04 October 2012

Double Confirmed

First, a little cul-tchuh. "Double Confirmed!" was/is a catch phrase from a local game show hosted by Singapore celebrity Hossan Leong. Here's a promo:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMg74wtYEeg



And just for fun and because I've just learned how to embed, here's another one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exXYOqwLF3Q&feature=relmfu



But seriously folks, what is "double confirmed" is that I am now REALLY past the two year mark. The previous celebration was for being two years past my diagnosis. But 22 September marked two years of being CANCER FREE. That was the anniversary of my surgery, and once they removed the tumor I was free of the offensiveness that had invaded my body.

The fact that it's been over nearly two weeks since that milestone, and a month since my last post, indicates to me that it's time to draw a line under this event in my life.

So faithful reader(s) this will be my last post.

I wanted to make if official because I didn't want to just stop posting, and for you to be checking back regularly, refreshing, refreshing, refreshing in the fading hope that I might have something more to say on the topic.

I do think about various things to blog about, but it usually happens when I'm out somewhere and don't have my blogging tools (ie computer) with me. Wouldn't it be great is someone came up with a computer you could take with you? That would be so cool.

If I have more to say, maybe I'll start another blog. But more likely I'll just post links on Facebook. If you're not my Facebook friend -- why not?? This is crazy, but friend me maybe.

One last thought:

One topic that I had thought to blog about was "cancer in the movies." There are a number of classics: Love Story, Terms of Endearment, 50/50 (not exactly a classic - yet.) But what started me thinking about it was a true classic, "Dark Victory," from 1939 starring Bette Davis with Humphrey Bogart in a supporting role. It has that snappy 30's dialogue, illogical plot developments, scene chewing acting, great dresses, and martinis. But it's also a very moving depiction of how to handle a catastrophic illness (in this case a glioma. Who makes movies about gliomas?!) on your own terms. A well deserved Oscar nomination for Bette. (I'm sure she would have won had it not been for her competitor that year -- Vivien Leigh in that little flick called "Gone with the Wind.") The closing scene of Dark Victory is incredibly powerful, peaceful and beautiful. Go Bette!

Now, Go Katie! On with life! Thank you all for your support these past two years. I love you all!!

###

04 September 2012

Food, Glorious Food!

Reading through this has made me very hungry, so I will be brief because it's lunch time. My doctor has been preaching the super-food sermon to me for a while. I eat and actually like brussels sprouts (sauteed in (organic) butter and topped with Parmesan cheese,) we have steak about twice a month, snack on pistachios and other nuts, coffee goes without saying (though not six cups for crying out loud), and partake of most of these other foods regularly. But it's good to have a list. Now off to the market for some curry. Yum!

Top 10 Superfoods for Women

Fitness Magazine By Hallie Levine Sklar

Ever wonder if your diet is missing something? Add our expert-approved, eat-right picks to stay lean, healthy, and strong.
 
The Cancer Fighter
Don't let brussels sprouts' signature scent turn you off. "The smell is a compound called allyl isothiocyanate that causes precancerous cells to self-destruct," Jonny Bowden, PhD, author of 'The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth' says. "It's entirely possible that eating them every few weeks could help greatly reduce the incidence of colon cancer."
Bonus benefits: These mini-cabbages are packed with fiber and immune-boosting vitamins C and A.

The "Skinny" Steak
Red meat has a bad rap. The thing is, it really is good for you. Ideally, go for a cut that is both lean and grass-fed. A recent report from the Union of Concerned Scientists shows that meat from grass-fed cows usually has more conjugated linoleic acid (which has been shown in animal studies to combat cancer) and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids than the grain-fed variety. Plus, meat from grass-fed cows is lower in total fat and calories. As long as your serving is a lean cut, such as tenderloin, feel free to make this smart choice two or three times a week, says Bowden.
Bonus benefits: Beef is a great source of protein, iron (a mineral that one in five women are deficient in), and heart-healthy B vitamins.

The "It" Spice

Curry may very well be the spice of life: Curcumin, the antioxidant that gives the condiment its color, has been shown to halt tumor growth and destroy cancer cells in lab tests. "Our research revealed that this ingredient may help prevent a variety of diseases, including multiple myeloma, lymphoma, and breast, ovarian, and pancreatic cancers," says Bharat Aggarwal, PhD, a professor of cancer medicine at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. At this point, it's still unclear exactly how much curry you should eat to help avoid disease, Aggarwal says. Experts simply recommend using the spice liberally to reap the rewards. For recipes, check out the book 5 Spices, 50 Dishes, by Ruta Kahate.
Bonus benefits: The antioxidants found in curry may also help break up plaques in the brain that cause Alzheimer's disease, say UCLA scientists.

The Next Nut

Pistachios are the new health nut. Why is that? New research from the University of Toronto shows that they may reduce the risk of diabetes by decreasing the effect of carbs on blood sugar levels. "Pistachios are high in protein, fiber, and healthy monounsaturated fat," explains study author Cyril Kendall, PhD, "all of which contribute to the slowing of carbohydrate absorption in the body."
Bonus benefits: Other recent research has shown that eating two to three ounces of pistachios a day can help significantly raise your level of good cholesterol (HDL). Pistachios are full of vitamin B6 and copper, too, which help increase energy.

The Java Junkie's Dream
Rejoice! Your morning cup of joe is healthy. Experts on an American Society for Nutrition panel recently concluded that drinking three to five eight-ounce cups a day lowers your risk of Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's, and colon and liver cancers. "Among other things, the antioxidants in coffee protect your cells and DNA from damage," Bowden says. "Coffee seems to increase antioxidants in the blood, too."
Bonus benefits: Women who drink at least six cups a day are less likely to develop high blood pressure, revealed a 2005 study by Harvard scientists.

The Heart-Smart Whole Grain
One of the easiest ways to significantly lower your cholesterol is to eat whole-grain oatmeal daily, reports a British review of 10 studies. The fiber in oatmeal forms a gel that slows down your body's absorption of cholesterol.
Bonus benefits: "People who eat oatmeal for breakfast tend to stay full all morning and consume less at lunch, due in part to the protein and fiber," says Dave Grotto, RD, a nutritionist in Chicago and a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

The Fit Fish
"Shrimp is about 90 calories per three-ounce serving, it has virtually no fat, and it's packed with protein, making it the ultimate diet food," says Ellie Krieger, RD, host of the Food Network's Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger. It may even help prevent heart disease, thanks to astaxanthin, the antioxidant that gives the shellfish its red tint. "People shy away from shrimp because it's high in cholesterol, but cholesterol in food is much less likely to raise your blood cholesterol than, say, trans fat," says Kathy McManus, RD, a FITNESS advisory board member and director of the department of nutrition at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. Moreover, eating about a cup of shrimp daily can raise your good cholesterol level, found a Rockefeller University study.
Bonus benefits: Shrimp is also rich in cancer-fighting selenium and bone-building vitamin D.

The Sweet Surprise
Enjoying a small amount of flavonoid-filled dark chocolate may prevent clogged arteries and reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Also, eating up to 3.6 ounces daily can be as effective as beta-blockers and ACE inhibitors at lowering blood pressure, notes a recent Archives of Internal Medicine study.
Bonus benefits: Studies have shown that eating chocolate releases serotonin, the feel-better brain chemical.

The Red Wonder

Take two tart cherries and call me in the morning. While your doc may not say that yet, she might soon: A new animal study from University of Michigan shows that consuming a powdered version of tart cherries can lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, as well as decrease the body's ability to store fat in the liver. It's not yet known if cherry-rich diets will have a similar effect on people, but University of Michigan researchers are hopeful.
Bonus benefits: People who exercised and drank two 12-ounce glasses of tart cherry juice daily for eight days reported less muscle pain than those who sipped a placebo, finds a 2006 study.

The Trendy Tomato

Red tomatoes are full of lycopene, a substance that helps lower your risk of cancer, heart disease, and macular degeneration. But orange tomatoes offer two and a half times more. Apparently, they contain a form that the body can more easily absorb.
Bonus benefits: One cup of orange tomatoes provides 338 percent of the RDA for vitamin A.

31 August 2012

Celebrating more than a birthday

What? Another birthday? They do roll around quickly.

What a wonderful week of celebrating with not one, but TWO nice dinners out with Mike. The first was at Alkaff Mansion, a new experience for us, and the second was at Absisnthe, one of our favorite places where we've celebrated a number of birthdays and anniversaries. Both meals were excellent and I must confess I greatly exceeding my wine quota for the week at each meal. (I'm pretty sure my doctor doesn't read my blog.)

Now I'm busy trying to learn how to use my new birthday gifts.
  • A new Polar fitness trainer. With GPS. That's so I can track where I've gone. Or maybe it's so MIKE can track where I've gone. Either way, it's a pretty sophisticated little device.


  • A Golf Buddy range finder that supposedly has the capacity to tell you where you are on 40-thousand different courses around the world. We'll be putting it to the test tomorrow.


And talk about burying the lead. Here's the latest news about me (redundant if you're a member of my fambily and got my email yesterday) and the real reason I'm celebrating:
 
I had my regular checkup with my oncologist this week. The news is all good. The blood tests all came back just fine. No anemia, Vitamin D levels are super strong, insulin levels are super low. These were all things that had been problematic before, but no more.

The even better news is that it has now been two years since my diagnosis. The doc said if there is no recurrence in the first two years the chance for recurrence goes down significantly. So the next milestone is the five-year mark. That seems a long way off from now, so I take it a day at a time.

In the meantime, please all take care of your selves, go for your screenings, eat well, drink less and enjoy life.

24 August 2012

There's an ap for that

Thank you to the  Noreen Fraser Foundation  for alerting me to this:

NBCF + IPhone = Detect Breast Cancer

The National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) recently announced the inauguration of its new free iPhone app, the Early Detection Plan (EDP).
Janelle Hail, founder and CEO at the National Breast Cancer Foundation and a breast cancer survivor herself, felt the app was an idea that was desperately needed by women worldwide.
Hail was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1980 at the age of 34. As a result of early detection, she underwent a Mastectomy and was cured of the disease.
Soon after her recovery, her survival kindled a passion inside her – the passion to save other women before it was too late. Hail has devoted her life to women, educating them about the importance of Early Detection, as well as providing free mammograms to those who cannot afford them.
The Early Detection Plan is free to use and can be downloaded on iTunes. The primary goal of this app is to help women become more proactive in detecting the early warning signs of breast cancer. The apps user-friendly approach makes it easier for women to schedule reminders to perform self-breast exams on a regular basis via push button notifications.
The program also helps women to maintain a regular schedule of getting clinical breast exams, as well as mammograms.
The app is easy to use and can be tailored to match each individual. By inputting age and medical history, the app will automatically determine appropriate scheduling for self-tests and professional exams.
The rationale is that by making women more aware of how important early detection is, the chances of survival should the unthinkable occur are greatly increased.
It’s predicted that if the recommendations made by the app are rigidly followed, the chances of survival are approximately 98 percent. Unfortunately, due to lack of proper knowledge, around 30 percent of women are currently diagnosed with breast cancer after it has already spread beyond cure.
Hail is very steadfast in her contention that the app is built to save lives. She believes it is beneficial for both detecting the early signs of cancer and teaching women how to correctly perform self-tests. Setting vital reminders for scheduling professional exams is the icing-on-the-cake.

23 August 2012

A long weekend...













This is more of a Facebook post or Tweet, but since I don't put ALL my details on Facebook and never Tweet, here's the latest:

Gave blood today. Meet with the doc to review test results on Wednesday.

That is all. I still have 47 characters left if I did indeed want to Tweet about it.

Now for the long weekend, though. Not long as in having extra days off, but long in the sense that I have to wait nearly a week to get the results. Well, I don't HAVE to wait. I could go in tomorrow and get most of them. But I don't like meeting with the doctor when he only has about 80 percent of the results. Also, if you know me well you'll know why I want to wait until Wednesday to hear anything the doctor has to say. I'll give you a hint: Wednesday is August 29th. Still can't figure it out? Well, you don't know me very well then.

To be clear -- this is my regularly scheduled check-in. I'm not having any symptoms or issues that would cause me to run to the doctor. But I'll let you know what he says -- after the 29th.




09 August 2012

GONNNGGGGGG!!!!!

I am always on the lookout for things to keep me healthy -- physically and mentally. I'm doing pretty well with the diet and exercise, but the mental aspect eludes me. I keep trying different meditation techniques, but my mind is just too chatty. Still, I persist.

My latest experiment -- Gong Meditation. And not just any gong meditation -- Full Moon Gong Meditation. This has intrigued me for some time. There is a woman who offers these sessions at the yoga studio I attend. I've just never been able to fit the full moon into my schedule. Finally -- the planets aligned and I was able to attend a class on August 1st.

I went in with no expectations and an open mind. The instructor didn't say much about what to expect anyway, because she didn't want to prejudice the experience. (If you think you might be giving this a try yourself stop reading now.)

There were about 10 students, some of whom had attended these sessions before and some who were newbies like me. It started with the burning of some sage -- quite lovely. Then we did some very basic yoga moving and breathing exercises. And then it was time.

Lie down, lights off, windows open, sun setting, full moon rising -- you get the picture.

GONNGG!!!!

Wha--?! 

It wasn't just Gong... Gong.... Gong... like Big Ben marking the hour.

It was one loud GONNNNGGGG that kept going and going and getting louder and Louder and LOUDER until it was nearly unbearable! It was like screeching metal and deep vibrato and clashing cymbals and scratching records all swirling through the room with out-of-control surround sound.

The instructor had mentioned that as our bodies are 98% (her figure) water the vibration of the gong may affect the water in our bodies.

Bloody hell!

It felt like the water in my body was trying to shoot out through every pore in my skin. I wanted to jump up and bolt out of the room. It took all my strength just to stay there and not embarrass myself. I did open my eyes and peek around. Everyone else looked like they were having a blissfully grand time.

The gonging came in waves. After the first crescendo she backed off a little and it was a not-unpleasant interlude of soothing metallic sounds (if there is such a thing.) But before long she was whipping it up again! I knew what to expect at this point though so I didn't fa-reeeek out.

This went on through 3 or 4 cycles until she sounded the final gong. Whew!

Afterwords she asked new people like myself for our reaction. I said, in an understated way, "Well, it was a little louder than I expected." "It gets louder," she says. I also said, again understatedly, that it was kind of intense. "In a good way? Or uncomfortable?" she asks. "A little uncomfortable," the new understated me says. "Hmmm," she says.

But you know what? The next day I felt GREAT!!



 


27 July 2012

Motivation

Many years ago I attended a talk by a "motivational speaker." I forget the precise topic but the general idea was that she was going to provide insight into how we can get up every morning, seize the day, be the best, blah, blah, blah. She said that on days when you feel bad, no matter how bad, you can always find something to feel good about. Even if it's the fact that the fingernail on your left pinky looks good today, she said, that's something to get you going.

At the time I thought that was about the dumbest thing I had ever heard a motivational speaker say. I'm supposed to get excited about my left pinky nail? That's a reason to get out of bed!?

Well years have gone by and upon reflection -- I still think that's about the stupidest thing I've ever heard a motivational speaker say. If your left pinky nail is the highlight of your day, you need to make some changes.

Not motivational
However, that's not to say there are not little things that can motivate you, inspire you, make you stop and think, make you grateful, make you go, "hmm." Every morning when I throw back the curtains the sun is coming up over the neighboring rooftops. Although it shines right into my sleepy eyes, I'm grateful for the new day and the opportunities it presents. On many days I go for a walk to and through the nearby Singapore Botanic Garden. It's is a beautiful place and no matter how many times I go there I always see something new.

A few days ago, though, even before I got to the Garden, I was stopped in my tracks by the most amazing example of Mother Nature's creativity. It was just dangling from a wild vine, hanging over the sidewalk along a busy urban street:

 
Motivational, or at least inspirational

I had to pause to appreciate it. A Singaporean man walking by slowed down enough to say, "Lantern," so maybe this is known as a lantern flower? I don't know -- but it certainly brightened my day.

And talk about motivation! I had to go back TWICE to get a decent picture of it. I actually thought about it for a couple of day -- what camera to take, what angle to shoot to show it off best, etc. And that's what motivates me: the promise of seeing something new, learning something new, having a new experience, exploring a new country or even new hidden gem in a city I thought I already knew pretty well. You just never know what gorgeous surprise is around the corner, so keep your eyes open!

 My photo mission is accomplished. So now it's on to my next mission -- manicure!