So, we have been cooking for a long time. During the past 4 years, more leaning to meatless meals.  Yes, sometimes more raw or ‘gads!’ vegan.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Tried these on Tuesday for ‘Meatless Monday’.  Yup, that is how it started.  The recipe comes from a blog we follow ‘oh my veggies‘ written by Ashley Jennings.  It is well photographed, well written and researched. A beautiful food blog. You should subscribe to her. Original recipe here

Well, let’s just day that, although we all try for ‘perfection’ whatever that is, we all need forgiveness. Not sure if the ricotta cheese or the spinach were too wet, but we should have noticed when our ‘balls’ did not look like hers on the cookie sheet.Eggplant_spinach_meatballs3

Anyway.  This was a reminder to us that no matter what things look like, it’s the the taste that matters, RIGHT?

And, the taste was wonderful! Go make them. And watch out for how moist everything is.

We are going to do it again soon. Try, try again!

Enjoy

Posted in Diet, Lifestyle and Fitness, Nutrition, Recipe | Leave a comment

Can an Ancient Healing System practiced for thousands of years be useful in the modern cancer care setting? The National Cancer Institute says YES!

Acupuncture has demonstrated benefit to cancer patients in the following areas:

Pain Management: Acupuncture is very effective for managing pain related to tumors, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and inflammation. Cancer itself is a painful disease and the treatments for cancer cause pain, swelling and inflammation. Additionally, many of the treatments for management of cancer pain cause side effects such as constipation, confusion, nausea, difficulty urinating and respiratory depression. Patients who receive acupuncture may be able to use lower doses of pain medications.

Immune System Modulation: Many cancers and many cancer treatments cause a suppression of the bone marrow, the source of blood cells that are the army of the immune system. Acupuncture increases blood cell production and enhances Natural Killer Cells and Lymphocytes which leads to increased immune response and decreased risk of infection.

Inflammation: Increased inflammation is a part of the physiology of cancer. Many of the treatments for cancer such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery also cause painful inflammation. Acupuncture reduces the pain and swelling related to inflammation.

Nausea and Vomiting: Acupuncture has been shown to reduce the intensity and frequency of nausea and vomiting in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy.

Dry, Painful Mouth and Throat: Cancer patients receiving radiation to the head and neck experience dry mouth due to the reduction in saliva production. Additionally, radiation treatments lead to pain and swelling in the mouth and throat making it very difficult to swallow. These patients often lose their sense of taste as well. Acupuncture has been shown to decrease these side effects allowing the patient to be able to swallow, eat and drink normally, protect the health of the teeth and gums and reduce the incidence of infections, pain and swelling in the mouth and throat during radiation therapy.

Sleep: Cancer patients suffer sleep disruption and insomnia due to post-surgical discomfort, anxiety and depression and physical pain. By relieving these symptoms the cancer patient is able to get the deep sleep and rest required for recovery and healing.

Hot Flashes in Breast Cancer Patients: Many women undergoing hormonal treatment for breast cancer experience hot flashes that disrupt sleep and activities of daily living. Acupuncture has been shown to decrease the frequency and intensity of hot flashes for breast cancer patients. Although these studies on management of hot flashes with acupuncture were done in women breast cancer patients, men with prostate cancer also experience hot flashes during hormonal treatment and would benefit from acupuncture.

Quality of Life: By managing the side effects of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and hormonal therapies, reducing pain and inflammation, improving sleep, supporting normal digestive function and reducing stress the quality of life of cancer patients is improved by acupuncture treatments. Eugene Mak, MD, a board certified oncologist states that acupuncture ” can also add to the patients’ sense of well being and decrease the malaise associated with any chronic disease, especially cancer….and imparts a sense of well being and accelerates patients’ recovery.”

Research on the use of acupuncture in the cancer care setting is ongoing. Investigations include the benefits of acupuncture to treat many cancer related symptoms including loss of appetite, diarrhea, weight loss, cough, bone pain, chest pain, dizziness, fatigue and anxiety and depression in cancer patients.

Acupuncture is recommended to cancer patients at the Mayo Clinic and at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Today, many oncologists refer their patients for acupuncture treatment to manage cancer symptoms and cancer treatment related symptoms. Many cancer treatment centers now have Licensed Acupuncturists on staff to help patients manage the many challenges of the cancer journey.

By Dr Nalini Chilkov

Posted in Acupuncture, Cancer Support, Complementary Cancer Care, Treatments & Side Effects | Tagged , | Leave a comment

 I want to be Quaint Aunt Wendy

It happened again last night as I know it happens to all of us in this “cancer survivors’ club.”  A call from a friend in tears, her sister had just been diagnosed with breast cancer and my friend was devastated.  I am glad that my friends know to call me and I know that I am helpful in these conversations.

What I really want, though, is for there no longer to be a need for these calls.  I want the fact that I had breast cancer to make me quaint, unique, and outdated like a dial phone or an eight track tape.  Obviously, the fact that there are more survivors than ever is awesome, even better, though, would be for them not to have to go through the journey in the first place and for there to be a cure for those with metastatic cancer.    Here are the things that I believe we can each do individually to take steps towards this goal (in addition to treatment by the medical community).

  • Voting with our pocketbooks by making wise decisions around consumables
  • Buying organic fruits and vegetables where we can, especially for the “dirty dozen.”
  • Buying non toxic personal care and home cleaning products.
  • Avoiding processed foods, especially those with ingredients that are considered to be toxins in the European Union.
  • Using our vote to support politicians and policies that reduce toxins in our environment and support GMO labeling if not GMO elimination.  Roundup is a known carcinogen (as well as the cause of many other diseases) and is sprayed on plants that are specifically genetically modified to not be killed by this toxic chemical
  • Reducing stress for ourselves and others through the stress management technique that works best for us.  I am a big fan of HeartMath™ and its approach and am, in fact, a HeartMath Mentor.
  • Being mindful about the items that we bring into our home – avoiding chemical laden fire retardants, stain protection, and volatile organic compounds in paint.
  • Freeing our houses of indoor air pollutants by opening windows, cleaning, and keeping house plants.
  • Exercising frequently, even if it is a thirty-minute walk, eating healthily and maintaining a healthy weight.

These are just a few of the steps that we can actively take to reduce our risk for cancer or its recurrence.   And, the good news is that, in taking these steps, we are also reducing our risks for many other deadly and debilitating diseases and setting ourselves up for a healthier, more joyful life.  What can you do today to be healthier and happier?

By: Wendy Kuhn

Posted in Cancer Support, Diet, Exercise, Lifestyle and Fitness, Risk Reduction, Survivor Story, Toxins | Tagged | Leave a comment

I was totally blindsided by cancer. I think the majority of cancer survivors are blindsided by their diagnosis. How can it be with no family connection and no genes associated with cancer? I exercise, watch my diet, parent my children and produce at work. How am I different? What would cause cancer in me?

That question started a search for answers. I am a seeker of data, scientific data, and empirical evidence. The kind of information published in medical and scientific journals, peer-reviewed, double blind…hard data.  Knowing of course that I would never know with any certainty what exactly caused my particular cancer. Maybe though, I could come up with a plan or certainly some actions that would add to my wellbeing and potentially stave off metastases. I hope! I try to breathe.

As I began my journey I was surprised at the vast and often conflicting evidence on wellness. How to make sense of all this information? Could I apply it to myself? Was I out of my league? Do I just follow the prescribed medical plan? What is the best course for my continued survival at a minimum? Even better, can I thrive? Keep breathing.

Each incidence of cancer is unique in some way to each of us. And our responses and our choices, for treatment protocols and our own behavior, are also unique to all of us. My particular disease when genetically tested (Oncotype), showed that the evidence was not clear on whether chemotherapy would be more helpful or harmful. Great! My Oncologist suggested just 4 rounds since there is only one opportunity for cure. To me, that was “old school” thinking. Two years early, that was standard protocol. Yet, with the support of my breast surgeon, I decided that my own general “good” health, a resting heart rate in the 50’s (70 is average), no medications, physically active and generally upbeat was a good starting place. Chemo was off the table. My lifestyle would be medicine enough for me. I continue to breathe.

I’m pretty open-minded and confident in my ability to make my own decisions as you can tell. Although I am data “junkie”, I am open to alternative therapies, to new ideas, to new ways to see old problems. There is evidence that some of them work. I found that acupuncture, aquatic therapy and Rolfing helped with releasing scar tissue and stress after surgery. Movement, in most forms or function, heals both emotionally, physically and spiritually. What from this bag of tools would I need on my path moving forward? How can I help myself be my best, regardless of my physical state?

I did sign-up for a long-term study, TailoRx, openly sharing my tissue, blood and other pieces of my medical record, to be apart of the answer. Some family and friends thought I shouldn’t share that sort of information. Hopefully the study will help others make better decisions based on evidence along with the leap of faith. That felt good, to be a part of something larger than myself. And I gained some control in a situation where I had little. Even better yet, the evidence1 shows that pleasure gained from service decreases the body’s cellular stress response. Who knew??

Are you feeling blindsided?  Feeling overwhelmed and not sure how to proceed? Continue to breathe, deeply and slowly. Be passionate about creating movement – mind and body! Establish a path and create the momentum to move forward. Can’t gather the motivation or keep yourself on track? Find someone who will help support you positively and hold you accountable such as a friend or a coach. Wishing you well!

Picture compliments of CNN

1 Nature World News, July 30, 2013 “Human Body Distinguishes Between “Hedonic” and “Eudaimonic” Happiness on Molecular level”

By Lauryn Sires

 

Posted in Cancer Support, Lifestyle and Fitness, Survivor Story | Leave a comment

Hearing the words, “you have cancer” are probably three of the most profound words I have heard in my life. The words knock the wind out of you, drop you to your knees. I remember bawling in my mom’s arms telling her “I don’t want to die, I am too young, I have two babies.” At the time I had three and four year old boys.

I was thirty five years old. I had had strange symptoms for over two years, probably much longer— fevers, unbearable pain in my upper right side of my stomach, overall exhaustion and gut feeling of something not being right. Nine trips to urgent care over the course of two years. At thirty five, I still had not picked an internist! I finally landed in the emergency room following a persistent fever that wouldn’t break. They sent me home after filling me with fluids with no explanation. “What about appendicitis,” I asked the oncall doctor. “Listen, I saw the way you walked in here, if you had appendicitis, you would need to be wheeled in in a wheel chair, screaming at the top of your lungs in pain.”

Thankfully, my mother doesn’t take no for an answer. Frustrated, she drove me that Monday morning to my gynecologist—of course having had two small boys, she was the only doctor I had at the time! My mother insisted on a ct scan. Based on the scan, I was in laperscopic surgery the next morning. “Your appendix looks odd” was the reasoning.

That afternoon, we got a call from my surgeon, “there was a 2.1 cm tumor in the appendix but I have done hundreds of surgery’s and it doesn’t look like cancer, we will send it to pathology and call you with results in a few days.”

That night, I began an obsession that would continue off and on over the next two years. I stayed up well into the morning googling: appendix growths, 2.1 cm tumor, severe pain in abdomen, fevers, appendicitis— any search I could think of. The next morning I told my husband, I found information on two cancers of the appendix, Carcinoid Cancer and something called PMP Appendix Cancer. I kept going back to the calming words of Dr. Stricheartz my surgeon, “I have seen many tumors and this tumor doesn’t look like cancer.” For some reason, those words weren’t enough to ease my growing anxiety.

Three days later in the afternoon, my mom and I were in the kitchen and the phone rang. “Amy, it’s Dr. Truneh (my gynecologist), are you alone?” My stomach sank, “no,” I said, “my mother’s with me.” “do you want to put the phone on speaker, we have the results back from pathology.”

My hand began to shake and my entire face went warm. I pressed the speaker button, my mom looked at me with fear in her eyes and grabbed my hand tight.

“Amy, sweetie, I am sorry, it is cancer, it is called Carcinoid Cancer and it’s very rare. We made an appointment with you to meet with the surgeon to talk about next steps tomorrow.” I had a million questions but remembered that my new friend “the internet” had many of the answers I was looking for so I thanked her and hung up. All I remember is feeling like I had been punched in the stomach—hard! My knees buckled and I dropped to the floor. You can never explain the feeling that overtakes you when you find out you have a scary, unpredictable, angry disease like cancer. You feel scared, you feel angry, you feel depressed, you feel like your body has betrayed you.

The next morning, my husband and my mother and I drove to the surgeon’s office. I hadn’t slept at all. My head was full of spinning thoughts..I don’t want to lose my hair, I don’t want to explain this to my kids, I don’t want to have cancer..can this all be a bad bad dream?!

That morning, I realized it was very much not a dream, I walked into his office and right on the table before he got a word in was a pamphlet about colon cancer and Rt. Hemicolectomy Surgery (the removal of 1/2 your colon)

Dr. Stricheartz looked at me and said, “I assume you know why I called you in here today” I looked at him confused.. “The tumor we found is larger than 95% of people who get Carcinoidtumors. Most Carcinoids at 1 cm, yours is 2.1 cm and based on it’s size and statistics of it spreading—upwards of 70% chance of metastasis—we need to go in tomorrow and remove 1/2 your colon.”

Another punch to the gut.

The surgery had it’s complications, I was losing alot of blood following surgery and they found I was internally hemorrhaging, two blood transfusions and a bedside trauma nurse holding my hand through the whole thing, the hemorrhage, sealed up on it’s own.

I spent the next few weeks at home healing. My boys definitely knew something was wrong with Mommy. We tried not to scare them but my fragile state and loss of weight tipped them off. I will never forget my 4 year old son Diego telling my mother during those first few weeks, “Gramma, how old will I be when I get to drive a car?” “You’ll be 16, a teenager” pause, “hmm..that’s too bad, mommy will be in heaven when I am a teenager.”

Another punch in the gut.

I spent the next several months testing. For someone who spent most of her adult doctor visits in a walk in clinic, I now had an Internist, an Endocrinologist, a Gastroencologists, an Oncologist, a Cacinoid Specialist , and a Surgeon. The testing was exhausting— double ballon endoscopy,colonoscopy, endoscopy, swallow camera (that one was actually pretty cool), barium xrays, regular xrays, finally a trip to a Carcionid Cancer specialist at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles gave us the answers we were desperately searching for.

After retesting my pathology of my colon, my specialist, Dr. Edward Wolin, informed us of “Small Vessel Lymphatic Invasion.” It was stage two, it had left the original location and spread to my lymphatic system.

I would need an octreotide scan, a ct scan, and an MRI—all in one day!

The Octreotide is a nuclear scan. They pump your veins with radioactive dye and you stay completely still for 2 hours, if you move, you start all over again. My nose has never itched so much, I just kept praying and meditating. Once I was done, the radiologist informed me I was the first person in those two hours to not ever press the panic button..”there was a panic button?!” OMG, I would have most definately had pressed it had I known.

The octreotide scan showed some “cellular activity” in my abdomin area, perhaps cancer cells, perhaps, trauma from the two surgerys, only time will tell. With Carcioid Cancer, they can actually see Cancer cells before they turn into a tumor. Unfortunately, because Carcinoid doesn’t respond to chemo and radiation (I get to keep my hair yippy!) You need to watch and wait until tumors form and then you do something called debulking. You remove parts or all of the organ it’s invaded.

Because of this fact. Carcinoid Cancers Survivors need to be scanned frequently. The good news is it is also known as “cancer in slow motion”, the bad news who has the patience to “watch and wait” with something as unpredictable as cancer?!

In the past two years, throughout my every six month trips to Los Angeles, many things have poped up that need to be checked. I have had a lump in my breast biopsied—binign, and more recently a growth in my thyroid that went from .7 cm to 1.7 cm to 2.9 cm in 12 months. As of yesterday’s pathology— binign yet again.

As with everything I do with my doctors in San Jose, I then need to send it off to my angel Dr. Wolin at Cedars to retest with his special stains and dyes. You see one HUGE lesson I found out was that many cancers that are rare, may not show up with standard pathology stains. If you have a specific type of cancer, get your scans and pathology done with a specialist. El Camino hospiital sees 1 to 2 carcinoid cases a year, their radiologists maybe perform a handful of octreotide scans a year. Dr. Wolin’s team does two to three nuclear scans a day!

Throughout the past two years I have learned alot about myself, about the people I love, about God, about the power of the human spirit. About the kindness in strangers from my carcinoidsupport group who have become an extension of my family and medical support team to my neighbors who chipped in to bring meals or small gifts for the kids.

Through this process, I needed to take an inventory of my life, my diet, my exercise (or lack of it), my stress levels, even the skincare I use. I know I didn’t give myself cancer, but I take ownership in the fact, my tumor was as large as it was, due to my environment I choose to live in. There are toxins in many of our daily products from what I was using on my skin, to my house cleaning products, to the foods I choose to put in my body. I read a book called Ant-Cancer which changed the way I look at food and products. It has helped me regain control over my body, and step up MY role in it’s health and well being.

In researching the skincare I was using on www.cosmeticsdatabase.com, I discovered that many of the products I was using on myself and my children were dangerous. I knew as a mother, I needed to become educated on what I was putting on my small boys as well. If our government isn’t regulating the 12,000 ingredients in skincare on our shelves, we need to take ownership of it for ourselves and our children.

I do not ever wish to say, cancer is a gift. If cancer is a gift, it’s one I would like to return. Rather, what you do with it is your gift to yourself and to others. I choose to be a survivor, to become educated, to take control of my medical care. I get records of every procedure. I study books. I am no longer a victim at an urgent care. I also now reach out to people whom get the stomach punching news of their own cancer diagnosis. I am now more in the present. The future and past are traps most of us find our self in for the bulk of our lives.

I took the passion I had for research and the drive and ambition that fueled my successful career in High Tech Field Sales and I applied it to the research and development of an organic skincare line, and the development of a methodology to rejuvenate skin using eastern medicine and cosmetic acupuncture. To read more about my business go here: www.authenticskin.com. It was important to me to give an alternative to the dangerous injectables like Botox, Juviderm, and other toxins which we are now only beginning to to see correlations to neurological diseases and other illnesses due to excessive use.

I have merged my passion for health and my passion for beauty and used my fear, my creativity, and my drive to uncover a new way to approach beauty leveraging the power of the human spirit and search for authenticity in a plastic, toxin filled society. Now when someone decides to look for toxic free products on the Cosmeticsdatabase.com they will find MY Authenticskin Remedies products among many of the safe alternatives.

I feel cancer choose me, I have now made the choice to do something with it!

 

By: Amy Rueda

Posted in Cancer Support, Survivor Story, Toxins | Leave a comment