I officially met Michelle at a Chasing Sunshine Mountain retreat. Before that, I had communicated with her regarding the event she was about to attend with us, and one thing struck me as powerful; “I have a stage 4 cancer, and I snowboard as much as possible. Its my medicine.”
The time I spent with her in Taos was fun to say the least, and Mother Nature provided the medicine as it snowed 2+ feet while we were there, and we were all able to receive the healings that only fresh-snow-powder-surfing with friends can bring.
In all my conversations with her I was in awe- as I was either learning from her or agreeing with her, and I just wanted to know more.
So I threw out some questions to her for this weeks Its Personal.
Thank you Michelle for your guiding light and sharing- and we wish you nothing but healing and happiness today and always!
Where were you the day you were diagnosed?
I was at my parents’ house in my old room on my old bed when I got the call. I was too nervous to hear the results of the biopsy to go back home alone so I stayed at my parents’ house and the radiologist called me the next morning and gave me the news over the phone. It was the day before my birthday!
Were you surprised? (Had you had a feeling something wasn’t right before you were diagnosed?)
I was not very surprised. My doctor had told me that the lump was something else over a year before my diagnosis. It started growing rapidly over a year after I originally got it checked out so I knew it was not normal at all. I also always had really irregular and painful periods so I knew something was out of whack relating to my hormones and the “normal” lump started growing shortly after I got back on birth control which was even more reason for me to believe that.
Metastatic ER+ (positive) breast cancer with mets (metastasis) to my bones and liver. I have a very serious type of cancer, but people can’t tell by looking at me. That is something that I really have been struggling with lately.
Current treatment plan?
Hormone therapy- three (painful!) shots in the butt and one (also painful!) shot in the arm once a month and a chemotherapy and hormone blocker pill every day.
Anything you have found for yourself that was not suggested by your doctors?
Yes! There are so many resources out there that doctors have limited or no knowledge of. I take CBD capsules everyday, completely changed my diet, incorporated a bunch of supplements, and started exercising way more frequently. I also had to do my own research on insurance and employment issues (how to take time off while getting some form of income and not losing my insurance, etc).
Do you see a naturopath?
No, I have not found one as of yet. I do see a great nutritionist at UCLA who works solely with cancer patients.
Do you use or have interest in medical marijuana or CBD’s?
Yes, marijuana definitely helps level out the side effects of my treatment. It helps me with my appetite, anxiety, pain, and insomnia. And I take CBD pills every day.
Any particular supplements that you take?
Vitamin D, turkey tail mushrooms, turmeric, blue-green algae, probiotics. I also make smoothies with plant protein powder, spirulina, and bee pollen mixed in.
How do you balance your treatments, family/friends, job and play?
Oh man- this has definitely been the roughest part of my whole cancer journey and I am still trying to figure it out. I have a full time job as an event coordinator that is very demanding, but I love it. However, I just can’t keep up with it like I used to, at least for now, so I will be transitioning into a slightly more relaxed position with the same organization soon. I have had to miss a lot of work, and some people in the office understand and some don’t, but I have had to drill it into my head that there are laws in place to protect me and people have fought very hard for these laws and rights. Incorporating more of what I love (travel, the outdoors, snowboarding, the ocean, hanging with my dog, music, cooking) into my life is one of my main goals now and a huge part of the healing process. My friends and family have mostly kept me sane. Certain relationships have definitely shifted- some for the worse and some for the better. I have had a couple people step out of my life who I never thought would, but I have also had people step up who I wasn’t even close to before all of this. Dating is also a whole different ballgame now. Most guys my age get scared away, but I’m still hopeful. One of my good friends told me in the beginning that with all of the bad, there will also be good- which has held true throughout my experience.
Yoga or meditation?
Both! I did yoga occasionally before my diagnosis, but am now doing it at least three times a week and it has changed my life. My treatment makes my whole body hurt and I feel like I have the bones and joints of a 90 year old woman thanks to medically induced menopause, but yoga has helped alleviate those symptoms. I don’t even want to know how I would feel right now if I wasn’t consistently practicing yoga. I am still able to snowboard and surf and I think it is largely in part thanks to yoga. Meditation is really hard for me but something I am working on and hope to master one day.
Daily ritual or mantra or both?
Remember to BREATHE! And to always look out for number one….me