2nd Dermatologist Appointment

Mood: Grateful 🙂

On April 1st I had my 2nd appointment with my dermatologist. About 2 weeks prior to my appointment, I received a call from his office saying that they had to cancel my appointment due to Coronavirus and that they would call me back when they reopened to reschedule me. I received a call to reschedule a few days later and I was surprised that his office had reopened so quickly, and that they were able to reschedule me only one week after my original appointment.

When I arrived at my appointment I asked the nurse about the office closure and she said that someone on staff had symptoms and tested positive. She assured me that the office was safe as they took the time to disinfect everything so they could get back to seeing their patients as soon as possible.

My treatment went well and was quick as it was the first time. I pointed out the dot on my right side that hadn’t responded to the first treatment so the doctor made sure to laser it more this time. A few days later, the dot started to respond so that was a great relief to me. Responding is basically having a scab develop where the area was treated with the laser, and the scab develops and then peels off a few times before it settles and heals. So, my appointments are 4 to 6 weeks apart to give me skin time to go through that process. Does it hurt to have the three dots lasered? Yes, it does hurt but the actual pain only lasts a few hours with some soreness for another day; so to me, not bad at all.

I have one more appointment scheduled for mid-May and we will see if I need to go back in for a 4th time during that appointment. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the time my dermatologist is taking with me to make sure that all three dots are gone to my satisfaction and his as well; especially since he is doing this for free because I have battled breast cancer.

Handwashing Dos and Don’ts

Sadly, Covid-19 has effected everyone’s life in one way or another. It feels like the world has been put on hold, cancelled. People have missed vacations, weddings, graduations and proms; they have lost loved ones and their jobs.

While I was going through chemotherapy treatments last summer my immune system was severely compromised. I stayed at home for the first 2 months of treatment and followed several of the senerios and steps listed below, both by common sense and information from my oncologist.

With the current times such as they are, the information below is more important than ever and moving forward, it is best for our overall health to continue to follow these guidelines.

April 2, 2020 by Dory Benford

While I’m sure you probably already wash your hands regularly, let’s make sure you’re doing it effectively. No more quick rinses, we all need to be washing our hands thoroughly to kill germs and prevent sickness. It’s amazing what something so simple can do to benefit your overall health. Did you know that washing your hands can prevent 1 in 5 respiratory infections, like the cold or flu?

It’s important to wash your hands throughout the day, especially:

  • After using the bathroom
  • After coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose
  • After changing a child’s diaper or cleaning a child
  • After touching pets, their food, their treats or their waste
  • After handling garbage
  • Before, during and after handling food
  • Before and after eating a meal or snack
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick

And as a refresher, here are the handwashing dos and don’ts that will help keep you and your family healthy.

Do:

DO wet your hands with warm or cold water, then apply soap and work into a lather.

DO wash your hands for a full 20 seconds, then proceed to rinse and dry your hands.

DO sing a song, if you need to. Singing or humming “Happy Birthday” twice takes 20 seconds.

DO use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol, if soap and water aren’t available.

Don’t:

DON’T solely rely on hand sanitizer. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer doesn’t kill all types of germs, including norovirus.

DON’T let the water run over your hands while lathering. This rinses off the soap too early, making your handwashing less effective.

DON’T touch the sink when you’re done, as this area is filled with germs. Use a paper towel to turn off the faucet, if possible.

DON’T forget to teach your kids the appropriate way to wash their hands. It’s a lesson they’ll use for the rest of their lives.

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.

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