Monday, December 28, 2015

Must-Haves Before Surgery

Heal in Comfort Shirt & Shower Apron:
These are SO helpful after my surgery! They Velcro up the front and have pockets for my drains. Perfect! I wear the shirt to my doctor appointments and live in them the first month after the surgery. The apron and lanyard are so handy to have when taking a shower. Trust me, you don’t want to leave those drains hang'in…
breast cancer, Heal in Comfort shirt, double mastectomy, surgery, drains

breast cancer, Heal in Comfort shirt, double mastectomy, surgery, drains

Word to the Wise: Buy an extra shirt so you can wear one when the other one is in the wash.

Thank you to my bestie, Rosanna, who found it! 

Back Wedge:
Makes getting out of bed MUCH easier.
breast cancer, double mastectomy, surgery, back wedge, bed

Seat Belt Pillow:
You want a pillow between the seat belt and your boobs because even though your chest is numb, they’re still tender. It can be very uncomfortable having the seat belt push against them.
breast cancer, double mastectomy, surgery, drains, seatbelt pillow

Underarm Pillows for Drains:
I stick these under my arms when I sleep. The drains are uncomfortable and the pillows keep my arms from rubbing up against them.

Ginger for Post-Surgery Nausea:
Ginger is a natural way to relieve post-surgery nausea. I have the nurse waft the essential oil under my nose. Drinking ginger tea also helps.
breast cancer, double mastectomy, surgery, ginger, nausea

breast cancer, double mastectomy, surgery, ginger tea, nausea

Help with Post-Surgery Constipation:
It can happen and it happened to me. Thanks to a lovely nurse, I learn a few tricks on how to deal with it in lieu of taking stool softeners. And guess what…They work!

  1. Stay super hydrated!! It helps soften the stools.
     2. Do NOT strain.
     3. Use a step stool to elevate your legs.
  4. Tilt your upper body back when you're on the toilet, not forward. 
     5. Drink a ¼ cup of WARM prune juice then get up and walk around the house.
     6. Eat fiber-rich foods. Oatmeal, whole-wheat pasta, and a green drink help me.

These things helped me and maybe they can help you, too. Let's face it, this walk with cancer is sometimes treacherous, so I'll take any little comfort I can to shelter me from the storm.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Choosing a Positive Mindset

One simple step I make on my walk with breast cancer is choosing a positive mindset. What I say to myself matters! In fact, it’s critical to my success, particularly through a grueling treatment like chemotherapy and recovering from surgery.

I want to feed my mind and spirit good things. Of course, like anyone, I have my down moments, but when I do, I eventually snap out of them and return to positive thoughts.

breast cancer, faith, positive affirmations, Joel Osteen

I hang a list of positive affirmations on my bathroom mirror and repeat them throughout the day.

breast cancer, positive affirmations, God, faith, prayer, Joel Osteen

I also like to listen to Joel Osteen. I love him! He’s very inspiring! On the way to my surgery, I listened to his podcast, “Have a Positive Mindset.” It really helped me because I was SO nervous! But I set my mind on higher things, confident that it would all work out. And it did!

Here’s a video of one of his many uplifting sermons:

I also highly recommend his book, The Power of I Am.

breast cancer, positive affirmations, Power of I Am book, Joel Osteen

It’s a choice to think positive, especially when it’s easy to feel sad and defeated...It's cancer. And that’s okay, too; it’s just that I don’t want to stay in that space.

I choose to set my mind on higher things. Yes, I'm healthy! Yes, I'm already healed!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Beyond Hope, It's Faith

I choose to think that everything that happens to me is here to teach me something. So, what is cancer teaching me? It’s beyond hope, it’s about having faith.

breast cancer, faith, God, prayer

I trust in the universe that everything is going to work out and be okay, no matter what. I won’t always understand but I can be sure that “God draws straight with crooked lines.”

Even in the darkest moments of cancer, my faith has given me an overwhelming sense of peace that sometimes I don’t even understand. Yes, the needles, surgery, and chemotherapy are scary, to be sure, but there’s an overriding peace that I feel in the undercurrents of my soul. Perhaps it’s the Holy Spirit, moving through me, transforming me into a better version of myself.

I talk to God all the time. I pray throughout the day. I pray for myself. I pray for others. Sometimes, I say prayers from the book, Illuminata: A Return to Prayer, by Marianne Williamson. Believe me, she is one pray’in woman! She has the most beautiful prayers for almost everything. The book is such a delight! I keep it on my nightstand.

breast cancer, faith, God, prayer, Illuminata book, Marianne Williamson

I’m in constant conversation with Him and this has indeed helped me on my walk with breast cancer. I have faith that God walks right beside me and holds my hand every step of the way.

I have faith that I’m already healthy and already healed.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Let There Be Light! The Power of Visualization

Visualization is a welcome companion on my walk with breast cancer. It provides comfort, strength, and the ability to see my own success.

This is the true story of how my visualization materialized in the real world…

Each night before the surgery, I would close my eyes, lay my hands over my tumors, and visualize a bright white light illuminating the inside of my chest and arm pit, driving out the darkness. In my mind, I would imagine all the cancer cells wiped out and only the healthy cells remaining, floating in a sea of joy. I would then send my healthy cells lots of love and positive energy.

breast cancer, surgery, visualization

A few days before my surgery, my breast surgeon called and asked for my permission to use a special refractor that she had never used before, in fact, that had never been used before at the UCLA in Westwood. She said that if she liked the refractor, and it was successful, it would be used for future surgeries like mine. This could really help other people have a successful outcome!

I asked her, what did it do that was so different? She said that it would “light up my chest cavity” (her exact words) in a way that provided her with an even greater amount of light! In other words, it would increase her ability to see, cut down my surgery time, and improve the likelihood of success. Sounds like a win-win! So I said yes. 

It wasn’t until the next day, while talking to my friend, Grace; that I connected what I had been visualizing all along, to the special refractor. The same light I visualized was now, in reality, going to be provided by this special refractor.

And indeed, my surgery was a complete success! Visualizations do come true!

Preparing My Body for Surgery

I have eight rounds of acupuncture, two times a week for four weeks prior to the surgery. My acupuncturist, Dr. Allen Arnette, works to build my immune system and get my energy flowing. (I can’t prove it, but I know acupuncture did something because after my surgery, my Jackson-Pratt drains came out only after a week! That’s amazing!)

breast cancer, surgery, acupuncture

Qi Gong:
It’s an ancient Chinese system that integrates postures, focused intentions, and breathing techniques. Qi means the life force that flows through all things. When I do these postures, it’s like a moving meditation. It reduces stress, invites healing, and brings me back to center.

breast cancer, surgery, qi gong

This is the video I use:
breast cancer, surgery, qi gong

The Biomat:
*Read a prior post from November 2015 to learn about its many benefits. So awesome and it truly helps to relax the muscles!! LOVE it!! I’m on it everyday.

breast cancer, surgery, biomat, pain

I often practice breathing techniques, especially when I become aware of my own breath. I inhale 1-2-3-4, then exhale 1-2-3-4, letting go, letting go, letting go. A method I learned from Tara Brach. I often listen to her meditations while I’m on the Biomat.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Don't Park Yourself in the "Why Me?" Spot

Yes, I've had brief moments when I’ve parked in the “Why Me?” spot myself, but I certainly don't stay for long. Worrying leads nowhere.

I've speculated the many reasons why I got cancer like: Darn, why didn't I get off those birth control pills sooner? I should've never taken them. Or maybe it was the root canal and infection that had been growing under that tooth?

I honestly have no idea why. And there's no point in berating myself. I love myself way too much! The possibilities are endless, so why go there? Like Tracy Chapman says in one of her songs, "I'm too old to go chasing you around, wasting my precious energy." Right on, sister!!  I have one life to live and this is not where I need to park my mind.

breast cancer, worry, anxiety

No, I choose to set my mind on higher things. So when the "Why Me?" thoughts nudge their way in, I shift my mind away from that kind of thinking.  I say to myself, "I'm healthy. I'm already healed. I'm getting better and better each day. I know that you, God, have a better plan for me. I trust you." I say this to myself everyday in the midst of my treatments.

Cancer has made some choices for me. I accept that, but I choose how to set my mind and spirit. It will not take my joy. It will not overrun my thoughts.

So, I set my gear in reverse, get out of that "Why Me?" spot, and drive away in peace, towards my beautiful, healthy future.

breast cancer, positive affirmations, God, prayer