Win a “Pink Time Out” Getaway!


Jean-new-smile

Photo Courtesy: Jean Campbell

If  you know Jean Campbell, you know her work with No Boobs About it, and Pink Time Out. She’s a special lady who gives so much time and effort to women  transitioning from breast cancer treatment to “Life after breast cancer.”

No Boobs About it has its second “Pink Time Out” coming up this December.

Christmas in New York City will be a 3-day NYC getaway for a woman who has

recently completed active treatment for breast cancer and a companion. The

getaway will include a stay at a luxury hotel in mid-Manhattan, tickets to

Radio City Holiday Show, breakfasts, and dinners at elegant restaurants.

This “Pink Time Out” getaway is being sponsored by my former students at

the Allen School for Health Sciences, Brooklyn, NY. Please read all about

it at www.noboobsaboutit.org.

The Christmas in NYC recipient will be chosen through a lottery drawing.

The lottery will be open for enrollment October 1st and close October

31st. The lottery drawing will be on November 1. Any woman who has

completed, or will complete active treatment between October 1, 2012 and

October 31, 2013 may enroll in the lottery. For more information, visit

http://noboobsaboutit.org/pink-time-outs/.

Why a “Pink Time Out”? It’s about getting away from all things breast

cancer, putting closure on months of active treatment, and easing the

transition to life in survivorship!

Healthy Choices: Fruits and Vegetables


5 servings

image credit: Good Search

Some people think fresh produce is the only way to get healthy produce. Not true. Sometimes, frozen or canned vegetables hold just as much—or more nutrients than fresh. They can also be lower is cost and easier to prepare. When I was going through chemo, my idea of preparing a meal was opening a can of white or black beans, a can of tomatoes, a can of corn, and adding pre-chopped celery and onion (thank you friends and family), and maybe spices like cumin or basil. When I was real low on energy, I’d ask someone else to open the cans. They loved this simple request! “Is that all you want me to do?” And depending on my energy level, my response was either, “Yes.” or “I’ll starve if you don’t.”

Vegetables retain their nutrients by how they’re processed or prepared. With flash freezing, vegetables hold their nutrients because soon after picking them, they’re boiled, then moved to ice water and drained before being frozen. Fruits are washed, slices and frozen. Canning uses heat treatment to destroy microorganisms that cause spoilage.

Both flash freezing and canning are done within 24 hours of produce being picked. This is known as “minimal processing.” Foods that are highly processed, including fruits and vegetables prepared with a lot of salt, sugar, or fat are known as “highly processed” foods. Examples are vegetables with cheese sauce, or canned fruit pie filling. If you can, add your own cheese to vegetables, and make your own pie filling. Look for frozen fruit without syrup and canned fruit packed in water or its own juice. Buy no-salt added versions of canned vegetables, or drain out the liquid from the regular kind, and rise a few times. Store brand canned or frozen items are often lower in price and same quality as name-brand.

However you get ‘em – Get ‘em! Five servings a day of fruits and vegetables will help keep you healthy and lower the risk of cancer.

Exercising after Cancer


img_water-bottle_1image credit: Good Search

Sorry to ask this—but have you lifted any weights today? After breast or prostate cancer, there’s an increased risk of osteoporosis (bone loss). I used to lift weights, but since cancer, I haven’t. They’re heavy! swap around with walking, swimming, sit ups, leg lifts, but weights aren’t as enjoyable as they used to be. Perhaps I need to go back to three-pound weights, work up to five, and take it from there. The main reason I’ve backed off weights is not wanting to wear a compression sleeve. Poor excuse, really. (Learn more about compression sleeves).

What causes bone loss? First, let’s start with what helps protect us from bone loss. Hormones. Then along comes cancer, and cancer treatment. The hormones get blocked to help treat the cancer. This can make the bones less dense. Patients who are older and may already have weekend bones are at even higher risk for osteoporosis.

Patients who take aromatase inhibitors, which lower estrogen levels, are especially at risk for significant bone loss. Men who are treated for prostate cancer with androgen-deprivation therapy are also at risk for osteoporosis.

Makes you just want to sit down and eat a bowl of ice cream, doesn’t it? Get your calcium, and take it with vitamin C, and get plenty of vitamin D, too. remember, bone is a living tissue. Weight-bearing activities are good for building strong bones. Go ahead, lift that grandkid! Dance—even if someone’s watching! I buy potatoes one by one, but maybe I should lift up a bag or two at the store just for the sake of it. My first push-up after treatment was more of a push-down. I went straight down to the floor! Then again, the compression sleeve issue came into play. Work up to lifting weights. Start with water bottles, or cans.

Move up in weights gradually to avoid injury, or stressing out the lymph system. it seems everyone suggests having guidance and a supervised workout program. I have found I know way more about body mechanics and cancer than some gym trainers. I left a gym because I’d overhear the trainer giving bad advice to someone, or not correcting someone doing an exercise incorrectly. If you’re in physical therapy, it’s a great opportunity to learn new exercises, but you’ll move through the sessions quickly, then you’re on your own. Resistance training is good, but again, start with low resistance, and slowly progress. That’s the take-away. “Start low, progress slow.”

Here are some ideas for weight-bearing exercises for any level:

  • lunges
  • squats
  • rowing or pull down (you’ll need equipment)
  • bicep curls (don’t go buy weights – use what you have: water bottles, cans of food, bags of rice…)
  • tricep kickbacks
  • push against a wall

Sometimes when I walk the beach, I pick up trash as I walk. wear gloves and carry a bag. The frequent bending (and it’s a pretty clean beach) is a great gluteus workout! The first time I did it was soon after chemo. I don’t recommend that.

Here’s a link to some exercise ideas and tips.

A Mid Summer Wedding


 

 

 

IMG_5591Here are some photos from my friend’s mid-summer wedding. The ceremony was in a gorgeous meadow that had a labyrinth. The path was as wide as a lawn mower. When we arrived to the meadow, I picked wild daisies to make the bride a wreath for her head. Then I took photos of the surrounding area. Next thing I knew, I was being tapped on the shoulder to sage and bless each guest before their entering the labyrinth.IMG_5600This wedding got me thinking of gifts that can be given from the heart. First, there was the opportunity for every guest (17) to bring organic, non-GMO fruit, vegetable, or flower seeds for the couple to plant and act as a reminder for them to nurture their friendships. The couple also asked each guest to bring  something from nature. In addition to seeds and nature, guests were asked to write a poem or message about, or to the Summer Solstice and read it to the group.

Up until the point of finding an item of nature, I had confidence that as usual, I packed light, and smart. But then I found two rocks—each in the shape of a heart. Why couldn’t I be happy with a leaf or feather!

Sticking to my original plan, I was also giving the couple a great chef knife. My friend loves to cook and entertain. So, this meant I had to plan ahead and ship off the knife, and pack the rocks along with wrapping paper (only to get scolded by the bride for using paper.) One guest gifted the couple with catering the simple but beautiful hors d’oeuvres. Another guest made a six-foot wine bottle holder out of wood he’d found, adding shape and holes to the piece of wood.IMG_5598

I’m on the good side of cancer—rebuilding strength. This was my first big trip, and I was determined to carry-on my bag rather than pay $25 for the same weight as some women’s purses. It wasn’t pretty and I ached from doing it, but I did it. It reminded me of a story I was told by a man years ago.

This man was staying in Africa for several months. He made friends with the locals. On his birthday, one of his new friends gifted him with a sea shell. This man knew his friend couldn’t have bought the shell, and they lived hundreds of miles from the coast. He said, “The ocean is far away. How did you get this shell?” His friend replied. “Long journey part of gift.” He’d walked a few days to honor his friend with a sea shell.

 

No matter where you’re going, near or far, your journey can gift someone now. You may do things slower and with less gusto—but use more of your energy now. Sometimes honoring someone by showing up is more than enough. I think my friend was more grateful for the head wreath, photography, and space clearing I did than the chef knife. For me, the big gift was the travel itself. The hidden energy expended that no one saw or understood. —Long journey part of gift.

IMG_5578 IMG_5590

 

Fatigue and Cancer


getty_rf_photo_of_fatigued_woman_collapsed_over_laundry

Image Credit: Good Search

So, You have, or have had cancer. What do you do to overcome fatigue? Do you go for a walk? Head for the couch? Are you tired because you’re depressed? Or are you exhausted because you’ve been through the ringer with treatment after treatment?

No matter why you’re tired or what you do about it, recognize the progress you’ve made, and continue to make—even if it’s mico-progress. If you get down about being tired or having to take naps, look at where you are now compared to where you were a few months ago. I had to quit working four hours a day, because by Wednesday, I got sick from over-extending myself, and having a less than optimal immune system. Instead, I started working three hours a day, and by doing so, I was able to work five days a week. I still rushed home for a nap, and slept a full night—and still do.

Go through your calendar and look for things you did and crawled home after, or things you couldn’t do—that you’re doing now. Maybe you’re sleeping the same amount of hours, but doing more now. There may be a phase where your sleep requirement goes up—notice if your activity level is increasing, too. Without doing this, you may get down on yourself only seeing how much you want to do—and can’t.

Here are some ideas that may help retrieve your energy and get you back on schedule:

  • Go to bed at a reasonable and at a consistent time every night.
  • Don’t fall asleep watching TV; your sleep won’t be quality, your subconscious hears even when you don’t.
  • Set your alarm for a consistent time the morning if you find you’re sleeping too long.
  • Exercise during the day, not at night or you might be up all night, throwing off your schedule.
  • Eat at least a few hours before bedtime. Give your body time to digest food before sleeping.
  • If you do take a nap in the day, take it early enough not to disrupt your bedtime.
  • If you have lots of junk around, clear it out. Clutter can be overwhelming.
  • Do one-two chores a day instead of trying to do five like your “used to.”
  • Don’t eat sugary foods as a “pick-me-up”. Maintain a light food-flow throughout the day.

 

Carbs and Protein Together Help the Healing Process


ilovefcp2image credit: Good Search

Whether you’ve had an injury or surgery, your body needs to heal. You may need to stop exercising, or at least modify what you do for a while. The choices you make for food are important in the healing process. During your recovery or rehabilitation, while you’re unable to exercise, you can still avoid gaining weight and heal quickly.

It comes down to conscious decisions for healthy eating. It’s not just a matter of watching fat and caloric intake. Along with self-control, nutrients help your body heal. Obviously, the habit of healthy eating is better to have in place before the injury or surgery. When I was first diagnosed with stage three breast cancer, I laughed when I was told, “You’re extremely healthy—with cancer.” I felt it was the ultimate booby prize. I soon understood the blessing of having a high health baseline. I never missed a chemo treatment, and when I was midway through treatment I had a few people (including a doctor in the oncology clinic) question when I’d begin chemo. I wore a scarf, not a wig, so I found this question bizarre. A friend pointed out to me that I looked healthier than others they’d seen with cancer. Whatever the reasoning, I’m sold on having a high baseline of health.

Physical activity will decrease during the recovery period leading to decreased appetite. If some adjustment to eating doesn’t happen while in recovery you may gain weight. But by negating the right nutrients and caloric intake, your body can’t heal as quickly. Some people take the “opportunity” of having an injury or surgery to eat too few calories.   That’s a huge mistake. A healthy balance is necessary.

Eat from all the food groups. They work together. Consciously graze throughout the day rather than eating only three times, but larger amounts. This is important to keep your blood sugar levels consistent and metabolism active. Also, so that when you do eat, you’re not starving—thus gulping down any and everything, especially right before you head off to bed.

When you eat carbohydrates for energy, your body will use the protein you eat to repair your muscles. If you don’t eat enough carbs, your body will burn the protein you eat for energy, and not for healing muscles. This makes it harder on your body to heal. This isn’t to say load up on carbs, especially if you’re not active. Eat smaller portions of carbs and other foods high in nutrients.

After an injury or surgery, you need extra protein to help recovery. Prior to cancer, I was a near vegetarian, eating only fish and sometimes chicken. During chemo I craved roast beef and beef hot dogs. At the end of cancer treatment my oncologist told me it was very important for me to eat more protein than before cancer, and to keep eating meat.

Fats and antioxidants contain anti-inflammation properties. After an injury or surgery, the first visible response is inflammation. While it’s not a nutrient, I’ve used arnica montana 30x strength two weeks before, and one-two weeks after each surgery (seven). Swelling and bruising was almost nil in every surgery.

Vitamin C helps reduce inflammation and encourages the body to form collagen. Collagen is a needed protein for strength, flexibility and repair of tendons, ligaments and strengthens bones. Vitamin A helps with cell development, cell growth and the immune system.

 

Carbohydrates: whole grains, pasta, breads, fruits, veggies

Protein: lean meat, fish, beans, lentils, nuts, low-fat dairy

Fats: olive oil, canola oil, nuts, avocados

Antioxidants/Fruits high in vitamin C: kiwi fruit, oranges, strawberries, broccoli, tomatoes

I dust. I shred papers. I wash laundry.


spring-cleaning1 Image Credit: Good Search

Let me preface all this with, if you’ve got someone helping you out get ready for surgery, AMEN! For me, cleaning on my own is a way to keep my mind off surgery, and I count it as exercise, knowing I won’t be doing much for a while. (Like lifting over ten pounds for six months.)

Stock up on food you can store—canned tuna or salmon, vegetable broth, pasta, canned or frozen vegetables (you won’t want to chop much.) Make things in personal serving sizes if you live alone, or if you’re bringing food over to someone who lives alone. Keep one in the refrigerator, and freeze the rest. A large container is too heavy after surgery and takes up too much freezer space, and too much time to thaw. Make fiber muffins and freeze them or get a box of Belvita breakfast bars (blueberry’s their best.)

Stock up on water if you buy in bottles, juice and something like prune juice, 7-Up, or some other taste. For me, nothing taste good for several days after surgery. I’m more comfortable having broth and Saltine crackers (I love the fresh stack pack, packaged in smaller portions.) Drink lots of liquid, and keep food low salt, low-fat/grease. (I forgot and this time had chicken broth instead of vegetable—and it didn’t stay down. it was too greasy for me.) Things like pudding or Jell-O will feel good going down your throat after surgery.

Paced over two weeks, and dog-tired at the end, the count-down for surgery and an incredibly clean house (all 600 square feet of it) begin. This last time I even re-arranged my bedroom. A deep clean never goes as quickly as planed, does it? Usually, I prepare for surgery by sticking to the normal house cleaning, keeping in mind that after surgery I may not be able to much of it for a month or more, and I enjoy clean surroundings as much as my guests do.

I dust. I shred papers. I do laundry and hand wash sweaters that have hung on a chair far too long because I couldn’t be bothered to hand wash anything before. Windows and mirrors get clean. Plants get watered. Toilet paper. I stock up, and move some to a lower shelf, and in the front. As the chores check off and the calendar approaches surgery, I notice things like the floor isn’t as clean as it should be, and decide to get creative. I discover things like baking soda work better than Method, or other floor cleaners that haven’t done their job, even though I’ve been using them for years. One-third across the floor, I’m exhausted, but proud of how great that floor looks! Hint: If you do this, go easy on the amount of baking soda, or you will re-do the floor with a sponge and water to pick up the grit you left behind. A clean bathroom floor only shows the outer tub/shower needing attention, and while you’re on your knees, you may as well dust behind the toilet.

It’s not like I plow through these chores one after the next. I pace things out. Work top to bottom. Nap. Each chore triggers a thought of something else to clean. The vanity, the oven and oh, better remember to vacuum—which gets done three times in two days. I love those vacuum lines on the carpet! It’s at this point I realize nerves, not necessity have stepped in-charge.

Stop. Breathe. Meditate. Pray. The eve of surgery: Allow calm. I enjoy listening to soothing instrumental music and fading in and out of meditative thoughts. Let’s be real. . . . This is also the time to eat as much as you want until midnight! Before I get ready for bed, I post my NPO signs (Nothing Per Oral, reminders not to eat or drink anything) on my water bottles, the counter and refrigerator. My very last eve of surgery ritual is to clean my kitchen sink. Wipe, wipe, wipe. Man, it sparkles!