Category Archives: Reduce Chemotherapy Side Effects

The Benefits of Massage Therapy for Breast Cancer

Image Source: morgueFile / Yoel
Image Source: morgueFile / Yoel

The Benefits of Massage Therapy for Breast Cancer

One of the things that you might not know about me is that I am a massage therapist, so the subject of the benefits of massage therapy for breast cancer is near and dear to my heart.

As a breast cancer survivor myself, I can give firsthand testimony that massage therapy is a wonderful and beneficial thing when you’ve been told those awful words “I am sorry but you have breast cancer.”  Nurturing touch can mean so much at a time like this, and it truly does have many benefits as you progress through the gamut of treatments and uncertainties.

Some doctors and even some massage schools will tell you that massage therapy is contraindicated (not to be performed) with cancer patients, and I would very much like to dispel that myth.  There are many benefits of massage therapy for many types of cancer, but today I’m going to focus on its benefits for those going through breast cancer.

Massage Through The Ages

Massage has been used as a therapy for centuries, the earliest known reference to it being portrayed on Egyptian tombs.  It was also mentioned as early as the 700 BC in the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, an ancient Chinese medical text.  Massage therapy has been used traditionally in many different cultures including China, India, Japan, Korea, Egypt, Rome, Greece, Mesopotamia and Thailand, for various ailments, pain relief, stress relief, but also for beauty.

In modern times, massage therapy has had a rather odious connection to overcome, just think of the words “massage parlour” and you’ll know what I mean by that.  That connection in people’s minds has taken YEARS to overcome and it still annoys me when I am in cities that advertise massage when it is blatantly obvious that’s not what they are selling at all.  But I digress…

Is Massage Safe For People With Breast Cancer?

The answer is a resounding YES.   Massage can safely be given to people at all stages of breast cancer, but it should be performed by a trained massage therapist who has had additional training in oncology massage, or at the very least by a skilled therapist who is knowledgeable about lymphedema, lymphedema risk, bone metastases, risk of deep vein thrombosis, and suppressed blood cell populations.

An old myth warned that massage could, by increasing circulation, spread cancer cells and promote metastasis since tumor cells travel through the body via the lymphatic system, which is a network of vessels, organs and nodes through which lymphatic fluid, or lymph, flows.   We now know that movement and exercise increase circulation much more than a brief massage can, and that routine increases in circulation occur many times daily in response to the metabolic demands of our tissues.  In fact, physical activity is normally encouraged in people with cancer and there is NO reason to discourage massage or some form of skilled touch because it offers so very many wonderful benefits.

The Specific Benefits of Massage Therapy for Breast Cancer

These are the things that we know for sure about the benefits of massage therapy:

  • relieves pain
  • reduces fatigue
  • helps to alleviate nausea
  • reduces stress, anxiety and depression
  • improves sleep
  • helps nerve damage
  • improves mental clarity and alertness
  • boosts immune system
  • reduces discomfort of lymphedema

The great thing about massage therapy is that it treats the whole person, not just the symptoms of disease.  While massage doesn’t treat the cancer itself, it does help reduce the side effects caused by conventional treatments such as chemotherapy, surgery and radiation and improves quality of life in ways we are only beginning to understand.

I Utilize Massage Therapy Daily For Continued Breast Health

I actually also use massage therapy daily on my own breasts, combined with certain essential oils because of their research-backed spectrum of pro-health activities (we aren’t allowed to say anti-cancer!).  For more information on which oils I use, see my page Essential Oils for Overall Health and Specific Health Problems.

The Research

I know my readers like to have evidence based medicine – we want PROOF, don’t we?  So here it is, and there is a lot of it:

A 2008 study done by the National Institutes of Health evaluated the efficacy of massage versus simple touch for decreasing pain and symptom distress and improving quality of life among persons with advanced cancer.  It was found that both groups experienced significant improvement in pain relief, physical and emotional distress, as well as quality of life, however, the immediate improvement in pain and mood was greater in the group receiving massage. 1

A 2004 study found that massage and aromatherapy consistently reduced anxiety and depression in cancer patients and that massage also helped decrease nausea and pain. 2

A 2014 Iranian study found that massage therapy greatly assisted patients with breast cancer with quality of sleep. 3

A 2008 study looked at the safety and effectiveness of massage in reducing stress hormone levels in patients with blood cancer and concluded that massage significantly reduced the levels of stress hormones in these patients. 4

A 2001 study indicated that massage improved immunity for adolescents with HIV and, more recently, a 2010 study showed massage had very positive effects on immune function for normal healthy individuals. 6   By the way, this does not mean that you have to be normal and healthy to enjoy an immunity boost from massage therapy.   I employed massage therapy all during chemotherapy (and I still do) and I know that it was one of the things that helped me to stay very well, despite a practically non-existent immune system.

A 2013 study showed that ovarian cancer patients receiving massage felt significantly less hopeless and enjoyed a better quality of life.7

A 2002 study of the effects of massage on hospitalized cancer patients showed that for those receiving therapeutic massage there were improvements in pain, sleep quality, symptom distress, and anxiety. 8

My advice?  If you are going through breast cancer, go and get a massage from a qualified massage therapist – you have nothing to lose and much to gain!

References:

1.  http://nccam.nih.gov/research/results/spotlight/110608.htm

2.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15106172

3.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24834078

4.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18300336

5.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11264907

6.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20809811

7.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23086133

8.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12237988

If you would like to receive my best tips on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences, just  sign up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right, and/or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com). I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond. 

Help For Chemotherapy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy (CIPN)

Photo of neuron courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net / Renjith Krishnan
Photo of neuron courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net / Renjith Krishnan

Help For Chemotherapy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy (CIPN)

As a breast cancer coach, one of the things I hear all too frequently is that people who undergo chemotherapy have terrible troubles with peripheral neuropathy, termed CIPN.  For some, it’s a real problem, with long-lasting effects on nerves that sometimes never goes away. This article is dedicated to all who are undergoing chemotherapy right now, especially Taxol, with some tips and help to minimize the damage these drugs can do to your nerves.

What Is Chemotherapy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy (CIPN)?

CIPN manifests in different ways for different people.  Some complain of a burning pain in their hands and/or feet, some suffer from quite the opposite problem, numbness in hands or feet, making them feel clumsy and accident-prone.  One of my subscribers recently told me she had it so bad it nearly drove her crazy – she had all the symptoms, burning AND stabbing pain, as well as numbness in spots.

CIPN is caused by the chemotherapy drugs given to you to combat your cancer, and often the combination of drugs you receive dictates how moderate or severe your symptoms can be.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here – chemotherapy is HELL on your nervous system.  While I didn’t have CIPN – and I believe that I didn’t because of several alternative therapies I was doing in combination with the chemotherapy – I did suffer from fragile nerves after I finished chemotherapy, for quite some time.  I found that just sitting and having an animated discussion with friends would leave me literally trembling, which felt quite bizarre.

While science hasn’t quite figured out exactly what causes CIPN, one proposed theory is that the toxicity of various chemo drugs damages the myelin sheath – the protective covering around nerves.

There Are Things You Can Do To Combat CIPN!

One Chinese medicine doctor working at Johns Hopkins Integrative Cancer Center said via a webinar earlier this year that having acupuncture sessions, which must begin at the inception of chemotherapy to have the most effectiveness, was proving to be quite helpful for CIPN.

Today, however, my friend Elyn Jacobs shared an article recently released by the website Integrative Oncology Essentials: Complementary Therapies for Chemo-Neuropathy: An Integrative Oncologist’s Bag of Tricks.  This is a fabulous article, much needed by anyone suffering from CIPN.  It goes through the symptoms, probable causes, but best of all it lists 23 different complementary therapies that could make a difference for you and your CIPN.

I loved the fact that the article included meditation and guided imagery (both of which I offer cancer patients through my Change Your Life Meditation Course), it discussed the benefits of massage therapy, acupuncture, biofeedback, cognitive behavioral therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, Reiki, yoga, topical therapies, as well as a host of supplements that are known to help, such as glutamine.

This is a fantastic resource for us, many thanks to Elyn Jacobs for sharing it, and to Dr Brian D Lawenda, the author of the article.

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters and e-book on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach).  It is my honor and my goal to help you through this so that you emerge from breast cancer feeling better than before, thriving!

Going Through Treatments? How To Feel Better Fast.

 

Photo courtesy of RGBstock.com / Tou Touke
Photo courtesy of RGBstock.com / Tou Touke

Going Through Treatments?  How To Feel Better Fast.

One of the things I needed badly when going through breast cancer was a list of ways to feel better fast.  Why a list? 

Because when you’re going through the treatments for breast cancer, let’s face it – your brain is pretty fuzzy, you can’t think clearly (it’s commonly known as “chemobrain”).  So I made a list of all of the things that made me feel better because, quite honestly, I couldn’t think of them when I needed them the most!

Making A “Feel Better” List

My “feel better” list included getting a massage, inhaling some of my favorite, healing essential oils, listening to particular CDs for their calming music, talking to my best friend, going for a walk, taking a nap, eating really healthy food (because that always makes you feel better), but most of all, meditation.  Meditation was (and still is) the one thing that makes me feel better fast.

When you are putting together your “feel better” list, use a nice thick marker and print the feel better suggestions as clearly as possible.  Post the list where you can see it – on the bathroom mirror, on the refrigerator door – don’t make yourself have to hunt for it because you won’t be in the mood.

Some Help From Author Paul Wilson: Instant Calm

In his book “Instant Calm”, author Paul Wilson discusses what he calls applied suggestion.  He says that if you can tell you’re feeling lousy, especially if you say it a few times and persuasively enough, nothing can be surer than you’re going to feel lousy.  “If you keep on telling yourself positive things, calming things, then you will achieve them… More powerful still is visual suggestion.  If you can  see these positive things… calming things… and you can see yourself participating in them, then you are certainly well down the track towards achieving them. “

Mr Wilson goes on to say that applied suggestion must be accepted by the subconscious to transform it into reality.  That’s where meditation helps.  To be accepted by the subconscious, your suggestion should be in harmony with your subconscious beliefs.  To make it powerful, wording must be in the present tense, simple and positive (“More and more, I am discovering that I am feeling better, I am radiantly healthy.”). 

Doing meditation regularly with affirmations (the applied suggestion mentioned by author Paul Wilson) is quite powerful.  Repetition encourages a suggestion or affirmation into being. 

For long-term affirmations and goals to be optimally effective, Mr Wilson advises to repeat your affirmation at least ten times per day to yourself.  See my article Creating Positive Affirmations That Work for more information on how to create the most powerful positive affirmations.

Meditation Help

When I was going through breast cancer, the one thing I couldn’t seem to find was a nice guided meditation for cancer patients that would lead me through some calming visualizations and help me to focus on getting healthier.  Oh, there were all kinds of meditation CDs available and I tried most of them, but most of them seemed to have some fatal flaw, something that drove me crazy – either the background music was awful, or the person’s voice was annoying… so I recently decided to create my own how-to-meditate course, called Change Your Life Meditation Course.  I created it just for you, click the link to find out more.  I’d love to help you feel better fast.

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters and e-book on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  It is my honor and my goal to help you through this so that you emerge from breast cancer feeling better than before, thriving!

Great Tip For Saving Your Nails From Toxic Effects of Chemotherapy

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and Stuart Miles
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and Stuart Miles

I have a great tip for saving your nails from the toxic effects of chemotherapy.  I have heard about this from several people who were going through chemotherapy (particularly Taxol) and they said it absolutely works and that it was introduced to them by the chemo nurses, so I decided to share it with you.

I can’t tell you how many women I know going through breast cancer have been upset about losing their nails – having them turn black and falling off is definitely stressful and it can’t feel very good either.  Not all chemo regimens cause this, but so many do and Taxol seems to be the worst.  It isn’t permanent but it can take up to 6 months to grow out a new nail and that’s a long time to be without a nail protecting your fingertips.

How to Save Your Nails While Undergoing Chemotherapy

Just before you sit down for your chemotherapy infusion, get a bowl of ice cubes and water and plunge your fingertips – so that your nails are covered – into the bowl of ice.  If it gets painful, just withdraw them for a minute or two, but try to keep your nails in the icy water for as long as you can.  Don’t do it to the point of pain or frostbite!  Just keep putting them in and taking them out when you need to.

How It Works

Icing your nails constricts the blood vessels, so less toxicity gets through. The chemicals that cause hair loss can also affect your nails and your fingernails grow much more quickly than your toenails.

Why Keeping Your Nails Is Important

Nail care is your first line of prevention, especially if you have had a few (or all) of your lymph nodes removed along with your breast cancer tumor.  You will need to be particularly careful of damage to the nail, also hangnails or cuts or burns on the hands or fingers, which could lead to infection.  Lymph nodes exist to help deal with infection and if they are not present, or present but in diminished numbers, an infection could be quite serious for you.

A Warning About Manicures & Acrylic Nails

Please also be aware about the dangers of manicures and nail polish.  See my article Are Your Manicures Increasing Your Breast Cancer Risk  for more information. 

For a lengthy time after you finish chemotherapy your immune system is compromised and you will need to avoid infections and viruses until you are fully recovered.  You can decrease the length of time you have a compromised immune system by being very proactive and juicing and taking the juice of lycium barbarum (goji or wolfberry), but here’s the thing about acrylic nails.  If bacteria gets trapped between your natural nail bed and the acrylic overlay, either during application or from splitting and chipping or other sorts of damage to the acrylic nail, you could get a very serious infection and even need to be hospitalized.

To further complicate matters, many nail salons are using a poisonous substance called MMA in their nail adhesives, which is an industrial grade adhesive and not meant for use on the human body.  MMA stands for methyl methacrylate and it is bad news for your health.  This chemical is illegal but the nail industry is hard to police so it’s still being purchased on the black market and used in some nail salons.  It can cause serious damage to your health.

Ladies, I know that acrylic nails look beautiful and it’s one of the things you CAN control after getting through breast cancer, but I don’t believe the risk is worth it.  Just my two cents worth.

I send my love to everyone taking this journey right now. If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond. 

How To Detox Your Body After Chemotherapy & Radiation

 

Image Source: freedigitalphotos.net / zirconicusso

 How To Detox Your Body After Chemotherapy & Radiation

Why It’s Important To Detox Your Body After Chemotherapy & Radiation

Although your body does a great job of detoxing all on its own – at least when you’re healthy – when you’ve been through chemotherapy and/or radiation, your body is overloaded with chemical residues.  It is important to detox after chemotherapy and/or radiation and you’re going to feel so much better if you do.

An overload of toxins is known to cause bloating, fatigue, headaches, poor memory, aching muscles, a suppressed immune system (which is the very thing you’re relying on to keep you well), even halitosis (bad breath!). Toxic buildup within the body can also be a problem if you have had lymph nodes removed because our lymphatic system acts as another method of waste removal, and this toxic buildup can worsen lymphedema.

Once chemotherapy and radiation are finished and these strong treatments have done their work, the body is filled with toxins.  Radiation can damage healthy cells and create toxic buildup and if you think about it, even cancer cells themselves become toxins as they wither up and die from the treatments.

Make sure you’re strong enough to undergo cleansing, however.  Consult with your physician or naturopath before embarking on a cleansing path.  You might find it necessary to wait a number of weeks or even months if you are too weak but the sooner you get started detoxing, the better you will feel.  Even if you are too weak, you can still increase your water intake, do some gentle exercise and begin juicing (for more on juicing, keep reading).

How To Detox Your Body After Chemotherapy & Radiation – 10 Tips

1.  Colonic Hydrotherapy – Colonic hydrotherapy can be of assistance not only after chemotherapy but also during to help alleviate the terrible constipation that often results from chemotherapy.  Your medical staff may argue the efficacy of chemotherapy (I had one nurse tell me that we are designed for wastes to move ONE way and we shouldn’t go against that!) but it really helps tremendously.  I went through a course of colonic hydrotherapy post-chemo and found it to be a gentle and effective method for toxin and waste cleansing.  There’s nothing new about colonics – Egyptians were using it for constipation centuries ago.  If you’d like to read one person’s experience with it, click here.

2.  Drink Plenty of Water, Herbal Tea – This is the most natural way to detox your body after chemotherapy.  Make sure your water is filtered (here are some good water filters) to help keep you safe from herbicides, pesticides, and other assorted nasties that our water can often contain.  We used to hear that drinking 8 glasses of water per day was essential, however, newer studies have shown that as long as you are sipping away on water all day you are probably getting what you need.  Put in a slice of lemon for some additional flavor, cleansing qualities and antioxidant protection.  Herbal teas are also wonderful to help the cleansing process, particularly dandelion tea which is a liver tonic.

3.  Juicing, Juicing, Juicing – It seems like I am always touting the benefits of juicing organic vegetables and fruits but their importance for health cannot be overstressed.  Make sure you have a great juicer though, as not all juicers are designed to keep the living enzymes within your expensive organic produce alive!  Here’s a great one, this is the one I use (and it’s a great price).  Live juices can help to heal, rejuvenate, and flush away toxins. Fresh vegetable and fruit juices are the cleansers, energizers, regenerators, and blood builders of the human body.  Try any combination of beet (great blood cleanser), kale, spinach, carrot, cucumber, apple, ginger and pineapple (both great anti-inflammatories, so that makes them anti-cancer as well).  Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries are full of antioxidants and help to cleanse the blood of impurities.  See my page Diet and Cancer for some data on why certain vegies and fruit are good for cancer. I have loads of articles on my website about the benefits of juicing, so be sure to check them out as well.

4.  Circulate Your Blood – Something as simple as bouncing on a rebounder (one of those mini trampolines) for 10 minutes a couple of times per day helps to get your heart pumping, blood circulating and toxins flushing out of your body.  Best done BEFORE a meal or juicing, however!  Walking, cycling, hiking, dancing, yoga – all of these are great to get the body moving and detoxing.  Make sure you drink plenty of filtered water after exercising.

5.  Fiber – Fiber helps to grab onto toxins in your digestive tract.  Fiber soaks up toxins rather like a sponge, speeds up elimination, helps with cleansing.  Natural fiber is available from fruits, vegetables and whole grains, however there are also plenty of fiber products on the market which you could add to your health regimen.  One particularly good one is freshly ground organic flaxseed.

6.  Herbal Medicine – There are many herbs and essential oils which will assist you in detoxing after chemotherapy and radiation.  Milk thistle is a particularly good herb for liver cleansing.  I would definitely recommend seeking the advice of a qualified naturopath before using herbal medicine, however, because they are specifically trained in herbal medicine and since herbs can sometimes have drug interactions you would want the best guidance possible for your particular needs.

7.  Eating Organic Food – Because at this stage you are working towards detoxing and keeping well and healthy, your best bet is to avoid processed and sugar-laden foods as these will not assist the detox process.  Eating plenty of organic fruits, vegetables and lean meats like fish or chicken is much more conducive to keeping your system clear of any further toxins.  Google “raw food recipes” for some really great suggestions and recipes that appeal to you.

8.  Epsom Salt Baths – There is something so restorative about a hot epsom salt bath!  Hot water opens the pores and assists perspiration to take toxins away.  Epsom salt is actually magnesium sulfate, and these two minerals help generate enzymes that clean up the body.  To make it a totally revitalizing experience, add lavender essential oil for its calming effects, or ginger which also helps to open the pores and is a good natural anti-inflammatory.  If you don’t have epsom salts, baking soda is also useful and it helps to neutralize the effects of radiation.  This is another place where water filtration is important because if you live in an area where the water is highly chlorinated you are soaking all that chlorine up into your body through the skin.  Chlorine and breast cancer are linked, see this article from globalhealingcenter.com.  For a great recipe on a particular sort of detox bath, see my article How To Detox In Your Bathtub.

9.  Detox Your Household – You might not think about this, but if your body and skin care products are laden with toxins you are taking all of those into your body via the skin as well.  If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin or hair.  I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t mention the importance of using organic body products and cosmetics when you are detoxing your body.  There are several good brands out there, contact me if you need help finding good ones.

10.  You Must Rebuild Your Immune System – Since your immune system is your first line of defense against cancer and all other diseases, you must rebuild it because the chemotherapy and radiation treatments will have blasted the hell out of the very thing you are relying upon to stay well.  Yes, your body may eventually do this on its own, but the process is generally quite slow and we don’t want to give any open doors to stray cancer cells.  Here’s my page on how to build immunity quickly so that it’s very strong:  8 Ways To Build A Super Strong Immune System.

I know that’s a lot of things to think about, but if you are determined to get well and stay well, incorporating even just two or three of these suggestions into your life will be very helpful.

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, and/or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  It is my honor and my goal to help you through this, so that you are better than before, thriving!

The Benefits of Chinese Alternative Medicine for Post Chemotherapy Hot Flashes

The Benefits of Chinese Alternative Medicine for Post Chemotherapy Hot Flashes
Photo of Chinese Herbs courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and Stuart Miles

Today’s guest post is written by MaryAnne Bachia, a dear friend of mine.  MaryAnne is a Licensed Acupuncturist and specializes in women’s health.

I asked MaryAnne to write about how acupuncture and Chinese herbs can assist with the hot flashes that plague us during and after chemotherapy treatments.  I found that regular acupuncture treatments combined with Chinese herbs really assisted me after chemotherapy.

MaryAnne writes:

“Sweating after chemotherapy is a very natural process. What really happens with chemo, as you probably know, is that the chemo burns out everything in the body, good and bad, if you want to look at it that way. It burns out the immune system as well as any signs of disease.

According to Chinese medical principles, this isn’t such a great idea. It’s like burning the oil in a car and continuing to run the engine.

What’s happening with hot flashes is that the body is trying to create the oil again – it’s attempting to rebuild estrogen levels.  It’s one of the ways the body is brilliant for trying to create homeostasis and heal itself.

The body has a perfect way of managing  stress. Cancer may be created in a similar way. The body has created much stress, systemically, and so it creates stagnation or a cyst or tumor compact, in one area, such as the breast. This is why it can be easy to have surgery and eliminate a tumor but we have to learn how to handle our stress in a way that is more balanced so we don’t re-create accumulations or stagnations (as tumors are called in Chinese medicine).

What To Do For Hot Flashes?

Chinese medicine works wonders with both acupuncture and herbs or either one on its own.  If you find the right acupuncturist, one with experience with dealing with cancer, you can also gain tips for nutrition and lifestyle choices that can benefit your re-building and help you regain your strength.

For more information, see my article How Does Acupuncture Work?

For more information have a look at my website at: http://www.acupunctureenergyworks.com or contact me for a free 15 minute consultation.”

Thanks so much to MaryAnne Bachia!

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  It is my honor to help you through this.

Ways to Combat Acid Reflux While on Chemotherapy

Ways to Combat Acid Reflux While on Chemotherapy
Image source: freedigitalphotos.net / Ohmega1982

Ways to Combat Acid Reflux While on Chemotherapy

Acid reflux can be a real problem – especially when you’re going through chemotherapy.  It is often one of the side effects of the chemotherapy drugs.  Here’s what you can do about it.

Be Proactive with your Diet

Eat a balanced diet that is rich in alkaline forming foods and low in acidic foods.  Foods can be either acid forming, balancing or alkaline forming.  Since our body’s normal PH is between 6.0 and 6.8 (we are mildly acidic), values above 6.8 are considered to be on the alkaline side and values below 6.3 are on the acidic side.  For a list of specific acid/alkaline foods, click here.

Too much acidity is definitely something you want to avoid right now – in fact too much acidity in the body can be one of the factors that lead to cancer and should always be avoided.  But especially right now, when you’re going through chemotherapy, the foods you want to focus on are the alkaline forming foods.

Alkaline Foods

Avocados, dates, fresh coconut, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, herbs, herb teas, honey, molasses, raisins, sea vegetables, seeds, soy products, whey, yogurt.  Low-level alkaline foods to be included in your diet are almonds, buckwheat, lima beans, quinoa and organic dairy products.

Neutral Foods

All vegetable oils, sprouts, most dried beans and sunflower seeds.

Acid Foods

This is the list to be avoided: alcohol, artichokes, asparagus tips, aspirin, beans, beef, beer, cakes, canned fruits, cheese, chicken, cocoa, coffee, doughnuts, eggs, fish, flour, flour products, ketchup, jams/jellies, legumes, macaroni, mayonnaise, meat, mustard, noodles, oatmeal, olives, pasta, pastries, peanuts, pepper, plums, poultry, prunes, sauerkraut, shellfish, soft drinks, spaghetti, sugar, tea, tobacco, vinegar, white rice.  Sounds like not much is left, doesn’t it?

Tips & Tricks

Here’s what you do – eat a diet that is about 70% alkaline forming foods and 30% acid forming foods.  You can have small quantities of the things you love then – maybe just have them around lunch time so that your body isn’t trying to digest them at night when you’re lying down (part of what causes acid reflux).

I know this is hard, but if you want to get well and start feeling better, the quality of the food you put into your body is ULTRA important.

One more thing – here’s something that helped me immensely.  Put a single drop of a therapeutic grade peppermint essential oil into a glass of water.  Sip on the water all day.  Peppermint oil is so calming and soothing to the digestive tract.  Just make sure you get a good quality oil, something without other chemicals added.  If you need a good source, please contact me.

One of my first posts, Do You Know the Benefits of Juicers for Cancer Patients?, was about the importance of juicing so read that and get yourself a juicer and start feeling better soon!  I truly hope this helps you on your road to wellness.

See also my article on Ultimate Diet & Nutrition While Undergoing Chemotherapy and Radiation.

I send my love to everyone taking this journey right now. If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.  

Acupuncture: How It Helps With Cancer Treatments

 

acupuncture
Photo courtesy of stock.xchng

Acupuncture: How It Helps With Cancer Treatments

While acupuncture has been around for millennia, the form of acupuncture practiced today is mainly based on a standardized system which evolved in China around 50 years ago.

How Acupuncture Works – the Simple Explanation

Acupuncture treatment involves the stimulation of defined points on the body using tiny, ultra-thin needles (or sometimes electricity).  In Traditional Chinese Medicine (“TCM”), the surface of the human body and  its internal organs are thought to be connected by meridians through which “qi” (pronounced “chee”), or energy, flows.

In TCM, when the flow of qi is blocked, it is thought that pain and disease soon follow.  Acupuncture is a complex subject but primarily acupuncture works by inserting the special ultra-thin needles into the specific points on the surface of the body (“acupoints”) along the meridians where qi is blocked, thus restoring the flow of qi.

Acupuncture Studies Show Its Effectiveness for Breast Cancer Treatment Side Effects

Acupuncture has been one of the most studied forms of complementary medicine.  Especially exciting is some of the data coming in about how it can help with cancer treatments.  For example, acupuncture has been shown to be effective in controlling chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.  In fact, in one study acupuncture was more effective than anti-emetic drugs in controlling nausea.

In another study, it was demonstrated that acupuncture was as effective as prescription drugs in controlling the hot flashes caused by anti-estrogen drugs and it also helped increase libido in these women.

Some breast cancer survivors are treated with drugs known as aromatase inhibitors to help prevent recurrence, but a common side effect of these drugs is joint pain and stiffness. One study found that acupuncture is quite effective in reducing these side effects, thereby allowing the drug regimen to be continued.

There are also reports showing acupuncture reduced the nerve pain associated with neuropathy, it reduced swelling and discomfort caused by lymphedema, and it effectively assisted patients who complained of dry mouth and muscle weakness.

Does It Hurt?

I often get asked if acupuncture hurts.  I have to say (for the most part) NO, especially not when the needles are inserted.  You can feel it, of course, but it’s not uncomfortable.  Once in awhile, one of the acupoints might be sore, especially if qi is particularly blocked, and it might ache for a few moments when the needle is first inserted, but that goes away.

I went to a TCM doctor during the entire 6 months of my chemotherapy treatment – she gave me herbs that helped my immune system stay strong, and I often got acupuncture to help with energy levels.  Having a treatment is ultra-relaxing, you’re generally laying in a comfortable position for about 45 minutes and falling asleep is quite common.  It’s a nice experience.  I highly recommend acupuncture and TCM!

Acupuncture treatments are generally affordable and are covered by some health insurance policies.

A good resource:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=acupuncture%20and%20breast%20cancer

If you’d like to stay connected, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey.

 

Chemo Brain Is The Real Deal (and What To Do About It)

 

Chemo Brain Is The Real Deal and What To Do About It
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and markuso

Chemo Brain Is The Real Deal (and What To Do About It)

Anyone going through chemotherapy understands the term “chemo brain” very well.   A friend currently undergoing chemotherapy laughingly described it as: “It’s the drugs causing your brain function to go to hell in a hand basket!”

Around 2008, US researchers finally identified what might be going on.  They reported that the common chemotherapy drug 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) can kill certain stem cells and their progeny that are responsible for producing the myelin sheath (the part of your brain that allows proper transmission of signals within the brain).

It can also be caused by some medications such as antibiotics, corticosteriods, and drugs that treat cancer related symptoms.  The anemia that results from some types of chemotherapy can also be responsible, as well as nutritional deficiences in iron, folic acid, and vitamin B.

So it’s not your imagination!  How annoying is it though?  It’s like your brain just can’t get there – you know you used to know the answer but it’s just out of reach right now.

Fortunately, complementary and alternative medicine have some remedies for us.

Here are 6 of the Best Remedies for Chemo Brain

  1. Aromatherapy:  essential oils of frankincense, sandalwood, bergamot, lemon, orange, peppermint, and tangerine can be very helpful for those undergoing chemotherapy.  These were my favorites and still are.  You can diffuse them, inhale them directly from the bottle or put them on pulse points and breathe deeply!  One of the ways they assist is by bringing more oxygen into your body and brain and clearing the synapses of chemical residues.
  2. Yoga: yoga supports the body, mind, and spirit for people affected by cancer, both during and after treatments. The practice of yoga offers physical, psychological, and spiritual support to the whole person.
  3. Bodywork: massage, reflexology and acupressure are all wonderful to help relieve symptoms of chemo brain – they increase your circulation, help you relax and detox a little from the drugs.
  4. Herbal teas: try teas with citrus, peppermint (also nice for the digestive system), frankincense, and/or rosemary.
  5. Supplements: consult a naturopath or qualified integrative cancer provider, for improved brain functions. Integrative cancer providers assess each patient individually and identify specific supplements.
  6. Imagery: imagery is the use of your imagination to visualize things you want to bring about in your life.  Imagery for cancer patients (among many other benefits) helps to prevent or reduce nausea from chemotherapy drugs, it also helps with creativity and problem-solving abilities.

So get out there and try some new things and get rid of that chemo brain!

Need more information on any of the ideas presented here?  CONTACT ME.

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  When you’re in a desperate situation, you need an ally.  You can depend on me to help you through this.

Increase Your Health with Raindrop Technique

increase your health with raindrop technique
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and imagery majestic

Increase Your Health With Raindrop Technique

I want to share with you a couple of YouTube videos about how to increase your health with the Raindrop Technique, a specific massage technique employing therapeutic grade essential oils.

The 7 Benefits of the Raindrop Technique

Discover The Rejuvenating and Balancing Effects of the Raindrop Technique

I am a massage therapist and I love sharing this technique with people.  It is a really wonderful, nurturing and supportive thing to do for yourself!

When I was going through breast cancer, I had Raindrop Technique done for me after I finished my chemotherapy treatments because I wanted to feel better and to help my body detox from all of those chemicals.  I can highly recommend it, it’s utterly divine.

If you need help finding someone in your area who does Raindrop Technique, contact me.  I’ll do my best to help you.

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  When you’re in a desperate situation, you need an ally.  You can depend on me to help you through this.

Member No 267494
Member No 267494

8 Crucial Things to Reduce Chemotherapy Side Effects

8 Crucial Things to Reduce Chemotherapy Side Effects
Image Source: freedigitalphotos.net / creativedoxfoto

8 Crucial Things to Reduce Chemotherapy Side Effects

Anyone going through chemotherapy will know that there is a diverse range of side effects, ranging from mild to severe, and some are quite disruptive to your quality of life, hence today’s article.

I went through breast cancer in 2004 and although I initially chose not to have chemotherapy, a few things factored into my decision and led me to believe it would be beneficial for me so I went through 6 months of various chemotherapy drugs.  I have to say that the anti-nausea pills that are prescribed these days do a remarkably good job. I never once vomited during the entire 6 months of my chemotherapy regimen – that really surprised me!  I managed to stay incredibly well during the entire process and I’d like to share my list of the things that helped me the most.

Quite possibly you may have different results but if even only one thing on the list helps you, I’ll be happy with that result!

Here’s my list of the 8 crucial things that helped me reduce chemotherapy side effects:

1.  Meditation & Positive Thinking – the first thing I had to do was to quit thinking about the chemotherapy in a negative light – like it was something to be scared of.  I worked hard on this and managed to come up with a meditation that I would do each time I sat down for the treatment (if you’d like to sign up for my newsletters, I’ll share the exact meditation I did with you).  I envisioned the drugs entering my system as being a healing golden or white light (use a color that works for you personally) that moved through my entire body and eradicated any little weakling of a cancer cell (also important to think of the cancer cells as weak and easily overcome by the chemotherapy).  This was a very calming thing to do and helped with anxiety.

2. Juicing of Organic Fruit & Vegetables – I juiced in the morning before my chemotherapy appointments (and every morning afterward too) and took the juice with me in a stainless steel thermos.  I sipped it once I’d finished my meditation.  My favorite was a combination of carrot, beet (a potent anti-cancer veggie), apple and ginger.  Fresh ginger helps a lot with nausea and adds a spicy zest to the juice.  You don’t need too much, just about a 1″ knob of it.  I juiced every morning – for more information on the best things to juice, go to my page Diet and Cancer

3.  Supplementation – Certain supplements can actually increase the effectiveness of your chemotherapy, reduce the toxicity of it and help you to sail through chemotherapy without too much trouble. Contact me if you’d like a list of them.

4. Yoga and Walking – it is so important to keep moving!  If you’re tired, just slow down and do what you can.  Movement therapy helps you to detox, it helps your state of mind, it even helps constipation.

5.  Acupuncture   Believe it or not, acupuncture can help to reduce the side effects and toxicity of the chemotherapy. It can also help to reduce the chances of suffering with chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). If you begin your course of acupuncture at around the same time as you commence chemotherapy, it has the absolute best protective effect for your nerves.

6. The Power of Prayer – don’t underestimate this!  Tell your friends when you’re going for each dose of chemotherapy and have them spend 5 minutes actively saying a prayer for you to coincide with your appointment time.  You will be amazed at how uplifted you feel.  Powerful stuff.  I did this prior to surgery too.

7.  Laughter – I had a best friend who’d take along some kind of gag gift or joke book or something silly – she’d get the whole place chuckling.  Laughter is good medicine!

8. Massage or Reiki – get some bodywork regularly.  It makes a huge difference to how you feel when going through chemotherapy.

The combination of these 8 things got me through 6 months of chemotherapy with a minimum of side effects and problems.  I hope this helps you!

If you’d like to receive my best tips on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, and/or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey.

Do You Know the Benefits of Juicers for Cancer Patients?

do you know the benefits of juicing for cancer patients
Image Source: rgbstock.com / tacluda

Do You Know The Benefits of Juicers for Cancer Patients?

Fewer things, nutritionally speaking, are better for you than juicing when you have cancer.  Back in 1998, when my mother had Stage IV cancer, the single thing that made her feel so much better and actually added a few months of quality life was juicing.

The reasons to juice are compelling and it’s good to see that more and more people are beginning to juice before they have serious health problems.

The 5 Best Benefits of Juicers for Cancer Patients

  1.   Raw juices require minimal digestion (which is great if you don’t feel like eating) and can be used by the body quite easily;
  2.   Raw juices detoxify and cleanse the body of unwanted toxins, chemicals and wastes;
  3.   Raw juices provide superior nutrition by way of vitamins, minerals, and abundant living enzymes;
  4.  Juicing helps your body become more alkaline, and since cancer loves acidic conditions, being more alkaline is quite unfriendly to cancer cells;
  5.   Many juices have potent anti-cancer activity – see my list of the best ones on my page Diet and Cancer.

Eating Organic Is Important

All of these factors make juicing perfect nutrition for cancer patients.  I would like to stress, however, that anyone doing juicing for cancer patients should use ORGANIC produce because their bodies are already being ravaged by the treatments they go through and they don’t need to add pesticides and all the other risky nasties to that problem.

What Kind Of Juicer Is Best?

The next question people generally ask is what kind of juicer is best?  There are literally hundreds on the market and choosing one can be baffling.  The juicer you purchase really is important because most inexpensive juicers heat the juice a little as it passes through the machine and that wrecks the living enzymes and thus one of the major reasons you are juicing.

A good quality juicer needs to separately grind and then press out the juices. Low enzyme levels, usually the result of eating too many commercially prepared and fast foods, are linked with an inability to kill cancer cells.  I use this Omega Juicer and I absolutely love it because of the quality of the juice it produces, and of all the juicers I’ve had over the past 10 years, it’s the easiest to clean (you can buy it from Amazon by clicking that link).

A terrific book for learning how to juice is Power Juices Super Drinks by Steve Meyerowitz.

I hope this helps you.  If you have any questions, just contact me.  Let’s juice our way back to vibrant health!

If you would like to receive my best tips on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, and/or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  When you’re in a desperate situation, you need an ally.  You can depend on me to help you through this.