Happy Friday! Let’s Talk About Self Hate

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I like that I’ve stumbled upon the start of a series here on the blog. There’s something about the juxtaposition between a happy, positive sentiment and a topic I probably wouldn’t share with you if we ran into each other at school drop off or Trader Joe’s.

So, for today, welcome to Happy Friday! Let’s Talk About Self-Hate. It might be Happy Tuesday or Sunday in the coming weeks, depending on when the mood strikes to write about uncomfortable subjects. And the subject matter might alternate from the things I’m working on in therapy to my fears with cancer. It just all depends.

Last time, I wrote about my struggle with depression and I want to thank you for your comments and the messages I received. Honestly, I immediately regretted hitting publish on that post – for so many reasons – and a few that lead me to today’s topic of self-hate.

When I started seeing my therapist, I told her that self-loating had become a major part of the funk I had been dealing with. She asked what that sounded like but I could only explain that it was the overwhelming feeling of not liking myself. Everything from the way I look to how I keep house to my relationships.

She wanted specifics, though. She wanted to know exactly what I was telling myself so I began to keep a journal.

As I rode the elevator down from her third floor office, I felt happy. Then it started. “Who do you think you are needing therapy? With all the atrocities happening in our world, boo-hoo, you feel blue.”

I banged out my depression post that same week. As soon as the comments came in, I felt embarrassed and ashamed about what I have been dealing with. “You’re damaged, broken” that voice told me. That afternoon, my daughter wanted a play date with a friend that didn’t work out. “That mom probably read your post and she doesn’t trust having her child around you,” I thought.

When I got together with friends for dinner, I found myself sitting quietly as I thought “You offer nothing to the conversation. You’re dumb.” I stumbled over the pronunciation of something on the menu and I berated myself for the error all night.

The group dynamic is really bizarre to me. I only realized recently that I often shut down in group settings. I always thought it was because I was shy. Truth to told, I’m not especially shy. Yes, I might be an introvert but I’m social and I really enjoy hanging with others that lift me up. But, when I beat myself up over little things like the pronunciation of words or feeling like I can’t bring anything to the conversation, I turn into someone who appears to be totally disinterested. I’m not, I’m just freaking out inside.

Even sharing these thoughts even now makes me feel ridiculous. As I type, I’m thinking “You are a moron. This is so self-serving. Are you just seeking empathy with this post?” Another voice says “No. I’m looking to connect with others who have had similar experiences.” Talk about juxtaposition.

The journal has helped me remember what it is that I’m telling myself. It has totally helped me identify what’s contributing to my bubble of self-hate. I like the direction I’m moving in. My therapist has given me some tools on how to counter those voices with the hope of finally deflating my bubble.

Happy Monday! Let’s Talk Depression

Happy Monday! Let’s talk about depression.

A little back story, if you will. In 2008 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, my oncologist prescribed Effexor XR to help alleviate the hot flashes I was having caused by chemotherapy. Effexor is an anti-depressant medication and often used off label to treat hot flashes. I took it for several years post treatment because I simply couldn’t wean off the drug. Effexor withdrawal causes incredibly debilitating side effects and I thought I was bound to be on it for life until I found a doctor who prescribed Prozac. You can read about that process of Prozac bridging here.

While I was taking Effexor for hot flashes, I was also prescribed Wellbutrin XL for a mild case of post cancer depression. You would think the Effexor would have helped with the depression too but it wasn’t. It was enough to manage the hot flashes but not enough to alleviate the depression. My GP suggested adding Wellbutrin XL. So, I took two anti-depressants for a good length of time.

When I was finally able to wean from Effexor, I felt ready to break up with Wellbutrin, too. I was just done being on all these meds that made me feel tethered. I was finally med free and felt normal and healthy and ready to move on.

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Fast forward to summer 2015. It had been nearly three years since taking any anti-depressant. I started to recognize changes in me that I knew weren’t normal. Mornings felt like Groundhog’s Day, my body felt like grinding gears, tasks looked like hurdles, social activities felt like obligations. I was bitchy, moody and mean. I was impatient with everything and everybody. I was completely self-loating, I didn’t care about my friendships, and my marriage was suffering. Everything that I had ever liked doing was no longer of any interest to me.

Yet, I pretended like there was nothing wrong.

To the faces at my daughter’s school, my friends, the people on Facebook, I would just put on a smile and act like everything was fine. I remember coming home and feeling exhausted because it would take so much effort to pretend like everything was OK. Existing in the world with a busy schedule and obligations and making small talk all the while just wanting to be left alone is really hard to bear.

I can’t pinpoint my breaking point. I knew things weren’t right when the one thing I really loved to do – make videos with Megan for Long Story Short – had started to lose its luster. It used to be a high that would sustain me for days but it was turning into an opportunity to self hate. We also went on a once-in-a-lifetime family vacation and it was all very blah to me. I found myself fixated on other families who were having fun while I was trying to figure out how to do the same.

I finally called my GP and a therapist.

The conversation with the GP started out as me telling her I didn’t feel good. I talked around the likelihood that I might be depressed. I suggested the lack of diet and exercise might being the culprit to my moodiness. I was embarrassed to ask about depression and afraid to jump into another anti-depressant after feeling like I didn’t need them anymore. I eventually agreed to trying out a new prescription.

Meeting with the therapist was much less anxiety ridden. I reached out to a therapist I had seen while undergoing treatment for cancer. I sat down and within 15 minutes had explained why I thought I was depressed. It was her professional opinion that I was indeed dealing with major depressive disorder and had agreed medication and therapy was my best course of action.

All the kinks haven’t been totally worked out yet. We’re still fine tuning the dosage of the new medication I’m taking. But, therapy has been wonderful. It’s been a soft place to land while I figure out the self-loathing and how to repair broken relationships. I feel lighter and interested in things and people again. Life doesn’t feel like a hurdle everyday anymore.

When I smile now, I’m not faking it.

Superstitious After All

I finally made good on a request a friend asked of me. She needed a photo of me holding a sign that read the number of years I have been a cancer survivor. She’s making a video.

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I paused as soon as I drew the heart on the exclamation point. Seven years. I wondered if I should actually write seven years. It won’t technically be lucky number seven until October 23rd. Rationalizing that I couldn’t write 6 years, 11 months and 7 days, I drew the number, snapped the picture and buried the sign in a stack of papers.

I wouldn’t consider myself superstitious, though.

I make wishes for safe travels before boarding an airplane and always count an even number of seats from the aisle to where we sit in a movie theater but I think these things are acts of being anxious, not superstitious.

So what’s with being superstitious over 16 days?

For me, it’s about due course. Holding off on celebrating allows me some sense of control that I don’t fully understand.

Though I read an interesting article from the Journal of Clinical Oncology that explains my reluctance to turn the calendar page. It says “superstitions provide people with the sense that they have done one more thing to try to ensure the outcome for which they are looking and may actually result in a placebo effect, relieving anxiety and promoting positive thoughts.”

So I wait for the 23rd and hope the heavens above recognize that I haven’t been boastful or overconfident this year and grant me an eighth.

Maybe I am superstitious after all.

First Impression: HydraFacial MD

I have long struggled with my complexion.

As a teen on a quest for perfectly clear skin, I would obsessively scrub, tone and dab creams to minimize breakouts. My twenties saw too many days without sunscreen and a lot of nights without washing my makeup off. When I was pregnant with my daughter in my early 30s, I expected to glow from within but instead battled cystic acne. Now at 40 years old, I still find myself trying to manage some of these same skin issues plus dry skin and wrinkles.

A few years back, I met a wonderful facialist who encouraged me to view skin care as something that should require my full attention. I really thought I had been doing that already. No one spent more time in the mirror playing dermatologist than myself.

I recently had the opportunity to experience the HydraFacial MD treatment at CostmetiCare. Very simply, this treatment is highly effective at improving your overall skin health. It is also excellent for remedying congested pores, fine lines and wrinkles, skin texture, vibrancy, elasticity and firmness.

Upon arriving that morning, I consulted with medical esthetician, Lisa McCoy, about my skin concerns. I told her that the congested pores on my nose and chin were priority number one followed by the dry skin on my cheeks and forehead. Additionally, I pointed out an area on my face where I still often break out with cystic acne.

She quickly got to work with a gentle cleanser followed by the multi-step HyrdaFacial MD treatment process. She likened the procedure to a steam cleaning. She would infuse the good stuff while extracting the bad stuff.

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Let me explain: the HydraFacial MD treatment begins with a serum to remove dead skin cells and uncovering healthy skin. Then a mixture of Glycolic and Salicylic Acids are applied to soften the skin in an effort to remove impurities. Next are extractions with a painless vortex-suction used to clean out congested pores. Finally, antioxidants, peptides and Hyaluronic Acid are infused to detoxify, protect and plump up the skin.

I loved several things about the HydraFacial MD treatment at CosmetiCare.

1. There is virtually no down time for this procedure. I skipped out of the med spa and went on with my day with absolutely vibrant skin.

2. Lisa was very knowledgable about the HydraFacial MD treatment and understood the complexities of my personal skin issues. She echoed the advice I had received from years ago about treating my skin as good or as well as I would treat the rest of my body.

3. I loved the way my skin looked afterwards and I felt fantastic. I knew that I was giving my skin the attention it needed.

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I am thrilled to share that I have been selected to be part of the CosmetiCare Mom Ambassador program and I look forward to sharing my first impressions with the treatments I receive over the next few months!

CosmetiCare is located at:
1101 Bayside Drive #100 Corona Del Mar, CA 92625
949.537.2178 Visit on Facebook or at www.cosmeticare.com

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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

In Defense of Lipo | BeautyLand Event!

I have been bothered by a protruding hump at the base of the back of my neck for some time now. I first noticed it when we received the photos from our wedding in 2001. I chalked it up to a lifetime of bad posture and vowed to put my shoulders back more often.

wedding photo

I started to realize that the hump was the reason necklaces wouldn’t lay properly and bathing suit strings that tied around my neck would feel incredibly uncomfortable.

I started working with a chiropractor to help realign my spine and hopefully reduce the growing size of the hump. He explained that it is caused by the misalignment of the head which then puts stress on the spine. The body produces extra tissue to protect that area of the spine and what results is a condition known as Upper Thoracic Hump.

He also informed me that it’s a prime area for fat accumulation. As successful as we’ve been at realigning my head and spine, I won’t ever be able to spot reduce the fat in that area. He said that a lot of patients will undergo minor liposuction to achieve the clean angles of the spine.

I’ve certainly reached the season of my life where Botox, fillers and laser treatments have become increasingly more intriguing. Yes, the fine lines on my forehead and around my eyes bug me and the sun spots on my arms and chest look darker everyday. But, I am most bothered by that damn hump. I feel like that is the one thing that ages me, but moreover, it makes me feel incredibly self-conscious.

I remember the day the picture below was taken. I asked the photographer to stand at a different angle because I didn’t want too much of my hump showing.

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The thought of liposuction feels scary. If I’m being honest, so does Botox and fillers and lasers. But, I also want to love what I see when I look in the mirror – or in photographs.

CosmetiCare’s BeautyLand event on May 7th might be the perfect time for me (and you!) to learn more about these kinds of preventative beauty procedures.

Orange County’s leading medspa is hosting an open house in Corona del Mar on Thursday, May 7th from 2pm- 5pm. Attendees will learn about the options available to them to get in front of the aging process. During this free and intimate experience, guests will have an opportunity to hear more about CosmetiCare’s instant aesthetic technology, fat melting TruSculpt, laser hair removal, techniques to freeze frown lines, consult with Dr. Niccole and his partners and learn about financing options.

All this while indulging in complimentary champagne and hor d’oeuvres. Plus, attendees will have a chance to win products and services valued at $600 and an opportunity to win a prize package worth $2000.

The BeautyLand event is extremely limited and a RSVP is required. Email inquiry@cosmeticare.com or call 949.273.2663 to reserve your spot.

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You can enter to win a $500 gift certificate to CosmetiCare before the May 7th BeautyLand event. The beauty of youthful, ageless skin is not only possible, it can be yours! Enter to win using the entry form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post is sponsored. All products, samples, giveaways, services or other materials have been provided by Reveille on behalf of their client. All opinions are my own.

I Won’t Try That Again

Last fall I was in my doctor’s office with a list of problems only a hypochondriac could appreciate. Topping that list was my chronic fatigue, brain fog and my inability to lose any weight. My most bothersome symptoms raised enough red flags for her to explore more. She ordered a battery of blood tests, including thyroid, A1C, B-12, and vitamin D.

The results from the blood tests were fairly unremarkable. My thyroid was normal, my A1c was sort of within range, my B-12 and vitamin D levels were both low (as they have been historically).

To address the lack of weight loss, she advised I visit a nutritionist and recommended the book The New Sugar Busters: Cut Sugar to Trim Fat. I was already familiar with the book. In fact, I read an older version years ago at the height of the no-carb craze. She also mentioned a new weight loss drug called Contrave and asked if I was interested.

Feeling desperate – and if I’m being honest, also depressed – I was definitely interested.

She explained that Contrave worked differently than previous weight loss drugs that had once been FDA approved. Contrave was made up of bupropion and naltrexone which affected the brain chemistry and not the heart. She even thought that the naltrexone would even help give me a boost in energy.

I picked up the prescription and put it away in my medicine cupboard. I wanted to read the pamphlet and research the internet to see if anyone had any early experience with the drug. Admittedly, I was worried about taking bupropion again. Bupropion is an anti-depressant and while I didn’t have nearly the problems weaning from Bupropion XL as I had from Effexor XR, I was still apprehensive in messing with anti-depressants again.

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But, I woke up Thanksgiving morning and decided that it was time to start the Contrave. I had just received the blood test results and that A1C level really bothered me. But that’s for another blog post.

I took one pill as advised and set forth on our day. The plans for Thanksgiving were a lazy morning, a long family walk, small lunch and early dinner with family.

I felt great at first. I don’t remember eating breakfast that morning but guzzled a coffee while out on our walk. By lunch, I was hangry and a little bit nauseous. I chalked it up to not eating anything. An early Thanksgiving dinner ended up being later than expected and I felt downright miserable. Even after eating, I remember feeling just plain awful. I suffered silently the whole car ride home and just wanted to get in bed. Nauseous and dizzy. I lay in bed that night telling myself that I would feel better by morning knowing that what I felt was not normal.


That experience made me feel awful enough not to take Contrave again. Until last weekend.

Like childbirth, we are able to forget horrible feelings. I knew that my first experience with Contrave wasn’t a great one but maybe I did something wrong. Like, not eating breakfast. Drinking too much coffee. Or waiting too long to eat dinner. I definitely knew I would try again but wanted to make sure it was a day that I didn’t have commitments, in case it made me feel yucky again.

Last Sunday morning, I decided it was the day to try it again. Desperation and depression continue to be really great motivators for me.

I ate a good breakfast and popped one pill. I didn’t drink any coffee that morning. I felt tons of energy at first, did a bunch of house chores and then sat down to work on the computer. After about two hours, I started to feel a little bit shaky. I noticed it was close to lunch. I wasn’t feeling hungry but knew I’d better eat something considering my last experience.

Well, lunch came and went, if you know what I mean. I was dizzy, sweaty, and horribly nauseous. I was so sick the entire rest of the day. There I was again, laying in bed, vowing to never take Contrave again.

There is something about my chemistry and this drug that just do not work together. The Contrave site does list the side effects with nausea, headache, dizziness and vomiting being the most common.

In the end, I should have known better. I know that there isn’t a quick fix for weight loss. There isn’t a magic pill, even one prescribed by a doctor. It’s maybe time to visit that nutritionist and exercise regularly and stick to a plan.

Are You BRCA Aware?

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 8.34.30 PM I received $150 from AstraZeneca, and any opinions expressed by me are honest and reflect my actual experience. This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/AstraZeneca.

These days I can hardly remember what we did over the weekend or that I need to grab milk from the store. But, for some reason I can remember a day years ago when a college classmate spoke about the discovery of the BRCA genes. It was the first time I had learned that there was a genetic link between breast and ovarian cancer.

Honestly, I don’t remember much more about her presentation because I thought the subject matter didn’t pertain to me. In my mind, I thought about my family and we didn’t have a history of breast or ovarian cancer so I mentally checked out.

I’m asking you not to check out today.

What is BRCA?

BRCA1 and BRCA2 are human genes involved with cell growth, cell division, and cell repair. Although they are most commonly associated with BReast CAncer, approximately 15% of women with ovarian cancer also have BRCA gene mutations.

I was given the option to undergo genetic testing for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutation when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. Considering my young age, the doctors felt that genetic testing was necessary for answers. The process was relatively easy. It was only a few weeks after submitting a blood sample that we sat with the hospital’s genetic counselor who throughly went over the results. I had tested negative for both the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutation.

I have learned a lot about the BRCA genes over the last several years. I still kick myself for not paying more attention in class that day and for assuming that since I didn’t have a family history of cancer that I was off the hook.

As a former cancer patient, it is not uncommon to share your BRCA status. I think because we’re all very interested in understanding this complicated disease. Several of my survivor friends are BRCA positive while some are not. I even have two friends who are BRCA positive but have NOT had cancer and luckily with that knowledge they are able to better manage their health.

Very simply, being aware of your BRCA status can empower you in making choices for your health and preventative breast and ovarian care.

Facts About BRCA:

– Women with BRCA gene mutations have an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.
– In the general population, 1.4 percent4 of women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer, while up to 40 percent of women with BRCA 1/2 mutations will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in their lifetime.
– An estimated 15% of ovarian cancers are linked to BRCA mutations.
– BRCA gene mutations can play a key role in serous ovarian cancer, the most common form of ovarian cancer.
– Nearly one half of women with ovarian cancer who are BRCA-positive have no significant family history of breast or ovarian cancer.

Thanks for not mentally checking out. Learn more about BRCA and the risks for ovarian cancer at My OC Journey. While my experience was specifically with breast cancer, the link between BRCA and breast and ovarian cancers is very important to the overall health of women. Educate yourself, share with your friends and family, and #beBRCAware.

Are you considering the BRCA genetic test? Read my experience and get more info about BRCA and why it is important to be aware.

Favorite Netflix Shows to Watch During Chemo

I am so stoked to be part of the Netflix #StreamTeam! I learned last month that I was hand selected to join their exclusive blogger network to help share the awesomeness that is Netflix. Disclosure: Netflix provided me with a device and a year long subscription to stream content. All opinions are 100% my own.

This month on the blog we’ve talked a lot about breast cancer and it’s been an awesome month of takeaways despite the heavy subject matter. While October has historically been a difficult month for me because it marks the anniversary of my own cancer diagnosis, I do rejoice in the milestones it brings. On October 23, I checked off another year of being disease free and I am feeling extremely grateful for my health!

So to keep with the theme of my 2014 October breast cancer series (best tips and advice from survivors), I asked my friends in the cancer community (and those who just really like great television, too!) to tell me the absolute best television series to stream during those long hours receiving chemotherapy.

Need some suggestions on what to watch during those long hours of chemotherapy? Check out this list of my favorite series available to stream on Netflix.

Back in 2008, my oncologist’s office didn’t have wifi so I was streaming zero things. I read magazines and listened to music until I dozed off from the Benadryl. But there is something great about falling asleep to the lull of conversation and banter, don’t you think?

Favorite Series To Stream on Netflix During Chemotherapy

Once Upon a Time
Damages
Arrested Development
Sons of Anarchy
The Tudors
Chuck
Psych
The West Wing
Fraiser
Cheers
LOST
Call the Midwife
Sherlock
Luther
The Office

Need some suggestions on what to watch during those long hours of chemotherapy? Check out this list of my favorite series available to stream on Netflix.
30 Rock
Parks and Recreation

Need some suggestions on what to watch during those long hours of chemotherapy? Check out this list of my favorite series available to stream on Netflix.
Portlandia
Pretty Little Liars
One Tree Hill
Gilmore Girls
Greek
Freaks and Geeks
CSI: Miami and New York
Criminal Minds

The following list of shows contain cancer story lines which always isn’t the best idea when you’re trying to escape reality. However, these series are excellent!

Brothers and Sisters
Parenthood

Need some suggestions on what to watch during those long hours of chemotherapy? Check out this list of my favorite series available to stream on Netflix.
Breaking Bad
Desperate Housewives
Sex and the City

Several of these series have multiple seasons so there are plenty of episodes to watch during those long chemo sessions.

So tell me, what’s missing from this list? More comedy? More mystery or thrills? How about shows like House Hunters? I personally like something suspenseful with a cliffhanger that will make me want to watch the next ep, like, immediately. My top choice from the list above? Pretty Little Liars. Trust me.

Speak in Whispers: Linda Lancaster Carey

Linda Lancaster Carey of The Tutu Project shares her best advice on how gratitude will get you through a breast cancer diagnosis.

Linda Lancaster Carey says that she’s been on this planet for 53 years, although her husband would argue that it’s actually 54. She is adamant that she’s not 54 until she’s 54, which will be in November. She keeps busy with several jobs. She and her husband have a commercial photography business, and The Tutu Project falls under this umbrella. She also runs a non-profit that supports women and men living with breast cancer. They have no children but have a lovely, lovely dog named Sofie. Linda’s home is in a small town in New Jersey but her heart is still in New York! Art is a great love and one that she doesn’t make enough time for. She likes to write, hike, bike, go to movies, travel, and spending time with family and friends. Learning – she likes this, too. At the top of the list and in some way covers all the rest, she LOVES living. Not to be confused with being alive.

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Linda Lancaster Carey

HOW LONG HAS IT BEEN SINCE YOU WERE DIAGNOSED?

I was diagnosed on December 29th, 2003 with Her2+ breast cancer. The cancer metastasized to my liver in December 2006. I don’t remember the exact date but I know just where I was standing. It was late afternoon, I had just delivered a project to a client when I received the call from my nurse specialist. The lobby of the building was cold marble and a cavernous space, at that moment I was glad that New Yorkers ignore so much as I was sobbing in the corner. 

HOW DID YOU FIND OUT YOU HAD BREAST CANCER?

In the shower when I did my monthly breast exam. It caught my breath (can a lump really do this?) and told no one for three days. Perhaps somewhere in my freaked out brain I thought that if I didn’t say anything it wouldn’t be anything. Having had a cyst removed several years back, I knew in my heart that this lump was different. I’ve never told anyone this. 

TELL US YOUR REACTION TO THE DIAGNOSIS.

Freaked out, cried, moved into shock and then pulled out my notebook and started making a plan with the tremendous support of my family and friends. I thought about death in the dark of the night. I wrote in my journal often asking myself if this meant I was going to die. When the sun rose in the sky I focused on living, learning the language of cancer and prepared myself, as much as I could, to the idea of having one breast. 

WHAT WAS YOUR TREATMENT PLAN?

It began as a mastectomy, followed by six months of chemotherapy followed by one year of a clinical trial and somewhere in there, 33 treatments of radiation. 

HOW HAS TREATMENT AFFECTED YOUR WELL-BEING, IF AT ALL?

I went into early menopause, no crying on my part although I probably scared my husband a time or two. Loss of libido, weight gain-no fun. The second time around the chemo destroyed my feet, not so good for someone living in Brooklyn.

HAS HAVING BREAST CANCER INSPIRED YOU TO DO SOMETHING GREATER WITH YOUR LIFE?

Because I’ve been so open with my journey, I need to say – I hate that question. In the beginning of this mess I was asked by so many people “now that you have cancer what are you going to do with your life?'”. This was asked in the context of the conversation that I should be planning on saving the world or something along those lines. A slight exaggeration, but this is how I heard it. That’s a LOT of pressure for someone that just had a breast removed, was blasted with toxins and probably still glowed from the radiation. After I settled down I knew that I’d probably want to do something and kept the question alive hoping that I’d recognize the answer when it came walking by. It did – in the form of The Tutu Project. This has opened my life and has given me a platform to share hope and hopefully inspire a few women or men that there is living after and with cancer.

SHARE YOUR BIGGEST STRUGGLES AND HOW DO YOU MANAGE THOSE?

I struggled with the stupid things that people say. I knew that it generally stemmed from not knowing what to say but some days I didn’t want to give them that out. I went into therapy, this helped. I also joined a writing group at the cancer center. One of my pieces was used, along with one other woman, and became a short play that performed several times for nurses, physicians and med students. The goal of this was to teach them how to speak to people diagnosed with cancer. 

FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE, WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHERS WHO HAVE BEEN DIAGNOSED?

Each day put your feet on the floor. When the left foot hits the floor whisper “thank” and when your right foot hits the floor, whisper “you.”

You can find more from Linda at The Tutu Project, The Carey Foundation and Twitter.

Linda Lancaster Carey of The Tutu Project shares her best advice on how gratitude will get you through a breast cancer diagnosis. 

Photo source:

“This Is My Gift To You” by Hamed Saber is licensed under CC BY 2.0 / Text added to original

Personal photo courtesy of  Linda Lancaster Carey

Alternative Therapies: Lisa Marie Ives

Lisa Marie Ives gives her best tips for alternative therapies and supplements to help during breast cancer treatment.

Lisa Marie Ives is 42 from Virginia Beach, Virginia. She’s a SAHM to one 3 year old boy. She enjoys being his mom and her version of pre home schooling. She loves fine dining and wine but no longer a connoisseur. She gets lucky with her own madness infrequently in the kitchen and any bottle under $8 does just fine.

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Lisa Marie Ives

HOW LONG HAS IT BEEN SINCE YOU WERE DIAGNOSED?

Diagnosed 10 months ago (1 month after my birthday…gonna be 42 AGAIN)

HOW DID YOU FIND OUT?

3D mammo and a call back. 1, 2 and 3 biopsies (2&3 with an MRI).

TELL US YOUR REACTION.

I always knew it would happen subconsciously as it is rampant paternally…the realization hurt.

WHAT WAS YOUR TREATMENT PLAN?

Chemo sucked canal water. I chose pre-op treatment hoping to avoid surgery…well…going under this Monday (late September) anyway, even though the tumors discipated…mastectomy right side.

HOW HAS TREATMENT AFFECTED YOUR WELL-BEING, IF AT ALL?

One kid and done fortunately. Sex…phhh what!? I am gaining weight from my Herceptin treatment, which is driving me bat shit crazier than a womanly cycle ever has. 

HAS HAVING BREAST CANCER INSPIRED YOU TO DO SOMETHING MORE?

Live! I always have…and sometimes large…but I have a little man that I am responsible for and for a very long time!

I hope to prevent anyone else from suffering with what cancer is responsible for in so many ways, if possible.

WHAT WERE YOUR BIGGEST STRUGGLES AND HOW DID YOU MANAGE THOSE?

The limitations I had through chemo and the life it stole from me with my child is my biggest complaint. Chemo was a hurtful hell. My sanity is on edge with my upcoming surgery I was led to believe wouldn’t happen.

WHAT’S YOUR BEST PRESCRIPTION?

Essential oils and magnesium for personal help and a tad bit of well being…I swear! I found that essential peppermint oil aides better in the relief of headaches. nausea and spirit.  Lemon oil detoxes the liver (what a relief that is after the abuse of chemotherapy and this week alone with industrial strength pain killers!) Lavender oil truly does relax the mind.  Cypress oil is a miracle for circulation in ached joints (in my case, due to chemotherapy damage) Clove oil for the mouth pain chemo causes, as well as better dental hygiene. 

Lisa Marie Ives gives her best tips for alternative therapies and supplements to help during breast cancer treatment.

Photo source:

“Eucalyptus Oil” by Adam is licensed under CC BY 2.0 / Text added to original

Personal photo courtesy of Lisa Marie Ives