Hi! Me again!

So yesterday was a pretty amazing day. Meeting with the doctors and hearing more about my great scan helped me realize how amazing it really is! My main doctor said something that I didn’t realize or understand before which is that often times advanced cervical cancer does not respond to treatment which explains why the statistics are so scary. And this means that I am a rare exception to the rule and I feel so grateful for this! The plan is to keep riding this chemo wave (aka my new band name) and get three more treatments and then scan again so it looks like I’ll be in NYC through Thanksgiving. When I first heard the results on Wednesday I was happy to hear the news and was celebrating inside in a calm, tempered manner. But yesterday I was overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude and hope. It also kind of felt like recognition of a great accomplishment or getting a really good grade on a test that I studied for. I guess that’s because I have been working hard on this healing process and it feels so good to know it’s working. So thank you all out there for your support on my mission to overcome this silly disease and let’s keep on going!!! Let’s knock this sucker out of the park! Here I am yesterday near Sloan Kettering rocking out in this fun handkerchief-thing that I got at Uniqlo with these feather earrings that you can barely see!

I just realized how crazy my eyes look in this photo! Hahahaha. Ok, well, I’m off to my non-stop weekend! xoxoxo Lauren

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Hello out there. Apologies for my lack in writing as frequently as I usually do. More on that in a minute. But first, I must share with you some exciting news. I got scanned again on Monday and this morning my doctor called to say that once again it looks GREAT! We only spoke for a few minutes because tomorrow I will meet with her at Sloan as well as my main doc at Columbia (how lucky am I to have two doctors!?!?) to discuss the results and hear their plans for next steps. She said that the scan showed further shrinkage all over and that it’s all still going in the right direction. So let’s all take a minute to do this:

I didn’t even mention that I was getting scanned partially because I wasn’t that nervous or worried about it. Aside from my ongoing tooth issues and chemo side effects, I generally feel good so how could the scan be bad? Man, it’s hard to write with all that flapping above so I can imagine it’s hard for you to read this. Anyhoo, my writing efforts have been focused on a story that I am working on about my experience with cancer that will be featured on this beauty/health website in October for cancer awareness month. Exciting! And I’ve got a freelance illustration project that I’ve been working on so not so much time for blogging. I did some crafting over the weekend with my friend Lauren but I don’t want to spoil the surprise for the lucky recipients so no pictures yet! This weekend I am planning to go to this Stupid Cancer conference which is an organization for young adults with cancer. I’m looking forward to it although a little nervous too. I haven’t really socialized with any other young cancer patients yet and I’m considering going bare headed too! Why not? My hair has continued to grow so I almost look like I just shaved my head. Then on Sunday I am going to a potluck for people in the Integrative Nutrition program that are NYC based. Considering that I barely leave the house these days except to go to the oral surgeon’s office or walk in central park this will be a very outgoing weekend for me! Perhaps you will hear from me before the weekend but if not, have a good one. And if you are in NYC I highly recommend the Magritte show at MoMA. He is one of my favorite artists ever! xoxo Lauren

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What is Wisdom?

It’s not in a tooth, that’s for damn sure! Why oh why do we have wisdom teeth!?!?! The truly evolved humans are those born without them! Sorry for the hyperbolic rant. So my tooth was bugging me again and so this morning I went to my local oral surgeon (not in LA this time, haha) to have him look at it. Once again, he said it was infected and he would need to make another incision so it could be drained again. I look forward to a day when I go to see an oral surgeon and don’t have to have surgery on the spot. It’s kind of nice to have a little advance warning that you are going to have surgery, ya know? But it wasn’t so bad and at least he said I could eat normal food once the numbing and pain stops. Sigh. The pain is pretty bad but luckily I have a higher threshold for pain these days. To distract myself, I decide to make a nice lil icon of my “wise” yet sad tooth. It recalls one of my favorite illustrators Princess Tina (aka Beci Orpin) from Australia whose sad tooth necklace I used to wear back in my early 20s. I remember the day back in 2004 when I was wearing it and found out that I had 15 cavities because my childhood dentist was negligent. Oh, my tooth troubles go way back you see!

If there is one major lesson I’ve learned from this crazy experience called cancer, it is to trust your intuition. I had a strong feeling that the tooth was getting infected again and luckily I went in earlier than last time when I had a giant abscess and could not open my jaw! This idea of intuition has been on my mind a lot lately because of all the things I’ve been learning about through the Integrative Nutrition training program. Sometimes it’s a little overwhelming to learn about so many different theories of health and nutrition. Especially because I am so focused on healing myself right now and I want to try every diet to cure my disease! One of the things I’ve been thinking about in particular, inspired by many of the lecturers, is that the best thing for your health is to have intuition and to listen to yourself. Your body will tell you how to take care of itself because it wants to heal itself. All these popular super foods and extreme diets aren’t going to fix your health problems. The answer to whatever is ailing you is probably very simple and usually involves eating more vegetables. Ever since I first became interested in health about 10 years ago or so, I always wanted to figure out which herbal supplement would cure my sore throat or my menstrual cramps with a sense of impatience and worry. But now that I am fighting something larger that often causes side effects that cause me to worry and I can’t take supplements, I’ve realized the best thing I can do is be patient with my body but act when it tells me something is really wrong (like my tooth). I’m really looking forward to being a health coach one day so that I can help people heal themselves in a mindful, down to earth way instead of revamping one’s diet or adding superfoods to your smoothie. I am very grateful for Integrative Nutrition for all that I am learning. And I’m grateful for my amazing oral surgeon and my oncologist who are there when I need them. Well, I hope you enjoyed my philosophical waxing for the moment. There’s more where that came from! I’m going to go for a walk and enjoy the nice day (which has powerful healing properties too)! xoxo Lauren

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Salad Town

So I know Los Angeles has many names and I’m not sure if Salad Town is one of them but it sure should be! I am a huge salad eater and boy did I eat some good ones on this trip. Exhibit A pictured above at Golden Bridge Yoga! I went to a class the day after I arrived and then enjoyed their amazing salad bar that I have missed so much! They had a new exciting item which was Gardein’s fake chicken strips that were roasted with rosemary. So delicious and I rarely eat fake meat products these days. I was having a weird hunger/fatigue day so after eating this salad, I swung by Maura’s house and we went to Sqirl where I got delicious salad number two pictured below!

So you don’t have to guess that I had a great time in LA. Because I did! Haha. It was so great to spend time with Steve, Maura, Abe, Mindy, Kate, Driscoll, Nathan, and more! Plus I got to meet Steve’s lovely parents which was so much fun! But back to the salads, I whipped up this one with amazing veggies from the farmers’ market to bring to a potluck at Kate’s house!

On the way to Kate’s house there was an unbelievable sunset!

Then on Sunday Steve and I went on a great hike in Studio City!

Check out the view! It was such an invigorating work out for me. I love being outside! I’ve said this a million times but LA is magical and I can’t wait to move back!

But once again, back to the main subject here, salad. Maura had a great idea of having a picnic potluck at the Silver Lake reservoir and boy did Maura and Abe make some bad-ass salads!!

And when the sun set, we were visited by a night owl!

On Monday, I went to Tej’s yoga class which was really great. I said hello to her at the end and she was so sweet. I felt healed just looking into her eyes which were filled with compassion and love! She is amazing! I didn’t want to leave LA! I am hoping to back in 5-6 weeks and maybe even to take a mini road trip with Steve! We shall see! It’s been a little hard to re-adjust to NYC. Chemo yesterday was a 12-hour day filled with delays and my veins were not so cooperative because I had to have my IV inserted five times! Ouch! And today I’ve had probably the worst chemo-related nausea yet! I’m hoping it doesn’t get worse over the weekend. But enough complaining! Haha. On a positive note, my hair seems to be growing back! It’s kindy fuzzy and a little white but it’s definitely growing! I showed my doctor yesterday and he didn’t seem that impressed by it but it’s been exciting and makes me feel more comfortable with the idea of going outside bald eagle. I’m gonna wait to see if it grows in a little more before I make the move! In other news, I’ve been feeling incredibly inspired by Integrative Nutrition this week. I am so grateful for the program. It feels like the best thing I could be possibly be doing for myself and I know it will put me on a great path for helping others down the road which fills me with joy. I wanted to write so much more but I think I’m all out of blogging power. Maybe I should go eat a salad…hahahaha. xoxo Lauren

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Sneakers Icon and Giraffe Head!

Check it out! I’ve been pretty behind in creating more icons for my project but I got this one done over the long weekend. I’ve actually been pretty sick and in bed since last Thursday. I thought it was a sinus infection but who knows really. It was weird because I was already on anti-biotics when I got sick but with lots of bed rest, adult baby food, and meditation/chanting I seem to be on the mend! But back to this icon! So you may be wondering why it’s not food! Well! In the Integrative Nutrition program they talk all the time about “primary foods” which include exercise, relationships, spirituality, etc. So I wanted to make one about running/exercise. I haven’t been doing much of this myself lately because I have been sick but I plan to run the reservoir in Silver Lake as much as possible when I move back to LA. There is no debate over whether exercise is good for you so we should all do it! I never used to be a runner but when I started running around the reservoir, I got hooked!

Speaking of LA, over the weekend my dad kept encouraging me to go to LA as much as possible to see Steve and my friends and enjoy myself. I agreed with him but wanted to make sure I rest enough and don’t wear myself out from traveling. I’m the kind of person who gets anxious about traveling. It’s not a fear of flying but anxiety about little details and things I’ll forget to pack and just getting burned out. I was this way before I got sick. But the plane ride on the last trip really wasn’t so bad. So, yesterday I was feeling so much better that I decided to plan a last minute trip to LA for this weekend!!! Ahhhhh!!! I am a little nervous about flying because of germs and I want to make sure I’m fully better but I think it will be OK. I’ll wear a surgical mask and make sure not to sit next to someone who looks very ill. Wow, I’m really sounding like a crazy neurotic person today. Anyhoo, I’m very excited to go back because the last trip was filled with so many hectic components including packing, moving, and you know, oral surgery, etc. So next time you hear from me I’ll probably fresh off the California sun ready for another round of chemotherapy!

But until next time I wanted to leave you with this hilarious photo I found. I was talking to a friend about how sometimes having cancer makes me feel like an alien. It’s a combination of forces: being bald and looking weird, feeling like a science experiment from toxic chemicals infused into my body, and the idea that you join a new “race” of people who are inherently different from the average healthy person with a whole new set of issues. So then I somehow remembered that TV show from the 1980s called Alien Nation where the aliens had these oversized bald heads with, get this, GIRAFFE patterns on their head! Did anyone watch this show? I only vaguely remember it. I was pretty young when it was on but maybe I saw reruns? Now I know what I’m being for Halloween! Easiest costume ever! Except I guess that most people probably don’t remember the show and my head is actually a nice normal shape. Here’s a pic of the lovely giraffe-head lady! This could be me!!!

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Food Baby

Hello! So my tooth is getting better! Woohoo! But to be safe I asked Rachel to prepare mostly pureed and mushy foods this week. This was my dinner the other night and I couldn’t stop laughing at how ridiculous it looked. Am I now eating adult baby food? Disclaimer: I totally ate Plum baby food on the plane ride back from LA a few weeks ago… So the green mush is an Avocado, Mint, and Pea puree that is lemony and delicious. I ate it on the gluten-free bread you see next to it. The orange mush is a recipe I copied from Erehwon in LA that I was eating non-stop because I couldn’t eat anything else. It is a puree of yams, almond milk, coconut milk and cinnamon. Delicious! It’s like dessert! And the Vitamix made it even better than what I bought at Erehwon! Ha! Then I asked Rachel to make Cashew Cheese from a recipe I found online adapted from Candle 79 (my home away from home) so that I could make Mac’n’Cheese (with brown rice pasta of course). I also asked her to make Kale Pesto with Sunflower seeds so that’s what the green macaroni Pasta is. She also made two soups. One is a Middle Eastern Lentil soup┬áthat reminded me of soup I used to get at Zaytoons in Brooklyn. It turned out so good. Here’s a shot of it with this amazing salad I made with Arugula, Heirloom Tomatoes and Lemon Cucumbers (!!!) I got at the Union Sq Farmers Market:

She also made this Carrot Tahini soup┬áthat sounded like an interesting variation on Carrot Ginger and it is very tasty! It’s not like anything I’ve tasted before and the color is magnificient! Sorry, I don’t have a photo of it somehow. I was reading in this book about how people with cancer who eat foods high in carotenoids (carrots, yams, beets, etc.) live longer. Although I struggle with that phrase “live longer” because it sounds like it implies they still don’t live very long. Or on the positive side it could just mean, they outlive their prognosis and are still alive. That’s my plan anyway. Sorry, I was having so much fun talking about food and now I’ve brought death into the conversation. I’ve actually been feeling less overwhelmed by the thought of it lately somehow. I think that the Taoist philosophy I was reading a few weeks ago has settled in and is blossoming in my mind. I’ve been thinking about the idea of acceptance and how I feel more able to accept that I don’t know what will happen and that’s OK. It’s a lot better than sitting around worrying. That’s for sure. But alas, I’m a bit under the weather right now with some kind of head cold or something. I’m hoping its not a sinus infection because I normally get those once a year or so and my immunity is pretty low right now so we shall see. I’m on antibiotics so maybe that’s helping? Or hurting? I don’t know. I took a nap this morning and felt more energized after so hopefully I will keep getting better. And my new Himalayan Salt Rock Lamp is surely helping too! If I am feeling OK, I am going to Fire Island this weekend where I was hoping to set up an Indigo Dye Bath. We shall see what happens! Love to All! xoxo

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Green Therapy

Hello. I woke up this morning and I felt terrible. I’m starting to notice patterns of my symptoms post-chemo and am able to predict how to respond which is useful. I managed to get myself out of bed and got myself a very special present! A vitamix blender!

Holy cow is this an amazing device! It is expensive but it makes things so darn creamy and well mixed! This morning I made a smoothie with kale, almond butter, almond milk, and some other stuff thrown in. It didn’t taste so good because I wasn’t really paying attention but more interested in testing it out. But I did notice a burst of energy from drinking so much fresh raw kale! Yeah! I just made a pureed soup in it too and it was so comforting. I am officially part of the vitamix club. Did you know that it cleans itself! You just add some soap and turn it back on and then rinse it. So easy!

So to get myself out of the house we went to the New York Botanical Gardens. I’d been wanting to go there for awhile to see the Wild Medicine exhibition but it was a little underwhelming. The Four Seasons sculptures were funny. Here I am in front of the summer one:

I took the first picture in the post of these lovely lotus flowers we saw there. They were so unusual looking! I think I’ve finally got the hang of my fancy camera’s shallow depth of field! Haha. So my tooth saga is unfortunately not totally over. It’s been aching still so my doctor said to take another round of antibiotics and go back to an oral surgeon if it’s still hurting this week. I’ve been really worrying about it which probably doesn’t help. But it’s just frustrating to have to deal with something like this on an already heavy load if you know what I mean. I should have grabbed some leaves off this plant:

I wish there was a medicinal plant for crankiness/irritability. Hahahaha. That’s one of the “side effects” I’ve been noticing in the immediate days following chemo once the steroids wear off. Maybe the drugs affect your serotonin levels or something. Once I got myself out of bed, I so desperately wanted to practice mindfulness and be relaxed today and I was having a real hard time. This may sound crazy but one little thing that has really been helping me in the past few days is this adorable little fern I bought at the Union Sq Greenmarket on Friday. He’s just so cute and charming! Steve and I named him Franz. That’s why I was so excited to go to the Botanical Gardens today in hopes of connecting with all the plants in nature in a Disney-esque whimsical number. But I ended up being a cranky-pants who should have brought more snacks and I lost my Ray-Bans. Oh well. Tomorrow is another day and I get to play with my Vitamix. Happy Sunday to all! xoxo

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