Goodbye Beautiful Sister @Jada_FA, You Will Be Missed

Posted on Feb 5, 2014 in Breast Cancer | 0 comments

@Jada_FA photos

Breast cancer, particularly the breast cancer social media (#bcsm) community, is a community and sisterhood that none of us want to be a part of, but we’re so thankful it exists when we do become a part of this sisterhood.

I don’t remember exactly when I stumbled upon the #bcsm community and its Monday night Twitter chat, but it was sometime in September 2012 when I set up my “Carrots and Kale” @CarrotsandKale Twitter account, which was several months after my January 2012 breast cancer diagnosis. However, I do remember how I found it. It was a tweet by @boingboing blogger and journalist Xeni Jardin @xeni. Thank you Xeni! The #bcsm community has been a Godsend and I’m so thankful to have found it.

I’m mostly a lurker in the #bcsm community because the Monday night chat moves pretty quickly and I work on Monday nights so some nights it’s hard to keep up with switching back and forth from work to the chat. But on quiet work nights, I’m able to participate in the chat. Last night work was pretty busy so I wasn’t able to jump over to the #bcsm chat until the very end of it. That’s when I saw tweets about @Jada_FA’s passing (@Jada_FA on Twitter and @yehida on Instagram).

For some reason it hit me like a bullet to the chest. I didn’t know Jada/yehida personally and only recently started following her after seeing tweets of hers through conversations she was having with other #bcsm women who I follow. But what I witnessed and gathered through her tweets was that she was a gentle soul with a spirit so full of light and love.

It’s amazing how you can get a sense of someone in as little as 140 characters. We all follow a lot of people, but every now and again, certain people shine a little brighter and touch your soul more than others. She was one of them for me. I wish she had more time and I wish I had the opportunity to know her personally. She was filled with love and beauty (inside and out) and a spirit so gentle yet so strong.

She will be missed by many and my heart goes out to her family and friends. This world is a little darker with her not in it. But the spirit world has gained a beautiful angel, spirit, soul.

Even though I did not know her personally, the news of her loss brought tears to my eyes. It hurts. It hurts because she was so young. With so much more life to live. Too young to die. It hurts because she was part of our sisterhood and her death hits home for us because we have the same disease.

Breast cancer is an ugly and sneaky disease that can’t be trusted and there is no cure for it. It infuriates me that we have no cure, that we don’t know what causes it and we are dying from it every day. I think Xeni summed it up so eloquently when she tweeted this:

@xeni tweet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well said, Xeni.

Here’s Jada’s last tweet and final words to us on Twitter:

@Jada_FA last tweet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goodbye sister. You are loved and you will be missed. xoxo

 

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Could Your Cancer Diagnosis Be Wrong?

Posted on Jul 22, 2013 in Breast Cancer, Cancer | 1 comment

Prevent a Cancer Misdiagnosis with the ‘Know Error’ System

Could Your Cancer Diagnosis Be Wrong?

Being diagnosed with cancer is difficult enough, but the thought that your biopsy sample is contaminated or mixed with another sample is a frightening thought. It can lead to a misdiagnosis that results in being treated for cancer that you don’t actually have, which puts you at further risk from the temporary side effects and permanent damage that cancer treatments cause. Or equally has bad, being told your result is benign when it isn’t and then being sent on your merry way thinking you are cancer-free, which leaves the cancer growing inside of you without your knowledge.

“This scenario happens to approximately 3,000 women who undergo breast biopsies every year – or one out of every 100 cases,” according to a recent story from Fox News. Even though a misdiagnosis is rare, it is still alarming! Especially if you’re the 1 in 100. I always say the statistic I’m most concerned with is the statistic of ONE: me!

In the past year-and-a-half, I have had four biopsies for breast cancer. The first result came back as pre-cancer (atypical lobular hyperplasia, bordering lobular carcinoma in-situ). The next biopsy was a surgical biopsy removing the pre-cancerous tissue. The pathology on it came back as invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC) — my devastating cancer diagnosis in January of 2012 — mixed with previously diagnosed pre-cancerous tissue.

The last two biopsies, in September of 2012, were recommended after I had a post treatment follow-up MRI that showed three areas of concern in my right breast, which is the same breast that I was treated for breast cancer in early 2012. The result of these two biopsies were negative for malignancy (huge sigh of relief) and were diagnosed as benign conditions.

Most likely my four biopsies were my tissue and these diagnoses are correct, but because I was unaware of the ‘Know Error’ system at the time of each of my biopsies, I have no way of really knowing for sure if I was properly diagnosed and treated. The ‘Know Error’ system has the ability to match your DNA to the DNA of your tumor/tissues samples being biopsied to provide 100 percent accuracy that the biopsy sample is indeed from you and therefore results in a correct diagnosis. All it takes is a simple cheek swab at the time of biopsy to get your DNA and then it’s matched with your biopsy sample to confirm that your tissue is indeed yours.


The Know Error System — How It Works Video

Unfortunately, my most recent MRI follow-up this past May resulted in two areas of concern and a MRI-guided biopsy was recommended. I declined the MRI-guided biopsy because, at this time, I didn’t want to risk going through another invasive biopsy only to have it turn out as benign. Of course, it could be malignant, but given the high-false positive rate of MRIs and the fact that my last two biopsies were benign, I’m hoping the same is true this time around, so for now, I’m holding off.

Unless what’s going on in my right breast resolves itself on its own, which is possible especially if it’s more inflammation and damage caused by radiation treatment, then most likely there’s another biopsy in my future. Of course I do hope it resolves itself and another biopsy is not needed, but if it doesn’t and I do opt for a biopsy this next go around, then I am certainly going to request that the ‘Know Error’ system be used.

To learn more about the ‘Know Error’ system, visit: http://knowerror.com/

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Frankenfish Is Swimming Its Way to Your Dinner Plate (Unless It’s Stopped)

Posted on Jan 22, 2013 in Clean Eating, GMO, Health & Wellness | 0 comments

Photo credit: AquaBounty

Photo credit: AquaBounty

I learned about AquaBounty‘s genetically engineered (GE) salmon a couple months ago and was alarmed to find out that the FDA may approve it and that the first man-made animal (salmon in this case) could wind up on our dinner plates. Given all the problems with genetically modified organism (GMO or GM) and GE foods and the health risks and damage that GM/GE foods have already done, it concerns me that the FDA continues to allow GM/GE foods in our already “dirty” food supply.

To make matters worse, if AquaBounty’s “frankenfish” GE salmon makes it to our grocer’s fish counter, we won’t even know it because, as of this writing, there are no federal laws requiring the labeling of GM/GE foods (your only defense is to buy organic foods and wild-caught fish).

In November 2012, the voters of California had the opportunity to require GMO labeling, but the campaign budget against Prop 37, which was backed by companies such as Monsanto, far outweighed the budget in support of Prop 37 and the proposition failed to pass. California voters were wooed by slick advertising and duped into thinking Prop 37 was a bad thing. How can protecting your health and a right to know be a bad thing? Sure, higher prices, but health is far more important than money!

I understand one of the arguments for GM/GE foods, which is there isn’t enough food to meet the growing demand to feed everyone and with a growing population it’s bound to get worse. Of course, population control is another matter all in of itself and one that needs to be addressed on a global scale in order to control and slow population growth, but I don’t want to digress into that problem. Let’s stick with the one on hand — Frankenfish!

I’m very concerned about the health impact of GE salmon. We already know that Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller and GM corn can cause breast cancer and organ damage. There’s a host of other studies that show the negative health impact of GM/GE foods; and researchers, scientists and food advocates have been speaking up on the dangers and side effects of GMOs. Yet, our grocery store shelves are full of GM/GE foods.

The FDA is accepting public comment through February 25, 2013 on AquaBounty’s GE salmon (docket number FDA-2011-N-0899-0002). You can submit a comment at: www.regulations.gov.

To learn more about AquaBounty’s GE salmon and the FDA’s pending approval, read “Are You Ready for Frankenfish?”

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Detoxification and (Crazy Sexy) Cleanse

Posted on Dec 3, 2012 in Health & Wellness, Nutrition | 0 comments

green juice

I’ve been wanting to do a cleanse for more than a year now. Sadly, I haven’t done one yet. But today that’s all changing. Today, I put the stake in the ground and embarked on my first cleanse!

The reason it’s taken me so long is, first, I didn’t think I could give up my daily morning ritual of coffee or  my nightly dose of sugar. After dinner, I loved eating cookies or other sweets. But I gave up these two vices on January 10th of this year when my breast surgeon said to me those three frightening words you never want to hear “you have cancer.”

I also wasn’t sure I could go a whole day without eating solid food and only consuming liquids (I’m still worried about this portion of the cleanse so I’ll most likely limit it to once a week or maybe only twice through the cleanse).

There’s also the detox portion of feeling ill due to the toxins being released and eliminated from your body. Hopefully, it’s not too bad for me since I eat a pretty clean diet now and do my best at keeping chemicals and toxins out of my home and yard.

However, since heavy metals and other toxins accumulate over years we all have toxic build up in our bodies. My toxic metal test showed that I have elevated levels of lead and mercury. The latter most likely due to the silver dental fillings I had since childhood (I’ve since had them removed).

And lastly, one of the other challenges to starting this cleanse and detoxification was picking which one. Since there are so many different types and ways to cleanse and detoxify, it was a bit overwhelming for me to know which one was right for me. Enter, Crazy Sexy Cleanse…

 

Kris Carr’s 21-day Crazy Sexy Cleanse

Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Diet

I’ve decided to do Kris Carr‘s 21-day cleanse from her book Crazy Sexy Diet (it’s a MUST-READ for any wellness junkie). But I’m doing it with some additional detoxification elements that my naturopathic doctor prescribed to me. They are as follows: Two drops, twice a day of a tincture he specifically prepared for me (based on my needs); drinking BioCleanse Plus (provides liver support to aid in the detoxification process) from BioGenesis; and alternating between Bikram Yoga twice a week and far infrared sauna, also twice a week, to sweat out impurities and toxins, which further helps detoxify my body.

I’ve never done far infrared sauna, so that should be interesting and I’ve only done Bikram yoga once before. I loved it, but I thought I was going to die! It certainly is an experience. Even though I loved the experience, I think it scared me a bit because I haven’t done it since that first time, but I’m going to commit to twice a week starting today.

What I really love about Carr’s cleanse is it’s flexible and not rigid. I love her spirit and guidance. She knows how to give you the info and the tools; but at the same time, she teaches you to embark on the cleanse with openness and forgiveness. The forgiveness part is a huge help. Especially for me since I’ve always been an all or nothing type of gal. Do it perfect or don’t do it at all. Yep, I was all about “work hard, play hard,” which I’ve since realized is so unhealthy. It’s that mentality and stressful way of life that most likely was a contributing factor in me getting cancer (IMHO).

During this cleanse it’s my hope that I’m able to try out some of Carr’s recipes in Crazy Sexy Diet. My challenge is that I really don’t like to cook and have never really been a recipe person, but I need to expand my oh so limited menu and embrace new and healthy dishes (preferably plant-based dishes). And if I’m successful then I’ve decided to reward myself at the end of the cleanse and treat myself to Carr’s new book Crazy Sexy Kitchen. It will be a real treat because she’s my wellness hero!

“Crazy Sexy” 21-day cleanse and detoxification, here I come!

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Spike Your Smoothies With Superfoods: Organic Acai & Raw Cacao Powders from Navitas Naturals

Posted on Oct 21, 2012 in Clean Eating, Health & Wellness, Nutrition, Smoothies | 0 comments

Navitas Naturals Organic Acai and Raw Cacao Powders

For many years I was fooling myself thinking I was living a healthy life. Sure, I exercised regularly, ate healthy foods and took my daily supplements by drinking a nutritional protein drink. However, it wasn’t until getting diagnosed with breast cancer in January of this year that I truly looked at how healthy I was and wasn’t. I came to the realization that I was in serious need of a diet and health regimen reboot.

I’m at the beginning of this journey, but one thing I just starting doing is upping my antioxidant intake by adding Organic Acai Powder to my morning protein drink and Organic Raw Cacao Powder to my evening protein drink, both made by Navitas Naturals.

I just started doing it this past week and was so excited about getting to taste chocolate again that I had to blog about this heavenly healthy cacao product that’s filled with antioxidants and magnesium. Two really important elements in my new cancer-fighting diet. What’s great about Navitas Naturals’ Organic Raw Cacao Powder is that it’s raw and contains no sugar!

Since sugar feeds cancer cells, I nixed all sugar from my diet back in January, but before January I was a big sweets eater. I loved eating chocolate brownies, cakes, muffins, cookies, ice cream (made with coconut or rice milk, not dairy), etc. I thought I was being “healthy” about it and would buy what I call the “healthy junk food” from the cookie, cake and ice cream sections of Whole Foods (just because it’s at Whole Foods and has organic ingredients, does not mean it’s healthy and good for you).

Also, if I was going to eat sweets then I would cut back on my caloric intake, which usually meant skipping lunch or eating a very small lunch (and I almost never ate breakfast until this year…see, thought I was healthy but I wasn’t at all because breakfast is the most important meal of the day).

In January, I started eating three meals a day and cut out all sugar and my daily morning coffee ritual. It was extremely challenging, but within a matter of two weeks the sugar cravings went away and I actually started getting hungry in the morning, which I had never been before. Once I got over that hump, I had confidence that I could survive without eating sweets. But that’s not to say I didn’t miss them a little bit, which is why I was so thrilled to discover Navitas Naturals’ Organic Acai Powder and Organic Raw Cacao Powder. Now I’m able to enjoy the taste of berry and chocolate smoothies without the cancer-feeding sugar!

Benefits of  Two Superfoods: Acai & Cacao

Navitas Naturals Organic Acai and Raw Cacao Powders

Navitas Naturals Organic Acai Powder (top left), Acai berries (bottom left), Cacao plant (top right), Navitas Naturals Organic Raw Cacao Powder (bottom right) — photos provided from Navitas Naturals’ website

Organic Raw Cacao

The reason chocolate is unhealthy is not from cacao, it’s from the processing and additives. Organic raw cacao is actually very healthy because it’s packed with antioxidants and essential minerals, including magnesium, sulfur, calcium, potassium, manganese, zinc, iron and copper. Magnesium is a very important mineral that has shown to play a role in cancer risk and prevention.

A magnesium deficiency increases cancer risk, but sufficient intake of magnesium can reduce one’s risk of cancer. A recent study indicated that magnesium may reduce colon cancer risk. Magnesium has many functions in the body, one of them is that it is required for the detoxification process and glutathione (your body’s master antioxidant) synthesis.

Of course, getting magnesium from whole foods is the best source, but you have to consume the right foods and a lot of them. With today’s dirty food supply and the nutrient deficiencies in today’s fruits and vegetable compared to the fruits and vegetables 50 years ago, supplementing is good insurance to making sure your body is getting the proper amounts of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and trace minerals.

Organic Acai

Acai (ah-SAH’-ee) is a dark berry from the Amazon rainforest and is packed with polyphenols, resveratrol, antioxidants, omega fatty acids, trace minerals and essential amino acids.

One study showed that “extracts from acai berries triggered a self-destruct response in up to 86 percent of leukemia cells tested,” according to Stephen Talcott, an assistant professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, who conducted the study. Of course, more studies need to be done to further validate this, but Dr. Talcott’s findings are very promising.

As with all fruits and vegetables, it’s best to eat them right after picking to reap the full nutritional benefits (grow your own or buy local when possible). But with acai, since most of us don’t live in the Amazon rainforest the next best thing is having it as a powder, such as the Organic Acai Powder from Navitas Naturals, which ensures maximum benefit through its processing procedures.

According to its website it says that “due to the delicate nature of the berry, the fruit is transported immediately after harvest where it is hand-inspected for quality. The whole berries are then freeze-dried and low temperature milled to ensure maximum nutrient content, resulting in a powder that is both nutrient-rich and easily integrated into your favorite recipes.”

If you’re looking to up your antioxidant intake, give Navitas Naturals’ Organic Acai Powder, Organic Raw Cacao Powder or one of their other fantastic products a try.

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month — Hello Cancer!

Posted on Oct 1, 2012 in Breast Cancer, Cancer | 2 comments

Today marks the first day of October and Breast Cancer Awareness month. This year I will experience Breast Cancer Awareness month in a new light. For years I’ve been “aware” of breast cancer. I mean, how can you not be aware?! Every October it’s a sea of “pinkwashing” with all the fundraising and brands putting pink ribbons everywhere. But the sad reality is that “awareness” is where it stopped for me.

breast cancer pink ribbon

I had never had anyone super close to me who had breast cancer so I’ve never walked the journey with someone with breast cancer and no one in my family (bloodline) ever had cancer of any kind. Up until recently, I had only known three people who had breast cancer, but I knew nothing else of their situation other than I heard they were treated for breast cancer. My “awareness” of breast cancer was simply that, I was aware of it. I got my annual mammograms, which always came back fine and I went on with life. I’m embarrassed to say that I was one of those people who thought it would never happen to me. Well, it did.

Hello Breast Cancer! In January of this year I was diagnosed with Stage 1b breast cancer. Invasive lobular carcinoma to be exact, which I learned is not the most common type. Ductal is the most common type, which includes invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) and ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). My diagnosis turned my world upside down and knocked me on my ass!

It all started the day after Thanksgiving 2011 when I found a small lump on my chest. It was just on the upper inner edge of my breast. It was so high up that I wasn’t even sure if it was related to my breast so I wasn’t really thinking it was breast cancer. But I was concerned so I immediately got in to see my doctor on that Monday following Thanksgiving.

In December of 2011, I had a needle biopsy that came back as pre-cancerous (atypical lobular hyperplasia, bordering on lobular carcinoma in situ). The beginning of January of this year, I had surgery to remove what I thought was pre-cancerous tissue. The pathology on it came back as cancer because needle biopsies only take a small sample so once all the tissue was examined some of it was cancer. When my breast surgeon walked in and said those three frightening words you never want to hear, “you have cancer,” I went numb. I didn’t hear a thing she said after that. To this day, it’s still a blur. (TIP: Always bring someone with you to your appointments to take notes so you don’t miss any information and/or record it.)

However, the days and weeks that followed are crystal clear. January 2012 was the worst month of my life. It was filled with fear, lack of sleep, weight loss (from the fear, stress and no appetite), MRI, CT scans, more surgery, etc. Almost every week of this year I have had doctor’s appointments, scans, blood draws, physical therapy (for lymphedema in my breast), etc. Let’s just say it’s been an exhausting year and the worst year of my life. But just like all of my life’s challenges there are always silver linings.

The silver lining for me has been that cancer has shifted my being in positive ways. I see the world differently. I appreciate and enjoy every day and no longer take any day for granted. It has also put me on this new journey to live more green and eat as clean as I can because everything you put in and on your body affects every cell in your body.

My new journey is the reason I’m starting this blog. We live in a corrupt and polluted environment and to live and eat clean is not an easy task, but I’m determined to do whatever it takes to help my body heal and to make my body an inhospitable place for cancer. I’m a wellness warrior on a mission to kick cancer’s ass and to live the best life possible in the process — a life filled with strength, hope, love and lots of green smoothies and green juices!

Whether you have cancer, or had cancer and are working to prevent a recurrence or new cancer, or you have never had cancer and want to keep it that way, it’s my hope that what I share on this blog might help you in your own wellness journey. Reading other people’s blogs and books has certainly helped me on my journey. Their stories have helped me to stop fearing cancer and have taught me to learn to live a more abundant and purposeful life.

It’s my intention to keep my blog posts on a positive and educational note, but that’s not to say every once in awhile I may blog about some of the things that irk me, like pinkwashing or doctors who don’t believe in integrative methods. I think the next step in Breast Cancer Awareness Month should be to educate people on the reality of where most of the millions of dollars raised really go and that “standard of care” is not the only option. I’d like to see the conversation move from building awareness of getting an annual mammogram and doing monthly self-exams (which is still important) to letting people know that if diagnosed there are choices that go beyond cut (surgery), burn (radiation) and poison (chemo).

 

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