Cancer does not discriminate –no matter how healthy, young or rich you are.
Christine Egan was a health nut, yoga devotee and mom on the go when she discovered a lump in her breast.
'I wanted to share my story with details about my cancer journey so others wouldn't be so scared about what is ahead," Egan said.
Egan, a certified health coach and self-described cancer warrior, chronicles her one-year unthinkable journey to wellness and removes the fear out of a terrifying diagnosis in 'The Healthy Girl's Guide to Breast Cancer."
Part memoir and part practical guide, Egan details the traditional and non-traditional treatments she underwent and empowers women to take control of their treatment by becoming the CEO of their own body.
'I am about encouraging women to gather information and decide which treatment works best for them –not for their doctor," Egan said. 'Treatment decisions need to be made from a place of knowledge and empowerment, not fear. Women need to take an active role in their cancer treatment, not just go in blindly."
Christine Egan is a certified health coach and attended The New York School for Massage Therapy and The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She lives with her husband, their three kids and Zoe the dog in Bayport, New York. Learn more about Christine's journey at http://christine-egan.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com.
A Healthy Girl's Guide to Breast Cancer
Author: Christine Egan
Question: What inspired you to tell your story in A Healthy Girl's Guide to Breast Cancer?
Christine Egan: Actually the idea to write a book started out as a joke. Whenever I met new doctors or their staff, I would tell them to be nice to me because I was writing a book and wouldn't want them portrayed poorly. It was a fun way to break the ice with doctors' offices, and it helped the staff remember me.
Another reason I wrote this book was, I wanted to retell my story and shed some light on how I handled a difficult situation with a healthy twist. I wanted to let others know how I stayed positive, strong and somewhat sane during the cancer circus. During my one-year unthinkable journey of cancer, I have navigated the health care system, made life-changing decisions, and all the while maintained a positive outlook on life. Some things helped me along the way, and I decided they were too important not to share.
Question: Can you give us an idea of what is contained in the practical guide part of A Healthy Girl's Guide to Breast Cancer?
Christine Egan: Just as it was important for me to take an active role in my treatment, it's been important for me to feel active and empowered about my future health. The last chapter of the book is titled, 'My Simple and Doable Stay-Healthy Guide.' It has two sections: Lifestyle and Diet. After much research and trial and error in my own life, I found that these habits make a huge difference to my well-being. Some changes came easily to me, like adding more vegetables and fruits to my diet. Others are a struggle"it's still hard for me to get in all my daily supplements.
There were lifestyle changes that I needed to make as well. I now avoid plastic as much as I can. I switched my household food containers to glass along with my drinking water bottles. I changed my skin and body lotions to be sure they didn't contain any chemicals that could have an effect on my hormone levels. Lastly, I attempt to keep my stress levels down. I have learned to let a lot of things go, like the sand my 3 kids might bring onto a newly cleaned floor!
I've developed some tools to help me feel healthy and strong. Sometimes I use a few of my tools, and other times I use everything I've got. When I feel stressed or out of balance, I know I need to stop and remember what's in my tool box.
I listed my Tool box outline below:
Know What to Eat
Know What to Avoid
Drink Your Greens
Up Your Antioxidants
Get on the Supplement Bandwagon
My Super-Easy Morning Shake
Stop and Slow Down
Get Grounded and Balanced
Being Happy and Grateful
Tossing the Toxins
Question: Can you talk us through the non-traditional treatments you underwent?
Christine Egan: I knew there were other options for cancer therapy out there. I watched documentaries, researched online, and talked with other cancer patients. One type that I investigated was Insulin Potentiation Therapy (IPT). The therapy uses insulin, and takes advantage of the powerful, cell-killing effects of ordinary chemotherapy drugs used in very low doses.
The part that interested me in IPT was that I would be getting the chemo drugs, but the drugs would target the cancer cells in a way that was different from traditional chemotherapy.
I also received high doses of IV vitamin C. Studies have shown that high doses of vitamin C (25-100 grams), when given intravenously, have the potential to destroy cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone.
The way I addressed the extra estrogen in my body was also non-traditional. Typically the next phase of breast cancer treatment includes the drug Tamoxifen. One of the serious side effects of that drug is blood clotting and since I had a blood clot, I didn't want to take any chances with this medication. I am working with two different doctors to be sure my estrogen levels stay within normal limits through lifestyle and dietary changes, including supplements.
Question: What do you hope readers take away from A Healthy Girl's Guide to Breast Cancer?
Christine Egan: There are several things I hope readers take away:
I want people to gain information about what happens when someone is diagnosed with Breast Cancer. When I was diagnosed I read books, but to me so many of them were scary. I wanted to tell my story packed with information that was told in a non-threatening way. I wanted to share the intimate details of what happened to me when dealt with cancer.
Another takeaway I hope people take with them is how to take a more active role in their cancer treatment. I was forced with the decision of either letting things happen to me or I could be in control of what happens to me. In the health care world, especially cancer, fear of a scary diagnosis can lead you to move ahead blindly and let others decide what is best for you; I knew that was not going to work for me.
I wanted to share what simple dietary and lifestyle changes I made to keep myself cancer free.
Question: What is the first piece advice you'd give someone who has just been diagnosed with Breast Cancer?
Christine Egan: The first thing I would tell someone is try not to be too fearful. I know how scary the diagnosis can be, but it's important to be grounded, listen and learn about the various options that are available.
I was constantly reminding myself that there are always options and it is important to stay in the moment. Sometimes the thought of committing to a series of treatments can be so overwhelming. I would tell myself, 'I am committing to treatment today, and I will need to see how I feel about it tomorrow." Knowing I was taking each day as it came was an emotional relief.
Interview by Brooke Hunter