Third Life

Greener On The Other Side

>> The Grass is Greener Where You Water It! <<

I decided to write this post to talk about the big changes I made in my life and to explain the dietary alterations that gave me power over something that initially had the potential to completely crush me. I think of others who are given a “c-word” (explained in “The Words” section) diagnosis and I hope that they find some way to take the power back, themselves.

When I was diagnosed with DCIS (Stage 0 ductal carcinoma) in March, my mind immediately went into survival mode. Survival mode looks different for everyone; some people shut down emotionally, some go into denial, and some may just climb into their bed and cry for days on end.

For the first week after diagnosis, I was numb. Not by choice or due to denial; I think it’s just the way my brain protected me from the mind-blowing nervous breakdown I was teetering on the edge of experiencing.

The day after diagnosis we met with my oncologist/surgeon who would (in one way or another) remove the DCIS. We were given all of the options for treatment – if you read my announcement post (here), it is detailed a bit more. I walked out of my surgeon’s office with a plan that day and thankfully, a pretty rock-solid solution and prognosis. But that wasn’t enough for me.

I was terrified.

Immediately I decided to make drastic changes in order to take (some kind of) control. I had briefly gone over a few questions with my oncologist and primary doctor regarding a diet that could a) inhibit cancer growth and b) attack existing cancer cells within my body. I realize these are pretty controversial topics in the world of the c-word… maybe medical science, in general. The only way I can explain the drive and desire to make the changes I did, is to say that my body told me it was the right thing for me. I felt it from the minute the idea even entered my mind; I refused to feed the cancer cells that had taken up space in my body, however many or few there were. I also knew I needed to nourish my body and take away any unnecessary foods that aggravated my digestive system or weakened my immune system. For me, this meant giving up meat (except lean fish, which I love), dairy, refined sugars, sodas, and as much processed food as I possibly could (let’s be real, though – who is gonna give up tortilla chips?! Not this girl..)

Then the feelings began to surface. The realization set in of what it was I was dealing with. Every prep day, every grocery store trip, every bunch of kale I willingly put in my cart – it all reminded me, every single time, of what was happening inside my body.

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The Big Changes: Hello Greens!

I researched online a little but mostly referred back to the basic information my trusted doctors had given me to create a plan for myself. I had very little information at that time regarding my c-word; we didn’t know if it was ER+ (estrogen receptor positive – if the cancer grew because of estrogen production), if it was present in lymph-nodes, etc. What I did know was that I could starve whatever cells were there to the best of my ability. “Sugar feeds cancer” has been in the back of my mind since one of my first microbiology classes in college. From there I decided that I wanted to pump my body full of not just cancer-preventing foods, but also cancer-fighting foods.

It’s so important to wash your fruits and veggies before prepping/cooking/consuming. I use Young Living Thieves Fruit & Veggie Wash, made with plant derivatives and essential oils which naturally remove… well, everything that shouldn’t be on your fruits and veggies! 

~ Antioxidants to the moon and back! ~ Everything green ~ Everything leafy ~

~ Give me all the fruits and vegetables, and all at one time – please and thank you!

Okay, maybe a little bit of an exaggeration… but not by much. I went all in and every “prep” day, my kitchen looked a little like this… (this photo is of my smoothie prep haul).

There was just one concern from my oncology nutritionist, which was that I had adequate protein intake.

She had an easy solution: plant-based organic protein powder for my smoothies and beans, lentils, and lean fish (if I decided to stick to a pescetarian diet). This was pretty easy for me, I just added black beans/northern beans/chickpeas to most of my veggie dishes if I didn’t already have fish to go with it; for my green smoothies, I added an organic pea protein powder.

Amazing Grass Brand

 

(I highly recommend this brand, Amazing Grass, I LOVE the flavor! My primary care doctor recommended this brand. Check it out here)

For personal reasons I chose to avoid soy protein/lecithin ingredients; there are a lot of mixed opinions in the medical community about soy and the effect on hormone/endocrine function in both males and females.

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So long, Sodas!

When I gave up soda, I did so cold turkey. I had to – I’ve been a soda junkie since my teen years. Nothing is as satisfying as a freshly cracked can of Dr. Pepper… my mouth is watering at the mere thought of the sound of the fizz. But, when in survival mode, you train your body to want – and LIKE – healthier choices. I decided to stock up on green teas and flavored sparkling water.

My goal wasn’t just about cutting out soda – it was to cut my (refined/processed) sugar intake down to almost zero.

At first, drinking the flavored sparkling water was like drinking just the carbonated part of soda. NOT fun or tasty. After a few different brands and flavors, I found some that satisfied my need for flavored bubbles. As for my tea selection, I looked for organic flavored and plain green teas; I also prefer the naturally caffeinated options (green teas have varying amounts of naturally occurring caffeine), as a healthier alternative to the caffeine I was getting in sodas or energy drinks. My favorite is Yogi brand Organic Positive Energy Tangerine Tea. I also like some bottled tea brands like Honest and Bai that are either non-sweetened or have a natural sweetener like stevia leaf or monk fruit. It is SO important to always read labels and check for 1) sugar content and 2) artificial sweeteners.

Lots of brands are sneaky in their marketing labels with “no added sugar” and “sugar-free” claims – many times this means there are artificial sweeteners or high fructose corn syrup additives in place of sugar!

Another drink I never run out of is Young Living’s Zyng – it’s a carbonated beverage made with their Ningxia complex (mega-antioxidants!) and essential oils (which help in the uptake & absorption of the antioxidants into the body). Young Living also offers two other Ningxia products which are shown – the Ningxia Red bottled supplement (you only take a few ounces per day!) and their energy-shot supplement, Ningxia Nitro (I drink one of these almost every day after lunch for a natural boost). Potent antioxidant compounds are essential for cancer-preventing immunity building (and some science suggests they are also cancer-fighting). Here’s some info about the Ningxia beverages if you’re interested! Ningxia Info 

 

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The Feels:

In addition to the diet/nutrition changes I made, I fell back on a support system I had been using for over 6 years: my oils. The benefits both internally and externally of essential oils cannot be denied, I am proof of this myself. I needed emotional support for when the anxiety flared up, or on days when I just didn’t feel like myself. I also wanted flavors added to some of my drinks and meals, which the oils came in pretty handy for, also. I used lemon essential oil (just a drop or two) on fish, in my water, in my smoothies and some of the teas. I also used orange and lime – I love citrus flavors! For topical use, I used pretty much any of my blends or single oils that smelled pleasant at that point in time.

My all-time fav and go-to oil, Peace & Calming

. . . . . . . . My Oily Favs . . . . . . . .

Stress Away, Valor, Peace and Calming, Jasmine, and Joy (plus lemon for all the things) are my favorites and my go-to’s. I also love researching recipes that other oil users have tried to create custom blends for specific needs – I love blends that support my body’s ability to combat anxiety, boost energy, and help me focus on calming and centering myself when I feel out of sorts (like, every other day). I’ll go more into detail about these in future Essential Oil related posts.

 

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The Words:

A little (huge) personal change I made within myself ending up being a change that handed me more power over my situation than I thought possible. Removing a word from my vocabulary that possessed the power to instantly create anxiety, worry, and fear – and does so to just about anyone who hears it: the c-word. VERY rarely will I say the actual word “cancer”. I hate typing/writing it. So, I adopted the term ‘c-word‘ as my own representation and most everyone around me or following me on social media knew exactly what it meant. I even noticed friends and followers beginning to comment/respond on my posts (and even in texts) using the term “c-word” themselves; this might not mean a lot to someone scrolling through posts, but to me, it meant the world. You guys got it. You knew what I was doing and why I had to do it.

I am so grateful for that.

There are more changes in my daily routine and home life that I’ve made… but I’ll stop here – for now. The changes I’ve written about were, for me, the most crucial changes that I felt would support my health and overall well-being the most.

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The longer I ventured into investing in these changes, the better I felt. I have had more energy, more restful sleep, and a clearer mind, just to name a few of the benefits I’ve experienced. Making radical (permanent) changes to your daily routine and life isn’t easy by any means, but trust me – when faced with the scariest of scenarios (namely the c-word), positive change – however difficult, involved, or time-consuming – is welcomed. I encourage you with all my heart to find a routine that fits your lifestyle, diet and nutritional needs and that most importantly improves your quality of life, regardless of medical diagnosis or warrant. I also think it’s important to note that none of the changes/enhancements I/we have made to our daily lives have affected our finances/budget much at all – in fact, I would say if we don’t break even on our grocery bill, we are possibly even be saving money (sodas and name brand packaged “snacks” are not cheap!). I shop for most of my organic produce at Aldi and then browse weekly grocery ads for the best deals on wild-caught fish (and chicken, for the rest of the family).

Focus on one thing at a time (whether it’s first eliminating the bad or introducing the better), and involve your family in the lifestyle change as well.

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The {Positive} Effect on Family:

I’m proud to say that my husband is now drinking WAY more water than he ever used to, choosing lean meats for his meals in place of red/fatty meats, and even has made his own daily dietary improvements such as replacing sugary cereals with nutritional granolas and oats, sodas with some of the flavored green teas (the tangerine is also his favorite!), and even upping his veggie and fruit intake… initially by proxy, since our refrigerator can hardly hold anything besides all of the fruits and veggies I have stocked. Since I introduced these changes in mid-March Jake has lost over 20 lbs! He was not overweight by any means, but he definitely lived off of a convenience-based diet and never considered his water intake before. Our children see these changes and we’ve explained the importance of healthy food choices, since long before these new changes, but now Jake and I have created a positive model for them to follow. If anything good has come from this terrifying experience, it is absolutely the positive changes we’ve made in our lives, for LIFE… one day at a time.

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**None of the items/products listed are sponsored or paid ads. These are products I personally use and recommend.
***If you are interested in trying or learning more about essential oils, please contact me directly and I would love to help you. I do not sell the oils for profit but I am part of a company whose mission is to educate people in plant-based alternatives and to give back in the way of preserving and enriching our Earth’s environment. Connect with me here >> oilymommyjdp@gmail.com

 

 

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