Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Lucky One at 49

After dodging a cancer bullet, EVERY birthday is special and you appreciate each one that passes. This year is a real special one for me. The one thing that I was worried about missing when I heard I had cancer, was not being able to see Kristi and Brittany have children. Well this birthday I am anxiously awaiting Brittany's first child and then low and behold, Kristi got pregnant too! I was with them both this week and my heart fills with more joy than I could EVER imagine, when I see them and their big ole bellies!!
I normally celebrate my birthday the whole month of June, but between worrying about Kinsley and working, I haven't had time to reflect too much on it until today. That's not to say that when life settles down a bit, that I won't pull out that Birthday "card" and use it somewhere down the road.
Last week seemed like the gopher game at the fair, every time I seem to have one thing figured out, up jumps another gopher. I have to remember that I just have to trust in God and let him hold the hammer and take care of everything....and he did!
My life is so blessed right now! I am back at work doing what I love, I am getting ready to meet my two precious babies, I am married to the most supportive husband, I have the BEST friends and family a girl could ask for, I still have my mama with me, and I am healthy!
There is not another single thing I could ask for on this 49th Birthday!!! This year is going to be the best!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Back...Up up in the air

This weekend, I did something that, for the past two years I didn't think I would be able to do.....I returned to the air! My shoulder had been injured so bad, I didn't think it would ever not hurt. Then, came the breast cancer! The dream I had in 2010, when I put on those wings, felt like it was going to be short lived.

I had dreamed of flying since I was a little girl. I thought it was so cool that my dad built planes. My other friends had more money and their dads were Dr's or lawyers, but that didn't hold a candle to the fact he worked at Lockheed. I was more impressed with his job. Every time I heard the C5-A come screeching across the sky and rattling the windows, I would run outside to look. I still to this day, lift my head every time a plane from Dobbins is flying over my house. The highlight of my childhood was when the Blue Angles were in town and Missy and I would climb on top of my roof to watch them. They felt so close we would duck down when they got near. One year my brother took us to the base to watch them and I felt like I had died and gone to heaven!

 I didn't know anything about commercial flying, so I can't say the dream was to be a flight attendant...just to fly. I struggled to find out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I thought briefly about the armed services, but I was scrawny and didn't think I could make it through one day of boot camp, since I loathed to run!! I thought about teaching, but since I hate math, as much as running, I didn't think I was qualified to teach a 1st grader anything!! As I got in high school and the thought of traveling to far away places, intrigued me, I thought being a flight attendant would be cool. I would wear a uniform, like the military, tell people what to do, like a teacher and get to fly- like I wanted to do.

Several times during my life, the opportunity came up to apply with the airlines, but it was never the right time. Until 2010- April 28th, I graduated from 4 weeks of training with the greatest group of people!

After two shoulder surgeries, countless hours of physical therapy, two breast cancer surgeries, 8 chemo treatments, and a week of re-training- I pinned my wings back on Friday and took to the skies!
My first trip was with one of my favorite classmates, Hillary and Ashlee (some random crazy girl we had never met, who is now our bff).  We had awesome layovers in Washington DC and Raleigh, my stomach hurts from all the laughing!

Being a flight attendant is something that is not for everyone. You have to be able to adapt and be flexible. Tuesday was my day off, but we had a mechanical problem and couldn't get home Monday night. Most people would not be able to handle that uncertainty. You also have to have a personality to change someones attitude around, even when they are totally pissed off at you or a situation. I have to say, I love what I do. It is not something that takes alot of brain power- (getting the head count is by far the hardest thing for me. Ha ha) but it takes alot of personality, adaptability and mental fortitude. Plus, we are able to rescue and save your butts in a moments notice.

We are trained as, teachers, nurses, paramedics, boat captains (I hope to never have to use that skill), police officers, waitresses, counselors, hotel connoisseurs, etc. I am so happy to be back up in the air and I thank my husband for being supportive of this career and my family for being understanding when I miss Easter, or Christmas or other important events. I am truely blessed with my life and I thank God for it everyday!!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Week 1 of my 3 week plan

Well I have to say, it's been pretty easy. I have not had any white flour or sugar (unless it was hidden in something I ate). I am down 3 pounds, although losing weight is not the main goal, I'm still encouraged to be getting closer to the number I have in mind for my ultimate weight. I have cheated a little with my wine, (which I admitted would be hard), but when I am sitting in our place in TN and the sun is setting on a gorgous day- I just gotta!!
The biggest positive from this plan has been my energy level- after the past two years of sitting around and then the chemo, I haven't had much energy. This past week, about 4pm and the time I usually wanted a nap- I am ready to go out on my 30 minute walk. One day it was even after 2 hours of physical therapy!! I just FEEL healthy.
If any of you joined me in this plan, share with us any changes you have noticed!

To the park for my walk!!!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Day 3- Let's get started

So today is the day that I will put all the research into action. We talked yesterday about what fueled cancer cells. Today I will share what I will be doing religiously, for the next three weeks to fight that fire!! I made several of these changes the moment I found out about the cancer, but it is time to turn into a Warrior and fight to keep Cancer out of my life! I have given myself 3 weeks to focus on all these changes, but I will hopefully make these "life changes".
Another reason for writing these three blogs, was to educate my kids and loved ones. Hopefully, they will make some little changes, to keep Cancer out of their lives! This idea came to me when I opened both of their refrigerators and found huge tubs of Country Crock. Along with sugar, margarine is the devil. Not only is it full of  Omega 6, which we want to avoid because of the inflammation that it causes, but one of the ingredients is Calcium Disodium EDTA. This ingredient is made from a concoction of poisons and chelation chemicals. So, I am hoping to teach my loves ones what they can do to avoid the cancer that lives in them.
So let's get started!! Here are the changes that I have made or will be making for the next 3 weeks.

1. Exercise- I will exercise at least 30 minutes 6 times a week. (It really needs to warm up!!) I am also now wearing a FitBit to remind me how much I am moving!
2. Sugar- will be eliminated from my diet.
3. Trans Fat- Eliminated as well. This is found in processed foods- key words are Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.
4. Omega 6 is bad and Omega 3 is good- I am not a friend of Salmon so I add the Omega 3 to my diet via Chia Seeds. I sprinkle them into my yogurt each morning.
5. Wine and Alcohol- I know what your thinking! (Traci's going to stop drinking??) Well, I really have slowed down already. I usually don't drink during the week and have only a couple of glasses during the weekend. I can kick the habit for 3 weeks, then we will go from there. I do know that when I don't drink, I feel A LOT better and sleep better! And as previously stated, one glass of red wine with dinner is beneficial.
6. White Flour- This will be eliminated. If I eat bread, it will be multi grain or sourdough. Rice will be whole grain or basmati.
7. Stress- No body stress me out, ok??
8. Vegetables- I will be eating a lot more of these guys! Greens are good!!
9. Eliminate Chemicals- This is really hard!! I started with my deodorant- Thanks to Jennifer (aka Jenny from the Block), I have been able to try out most of the natural ones and the one below is my favorite. It really works, which is necessary since chemo pushed me into menopause and those hot flashes are hell!

Some of my weapons in this fight:
In the picture above is, my shampoo It is Trader Joes Tea Tree Tingle, my deodorant Crystal Essence, and My Fit Bit
In addition, to those products:
1. My yogurt maker- I make my own yogurt from Organic milk and eat it in the mornings, and also make homemade Ranch or Bleu Cheese dressing with it. Way before cancer we stopped buying bottled Salad Dressings and have always made our own.
2. Nutra-Bullet- I use this to make healthy drinks and my salad dressings.
 My Magic Bullet drink

Garden is planted- takes the guess work out of ingredients when I KNOW it is fresh and organic!!
****UPDATED for Yogurt instructions***
many have asked how you make your own yogurt- Well you start with a yogurt maker, mine is a Cuisine brand (pictured below) It's really easy, 1. you boil milk (i use fat free organic), to 180 degrees 2. let it cool 3. mix with a yogurt culture (you can purchase this in powder form or use one you previously made or use store bought 6oz container) 4. place in jars that come with your yogurt machine 5. place in yogurt machine for recommended time (9 hours for fat free milk) 6. Then take it out and place in the refridgerator, you will have 7 6oz containers of yogurt.
I add agave necter, berries and chia seeds to mine to flavor, when I eat it.
So here is a list of the VIP Foods for Fighting Cancer, lets add them to our diet and see how we feel:
1.Green Tea- 3 cups a day
2. Olive Oil
3. Tummeric-
4. Mushrooms
5. Berries
6. Ginger
7. Cabbage, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts 3 times a week
8. Veggies and Fruits high in Caroteoids (Red, yellow orange colored)
9. Tomatoes
10. Dark Chocolate
11. Yogurt
12. Drink lots of water to help flush toxins
This is not some hard diet to follow, it is more just a conscious way of thinking that will help ANYONE keep the cancer cells extinguished. Please let me know if you are going to join me on this road and keep me posted on how you are feeling and any changes you may experience. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Day 2- Cancer Fuel

We began the journey of knowledge, in the last blog and learned some of the "reasons" I believe I was susceptible to cancer. Now we will start talking about what we can do to keep Cancer away. This section is also helpful for people who want to live healthy and not fuel the cancer that lives in their body. Remember fact one in yesterdays blog, EVERYONE has cancer cells lying dormant in their body.

So here are some things that FUEL those cancer cells:

1. SUGAR- I had my eyes opened to this little gem, when I went in for my PET scan. They make you drink a sugary drink, then you wait just a little bit, and then get scanned. The glucose in that drink, will go directly to the tumor. That tumor will "light up" on the scan and they are able to see it. When we eat foods with a high glycemic index, your body will release a dose of insulin. That insulin stimulates cell growth. Reducing the amount of refined sugar and white flour we consume, we cut off a life line for that cancer cell. Added benefit to reducing the sugar and flour....healthier skin.

So here is a list of things we will avoid:
                     1. Sugar, honey and syrups (try instead Agave necter, dark chocolate and stevia)
                     2. White/ Bleached Flour, White Rice- (try whole grains, basmati or brown rice, multi-grain pasta, oats, and quinoa)
                     3. Potatoes- (instead, lentils, peas, sweet potatoes, beans)
                     4. Sweetened drinks, sodas ( drink instead water or green tea)
                     5. Alcohol- (red wine ONE glass with dinner is ok)

2. Inflammation- Yesterday, I mentioned a little bit about inflammation and how I felt it was responsible in some ways for my cancer. Here are some causes of inflammation in your body.
                            1. Diet of red meat, processed pork products and refined sugars
                            2. Oils rich in omega- 6 (trans fat)
                            3. Dairy products that are full fat and non-organic
                            4. Eggs fed corn and soybeans
                            5. Stress- The stress hormone cortisol causes inflammation
                            3. Less than 20 minutes of Physical Activity a day
                            4. SMOKING and other Pollutants- Do I really need to explain this one? Your putting SMOKE in your LUNGS- Hello??? Lung Cancer is the number 1 cancer causing killer and you can prevent it easily- STOP SMOKING!

3. Everyday Product- These are now so prevalent in our society, it is hard to avoid. Here are a list of some of the ones of most concern.
                          1. Deodorants with aluminum, especially for women who shave their armpits
                          2. Dry Cleaning chemicals- Perchloroethylene- air out dry cleaned garments in fresh air for several hours before wearing
                          3. Plastic containers made with PVC's- use glass or ceramic containers when using a microwave to heat.
                          4. Cell phones and electromagnetic fields-
                          5. Parabens and phthalates in cosmetic products
                          6. Pesticides and insecticides

                Tomorrow- Day 3- I will write about the changes I have made based on my research. I hope you will also join me in making these changes and continue this journey with me.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Day 1- Triple Negative, turning into positives

Triple Negative is the form of breast cancer I was diagnosed with, in August 2012. Last year, in honor of Triple Negative awareness day, I wrote a blog and shared a link. This year, I am spending 3 days researching and writing about ways to keep cancer at bay. Then spending 3 weeks making those changes to my own life and sharing the outcome and difficulties. Wish me luck and feel free to join me!!

First off, 40% of all cancers can be prevented (YES PREVENTED) by simple changes in your nutrition and physical activities!! That is huge and gives us all a reason to embark on these changes.

Second, and important....CANCER lies dormant in ALL of us!! No one is free to say, I'll never have cancer. We are all at risk. We might never really know what causes our cancers to show their ugly heads in our lives, but we can try to analyze it and reduce our risk with knowledge.

This knowledge is what I will be sharing. I have read many books and this is my conclusion: there are proven factors that fuel those dormant cancer cells. For me it was a combination of several, that came together in a perfect trifecta that resulted in my breast cancer. A perfect storm, if you will.
1. My weakened immune system-  A strong immune system will keep cancer at bay. At the time of my diagnosis I was taking Enbral a drug prescribed for RA, that suppresses your immune system. We can strengthen our immune system with a healthy anti-inflammatory diet, a positive emotional state of serenity and joy, a positive support system of family and friends, and regular physical activity.
2. Injury that won't heal- Researchers have directly linked 1 cancer in 6 to a chronic inflammatory state. Not only do I have this with RA, I had a shoulder injury that for one year was constant pain. When you have an injury your body produces highly inflammatory substances to heal your injury. The substances like cytokines, prostaglandins and leukotrienes act like gasoline to promote cell reproduction to heal- they also promote cancer cell reproduction,, which can slip right into the neighboring tissue. I don't believe that it is just a coincidence that my tumor was only 3 inches away from my shoulder injury and the constant swollen pain! Plus, my white blood cells are also working overtime to heal the shoulder. This left my defenses down.
3. A Sedentary lifestyle- Again, at the time of my diagnosis I was barely getting out of the house, much less my chair. The shoulder pain was so great and the weight of it "hanging" while I was standing, made me miserable after only a short time of walking or standing. Exercise had been non-existent for over a year.

When I went for my first check up after all my chemo treatments and surgeries were complete, I asked the Dr; if my boobs have been amputated and chemo is complete what test will we do to make sure we stay on top of this returning, and what changes can be made to reduce the risk of this returning? She said this," we won't be running any routine test (such as mammogram), and there is nothing you can do (that you haven't already done) to reduce your risk. You just need to be aware of any problems or any changes, in your body and let us know as soon as possible. Your cancer will return somewhere else, if it does." (based on research, in my brain or bones)
I have never been one that listened to the words- You can't do something- CAN'T just isn't in my vocabulary! So, for the next three days I will share with you what I find out CAN be done and we will embark on the journey for the next 3 weeks!! We CAN do this!!

Notice all the 3's? It's in honor of TRIPLE Negative Breast Cancer- Join me on the 3-day learning journey and 3-week implementation!

Friday, February 14, 2014

A year already- do I say cancer-free?

Lots of people you meet who have had cancer are quick to say (proudly) I am a _ year survivor, or I've been cancer free for _ years. I just don't know how I feel about saying that. I kinda feel like I am jinxing it to say I am cancer-free or I'm a one year survivor. I probably shouldn't be, but I am uncomfortable saying those words.
Anyway, it has been exactly ONE year since Kim and I loaded up the BMW and headed to the infusion room for the last time. ONE year ago that I experienced the relief of finishing chemo and also the fear of being without the chemo and the doctors being there for me every other week.
Last Chemo- Number 8 on Feb 14, 2013

Cancer changed me and this year I have really grown into this new person. My life is so fullfilled! God has given me the blessing of every new day and I am taking advantage of each and every one of them. He put so many wonderful people in my life during this journey and I hope to nuture those friendships. I have worked on getting my stamina, my life, my hair, eyebrows, and fingernails back from the destruction of chemo. I pretty much feel back to normal. Although, my husband says I never have been normal! So.... normal for me.
I am still scared to death that the cancer will return, but that is the fear most cancer patients live with, whether they are cancer free for one or a gazillon years. I am sure I just get used to living with that fear, eventually.
I never was big on Valentines Day, I always felt like it was just a commercial holiday. Now, Valentines is a day I LOVE- it is a re-birth of my life and all that I love! It is a day to celebrate the end of cancer, the end of chemo and the beginning of the new life to share with all my loved ones.

So Happy Happy Valentines to all of you!! Please, check your boobs, eat some chocolate, and maybe have a little wine!
I will now go celebrate my ONE YEAR re-birthday and do the same (except check my boobs, since they are gone)!!

 One year later.....Happy Valentines
Valentines Celebration 2013