As I sit in the “dungeon” of the Cleveland Clinic, I ponder life. The “dungeon” is the PET scan area. Here they inject you with radioactive sugar water which then shows up on imaging in any areas of your body that are metabolically active. The scan only takes 15 minutes but you have to sit to let the sugaaa travel through your body for one hour. I thought this would be a good time to share some of my story and my dealing with breast cancer.
Here’s a quick recap. I was first diagnosed in January of 2016 at age 25. I had a single mastectomy and reconstruction and I started a hormone therapy, called Tamoxifen. I now know that this was a very mild therapy and didn’t work. Fast forward to 2018 – I was re-diagnosed with Stage 4, metastatic breast cancer. The cancer burrowed into my ilium bone this time. I was having pain walking and shifting weight to one foot and I went from the orthopedic department right back to oncology.
This time around, shit got even more real. I thought it was pretty real the first time but here we are. In case you’re wondering, stage 4 is the highest class and they say you’ll have it as long as the prana is traveling in and out of your body, aka as long as you’re alive. You may ask how I’m doing with such a scary diagnosis at such a young age – I’m doing great actually. Maybe better than I’ve ever been. I feel like I’ve been granted the gift to learn some big life lessons in my 20s. I’m now 28 years old and I want to share the medical side of my life now.
After 5-7 treatment recommendations that were all different, I put my trust in an amazing doctor and nurse at Cleveland Clinic. They only treat patients with metastatic breast cancer. This is different from the thousands of cancers that exist and the treatment consists of starving the cancer by blocking its food. The cancer that was in my body loved estrogen (ER+, HER2-). So after I mentally prepared for chemo, he told me hormone therapy was the super aggressive treatment that he recommends. I trust him because this is all he does.
I’m on hormone therapy which includes ovarian suppression and I’m also taking a newer drug called Ibrance that actively fights against cancer cells. Let’s start with ovarian suppression – they give me an injection each month of a drug called Lupron that turns my ovaries off. The ovaries produce lots of estrogen so this makes sense to block it there. So turn those baby-makers off and see what happens. What happens is menopause. I am 28 and I have hot flashes like you wouldn’t believe. Thankfully I don’t have bad headaches but that is another side effect along with joint pain, fatigues, and many many more.
Once your ovaries are off, your adrenal glands begin to produce estrogen. To block that source, a drug called Letrizole is taken. This is taken daily. The Ibrance is 3 weeks on, 1 week off with blood work during your off-week to check your white blood cell count.
So in summary I am taking one pill daily, another pill 21 days out of the month, I have one injection each month, and I give blood once a month when I meet with doc. It seems like a very simple treatment compared to chemo or many other options.
I’m in a great place mentally even though I’m an unemployed 28 year old ex-accountant. My mental clarity is the best it’s ever been. I just completed yoga teacher training and it taught me a lot about staying positive and present. It taught me techniques for breathing and movement that I can do, even on a bad day. It also proved to me that energy follows thought. Staying positive and hopeful is the most important part of the treatment plan. My doctor actually seemed to encourage the training which made me feel even better about going.
So that’s the drug side of things as well as the mind side. Here’s for the stuff I’m putting into my body. One day, I hope I can get off of all of these drugs and just use nutrition to fight this fight.
The food that I eat has drastically changed. I’m going to list all of the things that I don’t eat even though it would be easier to tell you what I do eat. Just so you see how serious this is. I do not eat:
- ANY Animal products
- sugar of any kind (includes honey and maple)
- White foods that break down into sugar (rice or potatoes)
- Frozen foods
- Processed flour
- Canned food
- Alcohol (I do have tequila on special occasion)
- Any processed food
What you’re putting in your body directly affects the health of your body. This is what I want to share the most because I had no idea how damaging my meals were until it was too late. You’re probably wondering what I do eat. The list is simply fresh produce and some grains like quinoa as well as beans. This isn’t as hard for me as it would have been before cancer affected me and that is because I see it as life or death.
I am working on collecting some recipes to share for the diet and I will be sure to share a whole post dedicated to that soon.
So here is where I am at now in my cancer journey. I will share more soon, I promise.
I just made it home from my day of appointments followed by tacos and guacamole to celebrate! We found out that the cancer that crept into my bone has been creeping its way right back out of my vessel. My first PET scan since February happened today and it shows the activity in my ilium bone going from a 9 to a 3. That means it’s barely there and the bone is working hard to repair itself. Stay positive and always remember that energy follows thought.