Time for My Medical Check-Ups

medical-doctor-equipment

This month was my three-month checkup with my oncologist and my yearly visit with my primary doctor. Here is how my appointments went:

The blood work I did on Monday came back perfect! My oncologist, Dr. S. was pleased with my progress and so was I!  Every time I see any of my doctors, I tell them #1. “Thank you for saving my life” and #2. I am doing my part to stay well and cancer free by eating fresh organic raw foods (drinking fresh home-made juices and green smoothies)… and continuing to live a healthy lifestyle, that includes, daily exercise (yoga, walking, lifting hand weights), meditation and lot’s of laughing.

Before I was diagnosed, I lived a hectic life. I didn’t get enough rest. I had trouble saying “no” and often found myself doing things I didn’t want to do. I was a “people pleaser.” Since I worked in restaurants most of my adult life, I didn’t feel like cooking when I was home. Most of my meals came from a package. When I became a massage therapist I changed my diet to vegetarian, but still my foods came from a package. The most important part of a vegetarian diet was missing…  the fresh organic vegetables and fruit. I have since learned that processed foods have no nutritional value. Most Americans suffer from malnutrition because of their junk food and processed food diet, along with fast food… which is all junk food.

Unfortunately, the medical profession is slow to understand that food is so important when it comes to health, although they do know that some disease, like diabetes is related to diet and exercise. But how many diabetics take their meds and refuse to change their eating habits? How many doctors tell them about the relationship between food and disease? You wouldn’t believe how many customers I served over the years, who were obese and ordered a bacon cheeseburger and a diet Coke. They seemed to have a complete disconnect when it came to their food choices and their health. I wonder how many would have been able to stop taking their meds if they ate healthier ?

I remember one customer who came in five days a week to take advantage of our early bird specials. A slice of pie was part of the deal. He had Type I diabetes and gave himself an insulin shot before he ate, to compensate for the additional sugary dessert. He had already lost one eye due to his disease and had other complications popping up all the time. I understand we have free will but we also need to take responsibility for the choices we make. I am willing to take responsibility for my health. I dodged a bullet when I got cancer and am willing to do whatever it takes to stay healthy. Luckily eating vegan and living healthy is really not hard. I am worth the effort. That doesn’t mean I don’t eat a piece of dark chocolate at Christmas time. I do! But 99% of the time I watch what I eat and I don’t feel deprived! There are so many wonderful recipes on the Internet to choose from. It’s not like thirty years ago when health food tasted like card board.

On Friday, I saw my primary doctor, Dr. B. for the second time in two months; this time it was for my pap smear exam. My last one was done three years ago and she never got healthy cells to send to the lab. I have lots of scar tissue from the radiation treatment in my anal area. (If someone tells you that radiation only targets the affected area, its bullshit! Radiation spreads to the surrounding healthy tissue. The skin in my upper thigh turned grey and I later found out my female parts sustained collateral damage as well). That’s how I got scar tissue. My doctor doesn’t know if she got healthy tissues this time but at least she tried. This is another reason I changed my diet. My treatments, chemotherapy and radiation can cause cancer. It takes a while for the cells to become malignant so I eat healthy to make sure they don’t. A plant-based diet keeps my body alkaline and disease cannot live in that environment.

Dr. B.  mentioned that she read the notes from Dr. S., stating I refused taking Fosomax for my osteoporosis. This time she didn’t try to convince me to change my mind. My last visit we did discuss me having a mammogram (another idea I don’t like. I think I had enough radiation for this life time). When I called to make that appointment a few weeks ago, I was told it couldn’t be done since I have a portacath in my breast area. Yay! I left a message with Dr. B. and when I saw her Friday, she told me, “After several phone calls I found a doctor in the Breast Center who is willing to do the mammogram.” Crap! How could I tell her I don’t want one? I couldn’t. I have a phone number to schedule that appointment. So I won one battle and lost one.

I know my medical team is doing what they think is best for me with the information they have. I know much of the information I find is considered “anecdotal” and not much research (at least in the United States, although it is being done in other countries), but are real stories from real survivors and that’s  all the proof I need! The first thing I did when I got home from my first hospital stay was look up cancer survivors. The main things they all have in common is a plant-based diet and a change in lifestyle. That’s it! I figured I can do that and I never looked back. It’s been over three years and those same cancer survivors are not only alive, they are thriving.

That’s why I write about my wellness journey. I want to share my story to inspire others to live the best life they can and make the best choices to achieve that. Oh… I almost forgot. I now say “no” to things I really do not want to do. And guess what? People never question why, and if they did I have a response ready, “I have an important appointment with myself.”

My doctor visits went well. I am happy, healthy and grateful.

Be well!
Inge

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Mary Jane aka: Weed aka: Medicine

cannabis edibles

 

I smoked my fair share of marijuana when I was in my twenties. The reason I smoked it back then is probably why millions of people smoke it today; humans enjoy getting high. Then several years ago we discovered that weed helps patients with a variety of illnesses, especially cancer. Chemotherapy treatments turned me into a “bloodhound.” I could smell things a mile away. Unfortunately those things made me nauseous. It reminded me of the days when I was pregnant. Certain smells sent me running for the bathroom. Cannabis smoke was no different.

Another side effect of chemo is loss of appetite. My mouth always tasted like metal. Food tasted blah. What little food I managed to eat came back up thirty minutes later. I was losing a lot weight, so one day my radiation doctor told me if I didn’t start eating, a feeding tube would be surgically implanted in my belly. That didn’t sound appetizing to me.

James tried all kinds of recipes to entice me to eat. I took one bite and  felt full. This really drove my son crazy. We discussed medical marijuana, but just thinking about the smell made my stomach churn. After a lot of pleading from James, I agreed to try a piece of a marijuana cookie. I wasn’t sure what to expect. The last time I ate one of those was years ago and I got “too high”. (Weed makes me do things I don’t do normally, like look out my curtain for signs of SWAT, that in my imagination are coming to take me away.) The night I ate that “cookie” I called James at work. I told the bartender who answered the phone that I needed to talk to my kid. It was an emergency. James was in the middle of the dinner hour (he was a food server), when I told him I was too high. He got upset with met. “Are you kidding me mom? Your emergency is that you are too high?” He hung up the phone.

I didn’t want a repeat of that night now that I had cancer. It’s weird how drugs and certain herbs (cannabis is an herb) affect us differently, depending how they are used. I ate a quarter of a marijuana cookie and never got high. My appetite was back. I stopped vomiting and my joints stopped hurting (that’s the joints in my bones, not a marijuana joint, in case you are confused). I told my doctors I was using medical marijuana and they were thrilled that I was eating. They didn’t care what I did to get my appetite back. If marijuana worked, so be it.

I think more and more medical professionals are open to the idea of medical marijuana. As of this writing, several states are allowing dispensaries (businesses that sell medical marijuana) to open their doors to patients with all kinds of ailments. I say it’s about time. I don’t know what would have happened if I didn’t use marijuana to complement my cancer treatment, but I’m glad I didn’t have to find out.

Peace out,

Inge

Your Body is Amazing: Treat it With Love!

photo credit: boulderyogaproject.org

photo credit: boulderyogaproject.org

Have you ever thought about how amazing our bodies really are? We abuse ourselves with drugs, alcohol, stress, lack of sleep and a myriad of assorted junk foods, and we still manage to get up in the morning and make it through the day. For example: If you are fifty-years old today, your heart has beaten one-billion, five-hundred, fifty-million times… and counting! You have taken twenty-one million, eight-hundred forty-thousand breaths since you were born… and counting! Our bodies never take a vacation. It functions 24/7.

Even with all torture and neglect we put it through, it keeps on ticking and does the best it can to keep us alive. Wouldn’t it be nice to treat our bodies with respect and feed it healthy foods, get plenty of rest, limit stress (most stress is brought on by our own thoughts) and limit (or eliminate) alcohol? If we need medications, do not abuse them and whenever possible seek alternatives; like a change in diet, exercise, meditation or herbs/supplements, acupuncture or massage. New studies find that most of us can eliminate or cut down on the amount of medications we take, if we are willing to change our lifestyle.

Our bodies are amazing. We only get one per visit in a lifetime. Why not give it the reverence it deserves?

Be well.

Inge