As I write this, I am exactly three years out from my Breast Cancer diagnosis and, as surprising as it may sound, I am happier and feel healthier now, than I have in many years!
I now see my diagnosis as a wake-up call to change my life. I was the classic busy, rushing fool, feeling the need to overachieve and always putting unreasonable expectations on myself. I couldn’t do something if I didn’t do it 150%. I never met a worry I didn’t like. If I didn’t have something to worry about, I found it. I worried about things in the past that I had no control over whatsoever, and I worried about things in the future that hadn’t even happened. Anxiety and Stress were my middle names. Well, sooner or later that lifestyle will catch up with you, and it did!
I was doing some positive things in my life. I exercised regularly and thought I had a reasonably healthy diet (little did I know). I had embraced yoga and tried to calm my mind with meditation. Rationally, I knew what I should
be doing, but I didn’t always do it. I put everything else first. Self care was not high on my “to do” list, unless getting your hair colored counts :)
The SLAP heard around the world.
Well, I got the slap, that I guess as I should have seen coming and now “self care” is ALWAYS at the top of my list! I have finally learned the hard way, that I must
come first. What good am I to my husband and doggies, family and friends if I’m sick or worse yet, dead? I have discovered that if I look after myself, I can actually do more
for everyone else too. I’ve realized it is not selfish, but sensible!
After gathering all the information and discussing my treatment options, I made the decision to have a bi-lateral mastectomy and reconstruction. (I’ll write more about that later). I had the surgery in November 2012. So began the year of rebuilding - literally and figuratively. I spent the next year focused on recovery. Three surgeries later, I was physically tired but my body was repairing and I was starting to look and feel better. There was the physical rebuilding that was going on with the reconstructive surgeries and then there was the rebuilding that was going on in my mind, body and soul. Another critical part of the rebuilding was getting back to exercising and I could not have been in better hands than with my incredibly talented and experienced trainer and wonderful friend, Suzanne Best
. I never imagined I'd regain my strength as well as I have. Push ups anyone? Yes please :)
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” -Hippocrates
The biggest change I have made, and I’ve made many, is to my diet. As I healed and stopped researching all things breast cancer related, I switched my attention to researching all things health, wellness and prevention. Nutrition rose to the top quickly. I became fascinated with how food could help the body heal, change how you feel, look and your energy levels. I wanted to know all there was to know about cancer fighting foods. I switched my diet to real, whole foods - no more cans or packaged items. Everything was fresh, real and recognizable. Of course, this did not happen overnight. It was a process, and I might add a fun one! Now I can say, I never met a superfood I didn’t like.
I will never forget my first trip to Whole Foods. I had absolutely NO idea what I was looking for and where anything was. I felt out of place and was convinced that everyone there knew it! I tried to look confident as I pushed my cart around the store, but inside I was overwhelmed. I think I was in there for about 3 hours!!! Fast forward 2 years and I now zip in, grab what I need and I’m on my way. I’m a PRO :)
Are we there yet?
My fabulous and ever supportive husband happily came along for the ride. He’s the one who loves to cook, so my job was to figure out what we should eat, bring it home and find some delicious, nutritious recipes. There were days when it was challenging and we’d stare at all the raw materials and wonder how to make it into something balanced and tasty. Some nights were a hit and others…well! It has been a joyous journey and it continues on. Are we there yet? Wherever there is, no! I think this will forever be an evolution and we’re enjoying the process.
It takes a village.
I was fortunate to have an amazing PCP and team of nurses, doctors and surgeons to help me through my breast cancer treatment and beyond. What I didn’t know then, is that I was about to find another great team to help me with the next steps on my road to real recovery and true healing. This team consists of an Acupuncturist & DCM (Dr. Edgar Chase
), a Naturopathic Doctor (Dr. Mandy Reckers
) and a Clinical Herbalist/Nutritionist
). I am thankful everyday that they came into my life. Each one of them has added a new dimension to my health. They have become a vital part of my life and health, and I know I will have them with me for a long time to come.
Don’t look back. You’re not going that way!
I got so wrapped up in researching food that I decided to take a course in nutrition. I signed up for a one year program with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition
, which I just finished. So I traded in my business – a women’s clothing store - that I had fallen madly out of love with and only caused me more stress and anxiety, to follow my new
passion, Health and Nutrition and I’ve never looked back. I have thoroughly enjoyed the year and learned a lot, but it has only made me want to learn more. My next adventure is to apply to the Maryland University of Integrative Health
for their Masters in Clinical Nutrition and Integrative Health
. I’m hoping to be accepted, fingers crossed, for their January 2016 start date.
You CAN teach an old dog…
At age 52, I finally feel that I have found my life’s purpose, and my true calling. I want to help others through nutrition and my life experience. I know that the only reason this has happened, is because of my breast cancer diagnosis and I have made peace with that.
Given my own health history, I am particularly interested in learning how eating the right foods can both prevent breast cancer and prevent recurrence.
Learn along with me!
So, if you’d like to join me on this adventure, I’d love to have you come along. As I learn, I will share with you. My hope is that you will then share with others and many more people will be living happy, healthy, vibrant lives. Don’t wait for the slap!