June 16, 2010

How Diet Affects Cancer

Posted in Breast Cancer, Cancer, Food, Health tagged , , , , , at 7:10 am by Liliana

Diet and cancer

Diet and cancer

According to a recent article by Dr. Keith I Block, diet and nutrition affect cancer both directly and indirectly.

Directly, in the way that the nutrients impact the mechanisms by which cancer cells grow and spread.

Indirectly, by helping to control the cancer by altering the biochemical conditions of the malignant disease.

What we eat can make the difference between controlling cancer for a long period of time; or losing control of the disease and having it spread with greater speed.

According to Dr. Block, “Here are some examples of findings from recent studies that support the importance of diet in fighting cancer:

  • Diets high in fat and refined carbohydrates make you more likely to become overweight, which in turn increases your risk of tumor recurrences. Obese men are at significantly greater risk of developing more aggressive prostate cancer.
  • Dietary fats can impair the body’s anti-cancer defenses by depressing the activity of natural killer (NK) cells, while a low-fat diet markedly increases NK activity. Natural killer cells play a key role in preventing metastasis.
  • Obese breast cancer patients are two to four times more likely to experience a recurrence than women of normal weight.”

Read more.

Source: Keith I. Block, M.D., Internationally recognized expert in integrative oncology.

May 27, 2010

Meet Bridget Spence

Posted in Breast Cancer, Cancer, Health, Women tagged , , , at 6:59 am by Liliana

Bridget Spence

Bridget attended LBBC's conference for women with advanced breast cancer

I first read about Bridget Spence on the LBBC blog. Her story moved me deeply.

Two weeks after her college graduation, at age 21, she was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer.

Visit Bridget’s blog  – My Big Girl Pants, and read about her progress. She is a wonderful writer and her courage and sense of humor will leave you full of hope.

Read about Bridget’s experience with cancer in her own words:

No Plans for the Summer Because Every Moment is Special

If you are in college or are about to graduate college you always hear the phrase “What are you up to this summer” a lot. Mothers ask kids over the weekly Sunday phone call home. Your grandparents ask at family gatherings. Your professors ask when they run into you in the student union. Your friends ask at a crowded party. You are asked during job interviews. It can become a dreaded question!

I dread that question perhaps more than most, because my answer is always long winded. I hate being a “downer”. But I always take a deep breath and share. I have to share. My story, my plans are important.  This summer, I will be enrolling in a clinical trial. I am 26 years old, but I am enrolling in a clinical trial.

Five years ago, on June 3, 2005, I was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer.  I was 21 years old. It was two weeks after my college graduation. I had no family history of breast cancer. Two weeks after my Boston University commencement, I met up with a girlfriend at Starbucks. We had both just finished our first week at work and we were excited to commiserate. My phone rang while I was in line for my caramel macchiato. It was my mother calling to tell me I had breast cancer.

The fabulous post college summer plans I had made quickly changed and, instead of living with my four best friends, I moved home with my parents. I am going to be honest, I was more upset about moving in with my parents than I was about a cancer diagnosis. It wasn’t until the doctors found a tumor in my liver. It wasn’t until the doctors told me I was a Stage 4 cancer patient. It wasn’t before one doctor told me I had a 16% chance of seeing my 30th birthday that I stopped worrying about living the life I had planned and started wanting to fight for the life I still had.

So this summer, like almost every summer since my graduation five years ago, I will be spending this summer at the hospital.

This summer, I will be at the hospital for 4-10 hours each day, three days a week. I am enrolling in a Phase 1 clinical trial that looks at the toxicity of two chemotherapy drugs. The doctors are going to give me as much drug as I can physically handle before I beg for a break. I am enrolling in a clinical trial this summer that is designed to make me sick.

I take a deep breath and always share my story even though I hate sharing it because you all need to know that the life you have planned and set up for June may not turn out the way you expect.  Life is hard and crazy and never ever goes the way you have planned.

But remember, no matter what life throws at you, you will be just fine.  No matter what happens after you put on that black gown and goofy hat, stay true to yourself and you will be a fabulous success.

My life with cancer is really hard. I have lost a lot of friends because our lives are just so different. I am often too sick to go out on Friday nights. I have missed big birthday parties and events because I’ve had doctors’ appointments. I have had to change my personal and career goals. But I also love my life more than I ever would have without cancer. The friends I still have are the best friends a girl could ask for, and the times I am feeling well, when I do go out, I go out and I truly appreciate it.

The greatest lessons I’ve ever learned weren’t in the classroom, they were in the hospital room. So here is what I have learned:

Your parents: those parents whose blood, sweat, tears and $40 + thousand dollars brought you to this moment. Those parents you don’t want to move in with next month. They are your best friends. Contrary to what you may think now, they will not be here forever. They know you better than you know yourselves and they can help.

The best thing that ever happened me was moving in with my parents after graduation. I did not just live upstairs. I cooked dinner with them every night, my dad and I went on dates, I got to know my mom as a friend and not a mother. I learned about their first jobs and their graduate school experiences. I learned to turn to them for good and sound advice. In college, I spoke to my parents once a week. After college, I speak to my parents several times a day.

I’ve also learned to stop worrying about your answer to the question “what are you doing this summer?” or “what are you doing with your life?” Stop planning your whole life and setting certain goals to attain. Do not measure yourself based on the accomplishments of your peers. Life is too short to wish it away. Let go and enjoy where you are in this very special moment. Reflect on all that you have accomplished as opposed to planning for the next accomplishment. When I visited a doctor and he ran his hands through his hair and said, “I just don’t know what to do with you.” At that moment, I was forced to take stock of my life.

At that time, I had never been employed. I had never saved much money or even paid my own bills. I most certainly had never achieved all of the goals I set out for myself post college. I wanted to graduate and work for the CIA. That never happened and never will happen, but I am still a success.

I task all of you to spend some time today taking stock of your lives. Don’t take stock of your career goals or material possessions. Take a look at your character and at your relationships.  Take a look at the friends around you, because at the end of your lives, your relationships are what endure even after you are gone. Your relationships and your character are what matter and they are all that matter.

May 24, 2010

Relay for Life of Canton, 2010

Posted in appliance parts, Breast Cancer, Cancer, Good people, Health, Money, Organization, RepairClinic.com tagged , , , , , , at 6:52 am by Liliana

Relay for Life of Canton, 2010

Relay for Life of Canton, 2010

Last weekend, RepairClinic.com participated in the Relay for Life fundraiser in Canton, Michigan. This is an inspiring event that celebrates the lives of people who have battled cancer, remembers loved ones lost, and fights back against the disease by raising money for research. All the money is donated to the American Cancer Society.

At the Canton Relay, teams of people camp out at our local park and take turns walking or running around a path surrounding a small pond. This is the second year that RepairClinic has participated in this event and we all find it very moving and inspiring. The event starts with the survivor’s walk. Participants stand on the sidelines and cheer those who have battled the disease. I always cry when I look around me and see young children, mothers with babies, middle aged people, senior citizens. No one is immune to this disease. Still, as hard as it is, there is healing and comfort in the support and cheers from other people, in their love and encouragement.

This year’s Relay was a huge success. These are the official numbers:

The Relay For Life of Canton celebrated 347 survivors, had 1,283 participants, honored the battle of over 3,630 loved ones with luminaria and raised $248,062 for the fight against cancer! We exceeded the community’s fund-raising goal by $8,062!

RepairClinic thanks all of you for your help.

May 18, 2010

The Last Mammogram

Posted in Breast Cancer, Cancer, Health, Women tagged , , , , , , , , at 7:03 am by Liliana

Last Mammogram

The Last Mammogram

That Friday in late November, five years ago, when I had my routine mammogram scheduled, I was not worried. I had been going for mammograms annually for the past five years, since I was forty. I was not overweight; I ate a healthy diet, exercised moderately, and had no history of breast cancer in my family. I had three children, my first when I was twenty five. I breast fed them all.

I was not worried.

I waited in a beautifully designed waiting room of my woman’s health center, looking though magazines and exchanging pleasantries with other women. When my turn came, I went willingly, as though I was receiving a haircut. I changed into a hospital gown and stepped into an exam room.

Before the mammogram, the nurse examined my chest area. This was a routine step in the process. As I chatted with this soft, motherly woman, she stopped and looked at me. I knew that there was no lump; I would have noticed it myself. “Have you noticed how different your skin feels right here?” she asked. No, I had not, and I wasn’t sure what she was referring  to. She took my hand and led me to a spot on the upper side of my right breast. The skin felt different there – softer and spongier. Even though there was no lump, I knew right away that something was not right.

The nurse made an X with a black magic marker so that the radiologist could pay special attention to that spot. Then I went in for a mammogram.

While I waited for the results, I called Jeff to let him know that I would be late, and that he needed to leave work and pick up the kids from school. “What’s going on?” he asked. “Just running late,” I told him.

The nurse came back and said that the doctor wanted to take another X-Ray. They took another X-ray. I waited in a room full of women in hospital gowns. I didn’t look at magazines. I didn’t speak to anyone. Finally, the nurse called my name and told me that the doctor wanted to see me. I stood up and tried to be brave. I straightened my back, pulled my shoulders back, and followed the nurse.

The doctor was a man my age, and he was looking intently at my X-Ray. He asked me to sit down. He told me that they rarely told women bad news without any preparation, but they believed that they had found a tumor in my right breast. They wanted me to come in for a biopsy on Monday. On Monday! How will I live through the weekend?

I asked questions. What did he see? What were his suspicions? He held the cards tightly to his chest. He revealed nothing, except that the news was probably not good. As I left his office, I felt that my reality had shifted completely. When I exited those sliding front doors of the woman’s center, I was a different woman.

May 15, 2010

Open Your Windows!

Posted in appliance parts, Breast Cancer, Cancer, Cleaning, Health, Home, RepairClinic.com tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 10:02 am by Liliana

Open Your Window

Open Your Windows

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies indoor air pollution as one of the top risks to public health in our environment. Often, the air inside is more polluted than the air outside. What can we do to keep the air in our home fresh, clean and healthy? EPA offers a few easy to follow suggestions:

Open the Windows and Air Your House Out
Every day, even in winter, it is a good idea to open as many windows as you can in your house. The cross breezes will purify the air and make your house smell fresh and feel comfortable.

Keep Houseplants
Green houseplants not only clean the air in our homes by removing toxins but look beautiful and refreshing as well.

Candles and Air Fresheners
Most candles and air fresheners contained phthalates. These chemicals, used to spread fragrance through the air, are believed to cause birth defects, hormonal abnormalities, and reproductive problems. Burn only beeswax and soy-based candles.

Combustion Gases
Gas stoves produce open flames, and places where open flames reside (kitchens, living room fireplaces, furnace rooms, or basements) nitrogen dioxide and carbon dioxide have a chance of building up. It is important to check  and make sure that your gas appliances are properly adjusted. All should have a blue flame; a lot of the yellow or orange color are a sign of higher pollutant levels. If this is the case in your home, you should alert your gas company to adjust the setting. If you are buying a new appliance, select a model with a pilot-less ignition; this type does not have a continuously burning pilot light.

Dust Mites
Although not deadly, dust mites (hiding in bedrooms, linens, sofas, carpets) cause a number of allergies and  may be responsible for stuffy noses and itchy eyes. They could also make asthma symptoms flare up. Cover your pillows and mattresses with tightly woven “allergen protector” covers. Vacuum with a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter; or even better, select wood flooring for your home. It is much easier to keep dust free.

PBDEs (Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers or Flame Retardants)
These dangerous chemicals have been linked to thyroid and liver cancers, as well as neurological and immune disorders. Many Mattresses, upholstery and electronics are made with them. Mattresses made from wool (a natural fire retardant) are a healthier choice. Electronics manufacturers such as Apple, Dell, and Sony are starting to phase out certain PBDEs. IKEA is one of the furniture manufacturers that has stopped using these chemicals (as they have been banned in Europe.)

Formaldehyde
This chemical emits toxic gases that can cause nausea and dizziness; in severe cases, it may harm the liver and the kidneys. Formaldehyde can hide in adhesives in furniture, flooring and cabinetry. Particleboard products have a lot of adhesive, so buying solid wood furniture and flooring instead may help you avoid this harmful chemical.

Mold
Anywhere that there is water (refrigerator, washing machine, shower walls) there is potential for mold. Mold causes itchy eyes, runny noses, asthma, and other respiratory disorders. In order to control mold, it is important to control indoor moisture levels (those levels can easily be measured with an inexpensive humidity meter – a hygrometer.) Don’t forget to regularly clean the spots in your home that hold standing water – the drip trays beneath your refrigerator and the bucket on your dehumidifier. Run a cycle without clothes on your washing machine once a week with 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide to prevent mold from invading there.

Pesticides
These chemicals can cause respiratory problems, skin irritation, coughing, and dizziness and over long periods of time have been linked to central nervous system damage. They accumulate on floors, plants, pets, bottoms of shoes. Be careful of what kinds of chemicals you spray on your pets and plants to ward off pests and insects. Removing shoes before entering your home, can significantly cut down on the amount of lawn fertilizer tracked inside.

Every bit counts. Keep the air in your home clean and healthy. Keep those windows open.

May 14, 2010

Organic or Conventional?

Posted in Breast Cancer, Cancer, Food, Garden, Health tagged , , , , , , at 7:07 am by Liliana

The Dirty Dozen

The Dirty Dozen

Most health experts and nutritionists advise us to purchase organic foods whenever possible. This is a good guide of which foods have the most pesticides, and which are not as contaminated.

The Dirty Dozen
Pesticide levels in these foods are so high that even by washing and peeling carefully, there is no way to avoid ingesting  high dosage of chemicals. If you buy organic varieties of just this group of foods, the estimate is that you can reduce your total pesticide exposure by 80%.

Fruits:

  • Apples
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries

Vegetables:

  • Bell pepper
  • Celery
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach

Thin-skinned fruits and vegetables are usually more susceptible to pesticides, because it is easier for the chemicals to penetrate the flesh. Apples, because of the crevices at the top and bottom of the fruit, are especially susceptible.  Spinach and celery are very porous, leaving pesticides trapped in the small openings of their skin. Peppers, on the other hand, have thick skins; but because pesticide residue clings to the surface even when scrubbed, they are also highly contaminated.

The Clean Fifteen
Even when grown conventionally, these fruits and vegetables usually have lower levels of pesticide contamination. When you go shopping, these are the good items to compromise with.

Fruits:

  • Avocados
  • Pineapple
  • Mangos
  • Kiwis
  • Papaya
  • Watermelons
  • Grapefruit

Vegetables:

  • Onions
  • Sweet corn
  • Asparagus
  • Peas
  • Cabbage
  • Eggplant
  • Broccoli
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes

Most of these foods have protective skins, husks, or pods. Broccoli and cabbage are cold weather crops grown when pests are not as prevalent. Fruits grown on trees often require fewer pesticides because they are high above the ground and less susceptible to insects.

May 10, 2010

Mediterranean Diet

Posted in Breast Cancer, Cancer, Food, Health tagged , , , , , at 7:11 am by Liliana

Mediterranean Sea

Mediterranean Sea

Mediterranean diet combines styles of cooking from different countries of the Mediterranean region – Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Southern France. This healthy approach to food  has proven to help decrease the risk of a number of diseases: heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. It also helps sustain one’s overall well being and longevity.

Essential components of the Mediterranean diet:

  • Getting plenty of exercise and eating your meals in a relaxed setting with family and friends.
  • Eating generous amounts of fruits and vegetables. (Residents of Greece eat very little red meat and average nine servings of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables a day.)
  • Consuming healthy fats such as olive oil. (Olives provide monounsaturated fats — a type of fat that helps reduce LDL cholesterol.  “Extra-virgin” olive oils are the least processed and contain the highest levels of the protective compounds.)
  • Eating small portions of nuts. (Nuts are high in calories, so they should not be eaten in large amounts — generally no more than a handful a day.)
  • Drinking red wine, in moderation. (Red wine contains antioxidants and has an aspirin-like effect, reducing the blood’s ability to clot. The Mediterranean diet typically includes some red wine, but this should be consumed only in moderation. This means no more than 5 ounces of wine daily for women (or men over age 65), and no more than 10 ounces of wine daily for men under age 65.)
  • Consuming very little red meat .
  • Eating fish or shellfish at least twice a week.

Adopting a Mediterranean diet to your lifestyle:

  • Eat natural, organic peanut butter
  • Use butter or margarine in very small amounts (if ever.)  Many are made with trans fats.
  • Eat 7 to 10 servings of whole fruits and vegetables every day. Keep carrots, grapes, apples and bananas (and fruits that are in season and preferably locally grown) on hand for quick and delicious snacks.
  • Use olive oil in cooking. Try olive oil and lemon juice or vinegar for salad dressings. After cooking pasta, add a bit of olive oil, some garlic and green onions for flavoring.
  • Season meals with herbs and spices rather than salt.
  • Substitute fish and poultry for red meat. Avoid sausage, bacon and other high-fat meats.
  • Limit higher fat dairy products such as whole or 2 percent milk, cheese and ice cream.
  • Eat fish once or twice a week. Grilled fish tastes good and requires little cleanup. Avoid fried fish.
  • Keep walnuts, almonds, pecans and Brazil nuts on hand for a quick snack.
  • Have a glass of red wine (or purple grape juice) at dinner with your pasta or fish on occasion.

This is a delicious and healthy way to eat!

May 5, 2010

RepairClinic.com Raising Money for Cancer Research

Posted in appliance parts, Breast Cancer, Cancer, Good people, Health, Money, Organization, RepairClinic.com, Work tagged , , , at 9:13 am by Liliana

RepairClinic.com Outreach Committee

RepairClinic.com Outreach Committee

RepairClinic’s Health and Wellness committee held a fundraiser luncheon for all our employees yesterday. They were helping our Outreach committee raise money for Relay For Life®.

The American Cancer Society Relay For Life® is a fund-raising event that gives people around the world a chance to celebrate the lives of cancer survivors and people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease. Relay For Life® raises much-needed funds and awareness to help the American Cancer Society save lives from cancer.

At RepairClinic.com, our Outreach team has been collecting money for Relay For Life® for a number of months now. We held three fund-raising luncheons. RepairClinic donated a large number of items for a popular employee bargain sale (we raised $896 there). Different individuals in our group have been doing their part to inform their families and friends and raise money that way. Our goal is $2000. We are slowly getting there.

For yesterday’s luncheon, we had a healthy spread – a lovely salad bar with lots of toppings. This was on the menu:

  • Fresh, crisp lettuce
  • Baby spinach
  • Several kinds of rolls
  • Meats: turkey, ham, salami
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Vegetables: onions, cucumbers, tomatoes
  • Beans: garbanzo, black and sunflowers seeds

For dessert we had brownies, lemon bars, a number of delicious cookies.

Our lunch was a success and we raised over $345.00 towards our goal.

Relay for Life is taking place Saturday, May 15th and Sunday May 16th. Our team will be there the entire weekend. Please help us with your donation!

April 21, 2010

Migraine Headaches

Posted in Breast Cancer, Health, Weather, Women tagged , , , , at 7:03 am by Liliana

Migraine Headaches

Migraine Headaches

I get migraine headaches.

From childhood I have suffered from headaches, but migraines are in a different category altogether. Four years ago, after my breast cancer treatments ended, my oncologist advised me to take Arimidex, a drug that lowers estrogen levels, and, we hope, will help keep the cancer at bay. One of the side effects of Arimidex is migraines.

Spring seems to be an especially opportune time for migraines. I am convinced that changes in barometric pressures and temperature are the main culprits. But there are many others. A glass of red wine, eating a few walnuts or a piece of cheese, working too hard. Worrying and stressing can also take me over the edge.

Sometimes I wake up with a migraine headache and I feel dazed, my mind cloudy and unclear. My jaw is tight, and I feel like I have been grinding stones with my teeth. My temples hurt. The top of my head aches. I have trouble concentrating. Noise is amplified and gives me pain. Light makes me wince. My teeth hurt. My hair hurts. My shoulders are stiff. And when things get really bad, I feel faint, dizzy and nauseous. My eyes hurt.  I get double vision and shapes start dissolving and dancing on the sides of my eyes.

The only medicine I am allowed to take is ibuprofen. To take anything else would increase estrogen levels and undermine the effects of Arimidex. Most of the time, I wait and hope against hope that the headache will go away on its own. It never does. If I am at work and realize that the point of no return is coming, I make a decision to go home. I have to be careful not to wait too long because sometimes my vision is so bad that I have trouble driving.

Once home, I darken my bedroom, cover my head with my comforter and go to sleep. Sometimes I sleep 3-4 hours at a time. When I wake up, the migraine has usually receded  deeply within my head. Although not gone, it is mostly controllable at this point. But it will follow me like an evil shadow for the next three or four days and try to resurface again. It is a battle. Sometime I win, sometimes the shadow.

To my subscribers: I accidentally sent this posting out last Monday. I was writing it while I had a migraine and instead of pressing ‘save’ I pressed ‘publish.’ Sorry about that!

April 17, 2010

Best Foods to Help You Prevent Cancer

Posted in Breast Cancer, Cancer, Food, Health tagged , at 7:58 am by Liliana

Fight Cancer

Fight Cancer

There is a  general agreement among nutritionists that the foods on this list are among the best in helping prevent cancer.

How many of these are you eating (or drinking)?

  • Green Tea
  • Strawberries
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemons
  • Apples
  • Pineapples
  • Cherries
  • Red Grapes
  • Red Wine
  • Bok Choy
  • Kale
  • Soybeans
  • Ginseng
  • Maitake Mushroom
  • Licorice
  • Turmeric
  • Nutmeg
  • Artichokes
  • Lavender
  • Pumpkin
  • Sea Cucumber
  • Tuna
  • Parsley
  • Garlic
  • Tomato
  • Olive Oil
  • Grape seed Oil
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Pomegranate

Why not do everything that is in your power to stay healthy and strong? And enjoy delicious food at the same time.

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