Sunday, January 26, 2014

Simple Words

This week was filled with simple words that carried a big impact.

"I am doing well"

This was a quote from my friend after her surgery to remove part of her cancer. In her most recent e-mails the shock of diagnosis seems to be wearing off and she is beginning to wear off and she is definitely starting to sound like herself again. Will definitely keep sending positive thoughts her way!

"She doesn't need chemo"

Another victory for a sister fighting breast cancer. Early detection working it's magic. More positive thoughts for quick healing from surgery for her too!


This statement was said to me by one of the transporters at the hospital. I gave her a quizzical look. She followed it up with stating she knew that I had been going through cancer treatment and asked me how long it had been...

"Almost a year"

That brief interaction was enough to put a smile on my face for the rest of the day. It's nice to know your community is still rooting for you, nearly a year later. And I keep trying to pay it forward.

Yes, it's a Bee Gee's song. Even I don't know how I know this one.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

24 grams of Sugar doesn't go a long way

I am doing ok with cutting the sugar out of my diet....during the week. And you know what I am ok with 5 out 7 days. 70% of the time I am hitting my goal. The other 30% of the time I feel no guilt about enjoying treats. Hey, I work out at least 5 times a week, I am going to have a cookie.

The first night of no sugar was funny. I had dreams about giant frosted cookie monster cupcakes and dirt dessert. But, during the weeks I have passed up chocolate birthday cake and substitute after lunch cookies with clementines. I switched out fig newtons for whole figs. I get my chocolate fix at night with 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder blended with a cup of organic skim milk. No swissmiss (first ingredient is sugar) for me. I already eat peanut butter that is just straight ground peanuts (no sugar, no salt, no added oils) and I am obsessed with it (Teddy!).

Now, I may have gone a little over board when I let myself eat some cookies on Sunday. I may have at one point said "I'm eating my feelings!" as I was watching the end of the Patriots season and stuffing my face with cookies. Cookie total on the day 5. Oops. That may have been a little overboard.

I know this weekend I will have another chance to practice moderation as I will be baking for my roommate's birthday. She has asked for cookies. I think I can oblige her. (Must remember not to eat half the cookies before I give them too her!)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Perfect 10's

I scored perfect 10's on my lab tests yesterdays. Well, not really, I would be in some serious trouble if some of those lab values came back as 10's. But, in my 1 year after chemo follow up with my oncologist my blood work came back with not a single item out of whack. Zero. Which was pretty great.

I know that my oncologist is an outstanding practitioner, but I was further endeared to her when she asked me if I was having any more belly pain after reading my visit note from just before Thanksgiving. I explained to her that it had dissipated, but that my right lower quadrant was sore for the next day or two. I told her that the NP had just written it off as Norovirus. I told her that I thought it was the ovarian cyst that was found on my CT had burst. She agreed with me. Based on the information she read and knowing where the cyst was and what I described, she said it sounded like the cyst burst. Thank you. As much as the NP made me feel like a crazy hypochondriac, my oncologist took that all away with a simple discussion.

My oncologist also asked me how I have been feeling and I gave her an honest answer. A little more tired than usual. But, much better knowing that my labs are normal.  However, when you sit in an oncology waiting room you feel pretty outstanding about where you are in recovery. It is also one of the most heartbreaking places in the hospital. One woman was trialing her 4th chemotherapy. Her husband said everything seems to work for 6 months and then she needs a new chemotherapy. He also discussed with the younger gentlemen, there for his lymphoma follow up {been in remission for over 5 years}, the different cycles of hair growth, hair loss and different wigs she has used. The waiting room people freely share what is going on with them as there is kinship in an oncology waiting room.  The waiting room always makes me thankful that if I had to have cancer, I am thankful it was the well studied very treatable form of breast cancer.  It also makes you feel sheepish for reporting being a little tired.

What I didn't report was that I have been singing this song for the past two days. And I don't feel sheepish about that at all.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

I do like sugar, but does sugar like me?

Most people go a little crazy during the holiday season with their eating. I, however, went totally nuts with the baked goods. I wasn't able to eat chocolate and things tasted weird during the 2012 holiday season, so I made up for it this year. Oh you brought in a tin off cookies for the office? Don't mind if I eat the top tray of (~12) cookies by myself. I earned it. Oh, we have a party to go to? Well, let me bake 4 dozen cookies and sample 4 before we go and eat 4 more while we are there. Oh, you left out a tray of brownies and chocolate covered macaroons? Well, two brownies and 6 macaroons should go into my belly. Obviously.

I earned my celebration and I ate my weight in cookies.

Now, in order to continue living a cancer free lifestyle it is time to reel it in. I have been doing research to see if there are solid links of added sugars and cancer. Because, yes, that is what dietitian's do with there spare time. Diet studies are hard because they are riddled with bias and they rely so much on the participants being truthful and having good memories. Also, it's nearly impossible to do a random controlled trial. You can't give someone a placebo cookie that doesn't have sugar for their whole lifetime and see if they get cancer. You also can't control their environment. But, I digress. The only studies I found that linked sugar to cancer are ones about type I endometrial cancer and sugar sweetened beverages (that's shop talk for soda, soft drinks). But, again one study supports it, another does not. Reading a review of the data (only published in Spanish) demonstrated how all over the map the data is. And the fact that I attempted to read a Spanish review should tell you about my research spree....

My bottom line. I am going with the American Heart Association recommendation (Johnson, RK, et al. Dietary Sugars Intake and Cardiovascular Health: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association. Circulation 2009:120:1011-1020) which is for woman is 24 grams of added sugar a day. That is 6 teaspoons or 6 sugar cubes for the visual (for men it is 9 tsps). That is less than the mini can of coke. I know the AHA is not cancer related, but when you have your crazy pants on and you are researching like a fiend it is soothing to find an actual hard number.

Now, as I am, and probably always will be a full on cookie monster (see above) I did the following math:

Original Tollhouse  recipe
 grams of sugar
Chocolate Chips 2 cups 256
White 3/4 cup 144
Brown 3/4 cup 144
Total Sugar in Recipe 544
Sugar Per Cookie (Assuming 3 dozen made)  15.11111
Added Sugar Grams Recommended per day 24
% of days added sugar 63%
Mini Chips 1.5 cups 192
White 1/4 cup 48
Brown 1/2 cup 96
Total Sugar in Recipe 336
Sugar Per Cookie (Assuming 3 dozen made)  9.333333
Added Sugar Grams Recommended per day 24
% of days added sugar 39%

I love a Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie. I enjoy that the package says it makes 5 dozen. It does not and I use a measured cookie scoop. Basically, I wanted to see how many cookies I could eat per day while being within the my 24 grams of sugar. Using the original recipe it turns out to be 1 and 1/3 cookie. Yup, because everyone is able to stop at 1/3 a cookie. However, if I take a look at the way I usually make cookies with reduced sugar and using mini chips I can then have a respectable 2 cookies. Well, if I don't quite fill the measuring cup with 1.5 cups of chips I could have 3. That seems much more reasonable, if I don't have any other added sugar all day.

This is not to say that I will not be partaking in birthday cake, ice cream and other baked goods on the occasion. It's just a way to motivate myself to get it under control.

And now I'm going to go eat some dates and not cookies. {Full disclosure I have been trying to reel it in all week and last night found the Gingerbread Cookie Family in my cabinets left over from my work's holiday party this weekend. I ate the entire family. They were fairly large. This takes time!}

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Shake and Fold

I am always looking for ways to "do life better". The TED talks and other videos that they produce often help with all aspects of that. In general I think when you start thinking about organic foods and using glass containers for storage, you also start thinking about being a little bit more environmentally friendly (except for when you are getting plastic bags at Macy's then you ask for two). Well, the TED people have solved my problem of always needing to use at least 3 paper towels. Excellent life hack.

Everyday you learn something that you can do better. Today it was how to use a paper towel.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy 2014

2013 is done. It was a year full of radiation, vaccine injections and lots and lots of celebrating being declared cancer free. And hair cuts. 2013 was a great year. Before years end I was able to finish my tour de visit-with-everyone-and-catch-up-on-their-lives-and-the-things-I-missed-during-treatment (ok the name needs some work).  I took the train down to NY (just outside the city) and was able to attend one college friends baby shower while staying with another college friend and getting to meet her 1 year old. It was also great to be able to answer friends when they ask how your feeling to say:

 "Normal. Completely normal."

I also got to end the year by not having a doctor's appointment, blood draw or scan for the entire month of December. It helps you get into the full swing of being a cancer survivor. It also lends itself to something I never thought possible at the end of February, I don't think about cancer all the time now. I can actually go all day (minus the taking of tamoxifen in the morning) without thinking about having cancer. Time is an amazing thing.