Thursday, February 28, 2013

Eyes Wide Open

I've been reading studying this new book about the affects of diet and lifestyle on cancer cells. It's fascinating and I'm already implementing the healthy food. Nutrition has always been a part of my background as an FCS teacher and so has cooking, but now I understand the affects of food on a molecular level. 

Here's the problem. I bought all of this fresh produce at Kreiger's this week. Cabbage, leeks, garlic, brussel sprouts, green beans, sweet potatoes,  cauliflower, turmeric  flax-seed  The other night I made sweet potato oven fries sprinkled with turmeric  I lost the peeler and almost slit my wrist using a knife. Then Richard had to slice them because I had no strength to cut the sweet potatoes into fries. Tonight is a fundraiser for the band at Hardee's, then interim pick-up at the high school. So the veggies won't be used and tomorrow neither of us will have the energy to cook anything after chemo. 

I thought all of this fresh, organic food was healthy but my friend Jane, a dietitian,  pointed out that it might be organic but it's not free from bacteria and organisms. (think fresh spinach and salmonella). She  suggested buying frozen food because it's cleaned and flash frozen straight from the field, retaining more nutrients. I'm not sure where most of this produce came from but I'm sure it wasn't grown in Ohio - not in February. A Neutropenic Diet is what I should be following. 

This is what I learned from the research outlined in this book:

  1. If I can lower the level of inflammation markers I will be twice as likely to survive, page 45-47
  2. If I don't eat sugar or white flour I won't provide insulin to help cancer cells grow, page 67-70
  3. If I eat meat and dairy products from animals which consumed grass instead of corn and soy, I can balance my intake of Omega 3 & 6, reducing the stimulation in tumor growth, page 73-80
  4. If I eat Turmeric it will force cancer cells to die, page 114
  5. If I consume Asian mushrooms it will stop cancer growth, page 117
  6. If I consume fragrant herbs (mint, thyme, marjoram, basil and rosemary) I can reduce the spread of cancer cells by provoking their death page 120
  7. If I consume olive oil it will slow the progression of cancer, page 112
  8. If I eat garlic, onions, leeks and shallots it will promote cell death of breast cancer, page 136
  9. If I overcome traumatic life events and rid myself of helplessness the cancer markers in my blood can return to a normal level, page 153-161, 178
  10. If I get 3 weekly, 30 minute massages per week it will slow the production of stress hormones and increase the number of NK (natural killer) cells of my immune system, page 196
  11. If I practice relaxation through yoga/meditation I can have a 56% lower mortality risk, page 161-174, 184
  12. If I walk 3-5 hours per week I will increase my MET to a level that stimulate defense mechanisms to fight breast cancer, page 19
  13. If I eat cruciform vegetables it will promote the suicide of cancer cells, page 135
  14. If I eat vegetables  rich in carotene (carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkins, tomatoes, beets) I can live longer than if I don't eat these items, page 136
  15. If I eat citrus fruits they will stimulate the detoxification of carcinogenics by my liver, page 139
  16. If I eat dark chocolate (70% cocoa) the molecules slow the growth of cancer cells, page 140
  17. If I consume Omega-3 from flax-seed,  nuts and canola oil I will have a significantly lower risk of developing metastatic tumors, page 143
  18. If I drink 3 cups of green tea daily I may decrease my chance of relapse  by 57% , page 111

I know, all things in moderation;
except for this last one.

19.  If I have a network of 10 or more friends, I will quadruple my chance of surviving this breast cancer, page 179

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My Father-in-law

The one year anniversary of the loss of my father-in-law is upon us.  How did a whole year go by already?  Matt is still trying to deal with the loss and my heart aches for him.    What happens if you die on Feb 29

I heard a message on the radio that said "If you think you are in the land of the living, you got it all wrong.  We are in the land of the dying and it is in heaven where we will live for eternity." Dr Hendricks was married for 66 years and has been celebrated for his many years of service with Moody.  What a legacy ~  I hope Pa is visiting with him now

Dr. Howard Hendricks is With the Lord

February 22, 2013
Dr. Howard Hendricks beloved teacher, speaker and author, passed away on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013. Dr. Hendricks was the co-author with his son William of the best-selling books Living By the Book, and As Iron Sharpens Iron.

"Moody Publishers, along with the family and friends of Howard Hendricks, are saddened by the news of his passing," said Greg Thornton, senior vice president, Moody Media. "We will greatly miss Dr. Hendricks, his humor, and especially his tremendous ability to communicate truth through his speaking, teaching and writing. We mourn his loss but rejoice in knowing he’s with our Savior." 
A wonderful tribute has been developed by the Dallas Theological Seminary, which can be viewed here.

Please pray God’s comfort on Howard’s wife Jeanne, four children including son and co-author Bill Hendricks, six grandchildren and two great grandchildren

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Girl Talk

I'm generally a very optimistic, happy-go-lucky person but last weekend my mind wander into dark places and it took awhile to find my way out. It was scary and I cried a lot.
The next day at my follow-up appointment Doc entered the room and asked, "What can I help you with today?"
I stammered and stuttered, "I"m worried."
She leaned against the counter and folded her arms. "Did I ever tell you about when I was in training?"
I shook my head, "no".
She continued, "How often do you think I did self-breast exams."
I had no idea and shrugged.
"Every 10 minutes!" She reached for her breast, "I was always checking myself! I finally got a mammogram  and convinced a surgeon to see if I had a lump. I was only 33. I didn't have breast cancer and haven't, but I can imagine how paranoid it must make you feel." I nodded in agreement.
Doc continued, "Some cancer cells behave and others are aggressive. Yours is a 4 on a scale of 10. I'm planning on firing you in 5 years."
I smiled and said, "Okay. I'm looking forward to being fired then."

The Exam
I showed Doc the photo of my swollen face and welts right after the last treatment. I told her how my throat had hurt and I couldn't swallow (an ulcer from the chemo). She checked the open sores on my chest and back, then announced, "We are changing the chemo drug to Taxol. The side effects will get worse each time with Taxotere." And added,  "Then you'll really be mad at me!"
Taxol is from the same family and is just as effective but the SE will be easier. She checked the lump and declared that she'd have a hard time finding it if she didn't know where to look. Excellent news!
When I thanked her for taking time for me, she said, "Oh, you're welcome. I could tell you needed it today."
Like I said before, my Doc rocks!

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Monday, February 25, 2013

Lymphedema After Breast Cancer Surgery

Denise shared a very interesting post regarding Lymphedema

So, I’m on the path of learning what I can about it.  This is from

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{fontSizerContenLymphadema is related to the functioning of the lymphatic system, which helps the immune system fight off infection and clears debris from the body. Here's how the lymphatic system works:

·       Excess fluid is collected from the space between tissues in the body and moves through the lymph vessels. The fluid (now called lymph) isn't pumped through the body like blood, but instead is "pushed" through the lymph system as the vessels are compressed by surrounding muscles.

·       Filters called lymph nodes remove certain harmful substances from the lymph fluid, such as bacteria and debris. The fluid from most tissues or organs is filtered through one or more lymph nodes before draining into the bloodstream.

What Is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is an abnormal buildup of fluid that causes swelling, most often in the arms or legs. The condition develops when lymph vessels or lymph nodes are missing, impaired, damaged, or removed.
There are two types of lymphedema: primary and secondary.
Primary lymphedema is rare and is caused by the absence of, or abnormalities in, certain lymph vessels at birth.

Secondary lymphedema occurs as a result of a blockage or interruption that alters the flow of lymph through the lymphatic system. It may develop from an infection, cancer, surgery, scar tissue formation, trauma, deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot in a vein), radiation, or other cancer treatment.

Who Is at Risk for Developing Lymphedema?

People who have had any of the following procedures may be at risk for developing lymphedema:

·       Simple mastectomy in combination with axillary (arm pit) lymph node removal

·       Lumpectomy in combination with axillary lymph node removal

·       Modified radical mastectomy in combination with axillary lymph node removal

·       Combined cancer surgery and radiation therapy to a lymph node region (such as the neck, armpit, groin, pelvis, or abdomen)

·       Radiation therapy to a lymph node region

Lymphedema can occur within a few days, months, or years after surgery. A small amount of swelling is normal for the first four to six weeks after surgery.

What Happens After My Breast Cancer Surgery?

Lymphedema develops after breast surgery because there is an alteration in the pathway that drains the fluids involved in the immune system. It may occur at any time after the surgery. If untreated, it may become worse.
Following breast cancer surgery, a doctor will take arm measurements. Sometimes, there may be redness or pain in the arm, which may be a sign of inflammation. Depending on your symptoms, the doctor will then consider the best treatment options for you.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Lymphedema?

If you suspect you have any of the symptoms of lymphedema listed below, call your health care provider right away. Prompt treatment can help get the condition under control.

·       Swelling in the arms, hands, fingers, shoulders, chest, or legs; the swelling may occur for the first time after a traumatic event (such as bruises, cuts, sunburn, and sports injuries), after an infection in the part of the body that was treated for cancer, or after an airplane trip lasting more than three hours.

·       A "full" or heavy sensation in the arms or legs

·       Skin tightness

·       Decreased flexibility in the hand, wrist, or ankle

·       Difficulty fitting into clothing in one specific area

·       Tight-fitting bracelet, watch, or ring that wasn't tight before

How Is Lymphedema Diagnosed?

Lymphedema is diagnosed after a careful evaluation of your medical history, including past surgeries and treatments, an evaluation of current medications and symptoms, and a complete physical exam. Sometimes, additional tests may be needed.

How Is Lymphedema Treated?

Lymphedema treatments vary, depending on the stage and cause of the illness. The most important aspect of treatment is learning how to care for your general health. Your doctor or nurse should teach you how to follow your prescribed treatment.
If the initial signs and symptoms of swelling are caused by infection, antibiotics may be prescribed. Other treatments may include bandaging, proper skin care and diet, compression garments, exercises, and manual lymphatic drainage, a gentle form of skin stretching/massage.

How Can I Help Prevent Lymphedema?

Lymphedema can be prevented or controlled by following these recommendations:

Maintain good nutrition

·    Reduce foods high in salt and fat.

·    Include at least two to four servings of fruits and three to five servings of vegetables in your daily meal plan.

·    Eat a variety of foods to get all the nutrients you need.

·    Use the package label information to help you to make the best selections for a healthy lifestyle.

·    Eat foods high in fiber such as whole-grain breads, cereals, pasta, rice, fresh fruits, and vegetables.

·    Drink plenty of water.

·    Maintain your ideal body weight. A registered dietitian or your health care provider can help calculate your ideal body weight.

·    Avoid alcoholic beverages.

Exercise regularly

·    Always check with a health care provider before starting a new exercise program.

·    To improve cardiovascular fitness, you should perform aerobic activities (including walking, swimming, low-impact aerobics, or specially prescribed exercises) for 20 to 30 minutes at least three times a week.

·    Take time to include a five-minute warm-up, including stretching exercises, before any aerobic activity, and include a 5-10-minute cool-down after the activity.

·    If your normal exercise routine includes upper body weight lifting, check with your health care provider about the best time to resume this activity, as well as any weight restrictions.

·    Discontinue any exercise that causes unexpected pain. If your arm or leg (on the side where you had surgery) becomes tired during exercise, cool down, then rest and elevate it.

Avoid infections

·    Wear gloves while doing housework or gardening.

·    Avoid cutting your cuticles when manicuring your nails. Use care when cutting your toenails.

·    Frequently wash your hands with soap and warm water, especially before preparing food, and after using the bathroom or after touching soiled linens or clothes.

·    Protect your skin from scratches, sores, burns, and other irritations that might lead to infection. Use electric razors to remove hair and replace the razor head frequently.

·    Use insect repellents to prevent bug bites.

·    Immediately report any signs of infection to your health care provider.

Stay alert for these signs of infection:

·    Fever over 100.4 degrees F (38 degrees C)

·    Sweats or chills

·    Skin rash

·    Pain, tenderness, redness, or swelling

·    Wound or cut that won't heal

·    Red, warm, or draining sore

·    Sore throat, scratchy throat, or pain when swallowing

·    Sinus drainage, nasal congestion, headaches, or tenderness along upper cheekbones

·    Persistent dry or moist cough that lasts more than two days

·    White patches in your mouth or on your tongue

·    Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea

·    Flu-like symptoms (chills, aches, headache, or fatigue) or generally feeling "lousy"

·    Trouble urinating: pain or burning, constant urge, or frequent urination

·    Bloody, cloudy, or foul-smelling urine

Avoid tight clothing, shoes, or jewelry

·    Women should wear well-fitted bras; bra straps should not be too tight, avoid underwire styles, and wear pads under the bra straps if necessary. Wear comfortable, closed-toe shoes and avoid tight hosiery. Wear watches or jewelry loosely, if at all, on the affected arm.

·    Avoid heavy lifting with the affected arm

·    Avoid repetitive movements of the affected arm (such as scrubbing, pushing, or pulling). Do not carry a purse or bag on your shoulder (the side where you had surgery).

·    Keep your skin meticulously clean

·    Dry your skin thoroughly (including creases and between fingers and toes) and apply lotion.

·    Take precautions during visits to your health care provider

·    Ask to have your blood pressure checked on the unaffected arm. And avoid injections or blood drawing on the surgical side if possible.

·    Inform your health care provider of any symptoms

·    Notify your health care provider if you have redness, swelling, a skin rash, or blistering on the side of your body where you had surgery, or if you have a temperature greater than 100.4 degrees F (38 degrees C). These warning signs of infection could be an early sign of lymphedema and should be treated immediately.

What Can I Do If I Already Have Lymphedema?

To help decrease the risk of further swelling, continue following the recommendations for preventing lymphedema listed above. In addition:

·       Avoid extreme temperature changes. Do not use hot tubs, whirlpools, saunas, or steam baths. Use warm, rather than very hot, water when bathing or washing dishes. Always wear sun protection (at least SPF 15) when going outdoors.

·       When traveling by air, ask your health care provider if you should wear a compression sleeve on your affected arm or a stocking on your affected leg. For long flights, additional bandages may be needed. Talk to your health care provider before traveling.

·       When sitting or sleeping, elevate your affected arm or leg on pillows. Avoid prolonged lying on your affected side.

·       Your health care provider may refer you to an occupational therapist who specializes in managing lymphedema. The therapist will assess your condition and develop an individual treatment plan to manage your lymphedema.

·       Therapy may include specific exercises or a complete exercise program, limitation of certain activities that are vigorous or repetitive, and recommendations for a compression sleeve, bandages, manual lymph drainage, and possibly a lymphadema compression pump.

·       Continue to see your health care provider for frequent follow-up visits, as recommended.

What Is The Outlook for Lymphedema?

Lymphedema cannot be cured. However, with proper care and treatment, the affected limb can be restored to a normal size and shape. In addition, lymphedema can be treated and controlled so that it does not progress further.
If left untreated, lymphedema can lead to increased swelling and a hardening of the tissue, resulting in decreased function and mobility in the affected limb. It can also lead to chronic infections and other illnesses.
There is also a unique form of cancer, angiosarcoma, associated with lymphedema.

It is important to receive treatment promptly for symptoms of lymphedema.
Article Link:
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Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Power of Hugs

Thanks to my sister, Heather,
for coming up with this post title.
 And my friend, Jody, for making
  this adorable hug wand for me!
I created my own support system by collecting ten hugs per day. Everywhere I go I give and ask for hugs. This was something a friend told me she did when she was going through cancer treatment. Jackie said it was a way to help her employees and customers at her store overcome the awkwardness of not knowing what to say.

I have been advocating the importance of parents hugging their children for years. Well-known family therapist, Virginia Satir, is quoted in, "We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth."
So I did not miss this opportunity for another teachable moment.  I thought the novelty would wear off but there is one student who has not forgotten to hug me. Everyday when the bell rings he walks over and gives me a hug before leaving. It doesn't matter where I'm standing in the room or if I'm sitting at my desk, he has never skipped giving me a hug.

A study in USA Today indicated that hugs will reduce the stress hormone Cortisol, making way for an output of two feel-good hormones in the brain, Serotonin and Dopamine.

10 Reasons We Need at Least 8 Hugs Each Day  by Marcus Julian Felicetti

1. The nurturing touch of a hug builds trust and a sense of safety. This helps with open and honest communication.

2. Hugs can instantly boost oxytocin levels, which heal feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger.

3. Holding a hug for an extended time lifts one's serotonin levels, elevating mood and creating happiness.

4. Hugs strengthen the immune system. The gentle pressure on the sternum and the emotional charge this creates activates the Solar Plexus Chakra. This stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body's production of white blood cells, which keep you healthy and disease free.

5. Hugging boosts self-esteem. From the time we're born our family's touch shows us that we're loved and special. The associations of self-worth and tactile sensations from our early years are still embedded in our nervous system as adults. The cuddles we received from our Mom and Dad while growing up remain imprinted at a cellular level, and hugs remind us at a somatic level of that. Hugs, therefore, connect us to our ability to self love.

6. Hugging relaxes muscles. Hugs release tension in the body. Hugs can take away pain; they soothe aches by increasing circulation into the soft tissues.

7. Hugs balance out the nervous system. The galvanic skin response of someone receiving and giving a hug shows a change in skin conductance. The effect in moisture and electricity in the skin suggests a more balanced state in the nervous system - parasympathetic.

8. Hugs teach us how to give and receive. There is equal value in receiving and being receptive to warmth, as to giving and sharing. Hugs educate us how love flows both ways.

9. Hugs are so much like meditation and laughter. They teach us to let go and be present in the moment. They encourage us to flow with the energy of life. Hugs get you out of your circular thinking patterns and connect you with your heart and your feelings and your breath.

10. The energy exchange between the people hugging is an investment in the relationship. It encourages empathy and understanding. And, it's synergistic, which means the whole is more than the sum of its parts: 1 1 = 3 or more! This synergy is more likely to result in win-win outcomes.

See the 14 Types of Hugs by Dorothy Neddermeyer. 

Then go hug someone! 

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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sharing the Love

Do you need any love today?
spice4living - registered TM
When Tommy was 5 years old we traveled to a darling little resort town in Eureka Springs, AK with some friends where I found this can of love, or rather, it found me. It has always remained full of love no matter how much or how often I used it.
I sprinkled it in Tommy's cereal and Richard's tea. I added it to most recipes. I gave the kids a spoonful if they were ill or would just pour it on their tongue when they were sad.  I sprinkled it on skinned knees and boo-boos.  We passed it around the table with the salt and pepper at family gatherings. It has become a permanent fixture in our home.
For years I tried to find the company behind this ingenious product. I wanted to sell them on my recipe site so more families could enjoy this wonderful tradition. I finally found the owner and it was like finding a friend. One day I was ordering a shipment and told Peggy about my new journey and what had happened at the first chemo treatment.  I overheard bits of a conversation with the patient next to me. A nurse summoned a social worker who asked if there was a family member or friend available to pick her up. The patient just stayed in a fetal position and kept saying that there was no one.  I got distracted with everything they were doing to me and lost tract of the elderly woman but worried about her for days. How was she going to take care of herself, stay hydrated,  keep up with the meds and get food? Peggy said it sounded like that woman needed a can of love. She takes cans of love everywhere because she usually runs into someone who needs it. What a brilliant idea!
Now I'm sharing the love with family and friends, teachers and students, nurses and doctors; people who give to others and may need replenished. Some look inside the empty can and will say they don't see anything. I just remind them that you can't see love and that the more you use the more you will have available. You can never use too much and will never run out of love.  It makes everything taste better and people feel better. It's truly magical!
Everything happens for a reason. Don't you agree?
Buying that can of love in Arkansas 17 years ago, getting cancer, finding Peggy - 

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Finding My Voice

Image from SpiritCures Home Remedies
My throat hurts. It's not a sore throat. There is this pain mostly on the left side when I swallow. Richard made a wonderful dinner this evening and I had to cut my meat the size of a tictac and it still hurt going down! We thought I should take some pain medicine. But it's such a big pill I only wanted to take half and still had to break it into 3 pieces and take it with pudding.

I need to find my voice. I really don't know why this pain started but I do know there were several times in the past 6 days that people did not hear me. I will try to create a timeline.

Last Thursday- Steroids & Chemo, no throat pain
Friday - Fluid IV & Neulasta shot, no throat pain
Saturday - Ouch! Tried to eat toast, had to take tiny bites because it wouldn't fit down my throat. Began to run a fever and developed a bladder infection. Went to ER at 9:30 pm. I mentioned the sore throat and the young doctor looked inside but didn't feel the lymph nodes. The real doctor came in and Richard commented about my throat and she did the exact same thing. They decided that I had a bladder infection, gave me an antibiotic and pain meds. Neither doctor touched my neck.
Sunday - Richard made Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup and my throat still hurt but I was on pain meds so didn't notice much.
Monday - Went to see Doc and she sent in a visiting doctor to do an assessment. So the lady pulls up my charts on the screen and asks me a few questions about the ER visit. Doc walked in and asked what she found. The visiting doc summarized what she learned from the computer. Doc asked about my three blood pressure readings (laying, sitting, standing) and said "You need fluid".  NEITHER doctor touched my throat or looked inside. Maybe Doc thought the other one did a complete assessment. Who knows?
Tuesday - throat still hurt.
Wednesday - I called Docs office in the morning. I wondered if the culture was back for the bladder infection.  And I told her that my tongue was now white and sore. Several hours later my sister faxed the office with the same question and wondered if I might have oral thrush from the antibiotic. The assistant finally got back to me in the afternoon and was calling in "something else". She was about to hang up when I asked if this is thrush? She said, "yes, it is." She must have been really busy that day because she didn't have more time for me. My husband brought the medicine home but I had another question. So I called the pharmacist. "Yes", I should "continue taking the antibiotic for the infection along with the Nystatin".
Today - I couldn't eat the toast but drank water. I tried to eat a salad for lunch. I also tried to keep my mouth closed so no one would see my white tongue. Doc's office called  to remind me of the follow up appointment next Monday. I mentioned that my throat really hurt and the assistant said, "I know it does Hon. But the pain should ease soon."

So, I am baffled as to why it hurts like hell to swallow. How did it start? Did I get thrush from the steroids on Thursday or the antibiotic on Saturday?

A friend sent me a note today and per her sister, an oncology nurse, I should call the doctor immediately WHENEVER I feel bad. The patients who call will get the best care.
I need to do a better job of making sure people are listening to me. I will work on finding my voice.
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