After Breast Cancer

breast cancerMy recommended breast cancer treatment involved a lumpectomy, radiation and a hormone therapy. I followed the doctor’s advice for the first two treatments, but when I asked more specific questions about the hormone therapy when discussing the options with my oncologist I decided that the statistics weren’t impressive enough to make a difference in my “survival rates”.  The oncologist agreed that only a 1-2% increase wasn’t enough to sway me to consider this therapy for me. I’ve since learned that the hormone drugs used for breast cancer really didn’t make sense after I learned what a scientist had to say. I was over 50, but I wasn’t senile yet.

Gut Issues

During the radiation treatments I developed a GI issue, watery diarrhea that was a daily occurence.  At first I thought I had caught an intestinal flu from one of the radiation techs who had missed a day of work.  But my problem didn’t clear up after a week or so. I started asking the doctors and I was prescribed an antibiotic, Cipro. I took all of the medication but the diarrhea didn’t stop. When I shared this with my oncologist she referred me back to my primary care person, concerned it might be C. diff. I was prescribed another antibiotic, Flagyl. I finished the prescription but I wasn’t better. Eventually I wound up in the ER and was diagnosed with diverticulitis, an infection in the intestines. Another course of antibiotics were prescribed starting with an IV and then sent home with a prescription. Two days later I was admitted to the hospital and after an overnight stay and IV antibiotics was sent home with another antibiotic prescription.

Finally my infection was gone, but not my diarrhea.  It wasn’t until I stopped using a non-dairy coffee creamer that the daily diarrhea suddenly stopped.  This was what lead me to start my research and learn about GMOs in our food.  The other major step in healing my GI tract was a visit to the health food store.

good and bad bacteria in gutProbiotics

A very knowledgeable person talked to me to find out a little more about what led up to the problem, during and after to discover clues to what lay behind my particular route of health.  After listening to me give a brief synopsis of my GI dilemma, she recommended that I start taking a probiotic.  After so many antibiotic medications all of the bacteria were gone in my intestines, including the “good guys”.  We need certain bacteria in our GI tract to help us digest our food and provide our body with the nutrients it needs to keep us healthy.  I needed to restore the natural balance in the gut microbiome.

Feeling “Blue”

Fast forward, to the after cancer treatments part of my life.  I wasn’t “bouncing back” after the radiation treatments ended. It had been twice as long since I’d finished treatments than my treatments had lasted.  Usually people start feeling “normal” when the time after treatment is equal to the time of the treatment(s). I asked my nurse practitioner why I was feeling tired, stressed and sluggish and didn’t feel anything close to “normal”. Eventually a phone call turned into a big mistake. I spoke to several people at the clinic, the receptionist, the nurse and the nurse practitioner. Somewhere I was mistaken for a suicide attempt.  Within minutes two sheriffs were at my door and my husband came home from work. The hospital decided to admit me into the psychiatric ward for observation. I was told I could be admitted “voluntarily” (3 day minimum) or by “court order” (7-10 day stay). They didn’t understand….I wasn’t crazy or suicidal. I wanted to LIVE and feel good.  I knew that “normal” was merely a setting on the dryer, according to Erma Bombeck.

I saw the therapist. She evaluated me as probably the most sane person she’s met.  I also saw a psychiatrist who prescribed anti-depressents. Once I had them filled and started taking them I wasn’t sure the drug made me feel any better. Actually I felt that this was not a good drug for me. I read the insert for the medication and noticed it increased or elongated the Q-T rhythms. I knew, from my anatomy and physiology training and working in pathology and microbiology at the University of Nebraska, this involved the heart rhythms. With my family history of lethal heart attacks in my family this wasn’t a good medicine for me. I asked the doctor who had prescribed it about these side effects and my family history and he ordered an EKG. The results showed my Q-T rhythms were elongated. His decision was that it was not enough to pull me off the drug, according to the FDA.  I felt otherwise. I went home and started researching, like my life depended on it.  It did.

Vitamin D³

I learned about Vitamin D deficiency symptoms and realized that this was what I was experiencing. I asked my nurse practitioner to test me and she did. My levels were only at 9. Normal range starts at 35. I was extremely deficient, enough to cause these problems, without a doubt. She prescribed vitamin D3 at 10,000 iu per week. I later learned that wasn’t enough so I slowly increased the dose.  I was retested a few months later and my levels of vitamin D were within normal range and better yet, my symptoms were gone. Now I’m tested every 6 months. I take my vitamin D everyday.

7 signs of vitamin d deficiency7 Signs You May Be Vitamin D Deficient

“The only way to know for sure if you’re vitamin D deficient is via blood testing. However, there are some signs and symptoms to be aware of as well. If any of the following apply to you, you should get your vitamin D levels tested sooner rather than later.”

  1. You Have Darker Skin
  2. You Feel “Blue”
  3. You’re 50 or Older
  4. You’re Overweight
  5. Your Bones Ache
  6. Head Sweating
  7. You Have Gut Trouble


— Quoted from “7 Signs and Symptoms You May Have a Vitamin D Deficiency“, Dr. Mercola

Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D?

Vitamin D deficiency exists in the majority of people who live north of Atlanta, Georgia. Vitamin D comes from sunshine, but not enough people get strong enough rays to get an adequate amount from sunshine alone. I was fine while living in Florida, but in Michigan it’s a whole other ball game. Learn even more about Vitamin D from Dr. Mercola and whether you might be deficient. Ask your medical professional about doing a simple blood test if you’re not sure.

The best source of Vitamin D is from exposure to sunshine. Dermatologists tell people to avoid going out in the sun.  I followed their advice only to learn that I am depriving myself of the most important vitamin for our health.  Now I enjoy some sun exposure, but I’m careful not to get to much. I don’t want to burn my skin, but I do want the energy the sun gives me.  I’m going to take my medicine now…see you in a little while, after I get some rays.