Staying Alive

 

 

john travolta staying alive

It’s been many, many moons since I wrote a post. But when I had someone reach out with a personal e-mail asking for advice and hoping I was still doing well, I knew I had to get back to writing regularly. It’s nice to have folks care about how I’m doing after all this time.

Last weekend marked 3 years since I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. The day came and went without much fanfare, until I sat down that night and realized what a huge milestone that actually is. I know that 5 years is the magical number for survival odds to greatly increase, but hey, I’m on the downward slope now and I can see the prize.

I guess you could say I’m doing fantastically well, which is part of the reason for my long blogging hiatus. There hasn’t been much to report other than the mundane day to day details that create a life. I’m still working from home, driving kids all over town, and taking care of a menagerie of animals. All the things most people complain about that survivors relish.

This year has been surprising. I left my job working in a hospital lab 18 months ago to finally use my chiropractic degree and build my practice. I’ve since come to realize what I probably knew on some level all along, that chiropractic in and of itself isn’t my calling. It’s not enough to feed my soul and satisfy my creativity. So life has taken me in some pretty unexpected directions.

I’ve started making and selling jewelry. I even opened up an Etsy shop and started doing craft shows. That’s craziness, considering I had never done this before last summer. Creativity…yes, it’s good. And it’s a sweet validation to have someone like your work enough to buy it.

I’ve also been taking intensive courses to learn how to create a business helping others online. My first project will be to create an online community of breast cancer survivors who are open to holistic health. There are groups who are completely anti-medical, and there are others that want nothing to do with anything outside the mainstream. But there’s very little in the middle. I hope to create courses and programs that will teach survivors how to use nutrition, supplements, and other alternative therapies to support their recovery and stay well. And there will be no shaming those who choose traditional treatment as well.

Along those lines, probably the most unexpected thing that has happened over the past year has been my foray into essential oils and the amazing way they have boosted my  health. I run, I have energy, I sleep well, I can put myself in a better mood, I have no aches and pains, and my hair is fuller and thicker. (Is it wrong that the last one makes me smile the most?) It took me a long time to be able to share all these things with people without feeling awkward or sheepish. But people noticed, and at some point I decided that it was really more of a disservice to keep it to myself when it had the potential to help so many who are not faring as well or just want to feel better.

So, I have decided to do a Facebook class on this topic. Monday, March 28th at 8pm, I will  be hosting a class called “Essential Oils That Have Let Me Thrive In Recovery”. I’ll tell you exactly what I’m using, why it’s important for survivors and how it can help you. I’ll post the link below. If you’d like to attend, all you do is follow the link and click “going”.

At the class time, posts will appear 3-4 minutes apart, and you can refresh the page to see each new post. You can ask questions in the post’s comments section. I’ll leave all the posts up for  day or so to let you review or catch up if you can’t be there live. I’m very passionate about essential oils, and I love to teach. Hope to see you there!

https://www.facebook.com/events/920824514700789/

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

I Can’t Get This Peppermint Monkey Off My Back!

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Ahhh, the smell of it! As I lean over the thick plume of fragrant water particles streaming from my diffuser, I feel a little silly. I draw it in slowly, deliberately, and I feel the familiar rush of exhilaration and endorphins hitting my brain, waking me up and energizing me. I can’t deny it any longer. I’m a Peppermint junkie!

In my last post, I talked about the powerful healing potential of Frankincense. Peppermint is another oil that comes as part of the Premium Starter Kit from Young Living. From everyone I’ve talked to on this journey, it seems to be the favorite. One whiff and you’re hooked!

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Some peppermint oils have an artificially sweet, or “candy cane” scent. While this may appeal to kids, if you’ve ever had an herb garden you know that peppermint shouldn’t smell like candy. If you pull a sprig off the plant and rub it between your fingers, it has a fresh, woodsy herbal smell with the hint of menthol. If you purchase essential oil with the “candy cane” aroma, you can be sure that it has been adulterated with synthetic fragrance.

So why does peppermint have this hypnotic pull? It turns out that there really is science behind it. Any time you inhale a volatile substance (pretty much anything that has a smell), it enters your body via the blood vessels in your lungs. At the same time, it affects the olfactory receptors in your nose, sending immediate messages to the brain about what you’re smelling. It has recently been discovered that humans can process one trillion scents. In the case of peppermint, it travels to the areas of the brain responsible for mood, cognitive function, and alertness. Voila! You just feel good when it hits you.

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I use peppermint in a couple of different ways. I diffuse it each morning with other “uplifting” oils when I need a boost to get going. I immediately feel brighter and more focused. I also rub a drop or two on my temples, forehead and the back of my neck for the invigorating skin sensation and for better absorption. Then I cup my hands over my noise and inhale deeply for a powerful “brain hit”. BONUS: It has a great cooling effect for the “hot” ladies out there!

What are some other uses for Peppermint?

  • Research has shown promise in using peppermint oil for IBS.
  • It can be used to relieve nausea and stomach discomfort. Are you going through something that causes a lot of nausea? Thus could be a great ally.
  • It helps to relieve muscular tension and discomfort.
  • Some studies have shown it to be excellent for hair regrowth.
  • It may repel ants and other pests, as they detest the scent of peppermint.
  • It can be used in recipes and teas.

See 21 Benefits of Peppermint Oil with links to scientific research.

When I had an Essential Oils 101 class in my home recently, I made several items to raffle off so people could experience how to use their oils. One of the favorite items is Bath Salts, for everything from relaxation to detoxification during illness. Peppermint is an invigorating addition to the bath which will stimulate the senses, clear your sinuses, and get you moving. Want to TRY SOME? Here’s the RECIPE:

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DETOX BATH SALTS

1/2 cup Epsom salts

1/4 cup baking soda

3 drops Young Living Peppermint essential oil

3 drops Young Living Lemon essential oil

This makes enough for a half pint jar or one bath. Shake well to distribute oils, dump in bath, ENJOY!

Go ahead, you know you want some! Besides, it’ll make me look better if you’re huffing Peppermint beside me.

Next Up: get ready for Thieves

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.

Hair’s To A Better Year

20140216_163504Here I am in all my 2014 glory. Post-chemo, post-radiation, post-double mastectomy. My hair has come back in silvery gray with a lot more curl than it used to have. But you’ll never hear me complain. Any hair is good  hair. I’m not sure if I’m going to be staying gray for much longer. I get a lot of compliments on the color, but I’m just feeling a tad too young to be permanently gray.

This picture was taken yesterday after I completed my first race since enduring 9 months of breast cancer treatment. It’s called the Frostbite 5K, and it was also the first race I ever attempted, in 2011. My time in that race was 32:25, and I was very excited, as that was much faster than my practice runs had been.

Yesterday, I had a bad cold and cough and struggled to breathe well. I only found out last week that they had changed the course of this race to include more than a mile up a steep mountain road. I thought about backing out and waiting for the next 5K to come around, but I wouldn’t let myself give up that easily. I felt the absurdity of the situation and did it anyway. If worse came to worse, I could walk part of the way.

So how did my great adventure turn out? I’m proud to say that I beat that original time by 8 seconds, 32:17, in spite of the steep climb and the snot rags in my waistband. I placed 4th in my age group. Not bad for a puny, post-cancer girl! So am I satisfied now to hang up my running shoes and be happy in the knowledge that I can still run a race after all that’s happened? Really? You know me better than that. I left the venue thinking, “Now all I have to do is shave 90 seconds off that time and I can win a medal.” Game on.

Super-Hot Summer Breast Cancer Fashion Debut

As we continue along our retro journey, here is today’s 80’S CANCER JAM:

DEBUT OF MY SUMMER BREAST CANCER FASHION LINE

As promised, I am rolling out for you, my miniscule yet faithful following, the first of my new summer breast cancer looks.This debut outfit is something that I like to wear on weekends after my morning coffee. Just last weekend, as a matter of fact, I wore this out on my deck to catch a few rays amidst the relentless series of monsoons we’ve been enjoying of late. Pay particular attention to the hat, which was a last minute inspiration. I realized after I had settled comfortably in my lawn chair that the top of my head was uncovered, which is a big no no when you only have 6.5 pieces of hair up there. So I dashed back in the house looking for anything I could grab in a hurry and fashion into a hat. This is actually my 5 year-old daughter’s t-shirt, but I think it looks tres chic, don’t you? Of course, the central theme here is the clever use of mismatched prints and colors, carefully paired to blow your mind. I’m not making this stuff up; I actually wore this.

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I know you’re getting a little jealous now, and thinking that my husband is a pretty lucky guy, but don’t worry. For the ladies, these looks will be in stores as soon as I can get someone to return my calls. For the guys, you can keep this picture to show the women in your lives what the definition of “sexy” is.

P.S. Jazz hands are optional

Breast Cancer Babes and 80’s Big Hair Bands..A Winning Combo

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY INDEED

Happy Sunday to all! I am currently enjoying a “chemo holiday” of sorts, and I mean I am reaallyy enjoying it. I was supposed to start Taxol this week, but, as it happened to be the Fourth of July, my doctor didn’t want to come in. Some dedication there! Not that I’m complaining even the tiniest little bit. I feel almost normal for the first time in 3 months. I actually had a glass of wine last night (ok, two) and it didn’t burn like hot coals going down. Up until this year, I never dreamed that this would be something to get excited about. My, how your idea of a victory can change! It used to be “Yay! I finished a half marathon.” Now it’s more like “Yay! I can drink coffee without my stomach spontaneously combusting”.

MY LATEST “HAIR-BRAINED” SCHEME (SNORT, SNORT)

Recently, I’ve met some other bloggers who, like me, are waxing nostalgic since being diagnosed with breast cancer. It’s the oddest thing, but I’ve been having vivid recollections of sights, sounds and other experiences, particularly from my teens and early 20’s. It’s almost as if I’m trying to mentally transport myself back to a more innocent and carefree time, a time before I had any thoughts of my own mortality. And these memories are most often triggered by music. In my case, many of my best memories are from the 80’s. So, I’ve decided to add a song to each new post. You’ll recognize it under the title “80’s Cancer Jam of The Day“. I hope you enjoy these tunes as much as I do. Please feel free to offer suggestions, from the 80’s or whatever era moves you. The debut tune is below:

Stay “tuned” for my next post, where I’ll reveal some super hot breast cancer summer fashions!!