Thursday, January 1, 2015

This post is not about's about finding out who you are...

While this post is not about cancer, it is obvious that I am currently going through treatment for cancer, thus the bald head.  But being freed from my favorite head covering has taught me something I have been missing.  Maybe it is something that you have been missing too.

I suddenly realize that my whole life I have been deceiving myself when looking in the mirror.  I was convinced that when looking in the mirror it was important for me to play a sort of game of "find the flaws".  You see, as soon as I step in front of the glass, my eyes feel like they cannot rest until I have pointed out to myself at least one or two physical flaws.  Then I can move on to address whatever else I see.  But unfortunately it's a bit like that game "whack a mole"'s hard to stop with just one.  I could find one flaw, then another and another.  Until many times I had to walk away from the mirror just to get it to stop.  Now when I look in the mirror there is no more game.   The flaw is all too obvious, NO hair!  Suddenly I am free from the search to find the I look in the mirror and see something entirely different.  Suddenly it is easier to like what I see despite the fact that my reflection is obviously less than perfect.  

Does it seem like society instills the desire for women to point out what is wrong with themselves physically?   Think about how many times a day we are bombarded by advertisements for creams to make us look younger, to surgeries to sculpt and mold faces into something different, to the billions of dollars spent every year convincing us to buy in to the latest diet schemes.  What is so wrong with what God gave us in the first place? From the time we are young we see perfected images of beauty in magazines, in movies and television; images that are nearly impossible to achieve in real life.  We hear critiques of what people wear, and their shape and then completely ignore their actions or what comes out of their mouths.

For the past five years I have had the fortune of working with the young women (girls 12-18) in our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Nearly every week for these past five years I have stood with our young women and said the following words, "We are daughters of a Heavenly Father who loves us and we love Him..."  Many times I have tried to think about that phrase and what it really means, it is easy to apply those words to the young women. In my mind they are absolutely daughters of a Heavenly Father who loves them.  As for myself I felt like those words mostly apply... except for again...when I am looking at myself physically or spiritually and noticing all my flaws.  But those flaws don't really matter do they?  God loves me despite all the flaws I notice and even the ones I don't notice.  His love is not conditional nor is my status as His spirit daughter.  I am always the daughter of the King of Kings and so are you! 

In the words of Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "It is good to remember that you are always a child of God. This knowledge will carry you through the most difficult times in your life and will inspire you to accomplish remarkable things. However, it is also important to remember that being a daughter of eternal parents is not a distinction you earned or you will ever lose. You will always and forever remain a daughter of God. Your Heavenly Father has high aspirations for you, but your divine origin alone does not guarantee you a divine inheritance. God sent you here to prepare for a future greater than anything you can imagine."

You and I are here to prepare for a future "greater than anything you can imagine".  You and I and all of us have potential beyond what we can conceive.  So, as we begin a new year and the stores are rolling out all of the new fitness equipment and clothing and creams, let's make a commitment to have a change of heart.  Instead noticing more flaws, and making goals to change the way we look physically, let's choose to accept who we are and the way we look now.  It doesn't take any special equipment or products, just a brief moment spent in the mirror every morning choosing to like what we see and accept who we are.  To accept ourselves the way God already accepts us.

I love what Elder Uchtdorf says next,  "Do you suppose it matters to our Heavenly Father whether your makeup, clothes, hair, and nails are perfect? Do you think your value to Him changes based on how many followers you have on Instagram or Pinterest? Do you think He wants you to worry or get depressed if some un-friend or un-follow you on Facebook or Twitter? Do you think outward attractiveness, your dress size, or popularity make the slightest difference in your worth to the One who created the universe?  He loves you not only for who you are this very day but also for the person of glory and light you have the potential and the desire to become."

We are, every single girl, young woman, and adult woman on the face of this earth; "daughters of a Heavenly Father who loves us!"  Imagine the difference we could make in the world if even half of the time, the women in the world looked into the mirror and started the day with that belief!  Even if you are uncomfortable with belief in God at least begin with the hope that YOU were meant for something important and amazing in this life.  Let's start something in this world of ours and share and instill confidence in ourselves and in other women!  Let's not wait for the hard times that make us look at ourselves differently, let's start now.  Your size and shape and hair status today don't matter at all to those who love you and need you.  I will make a commitment to reject the negatives I see in myself and focus on the positive this year...will you?

Thank you so much to Monica Jensen for the photo check her out on Facebook at MJensenPhotography...she is great!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Well, so much for being consistent!  It has been roughly 2 years since my last post.  Thankfully, on the cancer front all seems to be well.  I say "seems to be" because with cancer you never really KNOW.  I feel great.  I have been keeping up with the CrossFit working out 4 times a week there.  I have been practicing yoga now for about 9 years but I starting teaching yoga at our local CrossFit last October. I found that it is taxing to teach but I truly enjoy sharing it with others.

As far as testing goes...I am due for my yearly MRI next month but I hope to find all well there.  I continue to do my best with my clean eating diet and I feel like it has really served me well.  If not with the cancer, I am certainly healthier due to the nutritious choices I make of what goes into my body.  I have a few recommended books for recipes if anyone is interested...Dr. Mao's Secrets of Longevity Cook Book, Healing Foods for Special Diets, and Clean Eats (all available through Amazon).  I can't eat everything in anyone of these books but they all have several items that I make and enjoy regularly.  It can be tasty (but not always easy) to eat clean!
I have added a green tea regimen to my daily diet.  I drink at least three 6 oz cups of green tea everyday.  I have tried lots of different varieties and have found that for me it is most cost efficient and tasty to make my own blend every morning with loose young green hyson green tea, loose organic spearmint leaf, and organic lemongrass.  I like the flavor enough to drink it and I don't find myself bored with it even after drinking the same concoction every day for the past 4 months.  If you have an experience similar to mine, I highly recommend asking your Doctor is you can try it.  It should be safe for most everyone and offers many benefits for those fighting cancer.  Of course since I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and tea is considered to be contrary to our Word of Wisdom I consulted with my Bishop and Stake President before starting this routine.  For me it was the right decision.
In other news, I recently received my Real Estate license in the state of Utah and started working with Century 21 N&N Realtors.  I am really enjoying this opportunity.  I am so grateful that I have a chance to pursue something I have wanted to do for a lot of years.  It is a unique situation to go back to work for the first time in 12 years and particularly after having battled cancer.  You see, I feel like I can be free to work knowing it is what I want to do right now.  I wouldn't waste my time doing things that don't make me happy, especially with a new perspective on how short life can be.  I feel free to be honest and forthcoming with people because that is who I want to be.  I don't feel like I have to pretend I'm something I'm not to get ahead or to fit in. It's really kind of nice. If you are interested in homes and home improvement tips check out my new blog Here is my picture for my business...
I wish anyone who happens by this blog health and true Wellness!  May you be your best self each and every day.  Till next time (hopefully it won't be another 2 years...)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Oncologist or sell out?

Yesterday I went to visit the Oncologist for the first time since my Mastectomy surgery.  When the Dr. called with my Oncotype test results I let them know that I was probably not interested in having chemotherapy.  Although the Surgeons office sent at least one referral to their office, the Oncologist did not attempt to contact me.  At my family physicians request I finally contacted them.

I was not surprised but disappointed at the reception I received at the Oncologists office.  In speaking to him, he made it clear that he did not like that I had accepted to have the Oncotype test but did not follow through with chemotherapy.  I understand that these are expensive tests used to determine the effectiveness of chemotherapy but it does not say anywhere that by accepting to have that test done that one is required to follow through with suggested therapies.  In fact, it seems that it is a TOOL to help one decide what is most effective.  While I didn't follow through, I don't feel like this was by any means a wasted test, the information is still informative is it not??

I was also disappointed that the Oncologist did not know anything about a local woman who treats cancer patients as a dietitian.  He should have nother to fear as she does NOT advocate avoidance of traditional treatments, in fact she encourages patients to use diet as an adjuvant therapy.  Diet in addition to chemo or radiation or whatever the Oncologist suggests.  Jeanne Wallace is her name and she lives and works in North Logan just a couple of miles from the cancer center.  Because her practice is online she works with and helps cancer patients all over the country.  She also speaks at cancer conventions all over the country.  How can the local "authority" on cancer treatment not know anything about her or her work??  It seems ludicrous to me.  It is common treatment to ease the discomforts of chemotherapy with the modification of diet.  And there are so many studies out there that validate the use of nutrients found in many foods in the actual treatment of cancer.  Don't even get me started on the fact that NO ONE in the medical profession has even talked about diet or what I am doing or trying to do.

It was offensive to me, that while the Doctor used a kind tone of voice and acted like he would look into the use of vitamin D3 or Calcitrol in the treatment of breast cancer (he claimed to have never heard anything of the sort) his body language said something entirely different.  An eye roll and a smirk made me feel like walking out the door.  Once at home, I was able to pull up several references to vitamin D and breast cancer treatment by just typing it in on Google, and several more on youtube.  Here are a couple links.

It is odd that the Dr. is well aware of my hesitation to use pharmacology to treat my breast cancer and yet has nothing else to offer.  I understand that his study focuses mainly on pharmacology but that is not his title it is "Oncologist" which would lead one to believe he studies or studied cancer cells in many different aspects and relationships not just the relationship with drugs.  I have read that Oncologists receive money from drug companies for prescribing chemotherapy.  I hoped our local guy did not buy into this scheme but now I wonder.  Here is a link from a reputable source, the American Caner Society.   How can anyone trust this kind of behavior in a potentially life/death situation for the patient??

After a discouraging and frustrating appointment I realize that I have to continue to trust God and the guidance he has given me.  I am so grateful for the relationship I have with Him.  I know He gave me the initial desire to forgo the chemotherapy treatment.  Even after diagnosis I never imagined this would be the path I would take, but the guidance I have received from the Lord has been undeniable.  I don't know what will happen.  Even with faith that I am on the right path, that doesn't necessarily mean I won't still have struggles with this. 

Which reminds me, yesterday the Oncologist asked how I came to the decision to not follow through with chemotherapy, and then brushed off my answer.  I distinctly told him it was by faith that I made the decision and that I trust in Heavenly guidance.  He repeated it back as a "gut" feeling.  It was NOT just a gut feeling.  I can accept his denial of a higher power but it is offensive to have my faith down graded to guts. 

I know there I have a loving Father in Heaven who listens to my prayers and answers them.  I have also experienced when the answer isn't what I would expect or necessarily want.  Just last year when we lost our baby, I experienced a different outcome than I would have wanted.  But I know He works in mysterious ways and that my "ways are not His ways."  I trust in Him and know that while everything may not turn out just the way I want, I will by guided and watched over and even carried in all the difficult things I face. Jesus Christ is my friend, my brother and my Savior.  I will follow Him.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Oncotype DX

I am gearing up for my first visit with the Oncologist since my initial surgery to remove the tumors from my breast.  I am a bit anxious about this visit particularly since the last conversation I had with the doctor was over the phone to review the results of the Oncotype DX test.  I know that the Dr. feels strongly about recommending chemotherapy along with Tamoxifen to treat the cancer and I am likely to have to defend my choice not to go through with those treatments.

As I understand it, the Oncotype DX is a test that closely looks at the individual breast tissue sample and analyzes 21 different genes from the sample.  The tests are done three times on the tissue to insure a consistent result.  The lab then returns a document to the doctor with an analysis of the individual cancer cells and genes and the likelyhood that the cancer is agressive and unpredictable enough to predict a recurrance.  The scores are a number from 0 to 100.  The test is used to determine whether chemotherapy should be a recommended course of action for the individual patient.  Only those with a score lower than 31 get a "maybe not" and even those are subjective.  Any score 31 or over gets a strong push for chemotherapy.

The score I believe, is a rate of recurrence that only applies to the next 5 to 7 years.  After that, the test has little predictability. My personal feelings are that while it is very useful to know a "prediction" of recurrence, it is a little overboard to rate any score 31 or higher as "high" and those in between 17 and 31 as "medium" and only those 17 and lower as "low" risk.  I wish they would leave the determination to the patient.  For me maybe only 75 or higher should be considered "high" and for someone else maybe anything over 20 is "high".

So what am I personally doing with this information?  Well, first of all, I am trying not to let it scare me into making any rash decisions.  I have realized that deciding not to follow through with chemotherapy is a decision not made once, but over and over.  I have to take charge of my treatment.  I have to make the choice over and over everyday in what I eat, and what I expose myself to.  My number by the way, is a 48.  So I suppose I have a 48% chance that I will have a recurrence in the next 5 to 7 years.  If I do experience a recurrence, the data shows that it will be more aggressive at that point and difficult to treat.  It is a challenge to repeatedly accept that information and to accept responsibility to live in a way to allow my body to create an atmosphere where it will have what it needs to fight off that 48% chance.

I have repeatedly felt through the Spirit of God, that my choice to follow the alternative path to chemotherapy is the right one for me. It makes it much easier to cope with the anxiety and fear brought on by the medical community that I am not making the best choice, but doesn't eliminate it.  I still have "what if" moments.  Most of all of course is, "what if I have a recurrence in 5 years and have to face death and leaving my family behind?"  In a way I guess that inspires me to live my life more thoughtfully.  I am inspired to be more present for my family, to do more to make each day count and meaningful.  I trust in the Lord above all.  I am sure that even if the "what ifs" come to pass that I am following the path the Lord wants me to take right now.  There is peace in that at least.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The past two days I have spent enjoying the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  What a blessing the conferences of the Church are to me!  I always feel the Spirit of God confirm my beliefs and strengthen them.  I learn ways to be a better person, to love and serve others, and to come closer to God.  I also invariably feel peace and comfort in the trials I happen to be experiencing.

I have been a little bit nervous about the coming of conference since I have had trying experiences shortly after the past two conferences.  Last Spring I discovered the lump in my breast that was later diagnosed as cancer just the night before General Conference. Last October we discovered our baby's heart was no longer beating just a little more than a week after conference.  I would by lying if I didn't say that I was a bit worried about what this conference could bring. 

Luckily, right now I feel at peace.  I'm confident that even if some difficult thing does pop up in the next couple of weeks, I know the Lord will help me through it. So today I will just enjoy the many blessings that are mine.  I have three wonderful growing boys to love and try to guide and teach.  I have an amazing husband who continues to love, serve and support me each and every day.  We live in a beautiful home that grounds us through my husband's family as it originally belonged to his maternal grandparents.  We live in a wonderful community full of people who are good and kind and caring.  I am blessed each day more than I can count.

Sunday, September 30, 2012


I really love fall except that it leads into winter.  We went to Park City this weekend and the fall colors are beautiful!  Wish I had the means to stay there for a week or so to fully appreciate this time of year.

I sure love my little family too.  I am very blessed!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Colors of Cancer

Cancer changes life in every aspect in small increments.  It's not like I am constantly thinking about it or worrying about it, but still it is there.  Behind every every thought there is a shadow.  The shadow doesn't direct the thoughts but rather colors them.  For example, everything that has to do with my children is tainted with the color blue.  Blue because of my worry that I'm not involved enough with them right now. Blue becuase I worry about what will happen to them if at some point the cancer actually kills me.  Blue becuase I hope they experience calm, and peace, with or without me.  Blue like a gentle, soothing ocean wave.  They are my purpose right now, beyond the day to day; my eternal purpose for being here at all.

Everything about my health is red.  Red I suppose for ANXIETY.  I wonder if I will ever have a stomach ache, or any minor health condition without my first response being, "is it cancer?"  Irrational?  Absolutely.  I'm working on that, telling myself it is irrational and dramatic, but I am no where near conquering it yet.

Anything physical at this point is of course colored with cancer.  Particularly since my entire upper body is affected in some way by the surgeries.  I hope that will go away before too long. It's purple.  Purple for scar tissue, and angry wounds. As these heal, I hope to get back to my regular workouts soon and physical activity will become just plain white.

What I eat is overwhelmingly colored by cancer because it has become my choice of treatment.  I try to think of it as green.  Green for growth, cleansing, and life.  Sweets are now taboo because of the cancer, and I am constantly working on refining my diet to be better and healthier for me.  Every meal, every snack, everything I put in my mouth is directed by my choice of treating my cancer.

Dreams are not a good color right now.  Kind of shadowy grey and black.  I think because the shadow cancer thoughts bother me when concious, so when I'm sleeping they become bigger and darker than they really are.  I hope that by acknowledging the thoughts in the day, the dark dreams will become light again.

Spirituality and my relationship with God is also affected.  I hope for the better because I am trying to rely on Him.  I will admit that even though I know I need Him more, there are days I am a bit pouty and don't reach out to Him.  Lucky for me, I know He is always there ready to embrace me, whenever I come around.  He is forever gracious and patient with me and I know that.  I can't even begin to imagine how I would face this without knowing that I have a Loving Father in Heaven. I hesitate to let my feelings for Him get too close to the surface, for fear that I will be in a state of constant teariness.  That is SO dramatically different from my pre-cancer self.

Friends and relationships are gold.  So precious.  I hope those close to me realize how grateful and blessed I feel for the geniune, loving people in my life.  Relationships were a treasure for me before cancer, but they are much more tender now.  I still don't know how to show it very well, and am terribly awkward at times particularly with physical expressions of love.  I still don't want to be hugged much but I'm getting used to it.

The color I don't experience is pink.  Ironic maybe but I guess pink is too cliche' for me.  I never have liked to be lumped in with the crowd...
So, while it is not all bad, cancer has become a part of me.  If the Doctors never find another cancerous cell in my body, (and I truly hope they don't) it will still be a part of my life.  I just hope it eventually becomes a small part, and that it fades to one neutral, bland color!