Sunday, January 29, 2012

Revving up for the Cancer Fight...

Mission Possible: Research Cancer Fighting Foods That Help Reduce the Effects of Chemotherapy and Radiation.

In an effort to assist with Mom’s cancer diagnosis, I’ve been researching cancer fighting foods and foods that can help ease side effects due to radiation therapy.

It is interesting to note that side effects vary from patient to patient, so it can be a bit difficult to determine which foods may assist and which are ineffective.  It is also important to note, radiations effects build up gradually over time.  Initially, there may not be any side effects, but in time, any number of discomforts could possibly arise, most commonly, fatigue and skin irritation.

Noting these, based on my research, I was able to gather the following:

Eating foods high in vitamin B, calcium and iron – almonds, beans, whole grains and dark leafy vegetables all fall in this category. These prove to be important as test have shown they are thought to suppress tumor growth and block cancer-causing substances from reaching their targets.

Eating cruciferous vegetables – broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower are all fabulous for their antioxidant boosting characteristics. Various components in cruciferous vegetables have been linked to lower cancer risks. Some have shown the ability to stop the growth of cancer cells for tumors in the breast, uterine lining (endometrium), lung, colon, liver, and cervix, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research.

Eating antioxidant rich foods – fruits like blueberries, cherries, raspberries, strawberries as well as veggies like tomatoes, peppers, carrots and garlic are all powerhouses in strengthening the immune system and preventing cardiovascular diseases.

 Avoiding refined foods - white breads, flours, pastas, and sugars, are not only void of any nutritional value that are eliminated during the processing, but they also cause spikes in blood sugar levels causing the body to feel unsatisfied, causing over eating.

Eating lean meats - like fish, tofu, and poultry contain an abundance of protein, which is critical the efficacy of the immune system and many other important physiological functions. It has also been demonstrated that protein promotes a feeling of fullness and suppresses appetite, which might form a bulwark against the tendency to overeat every meal. Protein-rich foods tend to have vital nutrients such as iron and vitamin B. If you eat seafood, you will also consume omega-3 fatty acids, which are fats that are essential for cellular activity.

Eating healthy oils – omega – 3 fatty acids, in addition to olive, canola and other plant based oils, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke while helping to reduce symptoms of hypertension, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), joint pain and other rheumatoid problems, as well as certain skin ailments. Some research has even shown that omega-3s can boost the immune system and help protect us from an array of illnesses including Alzheimer's disease.

Already for 2012, the American Cancer Society has estimated over 1,638,910 new cancer cases in the United States alone. Whether it's breast, colon, lung or some other form, cancer appears to have touched all of our lives in one way or another.  Perhaps you have been personally effected, or know someone who has.  For more information on this and other cancer fighting methods, please share this blog with your cancer heroes and check out the following links:

Perhaps together we can make a difference!

Next up... Addressing Skin Care Needs for My Cancer Hero!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Preparations are underway...

             I am back from a three month trek of Central America, and I am armed and ready to assist my Mother with her personal battle against breast cancer.  Unfortunately, this isn't her first battle with cancer, but I am bound and determined to make sure this her last.  She's got a tough fight ahead of her so going in. We know that this won't be easy.  Her doctors all agree that chemotherapy in combination with radiation will be the best treatment process for her. She's not happy about it and is well aware of the havoc that both will wreck to her physical body. I can't say that I blame her.  The side effects will be harsh... Her hair will fall out.  She'll battle constant fatigue. Her skin and nails will become dry irritated and brittle,  and that doesn't even begin to address the stomach issues, achy soreness and mouth sores she'll probably experience. Quite frankly, I think that my biggest concern will be what damage will be done to her emotional self being. It will be difficult to fight a good fight without a positive spirit.

            Revving up for this fight will be no small feat for me either.  While I know I can do my part to keep her spirit in check and provide her with transportation and support, I recognize that there are many other areas that will need to be addressed.  While the doctors do their best to fix her inside, I will do what I can to fix her outside. 

            The first task I want to tackle is her home.  The Interior Designer in me knows that a beautiful and comfortable home in itself, can be a very powerful thing.  If your home is your castle and home is where the heart is... then it makes sense that it should be a source of peace and tranquility too. Providing additional storage, great lighting, and a few new pieces of furniture should do just the trick. Throwing in a few great smelling candles probably wouldn't hurt either.  

            The second task that probably needs to be addressed is skin care. Anticipating her potential problems BEFORE they arise isn't going to be an easy thing, but I know that she'll rest easy knowing that she'll have a potential solution in the works.  Researching clean and perhaps organic, all natural ingredients should be the way to go.  I've also got a good head start since I've done a bit of experimentation on myself for years. I feel confident that in time I will be able to develop a skin care line might do just the trick, and not just for Mommy, but perhaps for all the cancer patients out there who will battle the same dreaded disease.  Just maybe cancer patients will be able to keep their sexy throughout their battle, instead of having to bring it back!

            Lastly, and probably most importantly, I recognize that providing her food as fuel will be essential.  Powerful antioxidants, vitamins and minerals should assist with not just the fuel she'll need, but help to repair damaged and destroyed cells will be crucial, both internally as well as externally. But which foods will provide the best plan of action will require a bit more research, structure and guidance.  Once again, I know that we'll need to go clean all the way.  No pesticides, hormones, additives, or preservatives will be welcomed here!  Now if I can just get Mommy to go along with it.

She is my only remaining parent and I am aware this is the fight of her lifetime.  Diabetes may have taken my father… but cancer will not take my mother without a fight… and this is one battle that I am surely prepared to win!!!



Sunday, January 1, 2012

Reflections from 2011

It’s always amazing to me to think about the ebbs and flows of life.  When I reflect back on the ups and downs of 2011, I am reminded of our most precious asset…TIME.  It’s one of the few things we own that can’t be returned, manipulated, broken or even exchanged. Yet we lose track of it, squander it, and waste it away, all while we understand that once it’s gone… there’s no getting it back. Time in a nutshell, equals LIFE.  Looking back on my time spent in 2011, it’s ebbs and flows have been some of the best and some of the worst in my life, but I can honestly say that I wouldn’t change a thing.

Early 2011 saw some of my toughest work, in one of the most challenging markets, all while in the midst of an arduous economy.  My team and I dug deep, and got it done during a time when no one thought it could be done.

Mid-year, that success allowed me to pack up my life in San Antonio, and neatly configure it into a 10 x 10 storage unit so that I could finally fulfill a dream that was only made possible because of the availability of time and proper planning.  The strategy was to spend the next twelve months exploring Central America while indulging my deepest desires.  Everything from becoming fluent in Spanish, and erudition of Latin cuisine to obtaining my scuba diving certification was on the list of things to do…but after only three months of shear and utter bliss… the dream fulfilled was interrupted by tragedy. While kayaking and hiking the volcanoes of the Lake Atitlan Region of Guatemala, I received the dreaded phone call from my mother that her breast cancer was back. The last quarter of 2011 brought my bliss to an abrupt halt so that I could support my mother during her war against breast cancer.

I mention all of this to prove my earlier point.  Time really is our most precious asset and it is not promised to any of us.  While we’ll always find ways to “kill time,” we should always be cognizant of how we spend it.

I challenge all of us to use the time we have left in ways that matter.  This will mean different things to different people, but for me my sole New Years Resolution for 2012 and for EVERY YEAR AFTER


For me that translates into:

            LIVE DARINGLY… (make every moment count)
            GIVE BOLDLY… (make a difference any way you can- it ain't just about money)
            LEAVE LOVE EVERYWHERE YOU’VE BEEN… (this just might be your legacy)