23
Apr
2018

Thank you, cancer and no thanks.

Taken just after my surgery and radiation in November 2016. Cancer we thought we were rid of you - photo courtesy of Erin Blinn Photography

Thank you, cancer but no thanks. Taken just after my surgery and radiation in November 2016. Cancer we thought we were rid of you – photo courtesy of Erin Blinn Photography

When cancer comes into your lives, it takes the color out of life as you know it. Thank you, cancer, I’ll never take life for granted again. I’m saddened to report that the little buggers have grown. It’s been nearly two years since the Thymoma cancer diagnosis (read : 5 Things I Learned From Having a Thymoma Cancer Tumor) and I was hoping never to speak about cancer or thymoma again. Since the initial resection of the tumor in June 2016. I have undergone 5 grueling weeks of radiation at MD Anderson and then returned back to Houston for follow-ups every 4-6 months. The doctors were watching three lesions that were missed from the initial surgery.

THANK YOU, CANCER FOR BEING SLOW GROWING

It’s always a mix of emotions going to Houston. It begins about a month before when I get anxious about the trip. Then, anger sets in at the realization that I’m forced yet again to be away from my husband and boys for a few days. Once there, I’m resentful at the extra radiation I must now receive from regular scans. The appointments were quite standard, starting with blood work, then a trip to Imaging for a CT Scan. The next day, I would wait hours for a ten-minute appointment with my thoracic oncologist and then more hours in between before I could see the radiation oncologist.This time, instead of telling me there’s no change, I heard the dreaded words “There’s been growth in two of the three lesions, which leads us to believe they are cancerous”.

KICK. IN. THE. GUT. DEVASTATION. AGAIN.

Somehow I feel insane enough to say to my cancer cells, “Thank you, cancer for being slow growing”. I’m grateful for nearly two years of a stable and steady unremarkable time.

THANK YOU, CANCER. YOU MADE US FEEL SO LOVED

If you watch Stranger Things, you’ll know what I mean when I say, I’m back in the Upside Down. Many of you have heard through the grapevine or through my InstaStories that cancer has returned for a second season in my life. In the First Season, I called the ‘c’ word, The Annoyance.  The word “cancer” to me is so heavy and dire and I didn’t want to give it power over my life. I found it hard to tell people about it because it made me feel tainted. I started a CaringBridge journal so my family and friends could keep up with updates.

Thank you for staying in Houston with me during radiation - photo by IttyBittyFoodies.com

Thank you to my dear friend for staying a week with me in Houston with me during radiation – photo by IttyBittyFoodies.com

To my surprise, people from all around started sharing their inspiring cancer stories with me. Many of these people, I would never suspect to have had cancer because they look like a picture of health. Cancer brought into our lives, new friends and strengthened old relationships. So many who simply wanted to help by bringing dinner, helping with carpool or saying nightly prayers. And the girlfriends who left their own families to accompany me to Houston during my check-ups. Thank you to so many of you who carried our whole family through each step.

Thank you, cancer. You made our family feel more loved than ever.

THANK YOU, CANCER FOR REMINDING ME OF MY GIFTS

After reading my Caring Bridge journal, many of our friends told me to write a book. I’ve always wanted to write a children’s book or a family cookbook but a book about my journey was never in the cards. Honestly, I’m not sure if I feel important enough for people to spend money to read about my journey. I’m not a doctor and I have no magic cure to offer anyone. Then someone mentioned I should write my story on the blog instead. I hope that my writing provides comfort, solidarity or solace to those on the journey or have a loved one who is.

Thank you, cancer for reminding me one of God’s gifts to me is my writing.

THANK YOU, CANCER GIVING ME COURAGE

To be honest, this decision to open up about my cancer instead of continuing to perpetuate the perfect social media life makes me feel weak and vulnerable. I don’t intend IttyBittyFoodies morphing into a cancer blog. These posts will simply be part of my life, the way family, food, and travel is. It will be part of me. This time around, I feel brave enough to tell people I have cancer. And I am writing the word ‘cancer’ instead of The Annoyance all over this blog post in the hopes that when people search for ‘cancer’ they will find me. It is my wish to inspire and encourage others, the way my cancer survivor friends have uplifted me.

GET UP. GET UP. GET UP.

These people are a living testament because every day, they still GET UP. Do you hear me? I know the news can be debilitating and all I want to do is curl up in bed and shut myself up. But if you’re physically capable —  GET UP. GET UP. GET UP. And that means doing all the mundane things like getting out of bed, brushing your teeth and going to work. Live your best life. GET UP. Be the best mother, wife, or friend you can be. GET UP. You are not done yet here on earth. GET UP. Find a purpose. GET UP. Mentor someone. GET UP.

Coincidentally, at church, my pastor reaffirmed this message as he recounted the story of Elijah who was ready to throw in the towel and an angel of God gently taps him and say “Arise and eat”. GET UP, you are not done.

Arise and eat! You're not done - IttyBittyFoodies

Arise and eat! You’re not done – IttyBittyFoodies

Thank you, cancer. You’ve given me more courage than I ever thought I had. It’s a hard journey but I intend on getting up every day.

THANK YOU, CANCER FOR A HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE

I’ve considered myself to be a healthy eater. However, the cancer diagnosis has forced me to look deeper into food as medicine. Hippocrates once said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” I am not one to shun Western medicine but I do appreciate the holistic community’s view on healing foods. In November 2016, I went to Stanford Inn Resort in Mendocino California for a travel story. It was a vegan resort and I was forced to be dairy-free for four days. After the second day, I noticed that I hadn’t felt the need to take an anti-inflammatory pill. I usually take two Naproxen 500 mg, every 12 hours daily for an auto-immune disease called Ankylosing Spondilitis.

Stanford Inn Organic Nursery Photo Credit IttyBittyFoodies.com

Stanford Inn Organic Nursery Photo Credit IttyBittyFoodies.com

I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondilitis when I was a child. My father was also afflicted with it. It’s a type of arthritis, and I had a lot of trouble simply walking.Over the years, the doctors treated me with a plethora of medications. Then one day, my rheumatologist suggested I took an immunosuppressive drug via an injection twice a month. It was a like a magic drug. As soon as I popped it in my leg, I would be pain-free and the best thing was that the feeling lasted about a month. Unfortunately, it suppressed my immune system. I feel in my heart that this is where my body was made vulnerable to cancer. We all have cancer cells but our immunity system when strong enough are natural killers of cancer cells.

Stanford Inn - polenta breakfast Photo Credit IttyBittyFoodies.com

Stanford Inn – polenta breakfast Photo Credit IttyBittyFoodies.com

After four days at the vegan resort, I still hadn’t needed to take a pill and it baffled me. I suspected dairy as the culprit as I love my milk (2-3 glasses daily), cheeses and ice cream.  Miraculously, unless I cheat and eat cheese, I am now completely medicine free! This is the first time in my life in decades! Remember, I am sharing part of my own personal journey and it may not work for everyone. And please consult your medical doctor for advice.

THE HUMAN LONGEVITY PROJECT

Sign up for the world premier of The Human Longevity Project

Sign up for the world premier of The Human Longevity Project

This discovery has spurred me to research more into healthy living and the journey has led me to The Human Longevity Project. This 9-part documentary film series is an unprecedented deep-dive into the topics of chronic disease, healthy aging, and longevity involving over 90 of the world’s leading scientists, doctors, practitioners, experts, authors, and healers. We have an epidemic of chronic disease, particularly in the Western World. Watch this short trailer on what they say about chronic disease.

Even more disturbing is that fact that our children’s generation may be the first to have shorter lifespans than their parents. They will release an episode a day for 24 hours FREE starting on May 8th to May 17th so please register to get your alert.

We watched some of the episodes together as a family and it has led to much discussion over the dinner table about making better choices. The experts in the documentary talk about the rising illnesses that plague us today from cancer, autism, to allergies. There are episodes on fad diets, If any of this rings a bell, I would encourage you to watch them and make your own decisions. Register here to get an update when they release the free episodes of The Human Longevity Project.

I am currently re-reading Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds by Dr Kelly A. Turner and Anticancer: A new way of life by David Servan-Schreiber.

Thank you, cancer, you have brought so much good into our lives. And no thank you, you are not welcome. But watch out cancer, you’ve awakened a spiritual gangster.

This post is dedicated to all my cancer brothers and sisters and their selfless carers. Please share this post if you know someone who could benefit from it.

Peace and love to you all,

Cheryl

 

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3 Responses

  1. Courtnay

    Sometimes you thjnk you read something for a reason, this is one of those times

    I am hoping that your tumor will not grow
    but sometimes there are things you can do to help stop the malignancy or growth of the tumor

    Although I have never heard the term thymoma before I am guessing it is a thyroid tumor

    Antioxidants like vitamin c and e are really good to stop cancer

    I hope you will get through this

  2. Sue Berk

    Beautiful! you are not only brave, you are a great writer and you summed it all up so well. I want to watch that documentary now! will be following along Cheryl, and praying for you.

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