About Me

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2 time ovarian cancer Survivor, Advocate for ovarian cancer awareness & research, Teacher of Zen Method Tai Chi, Blogger, sharing the wonderment and power of essential oils, proud fan of Cathe Friedrich's workouts, Reiki practitoner, A Course in Miracles student, paper crafter

Friday, January 28, 2011

Cancer Craziness

Cancer messes with your head, sometimes more than others. Mentally, I just came out of one of those big messes. I've been under-going some genetic testing to see if a genetic mutation was the reason for my two cancers. To be perfectly honest, I was actually hoping that I had a mutated gene so that my cancers would have a reasonable explanation. Also, a genetic mutation would mean that my weight didn't play a big role in the reason for having cancer twice. 

What an idiotic way to think and to want!! I didn't fully realize how idiotic it was until I realized that IF I had tested positive that my sisters, nieces, nephews, and Mom would need to be tested also. Then IF they also had the mutated gene they would face full hysterectomies and possible mastectomies. Here's a Fact Sheet. It's a terrible and scary issue, even though knowledge is power. 

A couple weeks ago I found out that I do not have any genetic mutations. Instead of feeling relieved and happy (which is how I should have felt!), I felt sad and frustrated because I wanted a reason. I wanted an answer to the big WHY ME? question. At the time I thought that if I didn't have a gene mutation to explain the cancers then the only explanation for the cancers was my weight. Feeling that I caused myself to 'get' cancer two times was sickening and depressing. My cancer craziness had me blaming myself and feeling terrible inside. 

Thankfully, I have a wonderful, wise, and strong support system. My genetic counselor very patiently explained that there are hundreds of environmental factors that can lead to cancers that scientists just don't fully understand yet. There are also other gene mutations that science hasn't yet pin-pointed. He was reassuring and kind, and I was a crying nearly hysterically. My oncology nutritionist had similar reassurances when I met with her recently. There were no tears or hysterics, lucky for her.

After hearing it from 2 professionals in the field of cancer treatment, my self-blame didn't have much validity. I am believing more and more that the cancers are not my fault. I am showing myself love and kindness each day with self-Reiki, eating healthy anti-cancer foods, exercising consistently and joyfully, and keeping an attitude of thankfulness. Cancer craziness #398 curtailed... 

It took me a few weeks to decide whether to write about this here, but I want this blog to be inspirational, motivational, informational and honest so that everyone who reads it now and in the future gets the truth of my life and the role that cancer has played in it. Cancer sucks. I make many of my cancer-related experiences humorous, because it's easier for me and the people who surround me (physically and electronically) to deal with that way. Humor softens the blow. I can laugh at my helmet head hair do, and it makes me feel better about it. However,  there are some things about this cancer experience that just aren't funny. This is one of those situations. My heart and prayers go out to anyone who has a genetic mutation. My daily prayer is for peace, love and a cure for us all. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Foodish Pride

Hey there!! Here's the other 'do that my hair will do these days. Helmet head! ha! The good news is that I think that maybe, just maybe, my curls are making a comeback. That's all I'm sayin' though because I don't want to jinx it. Just kidding, I don't really believe in jinxing. But shhhh anyway, ok?

I wasn't really planning on posting a picture of myself today, but I'm so excited to have MY camera working again that I just couldn't resist experimenting a bit. I thought my camera was broken, but all it needed was some good quality rechargeable batteries. Hooray!! I'll be reading the manual and tapping my photography savvy friends for advice to improve the quality of my pictures over the next couple weeks.  

Onto the food (aka the GOOD) portion of the blog...

I had the pleasure of enjoying breakfast with two lovely ladies recently. Although I only ate about half of what I ordered, it still turned out to be too carb heavy. I was actually surprised by the numbers when I logged it all into SparkPeople. Yikes. My new way of eating, however, doesn't label foods as good or bad. I absolutely love this aspect, because it means I am 'allowed' to eat whatever I want as long as I stay within my carb, protein and fat percentages and get a minimum of 5 servings of fruits and veggies. I focus on lean proteins, healthy fats, and whole grains too. There's wiggle room, though. So I wiggled at this breakfast. In the past I would have allowed this to turn into a day of wiggling, but not anymore! After I logged in my breakfast foods on SparkPeople I planned my meals for the rest of the day. I'm proud to say that met all my healthy food goals for that day!! 

My lunch consisted of the salad shown below and was dressed with an absolutely divine Cabernet Vinegar and Newman's Own Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The Cab vinegar was so good that I didn't even miss croutons. That's a HUGE statement for me. Who knew oil olive and vinegar went so well with salad? 

Lunch also included this pizza grilled cheese half sandwich with lactose free Cabot cheddar, onions, black olives and touch of pizza sauce. Crunchy on the outside and beautifully creamy on the inside, exactly the way I like it!
Posted by Picasa
Dinner was that Clean Eating Country-Style Beef and Green Pepper soup. Here's the recipe just in case you're not a subscriber:

Clean Eating Country-Style Beef and Green Pepper Soup

2.5T olive oil, divided
12 oz extra-lean ground beef (I used organic)
2 medium green bell peppers, diced (I used a bag of frozen since it was already in the freezer)
1 c yellow onion, chopped
1 lb fresh tomatoes (I used a can of unsalted diced tomatoes)
4 oz green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces (I used the frozen ones that were already in the freezer)
1 c frozen whole kernal corn, thawed and patted dry
2 c coarsely chopped green cabbage 
3 C low-sodium beef broth
2 tsp dried oregano
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

1. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a Dutch oven on medium-high, tilting Dutch oven to coat the bottom lights. Add beef and cook for 3 minutes or until browned, stirring frequently. Drain beef on paper towels; set aside.

2. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in same Dutch oven on medium-high. Add bell peppers and onions, and cook for 6 minutes or until edges start to brown, stirring occasionally. Add beef back to Dutch oven along with tomatoes, beans, corn, cabbage, broth and oregano. Bring mixture to a boil over same heat, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes or until beans are tender-crisp.

3. Remove Dutch oven from heat, stir in remaining ingredients, including remaining oil, and let stand for 10 minutes before serving to allow flavors to meld.

Nutrients per 1.5 cup serving: 
Calories 182
Total Fat: 5.5 (saturated fat 1g, mono-unsaturated 3g, polyunsaturated 1g)
Carbs 17g
Fiber 3.5g
Sugars 5g
Protein 16g
Sodium 413 mg
Cholesterol 30mg
The motivation ball of improved health and smaller self continues to roll!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Empowered Eating

 Cancer has been a catalyst to me by opening doors to new information and the help of experts. One of those experts is my oncology nutritionist. I love this lady! She is kind, non-judgmental, eager to help, and full of knowledge. I had the great pleasure of meeting with her recently. She has given me a fresh approach to eating to improve my health and lose weight. Thanks to her (the Wings Cancer Foundation and the West Clinic's Support Services) I have a written, clear, do-able, live-able food plan will help me reach my weight loss goals, and also help my body fight and kill cancer cells. I'm excited, relieved, thankful and empowered!! Thank you, my dear oncology nutritionist!! 

I have been successfully following this new food plan for the past week. (Yes, I have lost weight!!) Of course, this new way of eating is a bit of transition for me. I'm embracing it, however, and figuring out how to make it work into my life without it taking over all my time. I'm also figuring out how to divvy up my carbs for the day, add in more olive oil and flax seeds, and eat enough protein. It requires time to plan, log my eats into SparkPeople, and- yes- prepare and cook food. I am so thankful that I already love to chop and cook!! I am also thankful for Clean Eating magazine which showed up in my mailbox at the perfect time. (I shared why I love Clean Eating magazine so much here.

This past Saturday I made 2 recipes from the current issue- Country-Style Beef and Green Pepper soup and Mediterranean Vegetable, White Bean and Feta Penne. Both recipes are delicious and only took me 2 hours to gather, prep, cook and clean up. I think that's a wise use of my time!! 

I didn't occur to me to share my cooking experience with you until I started on the Mediterranean Veg, White Bean and Feta Penne recipe. Bad blogger, bad bad!! 
Instead of following the recipe to the
letter by using fresh tomatoes, I
chose to use a can of undrained unsalted
petite diced tomatoes. Balsamic vinegar
and fresh garlic went into the bowl, too. It
marinated while all the stuff cooked.
Green peppers and zucchini with a wee bit of
organic extra virgin olive oil sizzled
in a medium hot skillet.

After the zuccs and peppers cooked
for about 5 minutes, the marinated
tomato mixture gets added to the skillet.

A can of navy beans gets added to
the pasta for the last minute of the
pasta's cooking time.
Then the pasta and beans get added, too.

Then the feta gets added on top with a little rosemary. I used 6
ounces of fat-free feta, but the recipe actually
calls for 8 ounces of low-fat.

Delicious!! The soup and the pasta both turned out to be deliciously clean, healthy and now ready to eat during the week. The pantry is stocked with tuna, peanut butter, fresh grapefruit, organic mango salsa, organic blue corn and flax tortilla chips, Kashi Go Lean cereal, and rolled oats. The fridge has organic baby spring mix salad, organic carrots and celery, leftover green beans, lactose-free natural cheese, organic Greek yogurt, organic lactose-free milk, organic flaxseeds, nitrate-free lean deli-style turkey, whole grain bread, and a serving of leftover Pad Thai with shrimp. The freezer's got shrimp, orange roughy, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, organic lean beef, and chicken breasts. I'm armed with healthy foods and ready for a healthy, clean, and sweaty week! 

Are you? Tell me what healthy foods you're eating this week!