Wednesday, October 2, 2013

In Honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Most people know that October is breast cancer awareness month. 
And I believe that most of you know that I am a breast cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with stage one, invasive, estrogen + cancer on November 22, 2011. 
I am going to share with you something very personal. Most women struggle with making this decision when they are diagnosed with breast cancer and their doctors tell them that it would be in their best interest to have a mastectomy or in my case a double mastectomy. 
What they won't tell you is WHY YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGERY AND those benefits are. 
What I would like to focus on now is why I chose to not have reconstructive surgery done.
This was the most difficult decision that I have ever had to make in my life!
At the time of my initial diagnosis, I thought stage one breast cancer. No big deal. After I had the biopsy and the MRI, my doctor told me that she would recommend that I have a double mastectomy along with removing my ovaries. She told me not to make my decision based on my emotions, but to think about what I would or would not regret doing ten, fifteen, or twenty years in the future.
I decided to take this advice to heart and apply it to other areas of my life. My last appointment before committing to surgery was with a plastic surgeon. My doctor explained ALL of the wonderful benefits of transflap surgery. My breasts would be reconstructed using my belly fat. It sounded exciting and scary at the same time.
I met with the plastic surgeon and he determined that I did not have enough belly fat to replace my breasts and suggested, or should I say insisted that silicon implants would be the best way to go. He didn't want to discuss with me the downside to silicon implants. I had not heard anything good about them. I suggested using saline and told me that silicon would give me a more natural look and feel. He showed me pictures and let me handle one too. I was not convinced.He kept telling me that I would look and feel like a woman again.
After I finished my normal evening routine, I decided to get on the internet and research the long-term satisfaction rate of women who had undergone reconstructive surgery using silicon implants. I spent 5 long, very emotional hours researching this subject.
The conclusion that I arrived at was: 93% of the women surveyed wished that they had not had the surgery 10 years later and 50% had had complications, some of them major during the first 5 years.
December 16th of this year will mark my 2 year anniversary of having my double mastectomy. January 11, 2014 will mark my 2nd anniversary as a survivor.
Here is a list of the benefits that I have experienced from NOT HAVING reconstructive surgery:
1. Not having reconstructive surgery is A LOT cheaper. Reconstructive surgery IS expensive. Depending on where you live it can cost up to sixteen thousand dollars WITHOUT medical insurance. Since most insurance companies cover the cost for breast cancer patients, they pay eighty per cent of the bill leaving the patient to pay twenty percent. Twenty percent of sixteen thousand dollars is A LOT of money! The cost of my prostheses and 3 bras was less than $700. After my insurance paid their portion of the bill, my cost was $97.30.
2. Reconstructive surgery IS NOT medically necessary. You can live a very healthy life without breasts.
3. There are fewer complications from NOT HAVING reconstructive surgery done. There ARE MORE complications with having reconstructive surgery done. Up to fifty percent of the women who have had reconstructive surgery done suffer major complications during the first five years. Most of these include infections or the implant rupturing. (I know I have already said this, but it bears repeating.)
4. It takes less time to recover from. Without reconstructive surgery, the recovery time is six to eight weeks. (I completely recovered in nine weeks.) With reconstructive surgery, it could take six months or longer.
5. I have A LOT more options when it comes to picking out a Halloween costume. Last year was THE BEST Halloween I had had in several years. I felt like a kid again.

6. Sleeping is A LOT more comfortable. You know how good it feels to take your bra off before you go to bed, but YOU CAN NOT IMAGINE HOW GREAT it feels to removed your breasts! (I was fitted with my prostheses on March 1, 2012.)
7. People now make eye contact with me. I can count on one hand the number of people that I know personally that KNOW what color my eyes are. Nobody stares at my chest any more and it feels wonderful!
8. Shopping for clothes is A LOT more fun! (With breasts, although I wore a size 10, my shoulders were a size 6. So if I found a blouse or dress that fit me in the shoulders, it was usually too small for my breasts. If it fit my breasts, it was usually too big in the shoulders.)
10. I am now a lean, mean, hula hooping machine! (I was pretty good before I had surgery, but I am unstoppable now! There is NOTHING to get in the way!)

I could go on, but I think you've got a good idea of the benefits. If you need more convincing, feel free to contact me. I LOVE to talk on the phone and this is a subject that I am very passionate about.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mammograms: Are they really necessary?

I am a breast cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with stage one, invasive, estrogen receptor + breast cancer on November 22, 2011. 7 separate cancer cells were found. Only one of them was larger than a millimeter in diameter. I was fortunate to be in the 50% of the population where my cancer had not spread and I did not need to have chemo or radiation.

I had a double mastectomy, both of my ovaries and 6 lymph nodes removed from under my left arm on December 16, 2011.

I had my first base-line mammogram when I was 37. My ob-gyn ordered it and told me that if it was necessary, I should also have an ultrasound assist. Because I had large, dense breasts and I was pre-menopausal. I NEEDED an ultrasound assist.

I continued having annual mammograms until I was 43. My ob-gyn retired and because I had had a very trusting relationship with him, I made the decision to NOT GO to his partner that he left his practice to. I did not like his partner and I had no desire to drive the long distance to the hospital that he was affiliated with.

I also had no desire to find a new ob-gyn, but I KNEW that if and when it would become necessary, I would choose the Dr that one of my neighbors had recommended. This Dr had his office closer to where I live and I have had a positive experience with the hospital that he is affiliated with.

On October 19, 2011, I discovered an indentation under the nipple on my left breast and just to the right of it, I found a small lump. I called this new Dr to schedule an appointment 2 days later. I asked his receptionist if he was taking any new patients, she told me that he wasn't until after the first of the year. I "explained my situation." She put me on hold for about 10 minutes. (It felt like A LOT LONGER than that.) She told me that he could see me 1 week later.

It didn't surprise me that after my appointment with him that he ordered me to have a mammogram within the coming week. I asked him why I couldn't skip the mammogram and just have an ultrasound since I ALWAYS NEEDED to have on with my prior mammograms. He told me that the mammography tech would make that decision.

I had the mammogram 6 days later. Once again, I wasn't surprised that I needed an ultrasound.

After I had the ultrasound, the technician did not release me right away. She wanted to consult with the head of the radiology department first. She came back a few minutes later WITH him. He decided to take 4 more pictures.

I already shared the final outcome at the beginning of this blog. I can't help but wonder if the mammograms contributed to my cancer. Please read the following article and let me know what you think.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Why Not?

It is the beginning of a new year and for most of us, that means making New Years Resolutions in January and most likely breaking them within a month.

Now that it is the 2nd day of February, I would like to ask, how are you doing with KEEPING your New Years Resolutions? Have you broken them yet or are you on your way to keeping them? 

For many years, I did not make any resolutions. This year, I decided to make 3. I decided to make them simple and achievable. I took a few steps towards making a commitment. I wrote them down on a 3 x 5 card that I have taped to the top of my desk where I can see them every day while I am working. 

The title of this blog is, "Why not? Most business owners especially those that are involved with networking companies always ask their perspective business partners to answer the question, "WHAT IS YOUR WHY?" Why do you want to be your own boss? Why do you want to earn LOTS OF MONEY? Why do you want to quit your day job? The answers to these questions are supposed to get you thinking on an emotional level WHY you will stay motivated and do whatever it takes to succeed. 

The answers to these questions don't always serve the purpose that they are intended. I believe because most people don't know how to make a commitment and keep it when the going gets tough. The best definition of the word commitment that I have come across is:

"There is a difference between interest and commitment. When you are interested in doing something, you do it only when its convenient. When you are committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results." Anonymous.

This is where my favorite quote and philosophy comes into play. "By small and simple means GREAT THINGS are brought to pass." It is in doing small and simple things EVERYDAY that GREAT THINGS WILL BE brought to pass.

This leads me to the question and title of this blog: Why not? Have you noticed that when a small child asks 'WHY," he isn't allowed to do something, he usually follows it up with the question, "Why not?" He wants to know WHY he shouldn't do something,  not why he should. I think most of us would be much more motivated to keeping our commitments if we followed the same process of thinking as a small child.

When Thomas Edison was asked how he felt about failing to invent the light bulb over 200 times, he replied, "I did not fail at inventing the light bulb over 200 times. I succeeded at finding 200 ways not to invent the light bulb." Success or failure is all about what it means to you as an individual.

So here is my question, Why shouldn't you succeed at keeping your resolutions this year? Do you need some motivation? If you want to lose 50 pounds this year, why shouldn't you? Why not look incredible and be healthy? Do you want to earn an extra $10,000 this year? Why not take the steps necessary to achieve that? Think about what it would mean in the terms of freedom.

If you are looking for a fun and simple way to achieve your goals and keep your resolutions, why not make this the year to do it?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Supplental help for migraine/headache relief and possilbe breast cancer prevention

Most of my friends know that I have suffered from headaches/migraines for most of my life and they got worse last year after my "surgical menopause" surgery that I had at the same time I had my breasts removed. I have been searching for and experimenting with different supplements with some success. I thought I had them under control until October. I came down with the flu for a few days. After it was over, my headaches returned EVERY DAY for a week and a half and were not showing any signs of disappearing any time soon. I went to my library and began searching for supplements that might help. I found one. It helped out better than ANY of the previous remedies that I had tried. It turns out that this supplement has an added benefit. What is this supplement and what does having headaches and migraines have to do with Minimizing Your Risk of Getting Breast Cancer? I will tell you.
The supplement is called Co-Enzyme Q-10. I had heard of it many years ago. I knew of some of the protective benefits that offers for your heart. What is Co-Enzyme Q-10? I will share this information and definition from my book, "Disease Prevention and Treatment. It says, "Co-Enzyme Q-10 is synthesized in humans from Tyrosine through a cascade of eight pre-cursors. These pre-cursors require 8 vitamins which are vitamin c, B2, B3 (niacin), B6, B12, folic acid, pantothenic acid, and tetrahydrobiopterin as their enzymes.

"Since the 1960's, studies have shown that cancer patients often have decreased blood levels of Co-Enzyme Q-10. In particular, breast cancer patients (with infiltrative ductal carcinoma) who underwent radical mastectomy were found to have significantly decreased tumor concentrations of CoQ10 compared to levels in normal surrounding tissues. Increased levels of reactive oxygen species may be involved in the consumption of CoQ10. These findings sparked inerest in the compound as a potential anticancer agent. Cellular and animal studies have found evidence that CoQ10 stimulates the immune system and can increase resistance to illness.

CoQ10 may induce protect effect on breast tissue and has demonstrated promise in treating breast cancer. Although there are only a few studies, the safe nature of CoQ10 coupled with this promising research of it bioenergetic activity suggest taht breast cancer patients should take 100 mg up to 3 times a day. It is important to tak CoQ10 with some kind of oil such as fish or flax, because dry powder CoQ10 is not readily absorbed.

In a clinical study, 32 patients were treated with CoQ10 (90 mg) in addition to other antioxidants and fatty acids; 6 of these patients showed partial tumor regression. In one of these cases the dose of CoQ10 was increased to 390 mg and within one month the tumor was no longer palpable, within two months the mammography confirmed the absence of the tumor. In another case, the patient took 300 mg of CoQ10 for residual tumor (post non-radical surgery) and within 3 months there was nonresidual tumor tissue. This overt complete regression of breast tumors in the latter two cases coupled with further reports of disappearance of breast cancer metastases (liver and elsewhere) in several other cases demonstrates the potential of CoQ10 in the adjuvant therapy of breast cancer.

There are promising results for the use of CoQ10 in protecting against heart damage related to chemotherapy. Many chemotherapy drugs can cause damage to the heart, and initial animal studies found that CoQ10 could reduce the adverse cardiac effects of these drugs."

I have been taking 50 mg of CoQ10 twice a day with fish oil. Once in the morning after I eat breakfast and once in the evening after I have dinner. My headaches are almost completely gone unless I eat something that I am not supposed to. The supplement does not give me a license to eat anything that I want. I still have to be careful.

When I read the above information, I made the decision that the cost of the CoQ10 is worth every penny. Not only as a benefit for alleviating my headaches but also as a preventative remedy for breast cancer and heart disease.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

How to get rid of headaches and migraines

Some of you may know that I am a breast cancer survivor.  This blog is NOT about breast cancer, but it is about health and how you can prevent or eliminate headaches and migraines from your life and start living.

You may also ask yourself what does breast cancer have to do with headaches and migraines? The breast cancer that I HAD was "Estrogen positive." Which means that my cancer was caused by estrogen. I had a partial hysterectomy when I was 38. My Dr left my ovaries because, as he said, "38 was too young" to go into menopause. I knew that I was having "periods" every 14 days for the better part of 5 years. Mainly due to the fact, that aside from the "normal" changes to my breast when my periods would have occurred, I was suffering from migraines every 2 weeks. They were my "blessing and my curse" in that regards.

I am going to begin with saying that diet IS a major contributor to headaches and migraines. Several years ago I learned that when I eat cold cuts like bologna or hot dogs that I would get severe migraines within 24 hours. They contain nitrates and nitrites. Certain cheeses also contain them. I also noticed that my "once a month" craving for Dorito's and salty snacks were also contributing to them. What ingredient does Dorito's contain that causes headaches and migraines in some people? Monosodium glutamate, also known as MSG. It is a preservative that manufacturers add to their food to make it taste better and add to the shelf life. Some manufacturers are getting wise that some people are not purchasing their products that contain msg and have stopped using that ingredient. They are now substituting an ingredient called, "autolyzed yeast extract or yeast extract." It IS essentially the same thing as msg and also has the same effects on the body that msg does.

If you are looking for a delicious, healthy, all-natural snack that does not contain any harmful ingredients that are known to cause headaches or migraines, click HERE.
Eating too much sugar can also contribute to headaches and migraines. Consuming high quantities of salt, which has been proven to increase blood pressure can also cause headaches and migraines.

Some prescription drugs also cause headaches and migraines. I began taking one of those drugs in March to prevent my cancer from returning. I will be on that drug for 5 years. My headaches started coming more often and with greater intensity until last month. I will tell you what I did soon.

I also recently discovered that chocolate, which contains magnesium and is good for you, also contains copper. Some people are allergic to copper and are not aware of it. I believe that dark chocolate, which is "supposedly" better for you contains more copper than milk chocolate can also contribute to headaches and migraines. This is based on my own personal experience. I can eat milk chocolate in moderation, but dark chocolate, even in small quantities gives me migraines.

Now, back to my breast cancer story. When I went in for my follow up visit with my gyn, who removed my ovaries, I told him that my migraines were getting worse. (Which happens to about 50% of the women who enter menopause naturally or surgically). I asked him what I could do to prevent them. He told me "nothing," because my cancer was Estrogen positive. He also told me to do "what works for me." and walked away. It took me 6 months of trying different things before I came upon the solution.

I mentioned in my profile, that I collect books. I came across a book titled, "The Vitamin Bible" by Earl Mindell. It has been sitting on one of my book shelf's for at least 5 years. Most of the books that I use for reference material have listed magnesium deficiency as a possible reason for headaches and migraines. For several years, I have been taking 500 milligrams of magnesium and 250 milligrams of calcium.  I believed that I was, at the very least, minimizing the frequency and intensity of my symptoms. I was wrong. It turns out, that according to the information that I found in Earl Mindell's book, that headache and migraine sufferers can benefit from taking twice as much calcium as magnesium. I made the switch. I am currently taking 500 mg of calcium twice a day. Within 2 days, my headaches and migraines completely disappeared. I also take 1,000 milligrams of Vitamin D3 and a Super B-Complex every day. For the record, your body NEEDS magnesium and vitamin D3 to help your body absorb calcium.

The only time that I suffer from headaches and migraines now is when I "accidentally eat something" that triggers them.

Also, for tension headaches and for overall health, you can't go wrong by doing 30 minutes of aerobic activity every day. Adding a pilates, yoga or tai chi works great for preventing headaches and migraines as well.

If you found this blog useful and informative, please leave a comment and share it with your loved ones who are suffering from headaches and migraines.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What's the difference between Organic and All-Natural?

In order to be an informed consumer, it pays to read labels.

Most food labels use the terms Organic and All-Natural interchangeably. The products containing these labels often appear in the same grocery isle. What is the difference?

By law, products that are organic must be grown and processed according to strict government standards. The companies that produce organic products are subjected to rigorous announced and unannounced inspections by 3rd party inspectors to ensure that the product is preserved and protected from the farm to your family's home. This is why organic products cost more.

When the USDA Organic label appears on a product, it must have been grown and processed without any pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones and genetically modified organisms (GMO's) or artificial ingredients. The soil they are grown must not have been treated with toxic chemicals and pesticides for 3 years prior to harvesting.

As far as organic meat is concerned, federal regulations require that the animals are raised in living conditions that accommodate their natural behaviors; such as grazing on pasture and being fed 100% organic feed. They must not have had any antibiotics or growth hormones administered to them.

The term All-Natural assures the consumer that the product has had minimal processing and contains no artificial ingredients such as: preservatives, nitrates or nitrites, added msg, added hormones or sodium erythrobate.

If you would like to try Organic or All-Natural, great-tasting snacks, check out Jerky Direct.

It also makes a FATHER'S DAY GIFT for that FAVORITE MAN in your life!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Cancer needs 3 things to survive

I had mentioned in my previous blog that I had been away for a while. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in November of 2011. It has been a life-changing experience. It has also raised the question in my mind: Is cancer preventable? With all of the talk and hype about finding a cure for breast cancer, I can't believe more research hasn't been done on the concept of preventing breast cancer.

For me, that concept is late in arriving. But, perhaps I can help someone who may not have this disease prevent that from happening to them or someone they love.

Some things you can't control-like genetics and hormones that are found in almost everything that we eat. BUT, we can control WHAT WE EAT! 

I have been known to go to book sales at my local library. A few years ago, I found a book titled: The Breast Cancer Prevention Diet. It was written by Dr Bob Arnot. Some of you may remember that he used to be a regular on the TV show: 20/20 many years ago.

I discovered 3 things that breast cancer needs to survive. A high-fat diet; a diet that is high in sugar; and a person who is known to keep their emotions bottled up. I am also reasonably certain that stress plays a pretty big role in the last of the previous statements. 

With most of the population of the USA being over-weight or obese, I believe that there is A LOT that WE can do to prevent ourselves and our families from getting this dis-ease. Most people consume far too much soda pop. If we could eliminate that one thing from our diet and replace it with water, I believe we could considerably reduce our risk of getting breast cancer or any other cancer for that matter.

We could also take steps each day to exercise. It can be as simple as purchasing a pedometer and walking 10,000 steps a day-every day. This will also help to reduce our stress levels as well.

Eating a diet low in fat can also go a LONG WAY in reducing our risk. Eating more fruits and vegetables and minimizing our intake of saturated fats can help too. I, personally have taken margarine and red meat completely out of my diet during the past few months. It has made  HUGE difference in how I feel. I can honestly say that I am in better shape physically than I have been in in the last four years.

If you are looking for a healthy snack to add to your diet that is low in fat, high in nutrition and tastes delicious, you might want to check out Jerky Direct. Their jerky is BEST that my family has EVER TASTED! It does not contain any msg therefore it does not give me migraines like most of the jerky that is sold in my local supermarket. There are forty different flavors to choose from. There is even jerky for your pet.