Offer It Up

When I was a little kid and would complain about something, my grandmother would always respond with, “offer it up, Catherine”. At the time, this was just a very grandma-ish saying and I gave it no further thought other than I always knew that’s what she was going to say.

Anyways, fast forward 25 years or so and that phrase has taken on a whole new world of meaning to me personally. I’ve hopped on the bandwagon of doing a word of the year rather than some resolutions that I never keep and this year I’m choosing the word/word (there are no rules, I can do what I want…)

offer

aw-fer, of-er ]

to present something as an act of worship or devotion; sacrifice

an act or instance of offering:an offer of help.

offering

aw-fer-ing, of-er- ]

something offered in worship or devotion, as to a deity; an oblation or sacrifice

a contribution given to or through the church for a particular purpose, as at a religious service

anything offered as a gift

Ok, hear me out as I ramble what this means…

My word or phrase this year is to remember that no matter what, I can offer it up. More importantly, it’s not about me. How can I get out of myself and be of service to others? I think that tends to make our own problems smaller. I think this can happen in a number of ways we likely don’t even think about. Maybe it is doing some extra for a coworker at work…or maybe it’s just tipping more, tithing more, finally doing that volunteer work, being socially active on issues you care about, praying more for others, or reaching out to those you know you avoid for a reason. Personally, I’ve started doing some service work in different organizations and trying to be more invested in my own future.

I try to remember that when I am rageful about my ostomy irrigation taking up time and being messy, I can offer it up and meditate on the fact that a lot of people don’t have this option to manage their ostomy. Irrigation gives me my freedom back.

That when I feel frazzled during the week from the work and kid grind, I can stop and remember to not take everything so seriously. It’s ok to ask for help or call in pizza. Or mostly what I do is just announce very loudly I am not cooking and everyone fends for themselves (ok, I help the three-year-old). But you get the idea.

I am going to make more of an effort to be a better friend and reconnect. So, if you’re my friend. Sorry. You know life moves fast and it’s easy to let months become a year. I will strive to take the trip with you and be the friend who remembers birthdays and anniversaries! Not just to wish you a ‘happy birthday’ via text but to actually wish you a happy birthday by sending a thoughtful, meaningful gift that would make someone on the other end smile when they open it (btw, I actually have this friend, they do exist!). Personally, I know how great this feels because when I had my own medical crisis, I had no shortage of cards and amazing gifts sent my way. It helps. To actually show I care. So, there’s that.

Honestly, I just reflect on ‘offering it up’ in a way that on the other side of my suffering is growth and bound to be happiness. That there will always be peaks and valleys. I know, because I was in one of those deep, deep valleys. I honestly didn’t know if I could get out, but I did. In more ways than one it changed my life. It made me realize I needed to quit a lot of my bullshit behavior. I just didn’t have room for it anymore. Which was basically not being able to control my alcohol intake and food issues. I mean, I’m sure I have a lot more bullshit behavior than just that, but these seemed to be the ones making me crumble as I tried to find balance post-cancer.

Also, this all does not come easily or naturally to me. It has taken a lot of work over the last year to decide I’m going to be happy and turn the last few years of a literal shit show into something positive that I can spin my way.

I do not always know which path I will take, but I am confident that it comes with speaking up and just taking one step forward at a time. Offering it up knowing that what feels like it’s crumbling today will often be built back better tomorrow.

Colorectal Cancer Support Groups

I’ve been thinking lately about how all of our cancer experiences are so different. I mean that based on our access to care and information, to surgeons who will agree to operate etc. I read just the other day a fellow CRC friend comment she found a surgeon who was willing to operate on her stage IV colon cancer through a support group.

That’s so important! There are so many clinical trials and advances in treatment that it can be overwhelming to know where to look and how to search etc. I’m going to pool just a few resources that I know of that are great for finding clinical trials and colorectal cancer support groups. This is a short list, but these are a few that are useful if you are starting out or don’t know where to look:

  • Mybluem.org is an organization I am an ambassador for! It’s a community created for patients by patients and here, once you register, you’ll find a wealth of information including some really neat things like a whole section on podcasts, ostomy support, sexual health. So many great things that impact us as early onset survivors. Check them out!

  • Fight CRC is such a great group that has a wealth of information on clinical trials, support groups, and even a whole resource library based on your stage of cancer. If you or a loved one has colorectal cancer this organization is a great resource!

  • If you are specifically receiving treamtnet at MD Anderson Cancer Center, they have a lot of support groups I did not even know existed, and I received treatment there!

  • clinicaltrials.gov – I have no experience with this platform myself, other than hearing some advanced CRC friends mention it as a resource. Definitely something to check out if you are looking for clinical trials.

  • There is also a whole community of early onset CRC patients and survivors I’ve gotten to know well through Instagram! It’s been wonderful, therapuetic, healing (sometimes heartbreaking) to form so many wonderful friendships through such an awful experience. Come find us! We are surviving this disease and leading fulfilling lives!

Stay well – xoxo

5 Tips to Reduce Your Toxic Load

Long before cancer creeped it’s way into my life (well, long before I knew it was growing inside me) I had already begun to make lifestyle changes to help to reduce my toxic load. At the time, I didn’t realize this is exactly what I was doing, I just knew I had been becoming more aware of how toxic so many things in my environment were. The processed foods, meat industry, personal care products, even baby food has been found to have high levels of arsenic! “Toxic load” refers to the accumulation of chemicals and toxins in our body that are ingested or absorbed.

I think it’s also important to point out that we are far from perfect as a family on this. No one can practice perfection in this area, it’s too hard! We make safer swaps where we can all while remembering we are human trying our best to navigate this. My kids nutrition is not perfect and I’m sure there will always be areas to clean up. Progress over perfection my friends!

Here are five ways I help to reduce our chemical exposures in our family

  1. Eat vegetarian whenever possible & buy organic fruits and vegetables

    This one is kind of a no-brainer as we’ve all heard it a hundred times. I get it, buying all organic everything isn’t financially possible and that’s when you stick to buying organic items that are on the dirty dozen list. Buy organic when you can and be sure to always thoroughly wash produce (we use a 3:1 water/vinegar solution). In addition, I always lean towards recipes that are vegetarian. Eating vegetarian is cheaper, better for the planet, your health etc. My favorite cookbooks that got me into plant based eating are The Happy Herbivore and Everyday Detox

2. Transition personal care and makeup products to safer alternatives

Our skin is our largest organ and believe it or not, we are absorbing all the products we slather onto our skin and face. I have been using Beautycounter for over a year now for my skincare and makeup products. Beautycounter delivers high performing personal care products while banning a plethora of ingredients. In addition, they are also a B Corp, meeting the highest standards of social and environmental performance. I will also link a great article by one of my favorite beauty bloggers, This Organic Girl, that goes over cleaner beauty options available at Target. Cleaner, safer options are out there and I hope to continue to share all those things I come across on this platform!

3. Never wash plastsic in the dishwasher – switch over to glass storage containers instead of plastic tupperware

Did you know that back in 2018 the American Pediatric Association stated to, “avoid microwaving food or beverages (including infant formula and pumped human milk) in plastic, if possible, don’t put plastics in the dishwasher, and use containers made from alternative materials like glass or stainless steel whenever possible.”

That means that all those cute plastic kid plates, cups, snack containers you have should never be going in the dishwasher. Ever. Even if plastic is labeled ‘dishwasher safe’, it is not. On a personal note, we do still have and use plastic kid plates and cups. I wash them by hand and yes, it is a pain in the butt. We have some stainless steel kids cups we use as well. Will slowly transition over to stainless steel but it’s a process.

4. Take care of your gut

This perhaps seems like a random one but I have never been more aware of how my own gut functions since getting my permanent colostomy. Your bowels are how your body expels waste and toxins from your own body. It’s imperative to keep them working regularly and treat them well. This means drinking a lot of water (I personally aim for a gallon a day) and basically not killing yourself with crap food. I don’t think I need to go into this further. Another huge component of this is getting adequate exercise so your gut can actually process and absorb what’s needed and expel what’s not.

5. Switch to a natural laundry detergent

After trying quite a few more natural laundry detergents I have finally found one that is unscented, comes in small recyclable packaging and actually works on kid stains and sweaty clothes, Earth Breeze laundry sheets! You can get $10 OFF your first order here. This company is great, focusing on zero waste products that actually work. Ditch the scents and opt for unscented as well. I practice this in most products, when there is an unscented version, I will grab that. The less synthetic fragrances, the better.

Small and steady action cleaning up our toxic load can go a long way in improving the health of our families! What are some of the ways your practice this in your home?