I had a check up with Dr. West, the integrative oncologist naturopath, yesterday. I had blood drawn for a barrage of tests last week. So we went over them all.
Suffice it to say that I continue to be cancer free!
All my tests look very good from that standpoint. The CA-125 is 10, so stable and low. There are a few little indicators which show that some things in my life need additional tweaking. But on the whole I’m doing great.
One of the indicators, taken with my genetics, suggests I will actually do better with less animal protein. I had already backed off from a keto diet as it just didn’t feel healthy to me to limit plant based foods that much. Dr. West, Grant, and I discussed it further and she feels that a ketogenic diet can be a therapeutic diet if cancer is active, and really depending on each person’s own system.
And she doesn’t feel I need that at this point. She is encouraging me to back down from Paleo as well. This is due to specific blood test results, my genetics, and what is currently known about how they interact.
Specifically, it is the IGF-1 marker, which is a growth factor, and which is something we don’t want to encourage in a system that has been dealing with cancer. IGF-1 results tend to go up with greater intake of animal protein. At the last test the results were low; this time they were high. So it is good to know that this needs tweaking in my system.
This is an example of how cool it is to be having my health cared for in this way: very specific to me.
There are a few more tests she would love for me to have run, which aren’t paid for by insurance, of course. (None of this good, holistic, preventive health care is, of course. But that is a topic for another blog posting.)
One of these is about even more specifically how my genetics and nutrients interact. And the other is about hormones and how they get processed in my system. So that will be on the docket as homework before the next appointment. And at that point we should have a very good picture of how my body works and doesn’t work. This is exciting to me! I guess my inner researcher is very interested is this possible data.
It’s been awhile since I posted…
… I guess that’s good. No news is good news, right? The cold I talked about last time materialized just a little, and with the additional support provided by Dr. West it never really got too bad.
I did spend some time listening to sessions from the Hay House Healing Cancer Summit. It was good, but you had to get it while it was offered, and it is no longer available. Grant and I actually felt we did pretty well with the whole journey, based on what we heard and saw in that series.
I have been incorporating a bit more paying work into my schedule too, in the form of helping Grant’s business, or seeing counseling or therapy clients of my own.
Last week was a big counseling week for me, as I travelled to the East Coast (on credit card airline miles!) for the annual IFS Therapy Conference. I visited Providence, Rhode Island, to which I had never been, and interacted for three days with about 450 or 500 other IFS Therapists. It was great, full of good, inspiring, and new information. I am looking forward to applying it! Next year, the conference will be in Denver, so I have already told the convention organizer that I will help in whatever way she needs.
I have had some fun in the form of French Conversation Group. Love it. We travelled down to a former member’s home in Broomfield recently for our afternoon of lunch and a French language movie. On the way down we also stopped by The Cheese Importers in Longmont, which is a great French themed restaurant, cheese shop, and general vendor of all sorts of French things. I could spend HOURS there. And lots of $. Luckily we were only there for a short time.
I had my first experience of playing the piano as a volunteer at the hospital recently, too. It went well enough. People seemed to enjoy it, and I had no problem sight-reading through relaxing music for two hours. Thanks to all those years of teaching piano to kiddos, I acquired the ability to sight-read pretty darn well, so here it is, coming in handy. My next scheduled session there will be mid December at my next check up. I am thinking about checking in with the UCHealth facilities that are closer to see if I can do something similar up here.
It’s been nearly five months since the surgery, three since the last chemo. I’m feeling good. I’ve been getting exercise help from three different sources: Joanne, my exercise physiologist, FitCancer at CSU, and now, I’ve recently added in a personal trainer by the name of Jacob at the local rec center.
This Monday I had my final meeting with the Fit Cancer folks, in the form of a post-class assessment to see how I did. I definitely gained strength, improved my balance, and my endurance has gone up. We would like to continue meeting, as a class, to keep the momentum going. We’ll see if that actually happens.
I’m had been having trouble gaining weight but it is starting to come back on. I am pretty darn close to a good weight for me, and as I put on more muscle through exercise, that may go up a bit more. I will be fine with that.
Joanne reminds me that whatever else he may have done, part of Lance Armstrong’s success came from having had cancer, because he lost all kinds of weight, and then went back into training, and put on a bunch of very lean muscle, and that gave him the climbing edge.
So who knows? Maybe I will be renewing my athleticism and moving in the direction of better body / mind balance. I am actually enjoying my time, and finding through exercise sessions, that I’m almost always LESS fatigued afterwards, because they ask me every time, before and after. I know, I know. My Dad and Grant have been trying to tell me this for years. Okay, okay. I get it. It’s not dramatic, but it is there.
I’m thinking I want to do hiking, and dancing, as my two main outlets. As Jacob says, “Train indoors to have fun outdoors!”
I have been trying a new thing. Barbara Sher wrote a book called Refuse to Choose. In it she elaborates upon people like me who she calls either Renaissance people or Scanners. She has all sorts of ideas for managing a Scanner life. The one that is resonating for me is The School Day Model, where said Scanner spends 1-2 hours at a time on a variety of projects. This is working for me (it does not work with a full time job very well!) So I’m juggling a little more deliberately all the different things I feel the urge to do, whether practical matters like financial or household management, or more artistic things like music or art or reading fun books. Somehow I have ingrained in me the idea that one should get all one’s work done before playing, and since “a woman’s work is never done” that means I never, ever, ever get to play. So changing it up to allow an hour of play here or there is making those artistic parts of me much happier, and much more willing to do the hour or two of practical matters.
So to that end I spent a few hours the other day at Kathi Dougherty’s open studio doing fused art glass work. FUN! It is like stained glass in the cutting, but instead of it getting put together with either soldered copper foil tape, or lead came, it gets fired in a kiln and just melts all together. It was good to get my hands on glass tools again, (and not so good to get a few glass cuts on my fingers!) and maybe it will get me motivated to go downstairs and do some stained glass too! I was able to pick it up on Monday, and gave it to Joanne yesterday, because she has a pink cancer ribbon in her window, and I told her she needed a teal one. She seemed happy to receive it.
I read an article which states that doctors in Montreal are now able to prescribe art viewing at the museum for health purposes. Makes good sense to me. Yum! We have a good museum here in FoCo, and I could also make a trip down to Denver to the art museum there. Can I say again, yum? Of course, I could also see if my doctor would prescribe a trip to France to see art there. Please Dr. Fields, a trip to the Louvre, s’il vous plaît?
And speaking of doctors, I suppose I ought to update you on this too. Blood was drawn at my PCP’s office mid October to do an evaluation of my nutrition. However it has been a comedy of errors in that the original kit was incomplete, further blood needed drawing, then it was discovered the whole kit was past its expiration date, and we have been waiting for a new kit to come in. I finally had blood drawn this morning for that purpose. We’ll be a month or more behind schedule on that one. Oh well.
My quarterly check up with the allopathic oncologist will be mid December. We’ll see how the tumor marker numbers are doing in a month. However, at the last meeting with their office, it was revealed that I am now back in the land where the CA-125 number doesn’t really mean anything on its own. Only if there are accompanying symptoms. So far so good. I’m really planning on there not being any future symptoms. So there.