Giving Thanks: Thursday, November 26, 2009

As you can imagine, this is a particularly special Thanksgiving for me and my family. I am thankful for so many things today it's hard to know where to start but here goes (in no particular order):


You, who continue to read my blog to keep up with my progress.

The fact that my stage IIIa ovarian cancer surrendered so easily in battle and that it is 100% gone. I am a lucky gal. Don't think I don't know that.

My parent's love and total devotion, which helped carry me through my treatment but has always been something I could count on.

My friends. All of them. Everyone came through for me when I needed them the most this year and that is something for which I will always be thankful.

My extended family, all of whom supported me and my parents so generously throughout the past year. Particularly, my Aunt Patty, who is no longer with us. Her prayers, cards, and calls were so comforting to me.

Loaner dog...and my brother for loaning him to me. The dog really pissed me off yesterday with that pillow shredding incident but he has been there to lift my spirits during some pretty dark days. I can't tell you how many times during my treatment I had a mini-breakdown while writing or taking care of medical administrivia at my desk (a.k.a. the dining room table) and every time I did, he'd come right over with his big brown eyes and cock his head, as if to say, "What's wrong, Jennie? Don't you worry. It's going to be okay. I'll take care of you."

My employer's excellent short term disability policy (six months full pay and benefits!) and my colleagues who encouraged me to take the time I needed for treatment and healing.

All of the really wonderful people I met along my wellness campaign (a.k.a treatment), including my doctors, nurses, medical technicians, therapists (of all sorts), random hospital chaplains, other cancer fighters/survivors and their family members. I owe all of them so much and am so happy that they came into my life even if it was for a pretty crappy reason. I've met the most interesting, brave, smart, generous people. That has been a true gift in my journey.

Feeling like my old self again just eight weeks after finishing treatment. As you know, I've had a fair amount of anxiety about various parts of me being permanently damaged/altered following my two surgeries and six rounds of chemo and today I'm so relieved to know that they're all functioning normally. You have no idea. So relieved!

The fact that my mother is a great cook. Today's meal is going to be so yummy! And, yes, I'm having some of the free range turkey my father is preparing -- to do anything else would be un-American. Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, cream corn, and salad (my one contribution) I come!

All of the hair on my body, particularly my eyebrows, eyelashes, and new G.I. Jane buzz cut.

Finding a real purpose in my life. This disease took some pretty important things away from me but it has given me something to be passionate about and I'm really grateful for that. I have already started working with many of the leading ovarian/gynecological cancer organizations on their awareness building and fundraising efforts and I'm so energized by it. Hokey? Maybe. But so true. I'm not sure that all things happen for a reason. However, I do wonder if I, with my fearless nature, health care policy/communications background, pleasantly aggressive personality, and "inside the Beltway" relationships, was meant to beat this insidious disease and to feel so lucky for having been able to do so, that I would make it my life's mission to do what I can to help women overcome this cancer? I don't know. But if I was, I happily accept the challenge.

The ability to be around my friends and their children and to feel no bitterness that I won't have biological children of my own. I lost that ability from time to time over the past year but I'm okay now and I'm very thankful for that. To be perfectly honest, I was never that jazzed about giving up my beloved alcohol for what is essentially 10 months of weight gain, only to then have to push the watermelon-sized weight gain out of a hole the size of a...I don't know...pea? Lima bean? Also, I like my perky chest and frankly, I was equally unexcited to think about it expanding to epic proportions only to then have it deflate to resemble wilted water balloons. The biological baby thing was a BIG bummer but it's okay. I know I will be a mom someday but just not to "mini-mes." But you know what? A lot of times you don't get mini-mes even when you have biological children. And furthermore, I feel luckier today than women who get married thinking that they will have biological children, only to endure years of heartbreaking infertility issues. At least I know what I'm dealing with: an adoption attorney or a gestational carrier. Oh, and by the way, when the time comes that I'm trying to have children you should know that I won't be soliciting op eds about the situation. I've been through enough on the reproductive front so I expect that everyone will support me in whatever way I choose to create my family and I'll be grateful for that, too.

The book Anti-Cancer and the diet changes it promotes, which helped me defeat my cancer quickly but also just make me feel so much better everyday now. I just feel lighter now that I'm not weighted down with tons of crappy meat and a lot of dairy. And I'm really grateful for my much smaller butt that came along with those diet changes. Let's hear it for veggies!

And, finally, the fact that I'm in good enough shape already to get out there to run/walk the 33rd Annual Turkey Trot race today! So, I'm gonna run now to trot the Trot. My goal is to run two of the three miles morning.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Marley and Me: Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I didn't think that I would post today given that I was busy finishing up work and personal errands before the holiday weekend but given what went down here, I found some inspiration. See below.

What's all of that, you ask? That would be one of my mother's Christmas gifts - a custom made decorative pillow for the Charleston house - after River, er Marley, decided to shred it up while I was at lunch with my mother, my brother, and his girlfriend, Ansley. If the whole thing hadn't been so maddening to me, it really would have been funny. When we walked in from lunch, River was standing there wagging his tail to greet us. It didn't take long for us to question why he had feathers all over his face. My brother, Bobby, was the first to the scene of the crime so I let him handle the disciplining. Bobby neglected to mention to me that River really likes down pillows.

River's walk of shame down stairs following Bobby's disciplining, during which he got a heck of a lot more feathers in his face.

Isn't clean up fun?
As you can see, it was a team effort...

...that extended into the hallway.

It's a good thing he's cute because otherwise, River would probably be homeless this evening. Let's hope the holiday doesn't get even more, uh, interesting tomorrow.

The World is MY...: Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Well, at least it was this past weekend. Now that I'm healthy again though, I think it really is. On Saturday night, I attended Old Ebbitt Grill's Oyster Riot, which is an all-you-can-eat oyster and wine event that is now in its 15th year. Tickets to the two-night event sell out in like 10 minutes. And once you've been, you know why. They serve over three dozen award-winning raw oysters all night long, not to mention award-winning Sauvignon Blancs, jumbo shrimp cocktail, crab claws, fried oyster rolls, oyster stew with a fried oyster on top, and much, much more.

Despite the fact that I ate a boatload -- and I mean, a BOATLOAD -- of molluscs and crustaceans on Saturday night, guess where I headed to brunch on Sunday morning? None other than Hank's Oyster Bar in Old Town. What can I say? It was a beautiful day to head down to Old Town and since I am one shellfish-lovin' pescetarian, it just made sense. I highly recommend Hank's as a casual, relatively inexpensive brunch spot. They've got some yummy stuff on the menu, including delicious Crabcake Eggs Benedict, which is what I had.

Anyway, it was a very fun and super yummy weekend. Here are some shots of the action. Enjoy!

Me and Christy. Clearly, we forgot that an oyster and wine tasting should be taken seriously. Whoops!

This year's Rioters: Dave, me, Christy, and Tom.
Foolin' around again. Notice the blue lights in the background? Some in our group did not like them but I think they work just fine.

Me and Dave during a brief oyster break.

Two Months!: Monday, November 23, 2009

I just realized that it has been exactly two months since I finished my treatment. Wow! I have to be honest -- it feels like about two years. Really. It's amazing how fast one can bounce back from ingesting poisonous chemicals on and off for six months. I would have no idea what happened to me except for my G.I. Jane buzz cut, the unfortunate scars on my stomach, and my MUCH lower alcohol tolerance (probably the one good thing!). I guess time flies when you're not living life in 21-day Taxol/Cisplatin/Carboplatin cycles!

That's all for today. I'll fill you in on the weekend tomorrow.

Week in Review: Friday, November 20, 2009

Well, it's been a busy week, for sure. Where to begin? I guess I should start at last Friday since that's the last time you heard about what I was up to. So, I got in the car to brave 95S on a rainy Friday afternoon (left at 2:30 p.m. and it ONLY took 2.5 hours to get there...miracles do exist!) to head down to Richmond to attend a fundraiser for the International Children's Hospital, which is based in Richmond. Here's my quick analysis of the event: They sure do know how to throw a fundraiser in Virginia's capital. And they know how to dress for one, too. Really. This Washingtonienne (okay, I couldn't resist spelling it that way but I am NO Jessica Cutler) was thoroughly impressed. Anyway, the theme of the evening's fashion show and auction was "Treasures in Paradise" so they used an island theme for the decor and food and beverage. They served the most delicious seafood ALL NIGHT LONG, including things like raw oysters, shrimp ceviche, little scallop spoons, and my favorite -- lobster grilled cheese. really was that good. This pescetarian was one happy camper!

I returned from Richmond on Saturday to attend my friend Michelle's bachelorette dinner party at Posh, which is in D.C's Penn Quarter. It was a fun and super yummy evening, despite the rude hostess. It's not even worth my time to list all of my grievances with her.

On Sunday, which was BEAUTIFUL, my mom and I went to a Benjamin Moore paint color class at Pottery Barn (learned good stuff about painting floors, MS!) and then I headed down to Columbia Firehouse in Old Town for brunch with Jill, Cassie (Jill's best friend from Duluth; yes, people really are from Duluth), and Alison. It was great catching up with Cassie, whom I met at Jill's 35th birthday weekend in Miami last year. She is medical technologist and lost her sweet mama to ovarian cancer, so she's been hugely helpful to me throughout my diagnosis and treatment.

Let's see, that brings us to Monday. Monday night my mom, me, Michelle and Jim went to see the taping of Kaleidoscope, which will air on FOX at 4 p.m. EST on Thanksgiving. I had never been to a taped show before, let alone a ice show, so it was really interesting to see how it's put together. And Scott's and Dorothy's performances were moving. I know, I know, ice skating is cheesy but it was a cool event and I'm thrilled that they put it together to help promote awareness of women's cancers.

I met my mom and Aunt Kathy for lunch at the bar of Restaurant Eve on Tuesday. We toasted Aunt Patty, whose three-person memorial service was that morning. Don't get me started about my aunt not having a memorial service for the whole family to attend. Sometimes I really think our Keller/Koch clan should be featured on Jerry Springer (wait, is he still on the air?). Who dies and doesn't allow their extended family to come together to grieve and celebrate their life? My Aunt Patty, that's who. Whatever. Tuesday night I brought pizza over to the Sigler's and had a great visit with sweet Baby Jay. There's nothing like snuggling a newborn.

Nothing much to report from Wednesday and Thursday. I'm just back from a wonderful 90-minute massage at The Healing Tree (thanks to my Deloitte colleagues!) and am getting ready for Melissa R.'s "Sips and Dips" party, which is always so much fun. For my part, I'm making toasted almond cheese spread with crab meat. Yep, no anti-cancer diet going on tonight!

Below are some photos from the Richmond gala, Michelle's bachelorette, Sunday brunch, and Kaleidoscope (you get a sneak preview!). Enjoy!

One of the models on the catwalk.

The well-dressed crowd.

Pretty centerpiece.

One of the buffet stations.

Folks started dancing on the catwalk at the end of the evening.

The bar at Posh.

Michelle and her new lingerie.

Lovely ladies! L to R: Beth, Donna, Michelle, Dianne (another cancer survivor!), me, and Chrissy.

The happy bride-to-be!

Brunch bunch: Me, Alison, Cassie, and Jilly.

Me and Michelle at Kaleidoscope.

Me and Mom.

A shot of the opening performance. Notice the colors?

Go Scotty!

A Good Reminder: Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sorry for my M.I.A. status since last Friday. You know the reason for the extended silence by now, don't you? That's right. Sometimes I'm just too darn busy being busy, happy, and healthy to write everyday. And actually, I hadn't planned to write until tomorrow with my "Week in Review" update (there'll be photos, MPR!) but I got this note in my inbox this morning and it served as a good reminder of one of the main reasons I blog.

The two main reasons I started blogging two months into my diagnosis and treatment were: 1. for my mental health, as I found/find it extremely therapeutic, and 2. to keep friends and family updated on my progress in a (somewhat) entertaining and efficient manner. However, a third reason has emerged and it is now just as important as the first two were in the beginning of the nightmare. Now I blog to provide comfort, hope, and information to the thousands of women also dealing with the shit that is gyncological cancer. I've received several notes like the one below but I thought I'd share today's with all of you so you can see the inspiration I get from the brave ladies who read and want to learn more. Here it is:

Hi Jennie,

My name is Cindy. I have been following your blog for the past couple of months (love it!). Thank you for sharing your journey. It has been an inspiration and a comfort to me.

In July I was diagnosed with Stage II Endometrial cancer that had spread to my colon by way of endometriosis through my fallopian tube. I had a full hysterectomy and colon resection (sigmoid colon) on July 20. My surgical oncologist and my chemo oncologist disagree on the staging (chemo guy says stage 4) and I have chosen to go with my surgeon's diagnosis. In 5 days I will have completed 5 out of 6 chemo treatments (paclitaxel and carboplatin). So really, I have only about 3 /12 more weeks of chemo to go!! I have just started doing research on radiation (which is recommended for me) and I have managed to completely freak myself out about the side effects only one of which is severe lymphadema. Up until the surgery and the chemo, I have been super active in running, yoga, skiing - all the stuff that makes life fun! I am worried that the long term effect of radiation will take all of that away.

I remember in one of your posts that you were considering radiation or talking to your doctors about it. Did you decide not to do it? If so, would you mind sharing your thoughts with me?

Keep up the great blogging - it is so great to watch you heal!

Best Regards,


See? That's pretty good stuff, isn't it? I'll be in touch with Cindy (whose real name, by the way, isn't Cindy; I protect identities when necessary) to let her know that, fortunately, I didn't have to endure radiation as well as chemo. I understand why she is freaked out because I was freaked out by the side effects of radiation I read about as well. I'll also tell her that no matter how bad it is during/after radiation, things will get better physically and emotionally after her treatment is finished. I'm thrilled to report that with each day that passes by, the nightmare of the past year is a more distant memory...AND that with the exception of the pretty awful looking scars I've got on the outside (still need to work on those!), everything else feels great. Hang in there, Cindy! This, too, shall pass and YOU will heal!

How's it Growin'?: Friday, November 13, 2009

The state of my head and body hair seems to be of much concern to many these days so I thought I'd fill you in. My head hair is slowly but surely making a comeback. I'd say that I now have a slightly thinner version of what Demi Moore sported in G.I. Jane going on up top. No, I'm not saying I look as good as Demi Moore looked with her almost bald head, I'm just saying my hair color and growth is similar. As for the rest of me, I had my first eyebrow wax in over six months this morning at my beloved Sugar House. (*FYI local gals: Amy and Timi are my two favorite ladies for waxing and facials, Mercedes is awesome for massages, and Barry is my favorite hair stylist.) It's funny to think that I was actually excited about my eyebrow wax appointment. I'm tellin''s the little things that matter most as you come back from your visit to hell.
Anyway, as of last week, I'm shaving again on weekly basis. My underarms have come back fuller than my legs, which is fine by me. My theory is that my hair below the waistline is much thinner and slower to grow back because I had the stronger drugs inserted into my abdomen, therefore, not unlike the way of our great country, things are just a bit slower in the Southern region. Again, this is just my lay person theory but I think there must be something to it because I didn't notice this after my first three rounds of IV chemo.
So, that's where things stand today. Generally, I wear a knit winter hat for my walks with loaner dog and to travel to the gym but once I'm in the gym, I got au natural. So far, I haven't caught anyone gawking too much. Otherwise, I'm still all about wearing Brenda for work and social activities. At the rate I'm going, I think she'll be with me, at least part of the time, through the spring.
And, yes, I know I haven't addressed what's happening with "the hair down there." I think you can make a pretty good educated guess based on what I've described elsewhere.
Have a great weekend everyone! I'm off to do battle on 95S. Wish me is Friday the 13th afterall!

Where's the Love?: Thursday, November 12, 2009

You read only occasionally now and you rarely comment. I'd take all of this personally except for the fact that I think it's a positive sign that you worry about me less and less each day. Hurray!

Tune In!: Wednesday, November, 11, 2009

If you can, be sure to tune in this afternoon at 3 p.m. EST to The Dr. Oz Show. He's discussing ovarian cancer symptoms today with one of the brilliant (female) doctors I heard from over the weekend. The show airs on CBS Channel 9 here but check your local listings.

In other news, I think my uncle George is going to take my aunt Patty off of life support this morning. I'm so appreciative that aunt Patty was a part of my life, especially over the past six months. She sent me so many sweet, encouraging cards and called me a couple of times a month to see how I was doing. In fact, I think we had some of our best conversations during my treatment. What a gift.

Circle of Life: Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Yesterday afternoon at about 4 p.m. my friend Melissa S. (remember, she is/was my patient advocate) successfully delivered her second son, John Warren, who is known right now as Baby Jay. Jay weighed in at 8 lbs. 14 ounces and measured 21 inches. He's a big boy who looks a lot like his adorable big brother (who turns two on Friday!) and is perfectly healthy. Congratulations to Melissa, Geoff, and Thomas on their new arrival...and to Jay, who is the newest member of a great family.

Unfortunately, not all of my news today is so happy. Toward the end of our walk with loaner dog this morning, my mother and I received yet another unpleasant reminder of the circle of life. It seems that my Great Aunt Patty, who is the matriarch (or, "auntriarch," as she never had children) of the Keller/Koch clan, had a massive stroke last night and is in the ICU on life support in a hospital close to where she lives in Pennsylvania. At press time, my Uncle George and grandmother are with her at the hospital waiting to get more information from her doctors before deciding on next steps.

I have a new appreciation for and acceptance of the circle of life after my experiences over the past year, during which I've met so many wonderful souls fighting not to be taken before their circle is complete. Given this, my prayer for Patty this morning is not necessarily for her to live (as she is almost 80-years old and has enjoyed a very full life) but rather for her to experience only peace and comfort and joy and love in whatever world she experiences from this day forward.

A Moving Weekend: Monday, November 9, 2009

I think you'll be pleased to know that I survived my whirlwind weekend, which was full of a mixture of very fun and moving events: Krista & Michael's church choir's performance of Requiem was beautiful. The pre-party dinner Layla made for me on Saturday was delicious and Melissa B.'s new condo looked amazing for her condowarming party. Michelle's Sunday afternoon shower was a lot of fun (her shower game was actually entertaining...a rare feat!). And Alison made another delicious dinner for our Mad Men viewing (the show keeps getting better and better!) last night. However, the real highlight of the weekend for me were the activities I participated in as part of the GCF's Inaugural Gyncological Cancer Awareness Movement Weekend.

I spent most of Saturday at an ovarian cancer survivors' workshop at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in D.C. (love the Mandarin and hope I get to eat at its four-star restaurant, Cityzen, someday soon!). During the day, I heard lectures from some of the leading gynecologic oncologists in the country(including Dr. Annette Bicher who is one of Dr. E's partners), had the opportunity to meet many interesting survivors (and was invited to join a local "Steel Magnolias" lunch group; they're excited about having a "young one" in the group), and had great conversations with representatives of all of the leading gynecologic/ovarian cancer advocacy groups to learn more about various ways in which I can get involved in awareness building and fundraising efforts. The lectures I heard were so informative; I learned about everything from the first documented successful ovarian tumor removal (it occurred on a farmhouse kitchen table in 1809; the tumor weighed 22 lbs.) to management of recurrant ovarian cancer to candidate agents for ovarian cancer prevention, which include Omega-3 fatty acids (duh!) and vitamin D (turns out my afternoons by my parent's pool this summer were better for me than I knew at the time!). What struck me most about the day was how many of the doctors got choked up at one point or another during their presentations. These people are dedicated to their work and might even hate this stupid cancer more than I do. It was a really powerful day and I'm so thankful that the GCF used part of its funds to produce it for all of us.

The conclusion of the GCF's Movement weekend were its half-marathon, 5K and 1K races on Sunday morning, which started at Freedom Plaza. My friends and I all completed the 5K and I was pleased to run the last mile of the race, which is the first time I've run outside in just about a year. Thanks to Alison, Kristin, Melissa R., Sarah, Molly, Erin, and Michelle for joining me! It was fun and it meant a lot to me to cross the finish line just six weeks after finishing my treatment. Below are some shots from the race. Enjoy!

The group (L to R): Molly, Kristin, Michelle, me, Melissa R., Sarah, Erin, and Alison. Not pictured: My friend Stephanie, who ran the half-marathon in my honor. Thanks Steph!

Sunrise over the U.S. Capitol.

Love this team's t-shirt!
A shot of the 5K racers just before the start. Survivors were given yellow t-shirts to wear.

Love these gals' hats: "Rock the Speculum"

Love this team's shirt, too. I'll have to figure out what my team is going to wear for future races.

Kristin, Alison, and Michelle approaching the finish line.

There they are waving to me. Sorry...very out of focus.

Stephanie's husband, Brian, and daughter, Dylan, as they waited for her to finish the two hour + half-marathon. Go Steph!

We enjoyed a post-race breakfast back in Alexandria at our favorite greasy spoon breakfast place, Table Talk.

Sarah and Erin.

Kristin and me.

Pescetarian: Friday, November 6, 2009

You really do learn something everyday, I guess. And who would of thought I would have learned something from The Majestic's bartender last night while ordering the mixed grill special I enjoyed during a visit with Alison and her mom. I've jokingly referred to myself as a fish-otarian lately (and did so again in yesterday's blog post and when I ordered last night) but, as Mike (the bartender) pointed out, there is a well-established word for my evening diet: pescetarianism. Am I the last person to know this term or is this news to you, too? Anyway, I'm really glad to know that there is a legitimate label for the way I'm eating these days.

I'm off to the gym before a couple of appointments and many little projects today. I'm working part-time this month to ease back into things and today is my day "off," which means I'll just run around trying to get a million things done all day. And I do need to get a lot done today as I have a pretty crazy weekend ahead, including Krista and Michael's choral concert tonight; an all-day workshop for ovarian cancer survivors tomorrow and 5K race on Sunday morning, both of which are part of the GCF's inaugural Gyncecological Cancer Awareness Weekend; a condowarming party in the city Saturday night; and a bridal shower for Michelle on Sunday afternoon. I'm happily exhausted just thinking about all of it! Check back on Monday for a round-up of the whirlwind weekend.

Dieter's Digest: Thursday, November 5, 2009

Perhaps because I just sat down to eat my homemade veggie sandwich for lunch or perhaps because I constantly get questions about my diet -- what I'm eating these days and more frequently, what I'm not -- I thought I'd fill everyone in. I don't believe in hard and fast rules about very much and this is particularly true when it comes to food. Why? Because I love it SO MUCH. I love all of it -- meat, cheese (my first love in life, actually...), pasta, seafood, veggies, fruit...everything! In fact, one time during a road trip a friend challenged me to name one food that I really didn't like. The best I could come up with: olives. And even though it's true that I really don't like them (too salty for me!) , I'll still eat them. Despite this, or maybe because of it actually, it was relatively easy for me to give up meat (red, white, and everything in between), dairy (even my beloved blue cheese...), coffee, some fruits, etc. early on in my treatment when I was doing a ton of reading about the positive effects a non-inflammatory Eastern diet (think vegan) could have on one's health outcomes. Now that I'm finished with with treatment, I have relaxed a few rules (not many, really) but here's what a typical day looks for me:

I'm vegan about 90% of the time for breakfast, lunch, and snacks throughout the day. I'll have a bowl of my beloved Ezekiel cereal for breakfast with non-dairy "milk" (I like coconut but almond or rice would do just as well; NO soy for's got the estrogen), and either berries or raisins. As it gets colder, I'll probably go back to steel cut oats for breakfast again and will eat the oats with raisins or frozen berries. Snacks are generally a piece of fruit (I'm lovin' Gala apples these days) or some raw nuts (much healthier than roasted ones) or some carrots and hummus (hummus is a central part of my diet these days). Lunch generally consists of a delicious veggie sandwich. Today's selection: Carrots, broccoli sprouts, cucumber, hummus, pesto, and roasted red peppers guessed it...Ezekiel sprouted wheat bread. Do you people know about sprouts? Well, if you don't, you should. My friend Christy and I have become obsessed with them lately (she's actually growing her own...). Here's a little sprout trivia for you: Famous for it's antioxidant content, broccoli sprouts can contain something like 50 times the sulfurophane found in mature broccoli, by weight, so you get as much antioxidant in 1 ounce of broccoli sprouts as you would if you ate 3 pounds of fully grown broccoli. Now you see why we're diggin' them?

Anyway, all of the rules are relaxed considerably for dinner. This is because I do love food and it is comfort for me (fortunately, that's never caused a big problem for me since I like mostly healthy food) so at the end of a long day I don't really want to be uptight about what I'm eating, particularly since I love catching up with friends over dinner at restaurants and their homes. And I would NEVER want to be "that guest" for which the hostess practically develops an ulcer when determining what he/she can make that will be acceptable. I find those people really obnoxious. So, at dinner I'm a wild fish-oterian. And sometimes a shellfish-oterian. In addition to wild caught seafood, I'll eat inflammatory things like butter, white bread, some cheese (although, I try to limit it to goat and sheep's cheese because those are the healthiest -- the smaller the animal, the better the cheese), and some other dairy if it's in a cream sauce or dessert or something. Also, every now and again (I can only think of two times, actually), I'll eat a grass fed burger. Oh, and I'll indulge in a veggie pizza every now and again, as well. See, I just can't live with hard and fast rules, which leads me to...

Alcohol. I love it as much as I love food. I come by that naturally from my McGihon genes. Now, if I wanted to lead a truly Anti-Cancer lifestyle, I would only indulge in one glass of organic red wine per day. Well, folks, that just ain't happening. At least not during this phase of my life. And I'm okay with that. I have cut back considerably but I will not try to claim I am or will ever be able to keep it to just one glass of red a day. These days I generally have two glasses of organic (to avoid the sulphates) white wine (red still isn't agreeing with me following treatment) about five days a week. If I'm out with friends on the weekend, it might be more. If I'm home alone, I might not drink at all.

What else? I'm not really regular about anything else with my diet and nutrition. I'm supposed to be taking a multi-vitamin and calcium supplements everyday but they cause problems for me (I made the mistake of taking my vitamin five minutes before eating my cereal the other morning and I barfed up all of my breakfast in my kitchen times!) so sometimes I take them and sometimes I don't. I also really need to get into vegetable juicing as there is great evidence of its role in good health outcomes but here's the thing: I need to get a good juicer and they're not cheap and it's messy and my kitchen is small. I know, I know. I need to stop making excuses and just do it. Maybe that will be my New Year's resolution?

Anyway, that's it. That's what I am and am not eating these days. Hope that this clears things up for everyone.

What Do They Think?: Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Well, I'm pleased to report that my first day back to work went just fine. Loaner dog survived it too. He was rewarded for his good behavior with a long walk to the dog park and some good playtime (in the dark, of course). Now that I'm at the computer for several hours a day, you can expect pretty regular blog updates once again. I've been meaning to write this particular post for over a month -- ever since my last treatment back on September 23. I ponder this question almost daily and did just this morning on my walk with loaner dog.

As I'm sure many other cancer patients would as well, I'd pay good money to know what thoughts go through a health care provider's head as a patient, particularly a young one, finishes treatment for a pretty serious diagnosis. They're all smiles and hugs and are filled with congratulatory statements but what do they really think about your prognosis? Do they think...

"Well, we've done everything we can and hopefully, she'll be lucky," or...

"Poor thing. She thinks she's beat this but I bet she'll be back," or...

"Well, hopefully she'll have some fun and live a good life before this rears its head again," or...

"Thank God this isn't my kid," or...

"Who knows...maybe she really will be okay because she responded so well to treatment," or...

And the list goes on and on. Maybe they think all of these things. Maybe they really don't think much at all. Maybe they just hope like hell that each patient they treat will be on the right side of the statistics even though they know in their heads -- and hearts -- that not all of them can be. No matter. Fortunately, I was taught not to pay too much attention to what other people think about me, which will hopefully allow me to let go of this question after writing this today and live a long, happy life.

Okay, back to my email clean'd be amazed about how much time it takes to get your inbox and various project folders organized after a seven month absence.

Change is in the Air: Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Change is in the air and in more ways than one: First, it's Election Day today in Virginia. So, it's out with the old and in with the new. I suppose we'll know by 8 or 9 p.m. or so who are new governor will be. It will be interesting to see if whomever we elect is able to do something about our traffic issues in nothern Virginia, which I've become keenly aware of during a few recent trips along the I-95 corridor. Doubtful. Second, we turned back our clocks on Sunday and along with that change comes pretty cold temps in the morning and dark skies by 5 p.m. I HATE IT WHEN WE FALL BACK. I walked loaner dog this morning in a polar fleece hat and my new puffy coat for winter and was still a littely chilly. Ugh. And there's one more BIG change...

Today is my first day back to work, except for a brief stint back in June, in about SEVEN months. I must say, I am *fabulous* at collecting a paycheck I don't have to work for. So, now it's back to the grind. Oh well, I guess I should embrace the fact that I'm well enough to work, right? Also, it really will be good for me to put my brain back to work a bit. Like my cardiovascular and muscular strength, my brain power has definitely been depleted a bit over the past several months so it will be good to work it out a bit. I think I'll adjust much better to my new work schedule than loaner dog. He's used to having me around or in and out throughout the day and now his bladder will be tested when I leave him for eight to nine hour stretches. I bet his "grandmother" will take pity on him and be over to get him out in the early afternoon most days that I'm in the office. Just like the rest of us, he'll have to learn that all good things must come to an end.

Gym Rat, er, Whore?: Monday, November 2, 2009

I'm cheating on my gym right now and pretty soon I'm going to break-up with it. It's really sad because it's been a good gym to me but it's time we said goodbye. There's a new gym in town and while it hasn't really stolen my heart, it just makes so much sense to join in my head that I need to make the switch. Hopefully, if it doesn't work out with the new gym, my old gym will take me back. Regardless, I know I need to make the move. I'll get over my guilt soon enough...I think.

Okay, so here's the deal: My current gym, Energy Club, is super convenient to my house, is clean, has good equipment, great trainers, and offers Pilates reformer (at an additional cost) BUT it's about $80 per month plus the cost of Pilates reformer and/or training, which isn't cheap. As you know, I'm training for a sprint triathlon, which will be held next October, and since I SUCK at swimming, I really need to go to a gym that has a pool and certified swim instructors. And that's what my new gym, xSports, has, about 60,000 square feet more than Energy Club AND is half the cost. I mean, it's a no brainer, right? I shouldn't feel guilty, should I? But I still do. I think it's because I know that many others at my current gym are making the same switch and I'm not sure it will survive the mass exodus. In order to ease my guilt, I bought a package of small group Pilates reformer classes when I gave my thirty day notice to the gym. I know, pathetic right? But the Pilates really is helping rebuild my core so that's how I justified it.

I'll let you know how things go with the new gym...fingers crossed!