Happy Friday! I hope you had a nice week. I continue to recover really quickly from my thyroid cancer surgery last week. I went to the gym for the first time on Wednesday and again on Thursday and I was pretty shocked that I had most of my energy and about 80% of my strength.
Remember this picture that Alan took of me the day before my surgery?
I remember at the time feeling the absolute best I ever have in my whole life: full of energy, positive and vibrant, while at the same time terrified that after surgery I would never feel that way again. What I didn’t realize was that by focusing so much effort on taking care of myself these past 2 years and steadily making strides in my overall health, that I have come through this cancer diagnosis and the surgery and everything that has come with it so much better than I would have otherwise. Like, seriously, I remember just a few years ago getting migraines and being bed-ridden for hours triggered from just simple stressful events. My body seems so much more resilient now it is unbelievable and so rewarding.
I came up with a few reasons why I think my cancer diagnosis prompted me to take even further steps to get healthier before and after my surgery. Some of these reasons were brought on by stress and now that I’m feeling a lot better, I think it’s helpful that I write them down so I don’t forget them in the future. And, to be honest, I know that there is a chance that there is still cancer in my body and I have a lot of monitoring to go through before I get 100% clearance. I wouldn’t ever wish cancer on anybody, but if my experience can inspire anybody to make healthier choices, then I would consider that a silver lining to my situation.
How Cancer Made Me Healthier:
1. I stopped my emotional eating. I have always been that person who grabs a cookie or something sweet when I feel the least bit sad or anxious. The day I was diagnosed with cancer and the weeks following, the level of stress I felt was so high that eating for comfort wasn’t even an option. I’m not sure that the most decadent dessert could have made me feel the least bit better and I knew that. It wasn’t that I stopped eating by any means, but food was no longer part of my support system during what was the most stressful time of my entire life so far.
2. I used food for fuel and cancer prevention. So while I shunned eating when I wasn’t hungry because there was no emotional appeal anymore, I then turned to food as a way to fuel my activities and for health promotion. I wasn’t perfect by any means, but once I knew that there was a tumor growing in my body, I was only interested in eating foods that were truly nourishing and had cancer-fighting properties.
A typical day’s worth of food for me then became a green smoothie for breakfast, a salad for lunch with all kinds of vegetables, nuts and seeds with fresh fruit for dessert and then a vegetable and bean soup for dinner with more fruit or some type of really healthy dessert.
Here’s the salad I ate yesterday, for example. It had kale salad, onions, beans, avocado and raw broccoli:
Take that, cancer cells!
3. I turned to healthy ways of stress management. What truly, truly got me through this awful experience was my support system. The love, caring and emotional support I received from my husband, my family, my friends, my blog readers, my health professionals and even my acquaintances was what made the difference for me. So besides leaning heavily on my support system, other ways I managed my stress included exercise, meditation when I was able to calm down enough, becoming educated about thyroid cancer and focusing on the good parts of my life and what brings me joy. I have definitely kept up with this habit since my surgery and feel like I am overall allowing myself more joy on a daily basis instead of getting caught up in the day to day routine. Now more than ever, I realize how precious life is and how we really do need to take advantage of each day.
I hope you like this list and please feel free to send me your ideas on stress management and living healthfully. What are your best tips?