Time Managing Tips When You’re Going Through Breast Cancer

time managing tipsTime Managing Tips When You’re Going Through Breast Cancer

One of the things that people who are going through breast cancer really have problems with is time management.

Take a normally busy life and turn it upside down with trips to the doctor, trips to the treatment center for chemotherapy or radiotherapy, preparing healthy food and/or juicing, trips to the health food store, working and those down days when you feel like you can’t manage ANY of it, and you have a potential recipe for disaster and melt-down.

Here are some time managing tips to help you through these incredibly busy days.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help – If you need help, you must ask for it.  No one is necessarily going to understand what you’re going through and automatically be there for you.

Whether it’s a friend or a neighbor, a spouse or your children, a sibling or a parent, don’t be afraid to ask for help.  If ever there was a time in your life when you should feel okay about asking for help, mounting a battle against cancer should be IT.

Yet, amazingly, plenty of people have problems with this.  It’s not about being a control freak, it’s more about having a hard time admitting help is needed.  Some are simply just accustomed to doing things all on their own.  Right now, though, please just admit there are times when you will need help and don’t be afraid to ask for it.  No one is going to think bad things about you – in fact, they’ll probably be relieved to know that there’s a way they can help you.

Organize For The Coming Day – It really helps to make a plan for the next day the evening before. Write down the 3 most important things you need to accomplish the next day. Put a big star next to the most important one.  Once your day begins, start on that important task and see it through to the end.

Chop & Prepare Vegetables Ahead of Time –  If you’re juicing, it can be very time consuming (but oh, so worth doing!).  See my article on the Benefits of Juicing.  Get someone else (your kids, your spouse, but someone reliable) to either do the vegetable washing, peeling and preparation or to help you do it) and prepare enough for the coming week.  Put them all in those gallon sized zipper bags and store them in the refrigerator.  You can also use them for salads, steaming, however you like to eat vegetables.

Limit Your Time With Energy Suckers –  I know it’s tempting to check and see who said what on Facebook, but at least 30 minutes of precious time can be wasted that way every single day.  Sure, check and see what your peeps are doing, but LIMIT YOUR TIME THERE.  The computer can steal a lot of energy from you and it’s time you could be spending taking a revitalizing walk or doing some meditation or yoga.

If you notice that certain people are sucking your energy (like that neighbor who just wants to gossip about everyone on the block), make your excuses and politely get away from them.

Television is also another energy sucker – be very aware of how much time is spent here (especially with the evening news).  Give yourself a TV-free day once a week and see how the silence resonates with you.

Be very aware of what steals your energy while going through breast cancer treatment because you need as much energy as you can muster to fight this battle.

Consolidate Your Errands – Make a vow to not leave the house for just one little thing.  Wait until you have several things you need to do – like put fuel in the car, or buy the week’s fruit and vegetables, go to the office supply store, going to the post office.  Or better yet, ask someone to do that for you and give yourself time to meditate or do your juicing or yoga… you get the picture.

Learn To Say No – If you say “yes” to every request that’s made on your time, you will be exhausted.  Get super protective about your time, and say “no” to everything but the essential requests or the things that are important to YOU to do.

Outsource If You Can – This is a great time to hire a house cleaner if you can afford it.  If you can’t, please don’t try to handle all of the house cleaning on your own.  Delegate certain tasks that require a lot of your energy – like vacuuming or gardening – to whoever else you can.

Answer Email While Waiting For Doctor/Therapy Visits – If you have a laptop or smart phone, learn how to answer your email while you’re waiting for your turn with the doctor, or while getting your chemotherapy infusions, etc.  This would normally be wasted time, and it also helps keep anxiety levels down if you’re focused on sending somebody else some love!

Start a Blog For Friends, Relatives – I know quite a few who have done this to keep far-away loved ones in the loop about how they’re feeling, how their treatments are progressing, etc.  You won’t need to spend hours at it, just update it whenever you feel you need to, make sure your loved ones have the web address, and that way no one has to spend inordinate amounts of time on the phone updating everyone.  Writing a blog can be quite cathartic too!

Got any more great tips that helped you through this?  Feel free to add it to the comments section below.

 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… and beyond.

Support Breast Cancer Action – A Good Cause


support breast cancer action I would like to recommend that you support a breast cancer advocacy group called Breast Cancer Action, a national organization founded in 1990 by a group of women who understood that together we can effect much change.

Breast Cancer Action was born (according to their website) “from a need for a grassroots organization with a unique understanding of the political, economic, and social context of breast cancer.”

BCA’s Mission Statement

“Breast Cancer Action carries the voices of people affected by breast cancer to inspire and compel the changes necessary to end the breast cancer epidemic.”

What I Love About Breast Cancer Action

Their strict contributions policy allows them to be an independent voice for women who are either at risk of breast cancer or are living with it.  They do not take money from anyone who profits from or contributes to the breast cancer epidemic. I believe that’s important.

They advocate for more effective treatments for breast cancer (and less toxic – which is what I’m all about too).

They are committed to raising the public awareness of environmental exposures to harmful chemicals that put people at risk for breast cancer (one of my favorite topics as well).

They have a Think Before You Pink Campaign which you should find out about.  It’s gotten so that I hate the month of October for all the pink ribbons everywhere and the companies who CLAIM to be supporting the fight against breast cancer but continue marketing their toxic chemical-laden body products and cosmetics to unsuspecting women.  GRRR!

Most importantly, BCA is actively opposing gene patenting because the patents give one company the exclusive rights to all testing and research on BRCA genes. This monopoly effectively prevents anyone else from so much as examining the genes, and creates barriers to scientific research and medical care relating to breast and ovarian cancer.

Sign Up For Their Webinars

Yesterday I attended one of BCA’s webinars titled “Reducing Inequities in Breast Cancer – Why Experience Matters”.  So they are also advocates for communities where inequalities exist in getting the proper treatment for breast cancer – whether due to language or cultural barriers, racial inequities, financial barriers, or geographical location).

This webinar was well presented and made me aware that just because we live in the United States, we are not all treated equally with regard to being able to get the proper information and treatment for breast cancer.

Please support Breast Cancer Action with your contributions.

 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… and beyond.

Deepak Chopra: Interesting Article Suggests Cancer Is Preventable

breast cancer cells

breast cancer cells

I am a follower of Deepak Chopra on Twitter because I like his short little tweets and the wisdom they often contain.  I don’t always agree with him (sometimes I don’t even understand his comment!) but when he tweets about cancer, I pay attention.

On August 21, 2012, Deepak Chopra’s website had an absorbing article titled “Cancer: A Preventable Disease is Creating a Revolution“.  Check it out – interesting reading.

Someone went to a lot of time and trouble to set up the interviews with the experts (including Candace Pert, one of my favorite authors!), film them, and create the chapters of the video, some of which are interactive.

It really is a vastly informing little video.  The chapters include brief discussions of cells, what normal cells look like, what cancer cells look like, how cancer spreads, types of cancer, staging and grading of cancer, risk factors, altered genes, symptoms of cancer, imaging, screening, treatments for cancer, and a discussion of cancer remission.  There are also discussions of how body weight and exercise factor in, what to eat and not eat (which you can also get from my page titled Diet and Cancer), smoking and drinking and environmental hazards.

For someone who knows nothing about cancer, it’s a good place to start learning and to possibly accept the proposition that cancer can be preventable.

For those of us who have been through it, it might seem a little elementary, but the reason I decided to include this article on my blog today is because I really liked the way he ended his article with this statement: “You aren’t called on to become a cancer expert. But weighing all the evidence, it’s clear which way the wind is blowing. The likelihood that cancer is not enmeshed with lifestyle is diminishing year by year. Yes, cancer is immensely complicated, but everything you can do to support your body’s innate intelligence is a positive step in allowing that intelligence to block the cellular changes that create malignancy. A decade from now, I expect that we will tune in and find that this ray of hope has become even brighter.”

While I’m not a cancer expert either, I’ve spent years and years researching health and cancer, I’m a breast cancer survivor of 8 years, and I have a newsletter series that presents all of the most healing things I’ve come across in my years of research.  Please sign up for my newsletters on the right and I will be honored to walk with you on your journey to regain your health.

A Contemplation of Brachytherapy and IORT (You Might Want to Rethink Them)

Artwork courtesy of Zela/ rgbstock.com

Artwork courtesy of Zela/ rgbstock.com

I recently discovered that there are two new-ish therapies available as breast cancer treatments that were not available when I had breast cancer in 2004, known as brachytherapy and intra-operative radiation therapy, or IORT.

They are interesting, but do not come without risk and I thought you should know about them.  This is likely to open up a can of worms, but here goes.


For women who do not need to undergo mastectomy, a lumpectomy is performed to remove a cancerous tumor.  Brachytherapy involves the insertion of either a series of tubes or a catheter attached to a small balloon into the breast.

A radioactive source is then delivered to the surgical site, where it can kill off any remaining cancer cells within about 1 cm.  After five days of treatment, the tubes or catheter can be removed.  This allows doctors to irradiate the breast “from the inside out,” unlike the traditional method of applying radiation to the entire breast with an external beam.

Intra-Operative Radiation Therapy (IORT)

Intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) is an intensive radiation treatment that is administered during surgery.  IORT is used to treat cancers that are difficult to remove during surgery and there remains a concern that microscopic amounts of cancer may still be in situ.  IORT allows direct radiation to the target area while sparing normal surrounding tissue.

According to the Mayo Clinic website: “IORT allows higher effective doses of radiation to be used compared to conventional radiation therapy. It’s not always possible to use very high doses during conventional radiation therapy, since sensitive organs could be nearby. IORT also allows doctors to temporarily move nearby organs or shield them from radiation exposure.”

They both sound good, right?  Read on.

The Problem Is…

In theory, these two therapies seem like a good idea because doctors can basically deliver the whole radiation treatment at the time of surgery or just after, rather than requiring the patient to go back daily for 6-7 weeks.

The problem is that these two therapies still need extensive studies to be done to ensure their effectiveness!  There is a complete lack of randomized trial data comparing the effectiveness of either of these therapies with standard whole-breast irradiation.

Randomized trials can take years, however, and how these treatments have managed to be put forward and offered without those trials is mind-boggling to me.  There is one such trial underway sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, but it will be years before the results are known.

An Interesting Research Study

In the meantime, a group of researchers from the University of Texas, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and the University of Chicago decided to compare women who had already selected one option or the other to see how they were faring.  They called it a retrospective population-based cohort study, which is not the “gold standard” of research studies, that being the randomized controlled study.  But it was useful information anyway and the results of their research was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and you can access that study here.

The research team used data compiled by Medicare, and they had a large patient population – 92,735 women treated for breast cancer between 2003 and 2007. The average age for these women was nearly 75, and they were tracked for an average of about 3 years following their radiation therapy.

One interesting thing is that the research showed very clearly the growing appeal of brachytherapy.  In 2003, only 3.5% of women on Medicare chose this treatment, but by 2007 that figure had risen to 12.5%.

Here are the results.  In the 5 years after receiving brachytherapy, 3.95% of these women went on to need a mastectomy, compared with only 2.18% of women who chose whole breast radiation. After controlling for various demographic and other factors, the researchers still found that women who had brachytherapy were 2.19 times more likely to have their breast removed.

Overall, the researchers calculated that “for every 56 women treated with breast brachytherapy, 1 woman was harmed with unnecessary mastectomy.”

There were also more post-operative complications for these women, including infections. In the first year after their lumpectomy, 28% of women in the brachytherapy group had a complication, compared with 17% of women who had their whole breast radiated.

There were also more complications from radiation. In the five years after their treatments began, 25% of women who got brachytherapy reported some sort of complication, versus 19% of women who got whole breast irradiation. These complications included breast pain, fat necrosis and rib fracture, according to the study.

It really isn’t too surprising.  It’s radioactive material that is being inserted into the body, after all.

The good news is that most women survived their breast cancer no matter which type of radiation treatment they chose – 86-87% were still alive after 5 years.

My own personal opinion is that it’s all about quality of life.  Give yourself the best chance you can to survive and enjoy your life.  For me, that choice did not include radioactive material being inserted into me or blasted onto me from above.  Here’s what I did instead.

 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… and beyond.

My Thoughts on Breast Radiation

Photo courtesy of rgbstock.com and Drow

Image source: rgbstock.com and Drow

My Thoughts On Breast Radiation

A few of my coaching clients have asked me about my decision not to undergo radiation therapy on my breast after I finished chemotherapy.

Okay, so here goes.

It wasn’t an easy decision to make, I debated about it backwards and forwards for what seemed like weeks but was probably only about 10 days.  The pressure on me was enormous from both my oncologist and the radiotherapy department to which he’d referred me.

But I wasn’t about to be rushed or bullied (yes, bullied – one person who called me from the radiotherapy department tried everything she could think of to get me in there for this treatment).

Here are my reasons for not doing radiotherapy:

1.  We lived an hour away from the radiotherapy facility, so the traveling would have been grueling, two hours per day of just car time, 5 times per week for 6 weeks.  Add another hour for the actual treatment and waiting for it.  I still needed to work!  Be that as it may, if i believed it would actually help me, I would have done it.

2.  I hated the idea of the side effects I knew were waiting for me – fatigue, sensations of sunburn, possible injury to the heart, possible lung inflammation, possible nerve damage and even generation of cancer stem cells, although I didn’t know about that last item at the time.  I just wasn’t willing to risk all of that, especially after already having been through 6 months of chemotherapy.

3.  After visiting with a radiologist, I found out that for me personally radiation only improved my survival chances by about 3-5%.

I could see that my stress levels and quality of life were going to seriously suffer for 6 weeks.

Here’s what I did instead:

I had been studying natural medicine for several years.  I knew of so many other things I could do that would enhance my health and not impact my sanity, my immune system or my working life as much as radiation would.

Here’s what I did (and I don’t say you should do this too – I am just sharing information here, you have to do what’s right for you):

  • Every morning after a hot shower I spread across my chest two particular essential oils and every 3 days, I would change that pair of oils.  Click on the link to see which essential oils I used.  The hot shower helped open my pores so that the oils penetrated more deeply.
  • I then went back to bed and utilized a specific healing visualization that brought white light into my body.
  • I took in plenty of good nutrition – see my page Diet and Cancer for a list of the best ones.
  • I worked on my immune system constantly.  See my page 8 Ways To Build A Super Strong Immune System.

And that’s it.  At the end of 6 weeks, I was positively glowing with health.  I’m still 100% healthy.

As I said, I’m not saying you should do exactly what I did, you must find your own healing path.  I just wanted you to know there are other ways of achieving health.

GET MY BEST TIPS on healthy ways to beat breast cancer and prevent recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) 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.  

Member No 267494 Member No 267494


Join Marnie's Breast Care Community

Enter your details below to receive my informative newsletter and I'll also send you a copy of my 2 eBooks as my gift to you!

Success! Go check your e-mail and confirm your email address so that I can send your gift.