Pardon Me, Can I Have Your Immune System?

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What if I told you that you could harness the incredible power of a healthy immune system that didn’t even belong to you? Kind of like a rent-a-cop for your white blood cells? Um, yes please!

Well, the good news is that you can, without harvesting organs or taking anyone hostage. Because your new healthy immune system would go to waste in prison, or at worst be traded for cigarettes.

The Guards Have Left the Building 

As many of you reading this blog know all too well, a body assaulted by chemotherapy and radiation doesn’t fight infection very well. You become incredibly familiar with your dwindling “White Blood Cell Count” as you trudge to your next appointment and cross your fingers.

What you may not know is that your immune system had a glitch long before you were ever diagnosed, while you still looked and felt “healthy”. A properly functioning immune system has white cells that function as “guards at the gate”, kind of like the ones you see at a military base entrance.

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Surprise! Everybody Has Cancer 

I hate to break this news, but we all have rogue, or “cancer” cells floating around our bodies all the time. When our physiology is functioning normally, our immune cells, those “guards”, recognize the cancer cells as enemies and promptly mount an attack to get rid of them. When something breaks down in that process, the cancer cells are able to gain a foothold and multiply out of control.

So when the doctor tells you, “Congratulations! We got all of the cancer.” or, “You’re cancer-free”, that is a fairy tale. There’s no way to guarantee that one of those “bad cells” didn’t survive the treatment. As a matter of fact, it’s almost a certainty that it did.

Excuse Me, Mr. Plant, I Need To Borrow Your Immune System

What can you do to prevent cancer or keep it from coming back? There’s no one, simple answer to that question. Just as there were multiple factors that allowed cancer to invade your body, there are multiple things you must do to keep it in check and co-exist.

One of the most powerful weapons I have in my anti-cancer arsenal is my Young Living essential oils collection. Why?

Inside every plant, shrub, tree, or flower is a source of energy, life and healing compounds. The essential oil is like the blood and immune system of the plant. In the plant, it seals cuts and heals wounds, provides nutrients and oxygen for cellular regeneration, and guards against unwanted harmful invaders.

The essential oil is 200-10,000 times more powerful than an herb from the same plant. Therefore, it has incredible medicinal power and a little goes a long way.

In 20 seconds, the oil can penetrate the tissues of the skin and get into the bloodstream, and it is one of the few substances with particles small enough to penetrate the blood-brain barrier. This is how certain oils affect brain inflammation, emotions, focus, and concentration.

Essential oils are among the most powerful anti-oxidants on earth. Some are antibacterial, some are antiviral. In addition to supporting the immune system, they benefit the body in many ways: relaxing muscle, helping to maintain normal blood sugar levels, soothing aches and pains, aiding digestion, promoting sleep, slowing aging, etc.

I Don’t Have Time To Squeeze Oil Out of Plants!

man in lab

That’s quite a picture! You in your secret basement lab wringing out some poor peppermint leaves into a jar. Let’s not go there.

How do they get the essential oils out of the plants?

Essential Oils are extracted in many ways, but the primary method is steam distillation. But there are a number of ways that the oils can be grown and extracted that are very cost efficient and produce large amounts of cheap oil, such as:

  • Using Chemical Solvents. These mix with the oil in the final product and leave behind chemical residue which doesn’t have to be listed in the ingredients.
  • Diluting the pure essential oil with another oil or a synthetic substance (think perfumy) to make it go farther. Again, this won’t be on the label!
  • Steam distilling the same batch of plants over and over again. This would be like using the same coffee grinds to brew six pots of coffee. That sixth batch would be pretty weak and useless.
  • Spraying the crops with chemical pesticides to increase crop yields.

Young Living doesn’t use any of these methods. They sell only the first distillation, and no chemical pesticides or fertilizers are ever used. As a matter of fact, they use their own oils as pesticides, and most weeds are still picked by hand. Pretty rare for a large corporation!

Young Living Lavender Fields, Utah

Young Living Lavender Fields, Utah

Interested in the science? I’ll link to a few abstracts below for you to peruse:

1) Anti-Cancer activity of essential oils: a review

2) Immunomodulatory activity of geranial, geranial acetate, gingerol, and eugenol essential oils: evidence for humoral and cell-mediated responses.

3) Anticancer activity of essential oils and their chemical components – a review

If any of this strikes a chord in you, and you want to get started with your own oil journey, check out the Essential Oils tab on my home page to sign up.

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Another One Bites The Dust!

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Have you ever had what seemed like a great opportunity on it’s face, but something in your gut was gnawing at you and twisting you up inside? I’ve been contemplating just such a move for a couple weeks now, and the truth of the situation finally became apparent yesterday.

As you know if you’ve been following my blog, I am a chiropractor stuck in a job not at all related to chiropractic. I work in a hospital lab, which was what I did before my graduate degree. I took the job in 2007 while I was waiting to take my national boards in 2008. I needed the money, so I decided that it made sense to do the lab thing for 2 years, save money, and then open my own practice.

Well, that was obviously 7 years ago, and so much bad shit has happened in that interval that I’m beginning to wonder if I was someone truly offensive in a previous life, like Hitler, or Justin Bieber. Is this the payback? Hmmm.

Also, I have what I like to call the “zero boundaries personality”. Once I get stuck doing something for a period of time, it becomes a habit. Even if it’s miserable, like, I don’t know, sliding down a razor blade into a pool of alcohol, I continue to do it, year in and year out. Familiar misery is always better than the cold, dark alley at the corner of Risk and Change, right?

Now, what I just said kind of even blows my mind. If I get into a really horrible, life-threatening new situation, like cancer, I’m a trooper. I will step out into the unknown, guns blazing, and win a medal for bravery every time. But give me something terrifying like changing jobs, I’m a bowl of gutless jello. Can’t do it; wouldn’t be prudent. I want to kick myself in the ass sometimes.

So, I’ve been talking to a very successful established chiropractor about the possibility of joining his practice as an associate. It was kind of amusing, actually, because I turned him down initially and he pursued me. It felt almost scandalous, like being wooed by a potential lover.

He took me to lunch twice, he brought me to his office and let me use his shiny machines. He said he was so excited about us working together and potentially selling his practice to me when he retires in 10 years. I admit it. I was basking in the attention.

However, I was also curious as to why he was so enthused about little old me. After all, I have next to zero real-world business experience, and my tiny home office wouldn’t really even be called a “practice” in most circles. The IRS laughs every year when I send in my business tax forms.

But, I am smart and I have a pretty good personality, so I thought maybe I had charmed him into thinking we would be great together. Also, his wife just finished treatment for stage 4 ovarian cancer, so I think he could relate to me.

It was all moving like a train on rails until we started talking money. I made the mistake of telling him what I earn part time at the lab, and he quickly jumped all over that as a full time base salary for our arrangement. He said I had the potential to earn a bonus as well, but when I pressed him on the amount, it was still going to be about $15,000 less than what I could make now.

I really agonized over this decision for days and days, to the point where I couldn’t eat and felt knots in my stomach much of the time. I had to weigh the vast amount of knowledge I could get from him against a substantial pay cut, at least the first year.

Meanwhile, once the salary figure was on the table, the chiropractor went from a “no hurry” attitude to a bum’s rush. He was e-mailing daily about taking new photos for the office to include me, doing training courses, etc. It’s as if he thought he had already hired me.

I couldn’t decide, so I found an associate who had worked for him previously and called him. He was very gracious in telling me that his experience with this man wasn’t “super positive”. He said that the chiropractor was extremely “profit-driven” and that I would be a source of income for him. He felt that he had gone into the arrangement expecting one thing and that it had turned out to be something very different. He couldn’t make the money he felt he deserved there.

Not being one to judge immediately, I decided to write a long e-mail to the chiropractor outlining some of my concerns. It was honest but respectful. I told him that I would love to find a long-term opportunity and that I felt he had a lot to teach me, but that I couldn’t justify the move at that salary without more opportunity for bonuses. I also wanted to get some basic answers, like how many patients I would be expected to see, what my marketing obligations would be, what kind of hours would be required, etc. I hit send and waited.

I didn’t hear anything until the next night at almost 10 pm. I then got an e-mail with the subject line “Thanks for your interest!”. Not a good start. He told me that he had enjoyed getting to know me and that I was a delightful person, but he felt that it wasn’t the right time to work together. He signed, “Dr. R*****”, when all the previous correspondence had ended with just his first name.
Cool.

I was really surprised. I expected a counter-offer, a sit-down meeting, something, since he had already offered me the job. But the curtain was removed, and the great and powerful Oz was revealed. He had only been interested in me because he thought I would work for nothing, apparently. That kind of stings. I hate to think about it, but I really hope he didn’t see the cancer thing as a vulnerability, thinking that it would make me more likely to accept his offer.

So, I’m back to the drawing board, looking for the next big opportunity. I did find something positive in this whole experience, though. There was a time not too long ago that I would have caved and just said “Ok, sure, I’ll be glad to work for that. And, please, let me wash your car and take your kids to school.” I valued myself enough to question what didn’t seem right, even if it meant not getting the job. And that is a very good sign.

 

Daily Wisdom With Dr. Boob

Photo: doodlekisses.com

Photo: doodlekisses.com

As you recall, I told you about my witty repartee with the plastic surgeon in yesterday’s boob update. At today’s post-op appointment he was in rare form.

First, I have to say that I feel so much better than when I had the tissue expanders inserted in March. I’m almost scared that I’m headed for some colossal steroid crash and burn, and this is the calm before the storm. I’m just much sleepier today, so let’s hope that this is the extent of it.

There is, however, one very odd remnant of the surgical experience. I have a fat lip. Just on the right side. Now, I work beneath the OR floor, and let me tell you, it sometimes sounds like they’re tossing midgets up there for amusement. Bam! Crash! I’d love to be a fly on the wall some days.

So, when I graced Dr. Boob’s office this morning, neatly coiffed of course, I wanted to ask him what in the world had gone on the day before.

Me: So, take a look at this lip. Do you know what happened while I was under?

Dr. Boob: You probably bit your lip next to the trach tube, that’s all. (Really! that’s all you’ve got? Quid pro quo, Dr., quid pro quo)

Me: (sure that he was off his game and it would be an easy victory today) I’m thinking that the anesthesia dude, Dr. Hopper, Harry Potter, whatever his name was, got miffed when I told him they screwed up last time. He probably smacked me around a little.

Dr. Boob: Nope. He only hit you lightly, not enough to leave a mark. I saw it.

Me: (he’s back) You mean, you saw me being physically abused and you just stood by and let it happen?

Dr. Boob: Well, I was kind of tied up doing surgery.

Me: I understand, but the least you can do is show me some sympathy now. (I put on my best puppy dog face)

Dr. Boob: (with a totally straight face) Do you know where you find sympathy in the dictionary?

Me: (feeling victory slipping away) No, where?

Dr. Boob: Somewhere between “shit” and “syphillis”.

Dammit! Quid pro quo. It puts the lotion on it’s fat lip, or it gets the hose again.

 

It’s D-Day…No Really

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If it looks like I’m slightly off-kilter in this picture, it’s merely a temporary unevenness caused by the drugs, making it somewhat difficult to stand in place without listing to one side (and to make sense, according to the number of times I’ve had to re- type words).

This morning I had surgery to exchange my breast tissue expanders for the permanent implants which will call my chest home. This will be almost the last step in a breast cancer treatment odyssey that began last March. The surgery itself lasted only an hour and a half, but I had to be there as the roosters were standing in line at Starbucks, getting coffee before crowing.

Nothing to eat or drink after midnight, blah, blah, blah. I didn’t eat, but I did have a few slugs of java and a little water. I know, I know.  Poor listening skills. I was simply trying to avoid the all-out tactical assault that was involved in starting my I.V. last time due to dehydration. I have to say that went stunningly better this go round.

I had to bring my new front-zip sports bra into the OR with me so they could bend my arms backwards and jam me into it lovingly slip me into it to hold the new cleavage down and reduce swelling. My post-op appointment is tomorrow morning, and you better believe I’ll fix my hair before I see the doctor this time.

When I came in after my last surgery, he asked “Did you even comb your hair today?” Now, mind you that I had been throwing up for the previous 24 hours due to anesthesia, and he was really lucky I made it at all. But Dr. Boob is a character, and I really love his smart-ass dry sense of humor (perhaps because I share it), so I had to take it in stride.

Here’s an example of an exchange we had yesterday:

Me: I think your medical assistant screwed up. She said something about a bilateral testicular implant.

Dr. Boob: Yes. We’re throwing that in as a promotion.

Me: (reflecting for a moment) Well, I have always felt like a man trapped in a woman’s body.

Dr. Boob: And now we’ll be making that a reality for you.

And this is how we roll on any given day. It’s a game to see who has to think longer before replying.

Right now, I’m feeling about a thousand percent better than after my last surgery, but it realize that part of that is the rather large dose of steroids they gave me through my I.V. I brought my anesthesia records with me so we could go over them and come up with a better game plan for nausea. I got Emend, like they give before chemo, and a Scopolamine patch behind the ear. So far, so good. Always be your own best advocate!

Apparently, from what I’ve read about implant reconstruction, there is a “drop and fluff” period of a few weeks, which sounds like you brought some dirty towels to the dry cleaners. What this means is that your implants will settle and look fuller as they begin to heal.

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It’s truly anyone’s guess as to what size you will end up when all is said and done, as there are so many variables of chest width, body type, height, etc. Dr. Boob told me to go by the tissue expander on the non-radiated side, so I hope that’s what I get in this odd box of Cracker Jack boobs. All I can say is that I was fitting into a 34D before surgery, and that’s the size of the sports bra you see.

I’ll post some pics as the “drop and fluff” progresses. As for now, I have to go was my hair and style my hair so I’ll be ready for tomorrow!

If You Unfollow Me…I’ll Unfollow You

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I was casually perusing my stats page today, and I noticed that I have been unfollowed. Yes, I have few enough followers that I notice these things…so. This has happened a few times in my fledgling blogging career, and I know that it’s really stupid, but it kind of bothers me.

I started this project like many of you out there, to have a place to express my feelings and my creativity, to have an outlet, maybe to help someone in a similar situation. It was all hunky-dory. I wrote freely, cursed occasionally, and the words flew out like bees out of a broken hive.

Then I discovered this monster they call “stats”. Now I could actually get instant feedback on how my posts were being received. Uh oh. Just give me a pipe and sell me some meth. I wrote about my first encounters with the stats demon in “From Breast Cancer Blogger to Stats Whore”, where I undoubtedly lost some followers who were offended by the title.

Of course all of this is a product of my dysfunctional childhood longing to be loved in jest. I’m not really heartbroken or anything. It just makes you wonder. Did I write something that was so boring you couldn’t tolerate another post? Did you blindly follow me along with 1,000 others that day to see who would reciprocate? That last one doesn’t work very well with me. I actually read all of the material from people I follow, so I don’t follow everyone back who follows me. There aren’t enough hours in the day.

Most likely, someone either liked one of my photographs or poems and then got tired of hearing about breast cancer, or vice versa. I realized a while back that I may have to split my blog in two. I find myself trying to please two completely different audiences, and I have begun censoring what I write as a result. And that kind of defeats the purpose of having a blog in the first place.

I’m so scatter-brained Piscean, I scare myself sometimes. My mind has always been this way. I think horizontally, and my blog reflects that. I have many different interests, and even I never know which will take precedence on any given day. I’m sure this confuses my poor readers at times. I know this because sometimes in conversation I have to stop mid-sentence and explain to people how I arrived at the thought I’m sharing, which to them seems completely random and irrelevant, but to me makes perfect sense if you’re inside my head.

So what do you think? Do you feel like my blog would be more effective if I split it into two…one strictly about breast cancer and daily life, and another for my more creative side (photos, writing, poems)? You can be honest….just don’t unfollow me.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Twist 2

 

 

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Here’s an idea for those out-of-work surgeons in a tough economy. What a concept! One truck does it all. No hauling jobs today? No problem! The bed of the truck converts to a mini operating theater for vasectomies on the fly. (Ha Ha, get it? On the fly!) I saw this truck the other day at a downtown garden festival. ???

Weekly Photo Challenge: Twist

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I seriously debated using this photograph, and one day my daughter will kill me. But, imagine my surprise when I walked in the bathroom to see my 2 1/2 year-old princess on her cushioned Dora potty seat reading about steering conversions for a monster jeep. Her Dad was so proud!