A Case for Cancer Care Providers to Consider Cannabis: 5 Points for Your Consideration

A Case for Cancer Care Providers to Consider Cannabis: 5 Points for Your Consideration

For a few minutes, allow yourself to put old ideas and former thoughts aside.  A year ago after attending a medical oncology meeting, I decided to begin my “cannabis in cancer” education. I was energized after meeting and speaking with an amazing nurse who has been researching the biology of cannabis, the genetics of cancer tumors, speaking with experts around the world and working with other medical clinicians who are trying to decipher the specifics of how to use cannabis in the treatment of many types of cancer. 

Illustration by botanical artist Ida Pemberton

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Aging Well & Aging Well After Cancer: 5 Principles from our Elders

Aging Well & Aging Well After Cancer: 5 Principles from our Elders

Aging well. We see information on how to optimize our aging bodies on a daily basis.  Food choices that may help us to age more gracefully, extending our functionality for more and more years. We are told to participate in physical activity and strength training, socialization, activities that keep our brains engaged and the importance of decreasing stress. Supplements to consider. The information at times bombards us! Sometimes the information is confusing.

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Time, Dia de Muertos and Living with Advanced Cancer

Time, Dia de Muertos and Living with Advanced Cancer

Around daylight savings time, I always remember a fascinating talk that was given to the medical residents and nursing staff when I was working at the University of Colorado. Deanna, a curandera, was there to inform us about her role, as a curandera and a mental health practitioner, in her community and what she did with her years of training and apprenticeship. She started the conversation with, “Before you rush to judge me, and what I am going to say, I want you to think about a culture that takes an hour from the top of the day and moves it to the end of the day and thinks the day is longer.” Thus, ideally, many in the audience were open to expanding their perceptions, more open to understanding her work and how situations, language and culture influence our perceptions and so much of our lives.

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Standing Alone and Standing Together

Standing Alone and Standing Together

This last week I have been watching the fires in Santa Rosa, CA, where my sister lives, rage through her city. For so many of us, these are times of great uncertainty and at times, chaos. The lack of balance that we witness daily in leaders, the craziness of random violence, and the fear that comes with the fomenting of separateness, and of divisiveness, may leave one feeling at a loss, or perhaps not even knowing what to feel. The natural world too, seems to be demonstrating some fury with floods, earthquakes, hurricanes and fires. These events can leave us feeling alone, scared, traumatized, unsure of the way forward and not sure of where to turn. The best that occurs from these events is people coming together.

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The Art of Tidying Up and Taking Lessons from Daniel Day-Lewis

The Art of Tidying Up and Taking Lessons from Daniel Day-Lewis

It has been a long time since I've written a blog post. Of course, a part of me has been having a conversation with myself about the need to do so ALL this time. Yes, for weeks, no months.  I was working on a post a while ago about the challenges of mood and PTSD symptoms but wanted to wait for a professional colleague who is developing an app and research study for cancer survivors who experience symptoms (coming soon). Then it seems that working and traveling to two countries, three states, enjoying dear friends and family, and a wonderful conference filled my days… and my thoughts and my energy. And I felt there was a shift coming.

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It's About LOVE

It's About LOVE

February is a month with a focus on love. If you've read any of my previous posts, you know I like to dream of the days when folks who have experienced cancer get more of the information and services they need and want, to have the best quality of life possible. While I hope for each of you that every month has lots of love, this month in keeping with the theme of February, my blog focuses on body image, sensuality, sexuality and LOVE.

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Stretching for What You Want in 2017

Stretching for What You Want in 2017

Winter, the darkest time of year, does slowly transform into spring, every year. Daylight grows increasingly more abundant. This year many may be feeling a kind of darkness or heaviness due to social and political issues in the world. There may also be some darkness related to your health or the health of a loved one, by loss or fear and anxiety fueled by uncertainty of what’s next. Darkness and despair are always hard. Perhaps your sense of darkness feels like life is out of sync. You might find yourself longing for… what? A sense of connection, a sense of healing, a sense of passion, a sense of choosing to move actively towards what you want? What do you find helpful when finding your way through the darkness, when stretching toward the light?

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Life After Treatment Harder Than You Imagined? Need a Nervous System Reset??

Life After Treatment Harder Than You Imagined? Need a Nervous System Reset??

Five Healthful and Helpful Tips

Life can present many stressors and if you have just completed treatment for cancer your nervous system has been under assault! The challenges of appointments and scans, treatment and blood work, waiting and decision-making are just the start. There is also managing your life and the fears that go along with a diagnosis and the days of uncertainty and scananxiety after. You may be in active treatment or having completed treatment and notice that things just don’t feel good. For some this is still true years after treatment. Anxiety? Insomnia? Irritability? Depression? Relationship Issues? PTSD? Pain? Difficulty concentrating? Fatigue? In part these are all related to a nervous system under duress. Cancer can really hijack you. 

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When you come to the edge of your comfort zone

When you come to the edge of your comfort zone

I have been participating in a blog challenge… at least sort of. I have been writing every day and feel so thankful to Natalie Sisson and her 10 Day Blog Challenge... but I haven’t been posting them. I have been learning a lot about myself. I know learning and transformation takes time. I know about myself that sometimes there is a “chrysalis phase” before something happens. I have been lucky to have wonderful teachers and wonderful opportunities in my life but wow, am I pushing my edges! For years working in a hospital setting I learned new things every day and was surrounded by wonderful mentors but rarely out of my comfort zone. Since entering this new world of being a nurse entrepreneur, I find myself struggling with the dualism of feeding the illusion of wanting my work to be perfect, or at least feeling totally together and on my game and allowing myself to be vulnerable, to be starting from zero in so many areas.

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When the flow of life is turbulent – look for an eddy

When the flow of life is turbulent – look for an eddy

One of the highlights of my summer, and lucky me for the past several summers, was to serve as a medical volunteer on a First Descents week. This summer I was in Hood River, Oregon and magic happened! A group of total strangers, brought together by the commonality of having received a cancer diagnosis, decided to call on their strengths and their courage to try something totally new and yes a bit out of their comfort zone. They ventured to an unknown place, alone, and left with a new “family” and a renewed sense of finding “their flow” after cancer turned their lives upside down.

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Heart

Heart

Guest blog post by Allison Smith
I’ve written and thought a lot about my heart, especially over the three-plus years since my breast cancer diagnosis at the age of 36. I’ve been in tune with each and every ache--even the happy ones like watching my kids grow. When I was diagnosed, they were ages six, three and one. Now they are ten, almost seven and five. I feel like I am watching their childhood slip away. All the while, I’m so incredibly grateful to be here, for them and for me, sharing in the ups and downs of life. I find myself understanding that heartache can coexist with--even spring from--joy.

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Five Health Promoting Tips for Making Anti-Cancer Choices

Five Health Promoting Tips for Making Anti-Cancer Choices

What I wish you heard about food choices from your oncologist...

I remember participating in a conference about ten years ago that was held to help people who had been touched by GI cancer. I was there to speak about sexuality concerns. The keynote speaker was a lively young gastroenterologist who pleaded with the group to introduce more cooking at home… with their grandchildren, their children and their friends. He spoke of increasing trends of GI cancers related to dietary choices (primarily the huge amount of fast food being consumed) and empowered the audience to change the predictions and help their younger family members. 

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After the Big C: Three C’s to guide your way

After the Big C:  Three C’s to guide your way

The Big C… cancer… it certainly can lay a number on you. Diagnosis, treatment and figuring out life after treatment or between treatments-whew! Some of the “figuring” seems like it just goes on and on whether it is trying to decrease side effects like fatigue, dealing with fear and uncertainty, mood concerns, cognitive issues or addressing changes in libido and sexual functioning. I hope these three C’s serve you and perhaps help you to focus in a new way.

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Cancer and all the messiness

Cancer and all the messiness

I feel very affirmed when I have been thinking about something and then “poof” there is discussion of that very thing on one of my go to sites on the internet or with people I know. The internet has provided a way for people to connect in ways not available previously and I am increasingly in awe of the power of this community when it comes to cancer. You all know it: Cancer is ugly! Cancer is messy! It hurts literally and figuratively and every which way. One of the aspects about the cancer community that continues to grow is the acknowledgement of all the complexity and messiness that goes into the lives of those touched by cancer.

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“With A Little Help From My Friends”

“With A Little Help From My Friends”

I am grateful for wise, wonderful and warm friends! I wanted to share a bit of recent synchronicity because it continues to be so significant for me. As some of you know I have taken new steps in this last year and have started a new adventure after working for years at a large cancer hospital. At times I experience doubt and worry, fear and even sometimes a bit of “oh my” with trying to do what I want but having to learn some of the technological challenges to make my vision a reality. In the course of two weeks I spoke with four friends, all who have had their own experiences with cancer. 

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Y.E.S: Your Empowered Survivorship

Y.E.S:  Your Empowered Survivorship

Your cancer treatment is complete and you are wondering what comes next. Every person’s experience of the next steps is different. While standards in oncology care are trying to make education about the next stage of your treatment a routine part of your care, unfortunately that is not always the case. Research continues to demonstrate the benefits of improved symptom management, physical activity, stress reduction, and nutritional choices as helpful for patients after cancer both for recovery and prevention of recurrence. Did your doctor speak with you about life after cancer treatment?  If not, you are not alone. 

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Metamorphosis and New Beginnings

Metamorphosis and New Beginnings

A metaphor I often use when speaking with people dealing with the challenges of cancer treatment compares the treatment phase to a horse race. The goal is the finish line. The horse is running and running, doing their best. It’s all about the race and blinders block peripheral vision. The jockey and the crowd have a role helping the horse to cross the finish line. When the race is over the blinders are removed, the jockey gets off and the crowd dissipates. Sounds a little like the completion of treatment? Many people find that the time after treatment is just as challenging and sometimes more so however the crowds of support are not as available. 

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