MY ARSENAL: A LITTLE BIT OF THIS AND THAT
One of the many conversations that I have with myself on a daily basis is what can I do to support myself with a disease that I can't control and believe me I like control. This is also a conversation that occurs regularly on many stage four breast cancer Facebook groups. Especially, once you hit NEAD (no evidence of active disease). Everyone wants to know what you doing to get there or to stay there. Now, I don't believe that you have to do any of this. I don't know if any of it truly medically helpful as research for complimentary services is lacking. BUT, what I do know is that these activities have helped ME both physically and mentally. Some of this is just darn good stuff to do even if you don't have cancer. I will not shame you for trying or not trying. This is a peek into my journey and what is working for me. I am a work in progress, sometimes I don't follow my own advice. As always check with your primary doctor and oncologist before starting something new. Of course, I should add the obligatory statement that I am no way endorsed nor do I receive money for highlighting businesses or brands. These are just favorites to me. 1. Reflexology with CarlaWysko, MS from iHealth of Michigan. This is one of my most favorite hour of the week. Maybe because Carla and I connect so well. But, I feel SO much better physically and mentally after. Reflexology is a system of massage use to relieve tension and treat illness, based on the theory that there are reflex points on the feet that link to every part of the body. Her clinic initially received a grant from the Women's Center of Greater Lansing so my reflexology sessions were free. She is working to gain more funds and grants to continue to offer this amazing services to women living with cancer. 2. I am in love with Tai massages from Living-Loved-Wellness-Studio. First, you don't have to get naked and second, you don't have to climb up on a table. Tai massage is when the therapist moves you through yoga postures and fluid movements with gentle pressure and stretching. Pressure is applied with hands, arms, elbow, feet, and legs. This massage has helped my back feel so much better, as well as assisted with my overall muscle and joint pain. Kim is faith based so it aligns well with my philosophy.
3. Essential oils. I use Young Living. I place oils on my body everyday and say a prayers for my physical and mental health. I diffuse, use some for cleaning and some for beauty routines. I do not ingest them as my oncologist and naturopathic doctor have asked me not to. I am okay with that. I readily use them to support my body topically and aromatically. 4. Meditation: I am not very good at meditation and turning my thoughts off. But this is an important skill to learn to help with decreasing anxiety in general and to assist with scans. Sitting in machine to get important test to see if the cancer has spread or if the treatment is working brings on scananxiety. Meditation can help before, during and after the test. Waiting for results is killer. Kris Carr, has some wonderful meditations that I have listen to. Her web site is great. She is a stage 4 cancer thriver and has so much more to offer than just mediation. Check her out. I also use the Headspace app. I received it for free for one year from the Warriors in Pink. They were giving away this app to breast cancer patients. I signed up to win one and I was lucky enough to be selected. I am on day 5. It is only three minutes right now. I admit that I still have a hard time clearing my mind for three minutes. Ah well, I am a work in progress.
5. Exercising: for now this is simple. I try to walking 20-30 minutes a day. I am going to add some light weight training. I need to be a bit careful with bone mets but it is important to keep moving and to stay strong. My cancer is estrogen positive and therefore I have been thrown into menopause and this can lead to osteoporosis also one of the medication that strengthen my bones can also lead to osteoporosis so weight bearing and exercise helps to prevent this from occurring. 6. Eating healthy: this is a no brainer, for everyone should aspire to eat healthy. My naturopathic doctor encourages a Mediterranean diet. Protein is important during chemo so I drank a lot of protein drinks from the health food store. I aspire to eat a more plant based diet with less GMOs, more organic but I am only human and I do like my sweets and some processed food. 7. Supplements: all are suggested from my oncologist and naturopathic doctor. I don't dapple as I do not want my supplements to impact my medication in the wrong way. All supplements are about supporting my health. Such as calcium to support my bones and prevent osteoporosis. No woo, woo magic to make cancer disappear. I am not that naive.
8. I am trying to avoid parabens. Why? Well, parabens mimic estrogen by binding to estrogen receptors on cells. This can trigger reaction of breast cell division and growth of tumor. There is not a ton of research, but I feel better about trying to control my exposure. SO I have changed my deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotions and nail polish. I am still working on switching my makeup. It is a slow process. Is is necessary? I don't know, but it makes me feel better to do what I can on my part to reduce the amount of estrogen and substances that mimic estrogen into my body. 10. Mantras: these to me are words that I repeat to chase the negative self talk from my head. I repeat them to help me stay calm and to reaffirm my place in the world. You have seen many of my mantras around this blog as well as I had one of them in henna on my head for my Crown of Courage (see my story in 10 lessons to learn more about this Art Prize project). A few are Choose Joy, Faith not fear and My mind is calm, my body is healthy and my soul in joyful. 11. Power Thought Cards by Louise Hay, another way to be self affirming and kind to myself. My thoughts can become very dark and this is a great tool to turn the negative thoughts off. I also take pictures of them to send to friends so they can share in positive vibes. Spreading the love, one positive affirmation at a time.
12. Vision board: I have created vision boards in the past about losing weight. This is the first time I made a vision board to be hopeful and healthy. This is where I have a lot of my mantras and favorite
prayers. I leave the board next to the chair where I like to sit so I can look at it everyday and remind myself of what my goals are. What my life is all about. As it says, Good things are going to happen!
13. Epsom salt baths: this helps with me with sore muscle and joints, and water retention. I find baths extremely relaxing especially with a yummy bath balm from Sandborn Vogl Farms. I lower the lights, set my diffuser with Hawaiian Sandalwood and play some meditative music. 14. Integrative Oncology: this is symbiotic with traditional medical therapy of chemo and radiation. It is important to think of chemo as HEALING medicine and part of the journey. naturopathic oncology helps to support your body to deal with the chemo and other medications. For example I take Co Q 10 to support my heart as 2 of the medications I have infused can cause damage to the heart. You want to make sure that your naturopathic doctor is board certified in naturopathic oncology. Check out Dr. Jen Green she is in West Bloomfield Michigan. I have tried Reiki and Acupunture once each, so I am not opposed. I have not done it enough for me to feel that it is a true part of my arsenal.