My Locks for Love

I mentioned in my last post, that ever since my grandmother‘s recent diagnosis with breast cancer I felt the urge to become more involved with breast cancer research. I want to not only learn more about the disease and how to prevent it but I want to begin participating more actively.

The first thing I wanted to do was have a wig made for her. After all, it’s just hair and it grows back. Maybe I wanted to do it because I felt like it was the only thing, other than praying, that I could physically do to help.

So, my hair went from this:

To this:

I cut almost 12 inches off! I was so nervous before I cut it. I thought about it for weeks but kept procrastinating, so I finally made an appointment and had it cut that same day.

Normally, I cut about 3-4″ off every four months or so. I hadn’t cut this much hair off in almost 14 years! I have to admit though, it felt really good and maybe now I’ll wear it in something other than a ponytail. Though my hair is naturally curly, I almost always wear it straight. Even though I love my curls, ever since I had kids I just don’t have time to spend doing my hair. Does anyone else have that problem? 😉

Afterward, I called every beauty school and wig manufacturer I could locate but couldn’t find a single company that was willing to turn my hair into a wig for under $1100. So, I ended up donating it to Locks of Love (I had looked up their instructions for cutting hair to donate prior to my appointment).

Locks of Love is a non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada under age 21 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis.

Learn more about how you can donate your hair to Locks of Love here.

Not sure if you should do it? Take a look through their recipient gallery here.

Full of Love and Hope

You may remember me mentioning that my grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer a few months ago. At first, we were told she would have surgery to remove the cancer cells and that would be it. Maybe some radiation treatments. It was stage 1 and non-invasive and so there wasn’t any reason to be alarmed.

After the surgery, however the doctors discovered that the cancer was actually very aggressive and she needed to have surgery again. So they went in again, checked her lymph nodes (thank God they were clear) and removed the rest of the tissue. We were then told she would need chemotherapy and radiation to prevent the cancer from recurring.

I’m not sure if I ever mentioned this but my aunt in Ohio has two boys with autism. A couple of years ago, they began treatment with a preventative medicine DAN! doctor. DAN! stands for Defeat Autism Now! Many of you may have heard of them through Jenny McCarthy‘s involvement with autism research. DAN! doctors are regular certified medical doctor’s who are trained in a certain protocol to assist and treat patients with autism.

Unfortunately, they are very expensive because insurance does not cover anything since it is considered preventative medicine. I can testify to it’s results though. My cousin went from a 4th grade to an 8th grade comprehension level in 2 months. He did chelation, went on supplements and my aunt cut gluten, casein, etc from his diet completely. No white flour, white sugar or white anything either. And as long as he sticks to this diet, his symptoms are minimized drastically.

Preventative medicine doctors cure ailments rather than treating symptoms. For something in your body to be malfunctioning, your body must be deficient in something. And considering the garbage that we eat in pretty much everything and the lack of vitamins and nutrients in most foods, that is not hard to understand. Therefore, the doctors test all of your levels, metal levels, blood levels, all of your vitamins, etc. and prescribe certain supplements to bring your body to where it should be.

So of course we wanted my grandmother to visit with one of these doctors before jumping in to chemo. I personally, have very mixed feelings about chemotherapy. I’ve seen so many people suffer from chemo and I sometimes wonder if it doesn’t just kill you sooner. Yes, it kills the cancer cells but it also kills all the healthy cells in your body and puts a tremendous strain on your internal organs. Not to mention all the nasty side effects.

She met with the doctor and he explained that everyone has cancer cells and once our immune systems get weak (and other contributing factors like diet, etc) the cancer cells begin to multiply and attack the healthy cells. So it is imperative to have a healthy immune system. He was totally against chemo. He prescribed several “super vitamins” and a very strict diet to prevent the cancer from coming back.

At first my grandmother was comfortable with this but the more she talked to friends who had cancer and her regular doctor the more confused she became. Everyone advised to attack it aggressively. So she ended up going with the chemo. She was also worried about financially not being able to afford the preventative treatment (vitamins alone would have cost almost $1000 per month). Personally, I think a combination of radiation and the diet and supplements would have been enough since she is officially cancer free and this is just a preventative treatment but I’m not a doctor.

Today is her first chemo treatment (i hate it so much that i cringe when i call it treatment) and I am a nervous wreck. She is a strong woman and I know she will pull through this but I hate to see her suffer. I pray the side effects aren’t too much for her, she’s got a very sensitive stomach. I’m full of love and hope for her every day, but especially this morning.

I’d love to hear what you think about treatment options and if anyone has any encouraging stories of cancer survivors that would be wonderful. Please keep her in your prayers.

Click here to read an excellent article called Life Over Cancer.

Life Over Cancer

I’ve been researching breast cancer a lot more since my grandmother’s recent breast cancer diagnosis. I’ve supported breast cancer research for a long time now but the fact that it is now a part of my family’s medical history I feel like I need to educate myself more about it and somehow fight a little bit harder to prevent it.

Here is a great article I ran across by Dr. Keith Block on preventing breast cancer recurrences.

Avoiding Refined Sugar Helps Prevent Breast Cancer Recurrence
By Keith I. Block, M.D.,
Author of Life Over Cancer: The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Treatment

Several years ago, we saw tremendous growth in the consumption of fat-free and low-fat products. Believing we now had “healthier” versions of everything from salad dressings to our favorite desserts, these products began flying off the shelves, and formerly “forbidden” foods for those watching their diets became acceptable in their reduced fat versions. While perhaps reducing their fat intake, most consumers were unknowingly increasing their sugar intake, as refined sugar was the ingredient most often used in place of fat. The increased consumption of refined sugar can have serious health consequences, including a greater vulnerability to cancer, and possibly, even a worse outcome. Let me explain what happens when too much refined sugar and other food products are consumed.

If you ingest whole foods, insulin will be secreted slowly and the body will manage this well. Insulin is needed to carry glucose into your tissues and is essential for providing much needed fuel. However, ingest a candy bar, your favorite brand of cookies, or 12 ounces of soda pop — what I like to refer to as carbonated belly wash — and the cells in your pancreas will respond with a surge of insulin.

In recent years, researchers found that women with early stage breast cancer who had the highest insulin levels were twice as likely to have their tumor metastasize, and three times as likely to die of breast cancer, as women with the lowest insulin levels. For this reason, I believe any patient combating breast cancer or trying to avoid a recurrence would be wise to have their doctor routinely monitor their insulin and blood sugar levels, as well as their insulin growth factor (IGF-1). Choosing a whole foods diet and staying fit can reduce the deleterious effect that elevated sugar and insulin levels can have on both the risk of recurrence and risk of death. In addition, following a nutritional, fitness and therapeutic supplement program can help achieve or maintain improved levels.

Even though all therapeutic interventions should be individualized to match the needs of each patient, I’m convinced that certain dietary recommendations are fundamental to achieving improved health.

These include:

  • Eat a diet lower in fat, and make it a better quality fat. Ideally, fat should represent no more than 18% of your daily caloric intake. “Good” fats include monounsaturated and Omega 3 fats.
  • Examples of monounsaturated fats include olive oil, almond oil and walnut oil. Omega 3 fats include flax seed, canola, and, of course fats contained in cold water fish.
  • Eat abundant cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, bok choy, kale and brussel sprouts — which contain plant phytochemicals that result in lower blood levels of estrogen by increasing the estrogen detoxification and dumping capacity of the liver.
  • Eat a diet high in fiber, with plant-based sources of protein. Consuming more fiber in the form of whole grains, vegetables, fruit, legumes, and beans can reduce harmful circulating estrogen levels.

In addition, while research has shown that mind-spirit interventions improve quality of life for cancer survivors, there is also data that suggests they boost immune function, increase cancer-fighting melatonin levels, and can play a role in helping prevent recurrence.

© 2010 Keith I. Block, M.D., author of Life Over Cancer: The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Treatment

Author Bio

Keith I. Block, M.D. is Director of Integrative Medical Education at the University of Illinois College of Medicine; Medical Director of the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment in Evanston, Illinois; and founder and Scientific Director of the nonprofit Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and Education. He is also editor in chief of the peer-reviewed professional journal Integrative Cancer Therapies and a member of the National Cancer Institute’s Physician Data Query Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Editorial Board.

For more information, please visit Become a fan of Life Over Cancer and the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment on Facebook.

Tea for Two {or more}

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

A couple of months ago, my grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. It all happened so quickly and before we knew it we were scheduling surgeries and meeting with doctors who tossed words like chemotherapy, aggressive and mastectomy around the room.

Immediately my mother, sister and aunt all flew in from Ohio and were at her side in a flash. We were all ready to help but more importantly we were all ready to lift her spirits. What better way than a tea party like old times?

Here are some of the pics:

Geri and I with my Coco at her very 1st tea party!

My scrumptious fruit salad and pot of pomegranate white tea:

Ace, who needed a bit of persuading to come, loudly declared in the hearing of all that he was only there for the food:

Fancy Nancy x 2 :

My mother and grandmother:

After that we shopped till we dropped and headed home for a fun night of movies and vegging out.

My grandmother’s surgeries were both successful, thank God, and we’re now looking into preventative options. Please keep her in your prayers. I’ll keep you posted!