Monday, October 24, 2016


Lately I’m finding it very difficult to write about cancer stuff. I sit down at my computer, feeling inspired to write a blog post or work on this “book” that I haven’t touched or really thought about in a long time. And then quickly, the motivation goes right out the door. I revert to doing work and instantly forget about whatever it was that I felt I needed to get down on paper (and by “paper” I mean “computer”… but that obviously sounds way less romantic and writer-ish).

I’m not sure why this has been happening, but I think much of it is due to the fact that I am majorly cancer’d out. 

I have not had one day where I haven’t had to think or speak about cancer in a very long time. It is exhausting thinking and talking about such heavy things all the time. People say that eventually the day comes where you realize, “Hey, I haven’t thought about cancer in a week!” I certainly hope so. I didn’t invite it in, but there it is, and its presence is constant.

I read up on the “cancer news” all the time. It might not be the best idea, but I really can’t help it. This is my universe. You might work in marketing, or finance, and you probably keep track of what is going on in those sectors so you can stay up to date and feel in the loop. Well, it is the same for me. My world just happens to be a bit less flashy and a bit less “something to talk about around the water cooler.” But I like to keep informed. I want to know what’s going on. This is my life, and my health, after all.

Cancer is not just something I had, or something that is in the past. It has become a huge part of my life. I used to get emails from people asking me for movie or food recommendations. Now I get emails asking for advice about lumpectomy vs mastectomy. This has become my new area of expertise. When people have a friend who is diagnosed, they send them to me. The cancer guru. The Dear Abby of planet cancer.

And really, I’m okay with it. I love helping people, most of you know this about me. I like reading about clinical trials and drug advancements and understanding a very complex world that until recently, I knew very little about. I am a passionate person and I become highly invested in whatever it is I am currently working on or learning about. I am drawn to books and movies about cancer. I like talking to people about their own experiences with cancer. I suppose, like anyone, I want to feel like I belong. And as much as I want to just be a “normal” woman, thinking about things like work, weekend activities with the kids, and all that regular-people stuff… cancer is part of it, too. There it is, and there it will always be.

But all that to say that sometimes, I just need a break. Sometimes I am literally so tired from thinking about it and writing about it, living and breathing it, that I need to lie down and take a nap. Sometimes I just need to turn my brain off, from the research, the statistics, the drugs, the fear, and the reality. Sometimes I just need to turn on the TV and watch the Hallmark Channel, which is pretty much the opposite of thinking about cancer. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016


Amie Valpone, best known as The Healthy Apple, healed herself from years and years of chronic illness by resetting her eating habits. Along the way, she became a professional chef, culinary nutritionist, recipe developer and author. I became obsessed with her new book Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation, and Reset Your Body, especially after I discovered recipes like this ridiculously delicious Peach Arugula Salad, which is gluten-free, vegan and paleo
Amie says: Here’s a dish that provides a big payoff for very little effort. It takes about five minutes to throw this salad together, and the combination of peppers, peaches, and arugula is simply beautiful. Serve it in a wide bowl to show off its good looks. 

Magical Peach Arugula Salad

Serves: 6-8
10 cups arugulamedium ripe peaches, pitted and dicedyellow or orange bell peppers, diced1⁄3 cup finely chopped raw walnutstablespoons extra-virgin olive oiltablespoons balsamic vinegartablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice1⁄4 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a large bowl, combine the arugula, peaches, bell peppers, and walnuts. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the arugula mixture, toss, and serve.
Text excerpted from EATING CLEAN, © 2016 by AMIE VALPONE. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved


A while back I read this it’s been bouncing my spirit around:

Living in the will of God is more about knowing and trusting his specific promises than receiving direction (Hebrews 11:8). It’s more about resting in his sovereignty than wrestling with my ambiguity (Psalm 131:1) I’ve leanred and continue to learn that embracing God’s will for me largely consist in transferring my confidence from my own miniscule capacity to understand what’s going on and why to God’s omniscient and completely wise understanding (Proverbs 3:5) – Jan Bloom

I don’t know what He’s up to, but just like I told my 5 year old a few weeks ago while baking brownies – it needs a bit more time to bake. Two words come to mind….patience and courage.

Our job is not to rush or impede God’s timing, but to patiently walk through what He allows each day.

May we do so with courage – eyes and hearts open – for whatever is to come.

Thursday, October 20, 2016


I know what you’re thinking, “Oh, now that you have cancer, you've gone tree-hugging, vegan, anti-everything extremist.” Maybe just a little. But no, for years, I’ve researched this stuff. Some of it, I have incorporated into our lifestyle, and others I haven’t for no other reason than convenience or expense. Let’s be honest, it’s less convenient and more expensive to be healthier or to use safer methods.

I’m not going to preach, suggesting we legalize marijuana and dress our children in hemp. I’m not going to deny my kids the occasional hamburger and I’m not going to rid my diet of sushi because of too much mercury. But I am going to seek better choices and promote healthier alternatives.

Let’s rewind a bit and talk about cancer. As you know, all cancers develop because something has gone wrong with one or more of the genes in a cell. A change in a gene is called a ‘fault’ or ‘mutation’. Some faulty genes that increase the risk of cancer can be passed on from parent to child. These are called inherited cancer genes. This occurs when there is a mistake or a fault in the genes in an egg or sperm cell. Then the gene fault can be passed on to children.

I, on the other hand, developed invasive breast cancer at 38 years of age, with absolutely no family history of it. Additionally, I tested negative for 7 various gene mutations. It is believed that I did not “inherit” cancer genes. Rather, mine may be linked to exposure to carcinogens, be it hormones, antibiotics, cigarette smoke, sunlight, aluminum, chemicals or other – we may never know. Research clearly states that there are carcinogens in the very air we breathe.

Here are a few brief reads that are bound to make you gasp in disbelief:

Children with high levels of the chemical bisphenol A (found in most plastics) in their bodies were more likely to have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder than those with lower levels of the chemical, according to a study published June 6 in the journal Environmental Research.(
Last year, EWG turned the spotlight on propyl paraben in its Dirty Dozen Guide To Food Additives because the federal Food and Drug Administration has listed its use in food as “Generally Recognized As Safe.” Despite mounting evidence that propyl paraben disrupts the endocrine system, the FDA has failed to take action to eliminate its use in food or reassess its safety. (
In the United States, fossil fuel combustion is the leading culprit for spewing nickel into the air we breathe. In other countries, heavy metal factories are also a common cause. Breathing in nickel increases the risk of nasal cancer and of lung cancer, the leading cancer killer of men and women in the U.S. (
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently made an official recommendation to limit children’s exposures to pesticides and herbicides, including minimizing the use of foods grown with chemical pesticides and using nonchemical pest control methods at home. (
In the United States, children can drink fruit juice beverages made with Red Dye No. 40 and eat macaroni and cheese colored with Yellow Dye No. 5 and No. 6. Yet in the U.K., these artificial colorings have been taken off the market due to health concerns, while in the rest of Europe, products that contain them must carry labels warning of the dyes’ potential adverse effect on children’s attention and behavior. (
The American Academy of Pediatrics admits that aluminum interferes with many cellular and metabolic processes in the body’s nervous system and tissues. Repeated exposure to aluminum can have damaging effects and yet children receive repeated injections during the recommended vaccine schedule.  Studies with mice have demonstrated a transient rise in aluminum levels in brain tissue.  Aluminum is also widely associated with breast cancer. (
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration places no restrictions on the use of formaldehyde or formaldehyde-releasing ingredients in cosmetics or personal care products. Yet formaldehyde-releasing agents are banned from these products in Japan and Sweden while their levels — and that of formaldehyde — are limited elsewhere in Europe. (
“Cosmetics regulations are more robust in the EU than here,” says Environmental Defense Fund health program director Sarah Vogel. U.S. regulators largely rely on industry information, she says. Industry performs copious testing, but current law does not require that cosmetic ingredients be free of certain adverse health effects before they go on the market. (FDA regulations, for example, do not specifically prohibit the use of carcinogens, mutagens or endocrine-disrupting chemicals.) So, even though the personal care products and cosmetics products industry has extensive voluntary ingredient safety guidelines — and obvious incentives to meet them — they are not legal requirements. (

Personally, I feel that if I don’t take measures to improve the environment for my immediate family, then I am essentially exposing them to toxins that may harmful to them in the long run. They may not directly inherit cancer genes from me through blood or DNA, but they may be inheriting cancer genes from what I’m exposing them to in the form of the food, products, and home air. My efforts may be deemed worthless compared to the great big world outside these four walls, but as a loving, protective parent, I feel it’s my duty to at least try.

When it comes to my children, I will follow the Precautionary Principle, established by the U.N. in 1982. It states that, “When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.”

I vow to raise my family with this knowledge in mind, but—like all of us—sometimes I fail. So maybe I’m not the healthiest, greenest, naturalist mommy on the block. The point is, I try to make daily choices that can help us create a healthier lifestyle. And on this blog, I will share information about those choices with you in the coming weeks. Some which you will find helpful, informative and some just downright out of left field. Either way, thanks for being here! Too, your suggestions are always welcome.

Monday, October 17, 2016


Dearest friends. Awesome, wonderful humans. You.

You are the best of the BEST. You are. I am such a jumble of thoughts and emotions and pain and tiredness. And my post surgery brain is foggy and weird. I feel like I've forgotten a whole bunch of words. And I can't seem to form sentences that make sense, and sometimes when I talk this happens, "I just... I don't even... the thing is... what."

(or, as redhead Alyson Hannigan once put it, "Mouth words memory times")

The brain fog is a lovely side effect of everything going on in my body. Still, I'm going to try and convey my love and appreciation. Here goes.

I can't even begin to express the gratefulness that is in my heart. I am blown away. A recent post was a tough one to write, but what happened after I pressed publish was incredible. The way you have surrounded me with your kind words, your good vibes, your much-needed jokes, your beautiful prayers, your daily thoughts, and your compassionate love - has moved me to tears. You left comments, typed up emails, texted, wrote letters, sent gifts, tweeted, instagrammed, and even sent carrier pigeons.

(Ok fine, that last one never happened)

I'm. In. Awe. Totally speechless.

I'm learning to receive during this time, but I feel super unworthy.

Not only did you do all of the things above, you also told stories. You shared personal, heartfelt journeys. I have gotten to read stories from all around the world. Stories from old friends and new friends and people I had never spoken to, but now can't imagine this journey without them. Stories from cancer survivors, current cancer & disease fighters, people who have lost a family member or a friend, people who have conquered hardships and struggles, and have inspired so many. I am honored that you took the time and energy to share pieces of your hearts with me. I do not take it lightly. I am in the (slow) process of replying to each and every one of you - every email, every text, every comment, every tweet - and each time I reply to one, I send up a prayer of thankfulness that our paths crossed. And when I'm having a bad day or a moment of fear, I have your words to read over and over again. And that... I just can't thank you enough for that. Words sometimes fail me, so all I will say for now is that I think you're the raddest, most wonderful bunch of individuals and I carry your kindness, your love, and your stories with me every single day. I will carry them forever. You have inspired me. 

Thank you for lifting me up and helping me through this. If I can ever do the same for you... just say the word.

I'm doing okay. So much has happened in such a short amount of time... but I'm okay. I won't lie -- this is hard. And I have pain, much and often. And a lot of the time I'm like sweatpants are my jam, actual clothes can take a hike. And sometimes I get a burst of energy (yess!), but it usually lasts about twenty minutes and then the tired come back. It kind of bums me out. But - I'm here. And I'm doing well. And my body is responding. I'm refusing to wallow in self-pity. And I 'm remembering to laugh. And to keep fighting. I'm tough. I'm a warrior. I'm going to be fine.

It's funny. Ever since I mentioned the word warrior in my last post, it has popped up every single day, in some way or another. I hear it. I read it. I see it. In books and on blogs. In emails. In other people's stories. In their struggles and their losses. It's a constant reminder - to stay strong, and to be brave. We're all warriors, in our own ways. We all possess more strength and courage than we know. We can endure and conquer so much. And it's amazing when we come together - like all of you, so selflessly, have done for me - and stand up for one another, and help each other grieve, or push through an obstacle, or battle the wars in our bodies. When we come along side each other and lift each other up - it's a powerful thing. I am honored and humbled to be in the company of such mighty, mighty warriors.

Whatever you may face right now... just remember that you are brave. Even in your weariness, your pain, your overwhelming sense of grief, your confusion, your unbearable loneliness, your fear. Don't forget to feel. It's okay to hurt. I fully encourage a good cry or two or five. Just don't forget... that you are courageous. You've got this. You are not alone. I promise.

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