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~ Motivation ~

Breast cancer survivor, Yulady Saluti ~ Photo by Robert Sturman ~


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Welcome to my Spark Page!



It may sound strange, but in some ways I look at my breast cancer as a blessing. It has helped me to put my life into perspective, by teaching me not to worry about the future, but instead, embrace each day and to live "IN THE MOMENT".. Of course there are things that I want to accomplish in my life, but I am not obsessed with reaching a certain milestone, within a certain period of time because that would not only stress me out, but more importantly, it would prevent me from enjoying the blessings I have "TODAY".. So, I am savoring every moment of my life and appreciating just "BEING".... everything in my life is richer, everything! TO LIFE!


On July 7, 2006, I was officially diagnosed with breast cancer.

My journey began one evening while I was doing step aerobics, my right arm kept hitting a sore area, right next to my right breast. At first I kind of brushed it off as being sore from the previous days strength training, but something just didn't feel right, so bright and early Monday morning I made an appointment with my PCP.

When my PCP examined my breast, she didn't feel anything unusual while I was lying down; the area that was sore seemed like it was underneath my breast but we couldn't pin point exactly where. She had me to stand up and raise my arm while she examined my breast and she detected a round like lump, not hard, or pea sized, but it had more of a cyst-like feel to it... She wasn't too worried about it and felt that since I had just had my mammogram in January/2006, that it was probably a cyst, and no enlarged lymph nodes could be felt, so she set me up for a diagnostic mammogram....

On the morning of my mammogram I had to take my son and school mate of his with me because I had to register them for the school year, so they waited patiently for me in the waiting room... meanwhile, after the mammogram the radiologist saw a very pronounced lump and informed me that it looked suspicious and would I agree to a biopsy... "that day"... They said that the breast cancer surgeon was in the clinic and would be happy to do the biopsy right away... of course I said yes...

It is amazing what you can actually endure when you have to because I hate needles... the biopsy is similar to aspirating fluid from a cyst, except they are removing actual cells instead ... anyway... it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be... They did 6 passes, 3 samples from the tumor and 3 from the lymph node that was swollen... that is what was causing the pain... They actually tested the cells right away and confirmed the diagnosis to be cancer in the tumor and in the lymph node that they tested... I asked the breast surgeon, Dr. J. "does this mean that the cancer has spread throughout my body?" and she said that "no", it just means that the cancer was metastatic to the lymph nodes...I also had an ultrasound right after the biopsy... The ultra sound was painless and I could see all angles of the tumor... it was perfectly round, but solid... that's what ruled the cyst out... ... Dr. J. ordered me to have a breast MRI within the next 2 weeks... Life goes on... after the mammogram, biopsy and ultrasound I took my son and his friend to school for registration, but I didn't mention it to my son... he was 15, soon to be 16 in August...

I had never had an MRI and this was a weird experience, as you have to lie face down, with your breast hanging over a table... My PCP had prescribed an Ativan to take right before the MRI to relax me... I actually fell asleep during the test... I went home and Dr. J. called me later on that day to tell me that the test showed that I had no other suspicious areas in either breast and they found nothing on my chest/ribs... next step ...surgery...

My surgery was scheuduled for August 25, 2006... I looked forward to it because I just wanted to get this "cancer" out of me before it had more chance to invade my body... I had a lumpectomy or modified mastectomy and an axillary dissection, 3 out of 27 nodes were positive... I stayed overnight and was released the next morning and given instructions on how to care for the drain that was inserted by my breast on the right side and a video with exercises that I would eventually have to do to help me rehabilitate my right arm... About 4 days after surgery Dr. J. called, very upbeat.. initially she thought my tumor was over 3cm's which would have put me at Stage III, but it was 2cm which put me at Stage II, PR+, 3+nodes...she also mentioned that pathology was amazed that the 5cm lymph node (the soreness I felt) showed no signs of having infiltrated to the outside of the lymph node, so it did what it was supposed to do... contained the cancer... had I waited to see my PCP who knows how long it would have contained it...

Two weeks after the drain was removed and I returned to work, I started my arm and shoulder exercises and although painful, I worked through it and regained pretty much all the mobility in my arm again... I wanted to feel in control, and I was determined not to let "cancer" alter me anymore than it already had...

I started chemo in September/2006... 8 rounds... 4 of AC and 4 of Taxol. The Taxol caused some neuropathy in my hands (slight numbness) and in my feet... burning, mostly at night after I have walked for a long period of time & sometimes for no reason at all!... I absolutely hated AC because it would give me a killer headache and horrible pressure on the bridge of my nose about 15 minutes after my treatment ended, every single time... I would have to take tylenol and sit and wait until it was over, about 20 minutes... the nurse told me that it was the cytoxan that caused it. I didn't get a port, so I dreaded having chemo... remember my fear of needles... but I was more scared to get a port because my mother had one and developed a blood clot... However, if I ever have to go through chemo again, and I pray that I don't, I will get a port the next time... I pretty much ran out of veins in all the conventional places so the Phlebotomist had to be creative... she was very good... I had radiation for 37 weeks and I didn't have many problems with radiation, minor skin irritation and itching, but no major burns. I am blessed to be working within walking distance from the hospital and I worked throughout all my treatments... I would take days off as needed...

About 3 weeks after my radiation treatments were over I started on Tamoxiphen a medication that is taken to help prevent recurrences of breast cancer in women who are ER/PR+, or positive with one or the other, I am slightly PR+... In October/2007, I had a hysterectomy due to a prolapsed cervix and started Arimidex another anti-cancer drug for menopausal women...


I want women to be aware of the following:

~ Mammograms are important, however, I had had a mammogram January/2006 and no tumor showed up until July/2006. It was a fresh tumor because pathology did not find any dead or old cancer cells... Dead cells would have indicated that the tumor had been there for awhile.. This is where "self-examinations" become essential please keep in mind the following points...

* Do a breast self-exam "every month", even following a mammogram because tumors can pop up virtually overnight...

~ When I examined my breasts lying down with my arm raised, I never felt anything and I performed the "self-exams" every month... The only way I and my doctor were able to feel the tumor was either in an upright position, "standing or sitting"... with arm above head, like when you are lying down...

... so in addition to examining your breast lying down, perform additional exams:

* standing up with arm up and down

* sitting with arm up and down

~ Don't ignore seemingly unrelated symptoms... as I mentioned earlier, I didn't feel any swollen lymph nodes under my arm, or a painful lump in my breast, but I had a slightly sore area, that I only felt when I would move my arm in a certain way... {this turned out to be a lymph node underneath the breast, near the outer quadrant area... }... I could have easily brushed this off as minor soreness from a previous workout... I really believe it was "divine intervention" ... if that lymph node had not been sore, I wouldn't have called my pcp because I hadn't felt anything abnormal during my previous monthly breast exams.... "God is good"...



CURRENT: Low Carb Paleo/primal lifestyle

Starting weight: 180lbs [... ugggh, this is the most I have ever weighed!]

My first 10% goal is: 162lbs

Starting blood work:
Cholesterol: 237
LDL: 167
BP is higher than I would like ... varies

EXERCISE: remains the same as below


PAST information [... keeping for reference & proof that the program works if I follow it!!!!]

... about 3 years ago, starting in August 2011. I was sold on this lifestyle because lost weight, almost effortlessly, and improved blood work:

Lost weight: from 168 to 154
LDL: reduced from 122 to 107.
Cholesterol: reduced from 187 - 162
Triglycerides: under 50

Unfortunately, I gained it all back over the 2011 Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays.

~ NOW: 2014 ~

From APRIL - JUNE 2014, I followed:

CHRIS KRESSER PERSONAL PALEO CODE 30 DAY RESET [... please check out his web site for more information if interested in finding out more about this reset]

Following this reset I reached my 1st 10% weight loss goal:

Starting weight: 176
Current weight: 158

A total of 18 pounds. I have maintained this weight loss to date, about 3 months.

I am now doing my 2nd 30 (... or more days) reset:

START DATE: September 1, 2014 - weight loss goal is reached

... I will be doing the reset month to month until I reach my goal because it is structured and keeps me mindful of what and how I am eating.

** NOTE: If anyone is interested in trying out the paleo lifestyle, I highly recommend Chris Kresser's book, it is an easy read, user friendly with loads of information. His approach allows you to "personalize your "paleo plan/lifestyle" so that you will get the results based on specific health conditions and other goals that you want to acheive. He also includes a 7 day meal plan with recipes.

... I was successful in my weight loss because I eliminated:

SUGAR: (... I have a ferrocious sweet tooth) I now look as sugar as a toxin and use fruits and occasional 80% dark chocolate for a sweet treat.

CAFFEINE: (coffee): I drank over 10 cups per day and I added cream. As a result I consumed many "empty calories", and the dairy was also stalling my weight loss.

After the reset I slowly re-introduced the following back into my diet:

CHEESE: I eat in moderation, mainly in recipes and so far does not appear to be causing a problem.

COFFEE: 1 cup per week

DAIRY: I find that I can have cream once a week in coffee without a problem.

Adding heavy cream to recipes does not appear to stall my weight loss (YAY), however, I mainly use coconut milk, coconut cream (... and other coconut products) as well as almond milk in recipes.

Grass fed butter: KERRY GOLD... love this butter... I can use with no problem!!!!!

White potatoes: I eat these sparingly during the week with no problem.

White rice: I basically use riced cauliflower for recipes that require rice. I sometimes add about 1/4 - 1/2 cup of rice to the riced cauliflower when I want to eat it.

** NOTE: I eat more or less starch depending on my energy needs for a particular day. **

I follow a hybrid of both the Primal & Paleo lifestyles... "the best of both worlds!"...

Basic Primal lifestyle guidelines: [... based on The Primal Blueprint, by Mark Sisson]

Fat: Enjoy freely but sensibly for balance of caloric needs and high dietary satisfaction levels.

Eliminate: Sugary foods and beverages, grains (wheat, corn, rice, pasta, breads, cereals, etc.), legumes (soy and other beans), trans and partially hydrogenated fats, high-risk conventional meat and produce, and excess PUFA�s (instead, increase omega-3 oils).

Modern Adjustments: Some modern foods that Grok didn't eat can still be included in a healthy diet

Moderation: Certain high glycemic fruit, coffee, high-fat dairy products, starchy tuber vegetables, and wild rice, "peeled" white potatoes, and even "white rice!"

Supplements: Multivitamin/mineral formula, probiotics, omega-3 fish oil and protein powder.

Herbs, spices and extracts: Offer many health benefits and enhance enjoyment of meals.

Sensible indulgences: Dark chocolate, moderate alcohol, high-fat treats.

... following the 80/20 to 85/15% rule


WALKING: Daily 35 - 60 minutes, weather permitting

Cardio: 3 - 5 days per week, alternating, HIIT & steady state

Strength training (rotating weighted and non-weighted body weight only exercises)

- Full-body and split workouts


... aiming for order in my life, I want to:

Learn more about meditation, and incorporate it into my daily life

... strive for balance in "ALL" things



A Favorite quote, something I strive for ...

"The goal in life is living in agreement with nature."

~Zeno, from Diogenes Laertius~


Peace & Blessings (((HUGS)))

Member Since: 1/11/2008

Fitness Minutes: 53,749

My Goals:
1.) To lose enough weight or equivalent inches, this year to decrease my BMI to 29 or less ... and to gain muscle definition

2.) To be consistent with my exercise and diet program

3.) To consistently track meals/workouts in my Spark "Shared Food/Fitness" tracker's

My Program:

Low carb hybrid of Primal /Paleo lifestyles


Strength: 2 -3x's/wk
Full and split workouts

Cardio: 5 - 6x's/wk

I have a home gym that includes:

- an adjustable weight bench

- Bowflex adjustable weights (5 - 52lbs)

- barbell set with weights up to 175lbs & factional wt plates to micro-load

- weight bench system with lat pull-down & leg ext. attachment

- aerobic step
- Urban rebounder
- hula hoop
- Fluidity barre
- pilates reformer
- Pilates Arc
- BAS: Body Action System (heavy bag)
- stability ball
- medicine (6 & 8lbs), playground and small weighted balls(3 & lbs)
- kettlebells: 5 - 15lbs
- Cathes Turbo Tower
- SCHWINN IC PRO spinning bike

DVD's: close to 200 dvd workouts

Personal Information:
I live in Chicago, Illinois

I was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer in July/2006; had surgery, Aug. 2006; chemo/rads until 4/2007.. So far so good!!!...

... my goal is to try to prevent a recurrence of breast cancer & other health problems, through diet and exercise.

Other Information:
I have a 25 year old son, who has had Type I diabetes since 7 yrs old... now on the insulin pump... he graduated from college in December 2014.

I love to exercise; my passions include: art, music, preferably jazz, reading detective/mystery novels, trying out new recipes, movies. learning photography, talking for hours with friends.

I would love to travel to Kuranda, QLD Australia, my maternal great-grandparents birth place and to Cuba (Havana) where my paternal grandmother's parents were born

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    Hi Dee! I read your comment on my page with regards to FB connection. Check your Spark Mail folder. Have a great start to a new week, too!

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    714 days ago
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    714 days ago
  • v ATHENA130
    Hi Dee!

    I hate that it is so quick to gain weight too. I'm been moving up and down the same 6 lbs (between 183 and 189) for awhile now. The good thing is both of us know we can lose it again and we will.

    Seeing blood in the urine must have been so scary for you! I hope it is what your doctor thinks and it is just a simple UTI and nothing more serious. Are they doing any more tests given you had that issue with your blurry vision awhile back? Hoping there isn't more going on. Keeping my fingers crossed that everything is OK.

    I ended up getting a new furnace and air conditioner and they were able to install it yesterday so I have air conditioning again! I really think mine wasn't working for quite a while when I think back on it. I decided to get the furnace - they recommended it - as the furnace is the same age and I remember wondering about it back in the winter. I was originally going to take the risk and get the ac only and hope the furnace was OK but decided it wasn't worth it. Cost more than I would have liked but it is a necessity. Anyway, it is working great now. I forgot what it felt like! lol I think my boys are happier now too - they did not like no AC and the fans freaked them out. lol One of them has bugged me constantly during the night crying and meowing for attention.

    I'm trying to relax about the eating in the sense of trying to be too strict and control it seems to make it worse. As long as I eat well most of the time I should be OK. I really need to get back the control and perfectionist issues around eating as it is making it worse. I only worked out a few days this week because of all the stuff with the air conditioning and trying to get a new one as soon as possible. I did 3 workouts today as I had more energy now that I have AC again. I did one of the Valerie Waters bootcamp workouts, Turbo Jam: 20 Minute Workout (love that one!) and Janis Saffell's Yoga Pilates Series workout.

    Overcoming emotional eating is so difficult. I am finally accepting that it will always be something I have to choose whereas before I kept thinking I would just get it one day and problem solved. I don't think it works that way. Some times I will give in and some times I won't. I think what matters more is how you handle it after - don't use it as an excuse to keep going and just get back on track with the next meal. I think you're right in that we are both closer to getting it.

    I think it is a great idea to focus on the health benefits or other things that the scale/measurements. I think it is a lot easier to stay on track that way as you don't get upset over the scale or inches.

    Sorry to hear the BP is back up again - more incentive to get going! I received my blood test results a week or so ago - she was just testing blood sugar this time. It went down from when she tested in January (not a lot but it did decrease). The problem is that they changed the standards for what they consider normal/acceptable so I'm a little higher so I have to use that as an incentive to stay focused.

    Hope you are having a fantastic weekend!
    715 days ago
  • v ATHENA130
    Hi Dee - no worries. I haven't been great at checking in on Spark lately either (better on FB too).

    I hear you on the emotional eating part - my eating is largely dependent on how I am feeling and/or how well I'm managing with everything going on. I have slipped back into old habits but have gotten back on track.

    My biggest frustration right now is that I have no air conditioning and it is so hot and humid. I have to get a new air conditioner and wasn't planning on it so it will be a stretch but has to be done. I have some fans going in the meantime while I get some estimates but will be looking to get it done sooner rather than later because it is getting way too hot in the house and I don't handle heat well to begin with.

    I'm back on track with my eating and workouts this week. The last few weeks, I stopped working out and was eating junk again. I started feeling sick again so it was a good reminder to stop eating that stuff. I had some blood work done and there has been some improvement in my fasting blood sugar and A1 numbers but I still need to get them down a bit more. Another incentive to get back on track. I'm trying to focus on being healthier and developing healthier habits and trying to focus less on the weight and measurements. Will see if it makes a difference.


    718 days ago
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    720 days ago
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