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Welcome to the DebiLyn Smith blog site. If you like what you read here, check out her website at

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Debi's Detox Plan In Action

Today is day seven of my own concocted Detox regime.

I questioned my radiologist and oncologist about performing a detoxification right after my treatments ended, but neither felt it was necessary. There is a lot of information on the Internet and in health food stores that say otherwise. I figure, what can it hurt?

The basic fact is my organs and skin have been exposed to some pretty traumatizing elements. Between the chemo, radiation and who knows what I was exposed to when passed out on the surgical table...twice, (there wasn't a list attached to my toe when I woke up) I can only assume there are lingering issues that should get flushed out somehow.

Between the CT scans and sixteen radiation treatments alone, I am amazed I don't glow at night. When I called to make an appointment for the breast thermal imaging at the Findlandia Pharmacy in Vancouver, the clinician suggested I soak for an hour in 2 kilos of aluminum free baking soda and 2 kilos of sea salt mixed in a warm bath to help neutralize the effects of all that radiation. My husband worried about our septic field (which I checked on-line and it seems both are great for your septic!). I worried my skin would turn even whiter. I already look like a marshmallow and am determined not to use the sun tanning booths before our upcoming holiday to Costa Rica. I soaked without incident and it felt good enough to do it the once a week for a month that was called for. As I said, what harm?

The second thing I did to detox was omit dairy, processed foods and wheat from my diet and limit sugar to absolute necessity (OK, there were four drinks in there which I am ashamed of because on a scale of one to ten, they were only a six in needi-ness). But you get the picture.

For two weeks I'm taking First Cleanse capsules first thing in the morning and then right before I go to bed. This system says it cleanses "the entire body" and after my morning ablutions this first seven days, I believe it!

I am flushing the pills down with a quart a day of organic apple juice. Apple juice and apple cider vinegar have long been used as a natural liver detox program. You can google this and get your own three day regime to follow. Nothing but juice and vinegar for three days. A bit too intense for me, not wanting to inflict any more pain than is necessary on myself for a good long while. Enough is enough already.

The final part of my Detox plan is three one-hour infra-red sauna sessions. My friends have one so they turn up the heat to 100 for me to start in and it rises gradually to max 120 while I sit in there and sweat and sweat and sweat. I brought my Gregarian Chillout CD and listened to a Divine Light Invocation as well to help enlighten my mind as well as my body. (Can't hurt...)

They say a healthy mental state is as important as a healthy body. I plan on absorbing as many yoga classes in Costa Rica as I can stand the week we are at our all-inclusive (no de-toxing that week!)

I will be finished this regime by Wednesday of next week. So far my skin feels silky smooth and I have more energy than the past month. That might be from the detox or the new vitamin plan I have been on since the radiation ended. Either way, I plan on keeping up this list of essentials for at least the five years I am on Tamoxifin, if not for the rest of my life.

This includes:

Natural Factors women's multi-vitamin

NF Hi-potency B complex NF wild fish oil (anchovy and sardine)

Jarrow Formula Bone-Up (calcium/magnesium supplement)

Vitamin D 300 IU

NF Mixed Vitamin E 400IU to be taken with the following:

NF Green tea extract 300 mg (each capsule is like drinking 30 cups of tea)

And one teaspoon of Trophic's Green Essential with Anti-oxidants (contains spirulina, kamut juice, goji berry, acai berry and beet juices) mixed into water.

Practical or not, , its the mere thought that I am helping myself that puts me way ahead of the game.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Flash My What?!!!

The treatments may have ended (February 18th to be exact) but the saga continues. I have settled into life on the drug Tamoxifin quite nicely. Other than the bi-hourly hot flash my mood has improved, my energy level is back and good news for my poor husband: my long lost libido has returned.

It has taken four months to grow back one inch of hair on the top of my head. Is it slower to grow when its grey? The very crown is thick like someone dumped an entire packet of carrot seeds in the one spot and now it will have to be thinned so that any single one can grow. Its headed the way of my father's 1965 brush cut. Now that there's a shadow of color, albeit the wrong one, atop my head, some of my girlfriends have tried to get me to leave the wig/ball cap/ kerchief/ doily off. That always prompts the challenge for them to sit with me in the lounge with their grey hair shining through. We all spend hundreds of dollars a year covering up the fact that we have grey and white roots, that we are aging. So why would anyone figure it would be OK to flash it all now? When I fully intend to get it dyed as soon as the medical world permits (my books say 6 months, but my step-mom was told 2 months so I'm going with her. Maybe I should keep asking and find someone that will say one month! ha). Believe-it-or-not, some men still think our foiled fake hair is real. Am I to be the one to disillusion them? To let them see that its impossible for a 51 year-old to actually have a full coloured head of hair? Sorry guys: the waist-line you could wrap your hands around until your fingers touched, the firm tight spots you loved in our twenties and the naturally blond-streaked hair had to be sacrificed for the joys of mother and grandmotherhood, for our finer age of clarity and wisdom. (...seeing clearly that the grey hair ages us, enough to put dangerous chemicals on our scalp every 6-8 weeks. Okay, so maybe not too wise? But its not like we don't know what we're doing. That would be different, right?)

This past week I have slept comfortably without a beanie on my noggin'. I still reach for a hat when at the ski hill and I have to run to the outhouse in the middle of the night. Not because someone might see me, but because it gets cold!

When people ask how I'm doing ( as their eyebrows furrow in like this is so serious and they wait for me to tell them something they probably do not want to hear) I respond with a cheerful "Great! The hardest part of my day is growing hair and that's coming along just fine, thank you." Their relief is almost palpable. I am starting a second drug to compliment the Tamoxifin on Thursday. I'll keep you posted on any growths of third arms, any signs of a cyclopian eye sprouting in the middle of my forehead or the like.

Side Note: I managed to find some hair dye at the health food store that is ammonia, resorcinol and paraben free. I'll let you know if it works!

Monday, March 21, 2011

When Do I Become A Survivor?

When does one begin to say they are a breast cancer survivor? I have finished the treatments. The medical profession has cut, poisoned and nuked the part of me that contained the psychotically rapid dividing cells known as cancer. I did survive that, with some scary moments of wondering involved. Or do I have to wait until the recommended five years of drug therapy is finished to declare "I made it!" If , that is, I do make it?
I don't want to be ridiculed at a cancer march or a run for the cure as they applaud the champions who beat this disease when I have yet to find out if indeed we did "get it all" or if there is some little piece that survived, starting to multiply some place else as we speak.
It's a very real concern. Worse than the nightmare about going to Sunday school without my underwear on.
I don't know what to trust anymore. My body let me down once. Will it do it again?
They say that one third of women with hormone dependant tumors (like mine) will have a recurrence. Better than half of those five years or more after surgery. Because I opted for the adjunct therapy (the chemo and radiation) combined with surgery my chance of the cancer coming back goes down. I think I'm at a 3-5% chance. It's still enough to make you worry. I've beaten lower odds before in the luck-less life lottery.
Saying you're a survivor implies the war is over but for me, the battle has just begun. This is going to be a life-long assault of learning and doing what I can to survive not just now, but for as many years as I can squeak out of this body.
So despite everything that's been done, I'm determined to keep the numbers on my side. It's a betting game with no guarantees and you must do what you can to help. Swallow large fish oil and Green Tea capsules (anti-oxidants), stuff in the blueberries by the handful, drink the green spirulina/algae with your nose pinched, drag your butt to the swimming pool, fill those lungs with good clean fresh air, drink water not wine and whatever you do ...don't sweat the small stuff.
Possibly when I'm on my last breath, when I have lived a much longer life, I will finally declare myself a breast cancer survivor. Until then...Game On!

Crack The Champagne

It's official enough to crack the champagne- an incredibly delicious bottle of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, compliments of Terry Halpin. He gave it to me when the cancer-thing began and said it was for celebrating once I reached the other end of the situation. And I think I've done that! I'm still a little tired after I exert myself, like on Sunday when Sandi and I ran our usual 40 minutes through Houston or today when I swam at the pool. These excursions are usually followed by a mandatory nap as I can barely stay awake for the day if I don't. The side scars from the lymph node removal and the drainage tube still bother me. Its like I have a second armpit; the indent is quite pronounced. I saw my massage therapist who manipulated the skin around the scar to loosen the sticking fascia. It feels better but still aches after a day of skiing and jarring myself on the moguls or reaching for the next stroke in the pool. The nerve endings are repairing from the shoulder to the elbow joint so I can feel a lot more now. But the greatest thing is the past month of semi-depression seems to be lifting. It's difficult when you get spit out at the end of your treatments. You now have time to face everything that happened. You have to look at yourself- at what now faces you in the mirror-and re-evaluate. You have to forgive your old self, accept your new self and face the fact that this might not be the end of "that" side-road. That there might be a re-lapse, a different cancer pop up after all that radiation, a side-effect might appear from the chemo drugs, from the new drugs, from fate itself. You tell yourself you can take whatever comes and you mostly mean it. You've come so far already. OMG. Look at how far I HAVE come. Did I really go through that Hell and survive? And that's why you get depressed. It's an emotional process of shedding off the old skin and trying to get comfortable in this new, cut-up and re-sewn, blasted and poisoned short-haired body that remains. Just add a little eyeshadow, pencil in some eyebrows and set the alarm clock. No napping ALL day for this girl!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The exhaustion has finally started to set in. Quite possibly because we are in a whirlwind of normal life on the ski hill. That includes packing then dragging everything up on our backs in packs (water included) and then lighting the fire and unpacking between secondary and even third loads up to the cabin. It takes a few hours to get the chill out of the air enough to unpack the lettuce and cucumbers and a full six hours before you can relax comfortably without your coat and boots on. Then the socializing begins. This weekend starts with the usual Thrilling Thursday with free appys and draws for goodies starting at 4 pm, then people for dinner. I've been cooking two days for that! Ribs and Heloise's spaghetti sauce (made with bacon and beef! You can google it). No time even to make a proper dessert.
Then we load it all up 4 days later and drag it all back down (the spent battery packs, the empty bottles and water jugs, laundry, food), taking it home to unpack and put away again. Lock and reload days later. Sigh.
Trying to catch up with even my closest friends and family has seemed next to impossible- I have been calling people with the phone tilted to my ear as I chop, stir, fold clothes, research the Internet or dusted. With only 3 nights at home before returning to the mountain, the household chores start piling up. No wonder I am so tired these days! I literally "crash" flopping to the couch or bed not able to muster enough energy to get up for a glass ofd water.
Ridiculous. When will I learn to slow down?
Then again, I bought a card for a friend's 60th that says to live it up now. You can rest when you're dead. Maybe that's what this go-go-go is all about? Nuh, this is just my normal rate. Guess I'm not back to full speed yet. I'll get there.
Thankfully now I have to run! Off we go again. TTYS