It's A Woman Thing: Health Empowerment, Power of Our Minds, & Going Green
I am sure that when you read the title of my blog you may have instantly thought this was going to be about St. Patrick’s Day, since this is my March blog and St. Patty’s Day falls on March 17th! Yes, I am named after the Patron Saint of Ireland; I am an unknown fraction of Irish descent and my mother loved St. Patty’s Day in her youth, so she thought giving me a good Irish name would always give me a reason to celebrate on that holiday! WRONG! This blog is not about the famed Irish celebration, nor about the origins of my fine Irish name! I’m going to write about another form of “green.”
As I announced in my November blog, I was diagnosed with breast cancer in October. I also mentioned the amazing clarity that came with this diagnosis. I am happy to update my readers that I finished my radiation without incident. I even “Rang the Bell!”
I want to give a huge shout-out to the entire team at Tunnell Cancer Center who greeted me every day! They are an amazing bunch of kind and caring souls.
Some of the changes I mentioned planning to make in that gratitude blog included some changes to my diet. I am happy to report that I have continued with all of the changes, and, in fact, have really adopted a vegan-based approach. Thus the “going green!”
My Plant-Based Revolution
My inspiration came shortly after my diagnosis. I started to read everything and anything I could that would help me reduce my future risk.
I was most inspired by Kris Carr, who is famous for her “Crazy Sexy Cancer” books. Her story is pretty convincing. At the age of 31 (I am 54), she was diagnosed with a rare stage 4 (very bad) form of liver cancer. Part of her journey included traveling all around the country to find the best treatments. She claims to have basically “cured” herself by changing her diet and lifestyle. I was so impressed by this!
So, needless to say, I thought if it worked for her rare stage 4 cancer then it could work for my regular stage 2-3 cancer! I was inspired … and so my “going green” journey began.
Kris Carr has published several “Crazy Sexy Cancer” books, including a “Crazy Sexy Kitchen.” This book really dissects how critical food is to our everyday nourishment and healing. She does a wonderful job breaking down the science. Another bonus is Kris Carr’s sense of humor.
My biggest takeaway was that so much of our diet causes inflammation in our bodies: dairy, meat/chicken/pork, gluten, for example. And inflammation is the enemy when it comes to health and wellness. When our bodies stay in a state of inflammation from diet and stress, our immune systems are weakened and our cells are susceptible to significant changes that can lead to cancer. This was all I needed to hear.
Even though prior to my diagnosis I was a good eater (whole foods, etc.), I could do better. As I continued to read and learn about how diet is the foundation of health, I started to make the changes. And, I have to admit, it wasn’t hard at all. I took action.
First, I followed one of her recipes for a “Green Goddess.” Easy to do, and bonus, I had all of the ingredients in my fridge. Yum-Yum! I now make it every day and fondly refer to it as my “green juice.” After drinking it, I noticed I was satiated. That was good news because I didn’t feel the need to snack between meals. Green juice was the catalyst.
Heading to the Grocery Store
Then, I made a grocery list with many of the food items she suggested. It was mainly fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, etc. I already had a lot of it, but I was also taking an additional step and buying only organics. No pesticides and no hormones in my food! That S*%T causes cancer!
I admit that buying organic has a higher price, but I cannot put a price on my health or reducing my risk of cancer, right??
I was actually challenged by this new endeavor. I was scrutinizing the same grocery aisles I had meandered down just months ago.
I now have been to every grocery store locally to see what each of them had in terms of organics, gluten-free options, etc.
At this point, so as not to be a hypocrite, I have a confession: I have not totally given up dairy. I still use half-and-half in my coffee every morning! I have totally rationalized that the 4 tablespoons of grass-fed, organic half-and-half in my jumbo stainless steel Bubba cup is not going to cause any harm. I am searching for a dairy-free substitute but have not found the right one – feel free to make suggestions, but I insist that I must be able to purchase it locally.
And, another confession: I have not given up fish! I absolutely prefer to get my Omega 3’s from a great piece of wild salmon than to choke down a smelly, manufactured capsule.
All in all, the change has been easy. There are some challenges. The dinner table at home can be challenging. I have always provided vegetables at every meal, but now I get creative when the kids are eating teriyaki chicken and rice and I am just eating the broccoli!
Challenges also come when we are going out to eat. So far, I have not been disappointed – salads are my friend; roasted vegetables are an even better friend; and some restaurants have vegan options.
I have become a huge fan of cauliflower pizza with roasted veggies – find it in the frozen food section at the grocery store! My days are full of green juice, avocado toast on nutty bread, green salads with more avocado, raw nut butters, fruit, bean soups and stews and I have even discovered banana chocolate chip Lara bars! Only 4 ingredients! My sweet tooth is happy!
My kids have been very supportive and inquisitive. They think the green juice looks disgusting, however while I am fixing my green juice, I am also taking the time to make them an organic mango-banana smoothie with almond milk or a-peach blueberry smoothie. This makes them happy and they are getting a dose of health, too!
I do notice a difference in how I feel. I have lost a few pounds and my clothes fit better.
My digestive system is happy (Kris Carr does a great job of discussing this!), and I have an amazing amount of energy.
I am convinced that eating green, coupled with a healthy mindset allowed me to sail through five weeks of radiation therapy with nothing more than a subtle “radiation rash.” My energy level never waned during the entire course, despite the weekly warnings that fatigue, sometimes profound, can be a side effect of the radiation. I am very pleased that I felt GREAT!!
Unfortunately, my diagnosis has landed me in a menopausal state. And, I know many women plagued with the familiar “power surges” (aka hot flashes), insomnia, irritability, etc. can relate. But, the difference I have noticed is on those days when my sleep has been disturbed and less than adequate, I still have a remarkable amount of energy. I am certain that it is because of my diet.
I know I have been blessed on this journey and my gratitude continues to flow. I have gained greater appreciation for many things in my life.
I recently learned of a friend who is going through the same thing. I hope to mentor her to be a warrior, to be able to look at this “Crazy Sexy Cancer” right in the face with courage, gratitude, and strength. I intend to gift her with Kris Carr’s book as it was so inspiring and empowering for me.
I wish this for all the women in our community who may be battling a cancer diagnosis: Find your inner warrior, change your mindset to be the healthiest version of who you are right now, despite your diagnosis, read Kris Carr’s book if for no other reason than to be entertained, watch the amazing documentary “HEAL” on Netflix, which will make you a believer in the power of your mind, and GO GREEN! Green Juice rocks! (clapping emoji)
More on Kris Carr online: https://kriscarr.com.