Cancer And The Single Gal, Part 1

It’s been a while since my last post. This blog was a bit of a security blanket during the worst of things..somehow recovery and the return to “normal” life made it less of a pressing need. Now that life is not so normal anymore, I’m feeling the old familiar urge to pour out my thoughts and feelings in black and white.

Life has taken quite an unexpected turn over the past year. My health is still good as far as I know. I mean, I get the routine pat down and once over, but my oncologist is of the belief that scans and cancer markers are only to be done if symptoms warrant them. And I’m ok with that philosophy being a firm believer in the power of suggestion to create illness. My body and I have a sort of “don’t ask, don’t tell” agreement going on. It’s working for us so far.

No, what has floored me is my sudden evolution from a sometime chiropractor/fulltime domestic engineer to a single mom who finds herself navigating uncharted territory and needing to support a family. SINGLE…MOM. Not words I ever expected to actually apply to me, even though Lord knows the marriage was a roller coaster ride of alcoholism (his), codependency, and a failure to communicate. To actually take the leap and start a new life after the million times I fantasized about it…terrifying and exhilarating all at once!

Last summer, after a nasty argument fueled by a weekend binge, my husband decided to accept a transfer to another state while we weren’t speaking. I found out when my suspicions led me to check his e-mail and I saw that he had been looking at apartments in Atlanta. He admitted that he had accepted the job, and it appeared that he was leaving without us to start a new life. Things eventually settled down and we agreed to work things out and make the move as a family, selling our home in North Carolina to relocate to Atlanta. He started the new job in July while I dutifully stayed behind to pack, clean and handle every detail of getting the house ready to market while also setting up our new lives in Atlanta.

The girls and I headed South to Georgia the first week of August. No more beautiful 2 story house overlooking the mountains. We were in a dark, depressing apartment for a month with rented furniture, broken kitchen knobs and huge cockroaches in the corridors…four of us, and a dog and cat. The girls had to start new schools in the space of a week and adjust to brand new friends and a very different curriculum. My high schooler was way behind, which became evident despite doing 4 hours of homework each night. She was miserable. I was miserable. Atlanta was miserable. We would come back to Asheville to “check on things” at the house every 2 weeks or so. We let out a collective sigh of relief each time we unlocked the front door. Home.

In the meantime, our house wasn’t selling despite rosy predictions. With every passing day of anxiety and frustration, something in me snapped. I couldn’t do it anymore, so I made the decision to bring the girls back to Asheville and let them finish the school year in familiar surroundings. My husband and I agreed that we would try again this summer. My daughter would graduate and things would be easier…somehow.

Of course, once we got back, the house sold within a month. We were just about to take it off the market as the holidays approached, but we felt that we couldn’t let a solid offer get away. As Thanksgiving rolled around, we found ourselves scrambling to figure out our next move….

 

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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.

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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.

Would You Rather Be Shot Or Jump Off A Cliff?

80’S CANCER JAM OF THE DAY:

Go ahead. Take a couple weeks before you give us your decision. It can wait until after the holidays. Now keep in mind that 2 out of 10 women actually survive being shot, while the whole cliff thing is really sketchy…not much good going on there. But…and this is a big but…being shot can lead to all sorts of complications, depending on where you choose to take the bullet. So you may just wish you were dead.

This is something like the conversation I had last week with my oncologist, slightly paraphrased of course. Yes, I’ve finished radiation and been issued my platinum invitation to board the Tamoxifen train. Toot! Toot! He actually turned to me at one point and said “Have you done any research about Tamoxifen?” I just looked at him with wide eyes and replied “Really?”. He quickly realized what a foolish question that was and chuckled softly. “Oh yes, what was I thinking? Go ahead, tell me what you found.”

Of course I had been feverishly burning up the internet for days trying to tease out minute details about survival and recurrence statistics from mountains of muddled data. And let me tell you, they make it next to impossible to find “the bottom line”, which in my book is the absolute survival advantage in those who take this drug. I don’t care about relative risk or any other statistical shenanigans that pass for science. I was finally able to get a 10-year absolute survival difference of 10.9%, meaning that of 100 women, 11 more will be alive in 10 years if they take Tamoxifen than if they don’t.

I told the oncologist about this, and he agreed, saying that the odds might be slightly better for someone my age with my cancer, perhaps 12-15% greater survival. I’m not sure where he gets those numbers, as I was unable to find them. However, I also told him that I had serious concerns about the potential side effects of the drug versus the benefit. Common side effects include: hot flashes and night sweats, mood swings, depression, joint aches, cognitive difficulties (such as forgetting words), weight gain and headaches. Rarer side effects include blood clots, stroke, and uterine cancer.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I am just not dying to get on this train. First of all, I am deeply mistrustful of drug studies. I’ve taken enough research courses to know that data can be manipulated to say just about anything. I also know that the FDA does not require these companies to submit data showing adverse outcomes or data which doesn’t support the benefit of the drug. You only have to look at the long list of drugs which have been approved and later pulled from the market due to serious, often fatal events, or lack of efficacy to realize that you can’t always count on the “peer-reviewed research”.

Those concerns aside, I am feeling healthy for the first time in a year. I ran 8 miles last week. My color is good, and my hair now looks like a cute, short style instead of a chemo-ravaged patchwork quilt. I don’t want to be sad and have achy joints. I don’t want to be fat and wringing wet every morning. It feels very unnatural to take a body that is on the mend and feed it a drug that wreaks such havoc. The doctor said we will deal with whatever side effects come up, meaning he can give me different pills to add to the first pill.

I think the photo below shows a much better idea of what can be done with Tamoxifen bottles and a little creativity. I have to give credit to “The Sarcastic Boob” at http://thesarcasticboob.com/2012/08/16/ten-things-to-do-with-tamoxifen/ for this hilarious post.

tamoxifen boobs

All kidding aside, I truly believe in the ability of the body to heal if given the chance. I’m not against medical intervention when necessary, but I don’t think it’s natural to have zero estrogen, which will be the effect of the Tamoxifen. I understand that my tumor was fed by estrogen, but I’m not sure if it was that simple. Cancer is a very complicated, multifactorial disease. My fear is that the cancer will outsmart all of these outside interventions and come back more ruthless than ever. I expressed this to the oncologist, and he had to agree that if we use Tamoxifen and the cancer metastasizes anyway, it will likely be very aggressive and difficult to treat.

So…here I am again, at the edge of the cliff with a 9 millimeter in one hand. I think I may just lay the gun down and back away slowly. You’ll be the first to know.