Friday, December 30, 2011

Obsession with nutrition

Ok, as most of you know, I am slightly obsessed with nutrition. If I went to college all over again, I would have majored in nutrition I think. It's not really a new obsession either. Because of my background as a Personal Trainer, I have always been surrounded and integrated with healthy people. And I love it. I THRIVE in that kind of environment. People that care about their health, care about what they put into their bodies--or even those that want to change their health for the better. It's why I went into fitness and health in the first place. If there is ONE thing that I have always been passionate about, it is that.

It trickles down at home kids and I are always having chats about health--what we eat, why we eat it, what's in it that's good or bad for us, and why it's important to eat healthy. I don't make it a daily topic of discussion, but I would say that my kids are more knowledgeable than the average American kid about health and nutrition. And they eat practically anything too. Spinach salads. Broccoli. Asparagus. Bell peppers. Tomatoes. All fruit. Fish. Quinoa. Brown rice. Whole-wheat bread and other whole grains. And they weren't naturally born that way either (well, at least my oldest child wasn't). We have just always tried to make it a point of introducing new foods to their palate in colorful ways, mixing it with things that they like, or eveb just in small "no thank you" serving sizes. The pay-off is that now I can cook pretty much anything, even new recipes (which right now is quite often) and they will eat it entirely. If there is any ONE thing that I have done right in parenting it is to take care of their bodies!

Lately though, my obsession with nutrition comes from a different place. A place of "I had cancer and now I want to make sure I keep my body healthy as to stay in remission!!" During my cancer treatments, I started reading up on different things and talking to "experts". Granted, I was always a pretty healthy eater to start. But once I was diagnosed, I wanted to do MORE. So, I bought a juicer and started juicing fresh vegetables and fruits everyday. This SAVED me while I was recovering in between treatments. Fresh juice was like an instant pick-me-up when I was feeling wiped out. It also helped keep my nutrients high and aided in detoxifying the chemicals out of my body.

I also got a Vita Mix, which is like a blender on steriods. A VERY powerful blender. You can do pretty much anything with a Vita Mix--but mostly I blend up green smoothies (leafy greens and fruits), soups, sauces, almond butter, and even grind up whole grains to make flour (like wheat or quinoa). It's an amazing machine and if you don't have one, I would highly recommend investing in one. You will NOT regret it. I feel it is truly the first step in eating healthier and eating more RAW WHOLE FOODS.

I could do a whole seperate blog on nutrition and healthy recipes, but I don't really have time for that right now. (I can hardly keep up with my 2 blogs as it is!) So, because many of my family, friends, and even strangers have asked about what I do and how I eat, I have decided to occasionally throw in my "two cents" (remember I'm not a Nutritionist or Dietician) on what I do, what I have found in my research to be quite compelling, and more importantly, stuff that JUST MAKES SENSE. Cancer, or no cancer, I think you will like I have to say.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Jesus is the Reason for the Season

Christmas is a special time of year for us. It's not without a certain amount of craziness though, I might add. I don't really enjoy Christmas shopping much, (although Amazon made it pretty easy this year) because it's always NUTS everywhere! Plus, it always seems like an extra busy month, and this year was no exception, especially since the kids and I flew to CA a little earlier (for my scans/treatment) and so I needed to squeeze everything in beforehand.

I love the actual day of Christmas though. For us, it's reflecting on why we celebrate this holiday in the first place--the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ--the greatest "gift" we could receive. It's also about being with those that matter most in our lives--our families--and cherishing that time together.

We are so blessed with much in our lives. When I reflect on my blessings, I am humbled to know that I really do have it ALL--I have the Savior's love for me and the knowledge that I can return to Him--and I have my family. All that love is really what makes me happiest in life and I certainly am not lacking in that department!

I hope that we can all take a look at ourselves and our lives, and see all the good in it. Last year was a much more different and challenging place for me and yet, I still was able to see how blessed I was. Whenever I am feeling down, discouraged, or even hopeless, I start making a list of the "bad" things in my life, but then follow it with a list of "good" things. The good ALWAYS outweighs the bad, and when I do that, I instantly snap out of my bad mood.

This upcoming year, I pray for good health for myself, for everyone out there struggling with their health, and of course much happiness! GOD BLESS AND MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas wishes DO come true!

I am so very thankful that I received good results from my scans. It's always a relief when those are over! My doctor thinks that I am doing remarkably well, so well, that he even noticed that the palms of my hands were slightly orange, to which I replied, "Well, it must be all the carrots I juice!"

My doc is a great oncologist/physician, but an even greater man. He is so in tune with me, this disease, and where melanoma research and treatments are headed. What I love most is that despite the grim prognosis for Stage 4 Melanoma patients that he has dealt with for over 20 years, he always remains genuinely hopeful for each of his patients. And what's funny is that he never seems very surprised by how well I'm doing. I guess that's a good thing, right?!

I am also grateful that we can continue on this path of scans, check-ups, blood work, and maintenance treatment every 3 months. What a blessing that is compared to last year where I was traveling there every 3-4 weeks!

I feel so good for now--strong, healthy, and back to "normal". I know that the things that I can control like my healthy eating habits, exercise, managing stress, and getting adequate sleep are ALL helping me. Of course, I am never over-confident when it comes to this disease because I know that no one is immune to it, and even though I know that God is ultimately in control, I feel that I'm at least doing my best to take care of myself. It's a little overwhelming at times, but slowly I am working on establishing better habits and doing the things that I feel is right for ME.

It breaks my heart to see other melanoma warriors not doing so great...It really does because often I feel guilty that I am doing well and they are not. It is simply unfair. I just pray that those still in the fight don't give up, keep their heads held high, and their spirits even higher. There is always hope, there are always miracles that happen, and there is a plan for all of us.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Those 3 months sure creep up fast. Tomorrow is scan day, AGAIN! I always get so nervous about a week before scans because I know how quickly things can change in 3 months without even having SYMPTOMS of disease.

I pray that I can keep moving forward on this path, holding out a little while longer before this disease comes back. Sure, that might sound awfully pesimistic, but I know the reality of this disease. It almost always returns. The thing is that I know that I will just have to KEEP BEATING it. There is just no way around it. I WILL CONQUER IN THE END. I know if I can buy some time, get past even a year or two, there will be better treatments down the road.

Let's cross our fingers and toes for good scan results tomorrow!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Be like a Bee

"According to all known laws of aviation, there is no way a bee should be able to fly. It's wings are too small to get its fat little body off the ground. The bee, of course, flies anyway, because bees don't care what humans think is impossible." (Bee Movie)

We could all use a little more "bee" in us....

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


A good friend of mine sent me a link to this blog about this inspiring mother of FIVE who battled and SURVIVED Stage 4 cancer only to have her son battle cancer shortly after her own. Her story is remarkable and I wanted to share because it gives me great perspective when I read stories like this! When we think we have big trials, there is always someone who has even BIGGER trials. This great lady has great optimism, faith, courage, and the ability to see the silver linings in all things....

Here's an excerpt from her latest post:

"Being a survivor means that I can do hard things and that I can be strong. I have five children. The youngest was a year and a half old and the oldest was twelve when I was diagnosed. When you have children you learn to be strong -- for them. You learn to be happy in difficult circumstances. You learn to notice the beauty and the miracles in the everyday. You learn to keep going. When you have kids, and cancer, you don't give up.

During my cancer journey -- and my son's -- I was often surprised to find myself laughing...happy. Somehow, hope would overshadow my fear, if only for a moment. So, to others who have cancer, I say...hold your head up, keep moving forward and never, never, never lose hope.

When you hear that your child has cancer, your world stops for a moment. You realize that heartbreak is an actual physical feeling. You are afraid. When your child has cancer, you learn to dig deep and to be strong for another person. If you open yourself up and look past your fear, you will learn from your child.

I know I did.

Hutton taught me that every day is good, even when you feel terrible and you are afraid. He taught me not to dwell on the difficult times, but to move forward. He taught me to look for the fun in life and to laugh. Hutton taught me to slow down and watch as the beauty of our life unfolded.

Having a child with cancer means that you will watch your child suffer and that you will be afraid. But, it also means that you will see the greatness in your child... and be changed forever."

Reading this post brought tears to my eyes as I share much of the same sentiment about the lessons learned from battling cancer. Cancer has been a blessing in my life as well because it has taught me so many important life lessons...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Pet peeves

I understand that people mean well. Well, MOST people. But I can't tell you how many TIMES I am surprised, NO SHOCKED, but some of things people say out of their mouths when I a share my story. Most of the time I take it with a grain of salt and don't let it rub me the wrong way, but there are always the occasion when I want to yell, "CENSOR YOURSELF FOR PETE'S SAKE!" Remember--you must filter your words sometimes. My life is in danger, you know.

Here are just a few of the comments that I have heard:

"It's just skin cancer. Don't they just remove it and you will be fine?"

This simple statement has the ability to run me wild. Melanoma is NOT JUST SKIN CANCER. people! People are often surprised to learn that melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and is also one of the most difficult cancers to treat in late Stages. Just look up the statistics for Stage 4 Melanoma! AND yes, if caught early, melanoma can be "cut off of you", but you will just need to be followed closely by a dermatologist throughout the years and really you are never "safe". I was one of those people that caught it early as a Stage 1 and was told that most likely it would never return or metastasize! Well, it did!!! Melanoma is highly unpredictable and erratic. Need I remind you that your skin is your largest organ?

"But you don't even look sick?!"

Sometimes I think people would take my cancer more seriously if the treatments caused me to lose my hair. People associate cancer as a bald head with a scarf. I do not look like the typical cancer patient. Because I have my hair, people assume I am not that sick (or that I have cancer). You know what scares me most? I don't know what's going on inside of my body. I would much rather look like crap on the outside and know that these "miracle" drugs are healing me.

"Well at least it's not breast cancer!"

I am not trying to discredit breast cancer patients. Their own personal battles are no different than my own. Cancer is cancer. However, do not tell me that I should be thankful that I have melanoma instead of cancer like breast. Do you know what it feels like when your oncologist, a melanoma specialist, tells you that they just don't know the best way to treat melanoma? With many cancers, there are certain treatment plans that have been tested and have been proven to work time and time again. With many cancers, there are numerous years of extensive medical research. With melanoma, we are just now beginning to progress with research.

"I have a family history of skin cancer but I have never been to a dermatologist."

Family history is a huge indicator of what you will eventually have. Don't wait until it's too late.

"My cousin died from melanoma."

This is my absolute worst pet-peeve. I mean, c'mon people, I know that you're just trying to relate to me, but maybe you should filter yourself? Please, I am already scared. Instead, tell me something that will give me hope. Knowing that this cancer is not going away--ever--I need things that will inspire me.

"But I LOVE being tan!"

...I am pretty sure you love being alive too. Pick one.

And I repeat...

"It's just skin cancer."

"Melanoma - a word that changes your life forever.
To all the survivors you make us believe in miracles.
To all the beautiful angels you make us believe in love.
To all the amazing warriors you make us believe in hope.
We will never give in and will never give up. ♥"