Tuesday, May 29, 2012

How Green is Your Garden...

“In this box there is earth from my orchard, and such blessing as Galadriel has still to bestow is upon it. It will not keep you on your road, nor defend you against any peril; but if you keep it and see your home again at last, then perhaps it may reward you. Though you should find all barren and laid waste, there will be few gardens in Middle-earth that will bloom like your garden, if you sprinkle this earth there.” – Galadriel, Fellowship of the RingPuget Sound Fresh
Another week and I have continued exploring healthy eating and changing my diet/lifestyle.

Having power-skimmed the series of “Right 4 Your Type” books by Dr. A’damo at the local Half-Price Books, and seeing the rapid personal changes in my own life, I am pretty sold on the benefits and am rapidly approaching the ‘drank the kool-aid’ stage.

Firstly, since I switched back to a mainly vegetarian diet, (with soy and fish protein being my main sources of protein) about 10-12 days ago, I have lost 12lbs. I am sleeping much better (without the snoring, reports Megan). My attitude has improved (although I am still dealing with random days of unreasonable anger…more on this later). I am more energetic and confident. My mental acuity has improved. Overall, I feel amazing. And all I have done is to change my source and type of nutrition.

I feel amazing.

You are what you eat...
Dr. April suggested I watch the movie “Food, Inc.”, as part of an awareness building regime. Now, I know many of my carnivorous, more conservative friends are leery of documentaries nowadays (aka “The Michael Moore Effect”) but I can’t recommend this movie highly enough. Instead of saying “DON’T EAT THAT!” with the rabid pedantic of the fervid vegan (which I expected), this movie calmly explains where the modern food supply is coming from, the possible deleterious effects it is having on our collective health, and options to return to a more healthful, responsible way of eating.

In order to find affordable, healthy and organic (and by organic, I mean not genetically altered, covered in pesticides and trucked in from South America) produce, Megan and I did a little investigating and were blown away by the quantity of choices here in the Puget Sound. (That don't take your whole paycheck…sorry Whole Foods!)

Puget Sound Fresh
A good source of locally produced, affordable produce is at your local farmer’s market, and joy of joys, the season has just started! A great tool to get you started on finding a nearby Farmer’s Markets is Puget Sound Fresh:

Another option for those of us that seem to work the hours the markets are open, is the local farm stand. Just minutes north of Everett, is the “Red Rooster Route” in Arlington.  Comprised of 4 farms, a Saturday Farmer’s Market, and a Pioneer Museum, the area boasts a myriad of healthy, affordable choices, and even a serious dose of family fun. Another bonus, the season is just starting! http://www.redroosterroute.com

We also looked into and visited our local “health food store”, the Sno-Isle Food Co-Op located in downtown Everett. The co-op has a plethora of choices, has the bonus of being open year round, and sells all manner of organic products. While the prices can be a titch high, this can be abrogated by becoming a co-op member, for as little as $5/mo. Members can get a further 15% discount by volunteering a miniscule 10 hours a month. No matter how you look at it, that’s a good deal. You’re helping your community, learning about the healthy food movement, and saving money. Triple win! www.snoislefoods.coop

So get out there, and get eating right! You’ll be glad you did!

(Oh, and no word on when the surgery is yet. I called Urology NW and am consulting with the surgeon on Friday. Apparently he'll be in Alaska next week....)

Thursday, May 24, 2012


I saw my regular doctor on Friday, and we had a frank discussion about the things I am going to have to do to get my health back on track. I was prepared for some of it; avoid red meat and simple carbs, no sweets or sugars, no soda, etc. etc. But Dr. April went one further by putting me on a diet for my blood type, aka the Eat Right for your Type, pioneered by one Dr. D’Adamo.
At the core of it, different blood chemistries respond differently to different foods.  For myself, an A-Positive,  apparently a vegetarian diet is ideal.  (The following excerpt is used from Dr. D’Adamo’s website without permission):
                ” Type As flourish on a vegetarian diet - if you are accustomed to eating meat, you will lose weight and have more energy once you eliminate the toxic foods from your diet. Many people find it difficult to move away from the typical meat and potato fare to soy proteins, grains and vegetables. But it is particularly important for sensitive Type As to eat their foods in as natural a state as possible: pure, fresh and organic.”
However, it is not enough to run down to the produce section at the local QFC and start cramming the cart full of greens. Dr. April provided me with an extensive list of foods divided into three categories: “Highly Beneficial”  “Neutral”, and “Avoid”.  A lot of it is common sense, but some of it took me by utter surprise.
Some avoids I expected?
 Bacon, Ham and American Cheese. Corn Oil. White flour and potatoes.
Some avoids that I didn’t?
Shredded Wheat,  Cabbage and Garbanzo beans. (Good bye hummus!!) Skim milk. Oranges and bananas.
As Samwise opined to Frodo upon first glimpsing the Stairs of Cirith Ungol. "Damn. This sucks." (I am paraphrasing.)
On the plus side, this is forcing me to investigate new nutritional avenues, and already I have found options that apparently are healthful, and pretty damn tasty.
Firstly, I would like to recommend “Ezekiel Bread”, (I guess the recipe comes from the bible, hence the name), which is made of sprouted grains and no flour or glutens. (I am currently unsure of the ramifications of this data….more reading ahead!!) At $4.50 a loaf at Whole Foods, it is a bit pricey for a single loaf, but for a slice of toast with my morning cereal and berries, it’s delish, and I don’t plan on knocking out any club sandwiches on it.

I also discovered roasted soy nuts this week.  Each one ounce serving contains a tiny 120 calories, but is packed with 11g of protein and 5g of dietary fiber. Throw some of these goodies on a salad in place of croutons, eat ‘em straight from the bag, or (in your case, not mine- GRIN) use ‘em to top a baked potato. They are a wonderful, delicious source of healthy protein (which will help keep you full!)

Happy Life and Much Love to You All!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

News from the urologist

“One stage of your journey is over, another begins.” –Gandalf
I saw the urologist yesterday. Good news! A lot of info to cover, so please forgive the bullet points. (GRIN)
·         He did NOT get to review the CT scans themselves, but said from the report, he did not expect any surprises.
·         The tumor is slightly larger than a golf-ball, and is located on my right kidney.
·         It is not benign in that it has vascular activity and is growing. It is not “malignant” in that he is not worried about it spreading any time soon.
·         They do not biopsy Renal cancer. It is one of the few cancers that has been known to follow the needle track, and then spread.
·         Renal cancer, specific to the kidneys (Ie: has not spread) does not respond to chemo, nor radiation. Preferred method of treatment, excision.
·         Almost all renal cancers like mine are found “incidentally”. Ie: The doctor goes looking for something else, and gets a surprise.
·         Renal cancer is not “caused” by anything. (His words, “You didn’t do this.”) Dr. Downing said “We just don’t know why this kind pops up.”
·         80% of patients are cancer free after excision.
·         The right kidney has a slightly different nomenclature than the left kidney, in regards to location of blood vessels, etc. They will try to excise just the tumor, but most likely, I will lose the kidney.
·         Due to scheduling issues with the actual surgeon and the “Robotic-Assist”, I will probably go under the knife in about a month. (The doctor said I could wait all summer without worry.)
·         I will be laid out for about a week, then be on light duty for about a month. He said thereafter, I will be back to normal.
·         Kidney function is measured by a basal level of creatine in the blood. Normal is 1.0. Mine is .01. In other words, my kidneys are hyper-efficient. The Dr. told me I will do as well on one as some people do on two. (Well ain’t that lucky!?)
·         The Dr. said “If any cancer is routine, then you got routine cancer.” In fact, while extremely knowledgeable, friendly, and clearly caring…he acted a tiny bit bored by it all. (That, more than anything, calmed me WAY down.)
·         Extreme kudos need to go to Dr. April for such early, almost ninja like detection. It’s still a mystery to everyone how she knew she wanted to look at my innards.
So, I still have cancer (for now). But it looks like everything is going to be ok. I know a lot of people having been praying for me, and I am so totally thankful to everyone. I do intend to continue the blog, (at least thru the recovery)… so stay tuned!

My love to you all!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Accepting a Burden

“I will take the Ring", he said, "though I do not know the way.” – Frodo Baggins

So.  It hit me tonight. Really, really hit me.
I have cancer.
(Yes, I finally cried.)
Now if this sounds like the biggest “Well, no crap, Charlie!” statement you’ve ever read, you might be right. There is a certain amount of intellectual disconnect, of natural defensive denial, in any stressful situation, and it can be a bit unsettling to realize you’re suffering from it [the disconnect]. Then you get hit with the immensity of what you’re really facing ….well, swear words just don’t cut it.
What started to overwhelm me was what this fight is going to entail. I started to realize that this is not some flu virus that I will handle with a few office visits, and some antibiotics. This is not a tooth that needs filling, or a sprain that needs icing. I think, in the back of my head, while aware of the gravitas of my current status, I kind of felt like “Well, this sucks.” in much the same way as I might feel about a sinus infection.
But this isn’t a sinus infection.
I am not afraid for my life. Not by half. I know that I can and will beat this thing. I have absolute, 100% faith and belief in that.
I am worried about what this is going to cost and how I am going to pay for it. I am worried about missing work. I am worried that I won’t get to take my girls camping this summer. I am worried about getting sick with treatments and being a burden to others. I am worried that the news will get worse. I am worried I will annoy and alienate others if I talk about it too much. I am worried I will become addlepated. I am worried about what my insurance will cover. I am worried, not because I might die…but because a huge, Gordian knot has been chunked in my lap, and I am fresh out of pen knives.
I wish there was another way to describe this. But the best I can do (and forgive me for doing this, but another Tolkien allegory here) but I think it is similar to Frodo, standing in Rivendell, having just accepted the burden of carrying the Ring. He doesn’t know what it will entail, and he doesn’t know (yet) how he will get to the end of that road.  No one else can do it, so he must.  He knows the road will be long, and will be filled with challenges. He knows that everything hinges on getting to the end of that road. I think he realizes that unlike every path he’s trodden before, this road is going to change him forever and in ways he cannot anticipate. I think, he’s a little intimidated.
But I do take strength in knowing that like Frodo, I am not going to have to do this alone. Frodo has the Fellowship, his stalwart and boon companions. So do I.  I am very, very fortunate, and so extremely grateful to find that so many people are in my corner and rooting for me. It really does help.
Love to you all.
First appointment with Urologist today at 2:30P. I lucked out, because Dr. April (my regular Doctor) found a very highly recommended doctor that is only 2 blocks from my work. (and Dr. April is only 6 blocks away from work….how cool is that?!)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Journey Begins...

“It’s a dangerous thing, Frodo, stepping outside your door. If you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where you might end up!” – Bilbo Baggins

Well. I feel as though I was literally tossed out of the door and have landed ass over head in the roadway. Why? If you’re one of my Fb crowd then you definitely know why…I found out I have cancer.
Since many people have asked, here is a rough timeline/what I know:
·         Friday May 4th: Routine Check-up w/ Doctor; blood drawn. Some pain in abdomen when palpated, no fever. Follow up scheduled for two weeks.
·         Saturday May 5th: Doctor calls; she ran blood overnight, wants me to get an Ultrasound asap on Monday or Tuesday,  “to rule some things out”.
·         Monday May 7th:  Early AM ultrasound @ CDI in Mountlake Terrace (great folks). After ultrasound, they inform me they want me to get a ‘contrasted’ (barium milk-shake) CT scan on Tuesday.
·         Tuesday May 8th: Contrasted Ultrasound. No news. Burb paint-water all day.
·         Wednesday May 9th: Doctor calls and requests second ‘non-contrasted’ CT, again as soon as possible. They discovered “a mass” on my kidney. Depending on how it reacts, will determine course of action.
·         Thursday May 10th: Waiting for insurance to approve another scan.
·         Friday May 11th: Early morning, non-contrasted CT scan. Doctor calls in afternoon. Mass is 3.5cmx 4.5cm (we’re calling it acorn or golfball sized). Doctor asks to make an appointment with me to “sit down”. I tell her I’m on the phone with her now, and not knowing is NOT helping. I ask doctor what it is. “Is it a polyp or cyst?”  Dr. says “It’s important you know…THIS IS NOT A DEATH SENTENCE. It’s cancer.”
·         Friday May 11th (wee earlies): In an attempt to wrap my head around essentially ‘the unthinkable”, I post “Well…shit. I have cancer.”
·         Monday May 14th:  Dr. calls me early again. “We have finished going over the final report from the radiologist, and we can rule out, because of size and activity, [ACTIVITY?!?! WTF?!-cb] that it is benign.” I am ok with this. I don’t have a mini-freak until she tells me she is praying for me.
·         Tuesday May 15th:  I wake up early, drink my coffee (am I still allowed?), wonder if blogging will be cliché, run it by the Fb crowd, and start writing….
·         LOOKING FORWARD:  Appointment tomorrow with urologist to discuss treatment. Follow up appointment with my Dr. on Friday.
·         Other random thoughts:
·         I went to the doctor for a routine check-up, because I haven’t been in a couple years.
·         My doctor is an N.D. (Naturopathic Doctor), and her clinic is about 60% oncological patients, in other words, they’re experts, so how luck am I?
·         I am sorry for freaking anyone out…it was never my intention. Just kind of hard to wrap my head around.
·         It is ok to make jokes about it with me. Humor is and always has been my best weapon against adversity. That said, it’s not like making cracks about it will give you canc… (Too soon?  Too soon.)
Anyway, my day off beckons.  Iken and I are going to go play some nerd games with Chris. WOOT!
Love to you all!