As a two-time breast cancer survivor, I’ve learned a few things about being a good patient and advocating for myself. It really starts with asking solid questions, so I wanted to share my comprehensive list of questions to ask doctors when evaluating treatments. I created this list initially when I was first diagnosed and added to it throughout the years. It’s also one of the resources in my book, Happiness through Hardship: A Guide for Cancer Patients, Their Caregivers and Friends During an Initial Cancer Diagnosis.
As a breast cancer survivor, I’m not sure whether I love October or fear it. Seeing the spectrum of pink colors everywhere can be overwhelming. It’s a constant reminder that I’m sick. And yes, I know that thousands of women and men are afflicted with this disease yearly, so the pink promotion isn’t about me being ill. But sometimes, I just get inside my head. My thoughts go to the scary places that we all want to push away. And sometimes, I just want to cry.
Can you imagine eliminating your morning “pretty coffee” filled with sugar and creamed toppings? What about cheese, desserts or fried everything? So many times people tell me they can’t stop their favorite foods, so they don’t even think about committing to a newish lifestyle. I get it. That was me. I obsessed over cheese plates, craved creamy frostings and longed for bulky pastas. I had been drinking tons of diet soda for almost two decades, so only remembered life being bloated. But that all changed when I started eating clean. And trust me, you can take small steps and get there, too.
I’ve been painting the town green the past five years. What I mean by this is that I’ve been telling everyone and anyone about my love of plant-based eating, as well as drinking green juices and smoothies. My family has been on board, knowing that I feel vibrant and my health is stable. (So there aren’t many “EWWWWW, that looks gross” comments.) We hit a huge milestone four years ago. Not only did my then, 6-year old, ask to try my green smoothie recipe, but he also wanted seconds. That interested my husband, who has been craving them ever since.
I’m not sure when to celebrate my cancer-aversery.
Is it the day we found the first lump (12/18/2004?)
Is it the day of my first official diagnosis (12/29/04?)
Now, that I’ve had a reoccurrence, should I commemorate the day when scan reports outlined the probability of metastatic disease (8/29/13?) Or, should it be the night of Friday the 13th (9/13/13) when my oncologist’s voice quietly gave me the official word – “It IS cancer.”
Throughout this cancer journey, I’ve stumbled upon amazing organizations that have helped my family and others navigate through this experience. So today, in honor of “International Day of Charity,” I’ve listed some of my favorite cancer charities and how you can donate. Their missions serve people in different ways. Some focus on research to find a cure, while others promote early detection to prevent it altogether.
It’s back-to-school season, and while most of us rush to find the best sales on the teacher recommended school supplies, it’s also important to keep an eye out for eco-friendly items. Not only do they help the environment, but they’re also better for our children’s health.