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6 Years

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Today I mark 6 years of being cancer free.

August 31, 2012 was the date of my double mastectomy – the day I consider myself to be cancer free, even though I would still need 3+ months of chemo and 8 weeks of radiation. I documented my mastectomy adventures in this blog post.

In reviewing that post this morning, I am transported back to that day. I didn’t know how many years, or months, or days I would have left (do we ever?) and I am grateful for every day since my breast cancer diagnosis.

Some random thoughts this morning, as I reflect on these six years…

  • I spent a lot of time waiting on the day of my surgery. We had to be there so early, to sit around and do nothing. I have wasted so much time just waiting in doctor’s offices in the ensuing years.  Some doctors are better than others, but in addition to waiting the morning of my surgery, I also waited 90 minutes on my first day of chemo. These are pretty nerve-racking events and I’m just not sure that all doctors understand what they are doing to patients’ mental states by having us just sit there — waiting to have parts removed or poison injected into our bodies.  I think there needs to be more awareness on the emotional toll that is taken on cancer patients.
  • When I re-read my description of the sentinel node biopsy that day, I laugh. It seems so tame compared to my actual experience. There are truly no words to describe exactly how painful that experience was. It hurt like HELL! Not even childbirth ranked as high in my books. I always say if men had to have that done, they would a) numb the area and/or b) knock us out! Radioactive bee stings in your nipple. Yep. Good times!
  • I still have no regrets on not reconstructing, although I do wish I had emphatically stated “flat”, so that what remained was not lop-sided, bumpy and dog-eared. But doctors always assume that you will change your mind and will eventually see clear to get implants. My logical brain could not wrap itself around implanting foreign substances into my body, putting it through more surgeries and pain and inconvenience, risking infection, and more… just to satisfy a social norm. And especially considering this was my second cancer. I know it’s a very personal choice and I’m not criticizing those who make that decision. We all have our reasons for our choices and those are mine.
  • I still live with the daily reminders — scars, hearing loss, memory loss, thinning hair, fear — of cancer. But those reminders encourage me to try to make the most of each day. To not worry so much. To take care of myself so I’m here for the long-haul (however “long haul” gets defined). To eat right and get enough sleep. To focus on what’s truly important, and not get caught up in petty worries. To forgive and forget. To keep away from physical and emotional toxins. To help influence others to be healthier. To be grateful for every. single. day.

And here I am, six years later. Appreciative. Healthy. Imperfect. Doing the best I can every day. Content.

Grateful. Here’s to the next six!

IMDb: 6 Years (2015)

 

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Life In A Year

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Isn’t it amazing just how fast a year goes by? I know the adage is “the older you get, the faster time goes” but I don’t really feel that old (yet). But here we are, a whole year since I became a “retiree”. 365 days since I left the corporate world behind and moved forward in a whole new direction. What a difference a year makes.

On the anniversary of my “retirement” date (yes, the quotes are intended to add a bit of sarcasm, since it wasn’t a voluntary retirement date…), it is fitting that I have officially and fully graduated from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. I had received my mid-certificate back in January which allowed me to start seeing clients, and now my schooling is complete. When I saw that our official graduation date was also July 10th, my official retirement start date, I chuckled at the message the Universe sent my way.

It really is a reminder of what can be accomplished in a year, how much life can change in 52 weeks. I have been educated, embarked on a new career, started a new business, made new friends and business partners, and never looked back. It’s easy, sometimes, to get stuck in the moments when things don’t go as planned, or when life throws you a few lemons. But time gives us a new perspective to look back and see how far we’ve come.

I am grateful for the opportunities of this past year. My husband’s support (and my severance package!) allowed me to pursue my passions and I know I’m lucky in that regard. I didn’t have to jump right into a job I didn’t really want just to meet expenses. I had the luxury of time to build something new.

So what can be done in a year?

  • I took 40 week certification in Integrative Nutrition Health Coaching (actual time was longer considering weeks off for holidays/breaks).
  • I started a new business, complete with name, logo, website, business cards, Facebook page, pamphlets, bank account, and all the other fun tax/financial stuff.
  • I drafted an outline for a book (my goal for the next year!).
  • I created partnerships with two wellness centers, started building my client base, and delivered multiple workshops.
  • I managed a new work/life balance, figuring out how to handle varied working hours to meet my clients’ schedules, while still managing my household, volunteering, and finding time for fun and relaxation. (To be honest, housework is where I made most of my concessions!)
  • I made lots of new friends, and tried really hard to keep in touch with the old ones!
  • And I even managed to get a few things done from that big list of projects I started my retirement with. (Not nearly enough of them, but I guess we always need to have a list, don’t we?)

So what can YOU do in a year? What are you waiting for? Start. Take a step forward. A year from now, you can look back and marvel at all you’ve accomplished!

IMDb: Life in a Year (2018)

Parade’s End

I have blogged about this before, but when I received the official word that I had breast cancer, I was at EPCOT in DisneyWorld. I remember vividly where I was standing when the call came from the doctor.  That was in 2012.

When I visited Disney again in 2014, I had my husband take my picture to celebrate my return.

Disney China

Last week, I had the privilege of chaperoning my son’s band trip to Disney and I took the opportunity to take another photo. Yes, I’m still alive and well!

Disney China 2018

(Apparently I like the color pink, but it’s not because of the ubiquitous pink ribbons!)

Disney trips are always hard work, even as they are loads of fun. The temperature was hot (85-90), the humidity high, and my feet have never hurt so bad from all the walking and standing! But it was a great trip — our students are awesome and we couldn’t be prouder of their march down Main Street in Magic Kingdom!

One thing I realized on this trip? That I’m in better shape than I give myself credit for!

On the day the students marched in Magic Kingdom, I got in roughly 20,000+ steps in the heat (“86/feels like 92” kind of day…), and this included some serious running along the parade route to get ahead of the band for purposes of video and photos, and then running back to the back lot gate at Pirates of the Caribbean. It also included unloading/loading the van with some of the other chaperones in the back lot in the blazing sun. (Note: at least I was wearing shorts… our poor kids were wearing their wool uniforms, so I’m not really complaining!)

I was exhausted at the end of the day, and maybe a little faint at the parade’s end, but I did it! At least I know my heart and lungs are pretty solid, and considering where I was just a mere 6 years ago, I’m incredibly grateful!

This photo op will be part of every trip I take to Disney because it’s a reminder of where I was, and just how far I’ve come!

IMDb: Parade’s End (2012)

A Work in Progress

Things are progressing quite nicely on my new business. I am purposely trying to take things on the slower side to ensure I am giving 100% to anyone I work with, and to make sure that I am not taking on more than I can handle while establishing other components for the business.

I have several active clients and am very grateful for the referrals and opportunities provided by Dr. Denise Karpowicz! I am continuing to network with other local businesses in the field of wellness, and have a few speaking engagements lined up to help get my name out there.

I also have a presentation series on plant based nutrition planned for the month of April.   For my local readers, if interested, you can enroll in one or more of the 4 classes via my website: http://metamorphosismindbodyspirit.com/pages/Store

The details are as follows:

4/4/18 – Plant Based Nutrition 101: Definitions, Benefits and Myths
4/11/18 – So what do you eat?
4/18/18 – Getting started (planning & preparing for the transition)
4/25/18 – Cooking Demo

All sessions are from 7:00 pm to 8:15 pm and will be held at Wonderful, an art studio in Moscow. Each session includes the presentation, handouts and food samples.  Sessions are $15 each, or $50 for the full series.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at metamorphosismindbodyspirit@gmail.com.

*****

If you are looking for a super easy, delicious dessert, I recently discovered chocolate hummus from Don’t Waste the Crumbs. It was super easy to make and absolutely yummy! Your family won’t even know it’s healthy!  I served mine with fresh strawberries and raspberries. I meant to take a picture but we all ate before I remembered to do so!

*****

IMDb: A Work In Progress (2002)

Cut the Cord

It’s hard to believe that I am just shy of 8 months since my “retirement”.

One of the perks of being a Pru retiree — versus just a regular person whose job was eliminated — is the assignment of a retirement counselor. This person helps you navigate all the paperwork and online updates, and helps answer all questions related to retirement benefits. My assigned counselor was fabulous — responsive, knowledgeable, punctual, pleasant.

Additionally, I’ve had the benefit of a career coach during this time, who has helped with updates to my resume and LinkedIn, as well as offering a lot of professional advice, in general. She, a some-what plant based eater, was supportive of my career direction change and was the person who suggested the IIN (Institute for Integrative Nutrition) health coaching program. (That alone was worth every penny Pru paid her!)

I’ve been blessed to have these advisors in my corner for the past several months. The time has flown by and they were always there when I had a question. I couldn’t have asked for better support.

But it is, as they say, time to cut the cord. Today I said good-bye to my retirement counselor, as she has completed all her assigned tasks to support me. The next step isn’t until I’m really, truly ready to retire, and I’m hoping for at least a few more productive years before I need that. I will also be saying farewell to my career coach soon when my contract expires in early March. With my coach, however, I feel I gained a friend and hope to stay connected.

I’m very grateful for the resources provided to me, and glad I was able to get so much from them. Maybe I would have figured it all out on my own, but certainly not as efficiently, timely or calmly. It is amazing how quickly the time went by and how much we got done during that time. (Of course, the list of household projects remains incomplete, but I couldn’t get them to help me with that!)

Lucky for me, I have so many other wonderful resources in my life — people who inspire, encourage, support and advise — so I’m never flying 100% solo!

None of us does it alone, do we?

IMDb: Cut the Cord (2012)

Unleashed

Around this time five years ago, I winding down on my treatments. I had completed chemotherapy in January 2013 and finished radiation in March 2013. Since that time, I have continued with a pretty rigorous schedule of doctors’ appointments. Seeing my radiologist and oncologist twice a year; my surgeon, urologist, and gynecologist once a year or more.  Throw in all the testing that was required and I felt like I was always on my way to some medical appointment.

During my last appointment with my surgeon in 2017, he gave me the option to not see him anymore — an offer I jumped on.  In the fall, my radiologist switched me to one time per year. And today, my oncologist also unleashed me from her schedule, moving me to a once a year schedule also!  Yea!

I am so encouraged by this news, as it’s a final confirmation that I’m doing ok. Actually, better than ok… I’m thriving! Cancer is no longer a daily thought for me (although it does rear it’s ugly head in my subconscious from time to time). And now I don’t have to worry about always running to a doctor.  Schedule is freed up, I’m saving money in co-payments, and I have a clean bill of health from all my docs. AND my oncologist is interested in learning more about my health coaching business! (She took my business card and talked about how I might be able to integrate into some of their existing programs!)

Life is good.

*****

It’s been a while since I’ve shared any recipes. I continue to add recipes to my new webpage: http://metamorphosismindbodyspirit.com/apps/recipe/

Last week I added several, and the goal is to add some every week.

I am continuing to work my way through Dr. Greger’s How Not to Die Cookbook, which I love! I highly recommend it, as we have enjoyed everything I made from the book. It’s completely “WFPBNO”… Whole Food Plant Based No Oil… so no modifications are needed.

Peace!

IMDb: Unleashed (2005)