Friday, October 20, 2023

Meet Moose, our new little man

I don't know when it was exactly, but mrC and I decided to add to our furry family. About a month ago we picked up this cute red golden retriever.

Meet Moose!

mrC was out of town on pick up day, so I drove by myself to Wyndham, New Hampshire to get him. The breeder brought out three 10 week old boys for me to look at. In true Goldilocks fashion, one was too energetic, one was too timid and one was just right! Plus he had the cutest little cowlick hairline on his nose that the breeder told me is called a zipper nose! 

Moose absolutely loves his big sister, Quincy! He wants to be anywhere she is and doing what she is doing. Quincy has been very tolerant of Moose as he learns how to navigate when she wants to play and when she doesn't. 

Moose loves to go for walks! At first his walks were strictly loops around the cul-de-sac circle to protect his little legs and until his immunity was stronger. Our neighborhood has more dogs than kids! We've slowly increased the distance and ventured out into the neighborhood. Like a true retriever, he loves to carry his leash.

Moose went on his first road trip with us to Castle in the Clouds which is about an hour and fifteen minutes away. He did great! We went on a little trail walk to a waterfall, checked out a trout pond and played in the grass. He fell asleep on the way home.

Moose is so curious! He's my little shadow (when he's not obsessing over his sister) following me around the house, waiting while I workout and sleeping at my feet while I coach my clients online. His little nose tries to smell everything all the time. 

Moose is a pillow guy, sort of! Although crate trained, he does have a dog bed that we are working to train him to use for quiet time. So far I think it is mostly working!

What else would you like to know about Moose?

Friday, October 6, 2023

My breast cancer diagnosis was the ”best” bad news I could get

One of my goals for October is to get back to blogging by writing one post per week.

Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I figured sharing my personal journey with breast cancer would be a good place to start. It is one of the reasons I haven't blogged in so long. I've supported BCAM for years, doing walks, runs and sponsored posts here on the blog. This year is different. This year I am part of statistics.

My breast cancer diagnosis was the ”best” bad news I could get. In January, I went for my routine mammogram. It wasn't uncommon for me to have follow up imaging because I have dense breasts, so I wasn't surprised when I had to go back for diagnostic mammogram two weeks later.

After that, things moved pretty quickly. They found a cluster that looked "suspicious" and the day after turning 52, I was having a biopsy of my right breast. The biospy was scary. Fortunately, mrC was home and waiting for me. I sat in a chair while the doctor used mammography to find the cluster, use a needle to take a sample and leave a marker. 

We got the results call on Valentine's Day. I was diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS). 

DCIS means that I had cancer cells in my duct but they hadn't left the duct. That was the good news.

At the end of the month, we met my entire breast cancer care team at what they call a Multi D: my nurse navigator (who I had already met during my biopsy) the surgeon, radiation oncologist, and medical oncologist, along with a social worker and financial coordinator. Before meeting me, the multidisciplinary team got together to discuss my case and treatment options. 

My treatment plan: lumpectomy, followed by radiation and then an estrogen blocker for up to 5 years.

Before my surgery, I had to have a RFID tag inserted so the surgeon would know exactly what tissue to remove. Similar to my biopsy, it was done using the same seated mammography to find the marker left during my biospy. The doctor then placed the RFID tag. After checking, the doctor could not see the tag, so they had to do it again. Even with the delay, this process was much quicker than the biospy, but my body was so stressed that I passed out. My nurse navigator assured me that is is very common because when our body is stressed, our blood sugar drops because it is being used by our "flight or fight" response. 

One of the hardest parts of my journey was keeping the news from the kids. Devan was pregnant with baby Frank and we didn't want to add any stress to her or the other two by making them keep a secret. Baby Frank was born the day after my tag placement.

Two weeks later I had my lumpectomy. 

Recovery was pretty simple for me. Going into it strong and healthy otherwise was a big help. Mostly the swelling of my little boob was uncomfortable and the incision hurt a little, but overall, it was only a few days of discomfort. Again, I was blessed to have mrC home to help me. 

After a couple weeks of recovery I started radiation. 16 days of 5 minutes of beeps and bright lights. As with most of this journey, I was more nervous than I needed to be. On the very first day I met another lady waiting for her treatment. When she learned it was my first day, she quickly offered words of encouragement. It felt like I joined a secret club.

Before starting my treatment, I had no idea what getting radiation entailed. This is the machine that aimed the beams at my breast to stop the growth of any remaining cancer cells left after surgery. I lie on the table and the technicians made sure I was aligned perfectly. When they didn't have to move me, they called it a “perfect landing.” Chris liked that.

Prior to starting radiation, I had a genetic test done. My grandfather had breast cancer, so I wanted to know if we had a gene so I could share that with my sister and cousins. All my tests came back negative!

I received a Radiant Wrap as a gift from the oncology radiation team at the Seacoast Cancer Center. It is much more comfortable than a hospital gown -> literally softer but also, it just felt good knowing my back wasn't exposed when walking down the hall to the radiation room. Mine is a snow leopard print…the leopard symbolizes strength and courage.

During treatment, I had weekly On Treatment Visits (OTV) with the doctor afterwards. I started experiencing some side effects to the radiation treatments about halfway through -> pink skin, some itchiness, mild pain and fatigue (all normal). I’m a morning person, usually up before 6, but every couple of days I was sleeping in and a few times I took afternoon naps. I knew my body was going through the healing process during that time.

My treatment schedule meant changes to our morning routine since I went every day at 8am, but we found ways to make the most of having to leave the house every day. On Fridays we enjoyed stopping for a bite to eat and people watching from the window seats at Cup of Joe followed by a walk around downtown Portsmouth. Walking was pretty much my workout during the month of May.

I didn't expect to, but I cried on the last day of radiation when I rang the bell. It was such a relief to know that I was done with that phase of my journey and one step closer to full recovery. We celebrated by going to lunch with the family and enjoying the beautiful spring weather.

The entire radiation technician team at Wentworth Douglas Cancer Center was so amazing from the very first day. Friendly faces greeted me every step of the way each day.

Once I got my energy back, I jumped back into my FASTer Way workouts. I'm a coach, and also a client. I was able to follow our nutritional strategies all through my treatments. What I missed most was the exercise. It felt good to get moving again beyond just walks.

About a month after finishing the radiation, I met with my medical oncologist again. He prescribed Tamoxifen for me to take for at least 2 years. My cancer cells were estrogen positive, meaning the estrogen in my body feeds the cancer cells. Taking the medicine will reduce the chances of recurrence.

mrC was my rock. He spent a lot of time in waiting rooms over the last couple of months. There is no greater comfort than knowing he is there. I’ve been very lucky that he has been home for nearly every step of this process and I couldn’t be more grateful for his support.

I hate that 1 in 8 women will face some form of breast cancer no matter how healthy and diligent we are. The growing list of ladies I know personally makes me sad. Writing about my journey and sharing it with others helped me turn my emotions into something positive by using it as a way to remind everyone to check your breasts and schedule your mammograms.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

My Favorite Fall Activities on the Seacoast

Until yesterday, we were having a little heatwave here in New England, but not so much now. I really love the fall and jeans, sweaters and boots. Plus there are just so many fun things to do!

As we get ready to wrap up another fall season, here are some of my favorite fall activities that we've done since moving back to the seacoast last year.

Pumpkin Fest - Applecrest Farm Orchards, Hampton Falls, NH

They have a pumpkin field with pumpkins ready to go, animals, apple cider donuts, flowers, food and a store filled with yummy homemade products. Plus, it is pet friendly!

Leaf Peeping - Kancamgus Highway, NH

We've done this two times now. I highly recommend stopping to grab a map and plotting out places to stop for pics, hikes, attractions. This year we rode the gondola at Loon Mountain -> totally worth it!

Pumpkin Scarecrows - Portsmouth, NH

About a week or two before Halloween, the scarecrows go up around downtown Portsmouth. Last year we lived on State Street and saw them all the time. This year, we went over to Portsmouth for a long walk and counted how many we saw just for fun. We found 12 that day.

Apple Picking - Applecrest Farm Orchards, Hampton Falls, NH

I was 51 years old the first time I went apple picking!!! Applecrest Farm has the oldest apple orchard in New Hampshire, so we went back to raid their trees. We picked a peck of Golden Delicious, and Jonagold. In addition to pick your own, they had other fun activities like a corn maze and corn hole games.

Halloween Parade - Portsmouth, NH

Living downtown last year made it super easy to step out and watch the Halloween fun march and dance through the streets. This is definitely an activity that you should do at least once.

York Harbor Cliff Walk - York, Maine

Any coastal trail walk in the fall is fun. You'll get sunshine, crisp air and pops of color against the beautiful ocean blue. We loved the cliff walk in York because it reminded us of Newport's Cliff Walk.

What are your favorite things to do in the fall?

Sunday, October 30, 2022

When all you want for the holidays is a pretty red lip!!

 Today I want to highlight one of my favorite new products → At the Red-y Lip Duo!  

I admit, I am not usually a red lip kind of girl…that's for bold, confident ladies, right? Well, I've always wanted to rock a pretty red lip, especially for the holidays, so after seeing my consultant friends wearing it, I had to try it myself! 
This color looks amazing on everyone, don't you think??!!

Here's why you should consider this for yourself or as a gift:
  • A dynamic duo that’s hard to beat - Smart hybrid formula of the Sheer Genius Conditioning Lipstick and the next-level shine of the Beyond Gloss!
  • Responsibly sourced vanilla from Madagascar that gives both products their sweet scents. The supplier is not only committed to high-quality ingredients but also to improving the quality of life for their community of farmers.
  • Watch this At the Red-y Lip Duo how-to video
Such a beautiful red lipstick for fall and winter, and the holiday season! Order yours today here!
If you're brand new to Beautycounter (or have a new email address), enjoy 20% off your first order, including the new holiday sets, AND receive our Bright Duo set, too! (*FREE* with any purchase of $150 or more!)

(Beautycounter is confident that you'll love everything you purchase. However, if you aren't satisfied with a product for any reason, you can return the unused portion within 60 days from the ship date!)

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Why Leg Day Treats?

One of the most favorite aspects of the FASTer Way program is the “Leg Day Treat.” 

In the FASTer Way, we don’t believe in deprivation. That’s why we have a food cycle designed to allow us to enjoy our favorite treats on Leg Day, totally guilt-free. We work out a large muscle group, our legs, which results in a ramped up metabolism, turning our bodies into fat-burning machines all day long.

Leg Day strength training includes some of the more challenging movements of all the strength-based workouts, and the legs and glutes are among the largest muscle groups in the body. Challenging yourself in heavy strength training with the largest muscle groups means you’re likely burning more calories on Leg Day than on other strength days.

Most people who try a diet or “fat loss lifestyle” don’t stick with it for the long-term because it’s too restrictive and doesn’t teach them HOW to incorporate occasional treats. We learn how to still eat a treat and how honesty in that freedom is important. It's not a diet of deprivation, but a lifestyle where you eat mindfully and with purpose.

It is important to note that we participate in a treat MEAL...not a cheat DAY.  Going off course for an entire day can quickly unravel some of your hard earned work; however, a treat meal is unlikely to do so. A treat meal serves a couple of purposes. It can trick your body and turn your metabolism up a notch. Plus it gives you a mental release from feeling like you have to be "perfect" all the time.

Some people find the idea of “treats” to be particularly triggering and they have a hard time stopping at one treat or an appropriately portioned treat. Please understand that building in foods made of discretionary calories is entirely voluntary and I encourage you to make the best decision for you and your wellness journey.

How do you incorporate treats or do you avoid them?