From cheeseburgers to juicing, how we changed to a healthy lifestyle

Going Vegan…

Next month will be 3 whole years since being diagnosed with breast cancer.  Each day I look for meaning and ways I can make my surroundings and world a better place.  I started by trying to eat healthier and be in the moment with family and friends.  I shop local and eat local. Then I changed behaviors to be calmer and less pressing with co workers and others.  I have worked on being less stressed with day to day annoyances.  And now I have evolved to consider that the world population is growing at a pace that cannot sustain food.  Last night I watched a Netflix movie called The Cowspiracy and realized what I had been learning from different sources that the meat we eat is raising methane levels and depleting our water sources.  Many are hungry while land is used to raise cattle to sustain the high levels of protein demanded by our population.  Also mentioned in the film was how a dairy cow is providing milk for a calf to become 400 lbs and maybe that is why we are getting fat and having mammograms to detect cancer, etc.  This hit home as most of my life I have eaten to excess milk, cream, ice cream, yogurt, butter, etc. and then had breast cancer.  Is there a correlation?  I am not sure but certainly by eliminating these products I should feel better overall.  I followed up with some research and realized that we don’t need as much protein as I thought and we can get the protein from plants.  I had been slowly reducing the amount of meat I eat but by cutting out meat, dairy and eggs I can make a bigger difference in the world than by recycling, riding a bike or taking shorter showers.  So today is the first day of being vegan.  First I had to cut the cream/milk from my coffee.  I had never had black coffee before.  This wasn’t so bad.  I even felt less gassy.  Lunch is not a problem as I rarely eat meat.  Dinner will be the challenge.  I prepare a meal for my husband and I.  He has agreed to reduce his amount of meat but not eliminate meat.  I think I can fix his meat separately from my meal.  I will keep you posted as to how this works.  Please consider your own research and reduction of meat in your diet.


One year plus….later

I am busy living my life to the fullest!  My two year mammography was good and that is such a relief.  I almost have a nervous breakdown going to the appointment and want to cry for joy afterwards…but it is so necessary to have done.  I still think about this happening in my life as I read about others that die from breast cancer.  I almost feel like I have to do this life right and well because I survived.  It’s very hard to feel just ordinary and live on.  I have lost some weight and made some changes in my diet and lifestyle but I have a ways to go.  I have a weight coach who helps me stay positive even when the scales don’t budge.  I eat more fruits and veggies.  I asked for a fitbit and nutribullet for Christmas.  I feel better as I lose weight and exercise more but it is a long process.  Thanks for the opportunity to share with you.

What’s next…

After a diagnosis of breast cancer, the biopsy is done that confirms this. I didn’t think the biopsy hurt that bad but others say that it did. As I have learned since, every woman’s story is different. Then an MRI was done and confirms the cancer. They drew blood before the MRI which I was not expecting. During this time I am working full-time and trying to maintain my life. Within one month of the diagnosis, they have asked me to pick a surgeon after all the tests and scheduled surgery for the day before Thanksgiving. I have Stage 1, invasive ductal carcinoma. so I opted for the lumpectomy. The cancer is 1/2 inch and was caught early so I am told by many that I am “lucky.” This is good news but still feels like cancer. How do you make so many choices about breast removal, surgeon, care, time off when you are still dealing with the shock of having cancer? Many survivors strongly suggested mastectomy which was the path many of them chose. After much thinking, I felt for me that the cancer was small and given the choice, I would like to keep my breasts. There is also research that show the chance of reoccurrence to be about the same.
I was really nervous about the surgery. There is a lot of information available but I found that it was better to take it in small doses. I read pamphlets, internet sites such as the American Cancer Society, Mayo Clinic and looked at images.
To prepare me for surgery, I first went to the Breast Care Center where the inserted wires to mark the tumor. Then they did a mammogram to view the placement. Once that was set they took me by ambulance to the hospital for the surgery. The actual surgery was no big deal because I was asleep. My big surprise was the drainage tube inserted in my breast that I would have to clean for a week. That was unexpected and unpleasant. The pain medicine was strong and I slept for the next several days.
As crazy as this sounds, I had family over for Thanksgiving on Saturday. I had prepared food ahead of time and my mom brought the turkey. My husband cleaned the house and my daughter helped. The family basically did everything but even then I was exhausted and I had to sit down and then lay down. Bad idea no matter how well-intentioned to have an event at your house after surgery. I suppose I wanted something to look forward to celebrating.

The Diagnosis…

I was off to a good start with the weight loss.  On average I was losing 2 pounds a week as I logged in Calorie Counter.  Eating a strict 1200 calories a day and walking on the treadmill was making me feel better and I was excited to see some pounds come off.  I learned that changing from cream to 2% milk in my coffee and not having a snack when I came home from work made a big difference in the number of calories.  I didn’t feel hungry because I was switching to healthier choices.  Eating sugar seems like wasted calories.  When I travel for work or in the office it always seemed much easier to grab a cheeseburger.  Now looking at the calories I bring my lunch and snacks, like protein bars, soup, nuts, carrots to eat.

On October 9th in honor of breast cancer awareness month, I thought it would be a good idea to get a mammogram.  I hadn’t had one in two years and needed to go ahead and get that done.  My grandmother had breast cancer and survived so I have always been aware that I should be watchful.  Since my mother and sister do not have breast cancer, I felt safe. 

After the mammogram, I got a call back 3 days later asking me to come in for another test.  Still looking at this as a routine exam, I went to the Breast Care Center with no trepidation.  As the sonogram was redone and more mammograms (8 in all) were scanned, I began to get nervous.  As the tests ran into after hours, I began to shake.  The radiologist asked to talk to me.  Everyone else had left for the day.  She sat beside me and asked if anyone had come with me.  I said no, because I thought this was a routine test.  She said that she believes I have BREAST CANCER.  She says they have caught it early and the tumor is small but I will need to consider a surgeon.  I stare unblinkingly straight ahead.  She asks if I have someone to drive me home. I say no, I didn’t know I was going to have breast cancer.  I am in shock!  Driving home, I call my husband.  He asks me to stay off the phone and we will talk when I am home safe.  I am so scared………..this is October 25, 2013.

How I got started…

After years of unhealthy eating, I had gained weight each year until I couldn’t avoid noticing the change. I half heartedly decided to try to lose weight. Growing up I was always skinny and never understood why people were overweight. It took many years for me to realize I was overweight even though each year my clothes were a new size. In October, 2012 I finally decided to make a lifestyle change rather than try another diet. This started with signing up for calorie counter. I really didn’t realize how little I knew about calories and nutrition in each of the foods I was eating.