Eat Like You Give a F*ck

A friend recommended that I look at this entire experience as gaining new foods as opposed to taking things away so, despite the fact that I’m still mourning the loss of cheesy fries, I ordered some bomber cookbooks and went to the store (also, because eating every meal from a vegan-friendly restaurant means that Santa probably won’t make it next year).

In ordering the new cookbooks, I realized that it is going to be a lot easier than expected to find things to eat and to approach this new diet with a sense of humor – exhibit A: Thug Kitchen, Eat Like You Give a F*ck.

I was especially happy to learn that Thug Kitchen continued to be entertaining beyond the title and the recipes seemed edible… like Warm the F*ck Up Minestrone.

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While not as entertaining, the Oh She Glows cookbook was paramount since it has quick and easy recipes because who are we kidding… going vegan doesn’t mean my professors stop assigning work or that my children suddenly end their favorite game of spreading toys throughout the house. Fortunately, these recipes also looked good.

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The shopping adventure at first was a little tricky – the salmon looked fabulous and the Iggy’s sourdough bread was calling out to me (my kids don’t call it “yummy bread” for nothing). However, I set off to get some colorful veggies to attempt a Vegan Root Veggies and Spicy Vegan Sausage Roast. Sure, it sounds (and initially looked) scary but in the end even Donny liked it. Also, just because I have some fancy new cookbooks does not mean I’m not looking for your favorite vegan recipes so please, please post them on here!

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Day 1: A Bumpy Start

I woke up feeling pretty awesome. I picked out a special smoothie recipe to start off this vegan adventure on the right foot – rasperries, blueberries, kale, cucumbers, almond milk and bananas. I snapped a photo of my colorful blender to add to this post and in an attempt to keep myself on track (no one benefits from photos of cheesy fries). “I can do this!” I thought as I pushed the button on the blender… and that’s when I realized this was going to be harder than I thought.

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Since my Vitamix is in the Vitamix hospital until later this week, I needed to use an old blender which I quickly learned was broken. I tried a couple of times to make some progress on the frozen bananas but as I started to smell something burning, I opted to throw these ingredients in a Ziploc and see what I could eat that didn’t require a functional blender. NOTHING. I looked in my fridge to find a lot of things I couldn’t eat – eggs, egg whites, milk, yogurt, kefir, etc. I made some tea before venturing down the road in search of something vegan.

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I was able to score a Mean Green Acai Bowl from Liquiteria, which despite being the color of manure, was delicious and 100% vegan approved.

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As I walked back down the road to my house, I was disappointed that my first vegan meal was a little complicated. It was at that moment that I was passed by a funeral procession. “Well that’s a sign…” I thought, as I quickly remembered why I was embarking on this animal-less diet. Unfortunately, that was quickly followed by a little anxiety because as we all know, eating one vegan breakfast doesn’t erase the years of non-vegan eating and I didn’t want to be the reason for a procession any time soon. But then in a pile of decaying leaves, I saw some crocuses popping up. Sure, they’re probably going to die because it is still February in New England, but the botanist in me was excited to see some color so I stopped to take a picture.

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In case you’re wondering, I successfully made it through the rest of the day by having half of a vegan teriyaki burrito for lunch thanks to my amazing husband who is going to end up trying significantly more crazy food than he ever anticipated. In between PT and my evening class (yes, I’m almost done with grad school!), I enjoyed a delicious Spicy Sabzi salad from Sweetgreen for dinner. More veggie tales to come!

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Farewell, Cheesy Fries!

“Life is uncertain, eat dessert first” should have been my senior quote in my high school year book instead of the cliche Garth Brooks quote I decided to roll with. I’ve been a firm believer in both the benefits of dessert and attempting to live in the present after my first cancer diagnosis. That’s not to say that I eat every meal at McDonald’s; however, in between my salads with sweet pea shoots and bean sprouts, I like to indulge in a good IPA and cheesy fries at my favorite Thirsty Thursday bar with my fellow MBA classmates.

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But, my adherence to this quote in the literal sense dramatically changed as of this weekend due to the lasting effects of my cancer treatment. Cancer sucks for a number of reasons and if you’re lucky enough to be a survivor, it is hard to complain about the side effects, which is in and of itself a side effect termed ‘survivorship guilt.’  With that being said, the side effects suck just as much as the cancer because they prevent you from ever returning to a normal life – 21 years after my diagnosis and I live in fear that the cancer will win. So, in today’s episode of “what side effect am I dealing with now?” we’re talking about my heart.

As most of you know, I had a fully-ablative, allo bone marrow transplant in 1996 because I was fighting Acute Myeloid Leukemia. The allo part means I got my cells from someone else (my amazing brother) and the fully-ablative part means that chemo and radiation kicked my ass prior to actually receiving the stem cells. As a result of the chemo and radiation that I received, my heart is compromised in two ways: (1) some of the muscle cells in the heart were killed off and others had to enlarge to pick up the slack (this is what happens when women are pregnant and hearts have to work extra hard to pump extra blood) (2) blood vessels become sclerotic and stiff making it easier for plaque to build up and for patients to have heart attacks. Unfortunately, this isn’t a hypothetical – more and more patients like me are succumbing to massive, fatal heart attacks due to sclerotic vessels. Consequently, some of the world’s top research physicians advised me over the weekend at the annual BMT conference that I needed to commit to protecting my heart with step #1 being BECOME A (good) VEGAN!

peace_love_veganAs with most of my new adventures, I will be chronicling the ups and downs of my experiences here. Of note, occasionally I will bake and may use chocolate chips sparingly (sorry but carob ≠ chocolate). Stay tuned for more veggie love!

 

To donate to my Boston Marathon run and help me fight cancer by raising $23,000 click here.

 

 

Greetings, Guatemala

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It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

I am a firm believer in the importance of ‘the journey’ although I sometimes need refocusing. With module 3 at b-school wrapping up on March 3rd, I was a little stressed to be heading to the airport at 5am the very next day since I didn’t have a lot of prep time. However, it was only hours later that I landed in Guatemala and I was able to recenter myself on the journey.

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I touched down in Guatemala City with approximately 30 other Boston University MBA students. We hopped into two vans and headed to Antigua. But before leaving we picked up some of the local beer, Gallo, for the trip to our appropriately named hostel, El Hostel.

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The first night out I traveled to two different restaurants with friends. The restaurants were nothing short of amazing.

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The next day we had a fabulous breakfast in the hostel which provided the fuel necessary to hike an active volcano.  Because it was still active, we were able to roast marshmallows in the volcanic rock. We also got to hang out with some pretty cool wild dogs.

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Needless to say, we slept great that night. Next stop Xela…

Running Boston (again)!!!

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On location at the Boston Marathon finish line filming for the 2016 DFMC video.

I felt my insides shatter last summer… Just following the 2014 Boston Marathon and another successful fundraising campaign where you helped me raise over $20K to fight cancer, I was facing some devastating news. I  was diagnosed with a low stage breast cancer and I was cut off from runnning any more Boston Marathons due to by heart… and it was all thanks to the cancer treatment I received in 1996 for pediatric AML (leukemia). After undergoing a bilateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, I tried to refocus on the positives and embrace that which I did have this fall… my life, my husband, my kids, and an exciting opportunity to attend business school. Still, I found myself disappointed in my body, especially as I approached what should have been the 20th anniversary of me being cancer-free.

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Survivor Strong. At the start of the Boston Marathon in 2013. 

Thus, despite my heart being sub-par, I decided I needed to finish what I started in 2011. I reached out to my oncologists and we developed a plan for me to tackle one more Boston Marathon all in the name of some serious cancer fighting. I can’t say whether I will be walking and/or running but I do know that I will be giving 110%.

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As always, I will be training outdoors and harder than ever in the cold, snowy Boston winter.

Just 1 week from today, I will be recognizing the 20th anniversary of my leukemia diagnosis and kicking off a massive fundraising campaign!! With your help, I hope to raise $22,000 this year in honor of my 20 year Leukemia Cancerversary and 2 year Breast Cancerversary. 100% of the proceeds goes right to some of the World’s top cancer researchers who work around the clock to find cures.

You can donate directly to my run here: http://www.runDFMC.org/2016/hilaryh

Happy New Year & Hugs!

Hilary

Turning over a new leaf…

September is a time when New Englanders start pulling out the Oktoberfests and verifying that we have adequate supplies to deal with the anticipated onslaught of falling leaves. It is not usually a time when we talk about turning over new leaves. However, this September marks exactly that for me…

Exactly 1 year ago today, I underwent a bilateral mastectomy for low-stage breast cancer. About three years prior, I brought home my babies from their 3-month NICU stay at a mesely 5 pounds a piece (3 pounds heavier than at birth). Six years ago I gave birth to Goose despite the oncologists and fertility docs insisting I was infertile for over 13 years. And 20 years ago, before I even knew it, small amounts of AML (leukemia) started growing in my blood and bone marrow.

It is absolutely impossible to imagine my life without all of these events… at the very least, I wouldn’t be able to contribute nearly as much to conversations about dinosaurs (yes, the brontosaurus is back! Thanks for the heads-up, Gus.). But in all seriousness, I also feel that this kind of luck and good fortune, places a certain impetus on me to pay it back.

Thus, while Goose heads off to Kindergarten, I head off to school to get a Health Sector MBA. As is par for the course, I’m sure we’ll take a ‘first day of school’ photo because who doesn’t want to have some good material to bribe your kid with later!?! But this got me thinking about one particular ‘first day of school’ photo… the one from seventh grade. I was super nerded-up with my ginormous glasses and floral dress complete with shoulder pads (another reason the 90’s were fabulous). What I didn’t realize when I started school that year, is that leukemia was rapidly growing inside me and would render me almost useless only four months later. Since September marks Childhood Cancer Awareness month and the beginning of school for many youngsters, I am hit with a reality that always strikes a chord… many of the families I know through my time in the cancer world have a last ‘first day of school’ photo. Given my experiences with AML once I was diagnosed and the horrible survival rates, I know all too well that, that ridiculous seventh grade photo could have been my last ‘first day of school’ photo.

So, while I set out to change the world and inevitably battle my way through accounting and finance, I am reminded of how lucky I am but also, that we must continue to fight cancer for all of those kiddos (and their families) who deserve so much more.

In Memory of Matty

When Life Gives You Lemons… Find Some Tequila

To be honest, I’m more of a craft beer girl myself but I think we can all relate to this. Studies continue to demonstrate that thinking about negative events and putting a positive spin on them is better for overall mental health… and let’s not forget, sometimes if you act on that you may be able to change the future. As you know, cancer and I have a bit of a history, so I feel pretty strongly about finding ways to positively spin my cancer experiences and create change whenever possible.

In the midst of my scuffle with breast cancer this year, I took my GMATs and applied to business schools. It was tricky to coordinate campus visits and interviews around surgery and recovery, especially when I wasn’t supposed to be moving my arms (“How in the world to I shake that person’s hand with my T-Rex arms!?!). However, I am so excited to share that I was accepted to a couple of schools and I will be calling myself a Boston University Terrier come August (although, obviously, I will remain a Nittany Lion in the event of a hockey game between the two)!

As most of you know, I have dedicated the last 5 years to clinical research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. I started out on the adult Blood and Marrow Transplant Team and spent the past 3.5 years as a member of the Pediatric Oncology family. It goes without saying, I am sad to leave but excited to embark on this new chapter.

Fighting Cancer Better
In 1900 William James said, “The great use of life is to spend it for something that outlasts it.” As a parent, I expect that raising my kiddos will fulfill this in some fashion and hopefully in a good way…  although as of yesterday Augustus still wants to be a dinosaur when he grows up.

When he dressed as an executive dinosaur in 2012 for dress-up day…

 
Since I spent 13 of the past 19 years believing that offspring were not in my future thanks to the side effects of chemo, my goal from a young age was to contribute to future generations by fighting cancer. I’ve worked in clinical oncology research and I have driven my friends and family crazy with fundraisers. However, I still feel as though I can and must contribute more. Since the world is run by business (yes, especially the health sector), I have decided to pursue an MBA at the Questrom School of Business at Boston University. I plan to have a concentration in health sector management and entrepreneurship in hopes of find better ways to fight cancer for both patients and survivors.

Socializing
Since an important component of an MBA is the quality of your classmates, I was excited to have the opportunity to meet and bond a little with a group of them this weekend. Hands-down, they are total rock stars and I can’t wait to stress out over finance with them (or at least grab drinks with them after finance is over).

Hanging out at Fenway with other BU MBA people. Not a bad view…

Throwback Thursday: 19 years and counting…

It’s Thursday, April 9th, so naturally, my Facebook and Instagram are filled with incriminating and adorable #TBT photos of friends and family. For the past 4 years, I have spent this day sharing the same photo of me and requesting your help to fund groundbreaking research as I hit the fundaising homestretch before the Boston Marathon. April 9th in the past has been a day of unquestionable celebration as it marked the anniversary of my life-saving bone marrow transplant, which helped destroy the AML (acute leukemia) I battled 19 years ago. Every April 9th marked another cancer-free year. But this year is different…

Cancer after Cancer
This year has proven to be more challenging than the prior 19 years (yes, even if you include the hours upon hours of marathon training!). Each year, I have a battery of tests around the anniversary of my transplant. Sometimes these tests would produce scary results but even after thyroid, skin, and breast biopsies, I could always breathe a huge sigh of relief and go on enjoying my life POST cancer. It wasn’t until my series of tests in 2014 that I had to revisit HAVING cancer. Cancer wasn’t in the past anymore. I was no longer cancer-free. I was not a survivor – I was a fighter.

It wasn’t that my prognosis was particularly scary, in fact, it was great. After having a bilateral mastectomy, my physicians told me that “breast cancer certainly isn’t your biggest concern.” It was the reality of the situation or rather, what the breast cancer represented, that made this diagnosis hard to swallow. It represented the permanent damage that chemo and radiation had on my body…. still… 19 years later.

Collateral Damage
Most people assume that I’m not running the marathon this year because of the breast cancer but this is not true. I absolutely would have dragged myself across the finish line (with my new tatas) if that was the only hurdle. Unfortunately, the chemo and radiation left more collateral damage.

In the past, my oncologists seemed to think that if I could run the marathon, even with my sub-par heart and lungs, then I should go for it. However, over the past two years, there has been a change of heart (pardon the pun). I was one of the earliest pediatric transplant patients for AML so you could say I’m a bit of a trailblazer (or guinea pig but I prefer trailblazer). Inevitably, this means that we understand only some of what goes on in my body.

We’ve learned that my insanely high heart rate while exercising (approximately 190 bpm for hours) is due to the radiation (a mini bio lesson to come soon!). This information coupled with new case studies and data don’t seem to support my marathon running. Thus, this year most of my physicians asked me to stop marathon running… permanently. This was not easy news to stomach, especially when you live in Boston where people get excited about lobster running shoes! (OK, they are pretty cool.)

The good news, is that I am supposed to run daily-just not too far. This means that once I hit the pavement again on May 1st (when my plastic surgeon gives me the all-clear), I will be running with even more motivation and yes, heart.

So, here’s to another year of overcoming obstacles, finding the joy in the journey, and happy runs! …and of course, to destroying cancer!

Getting Things Off My Chest…

Yes… I love to bring humor into otherwise stinky situations. It’s not that breast cancer or leukemia or bone marrow transplants are awesome or funny – they suck; however, once the cards are dealt, you just have to roll with it, dance a little, and laugh a lot! So yes, you should expect lots of good mastectomy puns coming your way in the coming weeks and months!

With that being said, I do want to get something off my chest (not literally… yet).

 A mastectomy is not a free boob job.

It was one of the first things I said when I realized that double mastectomy could be in my future, “Hey! At least I get the boobs I always wanted!” That’s because there was a time, not so long ago, when I thought that a mastectomy was a surgery when the surgeon cut you open, ‘pulled out your boobs’, gave you some implants, and you could go about living your life as it was – maybe just more endowed.  HOWEVER, as Donny and I scoured websites for information, watched Youtube videos, discussed the procedures with friends, and chatted with my physicians, we learned that nothing could be further from the truth.
Now as I mentioned in the previous post, there are different types of mastectomies and it is important to keep this point in mind. What I’m about to dive into, is specifically tailored around a bilateral, total mastectomy – the type I will undergo in only 18 days. However, all mastectomies suck. Period.

Once my physicians scheduled my surgery, I began describing what my mastectomy entailed to colleagues and friends – that is when I realized that I wasn’t the only one who was a bit in the dark. Thus, I am providing a mastectomy crash course.

*WARNING: The below info, pictures, and videos are not for sissies. Proceed with caution.*

In a nutshell, here’s what my mastectomy will look like (if all goes according to plan): 
Surgery

  • A total bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction is about a 5 hour procedure.
  • The breast surgical team will start off the surgery. When they’re done, the plastics team takes over.
  • The Breast Team
    • My breast surgeon is going to make a marquise type cut above and below the nipple. That skin and all breast and fatty tissue will be removed. My breast surgeon will also scrape the inside of the remaining skin to try to ensure that as much cancer-causing cells are removed.This means the remaining ‘flap’ of skin is going to be very, very thin.

    • It is important to note that my breast surgeon pays careful attention to the tissue as she is removing it, since she likely would be able to spot an invasive cancer. The plan is to leave all of my lymph nodes in place; however, this could change if an invasive cancer is spotted during surgery. This is because invasive cancers typically spread to the lymph nodes before moving around the body. Removing the lymph nodes not only serves to potentially remove cancers but also allows the physicians to determine if additional treatment is necessary (i.e. chemo, etc).
    • To summarize everything I just said, watch from about 1:40 to 3:00…

  • The Plastics Team
    • Once the breast team is done, the plastics team takes over. 
    • In about 1 in 20 cases, the plastics team is unable to begin the reconstruction process (i.e. if the skin appears to be losing blood flow, etc). If this were to happen, they would just close me up and I would come back for another surgery in about two weeks.
    • Some good news! My plastic surgeon was particularly impressed with my skin, despite my prior radiation, and estimates that there is about a 1 in 40 chance that we won’t be able to start the reconstruction process.
    • If all goes well, my plastic surgeon will initiate the reconstruction process and place my drains. The drains are rubbery tubes that allow the lymph and serous fluid to leave my body easily and collect in little bulbs. I will have these in for anywhere from 4 days to 3 weeks. Fortunately, my plastic surgeon is not anticipating that they will be in long since I am on the smaller side. Woohoo! 
    • What does the reconstruction process entail? 
      • In my case, I will be getting tissue expanders. Basically, a fair amount of skin gets cut out so unlike breast augmentation (aka a boob job) where implants are inserted, the plastic surgeon has to stretch the skin over time before putting the implants in. 
      • Tissue expanders are like really thick but empty water balloons. At first, there will barely be enough room in my chest for the expanders. After about 4 to 6 weeks, whenever the skin starts to relax a bit, my plastic surgeon will start filling the expanders with saline. 

  

      • We won’t know for a while if I will have to see him once a week or once a month to get saline injections. Filling the expanders involves a quick outpatient visit to the plastic surgeon in which he will stick a needle in the little ports underneath my skin and inject saline. 

     

        • Once we get to a point where I’m happy (likely months from the initial surgery), we schedule another surgery. I’m told this surgery is ‘easy’. My plastic surgeon will just cut along the scar and switch out my expanders for implants. 
        • In regards to picking the type of implant, this is not a decision that needs to be made now. Regardless of the type of implant chosen though, all implants need to be replaced every so often. Thus, I will continue to undergo breast surgery for the foreseeable future. Since we’re not worried about the type of implant at this point, I will revisit this down the road.
    So many implants…
        • Also, since this is not a nipple sparing mastectomy, I will also visit the world of nipple reconstruction at a later point.  

     

    Pathology

    • Pathology will receive everything that is pulled out, likely while my plastics team is still hard at work. Over the following 2 weeks, they will analyze the sample and provide my oncology team with a final diagnosis. Hopefully, they will not find any new DCIS and/or cancer.
    Inpatient Stay

    • Once the surgery is complete, I will likely be in the recovery room for 1-3 hours. After that, I will make my way to my hospital room. At this point, the physicians are anticipating that I will spend 1-2 nights inpatient. 
    • During the inpatient stay, I will do a lot of resting, receive some narcotics, and learn how to empty my drains – a job that will likely be delegated to Donny since my range of motion will be non-existent.
    Recovery with Drains

    • As mentioned above, the drains will stay in for anywhere from 4 days to 3 weeks. During that time, my primary job is to move my lungs but not my arms.
    • The incisions themselves are not extraordinarily painful, I am told. However, for petite people, the skin stretching coupled with drain tubes and expanders can cause an enormous amount of ‘pressure.’ My physicians have assured me that I will feel “pressure, not pain” which could sound promising. HOWEVER, I was a leukemia patient that learned that ‘pressure’ from bone marrow aspirations (when the MDs pulled bone marrow out of my hip), was very painful – maybe a different type of pain but pain none the less.Thus, I’m a little skeptical.
    • While the drains are in, Donny and I will need to empty them 2-3 times each day. Fortunately, my plastic surgeon removes them as soon as the drainage dips below 30 ml/daily from each drain.
    • Immediately after surgery, my chest is going to look pretty gross. After removing a lot of skin and scraping the remaining skin until it is very thin, my chest will kind of look like a topo map due to the drains and unfilled expanders.
    • Since it is kind of hard to understand this without a visual and because this girl is awesome, I recommend watching the below video, if you would like a better idea.
    

    Recovery post Drains

    • Since there will not be a lot of room in my chest, removal of the drains is expected to provide a huge relief. However, I won’t be back to my normal self once the drains come out. Full on healing and recovery won’t start for a while longer. 
    • I have had to promise my plastic surgeon that I will do nothing for a couple of weeks and you don’t mess with this guy.
    My fabulous plastic surgeon.
    •  I am not permitted to lift my arms other than to feed myself until he gives me the all clear. Thus, cooking, washing my hair, high-fiving, and even walking are off the list for a while. As you may have guessed, picking up the kiddos and driving is absolutely forbidden for a while longer. 
    • Eventually, I will start up physical therapy to regain my range of motion but for a while, I just have to let everything heal correctly. 
    • To give you an idea of how lousy my range of motion will end up. Here are some of the ‘exercises’ I will be doing post mastectomy…

      Beyond the physical

      • It would be ridiculous to describe a mastectomy and only address the physical component because there is a HUGE psychological component. Any time an individual’s body changes drastically, his/her perception of self is bound to be altered in some way – whether good or bad or maybe it goes back and forth between the two. Therefore, in the coming months, I will undoubtedly be sharing my thoughts on the psychological effects of this process. 

      

      Fighting Cancer Like a Boss

      … with meditation and bunny food.

      Bunny Food
      It didn’t take long for my amazing work colleagues to notice my super leafy lunches that I started bringing in a couple of weeks ago. Within the first week, a friend commented that my Tupperware of greens looked remarkably similar to the veggies her husband was putting outside for the family of rabbits that lived in their yard. Thus, the contents of my lunches quickly adopted the nickname of bunny food. 

      cilantro, yams, almonds, beets, shoots…

      Why bunny food?
      It’s tough to even scrape the tip of this iceberg in a short blog post and I definitely don’t want to push too much ‘bunny food’ propaganda; however, I can summarize my reasons for adopting this modified diet in 3 bullets.

      1) Your body runs on the stuff you put in it, not dissimilar from a car. The better the fuel, the better the performance.

      2) Certain foods and/or types of foods are linked with cancers. There are boat loads of studies that demonstrate that some foods can promote the growth of certain types of cancers. Cutting out these foods was a no-brainer- Why would I feed the cancer? AND… My Dana-Farber docs fully supports boosting cancer treatment with a good diet.

      3) I love yummy foods and no, I’m not talking about kale (sorry, kale). I’m talking about comfort foods that are chock full of butter. Do I think they taste exponentially more delicious than broccoli sprouts and flax seed? Absolutely! Do I think they taste sooo delicious that I would be willing to give up seeing my kids graduate college – absolutely not. …And that is exactly what goes through my head when I smell or see the delicious food. Yes, this is extreme, but for me, as I sit here typing today knowing that there is likely some ductal carcinoma hanging out in me, it hardly seems like a tough decision. I’m going to starve the cancer!

      Observation studies have linked diets high in red meat with an increased risk of developing cancers (colorectal, lung, breast, uterine, ovary, prostate) and cancer recurrence. – See more at: http://www.integrativeoncology-essentials.com/2012/07/anti-cancer-nutrition-protein-101/#sthash.a0OE8ezf.dpuf
      Observation studies have linked diets high in red meat with an increased risk of developing cancers (colorectal, lung, breast, uterine, ovary, prostate) and cancer recurrence. – See more at: http://www.integrativeoncology-essentials.com/2012/07/anti-cancer-nutrition-protein-101/#sthash.a0OE8ezf.dpuf
      Observation studies have linked diets high in red meat with an increased risk of developing cancers (colorectal, lung, breast, uterine, ovary, prostate) and cancer recurrence. – See more at: http://www.integrativeoncology-essentials.com/2012/07/anti-cancer-nutrition-protein-101/#sthash.a0OE8ezf.dpuf
      Observation studies have linked diets high in red meat with an increased risk of developing cancers (colorectal, lung, breast, uterine, ovary, prostate) and cancer recurrence. – See more at: http://www.integrativeoncology-essentials.com/2012/07/anti-cancer-nutrition-protein-101/#sthash.a0OE8ezf.dpuf

      A benefit to eating healthy – fresh, local bread from Iggy’s









      Learning to Be Mindful…

      Cancer or no cancer – most people I know lead pretty crazy lives. Whether it is my personal to-do list, a project at work, or getting all of the kids fed in time, I can be stressed out from time to time. I just call myself ‘type A’ and continue to ignore any stress – after all, I am being super productive! Little did I know that meditation could help relieve the stress and make me more productive. I know it sounds like ‘crazy hippie stuff’ (as a few of my friends have said) but there is some science behind it… really.

      Dana-Farber is a HUGE proponent of learning to be mindful – regardless of your cancer status. The NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine reports that regular meditation can reduce chronic pain, anxiety, high blood pressure, substance abuse, cholesterol, post-traumatic stress disorder, and blood ‘stress’ cortisol levels. Meditation may also improve mood, immune function, and fertility. 

      www.headspace.com

      It all sounded great but let’s be real, WHO HAS TIME FOR MEDITATION!?! I was getting stressed just thinking about how to find time to meditate – I can’t even shower without one of my kids visiting. Cue my new favorite app – Headspace. I’m not going to launch into a full infomercial about the app but I will say that it requires only 10 minutes. Bonus! The first 10 meditation sessions are free so you can give it a try (OK, that bordered on infomercial).

      The way I see it, even if it is ‘crazy hippie stuff’, you may like it.

      Here’s a quick TED talk that the owner and founder of Headspace, Andy Puddicombe, gave…

      T minus 28 days until the big day!!!