Facing the big scary “C” word…

We’re coming up on the 4 year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis.   This took us completely by surprise and left us both in shock.   The original prognosis was not good…6 months to 2 years.   A very scary time in our lives to be sure.   We shed a lot of tears, held tight to each other and prayed.   I began rethinking our lifestyle and making plans in my mind for what to do with all my worldly goods.

They say the Lord doesn’t give us more than we can handle…

Almost immediately on top of my diagnosis,  Ernie received a diagnosis of bladder cancer.  Another total shock and surprise.   His urologist told us that the 3 major causes of bladder cancer are SMOKING,  HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS, and things like RADIATION.   Ernie had been a smoker for years and being in the Army, had lots of exposure to all the rest.   The  surgeon informed us that he was handing Ernie off to an associate as he was booked and he wouldn’t be able to get to Ernie as quickly as the situation warranted.   The Lord blessed us and brought Dr. Raj into our lives.   He is caring, compassionate and competent!   There was a quick round of tests, and before we knew it, we were in Dallas for extensive surgery.  Ernie is still blessed to be cancer “free”.   We will go back in August for another check up.

Did I mention that Ernie’s Mom had been diagnosed with cancer several weeks before me?   Hers was advanced.  Her oncologist started her on chemo right away.  There were many prayers for this sweet lady, 6 chemo treatments, each requiring blood transfusions and rather lengthy hospital stays.  I’m pleased to report that she has been cancer “free” for 3 years!

I’m not ready to lay down and give up.   I truly believe the Lord helps those who help themselves.    We spend more time in the Bible and in prayer.   HE has blessed our family over and over.  HE has covered our needs, provided the Doctors, treatments and friends as we’ve needed.   I’ve tried to limit the stressful things in my life…not always possible with my job and the situations there.   But for everything that’s stressful,  there’s something to counter balance it…Uplifting scripture,  Ernie’s silly jokes,  a good book, a sweet cat curled up in my lap.

Beating Cancer with Nutrition (Patrick Quillin) has been the best reading for vitamins, minerals and basic nutritional information.  I made lists,  threw out cookware and made some decisions on my eating habits.   Some of the things he talked about were new to me, others not.   I didn’t understand how some vitamins had to be consumed together to work…others were taken alone.  I didn’t understand what an important role the minerals play in our well-being.

Did you know that all those vitamin supplements are basically useless or could be harmful if not taken correctly?  Some of them interfere with our digestion and absorption of the actual vitamin.  Others can alter the chemical composition of your prescribed medications rendering them useless.

Did you know that non-stick coatings can cause harmful chemical reactions when they get worn and start flaking out of those favorite skillets?

Did you know that foods heated in the microwave in plastic bags, plastic containers or covered with plastic leach chemicals into your foods?

Did you know that refilling plastic water bottles was a bad thing as the plastic breaks down and lets chemicals leach into your water?  or that freezing those same bottles could create chemicals in your water that cause cancer?   I quit freezing the bottles and switched to organic green tree for breakfast.   No coffee,  and only an occasional sip of a diet soda.   I don’t really care for sodas anyway, so that’s not hard for me.

Did you know that the meats we love grilled are actually bad for us?  The more you char them,  the more harmful they are to us.  Same goes for toasted foods.   That lovely, yummy, black bark is carcegenic!

Did you know that spinach is a wonder food, but it needs to be cooked to release the nutrients we need?

Are you aware of the fact that sugar FEEDS cancer?   Cancer cells thrive on sugar.   Of course, cakes, cookies and candies are loaded.  I really TRY to be good with those.   Potatoes are loaded as are peas, corn and carrots.   Most carb foods turn into sugars in the blood stream.   We still eat a biscuit every morning,  steel cut oatmeal sometimes and we’ve gone to smaller servings of potatoes.  Switched out russets for sweet potatoes and small red potatoes.   We’ve switched to wheat spaghetti.  My concern now is gluten.   Need to find a gluten free spaghetti.  Gluten does bad things too.

Did you know a cancer patient needs at least 9 hours of sleep per night?  Your body only heals when it’s sleeping.   A positive attitude is important as well as a trusted group of family/friends for your support team.  We have a wonderful group of  family and friends and our church family who pray with us often.

The list goes on!   My copy of the book is dog-eared from reading.   We’ve quit cooking with non-stick cookware.  I try to store liquid foods in glass jars rather than plastic…and reheat on plates with paper towels (be sure it’s safe for the microwave)  instead of plastic where I can.  If I had my way,  we’d throw out every bit of plastic that comes into contact with any wet foods.

We’re eating way more vegetables and fruit in our diets and I’ve tried to cut the amount of meats.  More proteins from beans.  We both enjoy salad and stir fry.   I try to limit the carbs, but that’s just not always possible.   We are trying to grow more of our own food so we can control the chemicals.   We eat local range fed beef…no feedlot chemicals, no steroids, no antibiotics.   I would like to find a source for organic chickens.

The only proof I’ve got that it’s working is the blood work that’s done every month.   Other than a touch of anemia from one of my prescriptions,  the blood work has been great.

So many of our friends have been diagnosed with cancers lately… my heart, thoughts and prayers go out to each of you.   Without meaning to sound flippant,  we’ve been there, still doing that.   We know what you’re going through.

A diagnosis of cancer is a horrible shock, but it doesn’t have to be devastating.  There is so much we can take care of on our own…resting, eating right, drinking lots of water and green teas…research, research, research.   Check your local library for Mr. Quillin’s books.  They’re worth the read.   Help your Doctor  set up your plan of treatment by asking questions.  Keep a notebook for those questions…and some have recommended keeping a journal of your moods and feelings…and things that make you happy.  Make yourself informed so you know what to ask.    It is most helpful to have someone go to those appointments with you…I find myself tuning the Dr out sometimes…Ernie asks questions and actually listens to her answers when I zone out.

Remember…all life is terminal.   But you have the means to make yours the best it can be!!!!

Susan ~ Patchkat