(Really Sour Lemons)

Monday, February 11, 2013

One year ago today...

Happy Birthday to me!
 One year ago today... it was my birthday. I celebrated by shaving my head while Mike was at work and Celia was in school. My hair had started to fall out by the handfuls and it was time to take control and let it go on MY terms. 

Since then, I've finished my rounds of chemotherapy. I finished my year of Herceptin. On February 1st, against my doctors "recommendation," I had my chemo-port removed. I celebrated my birthday in my own skin, sans devices and deadly chemicals and full of hope for my future. What a difference a year makes! It makes my brain spin a little bit thinking about it. 

This year was a happy. birthday. Celia made me breakfast in bed. We went out for a delicious lunch a'la Italiano. Lounged around and read my book and had some nappage. Spent a few hours making some art. Had the Pineapple upside down cake Mike and Celia made (from scratch) for dinner. Mike and Celia did the laundry (seriously) all by themselves. Celia made me a beautiful zentangle-y picture of a Manga-Mermaid. (Manga-Tangle? Zen-Mangale?) And I got a new purple bicycle :-D I felt loved indeed, by all the birthday wishes from my friends and family through emails, Facebook, and phone calls. It was a very special day. 

Still not much hair but more than a year ago!
Now, on to the health update! I have to say I've been doing pretty well with the sugar ban and healthy eating. I feel like I've seriously cut my sweet tooth. I don't crave it anymore. I can pass by the candy stash at the grocery checkout without hearing their little evil voices calling to me... There's a kit kat bar laying on a shelf in the breezeway (I have NO idea why) but I haven't felt the need to snogg it down. 

German Pancake Banana Pizza?
What I am doing instead... I am eating fruit with my breakfasts, applesauce or mashed bananas on my pancakes. Chia seeds in my oatmeal. Raisins and bananas in my cereal. Super fresh organic eggs from my mom's chickens. Since I work at home I can make my lunches. Normally two or three servings of vegetables with some fish or other lean protein, sometimes brown rice or whole wheat pasta.

Brown rice, turkey sausage, carrots, parsley
Dinners are always served with more veggies than carbs. If I must have dessert, it's a chia seed pudding (not as bad as it sounds!) or jarred peaches. I go to Whole Foods every week and get fresh Broccoli and Kale and Carrots and Greens. Last week I tried Chard (easier to eat than Kale) and this week I have a huge tub of spinach in the fridge. I learned that I shouldn't "drink" my greens very often because of Thyroid issues so I cook them, which is fine. I don't have a proper juicer anyway. I made a huge pot of vegetable soup: 

Zucchini, tomatoes, parsley, celery, green beans, garlic... yum!
I am learning how to cook for myself. I can still cook for my family, but my needs are being taken care of also. What a concept. This weekend I had birthday cake, but I insisted on a recipe from scratch. No box cakes. Mike said that it really wasn't hard at all. I've been making things like buttermilk pancakes from scratch too. No big deal. I want to ban all boxed food, but in reality I will keep a few organic type foods under the following condition: I can pronounce and recognize ALL the ingredients. (I've put so many things back on the shelf while grocery shopping using this rule!)

So, how is it going, you ask? I feel good about how I am eating, but I'm not feeling much different and despite my ban on all junk foods I have not lost an ounce of weight. Now, you may say that doesn't matter, it's how I feel that matters. Sure, to a point. But my main goal here is to lose weight. Because that's the key to my getting healthy and reducing risk of cancer recurrence. I am extremely frustrated but I'm going to just keep at it. 

(On a side note that may or may not be related, my thryoid levels were rechecked after 6 weeks of synthroid and they still weren't "optimum" so my dose has been increased. I'm hoping that controlling my hypothyroidism will help. The node on my thryroid was biopsied last week and came out negative for cancer. whew.) 

So.... my plans going forward. I'm reading a lot and still researching diet and health, coming up with my own conclusions based on a lot of people's opinions. One of my goals for the next few months is to up my exercise. It's still pretty cold here, but I can figure out ways to move inside the house. My other goal is to continue to cut down on simple carbs with high glycemic loads. I don't have diabetes and I don't want to get it, this seems like a healthier way to eat. 

We'll see. I'll check back in a few weeks and let you know how it's going. IF anything is going :-D 

Friday, January 4, 2013

2013-A Fresh Start

The beginning of the new year is always a time of reflection, thinking about the past year and everything that happened, and an offering of a fresh new start. I don't really do much to celebrate the new year (we stay in and watch movies, the countdown, then kiss and go to sleep!) I always start the year out feeling good (no hangovers!) and ready to move forward

2012 was a tough year, no doubt about it. I can say that physically, it was the worst year of my life. I was scared witless of chemotherapy. All my life I've had the thought that it was the worst thing anyone could ever do to their body. I never thought I'd be doing it. But I made it. I survived. The human body is amazingly beautiful and strong and resilient. And the human brain is amazingly forgetful, thank goodness. I kept journals, I can read about how bad I felt, but thankfully, those memories fade over time, so I don't dwell on them. My last Herceptin treatment is Wednesday then I'm free, but I'm scared too. I won't have anyone monitoring me every 3 weeks. I'll be on my own for months at a time. There are so many conflicting emotions running around my head that I can't quite put them into words yet.

But I won't let fear rule. That's a waste of time. And time is precious. If I've learned one thing this past year it's that time IS precious. We never know how much time we have left so we have to make each day count. I'm not going to go all mushy here... but... hug your loved ones extra tight, tell them you love them. Forgive someone.

What's in store for 2013? I am going to get my health back. I know that the universe laughs at plans and has ways of letting us know we are not in control of The Big Plan. But the little plan is to gain some semblance of control over my body again. Once my Herceptin Treatments are over, I can work on healing my heart. The biggest side effect is heart damage and each successive MUGA heart scan shows decreasing numbers, not in the danger zone, but decreasing nonetheless. Maybe that's why I'm so tired all the time? Anyway, my heart can start healing as my body sheds the last of the chemicals. 

I have to change my entire body chemistry, to prevent any new cancer cells from forming. Being practical here, not negative. I know the stats. HER2+ cancers are more aggressive than non HER2. Twenty years ago it was a death sentence. The cells I had were grade 3, fast growing, aggressive. There is some good news. ER+ cancers are the easiest to control with lifestyle changes. I'm already on estrogen suppressing drugs, the next best thing I can do for my survival is to lose weight. Fat cells store estrogen = bad. The more obese a woman is, the higher the chance of recurrence. Apparently cancer cells also like acidic environments and weakened immune systems. Both side effects of too much sugar. I have a sweet tooth, I'll even say I am addicted to sugar. But it's gotta go. My life depends on it. And of course I need to exercise. I need to get into a routine and make it a part of my day. No excuses. 

So that's what's on the agenda, health-wise, for 2013. Get to a healthy weight. Strengthen my heart and muscles. Put nutritious foods into my body, reject unhealthy foods. Getting some control back. My battle year may be over, but the war has just begun. I will continue to write about my next battles, my fight for health. It makes me feel more accountable for my choices and actions when I tell them out loud. Even if no one is listening. But if it helps just one person know they are not alone, it's worth it. 

Happy New Year everyone! I will keep you posted on everything going on and check in next week.