How Being Sour May Just Save Your Breasts…And Your Life

lemons-409089_1280

I knew there was a benefit to my attitude! Instinct wins again.

Many people reading my blog have either had breast cancer, are in the middle of treatment, or are trying desperately to figure out how to keep it from coming back.  At the very least, you probably love someone you don’t want to lose.

That’s where my passion lies. I decided after my own bout with advanced breast cancer two years ago that it was my calling and my mission to educate myself and other women about natural prevention, nutrition, and treatment support.

When something easy yet powerful comes along, I listen…

I scour tons of literature looking for ways to protect myself in my quest to stay healthy and to be there for my kids. For cancer survivors, nothing is taken for granted and each day is a gift.  Although the fear dims with the passing of time, the possibility of recurrence lurks in the background like a constant companion.

So What’s The Latest Scoop?

The simply elegant, unceremonious little LEMON. More specifically, a recent study at the Arizona Cancer Center showed that the peel of the lemon is the hero in our story. The peel contains a natural substance called d-limonene, which has shown promise against a wide variety of cancers. In this study, a small group of women were given 2 grams of limonene each day for 6 weeks before lumpectomy surgery.

In these women, d-limonene supplementation reduced expression of the breast tumor marker cyclin D1 by 22%!

Cyclin D1 rears its ugly head in over half of invasive breast cancers and can cause Tamoxifen treatment failure.

D-limonene is known as a terpene. Other sources include:

  • citrus fruits
  • berries
  • cherries
  • peppermint
  • basi
  • thyme
  • rosemary

So How Are You Gonna Get Your Terpenes?

my juice glass

A delicious and easy way to get several in one shot would be to make a daily green juice. I just bought a Breville juicer and have tried out the following recipe:

4 lactinato kale leaves rolled into a bundle

3 carrots

half a lemon with peel on

half a grapefruit

1 inch of ginger

With juicing, it is very important not to overload with sweet fruits. Remember, sugar feeds cancer, and whenever you juice it’s like mainlining produce.

You can also whip up a smoothie in a Vitamix or a Ninja. This will retain the fiber of the veggies, and you’ll get more yield from your greens.

Whichever way you go, please use organic produce. We don’t want to flood you with a pesticide cocktail!

Be creative in your cooking. Find some recipes that use lemon zest. Click here for an easy one that I use often. (I substitute pesto for the mustard).

I’ll be writing a series of posts about how to use natural substances in your health toolkit. Until someone can improve on nature, that’s where my focus will be.

For now, pucker Up And Get Your Lemon On!

Easy Ways To Get More Fruits and Veggies in Your Diet

I have a new toy. I don’t often buy things for myself, and when I do, I get immediate buyer’s remorse and contemplate taking them back to the store for weeks, wondering if I made the right decision. You should have seen me when I bought my IPad. I dragged my whole family around one night, going feverishly from store to store, comparing various tablets and trying to talk myself into settling for something cheaper.

At $499, the IPad left a gnawing pain in the pit of my stomach. Of course, after hours of agonizing, I ended up going back to the original store and buying that shiny Apple that first caught my eye. But was I content and excited with my purchase? No. I kept the receipt and all the original packaging “just in case” until the last possible minute I could have returned it. Only after that deadline passed did I begin to relax and fall in love with my tablet.

But, I digress. Somehow this post has taken a nasty turn from talking about my new toy to exploring the dark places in my brain where decisions are made (or more accurately, delayed). And no one really wants to go there. It’s kind of like those scare-tactic films you once saw in health class about drugs. You know the ones..the kid tries LSD one time and never comes back from his trip. Well, I’m going to let you escape, this time.

My new toy is mostly plastic, but it has a powerful motor and razor-sharp blades that tear through skin like nobody’s business. You’re scared now, aren’t you? No, I haven’t totally lost my mind from lack of hormones and started killing random people in fast food joints…yet. I bought myself a Ninja:

Photo Jan 15, 3 53 43 PM

This baby was $49.99 at Target and I got A $5 Target gift card. (No. I didn’t use my credit card) It includes a 48 oz blender pitcher and a 16 oz food processor bowl. Each unit has separate blades. The motor is shown on top of the blender in the picture. It can be moved from unit to unit as needed. And clean up is a breeze. The blades come out completely so you can wash the bowl and pitcher from top to bottom.

So far, I have used the Ninja every day since I bought it. I’m trying to eat more veggies and fruit to keep breast cancer at bay, but it’s been very hard to work, take care of kids, and prepare a healthy meal every night. My hat is off to those who work full time and still find time to juice daily and prepare vegan meals from scratch, like my blog pal at lightscanceraction.wordpress.com.

Well, this kitchen tool has made a huge difference in prep time. Dicing vegetables takes literally less than 30 seconds thanks to the “pulsing” action. I’ve made homemade butternut squash soup and fresh salsa. And tonight features vegan split pea soup with carrots, onions, garlic and spices. I’ve even added a daily green smoothie to my diet. This morning, I used the following:

1 Cup Almond/Coconut Milk

1/2 Cup frozen mango

1/2 Cup frozen pineapple

Handful Organic Baby Spinach Leaves

Pinch of Shredded Coconut

Add Water to Get Desired Consistency (about 1/2 cup)

It looked something like this picture from Somer’s awesome “Vedged Out” blog:

green smoothie

 

Head over to her page for some more great smoothie recipes. I promise, you can’t taste the spinach. It just tastes fresh and delicious.

I think I may learn to love this new Ninja even more than my IPad. Ok, maybe not, but it has given me a whole new appreciation for cooking from scratch. I saved the box and the receipt…..just in case.

 

Taxol #5 And Dinner’s On Me

80’S CANCER JAM OF THE DAY:

 

***RECIPE IS AT END OF POST***

Today was chemo day; the 5th overall and the 3rd of my weekly treatments. Always being the rebellious child, I started out with 2 dose dense treatments and decided really fast that those were for the birds. So, I switched to a weekly regime with a lower dose and caused my new doctor to have to do math and stuff. He sentenced me to six more weeks with no chance of parole. Fast forward to today, and I have 3 weeks left!

Last week was sooo nice, as chemotherapy goes. My white blood cell count was low, so my dose was reduced even further. That was the best I have felt after any treatment, ever. My mom came to stay for a few days because my husband had knee surgery on top of everything else. You know, chemo just doesn’t present enough of a challenge sometimes. I went for the lightning bonus round! We were able to shop all weekend, and I actually felt pretty decent in spite of having a Neupogen shot on Friday and another on Monday. Let me tell you, Claritin is the ticket if you have to get cell booster shots. No bone pain whatsoever.

burka

Unfortunately, I gallivanted around so much that I caught a nasty cold Monday. So here I am, this pitiful creature with a bandana and a snuffy nose. Quite a lovely sight! I should probably wear one on my head and one over my nose and mouth so I don’t get germs. Too bad I’m not Muslim; a burka would be perfect for someone in my situation.

I find that I’m able to do a lot more of my usual activities with weekly Taxol. I just get a little tired two days after infusion, and my hemoglobin is going down again, uggh! Today it was 10.6, which isn’t terrible, but normal for me is 14, so I’m really feeling the effects when I try to run. There’s just not enough oxygen to do any sustained exercise. But I’m still getting out there at least twice a week to keep some level of fitness. I’m not expecting to be in top shape. (Ok, I do get a little frustrated, but I’m trying…) 🙂

Today I’m going to share a recipe that requires a little more prep than the others you’ve seen, but it’s very healthy and tastes delicious! So the extra effort is worth it. A food processor would be a Godsend for recipes like this. I don’t have one, so it takes a long time to dice all the veggies. I’ll be getting one soon.

STUFFED PORTABELLA MUSHROOMS

Ingredients:

1 diced yellow squash

1 diced zucchini squash

1/2 diced sweet onion

1 cup diced mushrooms (can dice portabella stems)

6 large portabella mushrooms

organic canned diced tomatoes

4 servings basmati or wild brown pecan rice

1/2 pound browned meat (I used mild Italian sausage)- optional

shredded mozzarella cheese to taste

Directions:

Cook rice according to package directions. Dice all vegetables. Wash mushrooms thoroughly and pat dry. Scrape ribs out of mushroom caps gently with a spoon to make room for filling. Brown Meat; drain and set aside. Hover over pics below to see captions:

Bake at 400° for 8-10 minutes. Serves 4-6, depending on appetite.

Well, I’m off to dice veggies…enjoy.

Taxol Round #3: How 2 + 1 = 7

80’S CANCER JAM OF THE DAY:

 

Well, here we are, three days post chemo. I have officially taken Taxol outside, grabbed it by the throat and hogtied it. I’m whispering this, though, because Taxol is tricky. While I have my back turned, typing, it could sneak out of that seedy alley and beat the crap out of me. It is a formidable component.

boxerpicture by Keith Abigail

A lot has changed since my last treatment over two weeks ago. Do you remember my doctor saga? After that fiasco, I had an appointment with a new oncologist last week whom I had met once before and found extremely likable and caring. As I predicted, some karmic wind blew through my old oncology office and foreshadowed my leaving.

I kid you not. On my way to the appointment, I got a call from the nurse at the old group telling me that the doctor I had been trying to switch to for 2 weeks had an unexpected opening the next morning right before my chemo session. So, in some twisted version of the Dating Game, I had gone from no doctor to having to decide between two new ones in the space of 5 minutes.

the dating gamephoto courtesy of ICVDM

What’s a girl to do? I absolutely loved them both. They were down to earth, respectful, and humble. They both spent a lot of time answering my questions and looking at my research studies, and neither tried to tell me that my fears about Taxol were unfounded. Instead, they admitted that Taxol may not be useful in all women with breast cancer. The truth is, we just don’t have enough studies yet to change standard protocols. I can appreciate that. I have an open mind, I just want someone to thoroughly explain why I should put myself through something so grueling when it’s benefit has been called into question.

In the end, I decided to stay with the old group. The new doctor is younger and more open-minded, and I like that. He had no problem with me icing my hands and feet to prevent neuropathy; he actually pointed out that they are doing studies on this at MD Anderson Cancer Center. And I didn’t get a single eye roll when I told him about taking L-glutamine!

So how does 2 + 1 = 7? Both new doctors suggested that I change my chemotherapy regimen to a weekly Taxol schedule, and they seemed genuinely surprised that I wasn’t already doing this. My first oncologist gave me the option, but he made it sound so undesirable that I quickly went for the 4 rounds of dose-dense treatment. Well, we all know how that turned out. Since I had completed 2 of the 4 dose-dense cycles, that amounted to half of the Taxol treatments, which would be 6 of 12 on a weekly schedule. Last Thursday I completed the equivalent of #7, leaving 5 more to go. Confused? Just follow the simple diagram below.

calculusphoto by Kaustuv Chadhuri

Anyway, I think this new schedule is going to work much better. I was a little tired yesterday, but it was a vast improvement over the last session (i.e. no one was digging in my cerebral cortex with an ice pick).  I’m heading out with my girls to downtown Asheville to get a healthy dose of sunshine and freakiness. I think I’ll take some pictures so I can share.

Here’s what’s for dinner tonight (photo mine):

DSCN1817

 

VERY VEGGIE PIZZA

Ingredients:

Whole-wheat prepared crust (preferably organic)

Organic spaghetti sauce or basil pesto for base (about 1/4 cup sauce or 4 tbsp pesto)

Shredded mozzarella

Organic Spinach

Pre-slice portabella mushrooms

Marinated artichoke quarters, ripped into smaller pieces

Grilled squash, sweet onions and red peppers

Feta cheese

Assemble:

Spread sauce in a thin layer on crust and top with mozzarella cheese. Add desired vegetables. I happened to have leftover grilled veggies, but there’s no need to pre-cook. Top with feta . Bake for 10-12 minutes at 425 or until crust is golden brown.

I’m looking for a good scratch pizza dough recipe and will share soon.

Happy Sunday!

My Top Ten Favorite Things About Breast Cancer

80’S CANCER JAM OF THE DAY:

 

10. I now have that Brazilian bikini wax I’ve always wanted…and no pain!

9. I’m saving a ton of money on haircuts and highlights.

8. I weigh 3 pounds less every morning post-mastectomy.

7. I work at the hospital, so I get my pick of chemo chairs!

6. I get to try all kinds of new drugs…and it’s legal.

5. No boobs, no hair = super aerodynamic runner

4. Having foam boobs means I can take them out any time they irritate me. Hey, I’ve kind of gotten used to that. There’s a lady at the oncologist’s office who has fake boobs with adhesive on the back. She likes to stick them on the wall in her chemo room to shock the nurses when they walk in. Now that lady knows funny!

3. Not only do I get a fabulous new pair of perky C’s when this is over, but come to find out they might throw in a tummy tuck as part of the surgery! It would have taken years to save for all that.

2. I won’t have to buy a Halloween costume this year; I’ll just take off my hat and go as Mrs. Clean.

1. I get to laugh and share this experience with all you fine people, some of whom I might never have known otherwise:)

And now..in a really awkward segue, I’m going to present you with my second healthy and easy meal of the week:spaghetti with bison 

SPAGHETTI WITH GROUND BISON 

Yes, I do love pasta! I used whole wheat spaghetti, but I have used rice noodles and they are good if you’re going wheat-free. I buy an organic portabella cabernet sauce and add some fresh herbs from the garden. You can certainly make your own sauce if you have time. I’m lucky to have local bison available at the grocery store. If you prefer a meatless sauce, bulk it up with some extra vegetables. They take on the flavor of the sauce. Add a salad and you’re done!