Best Herbs to Fight Cancer…

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ayurvedaHerbal medicine, also referred to as botanical or phytomedicine, is the process of using all parts of plants (seeds, berries, roots, leaves, bark, and flowers) for medicinal purposes.  Someone who would understand the ways of herbal medicine would be a naturopathic doctor, who is trained in the same way that an allopathic doctor would be, but also combines the wisdom of nature into their healing methods.  A naturopathic physician helps people by facilitating the body’s inherent ability to restore and maintain optimal health.  This is in stark contrast to an allopathic physician, who tends to rely on pharmaceutical drugs to mask or treat symptoms. Learning how to use herbal medicines to treat minor deficiencies, before they turn into larger-scale health problems, can give you more power over your own health care.

For generations before us, our ancestors used herbs to bring our bodies back into homeostasis, ensuring that members of their tribe, clan, community, or family stayed healthy. Emphasis was always on holistic methods that did not suppress annoying symptoms and conditions, but worked at building a healthier immune system, gut and mind.

Scientists have found that certain foods, including some herbs and spices, contain phytochemicals, which can affect our bodies biologically. Through their ability to stimulate the immune system, they have learned that these phytochemicals can also aid in helping to keep cancer at bay. The nice thing about the particular herbs and spices that seem to help in the area of cancer, are that they can also help to spice up your everyday food and keep you happy at the same time. A little pinch of “this,” or a half teaspoon of “that” might be all that you need to help bring your body into a better state of wellness.  There is no reason to think that all bodies could not benefit from including extra herbs in their diet.

These are a few of the favorites that I use:

  1. TURMERIC – The spice turmeric contains curcumin, which is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatories used. Cancer tumors have a network of blood vessels that feed them, and curcumin can work against these blood vessels and essentially choke the cancer cells to death. Curcumin supplements provide curcumin in good amounts, but it can still be difficult to absorb. Mixing tumeric with black pepper and a healthy fat (coconut or olive oil) can activate curcumin’s power, turning it into a powerhouse of health. A teaspoon or two of turmeric can be added to your soups, fresh vegetables, stews, and curries.
  2. GINGER – This is another key spice for aiding in building your immune system.  Fresh ginger contains gingerol, and dried ginger forms zingerone; both have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  Not only is ginger useful for digestion and motion sickness, but it actually can cause tumor cells to “commit suicide” by destroying themselves, yet leaving the surrounding healthy cells untouched. Ginger is anti-viral, and is a powerful anti-inflammatory that is used to help with pain caused by inflammation. Including fresh grated or sliced ginger in hot water can create a healthy tea that can help you stave off symptoms of cold and flu.   Add ginger to rice, fish, vegetables, stews, and soups; or include the candied version in something tasty and sweet for your family.
  3. GARLIC – Garlic is an allium vegetable, along with onions, shallots, scallions, and leeks.  Allium vegetables are reported to help prevent cancer, especially of the stomach. Allium vegetables contain organosulfur compounds, which have have immune-strengthening and anti-carcinogenic qualities.  Garlic is a versatile cooking essential and can be included in meals throughout the day. Sautéed in olive oil, it can be the beginning of savory egg dishes, homemade soups, stews, and delicious sauces that your whole family can enjoy.   The favorite way that my family enjoys eating it, is by baking it in the oven and then spreading it on crusty bread…yummy!
  4. CAYENNE – Cayenne contains capsaicin, which is known to be a powerful antioxidant that is toxic to cancer cells. Capsaicin acts as a vasodilator, or blood vessel expander, which is important for promoting circulation.  It is used to help with pain management, causing the brain to focus on the “heat pain” that it gives, and less on other aches and pains that you may have.  In addition to fighting cancer, cayenne pepper can be added to many foods that require some extra “heat.”  I would be remiss if I did not include a blurb about its safety.  Cayenne must be handled with care, and it is encouraged that you wear gloves. Do not use this spice without caution, as a little bit of this heat can cause extreme discomfort to those who are not prepared for its intensity.
  5. OREGANO – Oregano contains carvacrol, which has been shown to induce apoptosis (cell destruction) in cancer cells.  It is thought that carvacrol may help offset the spread of cancer cells by working as a natural disinfectant. Carvacrol is also present in marjoram, mint, thyme, basil, and parsley. Marinating your meats and other grilled foods with oregano may also reduce the formation of heterocyclic amines (HCAs), which are created when they are cooked at high temperatures.  Oregano can easily be added to marinades, pizza, sauces, pasta, and vegetables.
  6. ROSEMARY – The two key ingredients in Rosemary are caffeic acid and rosemarinic acid; both potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents, which help protect the body’s cells from damage by free radicals. Rich in carnosol, Rosemary has been found to detoxify substances that can initiate the breast-cancer process. It is also a rich source of vitamin E, which is another powerful antioxidant.  Like oregano, it can easily be added to the family-friendly meals that you eat all the time.

download (5)These are a few of the healthy herbs that seem to be easily integrated into my life, and into the life my family.  These natural products are best ingested through eating them in their natural state, but you can benefit from purchasing these all in a pill, capsule or oil format.  I encourage you to experiment with foods first, but know that you can buy quality supplements in many health food stores and online.images (17)

Listing of references for further review:

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/treatment/herbal-medicine

http://www.everydayhealth.com/cancer-photos/herbs-and-spices-for-cancer-prevention.aspx

http://www.canceractive.com/cancer-active-page-link.aspx?n=1571

http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/natural-medicine/alternative/ginger-fight-cancer.htm

http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-ginger-root.html

http://www.chrisbeatcancer.com/four-cancer-fighting-spices/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/345106-cayenne-pepper-healing/

http://pacificcollege.edu/acupuncture-massage-news/articles/644-the-cancer-fighting-benefits-of-rosemary.html

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How did I find out I had cancer…

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I am a wife and mother to four crazy kids, ranging from the delightful “tween” years, all the way into early adulthood.  We live in a wonderful white farmhouse out in the country, with green fields on one side of us, and beautiful marshland on the other.  I have a great job at my kid’s school, so I get to have all my summer’s off with them.  We spend our time playing board games and “Guitar Hero,” visiting the grandparents cool place up north, or just hanging around the house and doing mindless stuff.  For fun, I like to garden, read books, cook fun foods, and I have a passion for writing.  This was my life, and it was all so lovely and peaceful, until cancer quickly changed everything.

It all started in the fall of 07, when I just couldn’t seem to shake a bunch of strange problems that I was experiencing.  I had started the new year at school, but I kept having weird symptoms that didn’t seem to make sense.  I was so tired all the time; so god-awful tired!  I had a strange, persistent little cough that gradually intensified whenever I spoke too long or took deep breaths.  I had this annoying pain in my back and right shoulder-blade, which intensified as the weeks and months went on.  I would see doctors of all different types, trying to fix “this” strange  symptom, or stop “that” weird ache.  One night, right out of nowhere, I felt a huge lump growing out of the sternum area of my chest.  How long has that been there?  It was about a half an inch or more thick, and a little less than two inches in diameter, so I completely freaked out.  My regular doctor quickly explained this away as an inflammation of my sternum, or in medical speak was called costochondritis.  They always sent me home to rest, or try some remedy that they prescribed, but then another symptom would arise, which would send me back to see a different doctor.  I remember sitting on the sofa with my husband at night and just falling apart, because the pain in my arm was so intense.  I took a lot of over-the-counter pain relievers, which never seemed to help, and I would pack my arm in huge amounts of ice, because it felt a teensy bit better when it was practically frozen.  It was horrible!

Finally, I was referred to a thoracic surgeon, because my regular doctor said she thought I had some kind of “funny looking genetic thing” on an x-ray.  Thankfully, this man started to get the ball rolling, ordering an MRI to be done within two days.  When I met with him to hear the results of the MRI, I still assumed that it was costochronditis, and that it had probably gotten a little worse than it should.  Still, I wasn’t that worried, thinking it wasn’t anything that a serious course of antibiotics couldn’t cure.  I liked this smiling, dark-haired doctor immensely.  We were the same age, we both had four kids, and he seemed like an eternal optimist, like me.  Without a speck of distrust for this kindly doctor, I happily followed him as he urged me out into the hallway, where we could look at the MRI results on his fancy light-box.  With a trusting smile on my face, I looked up at the shiny box on the wall and blankly stared…too stupefied for words…too terrified of what I saw.

The first sign of panic that hit me was the instantaneous pounding of my heart, which felt like it would burst from my chest like a bomb.  My face suddenly felt hot, like it was on fire.  I stood a foot and a half away from the light-box, but I felt like I was experiencing one of those cinematic effects that a director puts in a horror movie.  Even though I didn’t move an inch from where I stood, I felt like the space between me and the light-box grew twenty feet apart.  Everything suddenly seemed so far away from me, and an oppressive black cloud started to close in around my peripheral vision, making me feel like I was in a long tunnel.  Behind me, people were walking to their own doctor’s appointment, completely oblivious to my newly altered universe.  I was aware that the doctor was still talking to me, but I didn’t recognize the language.  He was using his pen to point out interesting parts of my scans, and suddenly I knew without a doubt, “I am going to die from this!”

I have a bit of a medical background, because I had taken some medical transcription classes many years ago.  It was a year-long certificate program that would educate us on abnormalities and conditions that could arise in every system of the body.  We learned that a fish-hook stuck in an eyeball was probably not a good thing, and that “rales, rattles, and rhonchi” were all words that a doctor would use to describe how a heart sounds.  We also learned that huge, ungodly looking masses that grew inside your chest cavity, pushing into the spaces where your lungs and your heart belonged, were definitely not good.  We learned that people definitely needed their lungs to live, along with their heart, and that it would be advisable to not have ungodly looking stuff growing in there!  This was Medical Transcriptionist -101, and students who paid attention in class would have learned this on day four!

To make a long story short, “Amazing Thoracic Surgeon” immediately scheduled a follow-up meeting with my husband, “Just so we can all get on the same page…okay?”  In a complete panic, I went home and relayed every sordid detail to said husband and, like the good man that he is, he calmly told me not to worry, “You panic about everything!  Let’s just see what the doctor has to say!” and then we didn’t talk about it again, until that wonderfully reassuring doctor gave us a few minutes of privacy in his office.  And that was just after ushering my husband out to that infamous hallway of his, where he took us to go look at that pretty little light-box thingy on the wall.

“Completely caught off guard, and blown away!” was how I would later describe my husband’s grasp of the scans, and he isn’t even a trained medical transcriptionist like me.  The surgeon discussed the chances of it being cancer, “probably,” and he laid out the five different kinds that it could possibly be, ranging from some kind of lymphoma, “which will be your best bet” to a more deadly sarcoma, “well…let’s just pray for lymphoma!”  Then he educated us about the treatment plans for the five different options of cancer, and then, being the ever optimistic man that he is, he completely reassured me that he would do whatever it took to keep me alive, and I believed him.

The thing was, I could totally tell that this doctor liked me and my husband.  He said I reminded him of his wife, “She’s the glue that holds my family together!  I could die today and our children would be okay…but if she died…that would not be good!”   That man said a lot of stuff to me that day, although I can’t remember it word for word.  What I do remember hearing, however, was that if he had to hack me apart and piece me back together, in whatever manner that it took so that I could go home to my kids, he was going to do it!

Immediately, we scheduled the biopsy, and I went home to figure out how I was going to break this to my parents, and figure out all the details of my job.  But what was I going to do about our children?  How do you even begin this kind of conversation with your kids?  What do you say, and what do you not say?  It was all too difficult to deal with, so I remember going in my room to be away from them; I couldn’t control the tears and I didn’t want to freak them out.  I had a real problem to deal with, my youngest child.  She’s my precious, anxiety-laden six-year-old daughter, who has this unnatural obsession about me dying on her since she could string a few words together.  This has been her fear since day one, and all I could think about was, “Oh, my god…this is actually going to happen to her!”  Of all my children, this one couldn’t even let me go to the bathroom by myself, or not sleep in my bed with me.  Her dreams were never light and happy, just filled with dread and horror about waking up and finding me gone.  And now, it might actually come to happen to her?  What a cruel and merciless thing to happen to a child.  This would be devastating for all my kids, but she would never recover from it.  I knew it, and my husband knew it, too.  So very quickly on, I made it my personal mission in life to kick this cancer in the ass, so I could pull myself through for her.

About three days after the biopsy, “Amazing Thoracic Surgeon” called me up with the news, “Hey…I’ve got great news!  I knew you couldn’t wait for this…it’s Hodgkin’s lymphoma!”  And we celebrated this amazing miracle, as then he confidently gave me the name of one of his very good doctor friends, which I will call “Hallelujah Hematologist.”

“Thank God,” I think I might have said, or something very similar.  I remember running out of the room and actually laughing for joy.  Then I called my husband at work, and then my parents, “Hey, guess what?  I got the good cancer!” I said, totally overjoyed about it.  They were ecstatic, and there was a lot of happy crying that day, which sounds kind of pathetic when you think about it.  I got the “good” cancer… oh, great!

“Hallelujah Hematologist” was better than the thoracic surgeon, if you can believe it.  From the second that I stepped into his office, which was on a Tuesday, at around 3:00 in the afternoon, his warm smile and his sense of humor made me feel like I was finally in with the right kind of people.  We looked at the MRI scans, and he reviewed all my previous medical notes.  We talked, and I cried a bit, and he reassured me about the process ahead.  Lab tests were ordered, including a bone marrow aspiration that he wanted done immediately, which sent me to the land of tears and fear.

“Um…she’s kind of afraid of that procedure,” my husband stated with one of those goofy-husband smiles, because I had already fallen to pieces in the car about this, on the way to the doctor, “What if I have to have that horrible bone marrow thing?”

The thing about “Hallelujah Hematologist,” (and this is the thing that I love most about him), he doesn’t want me to suffer, AT ALL.  He just wants this horrible journey to go as smoothly as possible, and he doesn’t want to do anything that would scare his patients or their families.  Pleasantly, his nurse came in and took me to a nice little room, where she administered a couple of mind-numbing injections  and then it was done (Well, I wasn’t a hundred percent sure, things just got all “gone” for me!).  We left his office about 7:30 PM that night, which also amazed me.  Were all the other Oncologists like “Hallelujah Hematologist?”  Do they routinely go over their normal business hours, providing this intensive and amazing care to all their patients?  Throughout this intensive ordeal, he made me feel super special, like saving me was the single most important thing that he could possibly be doing in the world that day.  Later on, my husband and I would go over this appointment in great detail with friends and family, still astonished at the outstanding “emotional” care that he gave us that very first day.

A PET scan was ordered for Thursday, although we had a lot of wrangling between our insurance carrier and the clinic (Do not get me started on insurance companies, I could write about them for years!), and I began my first chemo that Friday.  The plan was that I would come in every other Friday, and it would take about six months total, my doctor estimated, with a helpful course of radiation at the end of it, “We want to make sure it’s good and gone!”

After half a year of dealing with weird symptoms and all the wrong diagnoses, I finally started on the right path to my recovery in February of 08.  It wasn’t easy, and it only gets worse the longer that it goes on, but by Thanksgiving, I was feeling pretty good.  I was finally done with all my treatments.  I could eat food for the first time, in a very long time, where I didn’t have to throw it up, or not enjoy the taste of it, or where I could actually swallow it (radiation was such a total drag!).  By Christmas, I had fuzz growing on my head again.  I was tired and completely wore out, but I was alive.  I still have a little ways to go before I pass the 5-year anniversary mark, which in our cool posse of cancer survivors is “super cool,” and a “really big thing!”  To celebrate, I plan on going out for a major romantic dinner with my husband!

So far, all is still going amazing!  My health is good, although I don’t take it for granted like I used to.    I eat as healthy as I can, and I do a lot of “mumbo-jumbo” alternative stuff that I think really works.  I see my “Hallelujah Hematologist” two times a year now, and the last time I saw him, I came home and told my husband, “I am totally in love with that man!”  My husband doesn’t mind…because he is, too!

The Healing Power of Juicing Fruits and Vegetables…Kick Your Cancer in the Butt!!

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How many times a week do you stop and get convenience food for you or someone in your family? We live in such a fast paced, hectic world, where we run from one place to another, sacrificing our health, and those we love dearest, because we don’t have time to stop off at home and eat a good meal. Do you find yourself cutting food corners because you are too busy running your kids from piano lessons to soccer, or to baseball? Is your work preventing you from eating a healthy, well-balanced meal? Maybe you eat out at lunch every day, or you quick grab a soda and a candy bar from the vending machine, vowing to eat something healthier later.  Your body is probably screaming out to be fed something nutritious and you didn’t even know it.

What if I were to tell you about a wonderful way that you could start to increase your fruits and vegetables, starting immediately?   The beauty of this healthy tip that I want to tell you about, is that it is so easy to incorporate into your lifestyle…anyone can do it!  What you put into your body is one of the most important things in the battle to fight and prevent cancer.  Too often, the prepackaged stuff that we call “food” is not supporting our bodies in a way that encourages them to heal themselves.  Many of us don’t even know that we are deficient in the basic nutrients that our bodies need.  One of the biggest things to learn about cancer is that it’s anaerobic, which means that it only lives where there is little or no oxygen.  Exercise can get your blood moving and increase your oxygen, but another way to do this is to start juicing, daily if possible.

You might be asking yourself, “But isn’t this difficult?”  I’m here to tell you that it is one of the simplest things that you can do and you will start to feel better immediately.  For your information, juicing can be as complicated, or as easy, as you would like it to be.  I first started juicing  when I purchased my Jack Lalane juicer, which I still use and really enjoy.  At the time, it was about $130 and it is fairly simple to use.  I learned that kale and dark greens were full of oxygen, so I started with that as my main focus, and then I included apples, berries, carrots, beets (and their greens), ginger root, etc.  Whatever I had on hand was what I put into the juicer, and I loved the flexibility of coming up with fun and interesting recipes.  Unfortunately, sometimes I do not  care for the mess of the machine, which always is a small production to clean.

After I did that for a while, my sister told me of this wonderful book called Green for Life (I put a link at the end of this page)It went over all the details for blending greens in your kitchen blender, as well as educating me on all the wonderful ways that you could make beverages that tickled the taste buds of anyone.  Plus, it was so much easier than the other one that I became a blender-juicing addict, and now I almost always make it a part of my daily routine.

Juicing in your blender is such an easy way to enrich your body with the most oxygenated foods that feed your body, fight off cancer and help clear out your digestive system.  The basic recipe is that you fill your blender up with two cups of water, then you add a handful or two of good greens (my favorite is kale, but I’ll take spinach, romaine, arugula, etc.) and blend it till it’s liquified.  Then, you just add whatever else you like.  I like the flavor of citrus, so I usually throw in a grapefruit, orange, or lemon, and then I might add some berries, a cored apple, or a banana.  Then you blend it all up so that it is incorporated as well as possible and drink up throughout the day.  The book says that you can use the same batch all throughout the next day, but the nutritional value starts to diminish and it isn’t as potent, so I always try to drink it up on the first day.

Each morning I make a full blender of “sludge,” which is my affectionate name for this green concoction.  It’ very green and looks like you could probably feed it to cattle, which often gets strange looks from my co-workers and family members.  I drink at least one cup of it while I’m getting ready to go to work, and then I take along a good sized bottle full of it with me, so I can drink it throughout the day.  Sometimes I leave the remainder in the blender pitcher at home and then I drink it up when I get home.  It’s a healthy pick-me-up treat that gives me lots of energy.  Plus, I absolutely love” the taste of it!   As soon as I drink it up, I know that it’s getting into my cells and storming around, kicking out anything that shouldn’t be there.  I almost can see the sludge coursing through my body, setting the foundation for some serious anti-cancer butt-kicking!

Sometimes, just for added nutrition, I’ll add a teaspoon of turmeric (circumin) to the drink, along with a shake of black pepper(see my link at the end of this page). Turmeric has a host of wonderful anti-inflammatory benefits that will only add to your health experience.  It is one of those spices have been known to assist with fighting cancer, and I make a point of having it several times a day in my juice and in my teas. I’m a six-year survivor, and I have no intention of ever going down that frightening path again. If mixing a little Turmeric into my morning “sludge” is going to help me out, then believe me, I’m going to do it. Plus, if you combine it with a healthy fat and some ground black pepper, it increases the healing properties by several hundred times. That’s a massive “big plus” for me!

Other things that I like to add to my blender or juiced beverages are Aloe Vera Juice, psyllium hulls, flax and/or chia seeds, and flax seed oil.  While I’m drinking it up, I’m also downing my early morning vitamin regimen, which makes me feel like a million bucks too!

If you don’t have a juicer, you can get by with using your blender.  Just remember that a blender cannot juice things like beets and carrots, as they will probably break it.  You can find a nicer mixer that will do that, but the cost does go up several hundred dollars.  Make it a point to pick up some greens at the supermarket and start going on the offensive with your prevention and recovery.  If you can, get organic produce over the rest.  Better yet, grow your own, or get yourself down to your local farmers market if you have one.

Much love.

Green for life

The benefits of turmeric 

Crazy Sexy Life, the benefits of juicing 

Kick Cancer in the butt with green juice!

Hidden chemicals in your everyday products…Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

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images (1)Our world is filled with chemicals and ingredients that do nothing other than to make the experience of what you are currently doing more “exciting!”  We are a society of people who need “razzle dazzle” when we brush our teeth, and we don’t feel like we are clean enough, unless the soapy suds from our shampoo and body washes are three inches thick!

I am one of those women who has always felt like they were born in the wrong generation…probably the influence of my Grandmother Hazel.  She was a frugal woman who could make needed things appear out of nowhere.  As someone who lived through the depression, you never (and I mean NEVER) would have gotten up from her table and walked away with food still sitting on your plate…food was there to be eaten.  If you didn’t eat it at lunch, you can bet that it would be sitting on the same plate for you to eat at supper.  The choice was yours as to enjoying it when it was freshly made, or freshly warmed up or brought out of the fridge.  That part was kind of rough for us kids, but she had a resourcefulness about her that really resonated with me.  Everything was used, reused and then repurposed to be used in a brand new way.  If it wasn’t necessary right now, it was put on a shelf…with the intention that it would be necessary one day in the future.

I guess that is why I feel that some of the “old” ways of doing things are a little bit more healthy for my family than the stuff that we leave for scientists in large laboratories to develop.  Because we are such a particular group of people who do not like unpleasant experiences, our daily routines are filled with extra chemicals and “stuff” that are purposefully designed to make people feel really great using them.  There are many products that would curdle your stomach if you knew how they were used in your everyday life.  If you knew more about them, I wonder if you would feel the same about using them?

downloadSodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS) – Sodium lauryl sulfate is a surfactant, detergent, and emulsifier that is used in thousands of cosmetic products, but can also be found in your run-of-the-mill industrial cleaners. This is the inexpensive foaming agent in dish soaps, hand and body washes, cleaning products, and even toothpaste.  We might see this as a luxury, because it would “appear” to us unknowing consumers that the thick and fluffy soap bubbles that it is producing MUST be better than those lesser bubbling products that seem to disappear in a minute. However, studies have shown that this may not be such an innocent luxury. This substance is very powerful, and it may surprise you to know that it is strong enough to scrub garage floors and degrease engines, and that it is considered to be carcinogenic over time. It is present in nearly all shampoos, scalp treatments, hair color and bleaching agents, toothpastes, body washes and cleansers, make-up foundations, liquid hand soaps, laundry detergents, and bath oils/bath salts. Although SLS originates from coconuts, the chemical is anything but natural.

So, if it is so bad, why do we find it in all these products?  Hmmm…it kind of makes you wonder!  Actually, this stuff is very cheap. What is freaking funny, if you ask me, is that this powerful degreaser can remove oil from an engine, but is supposed to be gentle on your skin???  How can it do anything other than break down your skin and remove all the essential oils that your body needs to be its own healthy, vibrant and alive self?  It has also been said that once in the body, SLS mimics the hormone estrogen, which can bring on health problems like PMS, menopausal symptoms, decreased male fertility, and increased female cancers…yikes!

A study found that in children under six, the absorption of this ingredient, on a daily basis through their scalp, prevented the proteins in their eyes from properly developing. Furthermore, it is said that the SLS in toothpaste contributes to prolonged and more frequent canker sores in the mouth, and the SLS in shampoo causes hair to become more brittle and break easier. So, not only is it a harmful additive, but it is a beauty product ingredient that is creating a not-so-beautiful situation.

We use several toothpastes in our household, from pure baking soda, to the kind that you find in tubes from the store. Immediately after reading about SLS, I went to look at my own toothpaste, which is a brand of Tom’s.  Tom’s, as you may or may not know, is supposed to be a version that is made with more healthy ingredients.  Sadly, I noticed that it was listed as number seven in the listing of ingredients…”sigh” of despair! That really bothered me, as I have been purchasing that for years, thinking that I was doing us all a favor.  I immediately when to their website, which I am sharing a link below, and learned that they do offer another product that is without SLS, called Clean & Gentle and Botanically Bright toothpastes.  I will look for this the next time that I am in the store, as toothpaste in a tube seems to be the preferential one that my family likes.  I know there are homemade products that I can make for my family, but I have not made any as of yet. I don’t feel the need to make anything more complex that baking soda, or a combination of baking soda and coconut oil, as it gets the job done for me.  My children, however, would probably prefer to grab their tube, use it, and then put it back in the drawer. I will point out that my youngest daughter is finding the out-of-the-box baking soda to be a healthy option for her, and I hope that she continues with it.

So what should you do?  Sadly, I cannot tell you what “you” need to do.  I will tell you that I found sodium lauryl sulfate listed as the second ingredient in our shampoos, which “I” found intolerable.  I guess I would feel a little bit better if it were the 9th, 15th or 30th ingredient…but number two???  I plan to check alternative products and ingredients out the next time I go to the store.  I will either find an alternate that I can live with, or I will resort to finding a recipe and making my own.  My sister made me a lovely coconut milk and rosemary shampoo last year, and it was divine!  Just for fun, I am including links to a few homemade versions that you may want to think about making, just in case you cannot find shampoos with ingredients that work for you. Please note that you can Google just about anything, and recipes will pop up and make themselves known to you.  It is not hard to do!

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is just one of the many ingredients that are in all kinds of products that we use daily.  I am a busy woman, so I do not have time to research every single thing that is hidden in the ingredients of my family’s health and beauty aids. I need to start with one thing, so I can become familiar with the word, what it is “supposed” to do in the products, and then I can learn how I can find it in my home.  Once armed with that, I am better prepared to find alternatives that “I” can live with, because knowledge is power for me!  Be warned, because these chemicals are everywhere.  Be prepared to have to make decisions about all kinds of things, if that is what you decide you need to do. You may not be able to fix everything, so you may have to decide which products are acceptable, and which products are intolerable.

I encourage you to go to the EWG.org, which is a website that educates you on all the products available for purchase. You can enter your own products into their program, just to see what the scores actually are.  The best products have scores that are low. Find your brands and see if they are fine, or figure out which brands would make better alternates. Either way, you will be more knowledgeable about what you have in your house than you were before.

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IF YOU WISH TO LEARN MORE ABOUT SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE, PLEASE CHECK THE LINKS TO THESE SITES:

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/07/13/sodium-lauryl-sulfate.aspx

Ingredients you don’t want in your toothpaste:  http://www.rodalenews.com/toothpaste-chemicals

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate:  http://www.nutopia.cc/the-collective-co-op/open-door-wisdom-blogs/shedding-light-upon-the-darkness-blog/item/common-household-product-sodium-lauryl-sulfate

Info on Tom’s toothpaste:  http://www.tomsofmaine.com/ingredients/overlay/sodium-lauryl-sulfate

EWG facts on toothpaste:  http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/search.php?query=toothpaste&search_group=everything&&showmore=everything&start=0

What the chemical companies don’t want you to know: http://www.ewg.org/research/what-chemical-industry-doesnt-want-you-know

Make your own shampoo:  http://wellnessmama.com/3701/natural-shampoo/, and at http://www.eatgood4life.com/home-made-coconut-shampoo/

Buying Healthy Produce…

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Sometimes we need to make decisions that we don’t always want to make.  For instance, I would love nothing better than to buy organic fruits and veggies all the time, but sometimes the kids need a new pair of shoes…or maybe the money is earmarked for tuition or braces.  Irregardless of those needs being necessary or just nice, there are times when I must watch my budget more than usual.  Instead of being forced to not buy something because it is too expensive, I now make some of those purchasing decisions by factoring in some already known data about produce.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has compiled an amazing website that very easily lays out the chemical analysis of every single thing you wanted to know about. Do you ever sit and wonder about what may be in your kids’ favorite cereal, or the sun protection that they regularly wear?  Do you worry about what is inside your make-up, or laundry detergent? Then I am glad to tell you that EWG.org is THE place to go for the information you need. They have consumer guides to cover food, personal products, filtered water, cleaning products, and anything else that may be keeping you up at night. My new favorites on the EWG website are their Clean 15 and their Dirty Dozen lists.  If you are armed with the basic information from both of these groups, you can be assured of spending your money wisely.  

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The Clean 15 are 15 specific items of produce that do not test positive for dangerous amounts of chemicals, so they deem them better than other produce.  In some instances, the outer skin of the produce naturally prevents chemicals from penetrating through to the fruit or vegetable, or perhaps their growing is not so reliant on weed killers and fertilizers. In any event, because the likelihood of pesticides would be so limited, you can feel pretty comfortable purchasing them from just about anywhere, so they DO NOT HAVE TO BE ORGANIC.

The CLEAN 15 are as follows:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Cauliflower
  • Cantaloupe
  • Grapefruit
  • Eggplant
  • Kiwi
  • Papayas
  • Mangoes
  • Asparagus
  • Onions
  • Sweet peas (frozen)
  • Cabbage
  • Pineapples
  • Sweet corn
  • Avocados

The Dirty Dozen

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The Dirty Dozen, on the other hand, are the produce items that you should ALWAYS BUY ORGANIC, because they almost always are sprayed with pesticides and fertilizers.  In addition to the Dirty Dozen, are two additional American food crops that have concerns to the public health; they are leafy greens and hot peppers. This is because residue tests conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture have found these foods to also be laced with particularly toxic pesticides. Again, I would encourage you to ALWAYS BUY ORGANIC for these chemically laden items.

THE DIRTY DOZEN ARE AS FOLLOWS:

  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Nectarines (imported)
  • Cucumbers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Snap peas (imported)
  • Potatoes
  • Leafy Greens
  • Hot Peppers

Once you have the general idea of what all those fruits and vegetables are on both lists, you might find that your shopping and budgeting can become easier to manage. This will ensure that you are feeding your family the best foods, for the best money.

In conclusion, you have to do what is in the best interest of your family. Try to remember what items are on these two lists, so you can use them as the foundation for your shopping.  Then you will be prepared when you go to the grocery store or at the local farmers market.  Better yet, most of these things can easily be grown in most parts of the country. This might be a good time to think about putting in a small garden plot in your yard; or maybe you could buy into a local community garden.

If you don’t have the space or can’t imagine putting in a small garden, perhaps you might think about growing some tomatoes, strawberries and peppers in containers in your backyard, patio or deck. There is something absolutely amazing about biting into freshly-picked tomatoes or strawberries, especially when they were grown with your own two hands.

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FOOD IS LOVE, SO LOVE YOUR FOOD.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON EWG OR PRODUCE, PLEASE CHECK OUT THE LINKS BELOW:

http://www.foodmatters.tv/food-matters

http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/

http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirtydozenplus.php

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-eating/organic-foods.htm

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/diet-weight-loss/anti-cancer-diet.htm

http://cancercompassalternateroute.com/toxins/pesticides-and-herbicides-finding-alternatives/

Welcome…

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Thank you for reading today.  I am so grateful that you have come across the The Busy Woman’s Guide to Beating Cancer site.  It is a community blog for persons who are looking for information on cancer, nutrition, support, or to find resources to explore other treatment options.  As a Lymphoma Survivor, I feel it is important to give back to the greater community of people whom I had the fortune to learn from, as well as to share that information with the public.  At the time that I learned of my diagnosis, I was shocked, and then terrified!  I did not know anything about why I had cancer, or what kinds of things I could do about it.  Without helpful information to make decisions about my healthcare, I willingly went along with the courses of treatment that my doctors advised.  I was a bundle of raw emotion and fear, and it did not dawn on me that I would have the luxury of doing anything different.

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Recognize that fear may be driving your emotions.  You may be here looking for information for you, or for a friend or family member.  If I can get anything across to you today, it is DO NOT FEAR THE DIAGNOSIS!  I feel that it is important to tell people that it is okay for them to take a week and examine what other natural options are out there…or to possibly get a second opinion. There are a great many alternative methods for treating cancer right now, as well as healthy-living practices that will help you, no matter what you decide, which will NEVER get discussed by your physician. This is because they are following the same protocols that they have been using for decades, and they will not normally deviate from their plans.  Your choices are going along with them (and that would be perfectly fine), or you can explore alternative options that rely more on building up your immune system and figuring out the real reasons behind your cancer. What I will definitely tell you, is that if you do not make REAL changes in your life, then the likelihood of your cancer returning is greater.

The general population is starting to understand that healthcare in the United States is somewhat limited in its views of treatment options.  This is because our healthcare system is based on a for-profit model.  There are a great many people, and corporations, who are making oodles of money off of a system that is designed to benefit THEM!  My challenge to you would be to thank your doctor for their diagnosis, but spend the next week exploring the various options that may be better than what your doctor could do for you.  You may be surprised at the whole world of natural health options out there!

The world is changing, and people are evolving.  There may come a time when healthcare goes back to doctors treating people as individuals, and not just providing a “one size fits all” methodology.  Because I did not know any better when I was diagnosed, I ended up going through six months of chemo and several weeks worth of radiation.  I believe my health improved because I was doing a combination of significant dietary changes, along with taking vitamins and supplements that further benefited me.  I also learned that I needed to make some massive changes to my overall emotional health and well-being, because I carried a lot of stress, anger and other negative emotions around with me. You might be asking yourself, “Which one of those things is better than the other?”  I am not a doctor or a fortune reader, so I will never tell you what you SHOULD do. All I will say is that the situation is not as bleak as you may have thought. There are a great many options that are available to you. Any of the suggestions that I make will be useful to you with traditional and non-traditional treatment plans, and are based on living a happy, healthy life.

Be open to the changes that are in your future.  Having cancer is a wake-up call to change something that you are doing.  It is not always a death sentence, so look at it as a fork in the long road, which is the journey of your life.  I choose to be grateful for it, because I truly believe that I am a much better person because of it. You have come to this site looking for something, and I hope you find exactly what it is that you need. If you need additional information, I will refer you to other sites, physicians, and authors, because you will find that they are more competent in explaining and educating their thoughts than I would be.

The world may be large, but the Internet has made it quite intimate.  I am grateful to welcome you here.

From one Survivor to another,

Carrie

Dealing with Stress and Anxiety…

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Why do I feel so anxious?  Anxiety often accompanies the diagnosis of cancer, so recognizing that this is a normal feeling might make you feel a little bit better.  Some levels of anxiety are temporary, causing you to be distracted with thoughts, or occasionally awakens you during the night, so you can think non-stop about stuff that you cannot control. Unlike the fear of diabetes, depression, heart disease, or even influenza, which are all bad conditions, there is often that horrific realization that a good many people will eventually die from cancer.  Sure, there is a chance that they might die from those other disease conditions, but this cancer business seems a little too sinister, and it has everybody completely freaked out about it! I don’t know of a single person who felt “okay” about hearing that diagnosis; so take heart…you are not alone!

I went to Wikipedia, to get the definition that they list, and it is pretty accurate: The definition of anxiety is an unpleasant state of inner turmoil, often accompanied by nervous behavior. It is the subjectively unpleasant feelings of dread over anticipated events, such as the feeling of imminent death.  Anxiety is not the same as fear, which is a response to a real or perceived immediate threat; whereas anxiety is the expectation of future threat.    

So why do we fear it?  I think we do because there is a constant onslaught of negative cancer messages in our lives. Not a day goes by where you don’t hear about people wearing pink to “this” particular walk, or a friend is polishing up their bike for “that” particular bike ride.  It feels like a day doesn’t go by when we don’t see someone wearing a shirt for some cancer benefit, or we hear about a friend of a friend passing away suddenly.  There are notices in magazines and newspapers, along with slick advertisements on the television, and they let us know about some new cancer drug that is available, or some latest, greatest cancer hospital in America.  There are bake sales, fundraisers, bowl-a-thons, and God knows what else going on weekly…if not daily.   Even if we tried, we simply cannot get away from how it has touched the lives of the people that we know.

If you poll most people who have cancer, I suspect that they are not actually “afraid” of dying; usually, they are afraid of what their loss will do to their families.  Of course, some people are afraid of pain and disfigurement, but most of us worry about all those issues that plague us during our waking hours.

  • Why didn’t I spend more time teaching my spouse about what it is that I do?  
  • Why didn’t we get that life insurance when I was healthier?  
  • I wish I didn’t have to work when I am so sick.  I just want to heal…but everybody needs my paycheck!  
  • How am I going to find the energy to be a parent to my children right now…I am exhausted!
  • I’m afraid to see my doctor today…I think my cancer is worse!

These thoughts are just the tip of the emotional iceberg when you have cancer. The sad thing about being so ill is that you have a lot of really down “down” times, when your body is just wore out…but your mind might be stuck in a loop of total negativity. I used to call it my “dark well of despair.”  When you do not have control over things going on to you, it can be terrifying…and pretty depressing.  The way to find more peace during those difficult times is to try to find ways to lighten your load, which will help to ease your mind.  This means knowing what you can control, so you CAN focus on fixing the things can be fixed.

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Here are some suggestions for you to get control?

Recognize that your world has shifted off its axis and that you have “permission” to be freaked out!  Never think that you are unworthy of feeling scared, depressed or even down.  You may go through many highs and lows during this trying time, so love yourself enough to be honest with your feelings.  Information is out there, in the form of reading materials, support groups and from amazing sites and people on the Internet.  If you have a mind to look for ideas to help you, then you will definitely find techniques that will make you feel more empowered about what is happening. This knowledge will lead you in the direction of calming your thoughts and mind.

Do not assume that you are going to die!  Having cancer is not always a death sentence! For many people, it truly is a welcomed slap in the face that pushes them towards a healthier lifestyle.   A common thread among people who write and teach about alternative ways to fight cancer, is that most people will actually develop cancer cells in their lifetime. The thing that separates all those who get it from those who do not, is that the people with extremely healthy immune systems will actually clear the cancer out of their body.  That is because the body is designed to be healthy, so their body systems will gobble up and dispose of any cancerous cells.  Something about them is causing their entire body to work the way it was designed to do. Do they exercise, limit their exposure to unhealthy activities, eat a diet that supports their body systems, or is something completely different?  To me, it just means, that the likelihood of getting cancer is somewhat “controllable!” So if it is controllable, maybe we can do some of those things too.  Maybe we can even start to control it today.

I had cancer, even though I “thought” I was pretty healthy.  What I learned, was I was not the kind of healthy that keeps a body in optimum fighting condition.  It took me months to get the information that I am going to give you, and I don’t want anyone to have to wait months for anything.  Let this list of helpful tips be the first thing that sparks your interest.  It doesn’t matter if you decide to go in an all natural way of treating your body, or if you decide to go in a more traditional healing manner.  These are good tips that you can use for every treatment.  They are the easiest to control, and I tell them to every single person who informs me that they have cancer:

  1. Stop eating all forms of sugar, and that includes most breads, pasta, white rice, desserts, and soda.  I would also immediately start reducing fruit, especially if I were eating it in ridiculous amounts.
  2. Start juicing fruits and vegetables, with emphasis on dark leafy greens and vegetables. Fruits are okay for juicing, but they should NOT be the focus of your juices.
  3. Stop eating foods that your body has to work hard to digest.  Drinking healthy juices will go right into your digestive system, getting nutrients and enzymes exactly where they need to go, and immediately begin healing your body.  A 6 or 8-ounce porterhouse steak with fries and a sugary dessert are going to take hours and hours to digest.  Not only will it be taxing on your major organs of the body, it will also be zapping your energy stores during the entire duration.  If you are very ill, then stick to mostly juicing and eating other foods in their raw form (salads, nuts, seeds, etc.).
  4. If you are not already doing so, start taking extra vitamins and supplements to build up your immune system.
  5. If you have been dealing with stressful situations in your life, you need to learn how to reduce the stress and let go of emotional disturbances that are bothering you.
  6. Decrease your exposure to chemicals and toxins, which are EVERYWHERE!  This includes your toothpaste, body lotions, shampoos, cleaning sprays, pesticides, backyard bug spray, perfumes, etc.  They are literally filled with chemicals that your liver cannot filter out.  The goal is to be gentle on your internal organs right now, because they need to be loved and cared for, especially while they work hard to take care of you.
  7. Adequate sleep is essential.  We heal while we are sleeping, so make sure that you are getting plenty of restful sleep.
  8. You need a vision of “you” being healthy!  What’s on the other side of your cancer journey? Is it you vacationing with your family in Figi?  Is it you educating others about health and wellness?  Is it you starting to work on helping homeless people in your community?  Is it you quitting your job and deciding to babysit your grandchildren?   Or is it something else? The point is, you need to “see” yourself on the other side of this journey…happy, healthy and whole!  That vision in your head is going to tell your cells and body that you plan to recover from this minor disturbance.  It doesn’t tell your cells and body that you are withering up and fading away.     It says, “I will be here, and I have things that need to be done…so let’s work to get me there!”  

Here are some helpful tips to help you feel more in control of what is happening to you: 

How about keeping a diary to record stuff that is happening in your life?  It can be as elaborate, or as simple, as you want it to be.  A spiral notebook would be great, but an inexpensive one (think those free ones at the drug store) would be just fine too. Jot down how you mentally feel for the day, or pen a quick blurb about what cancer stuff happened (meds, appt’s, etc.).  Here is an example of how I used to record things.  I used to have chemo every other Friday.  I was usually okay until Sunday evening, when I got really sick; and that lasted through the entire next week and into Wednesday or Thursday of the following week…just in time for me to have another treatment! When I started to record things down by date, I learned which days I could “taste” foods again, and I learned that there were days where I literally was out of my “skin” from anxiety that was induced by drugs.  Patterns emerged that began to help me feel like I could control what was happening to me.  Then I could plan events on days that I knew I would feel okay.  My chemo was making me forgetful and unfocused, so walking around with a monthly calendar that identified bad symptom days, or days when I needed to do something for my kids’ school, helped me feel better.  And who knows…you may be one of those creative persons who might have a novel that is just waiting to be penned!

Don’t worry about any physical changes that you may have to undergo!  Many of us are going to have changes to deal with.  Some of us will lose bits and pieces of our bodies, and others will lose more.  Some of us will lose some of our hair, and others will lose it all.  Some of us will not be able to walk, or talk, or see the same way that we did before we got sick, and some will be worse.  We are beautiful spirits inside, walking around with “shells” of a body that we put on display for others.  Do not let cancer define you as a weak person who is unable to cope with these changes.  You know you have cancer, so embrace it as part of who you are right now. Instead of looking at the negative ways that it will affect you, start looking at the inner ways that it will enrich you instead.  People will find you absolutely stunning, no matter what you look like!

There may be lots of changes that you will have to deal with.  Some are more emotional than others, but things will be easier if you can be ready for these changes!

  1. Is your hair going to fall out?  Why wait to have it start spilling forth while you are showering?  There is nothing more depressing than watching your hair get stuck to your wet legs and clog up the drain. Perhaps you could have a glorious woman party some evening.  You can invite your bestie, or your sister(s) over, and plan to shave the entire thing down on your own terms.  I had my two beautiful sisters over, and we laughed, drank a little wine and made the situation memorable and fun.  I never regretted losing my hair, because I refused to define myself by my hair.  I know that I am more than hair!
  2. Do you need to get a wig?  Then make sure that you do it before your hair goes, as it is a whole lot easier to envision the right color and texture when you still have your own.  The American Cancer Society has all sorts of wigs to choose from, and there are countless wig magazines and on-line stores to order from as well.  You can order cute little “bangs” to wear under your hats, and you can order any length and color that suits your style.  Do you need to go on some kind of cancer walk or benefit? Why not show up in a Katy Perry purple or pink wig?  I am a brunette, but I had one that was a super funky ash blond…I thought I looked like a million damn bucks in that wig!
  3. Do you need to attend a wedding, graduation, or some other big function? Then put yourself together to the best of your ability and just go!   Everybody will be glad to see you, and you will enjoy having the chance to get out and see examples of “life” all around you.  You will have people asking you questions, and many of them will probably be waiting on you.  Make the best of the situation by “rocking” that party with your new wig, or your bandages, or your pic-line or port.  Having the inner confidence to boldly walk into that wedding reception, with your penciled-in eyebrows, a funky-colored wig, and a pic line dangling from your arm, is about as sexy as it gets!  And I am speaking from experience here!

Learn to say “no,” and be okay about it.  You may be having a hard time managing all the details of your life right now. Do not be shy about not volunteering to do anything!  You have cancer…you have the right to sit back and let others step forward to do extracurricular activities at your kids’ school, at work, at the daycare provider’s, for your parents, for your friends, and for whomever else has the guts to ask you to do something other than “heal!” Know what your limits are, and make sure to rest when you have had enough of something.  You cannot do it all right now, so you should not feel guilty about it.  Kris Carr, author of Crazy, Sexy Cancer has a whole spiel about it in her book (which I highly recommend you read!), where she pulls out her invisible Cancer Card for whatever situation warrants it. It’s like a “Get out of Jail” card for cancer patients.  It’s not really a card…it’s a general philosophy that you use when it is in your best interest.  For example, your (friend/lover/mother/boss) wants you to do something (good/sad/funny/whatever) but you don’t feel up to do.  You pull out that invisible card and tell them you are sorry, but you cannot do that today because your (symptoms suck/anxiety/stomach hurts/bald head is cold/diarrhea is unstoppable) are causing you to not feel like you can manage it.  Who’s gonna argue with you? You have freaking cancer!

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Learn how to express your feelings, especially when you are too tired to do it appropriately.  Sometimes people would talk to me, but I was literally too tired to listen to everything they said.  Then I wouldn’t know what was happening, or I wouldn’t remember the conversation, which just made me feel stupid.  I have this terrible Norwegian/German temper when I am feeling inadequate, so words come out sounding ten times worse than what it should have.  Being honest about my shortcomings made me feel better; because, sometimes that Cancer Card cannot take away something super-horrible that you may have spewed to your (lover/partner/best friend/sister) when they were just trying to make your life easier.  Apologize when necessary, and be sincere about it!

Know who is in your support system People will be climbing out of the woodwork to lend a hand.  Some schools and employers coordinate meal deliveries and fundraisers.  Some friends want to take you to and from appointments. Maybe you have a sibling who is offering to clean your bathroom or house once or twice a month for you. LET THEM! Unless you have a strong aversion to the loving people in your life knowing that you are “human” during this challenging time…who cares if someone sees you in a vulnerable way; or that your laundry room has laundry from one end to the other! Yeah, yeah…I get it; it’s hard to let any Tom, Dick and Stanley know what is going on in your personal sphere; but you can let in those amazing people who are your true “besties!”

For the others that want to help, I find that giving them something that they can do for you will make them feel like they are helping.  Maybe they pick your kid up from Cub Scouts every Thursday. Maybe they could bake a batch of cookies for your family, especially since you probably do not feel like baking.  How about assigning someone to pick up milk and bread on those “really bad” days, or perhaps someone could run simple errands (dry-cleaner, pet food, library, etc.). Start making a list of things that would be good for you and your family.

Necessary ideas might be:  Pick up/drop off kids somewhere; a hot meal for your family on treatment day, or another day when things are bad; take books back to the library before fines are due; laundry; household cleaning.

Nice ideas might be:  Make a batch of cookies or bars for your family to enjoy; gift cards for the family to go out and do or eat something; offers to babysit or run errands.

These are a few ideas that might work for you, but personalize them for your family.  Then when someone asks, you can be ready with an idea.  And if you still don’t feel comfortable assigning people jobs, then tell your “bestie,” mother or sister.  “They” can be the coordinator of such activities!

Simplify your life. This means restructuring your priorities, and maybe the priorities of other people in your family! Do your kids have to have organized play dates to the ice skating rink every Friday; or can they forego that for a few months? Do you need to repaint your bathroom because you are supposed to be hosting a family event this year…because you should pull that Cancer Card out and absolutely say no!  Get off of committees and fundraising obligations, and do not worry about what people think of you.  Do not feel like you have to acknowledge every single gift that people give you, but feel free to keep a list.  If you get around to sending a nice thank you some time…fine.  If not, the world will still go on.

Instead of mopping your floors every Friday and washing everybody’s bedding on Sundays (like you might do when you normally feel good), perhaps you relax your standards and do it once a month, or see if someone else can do it for you. It just comes down to priorities; so evaluate what activities are most important, and be okay with getting rid of the ones that aren’t. You need to conserve your precious energy for things that are in your best interest right now, and not to be wasting it on things that will not amount to anything in the long run.  As an added benefit, you will have more time to spend with family, friends or just being by yourself.

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Improve lifestyle habits.  Everybody can benefit from paying attention to your levels of physical activity and healthy eating, even if you are undergoing treatments and feel exhausted. I do not expect you to run a marathon, but you could walk for a while outside.  Anything that gets you out in the sun for a while (think vitamin D), so you can see the beauty of life around you will do you wonders.  If you can manage walking a couple of times a week, that would be good.  It is very important to get your oxygen moving throughout your body.  Cancer lives in spaces that are anaerobic, which means having no oxygen.  Deep breaths of fresh air, and finding ways to increase your movement will be good for you.  Now would be a good time to try some kind of meditation or yoga class; both which calm the restless mind and focuses your attention on breathing.

This is also the time to be stepping up all your healthy eating options (juicing, plenty of fresh salads, plenty of water) and cutting down the stuff that weakens your body (overloading it with chemicals and toxins, eating foods that are too difficult to digest), which could possibly reduce your chances of healing. Stop any bad habits, if you can, like smoking, drinking alcohol, doing recreational drugs, staying up late and not getting enough sleep.  Also, make sure you are not dwelling on all the negatives going on in your life right now, and make sure to stop any other obsessive habit/activity that prevents you from resting and recuperating.

If you work, find ways to reduce stress there.  It would be a good idea to sit down with someone from your Human Resources Department, or perhaps a coworker or manager. Keep them apprised of what is going on in your life, and let them know how you plan to manage problem areas that might arise (feeling sick/exhausted, reducing hours, etc.). When you are troubled by something not working out well, communicate your needs so you can get them resolved. Find out what your sick time and vacation benefits may be, and let them know if you plan to use them for treatments or recover.  Some employers have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which may offer you some help in other parts of your life.  It is advisable that you inquire if you have one, just in case you need to use it.

Chemobrain and memory problems.  Depending on what your treatment plan may be, you may have issues with memory. This could be related to your chemo drugs, any meds you take for pain, anxiety, or it can be a result of simply freaking out about things!  I urge you to make notes on a calendar, and to leave notes about things that you don’t want to forget (notes on my bathroom mirror or coffee pot worked best for me).  Run plans and concerns past your spouse, partner, kids, or whomever it would be helpful to know about a specific detail.

Contact your kids’ school and extracurricular club/sports coordinators.  A quick call to your child’s teacher or guidance counselor will be a great relief to you. You can let them now what is happening, and they can alert you to problems that they may be seeing at school.  If you need assistance for your kids, such as meeting with a professional to sort out any emotional disturbances, please take advantage of it.  Most insurance policies have mental health benefits, with therapists and other professional staff who are trained to work with families. The American Cancer Society has a phone number that you can call, or that your kids can call, so they can talk to someone about what is going on at home.  It’s a great service!

Have a sense of humor. If you are moping around the house, despondent about everything that is going wrong in your life, you are not using your energy to heal yourself.  Find ways to bring humor in your everyday life, and encourage your family to work on making the household a stress-free and negative-free home.  Pull out all the funny movies that you have in the house and re-watch them, or check some out from the library.  Make a point to find some hilarious cards at the drugstore and send them to your best friends, sisters or your mother.  Connect with other survivors who you enjoy, and find ways to laugh and be normal.  Laughter is a very positive way to improve the energy around you, and it helps to boost your immune system as well.

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Take a break from the computer.  This is not the time to go on-line and view other people’s horrible cancer stories, or watch YouTube videos that only trigger those tears and fears. One time I was visiting my parents for the weekend, and I got on the computer to check my e-mail. One thing led to another, and then I was looking at websites about cancer, and then they were linking me into other sites and other stories.  Long story, short, I got myself into a site that was literally filled with death stories that were all related to my cancer.  It was horrible!  I couldn’t sleep that night, and I got into a funk that I couldn’t get out of for over a week.  Vow to only look at websites that offer positive messages, and that affirm how you can turn this challenge into a life-changing wonderful event!

Finally:  These are a few things that I thought were helpful for me.  I do not claim to know all that there is to know about you or your cancer story.  I encourage you to find whatever solutions that would work for you, and to share your story with others.  I posted a few links below, and I hope you find them useful.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anxiety

http://www.cancer.org/treatment/supportprogramsservices/app/resource-detail.aspx?resourceId=36440

http://www.cancer.org/treatment/childrenandcancer/helpingchildrenwhenafamilymemberhascancer/

http://www.oprah.com/own-super-soul-sunday/Kris-Carrs-7-Crazy-Sexy-Tips

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/living-with-cancer-kris-carr/

http://emedicinehealth.com/stress_management_when_you_have_cancer-health/article_em.htm

http://www.cancerfightingstrategies.com/stress-and-cancer.html#sthash.H5IMgiWO.dpbs

http://www.cancercenter.com/treatments/laughter-therapy/

http://www.laughteronlineuniversity.com/laughter-helps-cancer-prevention-recovery/

http://blog.dana-farber.org/insight/2013/03/five-ways-to-support-families-dealing-with-childhood-cancer/

http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/002605-pdf.pdf

The Budwig Protocol…

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What is the Budwig Protocol?  It is a cancer protocol that was developed by Dr. Johanna Budwig (1908 – 2003), a German pharmacologist, chemist and physicist with a doctorate in physics. In the 1950s she developed a specific recipe of cottage cheese, or as she called it, “quark” and organic flaxseed oil. Specific quantities are blended together until the two products become “one.” Dr Budwig discovered that the chemical reaction produced at that point made the oil “water-soluble,” which becomes more easily absorbed into the cell membrane.  This would normally be administered daily, along with other dietary changes/restrictions like no animal fats, no low-grade vegetable oils, no meat, no butter or margarine, and no sugar.  Like other programs that emphasize eating foods in their natural state, the basic rule with the Budwig diet is “If God made it, then its fine!”

Does this protocol work on other conditions?  Along with working to heal persons with cancer, they report at the Budwig Center that the Budwig diet has been successfully helping people with arthritis, asthma, fibromyalgia, diabetes, blood pressure issues, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, psoriasis, eczema, acne and other chronic conditions.  To be honest, when I was sick I never knew or cared about other conditions that her protocol cured.  I was only in my little “bubble” of fear and anxiety.  What I have learned since that time, is that Dr. Budwig has said in her books that her healing plan works on “improving the overall cells of the body.”  It does not matter where the diseased cells are located, or even what name is given to your illness, because the Budwig program addresses the basic cause of the illness in the first place. Personally, I do not find this unreasonable sounding at all! She just seemed like a really great woman, and doctor, and I am truly sorry that I never got to tell her how much “I” appreciated her protocol during my time of crisis.

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The directions for the basic protocol are as follows:

  1. 2 Tbsp of freshly ground flaxseeds, ground in a coffee grinder.  NOTE: Do not use already ground flaxseeds, as they will be rancid! ALSO, make sure that you eat your flaxseeds within 20 minutes of grinding, or they will not work!
  2. Mix the flaxseeds with 1 tsp of raw, unpasteurized honey.  I just mix it with a spoon, in a cereal bowl.
  3. For every 1 Tbsp of flaxseed oil, you need 2 Tbsp of low-fat cottage cheese. Mix 2-3 Tbsp of organic flaxseed oil and 4-6 Tbsp of low-fat, organic cottage cheese together using a hand-held immersion blender. It mixes best when you add 1-2 Tbsp of milk, as the mixture is too thick otherwise.  REMEMBER: It is adequately mixed when everything is of equal consistency and there are no strands of oil showing, and no clumps of cottage cheese.  NOTE:  The cottage cheese MUST have some fat in it, so do not buy fat-free or it will not work correctly.
  4. Dr. Budwig encouraged people to add fresh fruit or unsweetened applesauce, along with some cinnamon to make it taste better. NOTE:  I cannot eat the mixture by itself because it is too oily for me to stomach, so I turn it into a parfait each time.  I layer it in the cereal bowl, with the honey/flaxseed mixture on the bottom; then I add 1/2 to 1 cup of fresh fruit (peaches, strawberries and blueberries is my favorite!). Over this, I pour the cottage cheese/oil emulsion; and then I top it all off with ground cinnamon, walnuts and sometimes I add some dried cranberries. It’s delicious!
  5. Eat it within 20 minutes, as the cancer-fighting properties will expire. ALSO: Flaxseed oil has an expiration date and MUST be kept in the refrigerator.  Any other oil will not work!

How often do I eat the mixture? Dr. Budwig would say that you should eat it a minimum of one time per day, and encouraged ill patients to have it two times per day. I ate this every morning as a healthy breakfast.  Now, post-cancer, I still have it; although, I do not have it every day.

How much does this cost?  Literally pennies a day.  The oil is the most expensive thing, and can cost you $20-$30 for a bottle at health food stores.

Why is this not talked about by doctors?  This is one of those crazy cancer stories that gets deliberately distorted by people who are in the mainstream medical profession.  For as many “good” testimonials that you find on-line, you can find an equal amount of negative ones.  It is widely known that Dr. Budwig met with many doctors, to discuss her findings, but they only wanted to be involved if they could turn it into a profitable business venture. This goes against everything that Dr. Budwig stood for.

Where can I learn more about this?  I have listed a few links that you can check out below, but feel free to go on-line and do some research yourself. Dr. Budwig wrote several books that can educate you further about her cancer protocols, which also were helpful for other disease conditions.  Also, I have a link to a Youtube video that will walk you through the entire history of her analysis of disease, what causes it, and what she recommends to cure it.

Flax seeds and uses

For more information, please feel free to check out the links below:

http://www.budwigcenter.com/johanna-budwig-biography/#.VNAJytLF_Sg

http://www.cancertutor.com/budwig/

http://www.amazon.com/Johanna-Budwig/e/B003Q1L2H0

Reducing Sugar Immediately…

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images (22)So what’s the deal with sugar? For me, the biggest change that I made when I found out I had cancer was to stop eating foods with sugar in them.  Somewhere along the line, I learned that “sugar feeds cancer,” but it wasn’t from my doctor.  I learned about it after reading books on nutrition and how it can be used to heal from cancer.  Armed with that knowledge, I began a crusade of eliminating sugar from my diet. When I was in the middle of my Lymphoma struggle, I really had no problem with this.  My goal was to stay alive for my family, so this was an easy battle to me.  It only became a problem afterwards, when I was healthy.  Then I found it to be hard…really, really hard!  On one hand, you are so happy to be alive; and on the other hand, you can’t believe that you can’t eat as many chocolate chip cookies and ice cream as you want!  It is a constant thought that I have…not obsessive, mind you; it is more of a general “awareness” that I have.  I now pay more attention to high-carb or sugary-laden anything, and I don’t just ingest it “willy nilly,” like I did when I didn’t know better.

What’s the background on sugar?  Glucose, more commonly called sugar, is an important energy source that is needed by all the cells and organs of our bodies. Glucose comes from all the different foods that we eat. Carbohydrates such as fruit, breads, pasta, and cereals are all common sources of glucose. These foods are broken down into sugar in our stomachs, and then absorbed into the bloodstream.

An increasing number of medical scientists, along with many alternative practitioners, have learned that the most logical, effective, safe, necessary, and inexpensive way to treat cancer is to cut off the supply of its food (glucose) to tumors and cancer cells. The selective starvation of tumors, by modifying one’s diet, is one of the principle forms of therapy that many cancer patients are using to increase their chances of survival.

Ways to decrease sugar in your diet are varied, and some are easier than others.  For some people, it means that they will no longer eat any sugary-laden sweets or drink sodas and other sugary beverages.  For others, it might mean that they are going to stop eating all the sugary foods and beverages that they used to enjoy, but they also plan to decrease the amounts of fruits that they eat and increase their consumption of vegetables and lean sources of protein.  On the other end of that spectrum is the Ketogenic Diet, where you are in a constant state of ketosis all the time.

Ketosis is when your body doesn’t have enough glucose available to use as energy, so it switches into a state where molecules called ketones are generated during fat metabolism.  All cells, including cancer cells, are fueled by glucose. If you deprive them of glucose, they switch to the alternate fuel, ketone bodies.  The interesting thing about how it relates to cancer is that cancer cells have a defect that prevents them from making the switch to using ketone bodies as fuel. Since all other cells use glucose or ketone bodies, this diet starves cancer of their glucose…their fuel.

The Ketogenic Diet consists of almost no carbohydrates, but includes lots of natural proteins and fats.  The diet focuses on clean eating, with no sugars, salts and chemicals.  Meats are in their natural form, and are not processed like cold cuts and hot dogs.

So what can I do about my sugar intake?   Many experts are starting to realize that we need to take a more holistic, long-term approach to cancer, and to pay closer attention to the overall health of patients suffering from disease. Getting to the root of underlying health issues like obesity, unbalanced hormones, chronic stress, and inflammation of all sorts can cause a body to get out of homeostasis.  Using proven strategies such as nutrition, exercise, stress management, and targeted supplements can reduce inflammation and boost immunity, which can reduce the risk of cancer.

Common sense says that it is advisable to find a balanced way to approach sugar consumption and your own health. Exercise, eating a healthy diet, taking vitamins and supplements, and learning about how to reduce stress and inflammation are all positive changes you can start to make immediately.  If you do not know where to begin, you may want to start with your doctor or naturopath to get some lab tests done to help you see where you are on the health spectrum.

In closing, reducing sugar is good for reducing weight and eliminating other risk factors associated with negative health.  That being said, it obviously would seem to be one of those good things to do for “you!”  .

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Check out these links to learn more about this subject:

http://drsircus.com/medicine/cancer/sugar-cancer-growth-research

http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/healthscience/2012/december/starving-cancer-ketogenic-diet-a-key-to-recovery/

lowcarbdiets.about.com/od/KetogenicDiets/a/What-Is-A-Ketogenic-Diet.htm

https://experiencelife.com/article/integrative-oncology-a-healthier-way-to-fight-cancer/