Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Two Year Mark

I just passed the two year anniversary of the end of my treatment.

Last year, I knew the date was coming up weeks in advance. This year, I was surprised to see it when I reviewed my calendar that morning - it was nice to have it sneak up on me.

In general, I feel so much better than I did at this time last year! What a relief that is.

I still have issues with joint pain (I hope those will go away when I stop taking Tamoxifen in a couple more years), arthritis (my doc says he doesn't think chemo had anything to do with that - I'm dubious), my energy level, and hot flashes. But all of these things have shown improvement, and since I am feeling stronger and stronger, they are much easier to cope with.

I've made a number of changes since I was diagnosed.

In case you are curious, here they are:

No parabens - I threw out tons of cosmetics when I heard about the potential link between parabens and breast cancer. I don't give any gifts to my friends that include parabens either. Brands that I use now are Korres, 100% Pure, Tarte, Boscia, Bobbie Brown...I'm always looking for new things to try and more and more brands are going paraben free so it is getting easier to find things.

Supplements - I used to be anti vitamin, it was part of my reluctance to take pills of any kind. Now I carry around one of those plastic boxes with compartments for the days of the week. I take flax seed and fish oil (omega balance), Avosoy Complete from Dr. Theo for my knees (that stuff works wonders. I am mostly pain free if I take it, skip a couple of days and my knees start to ache) , D3, vitamin E, Cinnamon (to regulate blood sugar, long time use of glucosamine/ chondroiton can cause blood sugar spikes). It is a handful, but I'm happy with the results. Every few months, I do a review of what I'm taking and each supplement needs to justify staying on the list.

Pomegranate juice - I drink some kind of high antioxidant juice every day when I take my pills.

No plastics around food - I threw away all tupperware and other plastic food and drink storage and switched to glass and metal only. The last thing I want to change is not drinking from plastic water bottles. That has proven difficult. I tried a Sig bottle but I didn't like the taste of the water, so I wasn't drinking enough. I'm trying to find a good wide mouthed glass bottle that will still fit in the cup holder of my car.

My attitude - I still see a healer who helps me to deal with my issues, balance my energy, and stay aware of what is going on mentally and physically. I consider myself to be on a home study course to master the art of relaxation - seriously - I make relaxation a priority and I scan my body a few times a day and consciously remove any tension that I find. I consciously work on not allowing tension, worry, and resentment to be stored in my body - I had real problems with that before. I try to pace myself - I still have a long way to go on that - but I do see progress. I make more time and am willing to spend more money on things that I enjoy. I get a 90 minute massage every month. I've come to see worrying and fretting as an abuse of my imagination - and I spend more of my time thinking constructively and creatively instead of fretting about the future.

Fitness - this is still an issue since I have lost flexibility, strength and stamina. But, I do yoga, Pilates and dance a couple times a week. Now that I am feeling so much better, I expect to see great progress on this front this year.

Social - I always made my family a priority, but I cut my social life down to nothing for a few years. I was so focused on work and raising a family that I just didn't feel I had the time and energy for it. Now my friends and the time I spend with them are a priority again. I'd say I have some kind of social activity going on at least three nights a week now, and my weekends are packed with fun things to do - so much so that my chores are taking a back seat. I have become much more lenient on cutting corners for chores and sometimes just skipping them all together for one weekend.

Hot Flashes - I have been learning more about Kundalini - visualizing the snake coiling back down as the base of my spine and seeing a cool blue energy wash over me when I have a flash has helped considerably. I also use lavender and rose oils on my pillow at night. Doing these things has eliminated night sweats and reduced the frequency and severity of the flashes by more than 75%. I have not had a cold flash for months. Hot flashes and loss of sleep were exhausting me - getting relief from that has made a big difference in how I feel, my outlook and my energy level. Everything is just so much easier when you feel good and are rested! I know that sounds simple, but it can be a lot easier said than done.

Weight - yes, I have gained 20 pounds. Yes, I'm not happy about that. But I've stopped fussing about it, decided it is a work in progress, and given myself the freedom to work on it without getting all tied up in knots about it. Tamoxifen causes weight gain because it is a steroid, but I think it also changes your appetite significantly. I don't just eat larger quantities than I used to, I want different things. I am more attracted to richer foods than I used to be. Well, whatever! I deal with that by allowing myself to have a few bites of something rich when I want it, and just trying to eat moderately, and stop before I am full. Balance, balance, balance! LOL The real change is that I'm more relaxed about the weight gain, I can accept my new figure and I'm OK if it takes me some time to get back to where I was. How I feel is much more important to me than my dress size. That is a big change for me.

It feels good to have some things that I do to work on improving my health and my enjoyment of life.

It feels good to be here.