4 Easy-to-Make Homemade Facial Scrubs

Chemo damaged and dried out my skin on most of my body, but especially on my face. I have dark circles under my eyes all of the time due to a hereditary trait so it doesn’t matter how much or little sleep I get, the dark circles are always there. As I have gotten older, I have begun to hate them more and more. I can’t just throw on some mascara and leave the house, I have to cover the dark circles up or I look like I have been hit. Chemo darkened my dark circles so they look even worse now. I have tried several products to help lighten them up and they only help so much.

Now that I am navigating through life after cancer treatments, I am concentrating on improving my skin and overall wellbeing. I may only be able to do so much about the dark circles, but I can improve the health, feel and look of my skin. One thing I do a few times a week is cleanse my face with a facial scrub. While going through chemo I became very much aware of the chemicals in deodorant, toothpaste, body wash, shampoo and facial scrubs. I changed a few of the brands I was using as part of my mantra of doing everything I could to avoid products with ingredients that could potentially cause cancer.

I have attached a link below to an article about making natural facial scrubs at home. Enjoy!

A homemade face scrub can help improve the health and vitality of your skin by removing dead skin cells and boosting circulation. The key is to use the right ingredients. Learn more about exfoliating face scrubs you can DIY for glowing skin.

Source: Homemade Facial Scrub: 4 Natural DIY Recipes for Healthier Skin

Final Appointment With My Radiation Oncologist

Mood: Happy

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.

My fatigue is still in the mid range, about 4 or 5 out of 10. She wasn’t surprised that I am still dealing with the fatigue as my body has been through so much in the last year +. I told her that I am taking things day by day, some days are better than others, but overall I am slowly improving.

She asked me if I have had any appointments with my other oncologist and surgeon since finishing radiation treatment and I updated her on those appointments. I also told her about the dermatologist that is removing my radiation tattoos and showed her the progress from my first appointment with him. She asked if her office has the contact information for the dermatologist and I let her know that I gave it to the front desk. Now if she has any other patients ask her about getting the radiation tattoos removed, she can give them his information and let them know that he removes them for free.

We ended my appointment with a big hug and she made me promise that my husband and I will stop by after our trip in May and show her the pictures from our trip and especially our ceremony….we are renewing our vows in Jamaica.

So now my most excellent team of three doctors is down to two. I am sad, but also happy that I am completely done with a third of my journey. My oncologist and surgeon will be with me for quite a while to come as I am on medication for 10 years and I may possibly have one more surgery in September.

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.

 

Dermatologist Appointment

Mood: Excited

I think I mentioned a while ago that I found a dermatologist that can not only remove my radiation tattoos, but he does it for free for cancer patients. Today I went in to Atlanta to see him and have my first laser session. He immediately knew who I was when he came into the room because he held out both hands to greet me and said that it is a pleasure to be able to do this for me. He understood why I wanted the dots removed and understood about me not wanting a reminder of what I have been through with breast cancer.

I have never had a laser treatment before so I wasn’t sure of what to expect. The doctor let my husband stay in the room so that was nice for me. We were both handed glasses to protect our eyes and then he went to one machine and lasered my 3 tattoos, and then to a second machine with a different type of laser. It felt like little electric shocks and it did hurt, but not terribly. His assistant had a tube in her hand that blew cold air on me while he used the lasers so that helped a bit with the pain. My husband said he could see little specks of color lifting out from my skin….very trippy.

The areas that were treated are so small that I really don’t have any aftercare. They told me that the top skin that was lasered will scab and peel off. Once the scab is gone I will be able to see how much of the ink is gone and the doctor suspected that I will need at least one or two more treatments to have acceptable results.

I won’t go back until a month from now because the treatments, at least for me, need to be a month apart. Once I have my final results I will post some before and after pictures.

Breast Cancer Signs & Symptoms

By The American Cancer Society
Last Medical Review: September 18, 2019
Last Revised: September 18, 2019

Knowing how your breasts normally look and feel is an important part of breast health. Although having regular screening tests for breast cancer is important, mammograms do not find every breast cancer. This means it’s also important for you to be aware of changes in your breasts and to know the signs and symptoms of breast cancer.

The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. A painless, hard mass that has irregular edges is more likely to be cancer, but breast cancers can be tender, soft, or round. They can even be painful. For this reason, it’s important to have any new breast mass, lump, or breast change checked by an experienced health care professional.

Other possible symptoms of breast cancer include:

  • Swelling of all or part of a breast (even if no lump is felt)
  • Skin dimpling (sometimes looking like an orange peel)
  • Breast or nipple pain
  • Nipple retraction (turning inward)
  • Nipple or breast skin that is red, dry, flaking or thickened
  • Nipple discharge (other than breast milk)
  • Swollen lymph nodes (Sometimes a breast cancer can spread to lymph nodes under the arm or around the collar bone and cause a lump or swelling there, even before the original tumor in the breast is large enough to be felt.)

Although any of these symptoms can be caused by things other than breast cancer, if you have them, they should be reported to a health care professional so the cause can be found.

Remember that knowing what to look for does not take the place of having regular mammograms and other screening tests. Screening tests can help find breast cancer early, before any symptoms appear. Finding breast cancer early gives you a better chance of successful treatment.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Follow-up with my Surgeon

Mood: Fantastic & Excited!

My follow-up appointment with my surgeon went very well on Wednesday! I have been healing well and he has cleared me to workout, start running again, lift weights, anything that I want to do, so that is excellent news! I have several sutures that are hanging on for dear life but none of them are sticking out to where they can be pulled out. It isn’t safe to dig them out as that will cause open wounds, so we are going to leave them alone for now as they should either get absorbed or come to the surface of my skin.

My husband and I had a lot of questions for my surgeon today and he stayed with us until every question was answered. Some doctors run into the exam room, poke at you and then leave as if they are on a tight schedule, but thankfully none of my doctors have ever done that to me. We had a lot of questions for him because I had made the decision to ask him if I can have one more reconstruction surgery and get breast implants. This has been a very personal decision for me, and I am hoping I will not face any judgement from anyone I know, but I truly feel that this is something I need to do for me to help me feel whole and complete again after a year of destroying my body and soul to fight aggressive, invasive breast cancer.

I am sure you are wondering why I came to this decision. About half way through my radiation treatments I started to struggle with how my chest looks….I am not happy with it….I feel like I am deformed and I don’t look or feel like I did back when I was last healthy in November of 2018. Let me first say that I have the best surgeon I could possibly ask for so this is not a reflection on him or his skills….he did what he had to do and he saved my life from a very aggressive and invasive breast cancer. I lost quite a bit of tissue during my first reconstruction surgery as I had to have a reduction to match the side where the cancer was located. Now my bras don’t fit me any more, the cups are too big, and I suspect that I lost a whole cup size, so I want to regain what I lost. I want to feel feminine again, something that I do not feel these days at all. Breast cancer with its harsh treatments and aggressive surgeries takes away a womans identity and for most patients it is devastating to watch the body you once knew turn into something foreign. I lost all of my hair, two of my toenails and my once beautiful chest is now scarred. The physical scars will mostly go away with time, but the emotional and mental scars will stay with me for awhile. So my mission now is to do everything I can to get back to looking and feeling as close to the old me as possible. I am aware that I will never be completely the same again, but I can try, unfortunately, cancer changes you for the rest of your life.

So, back to the visit with my surgeon…..he said that I am a good candidate for implant surgery, but there is one condition, I have to wait for at least 6 to 12 months before I can have the surgery. Why do I have to wait? I have to wait because of the 25 radiation treatments I had. My tissue needs time to heal from the radiation so that it will be safe for me to have the surgery. We talked about the difference between saline and silicone implants and he feels that silicone is the safest option. He explained that saline implants can fail and that when they do the saline goes into my body which is not good. Saline implants are also not as advanced as silicone as they have not been improved for several years, and they will also only last about 10 years. Silicone implants are safe now and if they fail, which is a much smaller percentage than saline, they stay in place instead of spreading through my body. Yes, if the implant fails it will have to be replaced but that will most likely not happen and they have a much longer lifespan, possibly for the rest of my life.

6 months from now, in August, I will have a mammogram to check to see if my breast cancer has returned or not. Two days after my mammogram I will go back to see my surgeon to get the results and to discuss my surgery and get it scheduled. I will not be able to have my surgery until September as hubby and I are going to Saint Lucia at the end of August – early September. I really don’t mind waiting until September for the surgery as that will put me at about 8 months away from when I finished radiation, and the more time that passes from that date at the end of January, the better it is for me. Do I wish I could get it over with and have the surgery tomorrow? Of course I do, but I understand why that isn’t possible thanks to my surgeon taking the time to talk with us and answer all of our questions. My surgeon has been with me from the beginning of this journey and I know that he truly cares as it shows from the moment he walks into the exam room or the OR, and that is priceless to me during the most difficult journey of my life.

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