plastics)
  • BPA  (plastics & tin can linings)
  • formaldehyde (cleaning products – can appear under a number of different names)
  • sodium laurel sulfates

**  Many chemicals are listed under different names.  For example, “fragrance” is often code-word for a combination of chemicals including phthalates.  So avoid things with fragrance.  **

Here is a rundown of the products I’ve changed & some great all natural ones I’ve found:

HAIR:   I stopped coloring my hair…  I switched my shampoo & conditioner as well as my hair styling products (most contain parabens).  I found a great pomade:  John Masters Organics.  It’s a bit pricey but I bought it almost 6 months ago and still have over half left.  A little goes a long way!

SKIN:  Look at the ingredients in your soap, cleansers, moisturizer, and antiperspirant.  I stopped wearing antiperspirant all together (because of the aluminium & fragrances).  I switched to all natural ingredient soap (ie. no ingredients i can’t pronounce) – Dr. Bonner’s is a great brand to try…  As well as all natural facial moisturizer – I adore Loving Naturals Anti-Aging Cream…   And I wash my face with Eminence Organic Coconut Milk Cleanser (which smells heavenly!)…  For sunscreens try to avoid commercial brands with oxybenzone, avobenzone, & octinoxate.  I just ordered some new natural ones to bring to Mexico if they turn out good I’ll let ya know!

MAKEUP:  I rarely wear makeup these days.  Right now I just use Physicians Formula Organic Wear Tinted Moisturizer.  Which you can get at any pharmacy or grocery store.   I also stopped getting manicures & pedicures :-(  But recently found some non-toxic water based nail polishes that I’m excited to try (Acquarella, Sante Nail Polish, Suncoat, & Piggy Paint for kids).

TEETH:  I’ve read that it’s best to avoid too much flouride so I switched to all natural, flouride free toothpaste (for both me & Miss M).  There’s already enough flouride in the water.  Also, many big name brand toothpastes contain sugar & sugar substitutes (xylitol, sorbitol, saccharin).  And one brand (I won’t name names but read your ingredient list) contains the toxic chemical triclosan.   Plus, I keep hearing mercury amalgam fillings are toxic.  So i need to get mine switched.  Anyone know of a good dentist who does that???

CLEANING:  Toxic chemicals are in our clothing detergents, dryer sheets, dish soaps and most household cleaning products.  I use Planet dishwashing liquid…  Seventh Generation dishwasher and clothing detergents…  I’m trying to wean myself off dryer sheets…  And I just started making my own household cleaning products that I SWEAR work even better than commercial ones.  (The recipe involves water, white distilled vinegar, tea tree oil, lemon, + peppermint oil or lavender oil for fragrance).

KITCHEN:   We switched to stainless steal pots & pans (no more Teflon!)…   Although we do have one Green Pan which is non-stick but less toxic at higher heats with less chemicals…  We got rid of our plastic Tupperware and switched to Pyrex glass…  Plastics are the big worry here.  Especially avoid putting plastic in the microwave or dishwasher or placing hot food in plastic containers as this leaches the harmful chemicals out & into your food.

FOOD:   Stop drinking bottled water (the chemicals leach out of the plastic into your water) – Plus, it’s just BAD for the environment!…  Watch out for pesticides (especially in fruits & veggies), and avoid food in cans.  Can linings are riddled with BPA.  Be especially careful with tomato products – the acid from the tomatoes leaches even more chemicals from the can lining.  The only brand of canned beans that does NOT have BPA in the lining is Eden Foods.  And if you’re gonna eat dairy please make it organic.  They pump cows full of hormones to keep them lactating after their babies are taken away and those hormones end up in the milk & then in us.  I partially blame hormonal dairy for the rise in early puberty in girls and estrogen positive breast cancers.

Phhewww….   That’s a lot.  And I’m sure I missed out on a whole bunch of other stuff as well.

One thing I’ve learned on this journey is that you must take baby steps or else it is totally overwhelming.  So don’t try to tackle this whole list.  Just pick a few things & start there.

Every little thing makes a difference!

See ya’ll in a week!  Hugs,  – T