Sunday, May 24, 2009

Life is Short, Eat Blueberries

Image from
What's going on in our family is that my sister had a double mastectomy last week and starts an especially toxic form of chemotherapy next week.

She lives far away, and I can't be by her side. I feel remote and haunted, but she is handling it with this incredible grace that I don't know quite how to describe.

I can't seem to stop thinking about cancer, its insidiousness, sneaky and horrible like random violence. Yet I have not even dared to go to a website and study it the way I study literally every single other thing that affects or interests me.

It is on my mother's side of the family, this cancer potential. My mother's sister, Ruthie, died of breast cancer 20 years ago. Ruthie's son, my cousin, Lane, died of stomach cancer 10 years ago. My mother survived breast cancer with a lumpectomy and radiation 6 years ago.

And now my sister. She had a clean mammogram in July, found a suspicious lump in March, and here we are now.

My sister is a warrior, a petite, shy woman with a gun and knife collection that would shock you. From the start of all this, she has seen cancer as an enemy, something to be attacked calmly and methodically, something that can't be allowed to glimpse any weakness.

She's a Girl Scout whose motto is preparedness and survival, so she spent the weeks leading up to her surgery arranging every practical thing so that she could survive afterward.

And she has this huge faith in the strong arms of God holding her up and the bigger picture of which this life is only a tiny part.

My mother called me last night, and I felt myself turn back into a frightened child. I asked her, my voice small, "Mama, how do I keep from getting cancer too?"

I have my instructions now: vegetables and exercise, regular mammograms, eating breakfast, adding blueberries into my cereal, the usual list. Follow my dreams and be happy because life is short.

Life is short and we are all precious! I hope you are all taking good care of yourselves, dear readers, adding blueberries to your breakfast cereal and following your dreams.

*Good article about anti-cancer healthy eating.
It says:
  • Turmeric (one of the main spices in curry)
  • Green tea (more than 3 cups a day)
  • Veggies & fruits (5 or more a day)
  • Less meat (12 ounces a week)
  • Fewer sweets (try fruits and berries instead)
  • Agave syrup (instead of sugar)
  • Omega-3 oils (olive, canola or flax seed)
  • Watch out for cancer-causing growth hormones in meats and dairy
  • Try to eat organic if possible.
  • Get more exercise


steviewren said...

I'm so sorry about your sister. My Daddy recently found out that he has cancer as well. It is treatable and the meds won't make him ill so we are lucky there.

Cancer runs in the family on Daddy's side and rampant heart disease on my mother's. My sister and I agreed that we are doomed. Like your mother advised you...we just have to do the best we can. Thanks for the healthy eating tips. I've always been one for vitamins and whole foods.

Laura Doyle said...

Your sister sounds like a trooper. That is indeed the best way to overcome such an evil disease. I'll be keeping her in my thoughts and prayers and envisioning her triumph.

I wholeheartedly agree with your advice on the importance of food and diet in preventing cancer (among other diseases). Of the three factors that determine our health (genetics, environment, diet), FOOD is the one we have the greatest control over. I think it follows then, that whatever money you might spent, should probably be spent on good, clean food, unpolluted with the thoughtless toxins of our modern food industry. I've seen a sad trend in the whole foods business lately since the economic problems have started. People are cutting back on the organic food because it's more expensive, but I urge everyone to use long-term thinking and logic in that situation and please, for God's sake, put your health first. You'll most likely end up spending that money you saved buying pesticides, on doctors and drugs later. Eating yummy food is so much better than going to doctors and taking pharmaceuticals. As Hippocrates said, "Let your food be your medicine."

Indie said...

Steviewren, sorry to hear about your daddy. I am so glad it's treatable. I'm glad too that you're eating well. I have to eat more veggies!

Starlene, you are so eloquent. I have to wonder what your writing background is? I ask this as a newspaper editor and a college writing teacher. Your gifts are only found in certain places. So do tell.

Laura Doyle said...

I'm going to print that out and hang it where I can see it everyday. : )

My writing background is just one of constant interest. I've been doing journaling since age 10 and later found the power of persuasive essays irresistible. I have no formal training (other than the usual high school and college writing) but I've always maintained that "I'm a writer".

Until recently, I've been all talk and no action. I lost my (non-writing)job and my identity shifted, which made it seem like a good time to get serious about the writing. Your compliment means a LOT to me. Since getting serious, I've learned that the writing business can be just as difficult as the rest of the world. It's really good to hear that my efforts leak out into the rest of my life, like the writing of comments. Thanks!

Songwright said...

I'm sorry about your sister. I hope she gets well.

Songwright said...

I'm sorry about your sister. I hope she gets well.

Carol said...

I had a mastectomy in 1997 and I'm still here. The present is a present! I wish you and your sister healing energy!

Songwright said...

Sorry to hear about your sister.

Indie said...

Thanks, guys. She starts chemo today. Wish I was there to be of help.

Carol, that's inspirational! Thanks for letting me know. I have so much respect for you!