Exactly a year ago today I was diagnosed with cancer.
Today, I'm cancer free and celebrating life in Florida with some of my very best friends in the whole world.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Since two of my very loyal readers have asked, I thought I'd post a follow up about the lifestyle change suggestions from the conference.
First off! Personal products! Parabens and Phthalates are pretty uniformly bad, and you should try to get them out of anything that touches your body, or at least reduce the number of products you use that have them. After extensive research (aka wandering around Sephora for an hour) Caitlin and I determined that Tarte and Bare Minerals are your best bets for fairly-easy-to-find makeup. Korres and The Body Shop are also pretty good about ingredients (and don't have that distinct, hippy-product smell. You know, like in the toiletries aisle at Whole Foods. That smell.)
A more detailed rundown of why certain products are specifically linked the breast cancer is here, and The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is a pretty good resource in general for checking out what's in your products (and gives you a nice, color coded safety rating!)
Next! Plastics. They're kinda nasty, and while some are proven to be worse than others, it is best to keep them away from your food as much as possible. Things to definitely stop doing right now:
using plastic wrap on foods
microwaving anything in plastic
reusing or freezing plastic waterbottles
letting plastics 3, 6, or 7 touch your food
Things to consider working on:
storing food in any plastic at all (I am switching over to glass storage containers!)
stop using nonstick cookware in favor of cast iron, glass, or stainless steel
Also! Food. To be specific, produce. You might have already seen the Environmental Working Group's guide to produce shopping. Consider checking out the dirty dozen and the clean 15 and modifying your organic produce shopping accordingly.
All that being said, if you've been in my apartment you probably realize that this is more of a do as I say and not as I do sitch, as I pretty much hoard shampoos and lotions and all other toiletries and I'm probably going to use up every last drop before I make any switches. Also, organic produce is damn expensive and I often carry it around the grocery store and then switch it out for the cheaper, non-organic alternative at the last minute... (trying to work on that)
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Today was a big day of firsts! To begin, I got my first post-chemo haircut. (!!!!, right?)
(So, okay, the changes are pretty minor, but it's less wispy! And more intentional looking! And I swear I don't look so brood-y all the time!)
I'm slightly impressed with my hair growing ability, as it's been under a year since my last haircut. Also, it seems that the shorter my hair is, the more compliments I get from random strangers, so hopefully the quarter inch that was removed will up the rate of compliments again.
After that, I went and ran a full 8 miles, which is a new personal distance record! I am now, hopefully, nearly prepared for the 50k relay I'm running in a couple weeks. Heart problems be damned!
After the run, I promptly went and passed out for an hour and a half. (You know, that whole not-enough-energy problem)
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
I'm home now from my trip to Philly for the LBBC Conference and New York to visit Caitlin. It was a good, but long, but good, but emotionally exhausting, but good weekend. I'll go chronologically:
I started at the DTW airport. They now have those backscatter x-ray machines. They use seemingly random selection to determine who gets to go through it. As soon as I stepped into the security line I started panicking about how I was going to opt out of the scanner, because, obviously, it would be just my luck that I'd get picked to go through it. And I'm pretty sure that I've had enough radiation exposure without the scan. So, I start to freak out about how they might think that I've got something to hide if I decline the scan, and then I break out in hives because I'm so nervous. If I didn't look suspicious before, I do at this point.
Magically, I don't get chosen. I just get the regular old metal detector. (Which, by the way, has yet to pick up my port, which I'm pretty sure is full-out metal.)
Eventually I get to the hotel in Philly and meet up with my roommate, Carrie, who is awesome. It was super nice to finally meet her in person! Plus, the hotel was pretty swank!
Apparently, at breast cancer conferences, there is a whole lot of "you show me yours and I'll show you mine" because there are a whole lot of fake breasts. As one of the few who still has real breasts, I felt a little bit like a voyeur (at least, I can't really identify with the ins and outs of breast reconstruction) and also some anxieties that I made the wrong surgical choice really resurfaced. I will say, though, that there are some damn good surgeons out there!
I'll start off by saying I truly, truly appreciate the privilege of being able to attend the conference and to meet all of the fab people that I met. That said, the actual scheduled portions of the conference were a bit lackluster. I blame part of this on being hyper-aware, but a lot of the information seemed to be targeted to a less aware and (fair enough!) older audience.
Of the things I took away, I learned most of them from fellow attendees rather than presenters at the event (and maybe that's the point?!) These things include:
FLAXSEED! 2 tablespoons a day, to be exact
If you only take one vitamin, take D.
Don't let plastics touch your food (okay I knew this but now I'll really do it)
Parabens and Phthalates do not belong in your personal products (I knew this too, but, again, now I'll really do it)
So, I've come back and straightened out my act a little bit! Caitlin and I even went out, sorted through ever cosmetic product known to the human race, and picked out the three acceptable ones and bought them up. I now just need to also transition the rest of the things that touch my body (shampoo, lotion, etc etc etc).
Like I said before, it's nice to have a shared experience with a group of people and not have to explain the weird quirks or fears or what have you that come with that experience. At the same time, it can also be really tough to have such a shitty experience be in the forefront of your thoughts for an extended period of time. One of the topics of conference was how to deal with limited energy and limited time, post cancer diagnosis. Obviously, I struggle with this (I exhaust myself too often because I don't want to miss anything) and I don't think that the suggestions from the presenter (limit your activities, scale back at work, get more rest) were really all that helpful, at least for me. I don't really have the luxury to limit my activities, and I don't have the desire to cut out fun things I do in favor of rest, so I remain pretty stuck on this one. (And will continue to treat this problem with caffeine until it fails me)