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)

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Off and Running

As I mentioned in my last post, things are starting to move full steam ahead with my health coaching business. I have been working on getting my website complete, along with my Facebook page and all the necessary work for starting a new business (EIN, LLC, credit card processing, furniture, office supplies, business name, logo, etc.). There’s a lot!

Luckily, I have a great group of advisors who have helped along the way, including my outstanding financial and tax advisors (Tom Hauber, Ameriprise, and John Brostoski, CPA), fellow business owners, Donna Simpson of the University of Scranton’s Small Business Development Center, and Joe Morgan, my graphic designer. And, of course, there’s a large group of family and friends who have acted as my “focus group” on things like names and logos and fonts, oh my! There are too many of them to name here, but if you’re reading this — Thank you!

So I’m off and running… Ready to take on clients and the world!  🙂

I will continue to use this blog as my writing space. Although my new website has a blog section, it doesn’t have a “follow” option at the moment. Once the hosting company adds that option, I will likely switch over.  There is content in the blog section on the website, but the posts are generated from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. They post monthly and there’s a nice variety of topics.

I would like to ask a few favors from my readers:

  1. Please check out my website: http://metamorphosismindbodyspirit.com
    There are still a few bugs to be worked out, but it’s about 95% there.  I welcome any feedback!
  2. While there, sign up to receive my monthly newsletter.
  3. “Like” my new Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MetamorphosisMindBodySpirit/
  4. Share my information with anyone who might be in need of, and interested in, health coaching!

Thank you!!

Metamorphosis Logo-01

IMDb: Off and Running (1991)

Network

As an introvert, I have had to really work on building my networking skills over the past few decades! (Yes, decades.) I knew it was a skill that I needed to focus on to advance my career as part of Corporate America, who tends to favor extroverts. I’ll be honest that I had mixed results in this realm simply because I was working with so many different personalities, and some were easier than others to connect with. But, right up there with public speaking, I knew I had to keep at it and it was usually on my annual development plan.

Fast forward to present day and trying to establish my own business: Networking is even more important than ever. While not really a “sales-y” person, I am aware how important it is for me to talk about my new business, share my business card, and talk up my services. It’s critical to my success.

Networking recently paid off in a big way…

Back in October, I had a follow up appointment with my radiological oncologist. We have a great relationship and he is always interested in what I am reading, what I am eating, and what additional lifestyle changes I am making to improve my health. He’s very supportive of me being plant-based and is very encouraging. I shared with him my latest journey to be a health coach. He was very excited about this news and recommended that I speak with Abby (a fabulous human being, well connected in the wellness community, who consults with his practice)…   Out of my comfort zone, I contacted this complete stranger and had a lovely meeting with Abby. She was very enthusiastic about what I was working on and she promised to be an advocate for my work.

A few weeks after I met with Abby, she sent me a message that she had connected with a chiropractor in the area who was looking to expand her service offering, and that I would be a perfect fit. So I reached out to Dr. Denise Karpowicz… another leap out of my comfort zone! We met, connected immediately, and now things are moving really quickly for my business!

I am happy to announce that I will have office space in the Karpowicz Chiropractic Center in Clarks Summit, PA! I have been working on painting and furnishing my office, and Dr. Karpowicz is already referring clients to me.  It’s a fabulous opportunity that would NOT have happened without the power of networking!

So who’s in your network? Who’s your advocate and looking out for your interests?

Who do you need to connect with? And what are you doing about it? 🙂

women-shaking-hands

IMDb: Network (1976)

Elimination

As part of my health coaching course, we’ve spent several weeks studying gut health, how to heal it, and how it impacts overall wellness. In fact, Hippocrates is credited with saying “All disease begins in the gut.”  A healthy microbiome is one of the many reasons it’s so important to maintain a healthy diet (more on this in a future post).

One of the tools to help you start healing your gut is an elimination diet and, as part of the course, it was recommended that students try it out for a few weeks to better support clients who may choose to do an elimination diet.  And so, I decided to try a three elimination diet with my family. My husband agreed to the experiment while my son kind of rolled his eyes.  He’d never be 100% anyway, considering his time in school, school functions or at his Dad’s.  But I figured he’d be 100% while at home.

The recommended elimination diet included removal of eggs, dairy, gluten, soy, sugar and corn.   The intent was to eliminate those foods and keep track of how you felt (better/worse).

So here’s how things went:

  • For me, at least, eggs, dairy and corn were easy. My hubby likes eggs for breakfast on the weekends, so that presented a challenge.  I was able to find a yummy gluten-, egg- and dairy-free recipe for pancakes and I would definitely make those again.
  • It was a bit more work than usual because I was trying my best to accommodate everyone for every meal, just to keep them “compliant”.
  • Day one Ethan indicated he was “not a fan” of the oatmeal I served him (although he loved the pear compote I made for it). But I made him stick with it and found the right blend of flavorings for him to find it agreeable. (For the record, cacao powder, goji berries and date paste as a sweetener. Interestingly, David needed it to be sweeter than Ethan did.)
  • Sugar is always tough with Ethan since he’s a sugar addict, but we made progress by freezing any leftover Christmas cookies, and just not bringing sugar into the house. I made an occasional treat, like banana peanut butter ice cream, that made up for the lack of sweets.
  • Eating out is difficult. At the end of the first week, we ended up at an Italian restaurant where David ordered a pizza. Total non-compliance. And I had gnocchi, which likely had cheese and egg in them.  (Progress not perfection…?)
  • By the first weekend, the boys were cranky. I hadn’t planned well enough for snacks and such. My crabby husband, who ate leftover pizza all weekend, was suddenly mad that the pretzels weren’t gluten free!
  • Speaking of gluten-free… this was by far the hardest part. None of us were really fans of GF bread or pasta. I didn’t care as much about the bread, but David did. Toast and tomatoes with mayo is one of his go-to breakfast meals, so he wasn’t happy with that.  I think we could get used to the pasta if we had to. After all, we got used to whole wheat pasta instead of white.
  • We did really like the GF pretzels and crackers we tried, and GF breadcrumbs were fine.  I give those with celiac and gluten insensitivity a lot of credit for sticking with that.  I always knew it would be challenging; I didn’t know how much.
  • Giving up soy was also tough.  We eat tofu or tempeh a few times a month and many recipes I make use soy sauce.
  • Doing this made me get back to healthier lunches. Mostly I ate a baked sweet potato with a veggie. I’m planning to keep going with that.
  • With some crazy schedules and David with the flu, we’ve had to abandon the remainder of the 3 week plan.  I think I’ll try it again by myself. While I was hoping there would be benefits to both David and Ethan by joining me, it was really hard carrying them along. Maybe once I’m successful with it on my own, we can have another go.

Moral of the story: Elimination diets have a lot of benefits, but they do take some extra planning and extra work!

IMDb: Elimination (2010)

Intentions

Happy New Year to all my friends, family and faithful readers!  I hope that 2018 is kind to you and I wish you all health and happiness.

I was inspired by a friend and fellow blogger to do a 2017 reflections post and, as per usual, I had it written in my brain. But since I never got fingers to the keyboard, as I sit here on the first day of 2018, I think I’ll let 2017 off the hook and focus on 2018.

I am actually one of those people who likes the renewal of the New Year. I do tend to make resolutions — some more successful than others — but this year I feel like “intentions” is a better word. “Resolution” seems so formal and rigid. If I slip a day (or a week or a month…), it feels like a failure. I broke my resolution; I might as well give up. The word “intentions” seems much more forgiving. By definition: “a determination to act in a certain way; an aim or plan.”  It’s more directional, forward looking, and there’s a better chance to get up and try again tomorrow.

So my intentions for 2018, in no particular order:

  • Treat people with kindness and generosity.
  • Support and encourage my husband and son (and my step-children, where possible).
  • Recover from post-holiday eating (which hasn’t been ideal) and get my family back on track. (Starting tomorrow!)
  • Resume yoga, at least 3 times a week.
  • Write more, at least once a week.
  • Read more.
  • Schedule more family game nights.
  • Continue to find time to spend with friends.
  • Graduate from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.
  • Start up my business (soon, I hope!).**
  • Continue my novice activist role.
  • Purge “stuff” wherever I can.
  • Continue to focus on health (good sleep, stress management, etc.).
  • Hydrate more (a constant struggle for me).

Directional. Goals. Aims. Intentions.

Progress, not perfection.

Here’s to a fabulous 2018!

**I’m hoping to share more information on my new business in the coming weeks, including name, logo, website, services, etc.!  It’s both scary and exciting!  I can’t wait!

IMDb: Intentions (2003)

Aware

Well, I made it to the end of October without talking about Pinktober, aka breast cancer awareness month. I have to admit that this month didn’t bother me as much as in other years. Were the pink ribbons not that noticeable, or have I become immune?

I fully understand the point of Pinktober, but many survivors get frustrated that the message has been pink-washed. I mean, how much “awareness” does one need? Is there anyone out there who isn’t “aware” that breast cancer exists? And what of those companies that don the pink ribbons, and yet, sell products that contribute to cancer? I won’t even get into all of the awareness messages that are all about “saving the ta-tas” and what not. Shouldn’t we be focusing on saving the person? I just ask that you be sensitive to survivors on some of these awareness campaigns. While good intentioned, just consider them from the point of view of survivor… who may not actually have been able to save her ta-tas…

Anyway, soapbox done.

Instead of continuing my rant, I thought I would share some facts to help improve your awareness. You know breast cancer exists, but do you know….

  • We lump (pun intended) all breast cancer into one category, but there are actually many different types, depending on where they are located (ductal versus lobular), sensitivity to hormones (estrogen/progesterone positive/negative), genetic makeup, etc. Some have better success rates than others, so be mindful of this when talking to your BC friends. For example: I had invasive lobular carcinoma, ER & PR positive.
  • There are multiple stages of breast cancer development, depending on size, lymph node invasion and metastasis. I was Stage IIIA, T3 N1 M0.
  • There are ways to reduce your risk of breast cancer! (Wouldn’t you rather prevent it in the first place? Or at least try?) These include: nutrition, exercise, weight management, not smoking, watching alcohol intake, and avoiding environmental toxins).
  • The best foods to stave off cancer? Greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries and seeds. (Known as “G-BOMBS” by Dr Fuhrman).
  • Mammograms do not find 1 in 5 cancers and do not improve mortality. (I went faithfully and mammograms completely missed my tumor, which was stage III / 8 cm at removal.)  Read: Limitations of Mammograms
  • There are alternatives to mammograms, such as ultrasounds (it was an ultrasound that eventually found my tumor), MRIs, and thermograms. Do your homework to determine which is best/safest for you, what your insurance will pay for, and the benefits/risks of each.
  • Men can get breast cancer, too — about 2100 cases a year, with almost 500 deaths.
  • There are also alternatives to breast reconstruction. More and more women are opting to “go flat”, but many women are not presented with this as an option at diagnosis and regret it later. I’ve been lucky to connect with women across the country as part of the My Flat Friends Facebook group. Here are a few articles about how many women are trying to spread the word about this option!
    CBS News: A Matter of Choice
    NBC Today: Living Flat and Fabulous

Hopefully you learned something new and are more aware as we close out Pinktober!

Peace!

IMDb: Aware (2016)