Elimination Diet

Because I’ve been having so much trouble with my stomach this month, I did a half-ass allergen elimination.  I had done one late last year that worked well for me.  Let’s call it an ovo-pescatarian, sugar free, gluten free, dairy free low inflammation diet 🤔 Yeah.  So I tried that again, and felt better within a few days, but sort of slipped back into default junk food within these categories.  Chips/guacamole,  chocolate PB cups made from maple syrup or stevia, French fries.  They were all so yum, and I felt so free being on a restrictive diet, and still being able to eat “junk food”.

But it turns out even that may not be enough.  The bloating, the dull discomfort.  It’s not that I can’t enjoy life, I just can’t enjoy it as much.  And I don’t feel like myself.  I’m sluggish, I’m bloated beyond recognition in my stomach, and I spend half the day furrowing.

So I’ve  assigned myself with the task of doing a proper elimination diet.  21 days of restriction, eliminating gluten, corn, dairy, eggs, nuts, nightshades, processed foods, soy, sugar, coffee.   At the recommendation of my oncologist anything that causes excessive gas and/or bloating.  Beans, lemons, limes, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, acidic foods, soda water 😩.

So I sat around all weekend moping about how the heck I’m going to do all of that and NOT eat meat.

Im still working it all out; but so far today I’ve enjoyed pan fried sweet potatoes, rice, spinach and sautéed mushrooms, sprinkled with nutritional yeast.  I’ve also had a coconout milk, pineapple, strawberry smoothie.  But if you have ANY ideas on what I can consume that would fall into those categories, please share!.  Think rice, veggies, quinoa, fruit.  It’s only 21 days before I can start adding stuff in to see if it’s related to allergies, or whether it’s something that needs attention, peptic ulcer maybe?  I’d take anything over a new cancer, bug I’m hoping for food allergies 🤞

If I make it the 21 days (I’m me, after all), I’ll keep you posted on things I enjoyed during this time 😘

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Scanned and tanned

I haven’t blogged in FOREVER.  Maybe because I feel so normal.  It feels so behind me.  Processed ✔️

I know it isn’t, entirely.  Seeing the memories of my head shave and my first chemo, and pics where I can remember how nauseous I was, alert me daily that a year has passed since I began treatment.

Since active treatment ended in January, my life has looked pretty normal.  I came out of March with a clean scan in hand and ready to move on.

Then: some major bloating and stomach issues (of which I am no novice), felt noteworthy enough to mention at my bi-monthly follow-up.  I anticipated my oncologist being dismissive.  I was actually hoping he would send me home with some insane elimination diet to try so that I could actually stick to a diet for once (yes; dying has to be on the table for me to diet 😂)

I wouldn’t call his reaction to my issue a concern.  But it wasn’t a normal side effect of my medication, and that made him concerned. We agreed I’d try one of those crazy diets I wanted him to prescribe me, and if it didn’t take care of itself, we would need to investigate further and scan me again.

Doc google and I are good friends, and so I said “hey doc, is there a cancer that causes stomach bloating?”  And doc, said “yep!”  I said “well golly gee, which kind?”  And he said “Ovarian!”  And I said “oh the kind that I have an increased risk for due to my aggressive cancer treatment?”  And he said “that’s the one!”

To be clear, my personal oncologist did not sit me down and say “I think you have ovarian cancer now”.  Not even close.  What he did say, without saying it was “you’re not just someone who can ignore symptoms that seem unimportant. Tell me every thing, so we can rule things out as they come”.

So back on my Gluten free, sugar free anti-inflammation diet I go in hopes that this bloat will go away, so I don’t have to wonder.

 

 

They told me I’m in remission and it wasn’t the best day of my life

I thought hearing that word “remission” or “cancer free” or “NED” would allow me to exhale. To celebrate. I never thought I’d hear that word alongside “faith” or “wait and see”.

I guess I pictured my oncologist ordering a scan.  It coming back delightfully clean, allowing me to relax and to breathe, at least until my next scan. But I don’t get a scan at all. I don’t get that thing that I envisioned freeing me (at least temporarily) from the obsession of “has this grown already”. For people like me, they assume you don’t have Stage 4 cancer until you’re symptomatic. No scans. None. No follow up on the “extensive lymph vascular invasion” from my 3C breast cancer. When you have 3C breast cancer the only way to be certain it hasn’t already become Stage 4 cancer is to do scans. How could you have no curiosity as to whether or not that spot on my liver was reactive to chemotherapy?

I’m not naive enough to think that a clean scan means cancer was gone from my life forever, but I guess I hoped it would allow me a few months of being free from it.

So we’re working with the good faith remission system.
1. That it was cut off of my body
2. That radiation killed any remaining cells
3. That existing daily medication and monthly injections (for the foreseeable future) will prevent my rogue cells from landing

BUT NO PROOF THEY HAVEN’T ALREADY LANDED.

An argument for this method of medi-guess-ology is that getting scans for people who have had extensive radiation can do more harm than good. BUT WHAT ABOUT MY LIVER. Don’t you want to know? I do. I was told that “delayed gratification” would come in the form of sitting in the oncologists office 5 years later with no new symptoms. BUT STILL NO SCANS.

So when they told me I was cancer free, without any proof of it, I ran from the cancer center in tears. Making what was supposed to be one of the happiest moments of my life one of the most devastating.

I haven’t shared this widely yet, because I’m not ready to be congratulated. I don’t feel like I got what I came for…. peace of mind.

Cancer Treatment Grad 👩‍🎓

When I was diagnosed in March 2017, I calculated that worst case scenario, my treatment would end sometime around Christmas.  All year I said “I’m leaving this in 2017, I’m leaving this in 2017”.  Well, treatment ended on 1/2/2018 😂 Seems fitting that treatment would extend one business day into the new year,  teaching me once again to not have expectations.  But I’m done!  And that’s what matters.  16 rounds of chemo, a double mastectomy, 30 rounds of radiation are now behind me.

People have been asking me a lot “What’s next? Are you done?”  I’ll tell you what I assume to be next.  When I go to my follow ups later this month, I imagine scans will be ordered, if and when those come back clear I’ll be in remission.  Of course I do have to still get a hormone blocking injection once a month for 2 years, and take a daily hormone blocking medication for 10 years, but active, invasive treatment is done.

Where things are a little fuzzy for me is, can they definitively tell me that I’m in remission?  If every lymph node they removed at surgery still had cancer in it, and they’re not biopsing that area again, how can they be sure it’s gone?  I imagine that they can’t, which is why people aren’t considered cancer free anymore.  At least for a long time.  Which is why they monitor you with scans every 3-6 months for years and years to see if it in fact has travelled.

I feel very confident that I am in remission, but I have felt very confident before.  I try to not dwell on the information from my oncologist, that 45% of people with my type of cancer come out of radiation in remission.  45% isn’t a statistic I like to hear, but who’s to say that I’m a statistic, or that if I am I can’t be on the good side of that number.  I certainly can be.  And my radiology oncologist said very confidently he felt I was curable, so I’m just going with that 💪🎀

Stay tuned!

Mom Guilt

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The mom guilt is really real this morning. My kids havee been back full-time in daycare for 3 full weeks now. Thanks to the generosity of the preschool, I have been able to attend the first 14 of my 30 daily radiations without worrying about finding a sitter/ breaking the bank.  But, they’re burnt out, I’m burnt out. It’s an arduous process

My work schedule is strange today. My first client isn’t until 4pm and I’ll be done with radiation by 10am.  Do I go pick them up early, run them around town, find a babysitter for an hour between when I go to work and Logan gets off? OR… do I take a “self-indulgent” rest (post cancer treatment), knowing they’re safe, they’re happy, and they’re not seeing me sick and stressed.

I mean the answer sounds obvious, even ridiculous to call post-treatment rest “self-indulgent”. But sometimes, as a parent, I feel like if I’m not sacrificing every moment, am I doing my best? When did parenthood become this me OR them expectation?

It FEELS like their lives are better when they can see me. Maybe it’s not though. Maybe their lives are better when they see me well, rested and relaxed.

I know cancer treatment is temporary, I know in the New Year none of us will be hustling like this anymore. But it’s so hard to drop them off, stage 5 clinging, tears in their eyes, wondering if I’m doing the right thing.

Advocacy Toast

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If my own cancer journey can do any good at all, I hope it does.  I don’t think everything happens for a reason.  I never really did, because I never understood how someone losing a child could have purpose.  Perhaps peripherally if you’re really reaching, but not directly.  I don’t see it.

With that being said, I almost immediately felt as if I had a duty to share my journey.  As someone who isn’t shy, isn’t private and isn’t quiet, it felt like those qualities, paired with this disease COULD do something.  I work with a lot of young women.  I have a pretty broad community outreach.  People needed to know that everything we believed about breast cancer (you’re too young, it’s genetic) were false.

I received this message this morning.  It both broke my heart and made me feel useful all at the same time. Maybe I got cancer, so that I could be an advocate for prevention.  Maybe that’s part of my job right now.  And if I can reach even one person (honestly I’ve had a handful of messages from women who found lumps since I began this process), then maybe there is a reason this disease chose me.

Making My Body a Shitty Place For Cancer To Live

Well this has been a real rollercoaster of a couple of weeks.  I left the oncologist on Tuesday being terrified I had Stage 4 cancer, and left another appointment feeling hopeful I can be cured.

When I entered this thing there was no question in my mind that I would play by the rules, do everything my doctors said and that this would be behind me in 6 months.  So color me shocked when I was told that even though I had played by the rules, my cancer had not.  It had advanced through chemotherapy.  And now to discover that my cancer is unique, and falls in the gray area on how to be treated.  Either side of the gray has a clear treatment path, but what do we do when someone falls in the middle?

While I still have the utmost faith in my medical team that they are doing everything in their education to cure/treat me, I just didn’t feel like I could sit idly by any longer and rely on medicine alone to fix this.

So many people have forwarded me hollistic recommendations, and while I was indeed not dismissive of those, I had such blind faith in my plan working, I didn’t make a ton of changes at home.

Well if this thing decides to take me, it’s not going to do it without a fight.  I would never be at peace not knowing if healing myself at home could have worked.  And by doing this, showing my kids that I did every trick in the book to keep swinging.

Because of those reasons, Freddie and Birdie, and the fear of the unknown, it has been reasonably easy to make these changes this week.

1. Meat – I cut that out early on, and spent a large chunk of adulthood without beef, pork, chicken or fish anyway.  Not hard.

2. Dairy – studies have shown a link between dairy and breast cancer.

3. Soy – studies have shown processed soys feed estrogen into your body and have been linked to breast cancers, as well as increased estrogen in men

4. Sugar – while the argument about whether or not cancer is insulin receptive is being studied, processed sugars aren’t serving me anyway

5. Gluten/processed grain – I’ve experimented with gluten free diets before, and didn’t find them all that hard, especially with all of the replacements these days. Over processed grains turn into glucose, which again adds more sugar into my body I don’t need.

So what do I eat?

Fish – not actually a fish fan, but wild caught fish has its benefits, and it doesn’t turn my stomach the way the idea of eating beef or chicken again does.

Fruit – 2 anti oxidant smoothies a day, adding in ginger & turmeric (cancer Fighting goodies)

Turmeric tea

Eggs – Organic eggs only!  Again, eggs don’t churn my stomach the way meat does, and it seems with fish and eggs it would be easy to order salads or something when I’m out

Veggies

Nuts

Milk Alternatives

Supplements – the list is long and I’m still uncovering what is best for me.  Recommendations always welcome!

Help make my body a shitty place for cancer to live 💪🎀