The cancer clinic at the UI is beautiful, full of colorful glass chandeliers, soft lighting and lovely images. There is an infusion therapy desk at the entrance, and tables and comfortable chairs seated in random patterns for families to wait and converse.
In spite of the calm and tranquility the decor inspires, as soon as I stepped foot in the clinic on Friday my anxiety levels shot sky high. Even though both a 3D mammogram and ultrasound were pronounced “normal” by the radiologist on Monday, the final nurse I saw in the breast clinic last week wanted me to do a fine needle aspiration just to make sure that the palpable lump she could see clearly on the mammogram was just fibrous tissue.
The breast nurse (a highly trained nurse who has taken a big interest in breast cancer and breast issues) had the most valuable information I have heard yet. She was very empathetic about my weight gain and immediately made connections between my thyroid deficiency, my endometriosis and my age. We all know that estrogen increases and progesterone decreases in perimenopause; that’s why women stop ovulating eventually. What I didn’t know is that excess estrogen basically can really slow down my metabolism and that my thyroid disease also blocks the receptors in my body and tricks my body into producing even more estrogen.
We discussed ways I could cut back on estrogen production, by eating even more organic food since chemicals in processed food and in sprays can cause increased estrogen production. (There are xenoestrogens, or estrogens in food/meat that is injected with hormones.) We talked about parabens in cosmetics, and also stress reduction.
Stress reduction. With a forced smile I told her that normally running is my big de-stresser, but I can’t. And the plantar fasciitis doesn’t appear to be responding very quickly to therapy, so I’m not going to be running soon.
Of course, I could be biking and swimming more than I have. But somehow I’ve felt terribly lethargic and depressed this last week. It’s been a vicious hormonal cycle. The nurse explained a lot about cortisol. Our body’s normal response to stress is to produce cortisol to calm us down. Too much cortisol also makes fat cells stick to our bodies and not break down. It can cause depression, sleepiness and all the other symptoms I’m having.
After reading about cortisol, I’m not even sure I want to be tested to see if I have excess cortisol. There no cure for it. Basically I need to reduce stress in my life.
My status as an adjunct faculty member and freelance musician does not make this easy. I know I can’t make money grow on trees, but it is a constant worry. This summer my “fallback” job of online scoring has been very disappointing. In the last two years there was plenty of summer work, but this year almost none. It’s been a rough summer financially.
Sometimes I’m good at taking care of myself; I take time to take a nap, or go for a run, or a long bike ride. I know the pool can be a tranquility tank, but some days it’s hard to get myself across town knowing how much time a shower afterwards will take.
I’m sure it would be amazing, but I am both physically and mentally kind of hyper. I’m sure it would be good to clear my brain and do deep breathing. I’m just not there yet. I would need someone to hold my hand and drag me to a session, and make sure that it wouldn’t be a friend that I would get the compulsive giggles with as I say “OMMMMMM.”
Yoga would be wonderful, but right now I am avoiding gym fees until my finances improve. I’m sure it would help my tight calves and tendons and help my plantar fasciitis disappear.
In the meantime, I will eat healthier. Yep, even healthier than before! I’m taking Vitamin E for inflammation and to fight stress. Vitamin E acts in a similar way to progesterone to calm and soothe our bodies. I’m taking Flax Seed Oil or Evening Primrose Oil pills every night to also help with hormonal balance. Both of these are supposed to reduce breast pain and swelling. In addition, she did commend my efforts to stop caffeine, although she says that research only shows that caffeine avoidance only helps with 50% of women studied. I always take a multivitamin that contains Vitamin C and D, which are also very important at this stage of my life.
The news after the fine needle aspiration was good; it confirmed that my lump is just a bunch of tough tissue. I still have a lot to live for and enjoy. I’m one of the lucky ones who entered the cancer clinic last Friday and I need to celebrate that.
Let the detoxing and de-stressing begin. It’s about time!