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Before I had my kids...

Before I had my kids, I had an active lifestyle, one where I would visit the gym a few times a week. I must admit, working a full-time job, becoming a mom, and getting older has taken a toll on me, yet I still visited the gym.

The year after I gave birth to my daughter I noticed the weight gain after not frequenting the gym like I did before my son was born. I set an appointment to talk to a personal trainer at the gym. I like what I hear regarding the price and the schedule worked for me as well. Especially since I wasn't planning on getting liposuction. After a month of having a personal trainer, I’m in the best shape ever.

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In 2013, I changed my profession...

In 2013, I changed my profession and worked a part time job, which meant no extra funds for a gym membership.

About the time our daughter turned four years old, we moved from our condo in Florida to our first single family home in Atlanta.

Sometime within the first 6 months of us moving to Southwest Atlanta, I notice my weight gain and at times I’m at a loss of breath, while giving a tour at my new job.

 

When I noticed the change in my health...

In January 2015, during my annual checkup, my doctor informed me that I had high-blood pressure. I can’t say I was surprised. I knew my eating habits had changed for the worst. Our family frequented McDonalds throughout the week and I hadn’t worked out in almost two years.

It took some time, but we joined the local YMCA. Although the club offered my favorite exercise class, cycling, I couldn’t go based on my new stay at home part time working mom schedule. I needed a class that worked with my schedule and it just wasn’t available and affordable for our family. I forced myself to go to the Saturday cycling class. I thought this was the answer I needed, but it was short lived. The class schedule was inconsistent and meeting on Saturday meant being away from my family.

I discovered the cycling classes at the Adamsville Recreation Center, but the cost wasn’t in my budget. The math still didn’t work in my favor; $8 a class, not bad, then again, I planned to go every week, so an additional $32 to $40 a month, which is $384 to $480 a year on top of our $75 a month, $900 a year family plan at the YMCA. Nevertheless, I had a solution.

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No More Excuses!

After ensuring my husband wouldn’t mind an indoor cycle in the basement, I surveyed Amazon. In February 2016, I purchased a Marcy Indoor Cycle Bike for my home. I also invested in a Spinning DVD. I was committed to succeed. This time I have no excuses, I had the access to my preferred exercise equipment and there was no stopping me.

 

I Worked Out In The Am...

I worked out in the am before getting ready for taking the kids to school and work. Working out also increased my water intake. The next month, I did a 30-Day Water Challenge, I had the support of my family and I was 100% successful.

One time we were at McDonalds (yes McDonalds, eating out for a family of four is hard and expensive), I let Cary order my meal and I feared he would have automatically ordered me a Coke, on the contrary, he ordered water. Yay, I love the support.

I continued to exercise. I purchased more DVDs but loved the --- DVD and had great results. I brought a juicer and began juicing, but the cleanup ugh. I started drinking wheatgrass with my orange juice and loss weight at this time, as well.

My next visit to the doctor in June 2016, I had a significant drop in my blood pressure, nonetheless, my doctor thought I should still take the Hydrochlorothiazide for my blood pressure as precaution.

The Worst Is Yet To Come...

In February 2017, during a self-breast exam, I felt a lump.  I had a doctor’s appointment scheduled, expressed my concerns, but didn’t receive follow up information as to where to go to get it checked out.  However, several weeks later I received an appointment letter from Grady Memorial to go in to get a mammogram, something I desperately needed, but avoided since I turned 40.

After getting the mammogram, the nurse and I both speculated that I would be called back for a follow, which was exactly the case.  On 5/23/2017, I was diagnosed with Stage 1A breast cancer.  Although I wasn’t surprised because of the lump.  I learned since my father had prostate cancer and a cousin had fought cancer the chances of being diagnosed with cancer was inevitable.  I took a genetic test, which confirmed I had a trait like the Brca gene, which was made prominently known after Angelina Jolie discovered the mutation predisposed her to breast cancer like her mother.  I was given options mastectomy of my right breast, bilateral mastectomy (removing both breast), or lumpectomy.

 

I did my research...

While on vacation and during my husband and I's 13th anniversary, I did my research and checked out websites such as www.BreastCancer.org and learned about my options on beating cancer.   I looked at pictures of the results of a lumpectomies and mastectomies online.  During my research about cancer, I also came across an article, which discussed a recipe for a green smoothie that Josh Demell and Fergie drank every day.

Pictures from our vacation...

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Green Smoothie Recipe...

Screenshot from my phone

I made my decision...

After much consideration, I chose to get a lumpectomy.  I knew I had to fight, but I wasn’t ready to give up one or both breast.  I also decided I had to take control of my eating habits.  I always said if the doctor made it clear I needed to change my diet; I would do so.  However, the doctors didn’t tell me to change my diet, I changed my diet on my own.  I whipped out my NutriBullet and started making a the same green smoothie daily.  Surprisingly, it was delicious.

Here's a video I made...

Here's a video I made in June 2017, describing the news I received and the decision I had to make regarding the surgery.

The Surgery...

My surgery was scheduled for 7/03/2017 and although it went well and the surgeon declared me cancer-free, I had to stay in the hospital overnight, not what I expected.  After going home, on 7/04/2017, I thought I would continue my green smoothie diet, but it was a challenge.  I wanted to eat food, mostly junk food, and didn’t have guidance as to what would keep me healthy and in the months that followed, I packed on pounds.

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For the duration of my recovery, I thought I could go back to a normal lifestyle, yet during my follow up appointment, the surgeon informed me the cancer spread to my lymph nodes, now making my Stage 1A breast cancer, Stage 2B.  At the time, I was told radiation was the needed treatment.

The day before my radiation appointment...

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These pictures are from a dinner I had with a friend, who I just confided in that I had Stage 1a Breast Cancer.  She asked me if I had to get chemo and is this why I wore wigs.  I adamantly stated, "No!  This is me being the diva I am!"

The Day My World Was Rocked...

But on 7/31/2017, I received the most devastating news of my life, I would have to get chemo…..WHAT!  Talk about my world being rocked.  NO, NOT CHEMO!  The red devil, which devasted many cancer patients’ worlds. A major concern was my health.  I never heard anything good about chemo, especially the hair loss.  I was completely distraught.  I LOOVVEE Hair!  I’m a Certified Sisterlocks Consultant and prior to being diagnosed with breast cancer, I was going to cosmetology school.  The day after being told I had to get chemotherapy to continue fighting the cancer, I had a client scheduled for the next day.

A Rare Video I Shared on Youtube

Emotionally distraught, I had to cancel the appointment and refer the client to another Certified Sisterlocks Consultant.  I called my hairstylist for comfort and support.  The next week, I did something I never thought I would do.  I had my stylist shave the side and back of my head and dye my hair blonde.  I never imagined I would go blonde, but I never imagined I would get cancer, so I had to do something drastic, and I loved it.

I absolutely loved this hairstyle!

In September 2017, I had a procedure to insert the port, for my bi-weekly chemo infusions.  At this point the idea of starting chemotherapy was real and I was scared.  For my first appointment I got dressed up and bit the bullet.  Believe me I thought of not going, but I had to face my fear.

On September 10th, 2017, I started to lose my hair.  I remember being in the basement of my house and running my hands through my hair and seeing strands come out.  I had to get to a mirror to examine it further, but by the time I made it up the stairs, I could hardly breathe.  I started to cry and by the made it to my bedroom and was in full tears.  My husband said, "You have to stay strong for your family."  To be honest, I didn't take heed to what he said, but my daughter had came into the room to comfort me and I remember feeling her tiny hand, which I joke and call baby hands, on my side.  Her reaction to comfort me at that time touched my heart so much, as I type this tears are coming to my eyes.

I recall the next day, Hurricane Irma had come to Georgia and before it hit our area, we went out to eat for breakfast.  I wore a wig and felt pain coming from my scalp.  I had no idea that this was from my hair falling out of its follicles.  I called my stylist to schedule a haircut and on September 13th, she cut the last of my beloved locs off.

My chemotherapy lasted for 4 months and ended on 11/29/2017.  I didn’t think I would survive, but I did!  Yet, during this time, I admit I let myself go.  I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.  In March of 2018, I completed radiation therapy, again I didn’t think I would make it through.  5 days a week for 6 weeks, but I did it.  Yet I want to say I did it through the love and support of my family and close friends.  I didn’t tell many people because I’m a private person and didn’t want to hear the words I’ll pray for you like I was a charity case and I didn’t think I would survive.

After going through radiation...

 

Okay it was hard dealing with the hair loss, but I got over it when my hair finally grew back.  For a while, I still wore wigs. In fact one day I had attached a hairpiece I made, and when it came off, I washed the gel out of my hair and once I saw my reflection in the mirror, I saw a new me.  I wasn't ashamed of my new baby hair that grew in, I wore it with pride.

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But I wasn't healthy.  When I would go to the hospital for a follow up appointment, my blood pressure was still high.  I have to admit I was out of shape.  I weight over 200 lbs!  I joined a gym but didn't have the energy to workout.  Activities I used to find exhilarating, I struggled to complete, like my favorite exercise:  cycling.  I had to do something and exercising wasn't the only answer.  I had to change my eating habits.

Find out how I did it...

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Find out how I lost 36 lbs in a year and kept it off!  Follow my blog:  www.PlantBasedandVeganAF.com