No More Chemo Brain!

Anyone who has gone through chemo has experienced “chemo brain” – the feeling that you are now going through life with half your brain tied behind your back. It’s a real thing, as anyone who has had half their vocabulary wiped out can attest to. In my case, chemo thrust me head first into menopause, so I had a double whammy of brainlessness. I had just enough of my brain left to know just how much I had lost. I would probably never again be able to ace a statistics test. (But now I don’t care!)


I have one of those jobs where focus and concentration is one of the top requirements for success. If you don’t have it, you get noticed, but in a bad way. Usually I have time to prepare thoroughly for a concert, but sometimes we get our music at the one and only rehearsal we might have. Sight reading it is! I think I’m a pretty damned good sight reader, and it never used to be a problem for me. After chemo brain, however, I felt like I was hanging on by the skin of my teeth. I made stupid mistakes all the time. Fortunately, most of them went by with little notice. I had no focus, no concentration, and no energy.

So what changed? Well, for a little over two months now, I’ve been taking EHT, a new supplement sold by Nerium International. Full disclosure: I am an independent brand partner, and the company wanted us to try it before it went on sale to the general public. By nature I tend to be very skeptical, and I’ve taken TONS of supplements and vitamins over the years. I’m taking a bunch now. But after two and a half months on EHT, I can honestly say that this is the only supplement I have ever taken where I know absolutely, unequivocally, indisputably that it does what it says it’s going to do. Simply put, it works!

So what is it and what does it do?

EHT is short for eicosanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamide. It was developed over 20 years of research by Dr. Jeffry Stock of Princeton University.(Scientific papers can be found here.) Dr. Stock and his son, Dr. Maxwell Stock, lead Signum Biosciences, the lab which has patented the EHT molecule. According to information from Nerium International, EHT:

• Promotes better cognitive function and overall brain health
• Combats oxidative stress and chronic inflammation
• Fortifies and strengthens natural brain functions
• Protects and supports neuronal networking
• Enhances the body’s natural energy stores
• Boosts the body’s immune system
• Increases focus

Or, as one person put it, “it fixes split ends in the brain!” Prior to partnering with Nerium, the Doctors Stock were marketing to professional athletes. That was all good, but they wanted a bigger audience and more help getting the word out. Enter Nerium, the company that sold $100 million of just one product in its first year in business. And we are getting the word out, especially as we ourselves feel the effects of this supplement! (Full ingredient list here.)


I have no idea why the Stock family has chosen this route over the traditional “Big Pharma” route. They have a history of brain health issues in their family, which is why they chose to focus on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease, and they surely know how drug companies work. My guess is that they wanted to get EHT into as many hands as possible, as quickly as possible. There is no love lost between me and the drug companies. This 60 minutes report outlines what happens behind the scenes. When a cancer drug works, the drug companies jack the price up, dramatically raising the literal cost of living. Think about it, we could still be treating ourselves with willow bark, valerian root, or foxglove, but the drug companies have made huge profits from Aspirin, Valium, and Digitalis, just for starters. Oh, and don’t get me started on the medicinal properties of marijuana…

Bottom line, I’m sorry for the sales pitch, but you simply owe it to yourself and your future brain to try EHT. Try it for three months, and if you aren’t convinced, then stop. But I am convinced that you WILL be convinced!

I’m certifiably nuts…or am I?

Well, I really stepped in it this time. My friend Paula is someone I really admire. She travels just about whenever she wants to, and is very successful in her business. She also runs, and we’ve talked a lot about traveling to destination events. We’ve just never done it, mostly because of my work schedule.

Working almost every weekend makes it very difficult to travel somewhere to do an athletic event of any kind. Hell, just doing one at home is hard enough when you have to get up at 5 after working until midnight. But I stumbled upon a couple of events while searching the marathon calendar the other night that really intrigued me.


The first event is the Savage Seven, seven marathons in seven days, and it’s in Florida between Christmas and New Year’s Day. The second, produced by the same guy, is the New England Challenge. It’s next May, and it’s 5 runs (full or half marathons) in 5 days in 5 different states. Yeah, it’s not everyone’s idea of fun, but no one on earth could possibly accuse me of being just anyone.

So I have a couple of crazy friends who I thought might be willing to go with me. One is Paula, and the other running friend is Kim. I got an e-mail back from Kim fairly quickly, saying that she thought it would be fun to run in Florida, and we could even stay at her grandmother’s house.

Paula, however, took it to the next level.  I got this e-mail the other day:

I just finished registering for all five half marathons in the New England Challenge!! Maybe I’m crazy…Let me know which ones you want to do!!!

When I got Paula’s reply, I certainly thought she was crazy. I was just thinking of perhaps doing one run, and that it would be a full marathon. But then I got to thinking. By that time, I’ll be cancer-free for 5 years. What better way to celebrate 5 years of health than by doing something crazy like 5 half marathons in 5 days in 5 states? (Followed perhaps by 5 really good meals?)


So there ya go. I’m on the hook. It’s about 100 miles between the first four, so it will be a lot of running and a lot of driving. I haven’t spent much time in New England, and I guess I still won’t be doing a lot of sight seeing, but I’ll certainly see a lot of sights!

How on earth does one prepare for that kind of thing? I’ve heard about people doing this, but I haven’t been one of them. Dean Karnazas is a top-form crazy man, completing 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days, without dying I might add. It looks like I’ll have to really up my game. Right now I’ve been walking/running about 65 miles per month. I’m going to get that closer to 100 on a consistent basis.Yeah, it’s not the 100+ miles PER WEEK that people like Karnazas do, but for a middle-aged cancer survivor, it’s pretty damned good. That is doable for me. I’ll have to add in some stretching and strength work as well – those are always the first things I blow off when there is a time crunch. I’m just going to have to be more organized, AND I’m going to have to stick to my diet.

And I’d better get some new shoes.

Duh! The Secret To Better Health

Good lord, it’s been almost three months since my last post! Time flies when you’re having fun, or not, as the case may be.

Several months ago I promised to tell you about the diet I was on to get healthy. Sorry it’s taken me so long, but at least I can tell y’all about some of my results. (Disclaimer and legal stuff – I’m not an expert or health care practitioner, and I’m making no claims. I’m just telling you what has worked for me. Don’t sue me.)

The first thing I’m going to tell you is that there is no magic bullet. The secret is that there is no secret. If you wish to continue eating, drinking (wine or double grande lattes, it doesn’t matter!) and laying on the couch while READING about getting healthy, this is not going to be the blog post for you. I worked hard, very hard, and it still isn’t easy.

Still with me? Good. If you remember, I had some strange scans last October, which turned out to be nothing, but scared me just the same. After making it through Nutcracker hell and the rest of the holidays, I went to see a local naturopath who over two hours scanned, poked, prodded, asked questions, and gave me a very thorough once-over. I had just had my yearly physical, so I had those blood test results as well. She identified my weak areas (adrenals – all those years of coffee and a high-stress work environment had taken their toll) and showed me how I could treat my body better so that the cancer had very little chance of coming back. If I did what she advised, I could be one healthy woman!



Taking the BASIC approach

The first thing she advised, and the foundation of the whole treatment plan, is the pH diet. She recommended a booklet found at,  that outlined everything very simply, and it came with test strips that I was supposed to use every morning to measure my progress. Of course, when it comes to the Big C, everything about alternative treatment is controversial. There are plenty of people out there who will swear by this diet, just as there are those who will swear AT it. But I figured that anything that was mostly fresh, non-processed fruits and veggies, with some chicken and fish thrown in for good measure, couldn’t be bad. Just couldn’t.

I was surprised at how simple the ‘diet’ was. Not EASY, but SIMPLE. It was just a two-page list of foods, in order of pH from most alkaline to most acid. I was supposed to eat 80% alkaline, and 20% acid. It’s really, really hard not to have any acid in the diet, because all animal protein is acidic. I LOVE meat, and my blood type is O, the original hunter-gatherer, so I had to have meat, just less of it.

Also gone, wheat (had been pretty much gluten free for several months before that, so no big deal), soda, dairy, sugar, alcohol, COFFEE (argghhh!!!), anything artificial, processed, or deep-fried, vinegar, yeast, you get the idea. Anything with FLAVOR. No more wine after a concert. And this is is only the worst of the worst.

However, this was the first time I’d tried a diet where really nothing, even the list above, was forbidden. After 55 years I know myself well enough to know that if something was forbidden, that’s ALL I would think about! Also, I wasn’t doing this for my weight, but for my health, so I had to choose which was more important, that glass of wine or going back to chemo? It was great incentive, and I was determined to make it work. I told my naturopath, who also happened to be part of my upline in my network marketing business, that I needed to take some time off from that so I could focus on this. After all, I was going to be “shopping and chopping” in order to eat, as well as follow a very complicated list of supplements, juices, and teas.

So, I cleaned out my cupboards and refrigerator, made a list, checked it way more than twice, and headed off to Whole Paycheck and Kroger to stock up on everything I was going to need from arugula to zucchini. I wore out Google looking for new recipes for salads and vegetable recipes of all kinds so I wouldn’t get bored. I drank my water with lemon and took my supplements, at least as regularly as I could. If I could keep in mind WHY I was doing this, it was a whole lot easier.

That was January, and this is July. I’m 25 pounds lighter, my chemo port is gone, and I feel better than I have in years. I will admit that there was one cheat that I did consistently throughout this diet. Yes, I had a drink once in a while. I had dessert or a cookie now and then. I even had, gasp, bacon one time!  But the consistent cheat, the one thing I just can’t seem to go a day without, is coffee. I admit it. My day was not complete without coffee. It makes me happy! However, I gave up what seemed like gallons of brewed coffee I was drinking every day and replaced it with a few ounces of exquisite double espresso with two tablespoons of half and half, a second one if I had a concert that night. It’s what is known in Austria as a “cafe mocha” and I first drank it in Cafe Central in Vienna. I loved it so much I bought the tableware they used to serve it. This one thing keeps me sane.


A little bit of heaven in Nashville.

A little bit of heaven in Nashville.



So there, I said it. I cheated every day. But it helped keep me on the rest of my diet and by March I had raised my pH from 5.5 to 6.5! Sort of like digging a hole with a teaspoon, but I had 55 years of bad eating to undo. It’s time to check in with my naturopath again, and I’ll bet I’m getting closer to my pH goal.

Boredom is setting in, and it’s harder to stick with all the details, but I’m off work for the summer so my plan is to find some new recipes, forgive myself for not being perfect, and get back on the horse. No way in hell is the Big C coming back for me! Two other key components of my health plan have been logging my eating with an iPhone app, LoseIt, and walking/running between 50-70 miles per month, or about 2 miles per day. Don’t forget, I’ve run half marathons and a full marathon last year, and I NEVER LOST WEIGHT training for any of it. I’m still exercising as much, but it’s the eating part that has changed.

Before I end, I wanted to share some recipes I’ve found. I was surprised at how tasty these were, especially the celery salad. I HATE celery, but I could eat this salad by the crate. Enjoy!

Buckwheat Granola This is one of my core breakfast recipes. I eat it with berries, goat milk yogurt, and a tablespoon of flax seed oil. (ala the Budwig Diet)

Celery Salad This is the one I could eat all day, although some people have told me it takes all day to eat it.

Raw Citrus Kale Salad Since I’m not on blood thinners anymore, I don’t have to worry about eating kale!

Massaged Kale and Quinoa Salad Massaging not really necessary, but if you need some quick therapy, it’s very relaxing!

Other great recipes can be found at The Alkaline Sisters, ThriveForward, and Stalkerville websites, but be careful to pay attention to the pH rules! For meat, check out Nom Nom Paleo.

Are You Pregnant? This Post Is For You!

When you are expecting a baby, it’s easy to think about all the plans you have to make to prepare for another very needy little human coming into your life. But there is something else you should think about before you go to the delivery room. And yes, it relates to treating cancer and a whole bunch of other diseases as well.

Expecting a baby

I was made aware of the Cord Blood Center by someone there who read my blog, and because I felt it was important I wanted to get the word out as widely as possible. I’m all for any treatment that shows real promise in curing any kind of disease. As for cancer, it’s still on the prowl. I lost one friend this week, and another has had a recurrence of that nasty evil thing.

What is the benefit of cord blood?

According to the website, umbilical cord blood is full of stem cells that can be used for many different medical applications. The process has been used for 20 years, and the field of “regenerative medicine” is just in its infancy (no pun intended.) I was going to list some of the diseases that can be treated, but good lord, it’s a very long list and I haven’t even heard of most of them. Let’s just say, this blood is very useful stuff, and it should not go to waste.

How does the blood bank work?

First of all, donating is an entirely painless procedure for mother and baby. After all, we don’t need those things anymore anyway, right? The really great thing is that you can choose to donate either for the general population, or specifically for your child. If you choose to donate publicly, it is free. If you wish to keep the cord blood for your child, there is a cost involved, but there are several charities that will help with costs, especially in cases of medical need.

How do I contact The Cord Blood Bank?

Their website is, or you can call 1.888.780.2885. Spread the word!


No Longer Listing to Port!

It’s well past time that I revive my blog. So sorry for the long delay, but life happens. Anyway, I had to tell you about some fabulous news! After almost 4 years, my oncologist finally gave me the green light to get rid of that nasty chemo port!


Oh sure, I was able to do anything I wanted to with it in – a couple of triathlons, a marathon, swimming – you name it. But while it was in, I endured monthly trips to the doc to get the thing flushed, accompanied every time by at least one finger stick to check my blood. (Here, use THIS finger..) For almost four years I’ve had to take blood thinning medication. I’ve had to worry that this port might break like the last one, and maybe this time I wouldn’t be so lucky when it moved through my heart…

My oncologist was erring on the side of caution. He said he didn’t want to tempt fate, that keeping my port in would make sure that the Big C wouldn’t come back. I’m not sure what changed his mind, but it may be due to the fact that I had lost almost 15 pounds from the last time I saw him. (More about that later.) I see my surgeon tomorrow for a check up and I’ll get everything worked out with her. I am so ready for this thing to be GONE. It has served its purpose, for which I thank it very much, but like an unwelcome houseguest, it overstayed its welcome.

I know now that the cancer will NOT be back, and, god forbid it does come back, I will NOT go through more chemo. There are way too many alternatives out there that I would feel completely comfortable with. In fact, I’ve changed several things about my lifestyle and diet, with the help of a Naturopath doctor, that I am confident will help me create a body that will be inhospitable to cancer. This has been several months in the making, and I’m seeing very good results.

But let’s back up a bit so you know how I got here. Last October, I started having pains in my lower right side. If you have read my other blog posts, you know about my friend who had the Whipple procedure because some pre-cancerous spots were found in her pancreas. All because she had appendicitis. I had this in the back of my head, certainly not thinking that it was anything more ominous. Perhaps just a touch of indigestion. But, since my friend actually had a ruptured appendix with NO symptoms, I thought I had better let my doctors check it out. To make a long story short, several spots were found on my liver, but we needed more tests to see what they were. Not good news.

When some of my friends heard about this, they were all concerned for me, and asked me how I was taking the news. They were fearing the worst. I had already heard the worst, over 3 years ago, so my reaction truly was, “Meh. What’s on TV tonight?” I have very little fear left in me for anything, let alone cancer. Screw it, let’s just get on with the business of living life, eh?

After more tests, the results were something called fatty liver, which is actually quite common. It has several causes, both alcohol- and non-alcohol-related. In women taking Tamoxifen, it can be a common side effect. I’m taking a drug very similar, Anastrozole, for a similar purpose, but there is no clear correlation, at least none that anyone will admit to. However, in spite of all my physical activity, I had gained almost 20 pounds since I started taking this drug, so that could have had something to do with it. (Weight gain is another side effect of other cancer drugs that, in my case, my doctor would not admit to. Well he can kiss my marathon-running ass, on each cheek.)

The ultimate result is that I decided to take some time off from my other pursuits, leaving only my job with the symphony and plenty of time to deal with my health. I know I’m on the right track. So, when I went into my doctor’s office and told him I wanted my port out, I think he took a look at the different person in front of him and agreed.

In my next post, I’ll tell y’all more about what I’m actually doing, because I feel it’s really important information for anyone to know, whether or not they have had cancer. We are completely, 100% capable of changing our health for the better, I’m more convinced of that now than ever!