Have you changed your diet since being diagnosed or since a friend or family member has?
  • Cancer-Free with Food (with Liana Werner-Gray)
  • Is the hair worth saving?
  • Non-Profits you may not know about
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Have you changed your diet since being diagnosed or since a friend or family member has?  It may seem overwhelming, but Liana Werner-Gray has done all the work for all of us to make it easier.  Liana Werner-Gray is a certified nutritionist, natural food chef and four-time best-selling author of The Earth Diet, Cancer-Free with Food which is in the top 100 cancer books of all time (foreword by Mark Hyman, MD.), and10-Minute Recipes and most recently Anxiety-Free with Food which ranked as the #1 best seller on amazon for Neuropsychology. Liana started as her blog The Earth Diet went viral in 2009 as she overcame many health issues through nutrition; she believes that food is medicine. Liana is the Resident Health and Nutrition Coach at Complete Wellness NYC and shared some tips with My Cancer Family and recipes to get started!
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“Mom”, will you lose your hair.  That was the first thing out of my 7 year old’s mouth when I was diagnosed and it was the first thing Jacqui Brown thought about when she was recently diagnosed (and how many of you thought the same thing!?)  
Jacqui’s hair is her identity and she wanted to do what she could to save it.  I, on the other hand, couldn’t.  The process was too new at the time and felt too overwhelming to me.  Jacqui shares her story here.   
For those of you who might want to try this, it is expensive and there are a few different brands.  There’s also a non-profit called Hair To Stay  specifically dedicated to helping financially challenged cancer patients save their hair by making scalp cooling affordable.
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IN HER WORDS (and Jacqui's Favorite Products BELOW!):
I hate the cold. At the beginning of Fall, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and a scheduled treatment of surgery, followed by chemotherapy (3mths of weekly Placlitaxel and 20 rounds of Herceptin tri-weekly) and a month of daily radiation was popped on the calendar. I’m too poor to justify transportation to the hospital, and unwilling to inconvenience my friends, but I also wasn’t looking forward to trudging through snow to get there. In the end, I felt resigned to soldier on and trudge. Breast cancer is in my family, my mother had it twice and my sister had it two years ago. Despite negative genetic testing, it seemed inevitable.
Chemotherapy, to my mind, equaled hair loss, tiredness and a series of side-effects that could not be anticipated, because everyone is different. So said my doctors, my friends and my sister (who had the same treatment regimen), all of whom had different experiences including body rashes, lifted nails and permanently numb feet. Hair loss was by far my worst fear. I was born with a mop of red curls, by far my most distinguishable feature. People easily identify me in crowds, hairdressers love me, it’s literally my crowning glory. When the twin towers fell, I developed a stress-related condition resulting in small permanent bald patches. Dermatologists and neurologists advised me to avoid any kind of treatment or stimulation, in case the patches grew larger. I cut my hair short and the curls covered the areas sufficiently. There were a lot of reasons why I would do everything in my power to avoid hair loss, but the prime reason was always “what if it never grows back”?
I began researching what appears to be the only proven preventive solution to hair loss - ice. Placlitaxel hates the cold also, and avoids areas that are freezing. Since the cancer was in my breast, it seemed like a safe option. My sister had heard about the cold cap, but couldn’t bring herself to freeze her head, so she began making scarves instead. I chose the ice. Mount Sinai has a sponsored program that provides DigniCap cold cap treatments free of charge, so I signed up and a week later, a large box containing a rubber cap, a weird plastic cutout sheet with velcro and tubes running through it and hanging off it, a headband, a hairbrush and a spray container, arrived at my apartment.
Placlitaxel is a bitch. Each weekly infusion took 5-6 hours, far longer than the hour and a half medication administration. My initial routine began with weight and blood-pressure, blood work (on the advice of my sister, I had a port installed, which makes extracting blood and infusions much easier), and then the torture commenced. I saturated my hair, the plastic sheet was wrapped around my head and secured by two nurses, with velcro, before the rubber cap was pulled down tight over it. The dangling tubes were plugged into an ice machine that, when filled with a blue liquid, pumped the formula through the tubes in the plastic sheet on my head and froze the cap. I wrapped my body in cashmere and microfibre, turned my heated armchair on full, and looked at my phone. The hospital generally had daily food and drinks, and individual TVs installed, but I was busy researching my sister’s numb feet. It appears that ice is once again, the only preventative solution, and maybe compression, so the following week I wore compression socks, and sank my feet into the hospital provided bucket of ice, for the full hour of Taxel. Whoa.
During the next week, my hands burned with blasts of tiny, hot, itchy needles that lasted for hours. My doctor said it was neuropathy from the Taxel, that may or may not go away, and could result in numbness for a while, or indefinitely - the only preventative solution being ice and perhaps compression. I brought headphones to my next appointment, put on the smallest surgical gloves and as I sat with my frozen head and my ass on fire, I plunged my hands and feet into buckets of ice. For the next 9 weeks, unable to move from that position for an hour plus, I learned how Richard Branson became an entrepreneur, how Anna Wintour ran Vogue, Naomi Campbell’s supermodel tips, and why Neil Gaiman writes his novels. I’d arrive home from the hospital feeling a little tired and very cold and have any early night. The following day was anyone’s guess. Some weeks would be normal, I would do eight loads of laundry. Other weeks I would not leave my apartment. Once, I did not leave my bed. There was no explanation for the variance and therefore, no anticipation. It was a crap-shoot.
It’s been a month since my last Taxel infusion and all in all, my side-effects were relatively mild. I had an unsightly, itchy rash all over my body that developed around week 5, but is slowly subsiding. I’m getting more energy back every day and my skin is significantly less dry. My eyelids had become swollen and burning by week 10, but they’re better now, and whilst I was significantly colder throughout the 12 weeks, I’m slowly warming up. My nails and feet were unaffected, the neuropathy in my hands is now gone and my hair stayed as lush as it’s always been. I was told to continue washing it in cold water and avoid hats for the next two months at least, until the Taxel has fully left my body. I’ve begun full doses of Herceptin and I start radiation this week. As the weather continues to get colder, and I dread heading out to the howling winds on my way to the hospital, I’ll catch a glimpse of my reflection in a shop window, and feel a little warmer. The worst, I hope, is over.
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Jacqui's Favorite Items:
- Socks with pockets for small ice packs (included) that I wore whilst immersing my feet in buckets of ice. It added protection from frostbite.
- I don’t know what I would have done without Richard Branson and Anna Wintour, because I could watch as well as listen, so it was completely distracting.
- there are no sulfates, silicones, parabens, phthalates or gluten, so it’s gentle enough for hair that may be in danger of falling out. I’d wash my hair once a week in cold water, taking care not to agitate it, finger combing, no brushing, gently removing knots during conditioning
- Prescription lotion that kept the rash down, helped with the itch and spread really well over large surfaces.
- This was my hair saver. It comes with the soft helmet, plastic tube sheet and a hairband to prevent the forehead and ears from frostbite.
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Stay Positive,  
Denise & the My Cancer Family family
Cancer Sucks.  F*** Cancer. We Hate Cancer. We know this already.  We can’t change that for you. We CAN change your journey. We WILL make it easier and better.We are YOUR Cancer Family.