Category Archives: Guest Writers

Guest Writer: Musician Amy Kress and Her Breast Cancer Journey

Amy Kress
Amy Kress

Guest Writer: Musician Amy Kress – Her Breast Cancer Journey

Amy Kress is from Colorado, like me.  She is also a very gifted musician and when she offered to share her story with my readers, I jumped at the chance because of three important things.  One, I believe that the telling of our stories can help each of us in different ways, and Amy’s courage and humor in the face of devastating reality shines through.  Two, she is a younger woman with breast cancer and I know a lot of my readers are in that category.  Third, and perhaps the most compelling reason, is her description of the importance of living your dream.

This is Amy’s story, in her words.

“When I first received the diagnosis of cancer it was devastating.  First of all, cancer wasn’t supposed to happen to me.  Not ME!  Cancer happens to other people.  Elsewhere.  There was that moment of disbelief: the realization that my body had just turned on me.  The one thing I thought I could count on was that my own body wouldn’t try to kill me.  And then it did.  Brutal.

“The really hard part is the re-remembering of the diagnosis.  It was a grueling couple of weeks.
I would be shopping in the grocery store, weaving up and down the aisles.  I check my list: I have bread, milk, tomato soup, Advil and cancer.  Ugh.  I would be taking a shower and as I began to rub shampoo in my hair I would remember that my days of shampooing my hair were numbered.  You’re kidding me.  I would wake up in the morning, blurry eyed, and see my room take shape – the dresser, the alarm clock.  I have to be up because… doctor appointment… I have cancer.  Sh*t.  Every time the realization hit again was like a punch in the gut.

“I was 37 years old when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I had no family history and eventually learned that I was negative for the breast cancer gene.  The whole thing was a total shock.  I was married with two kids, my son was 7 and my daughter was 4.  Monsters are just things you don’t understand and this diagnosis was a giant monster.  Was this going to kill me?  How would we treat it? Would my children grow up without a mom?  What’s going to happen to me?  What if 37 years was all I got on this planet?  What have I done?  I was a housewife, and not a very good one.  I worked out, I made breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I helped the kids with their homework and had lunch with my friends every couple of weeks.  And I wrote music when no one was around.

“I have been a musician ever since I can remember.  My mom had me in piano lessons since I was 3 and while I went through a spell where I hated the lessons, I always loved to play.  I wrote my first song when I was 10 and it became this thing that I did.  Music became my passion in high school.  I took up French Horn in 5th grade and continued with that in both concert and marching band.  I took up trumpet in jazz band and joined the choir too.  I sang soprano in a special madrigal group and even tutored other students on the French Horn.  When I graduated high school I won the award for Top All Round Musician for having participated in every music program they had.  And then it stopped.

“I didn’t go to university for several reasons and at some point became surrounded by people who weren’t musical at all.  It became a lost talent and eventually it was just something I used to do.  I would flirt with music every once in awhile when someone with a musical leaning would come into my life, but it didn’t feel right.  Soon music was a thing of the past and I continued on without a real purpose, just living day to day.  Waiting… for what, I don’t know.  I just knew that this couldn’t be my life forever.  Something was coming.

“It came on May 31, 2011.  Estrogen and progesterone positive breast cancer just beginning to metastasize with some lymph node involvement.  Bam.  There ya go.  When I seriously considered that all the imagined possibilities dancing on the horizon of my future may never come to fruition, I was chilled to the bone.

“I had all these secret songs written but they were special.  They were all colors of my soul: a musical description of my psyche.  They were something that if someone were to listen to them 100 years after I’m gone that person would get a sense of who I was.  But very few people had ever heard my music.  I would be gone in more ways than one.  Not even a sound of me would be left and that terrified me.  It rocked me to my core.

“Much time and patience, tears and answers later I found myself without a breast or hair.  I needed a mastectomy on my right breast and 4 sessions of chemotherapy did away with my two feet of hair.  I opted for reconstruction and upgraded the girls to a full C instead of my previous unenthusiastic B.  At least some good can come from this.  As I healed both physically and emotionally from the upheaval the cancer caused, I began to think I needed to make someday today.  I needed to live my dream.  I was given a second chance to live the life I was born to live and my God, nothing was going to stop me.

“I began to play the piano more and more, working to develop my little scraps or doodles of melodies into full songs.  I recorded myself on my phone and posted the samples up on Soundcloud for prospective musicians to listen to my style.  It was a producer at a local recording studio, Glenn Sawyer of The Spot Studios in Lakewood, CO, who came across my music and wrote me asking if I would like to work with them to produce my songs.  I jumped at the chance.  It was September of 2013 when I met Glenn for the first time.  He was under the impression he was just giving me a tour of the studio but I was ready to record.  I had a full song, The Way I Want You, written and I wanted to hear what they could do.  You can hear the result on my first album aptly named Secret Music.  Clearly I loved what they did because I kept coming back for more.

“Bringing a song to a producer for me is like bringing a black and white sketch to an artist to paint.  Each artist will color it differently but in the end it’s the same drawing.  I really like the way Glenn and his co-producer, Rich Veltrop, color my music.  They have a talent to make my songs sound rich and beautiful.  I am so proud to share them now and tell everyone with pride that I am a musician.  Really and truly.  I am what I have always dreamed I would be.

“I was approached by Joel Rekiel who wanted to work as my manager and I signed a contract with him in the spring of 2014.  He has been working tirelessly to further my career by booking shows, ordering merchandise to sell, creating a website and managing my social media among many other things.  My first album is due out January 2015 and my publicist is actively promoting both me and the album’s release.  Things have been taking off.  Amazing!  The stuff movies are made of!  This is MY life!  Wow! Every day was Joie de Vivre: the exuberant joy of life!

“Then, in September 2014, I was diagnosed with cancer a second time.

“Wait wait wait wait wait…what?  NO!  I DID that already.  I saw the errors of my ways!  I made the changes that I needed to make!  I’m living happy now!  I got the message loud and clear!!!  So…..what the f**k!?  This time it was in the lymph nodes under my right arm.  I found a lump and a needle biopsy revealed it was cancerous.  They removed 10 lymph nodes and found them all positive for breast cancer.  Please re-read the second paragraph above.

“Bone scans, Pet Scans, CT scans, MRIs, the good news is the cancer is localized to under my right arm. Armpit cancer.  Classy.  It’s still breast cancer though and as it’s in the lymph nodes it is fair to say there are traces of it all through my body.  So.  Chemo.  Again.  This time a group of drugs much more aggressive: increased nausea, more difficult to endure.  I’ll admit that for a month after the diagnosis and decision to proceed with chemo I was in a serious funk.  I cried.  I was angry, no, I was furious. NOW!?  Now I have to go through this when my dream is a growing reality!?  This is the epitome of unfair!  I realize I’m being dramatic, but DAMN IT!!!

“…damn it…

“This is going to suck.

“I opted for cold cap treatments this time.  In case you are unfamiliar, the idea is to freeze the scalp and reduce blood flow to the area and thereby prevent the chemo drugs from coming in contact with the hair follicles.  This is achieved by wearing a series of caps all chilled to -30C and worn for 30 minutes each.  You start an hour before treatment and continue wearing them through the course of the 2 or 3 hour treatment and then for 3 hours after.  Yeah.  It isn’t nice.  It may be bordering on torture, but my hair looks good still.  I’ve only lost a few hairs so far and by the end of the treatment I may lose as much as 30% of my hair – but I’ll still have 70%.   I never said I wasn’t vain.

“I have been blessed to become friends with the guys at the studio and Glenn understands that music is what drives me.  We have been actively writing my second album and, I think, just finished the music for it yesterday.  There is still work to do but it is a welcome diversion from cancer and doctors and hospitals.  Plus it is an AMAZING album if I do say so myself.  Every song is my favorite, but then all my songs are a collection of jewels to me.  Each shines and glitters in a different way but is no less beautiful.  I cherish them as they are all part of me.  I look at them in my playlist and think “This is me. This is what I get to leave in this world.  Something of me will live on.”  And I feel complete.

“I feel now, even with 2 chemo sessions under my belt and 6 ahead of me, I can see the end of this trial.  I can begin to visualize the after.  The next step: that I will continue to do music and find joy in my experience.  I will find my joie de vivre again.  My friend Sam told me something yesterday: ‘Music is a gift that was given to you but it isn’t for you.  It’s for everyone else.’  I have something to share. I can’t up and die yet.  I have a dream to live.

“You can learn more about me on my website where I blog about stuff in general and get updates on my music. www.amykressmusic.com

“You can also follow my experience as I continue through my treatment and beyond on my Caring Bridge page: www.caringbridge.com/amyhumphreys1.

“Your life can change in the time it takes to answer the phone. Savor the moment, the joy of being.”

Beautifully written, Amy, and thanks for sharing your story with us.  We wish you much healing and joy in the coming years.  And we want you here with us.

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates.  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.  

The Difference Made By The Breast Cancer Research Foundation

http://MarnieClark.com/guest-writer-sarah-poland-for-the-breast-cancer-research-foundationThe Difference Made by the Breast Cancer Research Foundation
By: Guest Writer, Sarah Poland

The Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) is a non-profit organization with a mission to “prevent and cure breast cancer by advancing the world’s most promising research.”  Since their founding in 1993, BCRF has raised over $500 million, and over the next couple of years, they will award nearly $60 million in grants to 200+ scientists from top universities and medical institutions around the world. BCRF provides vital funding for cancer research, focusing on six specific areas: tumor biology, genetics, prevention, treatment, metastasis and survivorship.

1.  Tumor Biology

Logically, one must first understand how cancer works before one can treat and prevent it.  To get to the core of the cancer, which is actually a group of more than 100 diseases, every aspect from the smallest molecule to the largest tumor is examined.  Even when detected at the earliest stage, breast cancer is still unpredictable; doctors do not yet know which cells will be treated successfully and which will grow or spread. (University of California San Francisco Medical Center)

Ultimately, BCRF researchers seek the answer to two important “why” questions: Why does a normal cell become abnormal?  Why do different tumors react different to treatment?

According to Dr Charles Perou, “Understanding the bigger picture of the relationship between cancer stem cells, tumor biology, and their response to therapy has now evolved to be our area of focus”.  Once researchers like Dr Perou determine the “why”, they can focus on the “how”: how to treat and ultimately prevent breast cancer.  As every person is unique, so is every tumor, so there is no such thing as a “one size fits all” treatment.  The question of “why” has many answers and, by providing funding to researchers across the globe, BCRF is helping to simultaneously discover all solutions.

2.  Heredity & Ethnicity

You may be surprised to learn that most breast cancer patients do not have a family history of the disease.  “While breast cancers are known to run in families, they are rarely a direct result of mutated genes inherited from a parent.  In fact, inherited, or hereditary, cases account for only 5 – 10 percent of all breast cancers.” – Christine B Ambrosone, PhD

A person’s heredity and ethnicity are definitely risks, but they are not guarantees.  For this reason, genetic cancer research can be quite complicated.  There are certainly racial similarities when it comes to the manifestation of breast cancer, such as a genetic link to more aggressive tumors in women of African descent.  By focusing on racial differences at the molecular level, BCRF researchers will be able to better understand the course of the disease and therefore tailor treatment plans to specific ethnic groups.

3.  Lifestyle & Prevention

By now you know that there are many factors that lead to breast cancer, and lifestyle can be one of them.  While some of these factors, such as age and gender, are beyond one’s control, there are other ways that people can reduce their risk of developing breast cancer.

One of the major lifestyle risks is obesity, and BCRF researchers have found that maintaining a healthy weight, staying active, and avoiding stress can significantly affect prognosis.  Identifying lifestyle-related risk factors can help to empower people who may otherwise feel helpless when it comes to cancer.

4.  Treatment

Again, every cancer is unique.  Thanks to sophisticated research projects like those funded by BCRF, we know that no two cancers are the same and, subsequently, treatment plans have evolved to accommodate the diverse nature of the disease.

Not only do treatment results vary from person to person, but so do the risks and side effects.  From the patient’s family history to the tumor’s biology, researchers take everything into consideration when determining a treatment plan.  The overall goal is to find the least invasive but most effective option that will produce the best outcome for that particular person.

According to Dawn Hershman, a BCRF researcher, the quality of cancer care is a major national concern. Not all patients receive the most advanced treatment that is available, while others undergo costly treatments that may not help them.  The goal of Dr Hershman’s studies is to “integrate findings from population-based research to improve the quality of cancer care, reduce overuse of expensive drugs and improve quality of life for breast cancer survivors.”  Such patient-oriented approaches will surely lead to more successful results.

5.  Survivorship

Breast cancer research is clearly making a difference when it comes to survival rates.  There are nearly 3 million cancer survivors in the United States alone!  However, once a cancer patient enters remission, their journey is not over.  Survivors face a variety of physical and emotional challenges, from pain and fatigue to depression and insomnia.  By focusing on life after cancer, researchers have been able to identify treatment plans for ongoing care.  For example, research conducted by Patricia Ganz focuses on memory loss after breast cancer treatment.  Her work has provided insight into the causes of and ways to recover from this loss.

While complete breast cancer prevention may be an extremely long-term goal, survivorship is very relevant.  Cure rates have increased dramatically over the last 15 years and, according to Dr Ian Smith, death from breast cancer may become uncommon in the next decade.  Therefore, research focusing on life post-treatment is incredibly important.

6.  Metastasis

Metastasis refers to the spread of cancer to other parts of the body.  Early detection of breast cancer is certainly associated with higher survival rates but when the disease metastasizes, it often turns deadly. To many researchers, stopping the spread of breast cancer to other areas of the body is the single most important task at hand.

The BCRF has pledged $27 million to an international collaboration focusing on metastasis.  This will help researchers to uncover the reason why some breast cancers spread versus others.  The BCRF recently joined the American Association of Cancer Research and the American Society for Clinical Oncology to sponsor a workshop aimed at developing new drugs to treat metastatic breast cancer.

By fostering a community approach and providing easily-accessible grants and funding, BCRF is leading the fight against breast cancer.  With a talented array of researchers at the helm, this foundation is providing hope for everyone who is affected by the disease.  Dr Ian Smith said it well: “BCRF brings all the top people involved in breast cancer research together, physically once a year and in spirit over the rest of the year.  That leads to better exchange of ideas, and that is the way progress is made–not by people sitting and working in isolation, but by bringing large groups of people together.  This is what makes BCRF so important and so valuable.”

Thanks to Sarah Poland for letting us know how BCRF is helping people with breast cancer, and thanks to BCRF for the crucially important work they do.  I would encourage my readers to go over to the BCRF website and make a donation to this worthy cause.

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates.  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.  

Guest Writer: Jessica Socheski on 8 Ways To Communicate Pain Effectively To Your Doctor

Image source: sjccfthynet.blogspot.com

Today I’m welcoming Jessica Socheski, a freelance journalist who enjoys writing about health matters.  Jessica wished to share some information with my readers about how to effectively communicate pain to your doctor or care provider.

8 Ways To Effectively Communicate Pain To Your Doctor

Clear communication with your physician is essential to receiving the proper diagnosis and treatment for your pain. If there is a lapse in communication between a patient and his or her doctor, even great physicians will have trouble diagnosing their patient’s symptoms correctly.

 People who are informed and prepared will be able to relay critical details to their physicians and ask them the right questions in order to receive the best care possible. Here are some simple steps about communicating effectively with your healthcare professional.

 1.  Speak Up

When speaking with your healthcare professional, do not be shy about your pain. Inform your doctor as to why you have made the appointment and talk openly about any related symptoms to your condition. If you have been having chronic migraines, inform your doctor about the symptoms you have leading up to the migraine, the pain during the migraine, and any residual effects.

 In addition, tell your doctor if your pain interferes with any activities such as work or leisure activities, and whether your mood changes with the pain.

 2. Be Specific

Show your doctor where the pain is and be as specific as possible about its location and intensity. If your migraine affects a certain area of your head, do not simply express that your head hurts. Instead, tell what side the pain resonates in, if it affects your sight, etc.

3. Describe Pain With Adjectives

Since only you know right where your pain is and to what extent it hurts, help your doctor understand by descriptively talking about your pain. Here is a list of adjectives that might be helpful:

•aching

•throbbing

•shooting

•stabbing

•sharp

•tender

•burning

•exhausting

•penetrating

•numb

 4. Rate The Severity

Use a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being no pain and 10 being the worst pain you have ever felt. Rate your pain for a period of time before your doctor’s appointment, noting when the pain worsens and eases. Some people find keeping a record diary is helpful to provide their doctor.

 5. Track Your Pain

Tell your doctor whether your pain is periodic, occasional, continuous, or related to a certain activity. Be sure to explain when the pain is at its worst and when it is at its best, or if anything triggers it like food, sleeping, time of day, activities, etc.

 6. Devise A Treatment Plan

Treatment varies for each person and each doctor. Your doctor might prescribe pain medication, or they might offer suggestions such as massages, yoga, or light activity. Be sure to talk about what cures you may have already tried at home.

 7. Be Honest

Do not be afraid to disagree with your doctor. If what they are relaying back to you seems unrelated to your pain or symptoms, tell them. This can help them to adjust their diagnosis or explain their thinking to you.

 8. Be Prepared

Write out or mentally review your questions or concerns in advance. This way, when it comes time for your appointment, you will not forget any symptoms to relay to your doctor.

In order for your doctors to be able to treat you as best as they can, you need to be able to speak with them effectively. Use these tips to better describe your pain.

Thanks, Jessica, for the great advice.

Guest Post: Katey Mason of Aurora Strait Naturals

http://MarnieClark.com/Guest-Post-Katey-Mason-of-Aurora-Strait-NaturalsHappy April!  I am handing today’s blog over to Katey Mason of Aurora Strait Naturals, a brand new Australian company dedicated to creating pure, natural products with no nasties or toxic chemicals for parents, children and the home.  I think Katey and her business partner have a really beautiful business ethic, their products are gorgeous and I am very happy to help them get the word out.

Katey writes:

I was very young when I had my first son and was often misguided into things that I thought I HAD to do – feed him cow’s milk, vaccinate him (controversial), I was even under the impression that those jars of pre-made meals were good for him!  As he got a little older I started doing what every new parent should do (research) and found some nasty truths in a lot of things and I regretted going along with the mainstream even though I thought I was doing right by him.

After my second son was born I was very strict about what he ate and made sure that everything that went into his tummy was organic and homemade, until one day I looked at the ingredients of an “organic” bottle of lotion I went to apply to his dry skin.  I can tell you right away that the “organic” label certainly did not mean “good for you”.  There were ingredients that I couldn’t pronounce or even begin to think about where they came from and so I looked them up on a search engine.

Gross.

I was taking all these pains and efforts to make sure my sons were being looked after from the inside and I didn’t even realise they were also being poisoned from the outside.  I began looking around and being a mother with two young boys and not yet back at work, I couldn’t afford to buy these products that were offered to me at such a high price.  So I began to research some more and having some experience in my kitchen and having a slight knowledge for essential oils and herbs, I decided to make my own.  To my complete shock, what I had come up with was amazing and it worked beautifully.  I ended up replacing every single one of our body care products: body wash, soap, lotions, talcum powder and facial cleansers.  I felt much better – physically and mentally – knowing that I was looking after myself without any harsh chemicals or cancer causing parabens.

I researched and studied enough so that I could perfect my recipes and hand them out to my friends so they could try and make a difference to their bodies too.  After trying them out, I had such wonderful feedback!   And so the idea of “Aurora Naturals” was born.  I could sell my natural, chemical- and cruelty-free products to people at a fraction of the cost of what they are paying in mainstream stores for products that are mass produced and riddled with all sorts of horrible ingredients.  When I mentioned this to my friend in America, Tessa Strait, she told me how she had been making soap for a long time and wanted to do the same thing.

Having the same goals and the same passion for natural products without ripping people off, we decided to merge and make a bi-continental company, “Aurora Strait Naturals”.  We both feel very strongly about giving our babies, friends and family the very best – and we want everyone to be able to experience natural and opulent products, not just those who can afford to pay for products that are heavily marked up so that companies can make fast money.  We have combined our recipes and skills and now we offer an array of home and body care lotions, body butters, body scrubs, eczema ointment, air refreshers, candles and much more.  We also have a specific baby care range to help mothers and fathers give their newborn babies the very best start http://MarnieClark.com/Guest-Post-Katey-Mason-of-Aurora-Strait-Naturalswith all natural and cruelty-free ingredients.

We are constantly broadening our product lists as well as our education to ensure we offer the very best, custom, natural products we possibly can.  Please visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/auroranaturals and feel free to message us at any time with any questions or information.

Update:  Aurora Strait Naturals now has a website:  Aurora Strait Naturals

Brilliant, Katey.  I’m so proud of you.  The products are absolutely divine too – my special favorites are the Strawberry Lip Balm, the Coconut Lime Scrub and the Lavender Rose Lotion.  Using them you can just tell they have a beautiful healing energy.  My skin is soaking them up like a big thirsty sponge and asking for more.  They smell good enough to eat!  (and Katey says they are safe enough to eat too!).  Gotta love that.

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-books 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 emerge from breast cancer feeling better than before, thriving!

Guest Writer: Strategies for Coping with the Anxiety of Living with a Serious Illness

 

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net / Simon Howden

 

Strategies for Coping with the Anxiety of Living with a Serious Illness

Finding out you have a serious illness is devastating. It forces you to come to terms with your own mortality, and while you should keep fighting every day, it’s most certainly harder to relax and find happiness when you’re faced with that thought each and every day.

For many, this causes significant anxiety. Even if you’ve responded well to treatments, your life is undoubtedly going to change. It has to, because you’ve been faced with a life changing event that has changed the course of your life forever.

But that anxiety becomes a problem when it holds you back from finding happiness in life. There are going to be trials, and times when it’s difficult to think positively, but the more time you spend focused on the adversity and the risks ahead, the less time you spend living for yourself in a way that makes you happy. Everyone will someday have to face their own mortality, but until they do, everyone deserves to try to live a life that is free of regrets and filled with joy.

Stopping Anxiety in its Tracks

Of course, this is often easier said than done. There is certainly no denying that the never-ending doctor’s visits, treatment side effects, and physical aches and pains can make controlling anxiety more difficult. But there are still ways to help you cope with the stresses ahead of you so that you still wake up each day ready to enjoy life. Some of these include:

1.  Goal Creation

The simple act of creating goals is extremely important for those living with a serious illness. You need to make sure that you’re always working for something, and that when you complete a goal you still have more to do. It’s good to be focused on the future and not feeling stuck.

Many of those with anxiety disorders (unrelated to serious illness) struggle with this as well. I certainly did. It caused me to spend each day focused on just getting through the day, and suddenly I woke up and a year had passed and I had accomplished nothing.

Even though serious illness can reduce some of your ability to meet some of these goals, there are always new goals you can try. Make sure you’re constantly working for something so that each day is one spent achieving something in the future.

2.  Permanent Creative Outlets

What Ms. Clark is doing with this blog is also incredibly valuable. When you suffer from anxiety, you no doubt have all of these thoughts in your head that you can’t seem to release. Putting them all on paper and sharing them with others is the type of creative outlet that many people need to simply take those thoughts out of their head and share them with others, and the permanence of a blog or journal ensures that at any point you can go back, see what you were feeling, and see how you are now.

Those that don’t like to write can try art as well. But anything you can do that lets out your emotions in a healthy way is valuable, and will reduce some of the pressure that these thoughts have on you.

3.  Fake It

It can be hard to feel optimistic when you are struggling with a serious diagnosis, even if you’ve managed to overcome it. When optimism fails, you try faking optimism.

We’re not talking about denial.  Denial is never healthy.  We’re just talking about pretending to be a person that isn’t affected by their diagnosis.  Pretend to be someone with a positive outlook, even if it doesn’t come naturally.

One of the most interesting things about the human brain is that when it’s confused, it tries to adapt to being confused.  By pretending to be positive, you’re confusing your brain, and often you’ll find that your mind turns you into a more positive person as a result in order to become less confused. It may sound silly, but it’s very effective, and absolutely worth a try for a few months.

  1.  Your Spirit and Anxiety

Still, in the end it’s not about the diagnosis. It’s about who you want to be and how you want to live your life. Your own willingness to recognize your anxiety and overcome it is going to be the key that moves you forward.  If you show your own inner strength by dedicating your life to happiness and enjoying yourself, you’ll find that no diagnosis can truly hold you back.

About today’s Guest Writer: Ryan Rivera has worked with many people struggling with chronic illness, and provides anxiety recovery tips at www.calmclinic.com.

Thanks, Ryan!  We appreciate your words of wisdom.

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.

Chinese Alternative Medicine: Link Between Breast Cancer and Lymphoma

Chinese Alternative Medicine Link Between Breast Cancer and Lymphoma
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and pichart99thai

Today I’m welcoming back my good friend, MaryAnne Bachia, Licensed Acupuncturist & Chinese Herbalist, as my guest writer.  MaryAnne wanted to share some information on the link between breast cancer and lymphoma, as viewed from a Chinese Alternative Medicine approach.

The Breast Cancer and Lymphoma Link

Have you had a breast cancer diagnosis only to find you are also diagnosed with lymphoma?

In this situation, your health issue has progressed from being a local one, the breast, to the systemic level of the lymphatic system.

There is a way of looking at this — it isn’t so much about the disease but it is about toxicity and the toxins are spreading fast. In Chinese medicine, when a health issue spreads quickly, it is a sign of toxins and is termed fire toxins. They move fast, like fire.

What your Chinese medicine practitioner will need to do is rid the body of the fire toxins and them rebuild the body so it no longer creates these toxins.

Fire toxins develop from a prolonged period of imbalance, when the body doesn’t have the energy to move toxins out and so it creates false energy or toxicity to move pathogens out of the body. This adds to the toxic accumulation and, eventually, creates more disease.

Basically, the body is working much harder than it ever should – the toxic accumulation is now in the blood.  The blood needs to be cleansed of these toxins and the body needs to be strengthened enough to move toxins out.

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine help with this. They can also help with the side effects and weakness that arises with chemotherapy.

In this day and age, most of us are caught up in the business of life, technology and many things unnatural. We have created a lifestyle that is so far from a  natural, healthy rhythm that we have also created spas, yoga classes and meditation classes in order to learn, again, how to relax in a healthy and balanced way.

We should use these tools to help us prevent illness and enhance our health.

For more information, you can go to my website Acupuncture Energy Works and contact me for a free 15 minute consultation.

Thanks, MaryAnne, for providing us with some insight on the link between breast cancer and lymphoma.

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.

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.

Guest Writer: Barbara O’Brien from Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Center

asbestosToday I am welcoming guest writer Barbara O’Brien from the Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Center.

Barbara recently wrote to me requesting I include some information on my blog about another type of cancer about which her organization was raising awareness: mesothelioma, which is caused by asbestos exposure.  Barbara writes:

The Dangers of Asbestos

Prolonged exposure to asbestos causes mesothelioma. What is asbestos? It’s a bundle of fibers made from mined minerals. First discovered in the late nineteenth century, asbestos was used for insulation, soundproofing, some vehicle parts and shipbuilding. Asbestos was considered a miracle product until people began getting sick and dying. By 1989, asbestos was banned in the United States.

This ban came too late for many people who suffered and died from mesothelioma. Many people still suffer from this potentially deadly form of cancer of the tissues surrounding the lungs. Breathing in asbestos fumes has also been linked to other lung problems like asbestosis, nonmalignant lung disorders and blockages or plagues in lung tissue.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma

There are two types of mesothelioma, pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma. Both types are fatal and have similar symptoms. According to the National Cancer Institute, the main symptoms of both types of mesothelioma are:
• Problems breathing
• Problems swallowing
• Lumps under the skin over the chest
• Coughing with pain
• Coughing more often
• Chest or abdominal pain with or without coughing
• Sudden weight loss without being on a diet
• Coughing up blood

Anyone suffering from these symptoms needs to see a doctor as soon as possible. Smokers with mesothelioma may put off going to a doctor in the mistaken belief that the symptoms are caused by smoking. Although smoking can make a person more prone to developing mesothelioma and has been linked to lung cancer, mesothelioma is a different form of lung cancer and needs specific treatments. Patients many need a chest X-ray and other imaging tests to rule out other medical conditions.

Have You Been Exposed to Asbestos?

Asbestos releases microscopic particles into the air that can be breathed into the lungs. The closer a person is to the asbestos, the more he or she will breathe in. Builders and construction workers can breathe in large doses of asbestos because they may have to work directly with asbestos products.

However, just living or working in a building made with asbestos materials can be enough to cause mesothelioma in some people. Anyone who worked on boats, such as sailors or merchant marines, is trapped in an asbestos-soaked environment. People that lived through a natural or man-made disaster that topples entire buildings toss up great clouds of asbestos. Anyone who lived through such a disaster needs to be aware of the symptoms of mesothelioma and get treatment right away.

Thank you, Barbara, for sharing this information with us.

Guest Writer: Catherine Doughty

Catherine Doughty bookA SCIENTIFIC MAP TO NAVIGATE THE MEDICAL MAZE WITH A BREAST CANCER DIAGNOSIS TO EMERGE CANCER FREE AND LOOK ABSOLUTELY STUNNING!
by Catherine Doughty, MS, CCHI, Award Winning Author

The award winning book, Breast Cancer!  You’re Kidding…Right?  Living Life Through The Prism Of Uncertainty And Having A Good Time is the distilled essence of my cancer experience and the use of scientific methodology to assist in navigating the medical maze bringing clarification to treatment decisions in an uncertain decision space.  I have condensed the subject matter into the smallest compass possible because, as everyone knows who has fallen into what I call the “Cosmic Cancer Bunny Hole,” conciseness, tools for clinical discussions with physicians, and precision in treatment scenario planning is of the greatest assistance in decision making.

Once you have heard the three little words, “You have cancer!”  The first thing that needs to be realized is a fact of fundamental importance, and that is uncertainty.  Because it means breaking away from all of the ordinary predispositions of thought you were living with and reconstructing a new phase of your life.  You also need to give yourself some room to understand the absolutely fresh new scale of values which the prism of uncertainty presents to you.  After you get ahold of uncertainty as the true reality for everyone, it is the sexiest way to live and, every day you will have a rocking hot good time!

In the beginning, don’t imagine that you can assimilate a breast cancer diagnosis, what you will or won’t accept in the treatment planning stages and all that it contains in one or two clinical visits with your surgeon, oncologist or other subject matter experts, or in one or two readings.  You need strategy to navigate the medical maze and fast.  You should review your reports and go over your options again and again with your physicians until you have thoroughly grasped the magnitude of the treatment plans you are willing to consent to because it is you who will live with the aftermath of every clinical decision carried out.

I designed the book with the principles and elements for success, in response to the requests I received from all the cancer patients who I coached voluntarily.  So often, they had been crying for days and weeks at a time and they all had the same question, “Where do I begin to unravel this, and where do you start?”  Hence, the birth of the book, which is loaded with thought provoking strategy to assist anyone with any stage of breast cancer emerge stunning, and get their life back in control while learning how to make decisions in an uncertain decision space and live their life through the prism of uncertainty.  The fascination lies in the simplicity and pure scientific methodology used to provide a complete step by step guide inclusive of discussion documents, clinical consultation worksheets, criteria solution matrices and treatment scenario planning which is critical to a successful outcome.

The book is literally pulling the curtain back and getting the word out there that there is a clear cut strategy for anyone with any stage of breast cancer needing treatment planning that is on the merits and works with life threatening and lifesaving clinical decision making in uncertain decision spaces to minimize the risk for recurrence.  The book provides perspective and a practical method for selecting an appropriate treatment plan that is right for you.

Honestly, you will be on the edge of your seat with every single word in this book. It captures the reader from beginning to end, and makes them want to live their life through the prism of uncertainty and have one rocking hot good time. This is an adrenaline thrill ride from start to finish, that you cannot put down.

One of the questions people want to know is how do I get a copy of the book?  The book is available worldwide, including Amazon.com, both paperback and Kindle versions at http://www.amazon.com/Breast-Cancer-Kidding-Through-Uncertainty/dp/0615498590/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1333143496&sr=1-1 , Barnes and Noble, and through your favorite online or brick-and-mortar bookstore or through my website at http://www.thecancercat.com.

About the Author:  Catherine Doughty, MS, CCHI is an award winning author who lives in Bellaire, Texas. She serves as an adjunct associate professor for three universities and holds a Master of Science in Biomedical Informatics earned at the University of Texas. Her career as Director in a Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Imaging is enhanced by the fact that she is a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.

She is available for interviews, media appearances, bloging, radio interviews, book signings, and speaking engagements. If you would like additional information on the secrets of scientific methodology or would like to meet the physicians that endorsed this award winning book, please visit her website at http://www.thecancercat.com/. In order to contact the author directly, send an e-mail to http://cldoughty@yahoo.com or telephone at 832-545-6239.