Posted in about me, cancer, ebb & flow, gratitude, motivation, physical health

An anniversary without which there are no others

It was a long, rectangular room, with posh reclining chairs lining three walls and turning the corners on the fourth. The remaining space had a counter with cabinets and maybe a sink behind it. I don’t remember more detail than that.

Except that attached to the front side of the counter was a small Liberty Bell replica, one that works.

On the last day of chemo, when you get up out of your comfy chair, poison coursing through your veins for the last time, you get to ring the bell.

Twelve years ago today, I rang the bell.

Of course, you’re nowhere near done with all that cancer or cancer treatment have to offer. The short-term side effects of that treatment were still looming. The long-term side effects … well … I’m not sure all of those ever go away. And of course, the increased risk of other cancers as a result of this cancer’s treatment? That doesn’t go away.

You really don’t know that cancer isn’t what kills you until you die of something else. I mean, it’s nowhere near acute any more, but I am, both medically and self-defined, at risk for cancer.

As per doctors, Leukemia, skin cancer, and breast cancer all gained some strength in their potential as a result of the treatments. They haven’t mentioned thyroid cancer, but they didn’t protect my thyroid during radiation treatments (that I recall), so I’d guess that one is on the list, too.

As per my own thinking, my body has already shown me that it’s willing to flip on the “good host” switch.

Sometimes being a good host is not a good choice.

So I do things to reduce my risk. As much as I possibly can? No. But quite a bit. (You could argue that it’s more than most people do, but how my body actually functions has nothing to do with that comparison, so I avoid it.)

I also work to reduce The Kid’s risk. Because there are even more carcinogenic materials in normal life than there were when I was young—and they affect fetuses and kids more than adults—but many of them are avoidable. (It might be my greatest frustration that making money trumps consumer safety, and the countless loopholes available to businesses who want to avoid inconvenient or potentially expensive restrictions on ingredients/components.)

All that said, it’s been a hell of a dozen years. The best of times, the worst of times, and all that.

I was doing well at living well, and then I got knocked off course. I’m on my way back to doing well at living well.

Grateful every day for health and mobility, even when it feels like being excused to lay on the couch for 6 months would be great.

I can vouch: it’s not great. (And I wasn’t even in bad enough shape from chemo actually to be laid up the whole time.)

I recommend being preventative as much as you reasonably can and picking one or two things to be diligent about. Don’t wait until you have a positive biopsy before you assess your habits. (Or, truly, any other unpleasant health diagnosis. Cancer is a big one, but it’s certainly not the only.)

You are worth the time, the energy, the effort.

 

Posted in know better do better, mindset, physical health

Just say no…?

This popped up recently in my Facebook memories. I was going to rewrite it, but it’s succinct and to the point as-is.

(The year this was written, Halloween was on the upcoming Friday.)

It’s red ribbon week (AIDS? heart disease? hemophilia? no—substance abuse!). As part of celebrating (?) at school, some information is included in the morning announcements.

This morning, a bunch of nasty long-term side effects of tobacco was rattled off.

All but one are also nasty long-term side effects of sugar.

But on Friday, we’re going to distribute that generously. (Don’t even attempt to argue “It’s just one day” because you know that’s BS.)

I’d be attacked for suggesting we just pass out cigarettes for Halloween…

 

Posted in food, physical health

What is this mysterious vegetable?

This vegetable provides 21% of your daily potassium. Potassium is critical in our bodies, helping to regulate muscle contractions, nerve signals, and fluid balance. Potassium is an electrolyte—one of those things that people talk about needing to replenish when they exercise (though most people don’t really know what it means). Also keep in mind that your heart is a muscle, so “muscle contractions” is not just talking about arms and legs and such.

(For reference, an avocado provides 20%, a cup of white beans: 18%, a sweet potato or a cup of spinach: 12%, bananas: 9%.)

This vegetable is also weighing in at 45% of your daily vitamin C! That’s not as much as an orange or a cup of strawberries, but it’s still a solid serving.

You also get some fiber, some protein, and a little iron.

What package brings you all this goodness?

A potato.

This package is for gold potatoes, but other types are similar. (The nutrition facts panel is for “one medium potato.”)

Potatoes get a bad rap, and they shouldn’t.

You’ll want to eat the whole potato (including the skin!) and eat potatoes together with a little more protein and some fat, for staying power and to avoid a blood sugar crash.

Some of the most-loved ways to eat potatoes aren’t ideal and would be best considered “sometimes (or less) foods” — like fries, home fries, hash browns, chips.

But a baked potato? Or some skin-on mashed potatoes? Nutritionally beneficial.

Posted in food, know better do better, physical health

The sad adult-y-ness of limiting snacks

Dried mango and macadamia nuts.

These are my two current favorite snacks.

I can eat them together or separately, and I can eat them in significant quantity.

Costco sells both.

For a while, I stopped buying the mango altogether—it’s easier when it’s just not in the house—and I was just reintroduced to macadamia nuts a couple of weeks ago. They’re much more delicious than they were when I was a kid.

Earlier this week, I bought a bag of each at Costco. Yum!

But, in an effort not to exist solely on these two things, I measured out portions based on the nutrition facts panel. Put the nuts in little jars. Put the mango in repurposed tomato paste jars.

I have taught and written about portion control many times, and yet I was still astounded at how little there was in my servings.

It’s for the best. And most days, I’ve only had one jar of each.

Eating things like chips, popcorn, nuts, cereal out of the container is dicey for many people. Measure it out, put the bag away, and stick to the portion you measured.

The bonus to this is that the original container will last much longer. Fend off a little overindulgence, save a few pesos. Not an entirely bad deal.

Posted in about me, ebb & flow, food, physical health

The former deliciousness of peanut brittle

For a long time, peanut brittle was one of my favorites. And it was an infrequent treat, which made it even more delightful.

It’s been years, maybe decades, since I had peanut brittle.

There was some at work the other day.

I took a piece. Or two…

And you know what? It wasn’t that delicious.

I relayed this story to a friend who reacted with sadness, but no! It’s not sad at all!

Peanut brittle is crap. It’s (formerly) tasty crap, but it’s still crap.

And now, if it shows up in the teachers’ lounge again, I won’t have to expend any energy to pass it by, because it’s not delicious.

It’s not the first time this has happened, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. The list of things that are no longer delicious just got one thing longer.

And yes, there have been a few things that I had for the first time in years and yes, they were still amazing. (A cream doughnut from McMillan’s Bakery immediately comes to mind. Only ate a couple of bites but YUM.)

But it’s OK to let your taste buds get pickier about junk food. Your body will thank you for it.