Hair…Part Two (get it?!?) Or How My Gray Hair Went Away

I'm gray

TOO YOUNG TO BE THIS DAMN OLD

So it began. The tender sprouts of gray began to emerge in September of 2013, barely a shimmer of sparkling light as the sun passed over my bare scalp. I was on a trip with my son, just the two of us, when I shouted out in the hotel room one morning. “Come look. I think my hair is growing back!!” Sure enough, he confirmed that he too could see the tiniest spikes of hair emerging from the barren desert under my bandanna.

Now at first I was thrilled. I swore that those new locks were coming in a lovely silvery blonde. And I managed to keep deluding myself in this way for a few more weeks. But the reality dawned on me fast and furious. I was not going to be a Marilyn Monroe bombshell blonde, but a Meryl Streep “The Devil Wears Prada” grey. Yes, all those lovely blonde strands were silver!

I’M GONNA WASH THAT GREY RIGHT OUTTA MY HAIR..

At first, I toyed with the idea of keeping my new hair. I got a lot of compliments. But, as you know if you’ve ever endured cancer, you just want things to go back to how they were before you were a patient. Back to ignorant bliss, and some sense of normalcy. So…I mentioned to my mom that I had decided to color my hair. She found me a great stylist on a visit to Florida, and I was tickled pink with the result. There I was! Blonde and looking like my former self at last.

Now, I’m not known for being the most practical person in the world. It dawned on me after the glow wore off that it is next to impossible to find someone who does good color, especially over all grey. So, what did I do? You got it. I trekked back and forth to Florida from Asheville about every three months to maintain my new look. I joked with Mr. Gary that he was the most expensive stylist in the country!

Fast forward to September of 2014, which was the last time I was able to get to Sarasota to the salon. I’ve been meaning to do it, but my practice has picked up and there just hasn’t been time. I kept checking my hairline, just knowing that I would inevitably start to see the solid wall of grey appear.

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Meanwhile, I started using Young Living essential oils at the beginning of this year, both personally and in my practice, with phenomenal results. One of my absolute favorite products is the Ningxia Red super-antioxidant, essential oil infused drink that Young Living makes. Two samples came in my Premium Starter Kit, so I drank them and didn’t really give it much thought.

C’MON I KNOW THE GREY IS IN THERE SOMEWHERE!

If you’ve been following my essential oil series here on the blog, you know that my hair began to come in fuller and grow faster, especially around that front part area where so many “mature” women become follicularly challenged. In the past few weeks, it has occurred to me that it has been 7 months since I last colored my hair, and that wall of grey…well, it has yet to show up.

Growing in light auburn

Now I can still see some silvery strands woven throughout, but the most lovely shade of light auburn has started to appear at the roots. And that shade, my friends, has not been seen on this head since high school! What?

The longer I use these oils, the more I am blown away. The effects with me are more subtle than for some because I am in pretty good health to begin with. Oh yeah, except the whole cancer thing. But when I do get a sign, it shows up in a powerful way.

food equiv ningxia

What’s the mystery behind erasing the grey? I don’t believe it’s anything mystical or other worldly. It’s a matter of nutrition. Ningxia Red is made from wolfberry puree with berries sourced from the Ningxia province in China, which boasts the largest per capita population of 100 year-olds anywhere on the planet. It has the highest antioxidant score of any food or supplement you can buy.

compare antioxidants ningxia

Ningxia Red also boasts a combination of Grape Seed Extract, blueberry, plum, cherry, aronia and pomegranate juices, along with orange, yuzu, tangerine, and lemon essential oils. These ingredients work synergistically to support:

  • normal digestive health
  • healthy immune function
  • normal brain function
  • healthy cardiovascular function
  • healthy joint support
  • sleep enhancement
  • improved insulin function

ALL THAT AND A BAG OF CANCER PREVENTION (SORRY, CHIPS WOULD BE INAPPROPRIATE HERE)!

In addition, this powerful combination of ingredients works together to quench free radicals and prevent the cell damage that leads to mutations. And, it boasts a full and natural complement of key enzymes, vitamins and minerals that are easily absorbed.

ningxia study

The best part? Well, other than the giant dose of nutrition and the great hair. This is better than juicing! You heard me. I have a brand new juicer that has sat untouched since I started drinking this stuff. Why? Because I don’t like juice unless it has some fruit, and even though it’s healthy, it delivers a whopping dose of sugar straight to the bloodstream. This is exactly what I’m trying to avoid as a cancer survivor, feeding the cancer cells their favorite food, sugar. Ningxia Red is sweetened with stevia and has only 2 grams of sugar per serving!

If you’re ready to feel stronger, sleep better, and give yourself a brand new lease on life without eating 12 heads of broccoli (don’t yell, vegans, I love broccoli), click here to get started on your own journey. Warning, feeling good is addictive!

Natural Xanax: No Prescription Needed!

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Stress…you don’t ever experience that, do you? I’m so glad. Me neither. Phew!! That was a short post. Y’all have a good day, now! Oh, wait, is that you furiously waving your arms in the distance? What? You feel like you’re stuck inside a pressure cooker sipping a cocktail of obligation, guilt and exhaustion?

BOY, DO I HAVE GOOD NEWS FOR YOU, OH STRESSED ONE!

I never really used to understand people who complained all the time, “I’m just so stressed out!”. Having a very laid back personality, I used to take things in stride. Go with the flow, if you will. That was back when I had hormones and life was good.

Now that I’ve quit my day job to pursue my own business(es), I should be on cloud nine, following the American dream, no boss but me. Well, let me tell you…I work harder now than I ever did playing office politics three days per week. I never stop working, or at least thinking about work. It’s all up to me now whether I earn a paycheck. On top of that, I still have 3 kids and a home to manage. And that is stressful!

Even though it’s my stress now and no one can tell me what to do, I still find myself needing a little help to unwind and be “still” so I don’t get snappy or overwhelmed. Since I’ve started on this Young Living Essential Oil journey, I’ve learned a thing or two about taming the inner tension and letting go.

TROPICAL VACATION IN A BOTTLE

What can you do when the world is on your shoulders and you feel like one more task will cause you to explode? I find relief naturally with STRESS AWAY. This is a little bit of Heaven in a bottle and one of my personal favorite scents that Young Living carries.

stress away benefits

Stress Away is an essential oil blend of: Copaiba, Lime, Cedarwood, Vanilla, Ocotea, and Lavender.

Copaiba is an interesting oil from South America. It contains the highest know amounts of a compound called beta-caryophyllene of any essential oil. Guess what else has high amounts of this oil? Cannabis! Why do you think so many people reach for marijuana to self-medicate? Only, the great thing is that Copaiba doesn’t produce a high like marijuana. It has been shown in studies to act via a different pathway that helps relieve anxiety and depression. Win win!

Lime is not only invigorating and uplifting, but it is also well known for its ability to stimulate the immune system, aid in weight management and provide antioxidant support.

Cedarwood has a warm, woodsy aroma that is comforting and relaxing. I use this oil with Lavender in my diffuser at night to help with sleep.

Vanilla…well, vanilla just makes everything smell yummy!

Ocotea helps aid the body’s natural response to irritation and injury. Ocotea also has natural cleansing and purifying properties.

And then there’s Lavender. What’s not to love about Lavender? We’ll be doing a whole separate post about this one!

How do you apply Stress Away? My favorite method is to rub a few drops on my temples, behind my ears, and to my wrists any time I feel anxiety or tension creeping in. I then cup my hands over my nose and inhale deeply. Bonus: It smells so good, people will ask you what wonderful scent you’re wearing at the grocery checkout!

Stress Away is one of the 11 oils that comes with the PREMIUM STARTER KITNot only that, you get a free diffuser with your purchase, which makes the kit a steal! Diffusing is the #1 way to get essential oils into your system quickly. I run my diffuser 24/7 in my house, and I never leave for a vacation without it.

So how can you get some stress reduction in your life on the go without having to make time for meditaiton, yoga, and a nap? Check out this page to get started on your journey to a healthier, happier, and more relaxed life!

P.S.- If you’ve missed any of this series, start here and catch up! We’ll wait for you.

*If you are outside the U.S., please contact me, as your starter kit may vary.

It Puts The Oil On Its Skin And….It’s Hair Grows Thicker?!?

3 Years Ago

3 Years Ago. Notice That Sexy Bald Spot Up Front

Mother Nature Wants You Dead!

Perhaps some of you out there can relate. As a woman ages becomes wiser, Mother Nature starts to play these cruel little jokes on her just for fun. You see, after 40, you’re washed up! So sad, too bad. Once you’ve birthed them babies, you have no purpose left in the strictly biological sense. You’ve seductively flipped your long, luxurious locks for the last time, sister!

One day, you look in the mirror, and you start to notice just a tiny bit less hair up front than you used to have. It’s subtle at first. You can do a comb-over and keep things in your denial box, for a while. A couple years pass, and there ain’t a comb big enough to cover up that mess! You’re…offcially…old.

Well, that was happening to me at a fairly rapid pace. I would take a shower and have to hold hairs aside so they wouldn’t go down the drain and clog it when they came out. I’m not talking about a handful; just enough to be depressing.

 I Only Thought I Had Bad Hair Until Chemo

Wanna complain to the Universe about your misfortune? Whammo! It can most definitely get worse. After the top picture, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I underwent a year of treatment including double mastectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation, followed by reconstruction. All in all, it could have been a far more devastating experience. I took care of myself with food, supplements and exercise to get through it relatively unscathed. One of the worst parts? Losing my hair.

I know, I know, that sounds really shallow. But, not only is a woman’s hair one of her most powerful outward signs of femininity, it’s loss also reminds her daily that she is sick. As long as you have hair on your head, you can be undergoing the most rigourous treatments and still feel normal. When you lose it, you suddenly become a “patient”, someone to be pitied.

Once chemo was over, my hair started to grow back, very curly I might add. At first, it looked like I would end up with better hair than before. No loose locks in the shower, no thin spot up front. I was secretly tickled.

Then, over the past several months, as my hair has gotten longer (and been colored enhanced), I started noticing that my part was getting wider again. And I was getting some hair on my hands when I washed it. “Oh no! Not Again.”

Oil To The Rescue

ningxia red

I figured it was just my destiny as a menopausal crone to be follicularly challenged. Well, over the last few weeks, I have noticed those little baby hairs coming in fast and furious at my hairline. And…my part is filling in. At first I thought it was just my imagination, but now it’s unmistakable. The only thing I have done differently is diffuse and apply my Young Living Oils daily and drink the super-antioxidant, essential-oil infused Ningxia Red drink by the same company.

You can hear life-changing testimonials from other people, but until you start to experience your own health shifts, they’re just that…stories. I’ve only been using these oils for about a month and a half, and I feel better on the inside, but I’ve been waiting for a sign, an “Aha!” moment. Well today, the outward signs of health are mirroring the changes going on inside. “Aha!”

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I’m putting the cart before the horse a little bit (again, I know!) with this post. We had really just begun our oily education. But I felt compelled to share this with you today.

Coming up..The what, why and how of essential oils. Then we’ll move on to individual oils and their unique uses and health/beauty benefits, including cancer prevention and possibly…adjunct treatment!

If at any point you feel like you’re excited and want to give these a try, e-mail me and I’ll tell you the best and most economical way get started with the company I use for my family and my patients.

Unexpected Natural Remedies That Are Revolutionizing My Family’s Health

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We Love Chemicals Around Here

Um, no thanks, we don’t really like to use natural products in our home when there’s a chemical alternative. The flu, yes please, we’ll take it! Builds character. The baby prefers parabens and blue #46 in his diaper cream, you freak! These are a few phrases often said by…no…one…ever.

These words are laughable, but so many of us live this way on autopilot without ever stopping to think what we are putting into our bodies or our environments.

As a holistic physician and a breast cancer survivor, I really should know better, but I ‘m just as guilty as the next guy. I do try to eat healthy and exercise, but I’ve got my fair share of Ibuprofen and Lysol in my house, and….Egads! I use tap water!

In my endless search to shore up my immune system and make myself healthier in general to prevent a recurrence, I have started taking a long, hard look at the medicines and household products we use. Don’t be lulled into thinking that only the things you physically put into your body can harm you. Everything from make-up to hand lotion, to cleaning solutions, to shampoo contain ingredients that are toxic and can lead to debilitating health issues.

Think I’m exaggerating? Grab one of your skin or beauty products, go here, and type in some of the ingredients. Be ready to drop jaw. Now some of you might be thinking, “Ok, so there are a few things I use that aren’t so healthy. They won’t kill me, and I’ll look really cute”. No, one or two might not hurt you because your amazing liver is plugging away to detox for you. But take all the products you use, day in and day out, and that toxicity builds up and can overwhelm your precious liver. And, let me tell you, a bum liver makes for a bad day.

What I’m About To Tell You I Discovered By Accident

My kids make fun of me and call me a hippie because of my arsenal of vitamins, juices, and health foods. But then I see them, when they think I’m not looking, and they’re eating some kale. Score!

I’ve always been interested in essential oils. I wasn’t sure why; they just appealed to my nature on some level. I would go to Whole Foods or Earth Fare and smell all the little bottles, but I never bought any. I guess I didn’t really know what to do with them.

About a month ago, I attended an Essential Oils 101 class given by a good friend of mine who is also a holistic physician. Something about the class and my level of trust in her persuaded me to buy my “starter kit” of oils and really figure out if they could help me and my family in any way.

Here’s a picture of what I got:

starter kit pi

My kit had 11 of the most popular essential oils, a special cool diffuser that atomizes the oil particles, some sample oil packets, a roller attachment for the bottles, and 2 packets of a super-antioxidant, low sugar drink. Anti-oxidants…can we say good for keeping your cells healthy and multiplying properly?

I’m a Huge Scientific Nerdy Skeptic

Well, I don’t just take anything at face value. I research it ad nauseum (usually way too long) before I make up my mind. I took my little kit home and started diffusing away, half expecting it to just make my house smell good but little else. Hey, even that’s a bonus with 3 kids, a dog, and 2 cats. That combo doesn’t always make for the most pleasing aroma, if you know what I mean.

What Happened Next Shocked the Heck Out of Me

My husband is not exactly what you’d call “metro” or “New Age”. He’s more like a Fred Flintstone kind of guy when it comes to doing anything out of the mainstream. So he looked at me like he always does when I came home with my oils. “Tolerant Disbelief” describes it best, I suppose. He knows me by now. No words are necessary.

Let me tell you…my husband was the first Berlin Wall of oil to tumble down. Now he’s with me, running through a field of tulips….ok, not quite.

fred flintstoneyanni

Stay tuned tomorrow, and I’ll tell you what turned Fred Flintstone into Yanni.

I’m Positively Glowing

GUEST CANCER JAM OF THE DAY: (the other decades were jealous, what could I do?)

 

 

Well, I’m on day 5 of the radiation train. I’m not really sure where the train is going, perhaps Chernobyl or Three Mile Island, where I hear it’s lovely this time of year.  On the bright side, I am enjoying all the benefits of the sun without having to sit outside at all. Thank goodness! Too much sun can give you cancer.

 

radiation alien

 

 

Seriously, I haven’t noticed any side effects yet, but I know that I’m a mere babe in the radiation woods. They tell me that by the end of the second week I may start to see some pink skin and experience some fatigue. I can hardly wait! It’s like being a kid and having to eat all the cereal in the box before you get the toy.

project 365 #17: troll dolls

Good Luck Troll Boob Altar

 

Since I caved in elected to do radiation therapy..I am doing my best to protect my skin and keep the fallout to a minimum. I’ve even pulled out my lucky mastectomy troll dolls and built them an altar upon which I pray to the Goddess of good boobs nightly:)

 

Actually, I found another good book written by a female naturopathic doctor who has been through breast cancer herself. It’s called “A Survivor’s Guide To Kicking Cancer’s Ass” by Dena Mendes. I haven’t finished it yet, but I’m using one of her tips for preventing skin damage from radiation. I mix Arnica gel, Traumeel gel, and Bach’s Rescue Remedy cream in equal amounts in an old cold cream jar and apply liberally 2 times per day. On top of that, I use Palmer’s Cocoa Butter for extra moisturizing. It’s too soon to tell how well it will work, but I’ll let you know. When the nurse says, “Now don’t use any creams unless we give them to you”, I just smile and nod.

 

 

I am also currently in the process of studying the effects of taking antioxidants during radiation. In general, I don’t think they are a great idea because the body needs some oxidative stress to perform certain functions. For example, did you know that exercise creates free radicals which are essential to improving muscle function and performance? No oxidative stress = no gain. However, since radiation is such an overwhelming, unnatural assault on the body, I may decide to take something to offset the nuclear bomb being detonated in my chest daily. I am already taking Vitamin E, Selenium and Quercetin. It’s the stronger antioxidant guys like N-Acetyl Cysteine I’m still researching. I want maximum protection without treatment compromise.

 

 

As for the pre-radiation/post-radiation tissue expander debate, I opted not to go ahead with expander insertion after my consult with Monsieur Monet, the third breast reconstruction artiste I  visited. I actually liked him the best. He made a lot of sense and he spoke with confidence about his recommendations. He said that if Dr. Rad would not allow the expanders to be inflated at all during radiation, there was no point in rushing to get them in. I would just be delaying treatment and opening myself up to an infection for no good reason. Kind of made me wonder what the hell Renoir was thinking when he suggested the surgery in the first place. Maybe he had his eye on a new Mercedes.

 

 

So that’s where I am. My skin is getting a little more sensitive after each treatment, the way it feels when you’ve come in from a long day at the beach and just know that the burn will show up in the morning. And oddly, I’ve been missing my son and feeling a little sad about him since I started radiation. I can’t imagine how the treatment could possibly affect my mood, but I guess anything’s possible.

 

 

In a way, the whole cancer debacle has been a huge distraction. I’ve had to focus so much on myself for the past year that I haven’t thought about James nearly as much as before I was diagnosed. So it’s weird to have these feelings resurface immediately after starting radiation. In Chinese medicine, grief dwells in the lungs. Maybe the daily bombardment of that region has stirred something up. I’m learning to pay attention to those things that I would have once dismissed as unscientific voodoo. Sometimes the universe speaks volumes if you listen with an open mind.