Find Your Why

July 23, 2012 § 1 Comment

As much as I want to go to bed right now, I can’t fall another day behind in the 101 days of blogging challenge! So here I am ready to talk about “Leverage Your Big Why’s: Know the specific reasons your health matters to you. Write them down where you’ll see them daily.” Sadly, this will be a quick post as it is near and dear to my heart.

Nine months ago I lost my best friend to breast cancer. Erin was the most beautiful woman I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. She was full of life. Vibrant, vivacious, loving, kind. She left this world all too early at just 34 years of age. She should have had a lifetime of loving and living.

Eighty days ago, my father literally dropped dead at 61 years. Something I never thought could possibly happen. He died immediately of a massive heart attack, just 15 minutes after delivering a speech to hundreds of people. He didn’t have a single warning sign. The first sign of heart disease was death.

These are my why’s. These are the reasons I want to be healthy. I don’t even need to write them down because they weigh so heavily on my heart.

I want to live a full life. To be active and able to do whatever it is I want to do. To explore the world. To hike, to travel, to sail, to see and to dream.

To be there for my loved ones. To be there for my mom and sister, to watch my husband grow old over many many years, to one day raise children and watch their lives evolve before me.

Because I refuse to be another statistic. I refuse to put my family through the pain of disease. I refuse to leave this world before I’m done. That is why I want to be healthy. That is what motivates me. That is what reminds me to make today count.

Miss you daddy.

Listen to Your Gut

July 16, 2012 § 2 Comments

I’m desperate to catch up with Sarah on the 101 days of blogging challenge. As I’m several days behind, today’s going to be a 3 for 1. Here are acts 5, 6, and 7 of the 101 revolutionary ways to be healthy: Repossess Your Health, Redefine Your Role, and Practice Medicine Without A License. As these three go hand in hand, I think it is OK that we discuss them together today.

Far too often we rely on others and don’t do enough due diligence. I think we spend more time comparing which car or computer to buy then we do considering the state of our health. Afterall, if everything is working right (or seemingly) why worry?

Well, far too often people get very sick or die too soon because they avoided the signs. I really wonder if my dad had signs before his heart attack. He certainly never told any of us if he did. It’s something that constantly nags at me and quite honestly makes me really scared about my own future, and that of those I love.

But what I want to talk about today, is paying attention to the signs you do see – or feel. My best friend passed away last October. She was the brightest, most vibrant, loving woman I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. Her death is a loss to us all and something I’m still grappling with. When I think of her story, it makes me sick to my stomach. She had warning signs. She had a lump. And despite numerous doctors visits and attempts to raise concern over this lump, it was dismissed. You can read her story in her own words here.

Finally my friend took matters into her own hands, but it was too late. By the time she demanded a mammogram, she was told she had stage 4 breast cancer and it had spread. She battled that vicious disease with a vengeance for three years, determined to make it through. In the end, it was another warning sign that she persisted on and that the doctors dismissed that ended up beating her in the end. She had what appeared to be a knot in her neck. They told her to get a massage. By the time they investigated and listened to her pleading for them to pay attention – again, it was too late.

If my friend had been diagnosed early with breast cancer the first time she felt that lump, she would most likely be with us today. If the doctors had listened to her with the second lump in her neck, who knows – but I believe they failed her.

Why are we so quick to listen to others? Why don’t we listen to our guts? I think men want to be strong and disregard warnings, thinking they are invincible. But women, I don’t understand. I think we are just too trusting and scared of being perceived as paranoid. But when it comes to our health – we should be paranoid.

We should be demanding.

We should be ruthless.

Revolutionary Act #5: Repossess Your Health: Reclaim responsibility for your well-being; own your daily choices; minimize your reliance on the broken sick-care system.

It is not your doctor’s job to watch out for your well being. It is your job. Own it.

Revolutionary Act #6: Redefine Your Role: You are not a “healthcare consumer.” You are a human being. You may be experiencing an illness or other health challenge right now, but remember that good health is your body’s natural state.

You are a human being! You deserve an answer. Having anything uncomfortable or slightly alarming is not normal. Trust your insticts. Get it checked out. Even if you might come off as paranoid. Do it. Now.

Revolutionary Act #7: Practice Medicine Without A License:  Research your own conditions and treatment alternatives, ask questions, and seek second opinions with impunity. Leverage the expertise of trained pros, but don’t allow it to eclipse your own informed instincts about what’s best for you.

I am still amazed at what I saw my friend go through. One of her final treatment was a result of her finding it on the internet! They weren’t even going to offer it because it was costly and dangerous. Don’t leave your health in someone else’s hands.

Be demanding.

Be ruthless.

No one else has your best interest at heart like you do. Take your rightful place front and center in the health care line and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

Love, Loss, and Learnings

October 25, 2011 § 11 Comments

Sometimes life doesn’t seem to make any sense at all. No matter how we put the pieces together they just don’t add up. We are left scratching for meaning, desperate to find some hidden realization below the surface.

I’ve already been exposed to much loss in my life. I’ve always been able to come to terms with it one way or another. But this loss has struck me hard – my dear friend Erin passed away last Monday after her courageous 3 year battle with breast cancer. Always optimistic and a beacon of hope, it is hard to believe the unthinkable happened.

Erin taught me so much, it is hard to take it all in. I learned the most from her as I watched her fight cancer – diagnosed at stage 4, she lived every moment to the fullest, continuing to realize her hopes and dreams. Even going on to get married to the love of her life in a castle in Spain. She was unstoppable.

Thinking back, it was actually Erin who first introduced me to veganism years ago. At the time, I didn’t pay much attention to the facts she was giving me but now realize the profound effect they had and will continue to have on me. She had just been diagnosed and decided to meet that diagnosis with a fight – her new world consisted of juicing and yoga daily as well as a mostly vegan diet.

In fact, my newfound veganism was renewed while reading Crazy, Sexy, Diet by cancer survivor Kris Carr. Erin introduced me to the book a few months ago, and I have no doubt it will continue to influence me and my food choices for the rest of my life.

I think its normal to find yourself filled with regret at the loss of a loved one. There are many things I regret; ironically, or not, my biggest regret is not cooking for her the last time I saw her. Her cancer was spreading and making it difficult for her to perform basic tasks around the house – including cooking. I had just taken her to her last radiation appointment and tried to convince her to let me come over that weekend and cook for her. She said not to bother, she’d be OK. Unfortunately, I listened.

If you’ve found this post – please take the time read Erin’s story in her own words here. No woman should be diagnosed at stage 4. I hope what she went through will be a lesson learned for all young women to take signs of risk seriously. And if you’re thinking of cooking a lovely meal for someone just because – do it. I wish I had for her.

Erin, I miss you.


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