I have to tell you how excited I am that this is my 500th post!!!!  To all of you who have been with me from the beginning, thank you for your support and friendship on this journey! And to those of you new to this blog, welcome!! When I started this a little more than 3 years ago, I never thought I’d be writing beyond my treatment. Hell, I wasn’t even completely sure I’d be alive in 3 years. And yet, happily, here we are! #500!

Ok, so a few things to catch you up on… First, I still haven’t connected with my ENT about my brain MRI, since I have somehow managed to miss every single call from him (like, 5 or 6 of them… I give him points for persistence!)! In the meantime, I did receive a copy of the report directly and I’m pretty sure it says my brain is normal. Although it doesn’t sound like they found much in there:  “There is no evidence of intra nor extra-axial blood, fluid collection or mass.” (Whew!) “There is no significant increased signal on diffusion weight imaging to suggest acute infarct. There is no pathologic enhancement or focal mass effect.  There is no evidence of enhancement within the 7th and 8th nerve complexes.  There is no….”  Well, you get the point. I am only curious about “The cerebellar tonsils are low-lying, but without Chiari malformation.” Yep, just curious. What does that even mean?

Secondly, I am now the proud owner of a brand new…. wait for it!…. hearing aid. Yep. I’m officially old. Or just officially suffering from long term side effects of chemo.  I guess it doesn’t really matter. My hearing loss is “moderate to severe” and my language recognition in my left ear is only 76%. I do pretty well at work, where context is pretty narrowly focused on work, so I can “guess” the words a lot. But in other places where speech is more random, I do struggle quite a bit. Being tired of saying “what?” a hundred times a day, I figured I should just go for it.

I went hi-tech, opting for an iPhone compatible device, complete with Geo-tracking and a few other features. I was going to post a picture of myself modeling it, but you really can’t see it (which is great).  It is pretty comfortable, but hearing things I haven’t heard in a while is taking some getting used to. Clocks ticking, keyboard clacking, birds squawking… It can all be a little annoying, but I am assured that my brain will eventually get used to hearing those things again. I have bionic hearing for the person typing 6 rows away, but then still can’t hear my husband sitting next to me! (Ok, maybe that’s selective…?)  Anyway, we are still in the adjusting phase, so I’m sure we’ll get it all worked out.

Other than that, I have been trying tons of new recipes.  Look for those in the next few days.

IMDb: 500 (2014)


The Quiz

I saw the following Breast Health Quiz on Facebook and, of course, I was curious. There is a series of 18 questions on things that impact your risk of breast cancer.  I took the quiz based on my current lifestyle, not my pre-breast cancer diagnosis lifestyle and ended up with a result of “you’re doing an adequate job” of maintaining healthy breasts.  Yikes!  Only “adequate”?  I suppose there are some risk factors that don’t ever go away, like silver fillings in your teeth.

What I loved in the response I got were the recommendations:

#1 was “Let food be your medicine.”  How cool is that???  I love finally starting to see education on the impact that food has on your health. Word is getting out!

#2 “Reduce your toxic exposure.”  Enough said.

#3 was “Balance your energy and your hormones.”  Both are things I am working on with the Estriol, and with my energy healer!

I encourage you to take the quiz as well! It seems like there is some really good information for maintaining healthy breasts – you should get more details in an email.  Click here for the quiz.


It’s been a while since I’ve shared some recipes.  I’ve found some new sources, so here are some recent dinners:

Straight Up Food is a new blog that I found with lots of great recipes.  The first I tried tonight was Tomato Rice Soup. This was easy (minimal chopping) and delicious. You do need to allow about 40 minutes for cooking time. The only substitution I made was to use Wegman’s “Super Greens” instead of just Swiss chard. It made about 10 cups, which was more than enough for dinner, plus some for lunch for a few days!  I have a few more of Cathy’s recipes lined up to try. We’re off to a great start!

Chipotle Oyster Mushroom Tacos from “Isa Does It”. These were delicious! Everyone enjoyed them — a little kick, some chewy mushrooms (I had to use shiitake since I couldn’t find oyster mushrooms at the store), and the coolness of avocado. I had a little leftover that I put on my baked potato for lunch the next day.  I don’t have a link to this recipe, but I recommend Isa’s book. It’s one of my favorite cookbooks, although I hadn’t been using it much lately (too many great sources for recipes!).  I dusted it off recently and found this new recipe, as well as reconnecting with a few others we love but hadn’t had in a while (White Wine Risotto, Dilly Stew, Broccoli Cheddar Soup….) Mmmmm…

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream – Super easy (4 ingredients) and tasty! A healthier sweet treat and totally vegan. The only alteration I made was to reduce the maple syrup from 1/3 to 1/4 cup.  My sweetness sensors are in overdrive anymore so I didn’t want it to be TOO sweet.



IMDb: The Quiz (1994)

Hear No Evil

Let’s chalk up another side effect to chemotherapy and radiation:  hearing loss!

Who knew?

For about the last 6-9 months, I have really been having a hard time hearing out of my left ear.  If I sleep on my right side, I am all but deaf given how poor my hearing is on the left side.  I’ve started having problems if there is too much background noise, and deal with ringing in my ears from time to time. Sometimes the ringing is so loud I can’t hear anything else. And with the loss only one side, I have a hard time telling directionally where sounds are coming from. It’s very unnerving.

It took me a while but I finally called for an appointment with an ENT and had my hearing test today. As suspected, my right ear is pretty good (slight loss as high frequencies) but my left ear had significant loss. The ENT confirmed that it is nerve-related, based on some other tests they did, so there is very little that can be done except for a hearing aid. Doc does want me to go for an MRI since, in about 5% of patients, there may be benign tumors impacting the nerve.

With the confirmation that the loss was nerve-related, I couldn’t help but think about traditional cancer treatments and the neuropathy that many people experience.  Neuropathy is nerve damage resulting in numbness, tingling, burning sensation or loss of sensation to touch.  So I was curious if the potential was there for my hearing loss to be related to chemo or radiation.

Enter my friend, Google.  And lo and behold… there IS a link between chemo/radiation and hearing loss! (Certainly not a side effect I had ever heard of!) It’s called ototoxicity.  Per the M.D. Anderson site: “Toxicities from chemotherapy and radiation can cause nerve damage that leads to hearing loss.” Here is the full Q&A on their site: click here.

I suppose there is a chance that my hearing loss resulted from listening to loud music in bars in my younger days. However, the likelihood of the damage to only one ear is low.

Long term side effects such as this one can show up for years to come.  I can hardly wait to see what comes my way next… the options are plentiful. (long-term side effects)

IMDb: Hear No Evil (2014)

Three Years

Today marks the third anniversary since my double mastectomy.

Three years ~ cancer free!

Three quick years.

An estimated 100+ visits to doctors, hospitals, radiologists, therapy or diagnostic facility.

Over 100 hours spent sitting in waiting rooms.

Almost 500 blog posts, read in 80 countries.

More than 100 new recipes tried.
All nutritious and healing.

Innumerable joys.
One great sorrow.

1,095 days.

1,095 gratitudes for each day.

1,000,000 gratitudes for all the little, and not-so-little, things in each of those days.


IMDb: Three Years (2014)

The Strength of the Weak

I made the mistake of scheduling two doctors’ appointments on the same day. It happened because I had to go back for a follow up with my gynecologist for the lichen schlerosus. I scheduled that for after work, but didn’t realize at the time that I also had a mid-day appointment with my oncologist. I figured it would all be fine, although my oncologist is notoriously (and ridiculously) late every appointment. As it turns out, both doctors were really behind schedule and I spent 3 hours and 20 minutes just sitting — either in a waiting room or the exam room.

Both appointments, I am happy to say, went well.  First, my labs, tumor markers, vitals and physical exam were all perfect. Second, although they were ready to do a biopsy, with all equipment neatly laid out in the exam room, my lichen schlerosus has really cleared up (almost gone). I credit the frankincense, as I saw more improvements when I started using that than I did with the steroid cream.


In other news, I am very excited (truly!) to start using estriol cream. Since the lichen sclerosus seems to be connected with low hormone levels, I was checking with my dear friend, Dr. Lisa, from Nowhere to Run. She indicated that she was using the estriol cream and recommended it for me.  I checked with a local doctor who specializes in treating hormone imbalances and he recommended it, saying it was low risk compared to taking other estrogens. My naturalist thought it was a great idea also.

I checked with my oncologist and, surprisingly, she said she thought it would be just fine to use. (I fully expected a “no” on this one, so it gave me a lot of comfort on the safety side when she said yes.)  My gynecologist was open to gathering more information, which he did, and today his office called to say my Rx was called in.

To give you a little background, estriol is highly recommended by Suzanne Somers (she swears by it in terms of safety, health restoration, and vitality). One of her doctors, Jonathan Wright, has done a lot of work and research on estriol.  It is the weakest of the three estrogens and was previously thought to be of no use to the medical community.  They are finding, however, that “it’s weakness is it’s strength” in that you get the benefits of an estrogen (relief of menopausal symptoms, improvements in vaginal dryness/atrophy, cardio health, bone density improvements, etc.), without the increased risk of hormone-dependent cancers.  It’s even been linked to improvements with MS.  Check out the above link for more information, if you are interested.

I’m so excited to be off work tomorrow so I can drive to the compounding center to pick up my estriol!

IMDb: The Strength of the Weak (1915)