Metastatic cancer was my lemon. Embracing and writing about a clean lifestyle is my lemonade.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 31. It came out of left field. There was no family history, and no side effects or signs other than a lump. So my husband told me to go get “one of those mammogram things.” I did and the results revealed invasive ductal carcinoma aka breast cancer.
Being so young and relatively inexperienced when it came to adversity, I had no idea what to expect following the diagnosis. I assumed cancer would not only take over my daily routine, but also make my newly-wed husband and me incredibly depressed and miserable. But what I found was that while cancer was devastating, we were not devastated.
It was horrifying to think of the “what ifs,” but my husband and I were good cancer students. We listened closely and followed all the suggested protocols. After getting through the initial surgeries and chemo treatments, we felt confident cancer was just a scary but closed chapter in our story. Our tales included experiencing new events together like shaving our heads, enjoying chemo parties, eating sushi in our homemade pagoda and watching lots of good cable TV. All of it together helped us focus on the positive and brought some much-needed smiles to our faces.
I was proud that I gracefully smiled at surgery, chemo and hair loss back then. And I was even more delighted when I was able to jump back into the corporate rat race and perform extremely well in intense work environments. Unfortunately, however, my workaholic tendencies took me further away from taking care of myself. And the scary part is that I wasn’t even realizing the damage that I was doing to myself. I bragged about waking up at 3 a.m. to send emails. I drank a week’s worth of caffeine before 10 a.m. My mind was always running, multi-tasking efforts and seldom slowing down. Too busy for lunch or a workout, I often ate low-fat potato chips from the vending machine, thinking I was “eating healthy.” It wasn’t until I was diagnosed again, this time with stage IV breast cancer, that I realized I needed to embrace my cancer life, not just look to get past it. So, in addition to several medical opinions, I started my own research journey on taking small steps toward wellness and a cleaner lifestyle.
I’ve always been passionate about health and fitness, so when I got the results of the second cancer, I utilized my resource-driven, organizational business skills and got to work on figuring out my integrative health (aka cancer life plan). Part of this process included my husband and me building a blog so that I could report on my findings. Http://PrettyWellness.com represents my research, experiences, interviews, observations, thoughts and goofy moments on the journey toward wellness. For me, what used to be about being pretty was now about being well. And Pretty Wellness is where I chronicle this transformation.
As a somewhat fashion-forward, beauty-product lover and fitness follower, I tried some of the tactics detailed in blog posts. In the past it was done in an effort to look better. But now I’m truly committed for the long term. I eat, sleep, breathe, and exercise differently now that my goal is about sustaining long-term health and wellness, not strictly trying to look good in a dress for an upcoming event.
While I never wanted to be “that girl with cancer,” my experiences and the lessons learned from them landed me with this powerful opportunity to help others realize that we can thrive even with a bad diagnosis. While my story is of cancer, my message is about taking small steps to better your own health. I used to be that girl that was too busy to do anything. Now I write, post and speak to that busy girl, the one that needed to take it one step at a time, so that she could realistically implement change. The girl who was too tired to research on her own, but really wanted to be healthier.
Now I’m 41 and look better, feel more joy and live the life I want to live because of the small changes I’ve made in my diet, exercise, home and beauty regimens. I wish I would have known this way back when, so now I share my stories to educate, entertain and inspire others to take care of themselves.
For more about my journey, please visit: http://prettywellness.com