Pink ribbons, pink drinks, pink everything. It’s October, and there’s an influx of PINK. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, it’s great to raise awareness, research funding and most of all to remind women to do their self breast exams, because as you remember – that’s how I caught my cancer. But this October was a little extra stressful for me as I had my first screening breast MRI, so all the pink was weighing on me. I have screenings every six months, and they rotate between mammogram and breast MRI. So I had my first MRI last Wednesday and I was a stress case the week leading up to it – but instead of eating away my fears like I did when I had my screening breast mammogram earlier this year, I stress shopped online. So Tyler, if you are reading this, there will be more packages arriving on the doorstep.
I am happy to say that my breast MRI was clear, and hopefully next time around I won’t have as much anxiety. I feel like I have been living in six-month segments because of the fear of the unknown during those screenings. Your mind goes to a dark place, and I have to continually remind myself to stay present and be confident. (side note – I always heard MRI’s were a little scary and I didn’t understand why as I am not claustrophobic. But seriously, does it have to sound like you are in the middle of a nuclear war?? The sounds combined with the stress you are already feeling are a little bit overwhelming!!)
Besides my screenings I have still been on my journey through survivorship. Earlier this year I started tamoxifen and thankfully still no negative response. I also started nerlynx, which my doctor warned me was pretty hard on your GI track. The first eight weeks were pretty brutal while I learned at what frequency to take my anti-diarrhea medications. And about three months in, my body acclimated to it and I didn’t have any more side effects. The nerlynx targets the HER2 receptors and provide additional support in preventing reoccurrence. I only have to take it for a few more months, but the tamoxifen or other aromatase inhibitor I will take for around 10 years.
I’ve also had to start suppressing my ovaries so they don’t produce estrogen. During chemotherapy, I went into forced menopause, but about three months ago my cycle came back and I had to start injections to put myself back in menopause. Something that my doctors didn’t really talk about is the fact that all of that in and out of menopause is pretty hard on your hormones, your body and mental state. I’d like to dive into more research around this because I think it should be talked about so we’re a little more prepared for mood swings, extra abdominal puffiness, night sweats and all of the “fun” that comes with it.
Over the last few months I have continued to dial in my survivorship wellness plan. I consulted with my integrative medicine doctor, and I worked with a health coach and an oncologist who focuses on holistic approach to prevent reoccurrence. I tested my hair, urine, blood, stool and saliva to learn more about any deficiencies and I updated my supplement and nutrition protocol. When I reviewed my results the doctors said they were outstanding, especially given all the trauma I went through with chemo and radiation. They thought all the good nutrition, supplements and detox work I did during treatment really helped my body bounce back. The main thing I am focused on improving is the homeostasis in my gut to continue to reduce any inflammation in my body. I am continuing with the supplements and whole foods that are showing to prevent breast cancer – things like broccoli sprouts, olive oil, curcumin/turmeric, pumpkin seeds, turkey tail mushrooms. I also still try to get at least 4 days of heaving sweating in the sauna, including traditional sauna for 30 minutes and my hot yoga that uses infrared heating. With guidance from my integrative medicine provider, I am continuing to fast. Actually, right now I am in the middle of a 4 day water fast. I also tried the ProLon fasting mimicking diet that is a 6 day very low calorie program that makes your body think it’s fasting and is suppose to have some of the same benefits as water fasts (benefits include cleaning up your gut, reducing inflammation, and clearing out bad cells – autophagy) . I will probably rotate between those two approaches quarterly. Daily I usually fast for 16 hour, but I have become less prescriptive about it. Sometimes it’s 12, other days it’s 20 hours. I try to listen to my body and not get caught in a more prescriptive cycle.
So what’s next? Well, for one I hope to not live in six month segments. I hope to not fear my next screening. I hope to stress less when I get a twinge or pain in my breast. I also hope to help more people going through cancer, survivorship or wanting to improve their health so I applied for a scholarship with the Nutritional Therapy Association to become accredited as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner so I can have more credentials beyond my personal experience. Until then, I am sharing some of my wellness tips on my Instagram 🙂