I feel like fall has come and gone, maybe because the weather wasn’t fall-ish and turned right to winter or because of the turn of events in my family. My maternity leave is not exactly how I thought it was going to go. Bryce, my little new guy, has been such an amazing baby. He gives us a straight 4-5 hours of sleep and then every two hours after that. I am thankful for the long stretch he provides to keep me refreshed. Naps are not my thing except lately at night the tiredness hits me (and it gets dark so early now). Thankfully I live in New Jersey and get 12 weeks of maternity leave (6 weeks maternity and 6 weeks of bonding time) and come back to work in January.
Without Bryce being such a good boy, I am not sure how I would get through all that is happening in my family. As I said in my last post that my grand-mom (my mom’s mom) had a stroke the day after Bryce was born. She is doing well progressing, but still not able to communicate and chat like before. This is emotionally hard as we try to have conversations with her and sometimes I can’t understand her and she gets upset. Physically she is doing well and walking with the walker and eating on her own She has been going to events at the facility to keep her busy. We are grateful that we can take her out to places like Thanksgiving!
Shortly after my grand-mom got out of the hospital, we found out my dad has metastatic prostate cancer. It has been the toughest news I/my family have ever received. It was especially hard for me as I am the health promoter in my family and I never pushed my dad to get his annual blood work (life gets busy and you sometimes forget about it). At this point we are not looking behind and looking in the future as we can’t do anything about the past. He went 5-6 years without a physical and blood work.
Since January he has been feeling like “sand bags” in his stomach and so we found a GI doctor to find out what was going on (other symptoms he had that we found excuses for: fatigue, hip pain, metallic taste, 5-10 lb wt loss). The GI doc did an upper endoscopy and colonoscopy which came back clear. The doctor kept changing his meds but not solving the issue. I pushed my dad to finally find the root of the problem and first get blood work done. That is where the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) came into play and was extremely elevated (everything else was good Thank the Lord). Right away he needed to get a biopsy and bone scan. That is where we found cancer in the prostate and “hot spots” in the ribs and hips. He got a CT scan, but we haven’t heard the results yet (praying that everything is clear).
We couldn’t get a doctors appointment for 1.5-2 weeks. Let me tell you those weeks were the LONGEST and hardest weeks of my life and my family’s life. It was so difficult to watch my dad in pain. I was trying to find everything to add protein and increase my dad’s caloric intake while keeping his sugar intake low. It is very hard as my dad has this metallic taste in his mouth and is a somewhat picky eater. We tried every protein drink and food possible.
Through this time, my mom was also trying to be with her mom. Thankfully I am on maternity leave and I am able to make them dinner that is also nutritious as possible. There were meals that I wanted to add to my blog but I had no energy to do so. I will make them eventually for you all: Greek chicken meatballs with Banza chickpea rice (it is more like orzo) and roasted veggies; turkey chili; turkey and black bean enchiladas (I had carrots in it); good ole chicken, rice, and veggies; roasted veggies; salad bar, and a few more options.
My dad had two appointments with different oncologist to get different opinions. He decided to stick with Dr. David Mintzer from Penn. He provided us with great hope and spoke about years and years to come. Starting with hormone shots (Firmagon/Eligard/Leuprolide) to bring down the testosterone (which is this cancer’s food). With these shots he will get menopausal-like symptoms: hot flashes, weight gain, osteoporosis, muscle mass loss, and fatigue. He will also be started on Zytiga (to reduce androgen production) and a small amount of prednisone (steroid medicine). The doctor mentioned if these treatments stop working there are a list of other treatments. We left the office with a weight off our shoulders and feeling more hopeful.
I do want you to know we have our hope and faith in the Lord. Without leaning on the Lord, the past month and a half would be extremely difficulty. My dad is on a dozen or more church prayer lists from a few different states to Puerto Rico. The support and prayers we have received have been incredible. We know the Lord is the greatest physician and does miracles. We are believing he will do a miracle from the doctor’s plan or supernaturally. The testimonies that people are sharing are encouraging of the Lord’s healing. The Lord has a plan for everything and as much as it is hard to accept this diagnosis, we know he will work through my dad and my family. When I go back to work my mission is to make sure all my clients are getting annual lab work (which I do but will be a bit more bold), colonoscopy, mammogram, PSA levels, and physicals. I want to do everything I can to prevent other families from going through what we are going through. Prostate cancer is highly treatable in early stages. As we are seeing, there are so many treatments now out for early prostate cancer and metastatic.
My first 5k was a father’s day 5k in Philly for prostate cancer. And my last race, last year, was the Philadelphia marathon where some of the proceeds from the race go to the American Association for Cancer Research. Prostate and cancer weren’t words that hit me as hard as it does now. I would love to do another run or event to raise more money for cancer, specifically prostate cancer research. The research for cancer that is being done is happening so quickly and needs to continue. It will continue with donations and different events to raise the money. Maybe I will run another marathon or half marathon for my dad so we can find more ways to cure this disease. For now, we are thankful for what the Lord has done with the research and how it has progressed in the past three years and looking forward to my dad being healed.
Thanksgiving is next week and we usually take for granted the time we have with family. This year, family time has a new view for me. No gift is better then the time together. I believe we will have many many more years of holidays with my dad. But with the news, it changes your perspective on life. You start to look at that material items don’t matter as much as being with your loved ones. Enjoy the moment in life and the time with your loved ones and don’t stress about the small things.
As I am all good for getting back into working out, my mindset has changed. I used to be too consumed with working out, eating clean, and lost touch of eating that ‘not so healthy dinner’ just to be with my family or spending too much time at the gym and skipping events with loved ones. I don’t mean I am going to stop eating healthy or stop working out, instead I am not going to put so much focus and obsession into. I want to continue to live a healthy lifestyle and be a healthy example for my family while also spending as much time with them and not taking it for granted. Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy good food and family. Here is a delicious, healthy, high fiber, naturally sweetened, high in vit A dessert to bring to your Thanksgiving meal.
Some other delicious fall foods to add to your Thanksgiving feast:
- Apple Crisp
- Fall Harvest Salad
- Vegan Pumpkin Pie
- Hubbard Squash Soup
- Roasted Fall Veggies with Pomegranate Seeds
- Whole Wheat Maple Pumpkin Bread
- Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash
Pumpkin Spice Dessert Hummus
It tastes just like pumpkin pie, but healthier!
6 Medjool dates, pits removed
2 tbsp tahini
1 can white beans, rinsed
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp pumpkin spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp water (more if necessary)
to top: pumpkin spice pumpkin seeds
to dip: apples, pumpkin or sweet potato chips, or smear on toast
- In a food processor, process the dates until a smooth consistency. Drizzle water, slowly to help make the smooth consistency.
- Add remaining ingredients.
- Blend until smooth.
- Place in carved pumpkin and top with pumpkin spice pumpkin seeds (homemade recipe below).
- Dip with apples, pumpkin chips, whole wheat pita, or spread on toast!