Tuesday, July 18, 2017

CANCERVERSARY




July 18th is my cancerversary, which is a pretty good excuse to eat cake. And while I won’t say that my diagnosis was a blessing, God did bless me with a new and improved perspective.

Everyone asks what I would tell my 38-year old self who was just diagnosed with breast cancer? Well, I’d squeeze her, make her a cup of joe, and share what the last year has taught me. I’d tell her that no matter what, God’s got this, and regardless of her outcome, one thing she can control is how she reacts, how she lives, and possibly how she dies. I would add that people are wonderful. They really are. There’s nothing like cancer to remind you of the essential kindness of people. Lay down your independence and accept the offers of prayers, dinner and hugs –- sustenance through the tougher days and nights ahead.

Cancer is a team effort and, just like raising a child, it takes a village. There’s little purpose to tackling it alone. Support is invaluable.

You will cry. But you’ll also laugh. A lot. Pockets of joy come unexpectedly: coffee with friends, packages/letters in the mail, people randomly grabbing you and hugging you at church, grocery store, or parking lot. Meals served to you in bed, prepared by your kids, is definitely a highlight.

Hair. Smair. It grows back, okay?! Don’t get caught up in the vanity of all that. Just breathe and be thankful you are living another day. Plus, chances are there are wigs that look a whole lot better than your real hair anyway.

You can do this. And in a year’s time, you’ll be where I am now – physically different and a little bruised, but wiser, braver, and stronger. Just consider all you will have conquered!



Friday, June 30, 2017

GOALS






Happy 6 month birthday, 2017. What better time to reflect and assess where I'm at and where I'm going. 

Over the years, goals with numerical targets (often to do with the bathroom scales) have made way for more holistic or wholehearted ones. They have oscillated and undulated but generally followed a path of eating better, moving more (physically - not houses!) and living with fewer but better-quality items within our home. 

Just as I have been broader with my goals, so too have I been more forgiving with the results. In fact, this year that was and is my focus. So if I want to practice yoga more and the three-year-old wants to talk through all of it, or stop five minutes in to have breakfast then that's okay. Five minutes worth of stretching is better than none at all. If I only get to write my journal or blog once a month, then that's okay too. Something is better than nothing. You just do what you can, when you can. And show the kindness to yourself that you would to others. One day at a time. 



Wednesday, June 14, 2017

THE WORDS WE SPEAK






The words we speak are the fruit of our heart and our words should be different, because our hearts should be different. Today, remember to speak life to others. If your words are positive, speak them and if they are negative, simply silence them. For we are vessels to the Lord and here to serve one another, love one another and encourage one another as the wonderful Almighty has done for us. Love, obey and hold fast to Him.



Friday, June 9, 2017

AS THE MOON AFFECTS THE TIDE






“When we choose to be parents, we accept another human being as part of ourselves; and a large part of our emotional selves will stay with that person as long as we live. From that time on, there will be another person on this earth whose orbit around us will affect us as surely as the moon affects the tide.” – Fred Rogers



Thursday, June 8, 2017

CHEMO BRAIN


“Hang on. It’s coming to me. It's right there on the tip of my tongue.  It's a word that has a "th" sound in the beginning and a "ing" sound somewhere at the end.  Oh, oh I can almost see it! Crap, it's gone.”  Perhaps later, when I’m lying down for sleep, that stupid word, so maddeningly intangible just hours before will pop right into my head, as if it were all just a silly misunderstanding between me and my brain.

I'm guessing that if you've had chemo and have experienced the stupor that often follows, then you know what I'm talking about, right?  It's not that you just can't retrieve language; it's that you can't comprehend it.  My thinking, learning, processing or remembering is now so very different. It's like the arcade game with the crane where you try to scoop up the cheap plastic key chain and then ten dollars later, it's stuck in the chute.

It is painful to read and re-read an email, sometimes even a third time, unable to decipher it. When I have to respond, asking for clarification, I feel tempted to inform the public “I have chemo brain. Please dumb this down for me.” Or when people look at me with confusion in a meeting while I am trying to talk -- I consciously know that I'm not making sense, and there’s nothing I can do about it.  After having spent most of my life being praised for my communication and vocabulary, when these events happen, I literally die a million deaths.

Chemo may have cured my cancer, and I am thankful for that, but I grieve the loss of the person I used to be. It worries me daily. How long will these cognitive deficits interfere with my job and my ability to function at home? Will I continue to be able to provide for my family? Will I ever retain what my son told me just hours before? Does this mean I will incur dementia? Am I permanently dumber as a result of chemotherapy?

They call it “chemo brain” or “cancer-treatment-related cognitive impairment” but don’t let the terms fool you into thinking it’s only a state during which chemo is being administered. Wrong! It can persist and manifest in many ways long after the end of treatments in as many as 75 percent of survivors. In my research I've learned that many chemotherapeutic agents used to treat cancer trigger inflammation in the hippocampus, a cerebral region responsible for many cognitive abilities, such as learning and memory. This inflammation can destroy neurons and other cell types in the brain.

Additionally, these toxic compounds damage the connective structure of neurons, called dendrites and axons, and alter the integrity of synapses - the vital links that permit neurons to pass electrical and chemical signals throughout the brain. One researcher I follow compares the process to “a tree being pruned of its branches and leaves. In many instances, people experience severe cognitive impairment that's progressive and debilitating…the results can be particularly devastating, leading to reduced IQ, asocial behavior and diminished quality of life.”

Survivors I meet often bring this up, hoping I have an answer to share. But I don’t. No one really does. But I do have theories, which include juicing and eating a primarily plant-based diet. Cut out the junk. Focus on lean proteins (if you eat meat) and a colorful assortment of vegetables (especially dark leafy greens) and fruits that nourish the brain. Avoid saturated fats (cheese, whole milk, lard, butter, fatty animal products) and trans-fats (in some fast foods and baked goods such as pie crusts, donuts, crackers, etc.) that can clog arteries and cause poor blood flow to the brain (there’s a reason trans-fats are banned in a few states). Omega-3 fats are the good guys (wild salmon, fish oil supplements, herring, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, etc.). Researchers believe they improve mood and protect against inflammation and cognitive decline. 

Lastly, laugh.  Laugh a lot.  Humor really does help bring the world into focus and that's an especially good thing for people with chemo brain.

For those of you challenged with consuming adequate servings of fruits and vegetables, Juice Plus+ offers a solution in the form of a capsule or gummy. CLICK HERE formore information.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...