Netflix and Chill

Does anyone else remember the thrill of going to Blockbuster and browsing the new releases? Mitch and I had a conversation not that long ago that our girls will never walk through a video store to pick out a movie. Ahhh, we.are.old (and awesome).

Anyway, there is a point to this title and it does link back to me and my "cancer journey" (I really hate that term but I'm not sure what else I would call it at this point). I've talked in previous blogs about the 5 year stretch and how, if I can make it cancer-free for 5 years, I'm pretty much in the clear. That is one benefit to being handed the mother of all cancers, at least my risk of recurrence drops off dramatically once I reach that milestone.

Unlike other types of breast cancer, however, there is really nothing I can take to help prevent the cancer from returning. ER+ ladies have Tamoxifen and other medications. HER2+ ladies have Herceptin, for at least a year. Us triple negative ladies, we just have our good looks.

So now that I am in full blown survivor mode, I started looking for anything I can do to prevent round 2 of this awful disease. We already know that I have a higher risk than most, due to my genetics, so I already feel a little doomed from the start. But instead of crawling into bed with a pint of ice cream to drown my sorrows, I'm using it as a kick in the @$$ to get my life together. Which brings us to Netflix...

I discovered the documentary genre when I was on maternity leave with Evelyn and was awake nursing her through the night (Netflix app on phone plus a solid pair of earbuds was heavenly during those late night feeds). I had watched a few health documentaries then, but never really took their message to heart.

Now with a different perspective, I have found a lot of good (and not so good) information in these documentaries that have given me that motivation I need to make a real change in our lifestyle. So if you have a Netflix account and haven't seen these, I highly recommend:

In Defense of Food (2015)- Michael Pollan is a fantastic writer and the brains behind this documentary. He bases it off of a book he wrote with the same title (which is pretty dry, in my honest opinion, but his first book "The Omnivore's Dilemma" was fantastic) and the documentary looks at how our diet impacts our health. Then he offers practical advice on how to improve your diet to improve your health.  And it is simple to remember:

IF your great grandmother wouldn't recognize it as food, don't eat it!

My other top pick is:

The C Word (2015)- This is the second film in my top two. This takes a short departure from the topic of food and diet and looks at all lifestyle factors, particularly focused on how they relate to the growth of cancer cells. The documentary is based on the book "Anticancer: A new way of life" that examines 4 major pillars in the fight against cancer:
1. Diet
2. Exercise
3. Environmental toxins
4. Stress reduction

While I will have so much more to say about this in future posts, I want to say right now that this movie/book changed my mindset. Yes I know I should exercise. And yes, I could eat better. But it was this documentary that convinced me that I need to do those things NOW. It gave me hope that maybe there is something I can do to fight this, instead of waiting around for it to come back a second time. It gave me a sense of control. Of power. Of passion. And while I can't say I've followed these pillars every day, or every week for that matter, I have started to make smarter choice about what I expose my body to on a daily basis.

I am reading the book that accompanies this film to really dive into the science behind this lifestyle. I hope to post more about this in the future once I finish the book, not only to give myself some accountability to its philosophy, but also to share that knowledge with all of you. Because even though most of you reading this haven't had cancer, or don't have broken DNA like I do, EVERYONE can benefit from a healthier lifestyle. And if you could prevent yourself from getting cancer, would you? (The answer should be yes).

I will leave you with that thought tonight and challenge all of you to take the time to do something better for yourself this week. Invest in your health, you never know when you may not have it...


Today marks 1 year from my cancer diagnosis. While I didn't technically receive the call until the 17th, I consider the 15th (the day I had my mammogram/biopsy) "the day" because driving home from that appointment, I knew. I didn't want to admit it, but I knew.

Somehow it snuck up on me. Blame it on a new job (which I'm LOVING) or life with kids or my lack of a calendar but 1 long trip around the sun later and I'm on the other side, wondering if it was all a dream. It feels like so much has happened, yet life still feels the same.

When you have cancer, your path is already paved for you. It takes you from appointment to appointment, exam table to treatment chair and back again, requiring very little conscious thought or energy. So many wonderful people volunteer to watch your kids and make you meals and shave your head. You are fighting for your life. You are brave and strong and an inspiration.

Then treatment is over and life returns to normal. The appointments become less frequent, the conversations revolve less around side effects and more around what's for dinner. Life slows down and gets a bit sweeter. You start appreciating things more, like time with friends and family, the smell of a summer breeze. But the mundane events of everyday life eventually creep back in and you find yourself caught between "enjoy every moment!" And "get in the ****ing van!".

But then, in that quiet place in your mind, where we all go before we sleep at night, the relief of remission turns to fear of recurrence. 

What if the cancer comes back?
What if I don't notice it until it's too late?
Am I doing everything I can to prolong my life?

This is tough stuff kids. Facing your own mortality isn't for the faint of heart, but neither is a cancer diagnosis. It robs us of so many things, peace of mind being one of them. With every major milestone, birthday, etc. I find myself thinking, 

Did we take enough photos?
Was I in any of them?
Is this the video my kids will watch to remember me? 
Will they remember my voice, my smile, my laugh?
Will they remember how fiercely I loved them and their dad?
Will I be here to see the next milestone?

365 days. 365 opportunities to change my life for the better and to touch the lives of others. 365 chances to make that day, the best day. 365 days to LIVE. 

I can't take that for granted for one single solitary second.

The last year has rocked my world. I never would have expected this to happen. But now that cancer is in the rear view mirror, I can see how my life's events have lead me to this moment. And great things are ahead for me. After a few more trips around the sun...