Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I'm Moving!

Well I did it! It took me all afternoon but I figured out how to blog on Wordpress. I like their blogsite better because it looks more polished. It's easier for the viewer to find certain subjects too. Sooooo this is my last post on this blog... if you want to see more Rectal Cancer My Ass posts, head on over here

See you at the new place!
xo  Inge

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Art Therapy - Part of Cancer Treatment

Creating art is a terrific part of complementary therapy when undergoing cancer treatment --- or any type of treatment for that matter. UCI offers art therapy to its patients, but you don't have to be part of a group to enjoy creating art.

Kirsten is one of the patients I visit with at UCI Medical Center and is an artist. She likes to paint on different types of mediums. She prefers to stay at home and paint. This is a sample of her work:

You don't have to paint, you can write poetry, cook, collage or whatever. I even have a patient who brings a coloring book and crayons to pass the time while she receives chemotherapy.
If you prefer spending time and creating with a group, ask your doctor if there is an art program at your hospital or medical center.

xo   Inge


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Choose Your Treatment Carefully Part 2

In Part 1's blog post I discussed snake oil salesmen who peddle miracle cancer cures via the Internet. I want to discuss on this post my thoughts about alternative cancer treatments, mainly sites who offer raw food cures, oxygen cures and the like. Many of them are outside the U.S. because they are not approved by the FDA.

One of the blogs I followed when I was getting treatment was Green Smoothie Girl   and Kris Carr. They both advocate for alternative treatments. Kris Carr is a cancer survivor and  her cancer was not treatable the traditional way. Her cancer remains dormant after 10 years of changing her lifestyle. I think they both offer sound advice and they are the ones who got me on the 'vegan' wagon. I also learned about juicing and green smoothies from these gals. I see them as credible to get information on fighting cancer, however I still chose the slash, burn and poison route for my treatment as well.

I was at Stage 4 when I was diagnosed. It spread to my liver and the surgeon at UCI Medical cut the tumor off my liver, since it was located at the tip. He is one of the few in the U.S. that will perform liver surgery on a Stage 4 colorectal cancer patient. After the cancer was removed from my liver, I opted for chemo and radiation to make sure the cancer didn't have time to travel anywhere else in my body. Like I mentioned in my last post, we all have different medical histories and we are treated individually. I was lucky to be in excellent health, except for that nasty cancer. I opted to get my "ass kicked' (pun intended). I had an excellent support system and a great team of doctors at UCI who had no problems with me using alternative care as well.

My radiation doctor did ask me to refrain from using herbs while in treatment, which I honored. So in a nutshell the treatment I went with was; liver surgery, chemo, radiation, meditation, juicing, green smoothies, no refined sugar, vegan diet and a huge positive attitude. I still have my colon and I have a permanent colostomy bag because the cancer destroyed my sphincter muscles. The chemo/radiation combo killed the cancer, much to the happy surprise of all involved. The original game plan was to shrink the tumor and then remove my colon.  I believe it was the alternative treatment that  helped me keep my colon. As of today I am cancer free 20 months. I get monthly bloodwork done and a full body scan every six months.

Now, let's say my cancer was not treatable the traditional way, you better believe I would have sought out alternative treatments that were credible. The only downside is -- actual treatment centers are located outside the U.S. and they are not cheap.  Many of the alternative treatments require a health providers supervision.  Reading about, let's say, the benefits of vitamin C on the Internet leads you to believe that taking large doses of the vitamin will cure cancer. It isn't that simple. Further research reveals that the vitamin must be given intravenously and it's still too early to tell if it works.

I strongly suggest cancer patients do their homework before starting any treatment program and have all the facts. Like I said not all cancers are treated the same way. Your life is too important to follow the advice from someone who has a website and doesn't have credible evidence to back up his/her claims.

xo   Inge

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Choose Your Treatment Carefully Part 1

Lately, I have been contacted by a few people recently diagnosed with colorectal cancer. They are in shock, confused and scared. All these feelings are normal reactions to a cancer diagnosis. God knows, the medical profession does not deliver such news delicately. I first heard about my cancer right after my colonoscopy test; I was still drugged up and a woman came up to me and very matter-of-factly said, "Mrs. Scott, you have rectal cancer" and abruptly left. My husband and son were right next to me and you can imagine their reaction. I don't know if it was because I was loopy from sedation or what, but I consoled my loved ones and told them it would be ok. But still, it would be nice if there was an easier way to deliver bad news.

I know the Internet has made access to information much easier and with that comes a great deal of misinformation. I am all for patients looking for information to help them fight cancer; I did the same thing when I was going through treatment. There are also different ideas how to fight this disease including traditional methods and alternative care. I believe its up to each individual to choose their treatment. Its our bodies and we have the right to choose what does and does not happen to it. That being said, there a certain questions I ask to those I coach, especially those newly diagnosed and who are confused which treatment is best for them.

The first line of questions are...

Do you know what kind of cancer it is?
Has it spread?
Do you have a team of doctors yet?
Is there a treatment plan?
How do you feel about your doctor?
What treatment do you want? and why?
Have you discussed this with loved ones?
Do you have a support system?

I take notes and ask some deeper questions depending on the answers. I do run into those who refuse western medicine because they are afraid of it. I completely understand their fear. I felt that way too, until my diagnosis, then I chose western medicine along with alternative care, but I made sure the alternative care did not nullify my traditional treatment. Everyone's cancer is different because we are all different -- we each bring with us our own medical histories and that means everyone's cancer treatment is different.

Like I mentioned earlier the Internet is a wealth of information but at the same time it is ripe with snake oil salesmen who claim to have "miracle" cures and charge a lot of money to buy their products. Personally, I think these salesmen need to be removed from the Internet, but I's their first Amendment right to Free Speech. So I ask the patient to dig deeper into their claims. Are there actual  people cured by their product? What about references? Are there any complaints against them? Why do they think this person is credible? Why do they believe this alternative cure is better than western medicine?

I think everyone has the right to choose what's best for them but they also have a responsibilty to themselves to make an informed decision.

xo      Inge

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Feeling Yin in Winter

don't know about you but during the winter months I get more lazy, especially if it's cloudy and cold. I want to stay in my jammies and either read or watch movies. I definitely have trouble motivating myself to get off my duff.

A friend who is an acupuncturist told me this is the Yin time of year and its normal. She feels the same way and doesn't really start anything new that is time consuming.

I looked it up and by gosh, she is right. You can read more about it here. According to Chinese medicine, winter relates to the feminine, called yin and is considered dark, cold and receptive (I don't know if I like the idea that feminine is dark and cold) but it's also a time to go inward...for reflection, which makes sense to me. Its all about staying in balance and I'm all about that. Spring/summer = energy; fall/winter = rest.

I have always been this way and I just thought I was being lazy; now I know I'm just 'reflecting'...that's my story and I'm sticking to it. I am a sensitive person and it makes sense that I am sensitive to the change in seasons. I just never looked at it that way before. I can now continue with my reflecting behavior and not feel guilty.

xo  Inge

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Quiet Your Mind to Get Peace of Mind

I was watching the boob tube yesterday and a story came on about silent retreats. They are vacation destinations catering to persons looking to take a timeout from the *rat race*.   I found more information abut them on the web. Spring is just around the corner so some of you may be thinking of where to vacation when the weather is warmer -- so why not take a silent vacation also known as Vipassana to clear your mind from all the monkey chatter?

But if your like me, who don't have the funds for a lengthy get away or aren't sure if you can stay away from your electronic gadgets for that long, try it for a weekend.

Here are a few more places that offer weekend retreats and longer ones you might want to check out if you live in California:

Joshue Tree Retreat Center

Pine Mountain Buddhist Temple & Meditation Retreat

The California Vipassana Center offers retreats for kids and teens and they are free! (Donations gladly accepted)

If even those places are too scary for you, how about a one day silent retreat in the comfort of your own home? But no cheating! Give all your electronic devices to a friend to make sure you won't be tempted to check your email or facebook page. It will give you a taste of what your monkey mind does to your thought process all day long. We go through our days on auto-pilot and don't even realize how many negative thoughts go through our mind each day. Spending time just with YOU will be hard at first because we really are addicted to constant *input* and spending quiet time will help you realize it.

A lot of the problems we have start with our thought patterns, which create beliefs (many false) "a belief is only a thought you keep thinking."   If you take time out to just 'be' you will eventually be amazed how your outlook changes. You will stop reacting to life and instead respond, which is much better for good health.

xo   Inge

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

This post is a continuation from Feb 1st. -- so to bring yourself up to speed just scroll down to that date.

If you work a typical 8-10 hour day (not including a hefty commute) you probably don't have much time to do something for yourself, or at least you don't think you do. Remember from my earlier post -- the most important thing in life is to stay healthy and part of that is to focus on staying grounded throughout your day?

Are you sitting behind a computer screen at work? maybe sitting in a cubicle? Time can get away from you when you are on the computer...I know it happens to me all the time, but I am working on taking a break every hour for 10 minutes. If you sit for hours and don't walk around periodically, it affects your health.  You don't have to walk all the time, instead do some yoga stretches at your desk.

If the weather is nice spend time outside during lunch. Maybe spend 5 minutes meditating or read something inspiring.

When you get home make yourself a green doesn't have to be anything fancy... my favorite easy-to-make smoothie is:

1 banana
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 spring water
handful parsley
handful kale

blend and drink up

put your feet up and relax for at least 30 minutes...or what I call decompressing from work.

Now you have the energy to do what you normally do in the evening. Before bedtime...turn off the television and read (nothing scarey or dramatic) and then when its time to turn out the lights, imagine yourself sleeping peacefully.

Namaste!   Inge

Monday, February 4, 2013

World Cancer Day

Its World Cancer Day. Get the facts about cancer....and pass it on. And while your at it, sign up to volunteer at your local cancer center or go to   to help someone fighting cancer or if you know someone personally...cook them dinner, mow their lawn, buy them groceries....

xo    Inge

Friday, February 1, 2013

Last night I had some crazy dreams. I don't remember exactly what they were about but I woke up -- not feeling rested. In fact I woke up a few times with a throbbing headache. I didn't take anything to relieve it because I try to stay away from medications and hoped the pain would leave on its own. It never did until I gave in and took an Ibuprofen.

I do practice yoga, meditation and read inspirational writings, but lately I found myself back on board the 'crazy train' of daily life and not taking care of myself like I know I should. My body has a way of telling me to get back on track and I now  I work at paying  better attention.

I believe the most important thing in life is our health and that we should (I try to stay away from that word, but in this instance I think its appropriate) do anything and everything to maintain good matter what.

I mentioned before that its important to keep our body, mind and spirit in sync to live a healthy life.  I am doing good with my diet but sometimes I fall off the wagon when it comes to my mind and spirit. These days there are lots of things going on to distract us and keep us away from ourselves...meaning taking away our time to just 'be'.

Our society is geared in such a way that we believe we must be lazy if we aren't 'doing' something every waking moment. That concept is bad for our health. If our minds are out of whack then our bodies will follow shortly. Our minds are easier to fix but once the body is sick, it takes longer to heal.

I talk with many people who tell me they don't have time to even meditate for 10 minutes a day and I say they do have the time. Its not about having enough time, its a time management problem. I believe the best time to nurture ourselves is first thing in the morning. I know we all love to sleep in to the last minute before we have to jump out of bed and rush to get to wherever we have to be, but this isn't good for our mental or physical health. Taking time for ourselves sets the tone for the rest of the day. I know because it works. If I take at the very least 30 minutes for myself -- first thing in the morning my day goes a lot smoother. I am more focused and relaxed. I can deal with whatever comes up and not get caught up in any drama that may try to sneak its way into my day.

But I am human and that means I forget... and sometimes I sleep in to the last minute and jump right into my day and rush around like a mad woman... feeling drained and off balance. This morning my body reminded whats important and its to stay matter what. 

The first thing I do are yoga stretches...nothing strenuous but enough to loosen up my muscles. I used to be much more limber before my cancer treatments but everyday I can stretch just a little bit more. Yoga isn't about doing the poses perfectly, its about doing it the best you can and stay in the moment...breathing in and breathing out. Its about 'being' with yourself.  Since I have a balance issue I use a chair or wall for the standing poses and then I do a few poses on the floor. It takes me about 10 minutes.

Then I sit for 10 minutes and just focus on my breath. I do use guided meditations but not in the morning. I want to focus on being in the 'now'. It helps me stay present during the day and if there is a 'snag' I can respond to it and not have a knee jerk reaction.

After that, I read inspiring writings either from books or on the Internet. The great thing about the Internet is that we can follow the writings of just about anyone, because most authors or inspiring Teachers have a blog. Today I am reading the writings from Thich Nhat Hanh. I found some books on Zen Buddhism at the library and they carry alot of his books. Zen is something I resonate with. Its a form of Buddhism that I like following, but spirituality is a personal thing. Find something you resonate with and contemplate its teachings or words of inspiration. There is no right or wrong.

I met a woman at the hospital where I volunteer, getting cancer treatments who is also a yoga instructor. She is Christian and calls her practise 'yoking with the Lord'. She likes to read books by Christian authors. She resonates with her belief. I resonate with eastern philosophy. There is no right or wrong. There just 'is'.

If you do these 3 things first thing in the morning on a daily basis, I know your day will go more smoothly. If you have a family that needs your attention first thing in the morning, wake up 30 minutes earlier than them. You are worth the time and effort and your body will thank you for it.

My next post will give you tips on staying grounded throughout your day.... stay tuned!

xo    Inge