Cancer Taught Me to Embrace Normal

It’s a rare occasion when I sit down at 7:30 am in the morning, flip on the television and watch a Netflix documentary.  But after 4 straight days of early morning rises, this is what I did.  I invited Brene Brown into my family room to join me in my day.

Now if you have had the good fortune to watch The Call to Courage on Netflix I am sure we share, at the very least, an admiration for her stage presence.  Beyond that I can only reflect upon my personal admiration for her work, her research and her word.

To itemize all of her insights would be a total spoiler for you.  But there was one that I would like to expound upon because it resonated so deeply with me.

Appreciating Normal

I was totally qualified to lead the line of the great many of us who go through life mechanically.  I tended to the daily tasks that needed tending to.  I said ‘have a great day’ without thought as someone left the house in the morning.  And I grudgingly tackled the nuisance of the daily dinner menu.

This was how I did the normal of my everyday life.  I did normal mindlessly.  Until I got cancer.

In no way, shape or form do I consider this disease, my disease, a blessing of any kind contrary to those who have offered up to me the notion that some form of clarity is tied to a cancer diagnosis.

What going through cancer did do was steal my normal.  Those aspects of mundane in my life were replaced with appointments, tests, results, recoveries and fears.

I found myself searching for normalcy and it was in that search that I found gratitude.  Yes, in the midst of it all, I became grateful.  Grateful for hearing the garage door slam because I knew that someone made it home safely.  Grateful for a dish breaking because people were eating together.  Grateful for kids fighting because those children are mine and they are well and they are near.  Grateful for my sleeping husband because he is my best friend and most avid supporter.

So Now…

As life moves forward from cancer and with the grace of God that I am still living it, I have gratefully settled back in to my normal.  It’s not, nor will it ever be perfect.  But I have made a commitment to practice gratitude daily which helps me to breathe and accept some nuances of my normal that will never quite be appreciated.  Case in point is the danger zone marked by the 75 pairs of shoes piled in my back hall for instance.

So here is to Normal!  Normal is where I live most of my life.  Normal is that sweet spot between the highs and the lows.  And normal is right where I want to be.

 

Does Sleeping in on the Weekend Make Up for Lack of Sleep During the Week?

Sleep is our reward at the end of the day that allows our body to regroup, repair and restore.  But what happens if we don’t get enough sleep?

In the short term the effects of not getting adequate sleep can include:

  • Lack of alertness
  • Impaired memory
  • Moodiness

Chronic lack of sleep can have a severe impact on your health leading to serious health issues such as:

  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • heart issues
  • obesity
  • depression

And research has shown that long-term sleep disruptions may raise the risk of some cancers including prostate cancers and breast cancers.

https://www.cathybiase.com/sleeping-cancer-fighting-powerhouse/

So now that we know, in broad sweeps, the importance of getting adequate sleep,  how much sleep is enough sleep?

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF), along with a multi-disciplinary expert panel recommends that adults get between 7-9 hours of sleep nightly.

So let’s do the math.  If we take the average of required sleep time to be 8 hours per night then multiply that number by 7 days a week, that works out to 56 hours of sleep a week to hit the desired target.  And when we get less than our needed amount of nightly sleep, this results in what scientists call a ‘sleep debt’.

So here is the question, if we fall short of the average 7-9 hours of sleep during the week, can we repay this sleep debt by sleeping in on the weekend?  Many of us assume yes but research suggests otherwise.

In this study researchers enlisted 36 healthy adults age 18 to 39 to stay for two weeks in a laboratory.  Their food intake, light exposure and sleep were monitored.

Volunteers were divided into groups. One group was allowed to sleep 9 hours each night for 9 nights. The second was allowed 5 hours per night over that same 9 day period. The third group slept no more than 5 hours nightly for 5 days followed by a weekend when they could sleep as much as they liked before returning to 2 days of restricted sleep.

Both of the sleep-restricted groups snacked more at night, gained weight and saw declines in insulin sensitivity during the study period. While those in the weekend recovery group saw mild improvements (including reduced nighttime snacking) during the weekend, those benefits went away when the sleep-restricted workweek resumed.  According to Christopher Depner, lead author of the study

In the end, we didn’t see any benefit in any metabolic outcome in the people who got to sleep in on the weekend

Getting a good sleep on a nightly basis is something many of us need to work on.

Here are some tips to help the Sandman come your way.

Tips for better sleep:

  1. Turn all electronics off 1 hour before bedtime
  2. Do not eat 3 hours before bedtime
  3. Sleep in a cool, dark room
  4. If you must have electronics in your room, keep them 2 feet away from your bed
  5. Be consistent with your bed time aiming to go to bed around 10pm

Sleep well friends!

Here is a very interesting and informative interview that I did with Dr. Garcia-Rill entitled “Why Do We Sleep?”

Have a listen:)

 

References:

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/press-release/national-sleep-foundation-recommends-new-sleep-times

https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(19)30098-3

http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/22/5/872

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0149763417301628

 

 

 

What is a Cancer Coach?

Cancer Coaches are Health Care Professionals that work to fill a void in cancer prevention, treatment and recovery.  Cancer Coaches believe in healing the whole person, not just the disease.  Many Cancer Coaches themselves have been through a cancer diagnosis, myself included.

To be honest, I am a Cancer Coach now because I was a cancer patient before.  As a cancer patient I incorporated both conventional and complimentary approaches into my treatment plan therefore I have an intimate understanding of how both the allopathic and integrative worlds can work together.  And I understand the emotions tied to a cancer diagnosis.

Because of our unique professional backgrounds, each Cancer Coach will have a different spin on their answer to “What is a Cancer Coach?” however we all hold the same core truths.

Here are 5 of them.

Cancer Coaches can help you work through the shock of a diagnosis 

Receiving a cancer diagnosis can often leave people feeling scared, overwhelmed and confused.  We spend time talking with you about your disease, understanding your proposed treatment plans and researching relevant topics pertaining to your protocol.

Cancer coaches can prepare you for treatments

Focusing on your health, we work to strengthen your body in preparation for treatment.  The healthier you are going in to treatment the greater chance that you will complete treatment and withstand side effects.

Cancer coaches can educate you on complimentary therapies that will help to improve treatment outcomes and mitigate side effects

Understanding the possible side effects of treatments allows us to initiate strategies to help mitigate or avoid them.  Acupuncture, meditation and yoga are 3 examples of complimentary therapies that could be employed in situations and are complimentary therapies endorsed by American Society of Clinical Oncology for breast cancer patients.  For more information on approved therapies you can read my blog post “Oncologists Endorse Integrative Therapies for Breast Cancer Patients”

Cancer coaches work with you to personalize the nutritional and lifestyle aspects of care relevant to your cancer and through all phases of protocol including treatment, recovery and prevention

Proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle are widely recognized as key factors for both fighting and preventing cancer.  Therefore we work with you to optimize your nutritional plan and to implement healthy lifestyle strategies throughout all aspects of your cancer journey.

Cancer coaches are a vital part of your wellness team

We work to empower you and to motivate you. To give you the tools to become active participants in your own cancer protocols. And to give you the confidence and faith that the path you have chosen is the right one.

Cauliflower Mash

Cauliflower is one of the most versatile veggies out there.  From pizza crust to hearty soup it seems like this crunchy wonder has endless possibilities in the kitchen!

Cauliflower is one of a group of vegetables in the cruciferous family.  And when it comes to cancer nutrition, cruciferous veggies are at the top.  Cauliflower contains sulforaphane, a sulfur compound known for its anticancer benefits.

A study has also found that a compound in cauliflower called  phenethyl isothiocyanate may prevent the relapse of certain cancers by killing cancer stem cells.

Add to this cauliflower’s high fiber and array of vitamins and minerals and you have one powerful veggie!

This yummy recipe is for Cauliflower Mash, a great low carb alternative to traditional mashed potatoes.

Enjoy!

Cauliflower Mash

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 head of cauliflower divided in to florets
  • ¼ cup water reserved from steamed cauliflower
  • 1 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 Tablespoon ricotta cheese
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Steam cauliflower until tender. Reserve a ¼ cup of the steaming water
  2. Place all ingredients in to a food processor EXCEPT water
  3. Blend until desired consistency adding reserved water as needed
  4. Salt and pepper to taste

Serve warm.