Follow-up With My Surgeon

I had another follow-up appointment with my surgeon yesterday and I realized that it has already been a month since I had my surgery. It seems like time is flying by, but that is not a bad thing at all.

He took a look at my incisions, said that everything looks great and that I have healed well. I asked him if he could take out my sutures as one of them had been hurting me to the point of needing pain pills after 5he steri-strips came off over the weekend. So after taking another look he said that he could take them out. I am sore now that they are out and I will be for a few more days, but I am much more comfortable now.

8 Exercise Routines That Don’t Involve a Gym

A long time ago I had a gym membership with a friend of mine and eventually that friend stopped coming to the gym, even no showing our trainer. I kept my membership and continued to go to the gym but as soon as my membership was up I decided to find a way to workout at home. I have done a few of the suggestions below and I have found that a gym is not needed. Now with online classes both live and on demand and affordable home equipment, it is easy and convenient to workout at home. My workout schedule has been on and off over the past year due to extreme fatigue from treatments, generally not feeling well and having multiple surgeries. I intend on getting back to regular workouts soon and in the meantime I have been working on keeping my eating as healthy as possible so I am steadily losing weight. If I can do it, you can do it….there is always something you can do.

By Lorna Collier Last Updated: May 8, 2019

Skip the Gym and Get Fit at Home

You want to exercise, you really do, but it’s tough to fit a trip to the gym into your jam-packed daily schedule. Not to mention gym memberships can be expensive. Or it may be intimidating to think about working out next to pumped-up hard bodies if you’re just looking to stay fit. Whatever your reason, avoiding the gym doesn’t have to mean giving up exercise. Try these tips to reach your 30 minutes of daily activity outside of a fitness center. 

1. Video Workouts

Want to avoid spending money on fitness DVDs? Many local libraries have collections of workout videos you can check out for free. You can also buy used copies through online classifieds or garage sales. Streaming sites like YouTube or your cable’s on-demand service can also be budget-friendly sources of video workouts. Government agencies like the American Council on Exercise and the Centers for Disease Control also offer free online exercise videos. Seniors can get a free exercise DVD tailored to older participants from the National Institutes of Health. 

2. Exercise Videogames

Videogame platforms like the popular Wii Fit for Nintendo use technology to track your body’s movements, so you can play games like tennis or golf virtually, as well as ride bikes, box, and dance. One study showed that participants burned more calories playing Wii’s boxing module for 30 minutes than through brisk walking. Exer-games can be a fun way to stay fit at home, though you will need to use them regularly and with intensity. Along with the Nintendo Wii, you can find exer-games for PlayStation and Xbox, too. 

3. Home Gyms

These days, it’s possible to build your own home gym on any size budget. You can buy firsthand from sporting goods and fitness stores or score used equipment from garage sales, resale shops, or online resources like Craigslist. Friends or relatives also may want to find a new home for the treadmill that’s taking up dust in their basement, so let them know you’re looking. Many discount stores carry small exercise items, such as fitness balls, jump ropes, and resistance bands, making it convenient to complete your home gym on your weekly shopping runs.

4. DIY Equipment at Home

You don’t even necessarily have to buy equipment to exercise at home. Do you have stairs? Voila! You have a StairMaster. Want to do step training? You can swap out a pricey exercise step for a stepstool or sturdy chair. Large cans of food or 12 packs of soda make effective hand weights. Finally, use your own body as a weight, doing planks, push-ups, lunges, jumping jacks, and balancing poses to increase strength and tone muscle. 

5. Mall Walking

Walking is the easiest, least expensive activity to fit into your day. If you want to get out of the house but don’t have anywhere outside that you’d like to walk, or if the weather is bad, consider becoming a mall walker. Some malls even open early to allow mall walkers to make their way through the halls, which is especially good if you want to avoid slower-moving crowds of shoppers. Keep in mind that for a workout, mall walking is more than just an excuse to window shop. Walk fast enough that singing would be difficult, but not so fast that you can’t talk. 

6. Household Chores

It can be hard to get to chores when you think of them as, well, chores. But as fitness boosters, they’re a sure thing. Vacuuming, scrubbing floors and walls, and many other household tasks can rev up your cardio system or challenge your muscles enough to help you get fit. Outdoor chores like gardening or sweeping the garage count, too. Just keep your mind open to possibilities as you go about your daily tasks and remember to do them energetically enough to break a sweat and get your heart pumping. 

7. Outdoor Clubs

Community clubs and activity groups offer a fun and social alternative to the gym. The Sierra Club, for example, has lists of local hikes, bicycling trips, and other outdoor activities you can join. Search online social sites like Meetup.com for groups and people near you who are interested in outdoor activities like walking, hiking and other outside-the-gym fitness pursuits. For a more intense outdoor workout, try boot camp programs in local parks run by trainers who can provide a gym-level workout outside a traditional gym. 

8. At-Home Personal Trainers

Certified personal trainers don’t only work with clients at gyms. They also make home visits and can design personal workout routines for you in the environment you prefer. You can check with your local fitness club for referrals, or visit personal training professional associations like the American Council on Exercise to find qualified trainers in your area. 

Our Wedding Anniversary

Today is our 16th wedding anniversary and I can’t help but look back at this time last year as it was a major turning point in my breast cancer journey. The day after our 15th wedding anniversary last year I started aggressive chemotherapy. I had already gone through my first surgery to remove the cancer and my second surgery to place the port in my chest for my chemotherapy treatments, but little did I know at the time that the most difficult fight of my life was just beginning.

Everything was so overwhelming and it felt like I was floating through all of the doctors appointments, surgeries, scans and tests in a daze. The day of my first chemotherapy treatment is somewhat of a blur now but I do remember sitting down in the chair in the treatment room and starting to cry. I was terrified as I realized that the nurse was about to pump horrible, destructive drugs into my body.

My husband looked at me and asked “Why are you crying?” I said, “It’s so overwhelming knowing what is about to happen to me, what I am about to go through.” He came and sat closer to me and held my hand, trying to comfort me. He had already been through countless appointments, surgeries, etc….with me, but he has never wavered. He has been by my side through many tears, pain, sleepless nights and so many other stages of fighting aggressive breast cancer.

I love you sweetie! Happy Anniversary and thank you for being my rock during the most difficult fight of my life! 💕

16 years and counting! 💕

5 Tips for Coping with Fear of Breast Cancer Recurrence

I agree with so much of what this article talks about. Will I ever not worry about recurrence? Probably not, but I can find a place for that worry in my life, somewhere in the background. Some days I am overwhelmed by thoughts of recurrence, usually sparked by a sudden pain in my breast, which I still have from time to time. The pain is not surprising considering I have had three surgeries on my chest, and it takes awhile for the nerves to fire back up, so I try not to over react. My next mammogram is in August, 6 months after finishing radiation, so I will know for sure at that point if I am cancer free.

Medically reviewed by Krystal Cascetta, MD on May 12, 2020 New — Written by Theodora Blanchfield

Fear of breast cancer recurrence is common among survivors — but it doesn’t have to control your life.

For many breast cancer survivors, the fear of recurrence can be all-encompassing.

1 Year Anniversary of My Breast Cancer Surgery

April 23rd was a bittersweet day for me. A year ago on that day, I had my first surgery to remove my breast cancer. 💕 I was so scared to undergo my first surgery. I had never been through surgery before and it was terrifying to think about a surgeon cutting into my breast and removing cancer. My surgeon reassured me that everything would be OK and that if he wasn’t worried, I shouldn’t be worried either. From that day forward I knew that I was in the best hands possible and that he was saving my life from an aggressive and terrible form of breast cancer.

Today it is overwhelming when I think back and remember everything that has happened from the beginning of January 2019 to present day. It is crazy to realize that on April 28th of this year I had my 4th surgery, my 2nd reconstruction surgery; when until I was diagnosed with breast cancer I had never had major surgery before.

Continue reading

Follow-up Appointment with My Surgeon

I have been doing OK since my surgery. I have had more pain than I was expecting and most of it has been from the drains. In my previous post I had a few pictures showing the drains and where they are placed. The drains are actually stitched into my skin because if they weren’t they would fall out due to gravity. The collection bulbs have some weight to them so I constantly have the sensation of them pulling on my skin. Not fun!!

On Monday I had a follow-up appointment with my surgeon to get my bandages and the two drains removed. While I was getting ready to go to my appointment I must have moved in just the wrong way because suddenly I was flooded with intense pain. It felt like the area where I was cut during surgery was ripped open on the left side, it hurt that bad. I ran to a mirror and looked under my breast expecting to see blood but I didn’t see anything.

Continue reading

My Final Reconstruction Surgery: Part I **WARNING: SURGERY DETAILS**

On Tuesday, April 28th I had my final reconstruction surgery. I was scheduled to arrive at 11:30am and go into surgery at 1:00pm. Unfortunately due to the virus, my husband was not allowed to go into the waiting room with me so he had to drop me off. It made me more nervous to not have him with me but there was nothing we could do about it. He ran a few errands, grabbed lunch and then went home to wait for my surgeon to call him with an update on how the surgery went. A little while later the nurse that was caring for me in recovery, called him to let him know that I was awake and that he could come over and sit with me.

Meanwhile I was changing clothes into my gown, putting on compression socks, my surgery cap, and my warm socks to start getting prepped for surgery in the pre-op area. There are 4 bays in pre-op and my surgeon had 3 patients there. Besides me, he had a woman getting a port put in and a woman having a double mastectomy that day. I was 2nd in line after the port surgery and when the lady getting the port surgery left for the OR I knew that my surgery was going to start late which is pretty much the norm.

Continue reading

Final Appointment With My Radiation Oncologist

A few days ago I had my final appointment with my radiation oncologist. The last time I saw her was the Friday before my last treatment back in January so this was a 6 week follow up to check on my overall health, my skin where my burn was on my collar bone and on my breast.

The skin on my collar bone got even redder a few days after my last treatment. I had some medicated lotion left over from going through my daily treatments so I kept using that three times a day and the burn eventually peeled completely and then healed up. She said that my breast is still a little swollen and I agreed. The swelling will eventually go away with time, there isn’t much I can do to help it along and it’s not so swollen that I need to be concerned about it.

Continue reading

Side-Effect Friendly Smoothies

Eating the recommended amount of fruit and veggies (8 – 10 servings per day) can be difficult when you aren’t feeling well and your taste buds change due to chemo.  Smoothies are great because the nutrients are blended and ready to be absorbed without a ton of effort from your digestive system.  All you have to do is put all the ingredients in your blender and you’ve got a delicious meal! Here are five easy smoothie recipes from Naturopathic Doctor, Melissa Piercell, that we love.

 


Green Energy Booster

Raw salad might not be appealing during chemo treatments so this smoothie is great for someone looking for a tastier way to get more greens in their diet. It’s a surefire energy booster because of the concentrated chlorophyll and iron in each leaf. Low appetite? This also makes for a great meal replacement option, thanks to the protein and fat in the nuts and hemp hearts.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of your favourite greens (ie. spinach, kale, swiss chard, etc)
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons hemp hearts
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • Chocolate almond milk (enough to cover ingredients)

Combine the greens, cocoa, cinnamon, hemp hearts, almond butter and chocolate almond butter in a blender. Blend until smooth.


Easy Berry Blast

Berries are high in tissue healing antioxidants and detoxifying fibre. Enjoy this quick and easy smoothie choice for a busy morning.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup of your favourite berries
  • 1 scoop protein powder (such as Vega sweetened with stevia, vanilla or berry flavoured)
  • Almond milk (enough to cover ingredients)

Combine the berries, protein powder and almond milk in a blender. Blend until smooth.


Peaches and Cream

Calcium is important when it comes to bone strength (especially for those who have had chemo). Here is delicious bone-building smoothie that’s perfect for the summer when peaches are in season.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen peaches
  • 1/4 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup organic plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • Organic cow’s milk or goat’s milk (enough to cover ingredients)

Combine the peaches, vanilla extract, Greek yogurt, maple syrup and milk in a blender. Blend until smooth.


Chemo Brain Smoothie

If chemo is making you lose your appetite, this is a great meal replacement. High fat is good for cognitive decline and mental fogginess typically reported in those going through chemo. Fat has twice the calories that protein and carbs have, so this smoothie will surely fill you up!

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons of your favourite nut butter
  • 2 tablespoons flax seed
  • Coconut milk (enough to cover ingredients)

Combine the banana, avocado, walnuts, nut butter, flax seeds and coconut milk in a blender. Blend until smooth.


Headache Be Gone

Sadly, cancer treatments can leave us feeling like we’ve been hit by a truck. This smoothie is a great choice for someone experiencing inflammation, headaches, or any type of surgery pain. Pineapple, turmeric, ginger and papaya all have anti-inflammatory properties. This recipe should be considered a snack because it doesn’t have any protein.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup pineapple
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 cup frozen papaya
  • Coconut water (enough to cover ingredients)
  • Honey, as needed

Combine the pineapple, turmeric, ginger, papaya, coconut water and honey in a blender. Blend until smooth.


Melissa Piercell is a Toronto-based Naturopathic Doctor who strives to encourage her patients to take an active role in their health in order to enjoy a balanced lifestyle. She utilizes all of her training tools to provide the best care for her patients, young and old. Melissa has a special interest in motivating her patients to improve their lifestyle, by making changes that are long-term and realistic. She stresses the importance of remaining well nourished and active. Find out more about her practice by visiting her website.

 

%d bloggers like this: