Tag Archive | hormones

A Delicate Balance

With estrogen positive tumors, trying to understand how to balance your hormones so your very own body doesn’t kill itself is an every day mindset. My tumors are “highly estrogenic”… I recall reading 96% on my original pathology. As you all know, I do my best to research as much as I can so I can positively influence my health, but it’s tough to keep up with all the latest information.

Recently, when lunching with one of my plant-based besties, Lori J., I learned about a new book by Dr. Neal Barnard titled “Your Body in Balance.” The Amazon description says, in part, “Hidden in everyday foods are the causes of a surprising range of health problems: infertility, menstrual cramps, weight gain, hair loss, breast and prostate cancer, hot flashes, and much more. All of these conditions have one thing in common: they are fueled by hormones that are hiding in foods or are influenced by the foods we eat.” Hormones and food? Tell me more…

The book isn’t coming out until February 4, 2020, but, luckily, Lori also shared with me a link to a two-part interview with Dr. Barnard by Jeanne Schumacher of Simply Plant Based. The links to both videos are below.

Can I just tell you that these videos were eye-opening and mind-blowing to me? Yes, I know the benefits of a plant-based diet. Yes, I know there is a link between fat cells and excess estrogen, etc. But what I didn’t quite understand is how diet helps regulate our hormones. How our body knows how to get rid of excess estrogen, but needs the mechanisms to help it along. This “estrogen dominance” is what contributes to so many of our health issues as women and fiber is one of the keys to getting rid of the excess. If we don’t eat enough fiber (the amount is higher than you think), those hormones just get re-absorbed into the body. And, again, the more fat/extra weight you have, the more estrogen that is stored/created.

What was even more eye-opening for me was the impact of this fiber, and a healthy diet, on pretty much all those things we women struggle with: cramps, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, breast cancer, menopause… Dr. Barnard doesn’t just talk about “what”, but “why”, which is so important to motivation. If you don’t know why you are doing it, it’s easy to lose focus. Over the past seven years, I did allow things like cheese to creep back into my diet, along with a few extra pounds. I have been extra diligent since my recurrence diagnosis, but shit got real. There is no more “creeping back”. I need to feed my body the right foods to help find that delicate balance between enough and too much. I need to give my body the tools it needs to do what it already knows how to do.

The videos are about 2 hours total, but it can be life-changing for those of you who struggle with any of those issues. I  cannot wait for this book to show up on February 4th! I implore all the women who read this blog to watch these videos, or to order the book.

Many thanks to Lori for the information!!

Part I

Part II

 

IMDb: A Delicate Balance (1973)

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)

Support

It’s hard to believe it was time for my quarterly visit with my naturalist today. Did 3 months go by already?? I don’t mind, though, since I always enjoy my visits with Aimee!  She has been such a huge contributor to my health these past years…I’m not sure what I do without her support and friendship.

Surprisingly, the need for urinary system support was one of the top issues today. I’ll be taking a few things to get all that back in line. Since my Plant Nanny app is helping me drink about 90 ounces of water a day, I thought I was good.  However, it seemed to be a combination of bacteria, something viral, and perhaps a bit too much wine over the week. 🙂 Recommendations include: Uva Ursi, Urinary Maintenance, Lymphomax, and Caprylic Acid.

NOT surprising was the fact that my adrenals were the most out of whack, likely due to stress. Really? Me, stress? And, of course, not sleeping well contributes to tired adrenals. It’s all a vicious cycle… Stress leads to the inability to sleep, which makes me more stressed, and so it goes.  I’m sure you all know the drill.  We are all so harried every day, and the stressors are many.  The recommendations for combatting this are: Adaptamax and diffusing Frankincense oil (aromatherapy).  (Dr. Lisa, I thought you would be excited to see that last recommendation!  This may be just the thing to prompt me to finally get my diffuser out of the box!)

My hormones are pretty stable, with no menopausal symptoms (yea!), so I will continue to support them with FlashEase, Womens X-Action, Wild Yam, and Indole 3 Carbinol since that combo seems to be working for me.

Lastly, as a vegetarian, I will continue with my Balanced B and L-Carnitine.

Note: All of these supplements can be purchased through Natures Sunshine. If you are interested in joining them, let me know.

*****

IMDb: Support (2008)

Hormones

I just got done enjoying a bowl of the 5 minute banana “ice cream” that I referenced the other day.  This is my new favorite treat… and guilt-free!  Ethan and David even love it!  I just can’t believe there’s no dairy in it.  Ethan was clamoring for more, but I didn’t have any more bananas frozen.  I think I need to stock up on those!

The other day, a call to my financial adviser got me into a conversation about hormones.  Apparently, a few of them in the office were seeing a local doctor who specializes in treatments that focus on restoring / stabilizing hormones in the body.  They thought it might be something I would be interested in, and that it might help me.  I did check out his website and learned that he has a lengthy waiting list.  New patients need not even call until January 2014.

So I tried email, just to see if he would even be able to help me.  I sent an inquiry, providing a Readers’ Digest version of my history, and asked if he thought there was anything he could do for me.  He didn’t answer that question directly, so I’m assuming I’m a lost cause!  🙂  But following is his response:

The treating physicians have only one concern: to provide whatever treatment will delay the return of the cancer by the 5 year point. Aromatase inhibitors do that, to some degree. They completely deprive the breast cancer cells and the rest of your body of estrogen. The estrogen deprivation does appear to slow cancer cell growth–if there are any live cells left, but at the expense of your quality of life and your health. Not only do you feel terrible, but you are losing bone mass and you have an increasing tendency towards estrogen-deficiency-related diseases: diabetes, heart disease, and cognitive dysfunction. 

I do not know the exact overall 5 year recurrence-survival benefit of using an AI, nor how that compares exactly to the costs to quality of life and long-term health. I did see one mention that after 5 yrs. of AI therapy the drug causes enough problems that it overweighs the cancer-survival benefit, that is why they limit therapy to 5 yrs. Basically, you need to look into all the risks and benefits and make your own decision. Pub Med online allows you to search for medical articles.

I guess none of his response is a surprise, and it was refreshing to have an MD who spoke honestly about the damages these drugs do to one’s body.  But his response really hit me hard.  “At the expense of your quality life and your health…”  “Estrogen-deficiency-related diseases…”  It’s amazing to me how no one really talks to you about the trade offs.  Since I went back to the Femara (but not every day), I continue to struggle with this raging debate.  And I struggle with symptoms…what’s a real issue and what’s a Femara side effect?  It’s so hard to tell, and it’s scary.  (More on that tomorrow.)

His response really made me think, too, about all that our hormones do.  As women, I think we tend to associate hormones with reproduction, but they do so much more than that.  Here are some excerpts from the website hormonerestoration.com:

Hormones are the most powerful molecules in our bodies, controlling the function, growth reproduction, metabolism, and repair of every cell. Our bodies require optimal hormone levels, just as they require optimal levels of essential vitanutrients: vitamins, 
fats, amino acids, and minerals.

Insufficient hormone levels have been shown to contribute to many of the disorders and diseases that we suffer as we age–
diabetes, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, fatigue, loss of muscle strength, osteoporosis, autoimmune diseases, cognitive 
decline, increased cholesterol levels, blood clots, increased belly fat, loss of libido, depression, and some cancers.

It really makes you appreciate the wide spread damage that hormone depletion can do.  Just more to think about, I guess, in my ongoing personal debate.

By the way, no call from the oncologist yet regarding my colonoscopy, and as for the urologist, he wants to see me.  Appointment is in three weeks…

 

Hormones (2008) – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1208717/