Matcha

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In addition to my new lemon water ritual, I’ve started drinking matcha tea, which has some pretty amazing health benefits. I was apprehensive to to try it, because when I drink regular green tea, I prefer it to be flavored with something else, like ginger and honey. But because it’s so good for you, I really wanted to try matcha.

The proper tea-to-water ratio is about 1 teaspoon of matcha to 2 1/2 ounces of hot water. I started with the recommended amount for newbies: 1/4 teaspoon of tea, and I used a full 3 ounces of water. I was surprised by how much I liked it, and within a few days I increased the tea to 1/2 teaspoon to 3 ounces of water. I like that ratio, and I’m not sure when or if I’ll increase to the full teaspoon.

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There are several grades of matcha, from the finest of ceremonial grades, which can cost more than $60 for 20 grams (yikes), to much more affordable grades that can be used for making smoothies and lattes. I’ve been drinking a “teahouse” grade, which costs around $17 for 20 grams at Whole Foods. Twenty grams will normally yield 10 bowls of matcha, but I get 20 bowls out of it.

The health benefits are the same for all grades.

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I’ve been enjoying the very Zen ritual of making matcha, and I’m looking forward to exploring more kinds of tea, especially loose teas. If you have any recommendations (preferably organic), please leave a comment or drop me a line.

Whey to Go! smoothie

20140527-072819-26899832.jpgLast month I bought a copy of Best Green Drinks Ever. I had a feeling it was going to be a great book when the woman behind me in line at Target told me how much she loved it.

One of my favorite recipes so far is this cocoa-blueberry-kale number. It sounds weird, I knowbut it grows on you.

Whey to Go!
Slightly adapted from Best Green Drinks Ever

1 cup nut milk of your choice
1/2 cup frozen berries (blueberries or mixed berries)
1 cup kale
1 scoop chocolate-flavored whey
1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
1 scoop (45 mg) stevia extract (I use Trader Joe’s)
3 ice cubes

Add all the ingredients to the blender and blend well.

 

Pathological

One thing I’ve learned over these past several weeks is that every cancer is different. Another is that figuring out the pathology of a cancer isn’t a one-test (or even one-day or one-week) affair. Getting that full picture takes multiple tests and reports, which can take weeks, or even longerdepending on what else your doctors want to know about your cancer to determine how to treat it.

There’s a great publication on breastcancer.org called Your Guide to the Breast Cancer Pathology Report, which explains the whole process and how to read these reports. And if you’re really lucky, like I am, your surgeon and oncologist will explain them very thoroughly.

And one of them might even take your notepad right out of your hands and start writing notes for you. What the hell?

Ok  that was actually a good idea.

The first test results that rolled in the day after my biopsies showed that both of my tumors were definitely cancerous, specifically infiltrating (or invasive) ductal carcinoma, and that they were low grade (Grade 1, or slow moving).

Five days later when I met with my surgeon, I learned about the tumors’ hormone receptor status, which, in the most simple of terms, tells you about the “switches” of a tumor. What are its biggest turn-ons? What are its biggest turn-offs?

The good news was that both of my tumors tested high positive for progesterone and estrogen and negative for HER2/neu. It’s good news because there is quite an arsenal of weapons to fight these types of tumors, including Tamoxifen, a drug that in effect blocks those hormone receptors. And even when your tumors and other visible signs of cancer are removed during surgery, any remaining cancer cells floating around in your body that started from the breast cancer have those same receptors.

Several days after my surgery, we learned even more. The exact sizes of the tumors were 2.8 cm and 1.6 cm; and their margins were negative, meaning that no cancer cells were found right outside of the tumors.

But the cancer had spread to two lymph nodes. Frick. To make matters worse, there were cancer cells a little ways beyond those two lymph nodes, which means chemotherapy and radiation are recommended.

So, all of that means that I’m at Stage IIB (I prefer the less formal 2B). Using the TNM staging system, I’m T2, N1.

As weird as it may sound, I was hoping for Stage 2. I knew before my surgery that it probably wouldn’t be below that, so this is actually good news. It still sucks, but it’s good news all the same.

Next up: possibly going on trial.

 

A new ritual

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Nutrition plays a huge role in fighting cancer and in reducing the chances of it recurring, and I’m taking steps to dramatically change the way I eat. Some changes are pretty big and a bit challenging. Others are small and easy, like drinking warm lemon water every morning, before eating or drinking anything else.

Here are a few interesting articles about the health benefits of lemon water:

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What I’m reading

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Even before my diagnosis, I had been planning to cut back on eating meat. Not that I eat that much, but I just feel better when it plays a smaller role in my diet. The same goes for most wheat products.

I had already bought Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr before April 4. Little did I know that she’d become one of my gurus within such a short time.