If you already have cancer, this might seem like an odd article to post on this particular blog. But I’m putting it here for two reasons: (1) these suggestions come highly recommended for cancer survivors who have completed their treatment, and (2) not all of my readers have cancer.

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) has come up with the following recommendation for cancer prevention. NOTE: during our class our nutritionist made comments and additions to this list which I’ve put in brackets [ ].

According to the AICR, the following healthy choices can help prevent cancer:

  • Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight
  • Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day
  • Avoid sugary drinks. Limit consumption of energy-dense foods (particularly processed foods high in added sugar, or low in fiber, or high in fat). [Our nutritionist suggests using fruit juices, coffies, and V-8 juice. A small amount of Orange juice (not too much) is okay.]
  • Eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes such as beans.
  • Limit consumption of red meats (such as beef, *pork, and lamb) and avoid processed meats. [Our nutritionist suggested that grass-fed meats are better and provide important Omega-3. She also suggested cooking meat slowly. Cooking too quickly damages the fat and increases trans-fats. She emphatically said to not eat BBQ’d meat.]  *Editors note: I think pork is a white meat, but it still should be limited
  • If consumed at all, limit alcoholic drinks to 2 for men and 1 for women a day
  • Limit consumption of salty foods and foods processed with salt (sodium)
  • Do not use supplements to protect against cancer. [Our nutritionist said the main concern is too much vitamin-E which some studies show increases the chance of getting lung cancer.]
  • [Our nutritionist added that women after menopause should not take an iron supplement]

Special Population Recommendations:

  • It’s best that mothers breastfeed exclusively for up to six months and then add other liquids and foods.
  • Do not smoke or chew tobacco

Our nutritionist was a little more loose on dietary issues. She said we could eat healthy foods 80-90% of the time and have fun foods 10-20% of the time. I like her better than the AICR folks!

Note to cancer survivors: After treatment, cancer survivors should follow the recommendations for cancer preventions

Well that’s it for now, except for one honest disclosure… I’m doing some, but not all, of the above right now. It takes awhile for us old dogs to do new tricks. But, hey, at least I’m not chewing tobacco!

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Did you just receive the news that you have leukemia? When Leuk comes into your life he can stir up all sorts of reactions. For me, the reactions changed over time.

It was a bit of a wait before the doctor came in. I didn’t mind him being late – it just means he is giving his patients all his attention for as long as they need. He was doing that for the patient before me, so I knew he’d be doing the same for me.

I already knew I might have leukemia because the blood tests were attempting to find why my white blood cell count was so much higher than the norm. So it wasn’t totally unexpected when he walked in and gave me the news.

My first reaction was sort of bland. Almost as if he’d told me I had a cold. It wasn’t until the next day that I really grabbed hold of what was happening in my body.  Even then I wasn’t really scared. I guess I was befuddled; I wondered how this could happen.

A girl in my high school back in the 1960’s (yes I’m an old fart) died of leukemia and I remember thinking how awful it would be to have that happen. But, I thought, it would probably never happen to me.

Now here I was years later facing down Leuk.

A month or so after I received the news, anger set in. My father had died of lung cancer several years before and I was already mad at God for that. Dad didn’t pass easy.

And I was in debt when Leuk hit. Suddenly I was faced with the possibility that I would leave my wife in financial ruin. Everything seemed to be coming down on me. Though I put on a good face when around people, I sometimes yelled and swore at God when alone. I still wasn’t afraid of dying, I was just really torqued off. (I have a more descriptive expletive than that, but I’ll spare you.)

Now I’ve come to think differently about my new nemesis Leuk. He’s someone to be dealt with. Sure he can get me down at times, but he hasn’t beaten me. There’s options I have that my high school friend didn’t have. The odds now are better than they were then.

So, my reactions went from numbness, to disbelief, to anger, to acceptance. (Those reactions, by the way, are similar to the grieving process.)

I have yet to experience fear. I was afraid about leaving my wife in debt, but never of dying. We have managed to become nearly debt free now and so that worry is gone. Now I can focus on my upcoming battles with Leuk. But, oddly perhaps, I’m still not afraid.

I’m not really sure why. Maybe it’s my age. Maybe it’s my A.D.D. and I just forget about Leuk!

I think mostly it’s because I’ve learned over the years that anticipation rarely does any good. Most of the things I’ve worried about never happened. The future holds unexpected surprises, so worrying just wastes time.

I know some of you are facing fear. You have reason to be afraid. But you also have hope. Hope in each day. Every morning when you open your eyes you have another day that Leuk hasn’t won. He hasn’t taken the day away from you. You’ve won that day and he lost it.

You can take lots of days away from him and keep them for yourself. Yes, you could say the day might come when he finally wins but, fact is, even on that day it doesn’t have to be a win for him. You will still have won if, every day before, you made a conscience choice to claim those days as your own. You can choose how you react to Leuk. You can chose whether to spend your days in anger and fear or to claim them as your own and not Leuk’s.

No matter what happens, he only wins if you let him steal the days you have.

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Finding a friend is like finding an agate on the beach. You have to look hard and only pick up the one you know is real. There are a lot of rocks that, at first glance, look like agates but are really quartz or sometimes sand-worn pieces of glass.

You could pick up rocks indiscriminately and maybe wind up with an agate, but your pockets would fill up with needless weight.

I’ve found that good friends accept me for who I am. And then, through encouragement, they help me become better than I was.

I have a few friends like that. Only a few. Such friends are rare and that’s alright because it makes me appreciate them all the more.

You know you have such friends when, even if circumstances make it so you seldom get to hear from them, when they do call it’s like you were never apart. They stay friends no matter what.

And, even more important, a true friend is someone you can trust; even with your most personal foolishness. True friends understand you, because they’ve walked a similar path to yours. They don’t judge you. They just care for you.

I like walking the beach and skipping rocks across the water. But when I find an agate I never throw it away.

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deprpicWhether you are struggling with Leukemia or not, depression can come knocking.

I thought I’d write about what I’ve learned through research and personal experience.

I’ll be upfront here… I struggled with depression sometime ago. I’m not a psychiatrist so my thoughts here should not be your only source. For a more comprehensive source see the links I’ve listed at the end of this post and other links on the web. But, most importantly – talk to your doctor.

Are you depressed or just feeling down?

My symptoms included fatigue, loss of energy, lethargy, and feeling sort of empty. These feelings came back a bit this week, but the difference is they only lasted a couple days. Still, that’s a lot more than I wanted.

I think the difference between depression and just having a bad day is how long these things last and how deep you go down the rabbit hole.

When I suffered from depression, I tumbled quickly down that hole. I didn’t even try to climb out. In a weird, perverted way, it almost felt comfortable to be there. It was like giving up and giving in. I felt like there was no way out. I was ‘just that way’ and there was nothing I could do.

Climbing out

Now though, when I have a bad day and feel the rabbit hole sucking at me, I can tell myself I’m not going there. I might take a dip, but I climb out before I get too deep.

Much of controlling it depends on how you talk to yourself. An old song says “… I ain’t gonna study war no more”, well my version is “I ain’t gonna study depression no more.”

The more you tell yourself you can’t go one, you don’t have the energy to be who you were, you’re worthless, you’re lazy… the more you will convince yourself and the harder it will be to climb out of it.

One type of therapy

This idea of what-you-think-is-what-you-become is the premise of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. There are many other types of therapy techniques.

If you are seriously depressed, the symptoms go on for weeks or months. It’s not being lazy or worthless. It’s a mental disease that can be treated. You can conquer it.

Do your own research

For more info, and better advise than I can give, try these links: WebMD, NAMI, Stanford School of Medicine, and Medical News Today. Of course there are a lot more. Once you’ve done your own research, its best to go see your doctor. If he thinks you might have depression he can refer you to a counselor.

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Well, after an extremely long pause, I am starting up my exercise program. If you click the above exercise link you will see that my last exercise day was 3/20/12.

Shameful.

So this morning I walked. I only managed our driveway – the equivilant of 6 city blocks. (We have a long driveway.) I would have gone further but I felt my dizziness coming on so I turned around. I thought that might be better than falling in a ditch!

And so it begins. If I’m stable tomorrow I hope to walk one mile.

Wish me luck. I’m more cerebral than physical so exercise is usually the last thing on my to do list. I’ll keep track  of my progress on the exercise page, so if you like you can give me a hard time if I stop again.

Accountibiliy is something we procrastinators hate so I need it even more than most.

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