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Adjunctive Therapies Part I

When I was diagnosed, I had this emotional response in which I envisioned myself untethering from all that I thought I had control over. These false notions that I could control particular elements at work, in my relationships, and in how the world interacted with me were ropes wrapped around my body that were limiting my movements. Now that they were unravelling away, I realized the only thing I could control was myself: how I treat my body, how I take care of my mind and how I interact with the world.


I chose to look at this diagnosis as a huge wake up call to get as healthy as I could, to reprioritize the elements that my life is comprised of and to stop putting off what I always thought about doing and actually do it. I chose to control the things I could and let everything else fall into place.


Throughout my blogs, I’ve mentioned the work that I did with an Oncology Naturopath, as well as some of the other mindful, movement therapy, and nutritional choices I made to make my cancer fight a bit more comfortable. I am going to break down those specific things I chose to do that you may want to consider or research for your fight or recovery.


Exercise

Prior to my diagnosis, I found space to work out 2-3 times per week during a "good" week. I found myself working out mostly on the weekends. I often prioritized work over long walks with my dog, a thirty minute workout, or taking that studio class I had been longing to try. My cancer diagnosis was a moment in which I realized that I may have been prioritizing the wrong things over my health. I also spoke with a few friends who had been through chemo treatments and they told me how important it would be to incorporate movement into my routine every day. It wouldn’t matter how shitty I felt, even a small walk around the block would be important to my physical and mental well being.


So I prioritized movement every day after July 28th, 2022. My first choice in exercise is P.Volve, which is described as low-impact movement, clinically-backed studies, specialized equipment, and proven results. I LOVE P.Volve and recommend it to anyone looking to add movement to their quality of life. I had been doing P.Volve for two years prior, but once diagnosed, I kicked into a whole new gear. There are a few series and classes that I relied on heavily during the year it took me to get rid of cancer:

  • Better Movement and Strength - I did these workouts during radiation when my energy was limited

  • Moving Stronger - these slow and steady workouts were great during IV chemotherapy

  • Moving with Menopause - important to incorporate to build bone density

  • Pelvic Floor Strengthening- great for post radiation and post ileostomy take down surgery

  • Post Natal - for post lower anterior resection surgery

  • Anything Recover and Stretch - for days when my body needed to recover

On days when I did not feel well and my energy was waning, I did light yoga with Sara Beth Yoga or I chose the Daily Move on the Calm app.


I also focused on walking outside every day. My walks with George restored my soul. He was my silent and knowing partner who would push me to go a little further, or knew when it was time to steer me back home. The sky and the fresh air, the changing of the seasons, would remind me how alive I was, no matter how frail or small or sick I felt. He steadied my dizziness from the fatigue of radiation, the sound of our footsteps drowned out the noise of the chemo pump strapped around my hips. My George helped my walk through cancer and come out the other side.


The moment I was healed from ileostomy reversal, I began ballet classes. This was something I always wanted to do, but would always brush to the side. Now that I have reprioritized, ballet is something that I have continued commitment to as it brings me so much joy and wellness.


Supplements/Nutritional Support

I was very motivated to treat cancer from every angle and I knew that I would need to make big changes in my nutrition and how I supported my body. I chose to enroll a Naturopath as part of my care team. I am blessed to have worked with Dr. Judy Fulop. “Dr. Judy Fulop completed her doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine and her residency in Naturopathic Oncology. As a Fellow within the American Board of Naturopathic Oncology (FABNO), she works with patients who want to prevent, support and help optimize their cancer treatment.” -drjudyfulop.com


Dr. Fulop reviewed with me the elements of my diagnosis, the treatment course recommended by my oncology team, my bloodwork and health history and my lifestyle to come up with a supporting regimen of supplements, nutrition, and new health habits to support my outcomes.


I always reviewed Dr. Fulop’s supplement recommendations with my care team. Most supplements were approved by my team, but a few were recommended that I abstain from until a later time. This collaboration was important to me and I believe helped me in limiting side effects and feeling the best I could. She was, and continues to be an, integral part of my health and recovery.


I have written about the Myers Cocktail IVs that I had done at a qualified and reputable IV clinic. Myers Cocktail IVs include the delivery of high doses of B vitamins, vitamin C, and minerals (magnesium and calcium) mixed with sterile water. I had Myers Cocktails done on the off weeks of the IV chemotherapy treatments. They left me feeling hydrated and energized. To learn a bit more about Myers Cocktail IVs, here is a link: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/special-subjects/dietary-supplements/intravenous-vitamin-therapy-myers-cocktail


The supplements that I took were recommended specifically for me so I am not going to share them here. I would like to share some resources that have helped me make decisions about how I nourished my body during treatment and how I am taking care of it now.

  • Anti Cancer A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD— This book changed my relationship to food. It is the foundation for why I choose not to eat beef or pork, why I limit sugar, why I drink green tea every day, and why the bulk of my diet is made up of fruits and veggies.

Processed, refined, sugar is everywhere. It is in places where you don’t realize it. I flip every food product over to make sure it has less than 2 grams of added sugar. Anything over that is a no-go for me. At home, I sweeten things with honey, specifically Manuka honey for its health benefits. https://steenshoney.com/ I also use agave or maple sugar when baking or making delicious cups of green tea or matcha lattes.


  • @Wakeupandreadthelabels - Jen Smiley and @theFoodBabe - Vani Hari reinforce what I have learned through my reading and research. They are doing lots of the leg work for me in their research and I am so grateful for them. Their work supports my choices for no more processed food and for no more fast food. They have created additional awareness as to what I am putting into my body and offer great alternatives to common food items.


  • I begin my days with a juice or a smoothie. There are two books that have guided me in which recipes I choose every morning based on the outcome I am looking for. Juicing for Beginners: The Essential Guide to Juicing Recipes and Juicing for Weight Loss by Callisto Publishing and Medical Medium Cleanse to Heal: Healing Plans for Sufferers of Anxiety, Depression, Acne, Eczema, Lyme, Gut Problems, Brain Fog, Weight Issues, Migraines, Bloating, Vertigo, Psoriasis by Anthony William.


I wasn’t sure if this new ritual of morning juice/smoothies would stick, so I started out by using the Juice Fountain® Compact by Breville. I got it on sale and was the perfect instrument to try things out. I quickly became obsessed as I began to see and feel the benefits of this new ritual and I upgraded to the Kuvings Whole Slow Juicer Revo830.


  • While I did drink wine sporadically throughout my treatments, I ended up giving up alcohol all together. After my ileostomy reversal and after finding the right medication regimen to support my digestive system, alcohol remains my last trigger for urgent bowel movements. After 6 weeks without alcohol, I decided I wanted to live alcohol free. I no longer wanted to depend on it for stress relief from work or to reduce social anxiety. I wanted to manage those emotions better and to reap the mental and physical benefits of an alcohol free life. I read and followed the workbook, The Sober Curious Reset: Change the Way You Drink in 100 Days or Less by Ruby Warrington, to help reinforce this decision.

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