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May 28, 2011

Gotta get off that plastic!



I read the following article in a newsletter for the Master Cleanse. As we move into the summer, I thought it was a good idea to pass it along. Plastics are everywhere in our lives and it seems that, while convenient, they may not be as innocuous as we all believe. I didn't write the following but... I think its worth considering.

Anything that we can do to reduce the toxins that we take into our bodies has to be a good thing, right?

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A recent study discovered that just three days of eating fresh organic food not packaged in plastic drastically reduced levels of toxic chemicals.

Scientists from The Breast Cancer Fund and Silent Spring Institute asked five families to remove all packaged foods from their diets for three days and were given fresh, organic food stored only in glass or stainless steel containers.

As a result, levels of BPA and DEHP (toxic chemicals found in plastic) found in their bodies dropped 60% or more!

Recent studies have linked BPA with heart disease, leaky gut syndrome, infertility, erectile dysfunction, diabetes, obesity and behavioral changes in children.

DEHP can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs and reproductive system according to animal studies.

So, following this research, you can reduce your toxins by 60% of more by eating fresh raw organic food stored in glass or stainless steel.


Sources:
http://www.naturalnews.com/032246_BPA_packaged_food.html
http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/fetchArticle.action?articleURI=info%3Adoi%2F10.1289%2Fehp.1003220
http://www.3fatchicks.com/6-health-dangers-of-bpa/
http://www.noharm.org/us_canada/issues/toxins/pvc_phthalates/phthalates.php
http://fabulous-boobies.blogspot.com/p/new-here.html

May 25, 2011

Will yoga help me deal with the aftermath of breast cancer?





I will admit it. I am a damn mess. Ugh. I hate it. I like to believe that I am all together, doing the right thing at all times. I don't like to let people know that I have my bad days... or if I do let them know that, I really don't tell them just how bad those bad days really are. It ain't right, but its me in all my honesty right now.

But, I can honestly say that prayer, meditation and just plain ol' trying to do better... is doing its job on me. Being upset about something is natural. Disappointment happens. Sometimes life just doesn't go your way. But when that disappointment lingers... when your heart still feels heavy even when you're trying your best to move forward... something is wrong. And it needs to be addressed.

I have been in a sour puss mood for the past few days. That's never a good thing. Being in a really bad mood makes me do bad things in order to pacify myself. I drink more (and I'm already supposed to drink in moderation as it is, which is a struggle). I eat all the wrong foods. I become lethargic and don't want to do my stretches or take my walks. My sleep pattern (which is already pretty weak) becomes worse... and all of these things combine to make my handling of my post-breast cancer issues that much more difficult.

Sigh... so what do you do when you know you're screwing up but you can't seem to fight your way out of that trick bag? If you're me, after you've tried to indulge yourself in sabotaging ways... you pray and pray and talk to yourself and read as many inspirational messages as you can. You try to stay to yourself, keep your funk in your own lane... and just hope that it goes away quickly. And if you're fortunate, at some point something will click and you will have an epiphany that helps you to see an exit sign out of the bad zone.

I read that disappointment is basically a measure of how attached you were to a particular outcome. That set off a lightbulb for me. My heartache is lingering because I was so attached to things working out a specific way. And when they didn't... I was mad at myself, mad at that situation and mad at the breast cancer for stealing away what I thought was mine. What I felt I deserved. Every time I think I understand the depth of my anger towards breast cancer and all that it ripped away from my life... something else pops up and shows me that I still have healing to do. At some point I am going to have to really sit down and forgive myself for having cancer. (That will be one tough day...)

In the meantime, I'm realizing that accepting disappointment and not being limited by it is my current job. Following my dreams is my priority. There simply is no other way for me to live right now. I could choose to see this NO as a final answer and continue to react in self-destructive ways (eating too many carbs, drinking too much liquor, brooding, etc.) or I can funnel that energy into fulfilling my dreams. I really want to do the latter.

The thing is... hurt and pain and disappointment are really very strong emotions. They have a lot of power with them. But if I don't choose to channel that power in the right way, I will be allowing the negativity to win. And for me, that is like allowing another monster to creep into my body and wreck havoc on my life.

I have been reading that yoga is very good for breast cancer survivors. (Yoga helps breasts cancer survivors)  It helps us to manage our stress levels, helps us to connect more fully with our bodies (which helps us with our body image issues) and it gives us a better quality of life. (Did you see that light bulb just go off in my head?)  I have never tried yoga before but I have ordered a couple of dvds from Netflix and hopefully, it will help me mend my spirit and reconnect to the inner part of me that I feel was broken because of the breasts cancer and the subsequent heartbreaks that followed.

Thanks to this epiphany, I have a renewed vigor to do good things. I am trying to get beyond this heartache. Some days it is much harder than others... but I am committed to trying to get to that happy place again.


So, what do you do when you're trying to get back to "happy" again? Yoga? Ice cream? Shopping? What's your way of handling stress and strain?

May 21, 2011

I talk about breast cancer too much

Earlier today, I was having a private conversation with a friend. Venting about my inability to really encourage people to join my Race for the Cure team, or to donate. I didn't mention to her how difficult it had been for me to ask people to walk or run with me. But it really was. And I didn't mention to her how often my tummy balled into knots at the notion of asking people, in the midst of a recession, to donate to a cause that I honestly prayed would never touch their lives anymore than it already had. And she made a comment that made me pause... she said... "some people think that you talk about cancer too much".

She was reminding me of a previous conversation where I shared with her some negative comments that a few people had made about my blog and the things that I wrote about. And her remark reminded me that in August of 2008 -- just a few days after I was diagnosed with breast cancer -- I made a solemn promise to myself not to become "that" girl. I swore to myself then that I would get past this issue of breast cancer and it would become a blip on the screen of my life. I would not allow it to become so large and monstrous that it colored every moment and shadowed every fear. And now... almost three years later... I absolutely embrace being THAT chick.

Yep. I'm that girl. I talk about breast cancer each and every day. I proudly wear my "Survivor" necklace every day. I talk about "My Fabulous Boobies" each and every chance that I get. You know why? Because every day... every three minutes... a woman somewhere is diagnosed with breast cancer. I was that girl. My friend T, was that girl. My friend M, was that girl. And on and on... every day. Every few moments. It doesn't stop.

Until we have a cure... just remember that the time it takes you to order a cup of coffee at Starbucks... another woman (or two) just found out that she has a monster living in her body that she didn't ask for and now has to fight with everything she has to not only save her life but to maintain her life.

So, I'm a little sad that I didn't accomplish more to help save lives from dealing with this disease. And I'm disappointed that I was still so worried about myself (worried about bothering people and worried about being a pest and worried that people would talk about me and my "cancer" stuff)... that I didn't reach my goal of $5000 for the Race for the Cure. That money would have helped 50 women to have a mammogram. That money could be the difference (for someone) between being diagnosed at stage 3 like I was... and maybe stage 2 or even stage 1. And, I didn't accomplish that goal.

I have a tough skin but sometimes... sometimes it gets a little thin and my really sensitive side comes out. Especially when it comes to those things that are close to my heart. Breast cancer is one of those things that touches me deeply. But its not just about my experience... its about the pain and the fear and the anguish that I see on the faces of the people I meet every day when they talk about this beautiful woman (sister, mother, grandmother, co-worker, girlfriend...) that they know who is struggling with this disease. They don't know what to say, what to do or how to feel. And even after spending two years fighting this illness... sometimes, I don't know what to say to comfort them either.

I just want a cure. And until a cure is found... I want to help. Because, as cute as I was baldheaded...none of us like having a treatment that takes our hair away or makes us sick. So, to everyone who reads my blog posts and thinks that "damn, she's always talking about breast cancer"... I'm sorry to offend you. But I won't stop.



May 4, 2011

Mammograms should start at 40, not 50



Mammograms are back in the news. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-20058866-10391704.html  It seems that although a government panel issued a ruling in 2009 that mammograms should be pushed back to 50 years of age to start, new research shows that delaying the start of mammograms puts a lot of women at risk for not being diagnosed with breast cancer early. Early detection is extremely vital in the fight against this disease because the earlier that breast cancer is detected, the more likely that the patient can receive treatment that completely eradicates the cancer from the body as well as the more likely that the recurrence of the cancer will not happen.

**silence**

You hear that? That is the sound of all of us breast cancer survivors (and their loved ones) saying a collective... "duh" in our heads. Well damn. We all knew that didn't we? Don't we already know and understand that the earlier that breast cancer is detected the better the treatment options? The less time that a woman will spend in treatment? The less intrusive her treatment options are? The less likely she will lose a breast or have to undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatment?

Sigh. I swear some folks are just stuck on stupid. For real. Most women who are diagnosed with breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease. That is critically important because if you do have a history, then your baseline mammogram will likely start approximately 10 years before the age of your relative's diagnosis. If I had a daughter, because I was diagnosed at 39, her mammograms should start at 29 so that her medical team can know what her normal is and be able to track any changes and catch any cancer (if it happens) much earlier than my cancer was detected. But, without a family history of cancer -- and most of us do not have that -- the general age guidelines are critical. So, the difference between 40 and 50 could be the difference between stage 1 and stage 3. Between a lumpectomy or a mastectomy. And in some cases, it will be the difference between living after breast cancer and dying because of it.

I just don't understand how so many people who claim to be in this fight against breast cancer can come out with suggestions that seem to say... money matters more than the potential lives saved.

My life matters. Every woman is at risk for breast cancer. Every woman. If raising the age to start mammograms causes even a few women to be delayed in learning that they have this disease... it is too high a price to pay. Why don't people understand that?
http://fabulous-boobies.blogspot.com/p/new-here.html

Apr 30, 2011

Is sexting bringing sexy back?


Okay... I was a moderately vain girl before breast cancer. I mean, my head wasn't so large that I believed that every man wanted me. I knew that was fallacy. However, I did feel that the men who did find me attractive... found me VERY attractive. I liked that feeling -- even if i didn't always know how to work with it or handle it. Being desired is a fantastic feeling, right?

So, after going through all this disfiguring, yet life saving, breast cancer treatment it is fair to say that I woke up after each surgery feeling some kind of way about the changes in my body. As time goes on and I see the changes and I notice the way that I react to the changes, I've come to realize that my vanity is coming back. Before my mastectomy, I took a few pictures of myself naked because I wanted to remember what my body looked like before I was disfigured for life. (Yes, I can be very melodramatic sometimes)  I had no intention of ever sharing those pictures with anyone -- I mean, I will be honest, I wasn't THRILLED with my pre-cancer body. I was lumpy and bumpy in all the wrong places and I could point out to you, with my eyes closed, all the parts of me that needed fixing. But still, it was my body. I was used to it and for all reasonable purposes, I did like it. I didn't relish the thought of losing pieces of it but of course, I had to let those thoughts go. The breast had to go. And when it went, it took a big chunk of my self-esteem with it. It seemed deeply unfair that I had to sacrifice so much to save my life.

The next big blow to my self-esteem came from the horrible effects of radiation therapy. Oh my gawd. They warned me that I would look different, that the radiation treatment would burn me and scar me. But dang. I had no idea that the scarring would be so serious. I have walked around with this ridiculous square of blackened skin on my chest for almost two years now. And the final straw... was the scarring across my chest, my abdomen and my hips from my reconstruction surgery. Yes, I was excited to have my noobie (new boobie) but I looked patched together like Frankenstein. I had these horrible scars that zipped around my noobie... and skated around my reduced breast... and then zig-zagged from hip to hip across my lower abdomen. The finished look was far from flattering. At least to me. And all of these surgeries happened within the span of one year. I can tell you now... I was horrified at the way that I looked under my clothes.

Well, now that it has been over a year since my last procedure and my scars are slowly (and I do mean SLOWLY) fading and lightening up... I have found the courage to look at myself in the mirror and just take in the way that I look. I figured that it would be difficult to share my body with a man if I could not look at it myself. So, over the last couple of years, I've tasked myself with regularly just staring at my whole body in the full length mirror in my bathroom.

In the beginning, I couldn't look at myself everyday. It was just too much, too jarring. I would burst into tears and then hide from myself whenever I got dressed or stepped out of the tub or shower. But, like I said, I'm still healing. The vitamin E has been helping my scars to fade and even out. The Shea butter has been working to give my skin back some of its elasticity (that chemo is a beast on your skin too).

A few weeks ago, I got a new cellphone. It is a fancy Droid phone and it is absolutely fantastic. I didn't realize how much I was missing out on with my old phone but now I know. Smart phones are simply incredible. And guess what? They have cameras. (wink) You can take a picture.  Of yourself even. (wow!)  I have started to do that now and then. Ha, ha. Scandalous, yes... I know. But I do.

About a year ago (maybe longer) I was contacted by a photographer who stumbled onto my blog. He wanted to take boudoir pictures of me as a part of a project he was working on. He had taken a few pictures with other survivors and offered me a chance to have my own set of sexy pictures. Before cancer, I fantasized about taking sexy pictures of myself but I never mustered up the courage to do it. When the offer came, I accepted immediately... and then after thinking about it... I flaked. I couldn't do it. I wanted the pictures but I didn't want a stranger to take pictures of my body. I still didn't want to look at myself, I certainly wasn't ready for someone who looked at beautiful models all the time, to then look at my disfigured shell and try to make it look sexy. I just didn't think that I had sexy in me. Not at that level anyway.

Back to my new phone. I'm more comfortable now with looking at my naked body and one day as I was getting out of the shower I realized that my phone was actually with me in the bathroom... and before I knew it, SNAP! I had taken a picture of myself. I snapped a few more then scurried to my room to shut the door and get dressed. But I looked at those pictures for quite some time. Eventually, I got to a point where it didn't bother me to look at myself naked. Since that day, I've taken a lot of pictures of myself... various poses... highlighting different parts of me and whatnot. I have to tell you... it is LIBERATING as hell to look at yourself and finally be able to say (and believe)... I look good.

I look good. I really... look good. The scars no longer scare me. I do hate the way that my skin is discolored from the radiation but I love my port removal scar. I don't particularly care for the way that I have a scar that looks like a c-section scar (since I don't have children) and yet... I like my strangely Barbie-esque belly. I like myself. And (gulp, confession time) I've gotten a few compliments too.

What's that feeling? Desire? I am... gasp... clutch your pearls... a desirable woman AFTER breast cancer? Stop the presses! Really?

Yes. Really. I am desirable and sexy and beautiful and attractive and all of that goes far deeper than my nakedness or my scars. It goes directly to the heart of me.

You have just read the confessions of a breast cancer survivor sexter.

I am not ashamed of what I've done. Nor am I afraid to look at my body or to show it off either. That doesn't mean that I've lost all of my conservativeness and will begin to parade around naked. No. I am still the same girl who gets dressed behind closed doors and covers things up probably more than I have to. But now I am very confident that my body -- with its scars and shades and lumps -- is really a beautiful thing. And that revelation has made everything worthwhile.

I am sexy.  Take THAT! breast cancer.

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