Archives for the month of: May, 2013

The Angelina effect.  Amazing how much press Angelina Jolie has received after the revelation that she had preventative surgery to reduce her risk of contracting cancer due to testing positive for the BRCA gene.  I think it’s a positive thing that she has shared that decision.  I can’t imagine how hard it must be to have generations of women in your family die early (usually) from breast or ovarian cancers.  And as a male who has inherited the gene – would you consider prophylactic surgery?

When my eldest child was about ten years old, the mother of one of his good friends passed away from cancer.  All I knew at the time was that it was an inherited cancer and her mother, grandmother and aunts had all died early too.  I knew nothing about the gene then, in fact, I don’t think many people did.  My son is still very friendly G and I’d love to talk to him about it, but it’s not something I feel I can do.  I know that his elder sister got married recently at about 23 years old and it’s amazing, I wondered at the time why so young.  And then I remembered …  she probably wants to get her family started early.  Coincidentally, one of my clients was talking about a wedding she went to recently, that the bride had tested positive for the BRCA gene and I recognised who it was.  She is close to the family and also told me that a few weeks after the wedding A had both breasts removed and a reconstruction.  It must have been a difficult decision but I am sure that the relief she must feel from knowing that she has significantly reduced her chances of breast cancer must be a comfort.

I have spoken with Krystal Barter and read all about her story.  She is the founder of Pink Hope (www.pinkhope.org.au) and I find her strength and proactivity (is that a word?)amazing.  Here’s a brief description of Pink Hope, from their Facebook page … “Pink Hope is a registered charity, established and founded by Krystal Barter in 2009 whilst recovering from her preventative double mastectomy. Having experienced the isolation and lack of information for high risk women Krystal created Pink Hope for women like her.”  Krystal’s story is that she tested positive for the gene and there’s evidence of women in her family dying from cancer back to her great-great grandmother.  Each generation of women developed cancer earlier and Krystal’s mother was diagnosed at 36, when Krystal was 14 years old.  At 22 she had the test and positive result.  By then she had a new baby and was in a relationship and felt strong enough to deal with the news.  She had a second child soon after.  But the stress of living with the gene started to really affect her, should she watch and see, monitoring regularly and dealing with it when it came or should she minimise her risk with a double mastectomy.  At 25 she decided to have the mastectomy.  When she went in for her last high risk screening  she was told there were changes to the breast tissue that were not there before – she had signs of early breast cancer – a DCIS.  She had the surgery and tests showed that her cells were about to change, but they had been removed before they were able to do so and she had become the first woman in her family to avoid breast cancer.  She has since had a third child.  Right after surgery, while sitting in her room feeling sore and sorry for herself she decided she would help other women who were faced with the same decision as she was and she started working on Pink Hope.

KrystalKrystal and Bonnie – photo courtesy http://www.pinkhope.org.au

I have had many women with breast cancer come through my room.  Strangely enough, not many have tested positive for the gene and in one case, even though E had a negative result, she has had breast cancer (three times) and ovarian cancer!  Apparently you can test negative but still have a high tendency to contract cancer (her mother is also a client and she has had a melanoma) – I personally find that a hard concept to grasp, that differentiation.  My client says if she knew then what she knows now she would have done things differently for sure, but other than not being able to have children, her bouts of cancer have not stopped her living life fully.

One of my regulars has just had a double mastectomy and reconstruction because after 25 years of monitoring because she was high risk (no gene) she finally developed a DCIS and decided that rather than spend another 25 years of waiting and wondering, she’d rather reduce her risk with the surgery.  Others have taken off the other breast and reconstructed both.  Again to minimise the risk.  Not quite the same decision, but a courageous one all the same.

What has the Angelina effect meant for Krystal and Pink Hope?  A lot of new media coverage and information being shared with those who need it.  Pink Hope is a charity and receives no government funding, so this extra publicity has meant the possibility of donations from other sources to maintain their website, continue to develop resources and offer support groups.  If you’d like more information, please visit Pink Hope at http://www.pinkhope.org.au.

I was wondering what to write about today and up popped a recipe on Facebook from the Thermomix page.  Obviously I don’t use a Thermomix in my treatments, but I found out about it from one of my regular clients.  I’ve bought one and one of my other clients has bought one (I have been known to rave about them every now and then and I do think if you’re being serious about your health then this is the machine for you) and one of my friends bought one – all from my original client.  Who has now stopped selling them. But my other client who bought one from her is now selling them herself.  So I still have contacts!

Imagephoto courtesy http://www.thermomix.com.au/

So why would someone pay such a large amount for a kitchen gadget?  Because you can completely control the processing of your food, down to milling your own wheat berries to make flour for your bread!  I like to talk people through the demo I went to so they can see the range of things you can do …

We walked in and the demonstrator was set up in the living room.  She started by placing some brown sugar in the bowl and milling that for a minute.  Puff – we tought the machine had blown up because there was white smoke when she opened the lid, but no, it wasn’t smoke, she had turned the brown sugar to icing sugar.  One minute!  It was an impressive start. She then threw in some berries and lemon juice and some ice cubes and about a minute later added some more ice cubes and an egg white.  One minute later … berry sorbet!  Yum.  Less then 5 minutes after we walked in we were eating berry sorbet.

Then there was the hummus.  And the raw beetroot salad.  Then she made the bread – milled the whole wheat berries, added some baker’s flour, yeast, water, oil and salt and set the machine for a minute and a half.  Opens it up and there’s an almost perfectly formed ball of dough which she shaped up a bit more and put to the side to rise.

While that was rising she made the risotto – yup, you read right – she cooked a risotto right there in the same machine that she had made sorbet in (she did rinse the bowl out in between each course I might add).  She threw some onions and garlic in the bowl, 15 seconds later they were chopped.  Then she added some olive oil and two minutes later they were cooked (no crying while the onions cooked).  Then she threw in all the other ingredients and wait for it … she put the lid on, set the timer for 17 minutes and left it to its own devices!  No stirring!  She attended to the bread in that time, it had risen enough and she cut the dough and made bread rolls which she stuck in the oven (yes, you do still need an oven for baking).

And for desert, she made a custard.

Did I mention one of my favourite features?  The scales!  Press the button, put the ingredient in the bowl.  Press the button again, weigh in the next ingredient.  You don’t need to take things in and out of the bowl to weigh them.  Heaven.

And if it gets really dirty, you can run the self cleaning process.  And it can go in the dishwasher.

I’ve got rid of the following pieces of kitchen equipment:  scales (obviously!!); blender; mixer; food processor; steamer.  I’m sure there are more things, but I’ve forgotten since I haven’t had to use them for so long.

There’s a fantastic recipe website too – http://www.recipecommunity.com.au. You can type in what you’ve got left in the fridge/cupboard and it will come up with recipes you can create.  My favourite recipe?  The fresh tomato sauce – no more jars from the supermarket for me – 1 kg tomatoes, basil, onion and garlic.

Here are some of the things I’ve made –

Imagechocolate chip muffins and cheesy scrolls

Image

hot cross buns

Imagevegan chocolates

So, if you’re wanting to change to a healthier way of cooking to help you on your journey to wellness, then it’s worth taking a look at the Thermomix website.  Now, what’s for dinner tonight?

A really useful blog with ideas of how to minimise skin irritation during radiation. Thanks Breast Cancer Yoga.

Breast Cancer Authority

Radiation Burn TreatmentBy Margot Malin, CEO and President of Lots To Live For, Inc

The beginning of a cancer treatment journey can be overwhelming. It is emotional and there is so much new information to absorb, and so many unknowns to research.

The beginning of a series of radiation oncology treatments may be just one piece of the overall protocol. Below we share some tips to help you through treatment.

Radiation oncology can cause a number of side effects. It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with them before you start so that you can be well prepared.  The most common side effect is radiation dermatitis – a condition where the skin of the treated area becomes red and irritated.  Typical symptoms of radiation burns and radiation dermatitis include dryness, redness, itching, swelling, and possibly a rash.  In addition, radiation can cause hair loss, desquamation (wet or dry), edema…

View original post 950 more words

Sometimes I am totally surprised by someone’s will to live.  Not the will to fight or battle or any of those words that are thrown at cancer, but the will to live.  I think that’s the attitude of most of the ladies I see in my clinic, but every now and then, one person will stand out.

L is a tiny lady of 75 who has been through it all.  Breast cancer in 1988, colon cancer in 2001, breast cancer again in 2006 and of course all the various chemo/radio treatment that comes along with those.  She came to the clinic originally early in 2012 to see one of our osteopaths, who referred her to me as she was developing lymphoedema in her legs.  I started working with her in May 2012 – she was on chemo again and was very frail and had been told to take it easy, her response to that was “but it is so boring”.  She had always been fit, playing tennis, swimming, walking and doing yoga regularly.  Her goal was to be well enough to do her annual trip back home to Canada to see her family.  Her doctor tried to discourage her from going, because really, she was very frail.  We (the osteopath and I) worked with her up until the time of departure and said our good-byes not quite expecting to see her again, she was that weak.

Lo and behold, she came back in September 2012 having had an absolute blast on her holiday.  After some tests they found she had liver metastasis and it was inoperable.  More chemo, more swelling.  Then there was some surgery to remove a stent from her stomach and lots of antibiotics and more swelling.  Luckily she managed to get into Mt Wilga Hospital (http://www.mtwilgaprivate.com.au) for some intensive decongestive therapy so I didn’t see her for quite some time as they brought her swelling under control for her.

Image

photo courtesy google images

She started osteopathic treatment again in February and came for a lymphatic treatment last week as she had forgotten to tell a doctor about her lymphatic problem and she was given the wrong meds and her leg started to swell again.  Actually, she had to cancel her original appointment last week as she had severe abdominal pain and had to go to hospital but she made it in the next day (with an opium patch on to help with the pain) with apologies for inconveniencing me with a late cancellation!  In spite of her recent medical issues she’s started playing tennis again, once a week, “but only two games”.  One of my favourite conversations with her was about older people taking the same vacation every year, on the same cruise ship, eating humungous meals and getting fatter and fatter.  Not her ideal holiday – she needs to go and do and see things, otherwise it’s boring.

And her goal now?  To enjoy this year’s trip to Canada.  And that is what I call – the will to live!

 

Sunday 23rd June 2013 – Through another client I saw on Friday I found out that L passed away three weeks ago, with her children by her side.  They had come over from Canada to be with her at the end.  A beautiful ending to a story of courage and determination.  May she rest in peace.

Over the last few weeks I’be been weighing up the pros and cons of a couple pieces of equipment and I think I’ve made my decision as to which one to purchase for my clinic.

The first is an L-dex machine.  I’d heard of these machines before and when I went to the lymphoedema conference in March they talked about how useful they were.  The L-dex measures the amount of fluid in the interstitial tissue and gives a good indication of whether lymphoedema is present in unilateral limbs.  It’s more useful as a guage in the early stages of lymphoedema as once the condition has progressed and the tissue has become fibrotic (hard) then the fluid content is less so your reading may actually be low, even though you can visibly see the swelling.  A normal reading is anywhere between -10 and 10.  Best case is to take a reading before surgery so you can compare straight away because even if your reading is say 8 after surgery, if it was -9 before then that is a big change (anything over a ten point change is an indication of lymphoedema being present).  All very technical.  You can read a bit more here http://international.l-dex.com/what-is-l-dex/.

I decided to investigate costs and found that there was a special offer on and I had the rep come in and demonstrate.  Well, she didn’t actually demonstrate in the end, she spoke about it and left the machine with me to trial for a week and a half. And that I did.  Two of my clients had had readings taken elsewhere recently and so it was really useful/interesting to be able to compare.  I have to say, the readings I took were quite different to the ones they had just had and I began to question the reliability of the machine.  Readings should be taken on the same machine and around the same time of day for consistency.  Hmm.  Not fully convinced.

But.  One of the two clients who had readings previously said that initially she was excited because she thought I had bought a laser.  So we talked about the benifits of L-dex versus laser.  With a laser you can actually treat areas of fibrosis and lymphatic cording.  Normally when I treat cording I have to do it manually, literally trying to snap the cord with stretching techniques and to this day I haven’t heard the “snap” that accompanies the breaking of the cord (nor do I want to, the thought scares the bejeebers out of me).  A laser breaks up the cording faster and easier and with less discomfort.

ImageLymphatic cording, photo courtesy cancerat35.blogspot.com

So.  Here was my thought process.  The L-dex – useful as a measurement tool and the medicos will like having an official looking print out with a number on it.  The laser – I can actually treat clients with it and they walk out feeling better.  A bit of a no-brainer really don’t you think?

So I’ve just emailed the suppliers to see when I can get one.  I’m getting the LTU-904.

Image

photo courtesy Rian Corp

Read more about it here http://www.riancorp.com/Products/low-level-laser-therapy-lllt.html.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with either piece of equipment and whether you think my decision is the right one.