"home" Posts

WHEN THE C WORD INVADES YOUR CLOSET PART 1: (7 PART SERIES)

BELOW IS THE FIRST ENTRY OF A 7 PART SERIES I WROTE ABOUT MY HUSBAND AND I’S JOURNEY WITH CANCER.  THIS IS THE STORY OF OUR QUEST TO SPIRITUAL WELLNESS.

 

There are so many C words that make your heart flutter like…couture, cashmere, or better yet closet!  I have to admit that I am a big fan of most C words…especially coffee and cash!

But somehow in my 30′s, I had completely forgotten there were other C words-words that make your heart feel like it has stopped.  Words like carcinoma, cancer or chemo.

In my 20′s I had experienced those words first hand with family and friends and while you never forget the “who” in those lost, over time I had slowly forgotten…the “how”.

So at 6:30am on November 4th the only “C” word on my mind was coffee…creme brulee coffee to be exact.

Brian was making me drive to his doctors appointment.  I don’t drive.  So If he didn’t let me make a pit stop…this could be grounds for divorce.  We made our way through traffic in Beverly Hills.  My eyes were definitely on the clock, not the road.  As we approached our destination I saw an oasis in the distance-the most beautiful Coffee Bean EVER!

We had 4 minutes till his colonoscopy appointment. We were practically early!

Coffee-bean-optimized

He looked at me and said “Kara, forget about it.  I don’t want to be late.”

I retorted, “You’re just getting checked for celiacs stop being so dramatic.”

He laughed and said, “Me dramatic?  Ok drop me off.  I will fill out the paperwork out and you run and get your coffee.  You are an addict Lady!”

And with those words I frolicked to the Coffee Bean clueless that in hour our lives were about to be changed forever…by the “C” word I had forgotten.

The rest of the day is pretty much a blur for both Brian and I.  Brian was coming off a twilight anesthesia.  I was obsessing over the thought, “Why was that damn coffee so important to me?” As if I had NOT stopped somehow things would have been different.

I remember the gastroenterologist was wearing a red tie.  It clashed with his shirt.  I also remember he would not look me in the eye.

I remember a women in her 60′s in the CT scan waiting room.  She had a purple bandanna on her head.  It was silk.  She told me, “You get through it.  Don’t worry, you do.”  I wanted to say to her, “Sorry you must be mistaken. You see were in our early 30′s we don’t belong here.”  But instead I said, “Thank you that is a beautiful scarf.”

The doctor who finally told us Brian had cancer was wearing a blue shirt.  It matched his blue eyes.  He was the best dressed I had seen all day.

The tumor was the size of an orange.  The scan indicated 3 lymph’s were most likely infected putting us somewhere around an early stage 3.  He had no major symptoms or signs.

I thought about how two days before we had just returned from a football game at my alma mater.  He had looked so cute in that black and gold shirt.

In my mind I screamed, “Why is this happening?”

Iowablog
The doctor continued to talk.  His vital organs were clear.  We should be thankful.  He said,”A tumor that big, the news is usually a lot worse, even fatal.”

Somehow, we didn’t feel very lucky.

I was wearing my gray cashmere sweater with a hood.  I pulled the hood over my head as too not let Brian see me cry.

The days that followed were to be the biggest tests of our life.  We changed the way we thought, we changed the way we ate and we changed the way we dressed.  We eventually started to un-closet our own Karma.

Brian has asked that I share our whole journey with our readers. So I will continue our story in future blogs. His hope is that you will find inspiration in whatever obstacle you come across in the new year and take it on with an open heart and mind.

And to be honest, that is just the type of amazing man I am married to.

Brian and Tess joke around just 80 hours after surgery.  Brian’s doctors said his release was a record, but I will tell you more about that later.  I just dig the xmas pants and the robe.

Turkeyday
Life has a funny way of redirecting our path to get us back on track.  I hope you check back daily to see where the road took us.

Love and Light,

And remember the light inside of all of us burns bright even on the darkest of nights. You just have to remember to open the closet doors and let it out:)

KK

WHEN THE C WORD INVADES YOUR CLOSET. PART 2: ANXIETY,ANGER AND ANSWERS

 

After the news, I told Brian I had to go to the bathroom.  I walked out of the door and found myself frozen in the hallway.

The walls started to feel like they were shrinking in on me.

I wanted to run but I felt like Alice, stuck with no where to go.

Alice

I kept thinking, “This cannot be real!!!?????”

I tried to recap the morning. At the gastroenterologist I had been blind sided.  After, we were rushed so quickly to the CT scan there was no time… no time to research. No time to ask the right questions.  And no way to turn back time.

On the way to the scan I had texted my aunt and my best friend because they’re both nurses. I wanted to at least know what questions to ask a scanning technician.  They did their best to quickly debrief me but without a diagnosis… there isn’t much to ask.

When I looked down at my Blackberry there was a message from my aunt.

“What did they say? What do they think it is?”

I was shaking as I texted the words, “Please, not my husband.”

A woman walking out of the plastic surgeon’s office next door slammed into me, knocking the phone out of my hand.  She was wearing a bright pink pashmina.  She did not apologize.

In my head I screamed, “My husband has cancer you BITCH and P.S., it’s too hot for a pashmina!”

Then I thought, “Who are you right now?  Stop it!  What if your anger makes him sicker?  What if God is punishing you for all the things you have ever done wrong?”

I tried to fight it because I don’t consider myself an angry person, but I felt this uncontrollable anger rise inside of me.  I was now furious at everyone and everything.

I felt a tap on my shoulder.  It was the nice dressed doctor who had told us Brian had cancer. He hugged me. Suddenly, I found myself sobbing in the arms of a man I despised just 45 minutes ago.

“I should have made him get tested two weeks ago!  It’s my fault.  I am a bad wife!”

The doctor raised my head, “Two weeks would not have made a difference.  This is a slow moving cancer.  You are lucky you made him go at all.  Get it out.  Get it all out today.”

Snot nosed, I looked into his eyes and said, “I know cancer.  I know how this ends and I can’t.”

He replied. “Yes you can.  You are strong.  I have a really good feeling about your husband.  Fight.  You can beat this, but you have to fight for him.”  Then he walked away.

I raised the hood on my cashmere sweater once again.  Brian greeted me in the hallway.

As we exited the building he said, “I think I should drive. You are upset.”

Defeated, I handed him the keys.  I felt hollow.

Then he looked at me and grabbed my hand, “I am going to beat this thing…I am not going to leave you. I am going to be OK.  Don’t worry my story will end differently.”

Suddenly, something snapped inside of me.  “He was consoling me.  He was worried about me????”

The same voice that was angry just moments before was now whispering, “This CANNOT HAPPEN.  He can not console you.”

And at that moment I knew I was going to fight like I had never fought before.

Tens years of fighting and clawing my way up the ladder in the entertainment industry had nothing to do with job success.  God was preparing me for LIFE SUCCESS.

Every moment that had made me stronger was in preparation for November 4th, 2010.

This was about to be Brian’s and I’s biggest production yet and I was going to direct and produce the shit out of it.

And I wasn’t giving up until we took home the title of Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor!  It was time we un-closeted all that good Karma that was waiting to be released.

 HERE IS A SNEAK PEAK AT HOW OUR FUTURE CHANGE- AND WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT THE FUTURE OF YOUR FOOD!

Groceries

HERE ARE SOME THINGS BRIAN WOULD LIKE ALL OF OUR READERS TO KNOW THIS WEEK:

1.) Colorectal Cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S.

2.) Although there has been a significant rise in the number of young people diagnosed with this cancer in the last 5 years, the recommended screening age for colon cancer is 50. Brian is 35.

3.) Colorectal Cancer is a slow moving cancer and if caught very early has a 90% recovery rate.

4.) You can have colon cancer and feel great.  Symptoms are non-specific like stomach discomfort, rectal bleeding, or slight blood in and around your stool.  Sometimes symptoms can take years to present themselves.  When it was diagnosed, Brian’s tumor was the size of an orange!

5.) Over 9% of MEN AND WOMEN will be effected by colorectal cancer. This cancer is an equal opportunity cancer.

Love and Light,

Remember everything is a blessing in disguise this holiday season,

KK and BL

PS: Next week we will share some of the amazing and tasty disease-fighting recipes I learned about in my quest to get Brian (and what turned out to be myself in the long run) healthy.  We hope this will bring love and health to your table and your families this holiday seasons :)

 

 

 

WHEN THE C WORD INVADES YOUR CLOSET: PART 3 UNEXPECTED EMAILS AND ANGELS

Outside the Santa Monica Scan Center the world seemed normal.  It was 3pm and a typical November day in LA’s west side.

Bad traffic.  Unbearable heat.  Brian and I chatting about work.

He wanted me to keep my meeting scheduled that evening.  I wanted to cancel.

“I am really excited for you… you need to start doing your own stuff.  This is your chance to get what you deserve from them,” he said.

The harder I tried to listen to him the more I felt like Charlie Brown.  I couldn’t make out a word he was saying.

My eyes wandered…

How come I never noticed before his upper lip twitched when he got excited?…

 

Maybe after 10 years of being together I had just forgotten

N1261372734_30232_2702

 

I forced myself to look him in the eye.  I wanted to give him validation I was listening…but I wasn’t.  I actually had several full- blown conversations going on with myself as I stared at him…

–“I need to get a second and third opinion”

–“Who do I know who has had stage 3 Cancer in their 30’s?”

–“Do any of my friends have relatives who are oncologists? Someone I know has to work for Dr. OZ or Dr. Phil or something!”

–“I am sure that bar crawl in Iowa City didn’t help.  Why did I let him eat that burrito and cheese fries? Come to think of it why did I eat that burrito?”

–“Wait – we are supposed to try and have a baby this year.  What if now…??”

–”FUCK! Why I am I so focused on my career?”

–“Speaking of jobs..I really don’t like my job.  He is right.  Why aren’t I working for myself?”

–“Wait!  He loves his job finally…Oh no!  What about HIS new job?”

–“Will he lose his hair? I love his hair.”

–“Maybe I can find a healer or a shaman who can save his hair?  Kara, that is obnoxious.”

–”Wait what about John of God!  We saw him on Dateline!  He cures people.”

–”We love watching Dateline on Friday nights…What will our Friday nights be like now???…”

–“Does Amazon sell books on kicking cancer’s ass?”

–“Crap!  Why didn’t I get my damn crack-berry fixed….I NEED TO SEARCH THE INTERNET!!!”

Finally, we were home. I burst through our front door, hopped on the internet and joined every colon cancer blog I could find.  The subject of every post was “HELP US!!!!!”

An hour into googling my brains out Brian said, “Love you, don’t be late for your meeting.”  He was walking out the front door.

“Wait what are you doing???” I protested,  “You have cancer!”

He looked at me and said, “Nothing has changed since yesterday except the fact we KNOW I have cancer.  You need to go to that meeting now more than ever.  I need to go to work and keep busy as long as I can.”

I forced a smile and said, “Ok you’re right, love you.”

The door shut.  Georgia, our puppy, watched Brian pull out of the driveway.  His car cleared the block, I sobbed and compulsively hit refresh on my screen.  Would anyone write me back????

I received 10 responses in the first 2 hours.  Women whose husbands had colon cancer.  Children who had lost their mothers to colon cancer.  Men emailing me what to except the next few weeks for Brian.  The stories were harrowing and horrifying all at the same time.

I sobbed some more and thought there has to be another way.

Finally I posted, “Has anyone tried to heal or improve their cancer through diet?”

Immediately I received emails about a low-residue diet.  The Diet basically consists of white rice, white bread, potato, ect…

The theory is these foods will pass through the digestive track easier helping the colon to heal after surgery.

As I read I thought, “I am no dietician but white bread blows me up bigger than a buluga whale float in the Rose Bowl Parade…this diet is anyone’s worst nightmare, let alone a cancer patient!”

I scrolled down…most patients commented on how after surgery they did not have regular bowel movements for weeks.  They were constipated and in pain.  “This can’t be right?” I thought.

I slammed my computer shut and screamed!  “What the hell am I supposed to do???”

As I slowly made my way to the shower my eyes caught a glimpse of my dusty bookshelf.

In my 20’s I had many lives and my book shelf was a reflection. The first shelf was cluttered with self help books like ‘Exorcising your Ex.’  The second was books like ‘Shamanism for Dummies’.  The third ‘Learn French Easy.’  But the 4th turned out to be the best life I ever lived.  My Raw-Vegan food phase.

I furiously flipped through the pages scanning for anything that said cancer.  And there it was, a dear old friend I had completely forgotten.  Wheat Grass!  The super of super foods.

In my early 20’s to nurse a hangover I would drag my girlfriend Carolyn to the juicing bar and we would gag down shots of wheat grass.  I vividly remember the gagging but I had completely forgotten how it miraculously cured our hangovers.

At 25, juicing was a way of life for Brian and I.  And we looked hot!  Bk italy

 

I thought, “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” We’ll look hot?

So I knew where to start.  But where to go… I had no idea.  So I showered, changed and did my best to look presentable for my “big pitch.”

As I headed to my meeting I got an email my bosses needed to move our meeting to our company wrap party because their schedule ran late.

Blood shot eyes and I am headed to a bar? Brilliant.

My work colleagues at the bar assumed I had been “pre-partying”.

73799_463147703787_747903787_5421635_188737_n

“Act normal”, I told myself “Or drunk.  Drunk could work… you’re at a bar.”

My stomach twisted and turned.  But I smiled, nodded and clinked cheers.

Then, I felt like I couldn’t breathe.  Everyone seemed normal.  They were talking about their babies and their lives and their plans.  I ran outside for fresh air.

Hearing about my friends “normal” lives forced me to face the fact Brian and I were about to experience “a new normal.”   Why can’t we just be normal?

Just when I was about to give up and drown myself in a tequila shot…my blackberry buzzed.

The email said, “Please check out www.chrisbeatcancer.com.  My cancer is too far-gone I think but I have a feeling your husband has a similar story to this guy.  May God Bless You.”  The message came from one of the blogs I had posted on.

This was the first encounter of many my husband and I would have with angels…

Chris of “Chris Beat Cancer” was about to become one of our biggest champions.  In fact, God was about to connect and reconnect us with some of the most amazing people in the world.  He was about to disconnect us with some people as well…

I knew our lives had been changed forever, but I had no idea Cancer was about to be the best thing that ever happened to Brian and I in 2010.

Brian and I hope that all of your struggles in 2010 turn into blessings in 2011. Just this Christmas Brian was finally allowed to eat something sweet. (I will explain why in future blogs). Here is one of Brian’s favorite recipes that curbed his sugar appetite but was healthy! He would like me to share it with you for comfort food during football this weekend! And be sure to check back next week to see our EXTREME KITCHEN MAKE OVER!

 

SASSY SWEET POTATOES

Ingredients

4 Organic Yams

Raw Agave Nectar 3/4 – a cup (depending on how sweet you like it)

Organic Pecans or Almonds Soaked (1/2 cup)

Organic Cinnamon (1 tbl spoon)

Shaved Raw Ginger Root (Shave off 4 peels and dice)

Organic Nutmeg (I tsp)

Organic Raw Honey (preferably from a local Bee Farmer)

 

Bake the Yams in the oven at 375 for one hour. Mash the Yams and add agave, cinnamon, ginger root and nutmeg. Once the batch is fluffy, slowly stir the pecans into the mix. When dishing out, drizzle a teaspoon of organic raw honey on top of each serving.

 

 

 

WHEN THE WORD INVADES YOUR CLOSET PART 4: PRODUCE AND POISONS

It was 7:30 a.m. and the sun was peeking through our bedroom blinds.  For a second I thought, “It was all a bad dream”, but as I rubbed my eyes into focus, reality was the first thing I saw…Brian’s CT scan on the dresser.

My heart sank, it wasn’t a nightmare.  I felt a hand on my shoulder.  “Good morning, sweetie.”  Brian had just woke up.  I took a deep breath, smiled and turned in reply, “Good morning.”

He shuffled into the shower.  I ran into the kitchen. I had stayed up all night researching.  I had no control over cancer.  It had invaded my husband’s body without my permission, but my kitchen…my kitchen I could control.

Georgia and I stood in the middle of the floor.  To the average American we “seemed” extremely healthy. Our meats of choice were ground turkey or chicken breast.  The majority of our sauces or canned foods were organic.  If we used sugar it was always raw sugar cane.  Our cleaning products were mostly “green” or at least biodegradable.  What we didn’t know was there were things lurking in our food and products…just like cancer without our permission.

I dumped everything in our cabinets on the floor.  Vitamins, protein mixes, canned tomatoes sauce…

Groceryonfloor

I had always been a label reader because I have allergies, but I was ignorant to the problem of genetically engineered foods or GMO.  So when I found words like soy, citric acid, lecithin, natural flavorings, organic flavorings…I tossed it out unless the label said GMO free.

As I pulled out the pasta shelf I held my breath, “Please, please, please be ok.  We spend so much money on organic tomatoe sauce.”  I turned the can around and there it was…Citric Acid.  NO!!!!!!!!!!!!  I screamed, “Crap! Not my tomato sauce!”

Completely in denial, I picked up the phone and called the company to see what their citric acid was derived from, and sure enough, an organic product I had paid extra money for was made from GMO corn.

Why didn’t it say something on the label?  Like WARNING GMO.  But it wasn’t just GMO soy and corn products I was finding…our organic seasonings had fillers in them too. Our vitamins had chemicals.  Brian’s organic protein shake?  Well, that was just a HOT MESS!

It turns out in the last few years the laws have changed for organic products.  Unless it says 100% organic it may not be 100% organic and pure.  This dupes all of us but still guarantees we will empty our pocket books for so-called organic products.  The result?  I had spent on average $150.00 a week on our groceries and we were poisoning ourselves.

I turned to Georgia and asked, “What the hell are we going to eat??????”

Georgia, by the way, was no help.

Georgia

Feeling overwhelmed, I decided to leave a pile of possibly suitable products on the floor.

I closed my eyes and opened the fridge.  I peaked through one eye at the organic dressings…and then reluctantly I threw away 6 bottles.

All I kept hearing was the ding of a cashier register over and over again as I dumped $100′s of dollars in the garbage.

Time for the meat and dairy shelf.  Goodbye ground turkey.  Goodbye parmesan cheese.  Goodbye honey mustard.

I dragged two hefty sized trashed bags to the curb and headed to the store, literally, in my pj’s.  In fact, I would spend the next 5 days in my jammies revamping our lives.  (the closet karma for cancer was a week long PJ’s session)

Whole Foods used to be my version of a zen garden.  I loved to stroll the colorful aisles looking at all the pretty produce.  Sometimes after a bad day at work I would just go there and sit.  Somehow I felt healthier just standing next to their eggplants.  But today, with my dirty hair and bags under my eyes, I was not “oming” on my drive.  I was cursing like a sailor.  The same store that had just double crossed me was my only choice for healthy food…at least for now ;)

I stormed through the doors that I once just strolled through.

I spent two hours sifting through the aisles.  Suddenly my shopping list felt like the ‘In and Out’ section of Star Magazine…Rice Milk soooo…out, but Almond Milk soooo…in.  Lisanatti Almond Cheese?  4 stars!  It was 100% free of everything.  Just plain raw almonds at Whole Foods…soooo last month…they did not carry non-irradiated ones.

(I would later learn you can soak non-irradiated raw almonds to try and remove harmful chemicals they MAY have been exposed too.)

In the end, I had a cart full of cancer fighting foods for Brian.

Groceries

The bummer was the bill…$118.00 and I had just begun to get him what he needed. The sailor in me came out once again. “F#$@!”

Pomi Tomato Sauce was my favorite find.  Its JUST TOMATOES.  I try and make my own marinara but when I am in a pinch this is a great alternative.

Pomi

I pulled into my driveway and contemplated how to unload my merchandise. The weeks to follow were not going to be easy.  The majority of our days would be consumed by doctors appointments and hospital visits.  My time in the kitchen would be minimal.  I needed to be organized and efficient.

The top shelf was the most important.  Juice, amino acids, wheat grass, probiotics…I created rows for each day of the week.  This way Brian knew what to do if I was not around.  It would also allow me to keep tabs on what he was NOT drinking that he was supposed to. ;)

Second shelf raw foods. Third shelf juiceable items.

I needed to know when we were low on produce, especially carrots.  (My goal was to turn him orange from carrots if possible, just like chrisbeatcancer had done.) 

  Fridge

 

The little pull out drawer would be off limits labelled with a “Brian don’t touch” sign taped to it.  This mostly consisted of items that I just couldn’t throw away without tremendous guilt…expensive and delectable cheeses and savory sliced meats.

By 7 o’clock I had conquered our kitchen.  I only had the whole house left to deal with…

________________________________________________________________________________________

Brian and I know how overwhelming this information can be so here is the checklist I started with to eliminate GMO foods from our life.  You can only do what you can and you can’t do it all. We now work with a local farm that delivers our vegetables weekly.  I also grow our own wheat grass and sprout many of our seeds. (It is cost effecient and easy but I will tell you more about that in later blogs.)  We also are big fans of talking to your local farmers’ market.  It is a great place to ask questions and find answers.  Also, sadly, when choosing a farm BEWARE and don’t be duped.  Think about how long your produce lasts in your home?  If you are ordering from a farm that is trucking your fruits and veggies cross-country the odds of them being 100% GMO free and organic are rare.

    • KNOW WHAT FOODS TYPICALLY CONTAIN GMO’S or ARE GE
    • Soybeans – Gene taken from bacteria (Agrobacterium sp. strain CP4) is inserted into soybeans to make them more resistant to herbicides.
    • Corn – There are two main varieties of GE corn.  One has a Gene from the lepidoptera pathogen microorganism Bacillus thuringiensis inserted to produce the Bt toxin, which poisons insect pests .There are also several events which are resistant to various herbicide.
    • Rapeseed/Canola – Gene added/transferred to make crop more resistant to herbicide.
    • Sugar beets – Gene added/transferred to make crop more resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide.
    • Cotton – engineered to produce Bt toxin.  The seeds are pressed into cottonseed oil, which is a common ingredient in vegetable oil and margarine.
    • Dairy – Cows injected with GE hormone rBGH/rBST; possibly fed GM grains and hay.
    • Aspartame/AminoSweet – Addictive and dangerous artificial sweetener commonly found in chewing gum and “diet” beverages.  A building block of aspartame, the amino acid phenylalanine, is usually manufactured with the aid of genetically modified E. coli bacteria.  This process has been used industrially in the USA for many years.
    • Papayas – yup the fruit
    • Farm Raised Salmon
  1. MAKE SURE THE LABEL SAYS 100% organic                                                                               The US and Canadian governments do not allow manufacturers to label something 100% organic if that food has been genetically modified or been fed genetically modified feed. However, you may find that organic food is more expensive and different in appearance from conventional products. Also, just because something says “organic” on it does not mean that it does not contain GMs. In fact, it can still contain up to 30% GMs, so be sure the labels say 100% organic.
    • This applies to eggs, as well. Eggs labeled “free-range”, “natural”, or “cage-free” are not necessarily GE-free; look for eggs to be 100% organic.
  2. LEARN FRUITS AND VEGETABLES NUMBERS.
    • If it is a 4-digit number, the food is conventionally produced.
    • If it is a 5-digit number beginning with an 8, it is GM.  However, do not trust that GE foods will have a PLU identifying it as such, because PLU labeling is optional.
    • If it is a 5-digit number beginning with a 9, it is
      organic.
    • PURCHASE BEEF 100% GRASS FED.  Most cattle in the U.S. spend the last portion of their lives in feedlots where they may be given GM corn, the purpose of which is to increase intramuscular fat and marbling.  If you’re looking to stay away from GMOs, make sure the cattle were 100% grass-fed or pasture-fed (sometimes referred to as grass-finished or pasture-finished).  The same applies to meat from other herbivores such as sheep. With non-ruminants like pigs and poultry that cannot be 100% grass-fed, it’s better to look for meat that is 100% organic.
    • LOOK FOR THE WORDS NO GMO’s and NO PERSERVATIVES
    • SHOP LOCALLY Although more than half of all GM foods are produced in the US, most of it comes from large, industrial farms.  By shopping at farmers’ markets, signing up for a subscription from a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm, or patronizing a local co-op, you may be able to avoid GM products and possibly save money at the same time.
      NOTE: More and more small farms are offering grains and meat directly to customers
      I will list a few companies in the future.
    • Buy whole foods.  Favor foods that you can cook and prepare yourself, rather than foods that are processed or prepared (e.g. anything that comes in a box or a bag, including fast food). What you lose in convenience, you may recover in money saved and satisfaction gained, as well as increased peace of mind.  Try cooking a meal from scratch once or twice a week.  You may enjoy it and decide to do it more often.