Saturday, March 31, 2012

CTCA Update

I have not forgotten to send everyone an update on the blogger summit with CTCA. I simply have SO many notes from this weekend that I need to organize them so that I can share all of the information effectively. But very shortly, it was an amazing weekend, I met some really wonderful people and I was really encouraged by the direction and mission of CTCA. I'm really excited to tell my readers (whoever you are!) about this amazing option that too few people know about. So stay tuned for multiple new entries :)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Blogger Summit: Day 1

This morning I hopped on a plane and two flights later I landed in Phoenix, where I'll be attending a blogger summit for the next few days. This town is so different than any other town in America that I've been to. I don't think I've seen a patch of grass since being here, yet the land here is so gorgeous. Who knew the desert looked like this?? Not to mention my hotel room is equipped with a jet tub... ahhh.

I love these kind of trips... trips where I get to spend days with other cancer survivors just discussing treatment and our experiences. The bonding is awesome and the support is so therapeutic. I always so home re-energized and feeling like I can take on the world. This weekend I am here in Phoenix for Cancer Treatment Centers of America's Blogger Summit. They have invited 10 of us bloggers to come out and tour the hospital, speak with doctors and patients, eat the food (the AMAZING food cooked by their EXECUTIVE chef!), and learn more about the whole body care system that they offer. I'm excited to learn more about this place... I'm very pro alternative health and innovative treatments in addition to traditional therapies and CTCA seems to incorporate many different aspects of health. I'll be having a one-on-one session with a Naturopathic doctor tomorrow and I'm super pumped because I think nutritional health is one thing that is really overlooked in cancer treatment. I had my colon removed, and while I had great docs, I have hardly been given any info on how my nutrition should change and what issues I might encounter post-surgery. I have SO SO many questions... I'm afraid I'm going to be that annoying patient/new med student/ young kid who just goes on and on and on.

So stay tuned for my day 2 update! I'm also hoping to get some blogging tips from more seasoned bloggers... I need to start doing this more! :)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

"How To" Move On From Cancer

I've hesitated to do a "how to" post for several reasons. One, because I don't feel like an expert on overcoming cancer and I really don't think anyone can be. Mostly because everyone's journey is different so there isn't one way overcome it. Two, how does one really move on from cancer? And three, who in the world would listen to my advice??

Well I just decided that while I might not be able to tell you how to overcome it, I can tell you what has been helpful for me. Suggestions, not definites. It's a process. But we do the best we can :)

1. Meet other survivors. You will hear me talk endlessly about First Descents, Lynch Syndrome International, and The Colon Club because I can pinpoint turning points in my emotional recovery to experiences with those organizations. Having a support network of people who get what you are going through is just priceless. There are many days when I was struggling that a simple online conversation with a friend from an FD camp would just energize me. I could talk to them about anything and they got it. It was a huge change for me.

2. Give back. Helping others like they helped you is a great way to strengthen yourself emotionally and go something great for others at the same time. Join Imerman Angels, become a part of Team FD, participate in Relay for Life, join an organization specific to your cancer, or even start a support group in your community. There are so many ways to get involved. This has really helped my healing move on to the next level.

3. Faith. This should really be number one. I couldn't have gotten anywhere without God. I strongly believe that faith is an important part of medical and emotional healing and is in many instances something that is overlooked as an important factor. I can say that all during my treatment I was at peace and I know that peace came from God.

4. Find a purpose. Having a purpose in life is vital to healthy living. It doesn't matter what that purpose is... it could be anything from running a multi-million dollar business to being a stay at home mom. Figure out where you fit in to this world and what you feel meant to do. Feeling purposeful is a strong thing. This was the hardest thing for me after cancer because nothing felt good enough. I felt like I had to do something amazing with my life since I lived. While I knew I shouldn't have felt that way, I did. It took me awhile to feel purposeful but I think I'm finally there.

5. Keep a balance. Find a healthy balance for yourself when it comes to involvement in the "cancer world". It took me a bit of time to do this. Sometimes too much involvement can overwhelm you. Everyone needs a break and a balance. Have things you do that are unrelated to cancer. I kayak, paint, and watch old movies. I really have to focus on this point now that I'm not only involved in advocacy but am also a grad student in cancer research. I'm around cancer all day every day. When I come home at night I have to give myself a break. Well, unless I'm blogging of course :)

Thanks ya'll :) Have a great weekend! Get out there and have some FUN! :)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month!

Just a quick FYI- This is colon cancer awareness month! There are so many reasons why this is important... first, this is NOT an old person disease. You don't have to be over 50 to get colon cancer... I was 22! I know others who were 17, 20, early 30s, etc. Listen to your body and look for symptoms... but also know that many people have no symptoms, so know your family history! Second, colon cancer should NOT be considered an "embarrassing" disease or a taboo topic. It's a disease people! Anyone can get it! Old, young, fat, skinny, male, female, it doesn't matter. It needs to be talked about more. Why does breast cancer get all of the awareness? All the pink ribbons and pink products... where is the blue?? When will it be popular to support colon cancer awareness? I haven't heard ONE thing on the radio or TV about this being colon cancer awareness month. (And as a side note, I have many friends with breast cancer and they are just as sick of the everything pink movement as everyone else is... simply because it has become less and less about breast cancer and more about a fad). Third, you can eat healthy and get diagnosed with colon cancer. A big myth is that everyone with colon cancer has a horrible diet... it's just not true. When I was diagnosed I was a vegetarian and never ate out. I cooked everything from scratch and only ate 100% natural and organic foods. Yes diet is important in prevention, but don't automatically assume that someone's diet is bad and that's why they got this disease.

Get screened people! If I can have a colonoscopy every 6 months then you can certainly have one every 2-10 years, or whatever your doc has suggested. Just do it!
"Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting..... 'WHAT A RIDE!'"