Food Exploration: Vegan Food, Fighting Fatigue with Chef Jason Wyrick

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In the effort to broaden my horizons, as well as up the ante on my health and wellness, I attended a cooking class this afternoon.

This happened to be out of the ordinary for me, as I am rubbish at cooking or anything having to do with the kitchen. But, it’s a new year and a new me (maybe).  The class was offered by the Cancer Support Community- Arizona and was led by Chef, NY Times Bestselling Author and vegan genius, Jason Wyrick.

Over the years I have been an on and off again vegitarian and have always had an interesting and psychological relationship with food.  Nowadays, I often lack much of an appetite and when I do, it’s usually all of the terrible foods as opposed to the proper, nutritious meals that my stomach can handle due to my colon cancer.

Prior to today, I had zero knowledge of Chef Jason, or the benefits that a vegan diet can bring.  This class was specifically built around fighting fatigue and understanding on a high level how to retrain your palette to the different compounds within organic foods, as well as the antioxidants and super foods that are best to boost your energy.  Seemingly, all of the things that I am clueless about, yet happened to find incredibly interesting and eye opening after today’s course and the three recipes that Chef Jason shared.  Delectable and mouthwatering seems like a cheap shot, considering just how appetizing and healthy his recipes were.

Here are the vegan soup recipes that Chef Jason shared.  I hope you enjoy as much as I did!

Green Tea and Shiitake Noodles

  • IMG_56752 to 3 cups of brewed green tea
  • Salt to taste
  • A sprinkle of five spice (Cinnamon, Black Pepper, Fennel, Cloves and Sichuan Peppercorn)
  • 8 to 10 small shiitakes, sliced
  • 1 small package of ramen, udon noodles, or thick rice noodles
  • Cubed extra firm tofu
  • Keep brewed tea warm and add the slat, five spice, and sliced shiitakes
  • Bring to gentle simmer and add noodles, cubed tofu and cook noodles al dente.

Chilmole with Sweet Potatoes and Beans

  • IMG_56764 to 6 guajillo chiles, toasted and rehydrated
  • 3 cups of water
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Salt
  • 1 sweet potato, cubed
  • 1/2 cup of masa harina
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of rinsed beans
  • 2 cups of spinach
  • Puree chiles and water, transferring to a pot
  • Add pinch of cinnamon and salt to taste
  • Bring to simmer then add sweet potato until al dente
  • Slowly whisk the masa in until the soup thickens
  • Add beans, spinach and serve

Avocado Roasted Garlic Soup

IMG_5673

  • 1/4 cup of roasted garlic cloves
  • 2 large avocados
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of water
  • Puree all ingredients
  • Serve room temperature


Be sure to check out Chef Jason Wyrick and sign up for free recipes, videos and tips to a healthy vegan diet at www.thevegantaste.com!

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Love and yum,

Britt x

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Hello, Strangers!

#Cancer #YoungAdultCancer #Hospital #Health #Chemo #ColonCancer #BSMHB #BrittOchoa #BeStillMyHeartBlog I www.bestillmyheartblog.wordpress.com I

Hello, strangers!  Or am I the stranger? I feel as though I have been so disconnected as of late; from life, writing, inspiration and people.  I’d love to say exactly why, but I’m not sure that I am fully aware as to the reason myself.  Hmm, let me try to recount the days and see if I can uncover my whereabouts, both mentally and physically.

Last time I checked in, I was explaining some of the greater symptoms that I had been having from my 10th chemo round, through my 12th, as well as the subject of my neuropathy and the side effects the prescribed medication had on my body.  As mentioned in that post, I was taking Cymbalta as a means to help with the neuropathy and it did help, however the properties that came along with the drug were brutal and the Urologist determined that the medication was causing the neck of my bladder to be choked off, therefore I was left unable to urinate.

Shortly after the discovery of the Cymbalta’s outcome with the Urologist, my Oncologist called to schedule an impromptu appointment to discuss the next steps.  Seeing the Doctor upon her immediate request, she advised me to stop taking the medication immediately and then prescribed me with a drug called Lyrica, which falls a little bit closer to the results that we were looking to obtain with managing the neuropathy.  You see, neuropathy is one of the most common side effects of chemotherapy, but if not treated in a precise manner, then you may run the risk of the neuropathy being long term or potentially permanent.  That said, I gave the new medication a shot and yearned for the best.

A week or so into taking Lyrica, I felt optimistic.  Slowly, but surely the pins, needles and numbness to my hands and feet were beginning to subside and I was gaining more and more feeling, which meant walking became easier, as did grasping anything with my hands/fingers.  For a few days I was able to enjoy some comfort and wasn’t doomed to days in bed because of an inability to walk.

Just as I began to feel slightly human again, I was met once over with the encounters of brutal side effects and they were back in full swing; inability to urinate, walk, use my hands and an overall unwell detect.  As you would expect, I became annoyed with the ongoing symptoms that the neuropathy medication was contributing to my already ailing body.  I then rose to taking needful narcotics such as morphine and oxycodone, which were prescribed for  “as needed” pain relief.  Although it wasn’t the remedial purpose for the drugs, they allowed for a short-term relief of pain, but then again there are remote side effects to those drugs as well, brining forward a catch-22 on the scale of “pain” or “la-la land”.

Nevertheless, I saw the Doctor again for an urgent appointment to further discuss how we would tackle the treatment of neuropathy, while continuing to confront the main invader, which would be my cancer.   As I sat there in her office, I felt as though I was speaking to someone who I had known for years and someone with whom knows WAY too much about me, right down to my urination schedule and sleeping patterns.  However, she is also someone who genuinely cares and takes it upon herself to see that my cancer is cured and that I remain comfortable every step of the way until the euphoric day when I can say that I am CANCER FREE.

After endless amounts of brain storming, my Oncologist finally came to the decision to allow me to have a break from my chemotherapy treatment.  While this was wonderful news, it’s not under the most positive of reasoning.  She feels that my numbers are at a stage where she is comfortable giving me a few weeks to a few months relief from chemo, in an effort that my neuropathy will dissipate due to my young age, in addition to gaining back some much needed energy before starting chemo up again in the near future.

I am certainly grateful for the break, as I believe it is much needed on all accounts; both a mental and physical vacation.  Yet, it hasn’t been much of an escape thus far to meet the expectations of what I had anticipated this “chemo holiday” to be.  This has come with lying in bed most of my days, as the neuropathy has worsened, which has since led to muscle loss in my legs and has made me very weak overall.  Plus, the incessant TV commercials about laundry detergent are making me feel extremely guilty for my failure at holding up domestic duties and all of the exercise equipment infomercials result in me watching rock hard abs, all while I am withering away in my pajamas, in my bed.  That aside, it hasn’t been the visionary “The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Music” type of retreat, but seemingly I figured I would take what I could get.

Fast-forward a week or so, to my self-medicating, stir-crazy essential self, with little to no movement each day, to which I was then met with Thursday of last week and things got a little more interesting, even perhaps fun…at least for me.  Suddenly, the hills were actually alive with the sound of music and I was Julie Andrews, singing somewhere lost in a sea of flowers, whilst wearing German styled clothing.  Clearly, this was not happening, but it might as well have, for in my mind it was the real deal.  Yes, folks, Thursday I spent a fair share of my day hallucinating both visually and auditory.  My Nan, being semi alarmed about my tall tales and fanciful demeanor, immediately called to speak with my Oncologist and the Dr. referred my Nan to call 911.  Coherent enough to feel that calling 911 sounded ridiculous when I literally live 2 streets up from the Hospital, I requested that my Nan simply drive me there instead.

Rapidly being treated by the Emergency Department, they ran all sorts of scans, tests, etc. per the usual trips that I have become all too accustomed to.  I continued to drift in and out of my fairytale land only to overhear the ER nurse explain that I have bronchitis and a slight fever, which was the cause for my hallucinations.  It only took them six hours and twenty tests for them to come to that conclusion, but nonetheless, we were free to go home, where I would find myself instantaneously slipping into a slumber.

The following day I was left with no recollection of what the prior day looked like, including my journey to the hospital.  The weekend continued on with my now usual routine of waking up, having a cup of tea and residing to the bedroom for the remainder of the day, accompanied by Keg and some heavy duty pills for my record breaking ailments.  Soon the weekend surpassed without little action on my part and Monday, too, was in ordinary, insignificant form.  Yet, today, here we are and like every other day my aches, pains and numbness to the feet and hands are at an all time high, alongside increased blurred vision and absent-mindedness about many occurrences over the last two weeks or so.

With the ever-so-wise husband at work, he called me, as if he knew something was wrong today.  I tearfully told him how difficult it has been to sit here and write this blog post with my brief absence from the blog and to catch my readers up to speed.  The reason being, I could vaguely remember anything at all, from the fine details right up to the obvious happenings.  I also informed him that my vision was particularly blurry and that the evils of neuropathy had spread to the top of my thigh.

This now brings me to the last twenty minutes of my life.  I called the Doctor, in which she said she was very concerned over my slight amnesia and blurred vision.  In the world of a Doctor, those can be symptoms that can be synonymous to the brain.  Therefore, I have a MRI brain scan scheduled for first thing tomorrow morning.

In the end, maybe it was meant to be that I was absent from my blog for a week or two, as it forced me to recount my time; obliviousness and not for lack of concentration or attempt.  So, thank you my friends for listening/reading as I break everything down to memory.  Wish me luck tomorrow on my scan and fingers crossed that I remember writing this despairing post!

Love,

Britt x

Chemo Update: 10th, 11th, 12th Round

I #BSMHB #BeStillMyHeartBlog I www.bestillmyheartblog.wordpress.com

I #BSMHB #BeStillMyHeartBlog I www.bestillmyheartblog.wordpress.com

I #BSMHB #BeStillMyHeartBlog I www.bestillmyheartblog.wordpress.com

Top o’ the morning to you and Happy Monday, friends.  I awoke early today as my bedtime was roughly 7 o’clock last night.  My schedule is becoming that of an old woman.  Nevertheless, as I lay there, awake before the sun had risen, I realized that I have been negligent with regards to my Chemo Video VLOG’s over the last few sessions.  I was really priding myself on keeping that up as a means to share how each chemo session went, as well as reveal any new side effects, symptoms or other important updates pertaining to treatment.  My failure in doing so has come at the cost of how my chemo has been making me feel since my 9th round (I’ll be going in for round 13 next week).  As I have disclosed in previous posts, my energy levels have taken a dive and just about the only thing I feel like doing is sleeping.  It’s gotten to the point where I am in too much pain to sit or stand, so sleeping appears to be the best option of escape, along with my pain medication.

With all of that said, let me do a quick re-cap of my most recent chemo treatment and the effects I seem to be having.

  • Energy < No Energy
  • Small loss of appetite
  • Perpetually tired and sleeping ungodly amounts; morning, noon and night
  • Full-blown neuropathy in both hands and feet.  It has become difficult to type, as I am unable to feel my fingers/hands and has become extremely difficult to walk due to no feeling in my feet.  When walking, stumbling and wobbliness occurs and I look like a drunken person.
  • Continued low counts for both bone marrow and platelets.
  • Unfrequented urination (TMI, I know…)

The above pretty much sums up the more recent symptoms and side effects.  As for the neuropathy, the Dr. has prescribed me Cymbalta, which is an anti-depression medication, however it has been known to assist with alleviating the neuropathy.  I have been on the medication for about a week and I am not showing any signs of relief, but with most medications, it may take some time to see improvements.  On the plus side, it will also help with any form of depression.  Two birds, one stone.  Additionally on that note,  a friend and fellow cancer fighter advised me that her Dr, recommends B6 vitamins to assist with neuropathy.  You better believe I’ll be headed for the pharmacy today to purchase some B6 in hopes that it will help.  It’s so nice to be able to share tips and tricks with fellow cancer patients!

Second to that, I have continued to receive my bone marrow shots every Monday, following my chemo treatment from the week prior.  They still remain low, thus not helping my energy levels. I will be heading to the Dr.’s office in a few hours to get the not-so-lovely shot.  A little tip for anyone else who has to receive the Neulasta shot, begin taking Claritin twice daily, 3 days prior to the actual shot, alongside two Aleve with each Claritin.  This helps tremendously with the pain and makes it almost bearable for the few days following the shot itself.  Highly recommend, in an effort to not feel as though all of your bones are breaking.

Lastly, I contemplated sharing this one as it is a little personal.  I’m not one for talking about bathroom related topics, however for the sake of being forthright with all of my symptoms, I have decided to go ahead with it.  For anyone who knows me, or has been on a road trip with me, you can attest to the fact that I  frequently urinate.  I’m one of those girls with a pea-sized bladder that is constantly in need of going.  That said, for the last week and a half, my constant necessity for a restroom has been dramatically decreased.  So much so that I am now only able to urinate once or twice in a 24-48 hour time frame.  I have made my Oncologist aware of this new, strange issue and she immediately wanted me to go to the ER to have scans done, etc. but then changed her mind and wanted me to see a Urologist.  First of all, I never knew that “pee” had it’s own specialty Doctor and secondly, this is by far one of the stranger symptoms I have had since being diagnosed.  Low and behold, I followed my Dr.’s orders and went to see the Urologist last Thursday. He was able to scan my kidneys to ensure that they are stable, which thankfully, they are and then he sent me home with a worksheet so I can document each and every time I urinate over the course of the weekend.  This also includes the measurement in ounces of how much I am urinating each time.  I can safely say that it has been an extremely odd experience and I now know that I have urinated less than a handful of times over the weekend.  Once again, I’m sorry for the detailed information.  So, what’s next you ask?  I am seeing the Urologist again today to discuss next steps, whatever that may be and I will keep you posted, even if the subject is slightly mortifying.

All in all, that just about sums it up.  I’d love to tell you that I am in high spirits and everything is just dandy, but it depends on the day, the hour, the minute or the second that you ask me.  I’m continuing to take it one day at a time over here, as I believe that’s all I can do.  I’ll try to get back on track with the VLOG’s after each chemo round.  Wish me luck today with my bone marrow shot and my appointment with the Urologist (haha).

Until next time…

Love,

Britt x