I. Can. Breathe.
As part of the tradeoff for keeping my boobies (I had a lumpectomy vs mastectomy), I need to have a mammogram or breast MRI every six months. No big deal, I thought. Well that was until my first follow-up mammogram came looming around the corner and my mind was having a hard time keeping sane. I didn’t know what it’s like to have a “clean” mammogram and I have a little bit of PTSD about the whole process. So, yeah, the last few weeks have been hard mentally (thank goodness for my high potency CBD oil to help prevent any panic attacks). It might also be that I scheduled my mammogram exactly one year after my first one – so my cancerversary is this week, March 9. Thankfully I am rewriting history and my mammogram today came back with no need for any biopsy or follow-up!
In other good news, I have completed my year of infusions – for the last few months (after chemo) I had to continue going to get an infusion of “targeted therapies” every three weeks. So my active “treatment” is now done – however, being a cancer survivor I don’t know if treatment is ever really over.
In December I started Tamoxifen which is an estrogen receptor modulator (my cancer is estrogen sensitive). I was a little worried about having to take another pharmaceutical and this one came with a bad reputation but thankfully I have had little issues on it besides the occasional hot flash and maybe muscle aches (more on that below). I have to continue to take this daily for the next five to 10 years – probably 10. To make sure I was following the right treatment protocol I got a second opinion with an Integrative Oncologist to make sure the drugs I was being prescribed are doing more good, than harm. And while she thought my lifestyle and holistic approaches were on point – she agreed that I am better off taking the Tamoxifen for the longer duration and also to combine that with Neurlynx. The Neurlynx specifically targets the yucky Her2 receptors in my body and decreases the chance of the cancer returning. According to my oncologists with this regimen the cure rate is 90%. I will be taking the Neurlynx for a year if I can survive the first two months which are sometimes accompanied by very severe diarrhea. Thankfully there are some over the counter drugs I can take to make it more manageable. My poor gut!
Talking about my gut, I am also working with a new health coach to hopefully identify some of the root causes for my ongoing gut dysbiosis – and also checking my body for toxins, heavy metals and to understand how my cortisol, adrenals and hormones are working to regulate my body in general. So I have a few functional tests I am running – saliva, blood, poop and pee – oh my! Hopefully as a result I will have a better understanding of how things are running internally and make sure I am following the right protocols to keep things at homeostasis. I will share more about these tests once the results are back.
My body has been much more happier since I stopped the Keto regime I was on during radiation. I am back to fueling my body with mostly plant-based nutrition and still keeping up with a regular fasting protocol. My health coach thinks I might be over-doing the fasting (most days 16-18 hours, up to 60 once a month) – and the adrenal panel I am running will help to show if I need to change that in any way.
As for exercise I was doing my crossfit mixed in with other cardio focused workouts, but I think the higher impact exercise maybe combined with the Tamoxifen was hard on my joints so I decided to change to hot yoga / Pilates. It’s like a 2 for 1 because I get the added benefit of the infrared sauna with my workout! I still fit in at least two weight lifting sessions at the gym and with this more controlled environment I haven’t had the same muscle aches I was experiencing before – so for now my exercise routine is dialed in (2-3 sessions of hot yoga or pilates, 1-2 outdoor runs (3-6 miles), 2 weight lifting sessions). And on most non-hot yoga days I try to get in a 25-30 minutes of traditional sauna.
My husband Tyler keeps asking me how it feels to be coming up on a year since my diagnosis – and truthfully I really don’t know what I feel. I am proud of kicking cancer ass, but still pissed that I got it in the first place. I am glad of the lessons it has taught me (don’t sweat the small stuff, stay in the moment, keep your mind strong and your body will follow) – but I am still sensitive to the fact that the C word threatened my family. I am hoping that the further out I get the more I will continue to grow in positive ways and continue to have a positive influence on others as I share my journey and advocate for a total health and wellness approach.
What I am truly looking forward to is celebrating my daughter Lucy’s 5th birthday – and this time it wont be on the same days as my first chemo ? I am looking forward to all my new hair do’s. I am looking forward to seeing my brother get married in Kauai. I am looking forward to being a fun auntie to my niece. I am looking forward to playdates and memories with friends. I am looking forward to traveling. I am looking forward to learning about health. I am looking forward to the future!!