Monthly Archives: July 2012

Get Your Game On!!!! The Olympics are coming!

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I draw inspiration from many places, people and events in life.  In the last 12 weeks, this has been a major part of my journey.  So, as I tried to rest yesterday, I started thinking about the Olympics and my slumber flew out the door.  I laid on my bed and could visualize my own gold medel just within reach of my finger tips.  Everything I have done for the last 24 weeks will come down to one scan.  I pictured climbing the podium to receive my gold medal along with a scan that showed my progress in battling my disease.  I’ve already had one promising scan and that just fuels the fire to work even harder for the next one.    This is no different than the Olympics.

The athletes that will compete over the next few weeks don’t just practice their sport. Everything they eat and drink, when they sleep, how long they sleep, the company they keep…it all comes down to their thirst for the gold.  As a runner it’s not only about running. They cross-train, eat special diets, and sleep.  It’s their prescription for success.  Ironically it is no different than the model I am working with.  Chemo is not a magic bullet so I have incorporated a wellness lifestyle to get me to the gold.  Time trials are our scans during treatment. They tell us how we are doing and if we are making progress.  I am still three weeks out from my next time trial.  In the meantime, I will incorporate a whole person; wellness lifestyle in an effort to keep myself healthy.  The end of September will be my BIG scan and I hope to bring home the gold.  If not, there are more Olympic games ahead for me. The athletes that don’t win in London this year don’t just pack it up and quit….they are more determined than ever to bring it home four years from now.

I see myself on the podium as they place the medal around my neck.  Red Solo Cup playing in the background as I represent my country of Cureopia.  Being an Olympic athlete is so much more than just being the best at a sport.  And being a cancer survivor is much, much more than scans, infusions, hair loss .. .the list goes on.

So, when you watch the opening ceremonies and the athletes compete, allow them to inspire you to go for the gold.  I don’t personally know any Olympic athletes, but the athletes I do know are my everyday heroes and they inspire me every day to keep my chin up and work for my spot on that podium.

 

Are you Agent enough?…”Operation Get Well” Begins Now!

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It’s time to “Get Smart” about our health!  I am Special Agent, Sue, and I am on a mission to learn about Integrative Medicine.  This powerful path to wellness is not classified information, but navigating all the resources can be overwhelming.    I will fight my way through to the details we all can use to be well.  Since diagnosis (Stage IV Rectal Cancer) my plan has been to hunt down, not only the best team of agents, but investigate anything that might hinder “Operation Get Well”.

In addition to this job, I am a mom, so my days are filled with doctor appointments, running errands, and spending time with my kids….you know …life.   While carrying out my daily assignments, I had a meeting with someone of particular interest.  It was a scheduled appointment and recommendation I received through my oncologist.  I have been anxious to meet this “special agent” for some time and yesterday was the day.  I could not be happier or more grounded in this discovery I’ve made about my “care team” and this new doctor elevates my confidence in my future, like no other.  “Operation Get Well” is a go.

The practice is Integrative Medicine and the “special agent” that heads up this area is Dr. Russ Greenfield.  The Center of Integrative Medicine defines Integrative Medicine (IM) as “healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person, including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship between practitioner and patient, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapies.”  Dr. Russ was a conventional MD before he became a  leader in this practice.  IM does not dismiss conventional medicine, but integrates the two for optimal wellness.

When I first walked into his office, he was excited to share a website he had found –  it was http://www.longdistancehero.com.  My blog!!!!  THOUGHTFUL!  Taking the time to acknowledge my efforts as a survivor was so exciting.  His willingness to learn about me and my  journey spoke volumes.

We’re now sitting at the conference room table and ready to get down to business.  My hour and a half consultation was my time to suck as much knowledge out of this doctor as possible. That’s how we approach doctor appointments…. right?  Not this one!  Our visit was a relaxed, exciting conversation that rejuvenated my soul.  The topics on the table were diet, supplements, spirituality, rest, and exercise… My Wellness!  Since the focus of IM includes all aspects of a person’s lifestyle we had a lot of ground to cover.  I will break these down into multiple blogs as my “mission” unfolds.

We started our discussion with diet and that is what I’d most like to share today.  I have heard many times that the focus in healthcare is to cure the sick, but the current focus is shifting to being and staying well.  I have a terminal disease, but I am in the best shape of my life.  Clearly, that makes no sense, or does it?  I can be well, but still  have a disease.

On to the diet.  Do not panic… this is not a “diet” in the true sense of  the word… I am going to call it “Gastronomic lifestyle Enjoyment Modification”.   I am Italian and the essence of our being is food… we use it to celebrate, comfort us, and it’s always an excuse to get together.  Well you are not about to take away the very thing that makes this soul happy.  Instead, it’s dietary awareness and the ability to heal through food.  I have practiced this since diagnosis and Dr. Russ and I were meeting to go over this wellness plan to make sure that it will not interfere with the chemo.

So the first thing Dr. Russ wanted to clear up before we talked food is that he doesn’t believe in a “diet of disallowance”.  Can I have an Amen please!    Now we’re talking… and we did … for an hour and here’s a little of what I learned.

Most of us do not eat as well as we should.  We intentionally commit gastronomic crimes on occasion…and we usually get away with them.  Now there is nothing wrong with splurging on a special meal…I mean go big or go home.  The question is how often are you stealing cookies from the processed food jar?  They are making TV shows about it,  that are meant to be entertaining… Biggest Loser, among others.  What the doctors in the practice of Integrative Medicine have found is that many of the food choices we make create internal inflammation in our bodies.  Chronic inflammation is an open door for many diseases, cancer being one of them.  So a focus on anti-inflammatory foods is one of the many tickets to board the train to being well, reducing internal inflammation, and reducing chronic illness. Now this isn’t a magic bullet, this is not temporary… this is a lifestyle change.  So hop on board… we are going for a ride.

If you choose to accept this mission, you will be transported (not literally…sorry) to an international location where eating and drinking and being in the moment is a way of life.  Of the places I choose…top on my list are ones known for food….Italy and Greece are top on my list. A Mediterranean diet is gastronomic lifestyle enjoyment at it’s best.  It’s all about relaxing, eating well, being in the moment, and enjoying food and friends.   Now take this image and head back to home base… you have some work to do.

And so ” Operation Get Well” begins.  Out with the processed foods and in with the foods nature intended for us to eat… fruits, and veggies being the largest part of what we incorporate into our diets.  Whole and Cracked grains, Pasta (al dente) and beans.  The list goes on and finishes with red wine and dark chocolate… again how awesome is this mission!!!!   I encourage all agents to refer to Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid.  Here’s the thing… take this slowly.  Only modify one or two elements at a time.  Becoming overwhelmed with this pyramid or lifestyle change may create stress and  frustration and when it does, your automatic response will be to abort the mission.  Dr. Russ was very clear about this in our meeting and I couldn’t agree more.

We are so very fortunate to have “Special Agent” Dr. Russ here in Charlotte. If you or anyone you know is battling cancer or any number of chronic illnesses and have an interest in incorporating Integrative Medicine and Conventional Medicine as path to being well, please go to Dr. Russ Greenfield’s website.  If I am lucky enough to have this blog travel further than the Queen City, go to Dr. Russ’s Healthy Resources page.  The ‘Integrative Medicine’ links at the bottom of the page will take you to websites allowing you to find other doctors across the country that have studied this amazing practice.

Wishing you wellness.

Sue

Icy, Cold and Fruity Lemonade Helps Raise Money for Booty!!!

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Do you remember your first lemonade stand?   I’m not sure why, but it’s such a big deal to most kids.  My girls have been asking to have one for a long time.  Friends riding the 24-Hours of Booty http://www.24hoursofbooty.org/ were in need of funds for their creatively named team…24-Hours of Sue-ty.  Finally, a great cause to host our stand. (Yup, that’s the “Sue-ty” team on the right).

I love when my passion for a cause, the needs of my children and a good time all come together as one.  Truth be told…I made that happen and I’m so glad I did. Hosted by the kids of Omega Nation Full/Half Training Team, we made a statement in Charlotte…cancer ain’t got nothing on us.

The stand was a grand success and if you had the opportunity to participate/donate we thank you.  We would also like to thank Omega Sports for allowing us the space in their store to host this event and bring smiles to these young philanthropists and future “ultra” runners.

A few weeks ago, I posted info on my 24-Hours of Booty challenge.  I gave myself 26 days to ride 24 hours on my bike.  Sounds easy … throw in chemo treatments, pneumonia and an injured toe and, all of a sudden,  26 days is gone in a flash –  but rest assured, I WILL meet my goal and ride the 24-hours of Sue-ty.  Every day I get on the bike, I feel like a million bucks.  I am stronger and healthier than I have ever been.  I can also thank this training program for helping to catch the pneumonia early.  Had I not been riding, every day, I probably would not have given much thought to getting winded when walking to the second floor of our house.  However, after riding an hour a day on the bike, this made NO sense to me.  Excercise is so much more than a tool for weight loss or an attempt at sanity.  It keeps you in touch with your body in ways you may never have expereienced.

Gardening Update:
I feel fantastic…well, aside from the unexpected case of pneumonia.  I really do feel amazing.  My last treatment did not include Magic Potion Number 9…(Oxaliplatin).  My white blood cell count was way too low.  This is the drug that really kicks me in the fanny. It was a welcome break and we will start up again next week.   I am also meeting with Dr. Russ Greenfield… he is an expert in Integrative Medicine. He and my oncologist work together to ensure optimal health, for me, during treatment. I am SUPER excited to work with him and not just depend on chemo.  I am taking my health to a different level by taking control of my diet and daily lifestyle. It feels good to have a few areas that I can grab a hold of and know that I am working with the chemo treatments towards the ultimate goal…being disease free (gosh I hate the way that sounds).  Disease is such an ugly word.  Regardless, I can honestly say that even thought I have disease, I am well and will continue to tend to my ‘garden’… it’s looking really good these days.  (oh and for those of you wanting to know…I do not have a date for my next “weed” scan… when I do I promise to let you all know).

Thanks for keeping me smiling!

Sue

24 Hours of Sue-ty!!!

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24 Hours of Booty is coming to Charlotte July 27-28. It’s the official cycling event of LIVESTRONG™.  This event brings together anyone and everyone with a passion for fighting cancer.  Now the “booty” I know most about is the one I’m trying to save… MY OWN!!!  I am so very lucky to have friends working to “save my ASSets” by participating in this amazing event.  They are raising money for the creatively named 24 Hours of Sue-ty.  Now heaven forbid I sit around while generous people donate funds and friends bike in my honor… No way, Jose’… I’ve got a plan.  I hope cancer is ready for another kick in the pants!

From now until July 28th, I will bike a total of 24 hours to raise money for my Booty Brigade.  I just completed my first hour… only 23 to go.  This gives me 26 days to complete 23 hours of biking.  Yes, I’m still on chemo, but I don’t plan on letting that stop me. This may prove to be a difficult task, but that’s the best part. To keep me occupied I will be watching the TV series “24”.  I’ve never seen it and now is the perfect time!

In addition to keeping up on my progress via my blog, please consider donating to one of the following … 24 Hours of Sue-ty fundraising pages (links below).  And, if you were looking for a reason to workout, get on your bike or put on your running shoes and shake your booty for 24 hours just don’t forget to email me and tell me you are joining me in sweat and spirit!!!

Lauren and Michael… The 24 Hours of Sue-ty SuperStars!!!!!!!

Lauren’s Booty Page

Michael’s Booty Page

Thanks friends, family and Omega Nation team for helping to inspire me every day!

Sue

For more information on 24-Hours of Booty go to http://www.24hoursofbooty.org