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Heal Your Self (the movie)

Heal Your Self (the movie)

Heal Your Self speaks to some of the greatest authorities on health today who talk about Food and Nutrition, Emotional and Environmental Stress, The Power of the Mind, Self-Education, Meditation, Love, plus practical steps you can take.

Not really date night material – but it was definitely encouraging to see so many people able to do it, just by eating right and taking care of themselves. It’s not hard!  It’s free on Amazon Prime Video.

Heal Your Self speaks to a group of people who, when faced with serious illness, did just that. They decided to take their health into their own hands. They decided to take responsibility not just for their illness, but for their recovery.

Check out the trailer below:

Duke, the puppy my mom got when my dad died of cancer, has died of cancer.

Duke, the puppy my mom got when my dad died of cancer, has died of cancer.

If love alone could have kept you here, you would have lived forever.

Duke

OCTOBER 10, 2010 – APRIL 26, 2019

Duke was so loved and a huge part of the family. He was diagnosed with Doggy-Cancer, Lymphoma, just days ago. He passed away this morning being held and loved by my mother and brother. They got Duke right after my dad passed away in 2011. He has been a steadfast companion to them both for over 8 years, and I know he’s left a great big hole in their hearts.

How Duke came to be a Ridley

My dad died of lung cancer

My dad was an artist and liked to paint quirky, folksy art. He painted this mural on the side of the shed/workroom when he and my mom bought their home in 2007, to make it look like the outside of a Mexican jail. That’s my dad. 🙂 Sadly, he died of lung cancer in 2011 (while I was going through breast cancer chemotherapy treatments).

Right after he passed my brother took my mom to get a rescue dog to help keep her company, and they adopted Duke right then. They picked this sweet pup in particular because he was all white. My father was known for his bright white head of hair, which had been solid white since he was 16, in the 50s. They named the dog Duke, after my dad, whom my brother’s swarms of theatre friends had affectionately called “Papa Dukes”.

It wasn’t until months later, when the weather was warm again, that they noticed the image of the pup on the side of the shed was an almost perfect rendition of their newest addition, Duke.

Bob's painting and our Duke. Bob painted that in 2007, we didn't rescue Duke until 2011, after Bob passed.

Bob’s painting and our Duke. Bob painted that in 2007, we didn’t rescue Duke until 2011, after Bob passed. The resemblance wasn’t seen till months later.

Whoa! Right?!

It was obviously meant to be, and Duke was a very special part of the family.

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Here are some parting images. #thatunderbite

How Processed Food Is Different from “Real” Food (and why it matters)

How Processed Food Is Different from “Real” Food (and why it matters)

You’ve heard someone say they avoid “processed” foods, and maybe you’ve even said it yourself. But how do you know if you really are avoiding processed foods? What determines if a food product is considered processed or not?

Some people, like those who follow the teachings of Dr. Sebi, consider a very short list of foods (foods that exist today exactly as they existed hundreds of years ago) to be fit for consumption. Others follow the more relaxed guideline of shopping primarily from the perimeter of the grocery store, leaning heavily towards produce and refrigerated foods.

Like most things, rather than try to define an exact set of rules, I like to think of it as more of a sliding scale. Also as with most everything in health and nutrition, making a small shift towards “better” is better than changing nothing at all. So, naturally, I’d recommend sticking to food that is as close to its original form as possible.

An apple is a fruit, not a flavor.

What makes a food considered processed

There are many ways a food product can be processed and modified, ranging from removing nutritional benefits to adding potentially harmful chemicals and additives to the food.

For example, consider an apple. Just as nature made it, it is perfect, and best suited for consumption. With the skin on, adding fiber to help slow the sugar spike from the fructose. It has nutrients like vitamins, plus the phytonutrients that help protect from disease.

Next we can look at processing that removes nutrients and benefits of the original food, like applesauce, or worse, apple juice. Sure, they still provide basic elements like vitamins, but they’re lacking phytonutrients and, without its skin, the spike from the fruit sugar is steep and quick leaving you less satisfied long term. At this point (as long as it is organic) the food isn’t going to do harm, it just isn’t as nutritionally valuable.

Going even further… extreme processing. I’m talking to you, apple-stuff in a toaster strudel and apple flavored candy. Not only are these items void of any nutritional benefits from apples, they also have added sugars as well as potentially toxic chemicals. These only serve to cut costs for the producer but can cause serious concerns for your health.

>>> Don’t eat these, these aren’t food! Only eat food!

A professional’s opinion: Technical Differences Between Natural and Processed Foods

I recently came across an article about an editorial published in the JAMA Pediatrics Journal, written by Dr. Robert Lustig, a longtime childhood-obesity researcher, and author of New York Times bestseller Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease. In the Journal, Dr. Lustig discusses common differences between natural and processed foods, and how the processed foods affect your body differently than actual food.

Dr. Lustig explains that processed foods are defined in terms of the food engineering that goes into making the products. To him, processed food meets many of the criteria below.

You can bet your food is processed if:

  • It’s mass-produced
  • It’s consistent from batch to batch
  • It has a long shelf life or freezer life
  • It stays emulsified (meaning its fat-based and water-based components stay mixed together, rather than separating),
  • It uses specialized ingredients (especially anything you’ve not heard of as being food: apples, cinnamon and sugar are food. Di-phosphate-mono-something-or-other is not!)

How processed foods affect your body differently than natural foods

⇒ Not enough fiber

Fiber is important to health because it plays a key role in how food is absorbed in the gut. In the intestines, fiber forms a gelatinous barrier that coats the intestinal walls. This barrier slows the absorption of glucose and fructose into the blood, which helps prevent blood sugar levels from spiking.

⇒ Not enough omega-3 fatty acids

The body converts these fatty acids, which are found in foods such as fish and nuts, into docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid, both of which have anti-inflammatory properties.

⇒ Too many omega-6 fatty acids

Conversely, these fatty acids, though similar to omega-3s, are converted in the body to a proinflammatory compound called arachidonic acid. Lustig noted in the editorial that the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the diet should ideally be one to one; however, the typical U.S. diet has an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 25 to one, which favors a proinflammatory state. This inflammation can cause oxidative stress and damage to cells in the body.

⇒ Not enough micronutrients

Processed foods contain too few vitamins and minerals, known as micronutrients, many of which act as antioxidants, which help prevent cellular damage.

⇒ Too many trans fats

Trans fat molecules are structurally different from other types of fats, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Because of this difference — a double bond found in the molecule — the body is unable to break down trans fats, Lustig wrote. Instead, the trans fats end up in a person’s arteries and liver, where they generate damaging free radicals.

⇒ Too many branched-chain amino acids

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. The “branched-chain” in the name refers to the chemical structure of the amino acid. Several amino acids that the body needs, including valine, leucine and isoleucine, have branched chains, Lustig wrote.

And although branched-chain amino acids are needed for building muscle, when a person eats too many of them, the excess molecules go to the liver, where they are converted to fat, he wrote.

Main article and images by Susan Lawrence
Portions of the summary of Journal Editorial originally posted by Sara G. Miller, Staff Writer at livescience.com
Data based on content in the JAMA Pediatrics journal by Dr. Robert Lustig.

Tamoxifen: prevents cancer. Also Tamoxifen: causes cancer.

Tamoxifen: prevents cancer. Also Tamoxifen: causes cancer.

How do you know what’s helping and what’s hurting?

My oncologist would tell me about medicines available to increase my odds in fighting or preventing cancer. Every option was weighed, and even a small increase was considered a must-have. But then later I’d read that the same drug that upped my odds 12% came with an 8% risk of causing a different cancer! That’s only a 4% net gain! Is 4% worth all of the misery and other possible side effects?! Ugh!

Tamoxifen is the one drug I fully refused. Several others I have taken were just as gnarly, but for me, I couldn’t throw the dice with Tamoxifen. Even at my last oncologist visit, it was suggested. Eight years out. Still not interested.

I will leave you the with this random collection of possible side effects. Everything below was directly copy and pasted from Tamoxifen’s official website.

Warning

Tamoxifen may cause cancer of the uterus, strokes, and blood clots in the lungs. These conditions may be serious or fatal.

If you experience any of the following symptoms during or after your treatment, call your doctor immediately: abnormal vaginal bleeding; irregular menstrual periods; changes in vaginal discharge, especially if the discharge becomes bloody, brown, or rusty; pain or pressure in the pelvis; leg swelling or tenderness; chest pain; shortness of breath; coughing up blood; sudden weakness, tingling, or numbness in your face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of your body; sudden confusion; difficulty speaking or understanding; sudden difficulty seeing in one or both eyes; sudden difficulty walking; dizziness; loss of balance or coordination; or sudden severe headache.

Keep all appointments with your doctor. You will need to have gynecological examinations regularly to find early signs of cancer of the uterus.

Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • increased bone or tumor pain
  • pain or reddening around the tumor site
  • hot flashes
  • nausea
  • excessive tiredness
  • dizziness
  • depression
  • headache
  • thinning of hair
  • weight loss
  • stomach cramps
  • constipation
  • loss of sexual desire or ability

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:

  • vision problems
  • loss of appetite
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • unusual bruising or bleeding
  • fever
  • blisters
  • rash
  • swelling of the eyes, face, lips, tongue, throat, hands, arms, feet, ankles, or lower legs
  • thirst
  • muscle weakness
  • restlessness

Tamoxifen may increase the risk that you will develop other cancers, including liver cancer. Talk to your doctor about this risk. Tamoxifen may increase the risk that you will develop cataracts (clouding of the lens in the eye) that may need to be treated with surgery. Talk to your doctor about this risk.

Symptoms of overdose may include:

  • uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
  • unsteadiness
  • dizziness

Hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness are common side effects of hormone therapy. Hormone therapy also disrupts the menstrual cycle in premenopausal women.

  • Risk of blood clots, especially in the lungs and legs
  • Stroke
  • Cataracts
  • Endometrial and uterine cancers
  • Bone loss in premenopausal women
  • Mood swings, depression, and loss of libido
  • Risk of heart attack, angina, heart failure, and hypercholesterolemia
  • Bone loss
  • Joint pain
  • Mood swings and depression

The most common side effects caused by tamoxifen are hot flashes; vaginal dryness, discharge, or irritation; and reduced interest in sex. These side effects are not usually serious, but they can be bothersome.

Other side effects are rare but are more dangerous. These include:

  • Overgrowth of the lining of the uterus (endometrial hyperplasia) and cancer of the lining of the uterus (endometrial cancer).
  • An increased risk of blood clots in the legs (deep vein thrombosis) and the lungs (pulmonary embolism). Changes in the blood’s ability to clot have been reported in patients receiving tamoxifen.
  • A small increased chance of stroke.
  • Ovarian cysts.
  • An increased risk of cataract formation and the need for surgery for cataracts.

Because tamoxifen can cause changes in the lining of the uterus, women who use it should have yearly pelvic exams and should be evaluated further if they experience any abnormal uterine bleeding. Tamoxifen may not work as well if a woman is also taking some types of medicine to treat hot flashes or depression. If you take tamoxifen, talk with your doctor about any other medicines you are taking.

If you are thinking about taking tamoxifen to reduce the chance that you will develop breast cancer, you should talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of this treatment.

You and your doctor will decide whether the possible benefit of tamoxifen treatment is worth the risks of taking the medication. 🤷🏻‍♀️

EU approval of glyphosate weed killer based on ‘plagiarized’ Monsanto studies

EU approval of glyphosate weed killer based on ‘plagiarized’ Monsanto studies

Regulators in Europe were considering whether or not to continue to allow sales of Monsanto’s Round Up, a glyphosphate-based weed killer, in the EU. The European Food Safety Authority reviewed the assessment from Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, and based on their findings in this report, they determined that glyphosphate was safe.

Turns out, the assessment provided by Germany was heavily plagiarized, literally copy-and-pasted from Monsanto’s own agri-chemical industry reports! The scale of plagiarism was extremely alarming; more than 50 percent of the chapters were plagiarized, including whole pages of text.

The World Health Organization has classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen. French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to outlaw it completely in France by 2021.

 

For the full story, head over to RT.com where it was originally published. For a recent scientific study on the evidence of cancer causing effects of glyphosphate, visit sciencedirect.com. 

My First Lymphedema Arm Bandaging

My First Lymphedema Arm Bandaging

How hard could this be?

So, last Tuesday I go in and have my OT Angie (who I’ve seen on and off since the beginning, almost 8 years ago) take a look and discuss some possible plans.

We decide to try bandaging, to get my arm size down some, take some new measurements, and start fresh with some new exercises and therapies.

Here I am learning the new rules >>>

I can generally keep my lymphedema under control with a 30 minute self-MLD every morning, some mini-drains as needed during the week, and a biweekly appointment with the magical Dave Henderson – notorious lymph-taming & fascia-busting hero.

But with all the pain and other issues I’ve been having recently, a visit to the Outer Banks Hospital Outpatient Rehab center was in order.

Learning the new rules
Feeling like I've got a log stuck on my arm.

Bandaging itself went well. I wore the bandaging home and was fine throughout the day.

By fine I mean I felt as though my entire arm from fingertips to armpit was stuck, lodged in an empty log.

One that weighs 50 pounds, and itches. =/

Sleeping at night was rough, having an itchy 50 pound log stuck around my arm and unable to bend my elbow, but I managed through the night.

I felt pretty good walking back into the OT office the next day, and thrilled to find out I’ve lost multiple centimeters of diameter across my arm. We took new measurements and I’m buying some fresh new sleeves!

lymphedema woes
lymphedema woes

I’m loving how light and compact and generally “good” my arm felt. So, my husband Scott & I ventured for a walk! I don’t know if it was the weight of the arm, plus the additional weight of all the bandaging, or the movement, or the heat…  but 10 minutes into the walk my arm feels like it’s about to explode through the bandaging, like The Hulk shedding his regular man-sized clothes.

I grab hold of my swollen left arm with my right arm, and carried it home. I lay down in bed with some cool ice on my shoulder and try some manual lymph drainage around the bandage and some deep breathing just trying to stay cool, and carry on. This, too, shall pass.

A few hours later and I’m doing my recommended therapy “exercises” and stretch my arm over my head to stretch out my damaged left side. I feel a pinch or pull in my skin of my upper arm that feels like it’s been ripped open … it’s the only way I can describe it, just a little snag and then like an unzipping feeling. I expected to see blood.

Immediately I’m feeling my elbow and upper arm area begin to rush with heat and flush turn red and swell. The swelling soon became intense, like it was earlier when I was walking. I roll down the top of the bandaging to take a peek and saw that my skin was turning red below the bandaging. Red and bumpy and blistery, hot, and sore.

lymphedema woes
lymphedema woes
lymphedema woes

I started pulling the bandaging off and examine my arm. It didn’t stop swelling for quite some time – I had bumps and hives and scratch marks without having touched my arm. Parts of the skin was hardening, and parts blistering, and all of my arm was burning hot. So, yeah. 🙁

The burning sensation in my skin would not go away. As much as I hate medicine I caved and covered my arm in a Benadryl gel, which I use in emergencies on the hives that I experience since chemo. Sometimes the hives get pretty intense and so I coat them with the Benadryl gel which immediately stops the burn and itch.

Not this time. I resort to taking two Benadryl antihistamine tablets and calling it a night.

lymphedema woes

On Friday we decide to try again so after another treatment for the fascia pain in my ribs, we commence to another wrapping of my arm. For a while it is doing well: uncomfortable, inconvenient, but not too painful.

Until around 2 am, when I wake up to fire and brimstone in the bandaging. I just took off the bandage and set my arm free.

Immediately I noticed in the side of my elbow a series of creases – I must have had my elbow bent maybe while I was sleeping, causing some creases in the fold of my arm, and maybe cutting off circulation some.

lymphedema woes
lymphedema woes

Immediately after the bandages are off my skin just starts swelling and burning itching and you can see my veins struggling, you can see them through my skin and now a series of what look like pin pricks have run down my arm along a vein. They are sensitive to the touch, and sensitive if I twist my arm or pull my skin.

For now, I’m keeping the bandages rolled up neat and tidy. I’ll be back at OT this week, and see how we go from here.

Hopefully, this is the end of my lymphedema bandaging experience.

OMG This Soup! (Recipe!)

OMG This Soup! (Recipe!)

I will be the first to admit there was a time I would have refused to eat a soup if I knew it had squash in it. Or, really, any other vegetables. There is zero chance I would have tried a bite of your butternut squash, leek, and apple soup. No. Way.

But one of the amazing women who cooked for me while I was sick is such a phenomenal cook, that when she served it to our family at dinner I knew I had to give it a taste. I have never, ever, been so pleasantly surprised. What a delicious soup!

I asked my friend for the recipe, which led to my second good fortune of stumbling upon this super amazing healthy living blog called My New Roots. The author Sarah B. says she started the blog “because I wanted to share the incredible knowledge I had received through my education in Holistic Nutrition. I discovered so many things that I believed needed to be public information, not just for those who can go to school to study in this field. I wanted to set up a non-biased space for people to come and learn about how to take better care of themselves through diet and lifestyle, as I have seen immense changes in myself since making little, positive changes every day.”

YES!

As you can see I skipped the croutons, but doubled up on the pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and some green onions on top

So the recipe… can be found on this sweet holistic nutrition blog. I have made this 3 times in the last month alone. I cannot get enough. It is so satisfying, it just hits every note and I cannot believe *I* made it. And it’s not even that hard! I usually take two nights to make it, but that’s not necessary at all. For me, it’s convenient to chop and roast the vegetables while I am cooking dinner one night, and put them in the fridge overnight. The next night I can just blend it all up and heat it through and get right to eating!

Final thoughts:
  • This recipe is crammed full of nutrients your body will LOVE you for eating
  • This is also a perfect meal to bring to someone going thru cancer treatments right now. Don’t bring a big mac. Bring something nourishing, made with love, and delicious.
  • You will have leftovers. Easy lunch for a couple of days or dinner the next night.
  • The flavor is unbelievable. So fresh, and rich, and just perfect. Don’t skip the apple cider vinegar, or the seasonings. I couldn’t find my anise, so I used some extra cracked pepper. You can substitute somewhat and adjust the ratios, but don’t skip them entirely or else you will just have funky squash-applesauce.
  • If you try it out, comment below. Did you change anything? How did the family like it? Will you make it again?
The beach is healing.

The beach is healing.

Just before we moved to North Carolina’s Outer Banks I told my husband that the beach was the place where I would heal. Almost 10 years before I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Eternally thankful for Ginger Kombucha 

Eternally thankful for Ginger Kombucha 

Sometimes I cannot believe the many resources I have available to me.  I was told Kombucha might end the hives I was experiencing daily, due to my chemo treatments years earlier. And, it worked! Thankful for that knowledge, thankful for the acupuncturist who told me to try it. Thankful for Kevita for crafting such refreshing and delicious and healthful kombucha. And thankful to myself and my husband for working hard and earning enough to pay for such a valuable treat.

A little bit at a time

A little bit at a time

Some periods of time are just too stressful or painful to keep track of. Just keep going. Pause, then keep going. It will get better.

Thankful Thanksgiving

Thankful Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving all. I am so very thankful to be alive today. I am thankful also for my loving family who carried me through this past year. And my fabulous extended family and friends.

This last year has been hard but the blessings that came along with it will last a lifetime and I am thankful for that as I look toward the future. Thank you everyone who touched my life this last year. It’s been humbling. I love you all!

Stayin’ Alive!

Stayin’ Alive!

Third Place Winner at SOS contest at the Baum Center. Made by my friend Nancy Proctor’s sister Michele while visiting last week. And dedicated to me! as I posted today that I am cancer-free.

Ah Ah Ah, Staying Alive! Staying Alive.

It is made up of mirror tiles surrounded by little lights. Will look great hanging over your dining room table! (hahaha) How cool is that!

In a Pickle turned Pink

In a Pickle turned Pink

So my husband’s cousin owns (the best) breakfast spot in Boston, In a Pickle. This year he had his staff paint his restaurant pink! What an honor to be included. Thanks, Tim!

Hi Susan We recently painted the walls of ‘The Pickle’ pink to help raise awareness and raise funds for Breast Cancer. We are asking customers and staff to write names of family and loved ones on our wall to support or memorialize them. I wrote your name up there. I thought you might want a photo of it. Best Wishes and Good Luck! 

Outer Banks Community Supports Us

Outer Banks Community Supports Us

I had the most wonderful day ever today! Family, friends and Rubber Pants! Good times!! Thank you so much to everyone who came out. We are humbled and overwhelmed. … now for a much needed nap…

Start with Today

Start with Today

I have in all honesty been either focusing on the very core elements of battling cancer (pain management, symptom control, simply keeping myself alive by breathing in and out and sometimes nothing more) or… When the chemo fog begins to lift … Getting myself back I to work any hour I can spare – keeping my nose above the water and trying to stay ahead of the bills. a VERY close second is spending some time with my family. It generally comes in little spurts but I do try to spend some one on one time with each of them as often as I can. It’s hard to fit it all in – I’ve got about a week of dealing w chemo and then a week of work/family and I’m exhausted. And then back to chemo.

Long Haired Scott

Long Haired Scott

This sweet husband of mine. My family offered to shave their heads as support for me while I went through chemo. My thoughts were “That’s Crazy! I HATE bald heads right now. I don’t want to see you or anyone with a bald head. No… in fact., I’ve always wanted to see you with long hair.” Which to my husband is a huge hassle – washing and drying and combing – who needs that mess?

But he agreed, and so did my sons and daughter. No one in the family had a haircut for a year. I loved all of it; they all had long hair for me. They’re all so handsome. But, none of them liked it like I did – so it was hard to get a picture.

I missed the call from the Doctor by a SECOND

I missed the call from the Doctor by a SECOND

I actually missed the call from the Dr. by a SECOND and when we called back no answer as it was already after hours. Crazy how it’s just a small task in a doctors day and conversely it was the biggest part of my day as I had held one hand on the phone all day awaiting his call. I just begged and begged for him to call back, my whole day had hinged on it… but alas I wait ’til tomorrow!
I should be back on track soon.

I should be back on track soon.

Learning the careful balancing act of all the meds – trying to be pain free and coherent in the same day is proving to be more difficult than I expected.

The Cancer Has Spread

The Cancer Has Spread

You may have heard we did not have good news in that the cancer has spread beyond the breast and so I had to have the lymph nodes yanked as well. Still do not know what “Stage” it is but we’ll prolly know Tuesday.

This morning was very painful but the home health nurse has now come and set me up. Feeling a little better. I’m sure I’m not making any sense but I wanted to post an update and thank everyone again for such a huge outpouring of love and support and the meals.
Thank you all so much !!!
Love, Susan

Let’s DO this!

Let’s DO this!

Alright. I’m going to go pack my bag and get to bed. I’ve got cancer’s ass to kick very early in the morning and I don’t wanna be late.

Thanks everyone for your love and prayers. It’s been humbling.
Let’s DO THIS!

Thank You All!

Thank You All!

Just a note to say Thank You to everyone who has been reaching out to us lately. I finally went public and posted the news on Facebook and the outpouring of love and wishes and prayers has been humbling!

Between Facebook and here, I have heard from childhood friends (like, pre elementary school!) and  school friends, high school, college, past co-workers, friends of my parents, and even some people I don’t even know. It’s amazing.

Surgery is Wednesday, and now that Christmas has stopped hogging my attention, I am starting to fret the surgery more. I know it’s not the biggest hurdle coming up, it’s surely not going to be any more difficult than 3 cesarean deliveries I’ve done….. but still, I can’t do anything about anything ’til it’s over and done so I can’t stop thinking about it.

Just looking forward to having this behind me and getting back to my family and to work.

Thanks again, y’all. Your words and prayers are carrying me a long long way!

The News

The News

The scariest thing for me right now is the sad and untimely passing of Elizabeth Edwards. She was diagnosed with Stage 2 Breast Cancer just 6 years ago. Her death was the top story online when I first sat down to research my new diagnosis.

Six years is simply not enough time for me. Giana will be 9, Travis 13, and Christopher only 22. No way will my work be done yet! So… I’m on my way to beating breast cancer.