The master plan

I am the queen of the “stay tuned” post with no follow up. Of course maintaining 2 blogs, 3 Instagram accounts, 2 twitter accounts and Facebook may have something to do with it. I forget where I have made my updates. 

I feel like I have pulled myself together a bit. My consult in San Francisco definitely put my mind at ease to a certain extent. I loved the surgeon and her staff, I got my two pages of questions answered and I got scheduled for surgery. It’s next week. Yikes. 

Fun fact. I have beautiful kidneys. The surgeon pulled up my CT scan and walked us through the slices to show me where the mass was located. It’s on the top front of my right kidney. That’s when she remarked I had beautiful kidneys. It does not appear that the mass has gone into any of the collection systems of the kidney so it looks like it can be removed cleanly without impacting kidney function. Good news. 

They won’t be able to confirm Stage and grade until after surgery. At this point she says it’s a 75% chance it is clear cell renal cell carcinoma. There are a few other type of RCC and a few non-malignant things it could be but she feels pretty sure of what she will find. Hopefully the pathology comes back quickly. 

The plan is that she will do the surgery with the Da Vinci robot which will be minimally invasive and a faster healing time. I should be in the hospital for 2-3 days. However, since I have a history of adhesions from my 2 prior abdominal surgeries, there is a chance it may be an open surgery. I won’t know for sure until I wake up. Yikes. 

Knowing I will be at UCSF is a relief. That place just inspires confidence. And the services they offer are amazing. The consult I had with the oncology nutrition department was really interesting. That’s just a free service they provide that will be available to me now that I am a patient. The good news is I don’t have to change much. I eat really well in general and I have started the shift towards plant based. The dietician basically said she didn’t have a lot of suggestions of things to change and that I would be in great shape for recovery. She did offer a few suggestions. 

  • Go whole food plant based. So not necessarily 100% vegan, but reduce the amount of animal products and focus on non-processed whole food fruits and veggies and grains to the extent I can with the Bariatric diet. ✅
  • Reduce sodium. They recommend this for all their cancer patients but controlling blood pressure is important with compromised kidneys. My hope is I don’t lose any function with a partial nephrectomy, but I do have to take good care of them. I never ever ever want to be on dialysis.  My blood pressure pretty much runs low and with the lack of most processed food in my diet, I should be good. ✅
  • Add pre-biotic food and lots of veggies for probiotics. Gut health is still kind of a mystery to me too. Must do more research. She recommended additional flax seeds to my protein ✅ and adding food with live active cultures like fermented foods and yogurt. So kim chi, sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt, etc. And eat more cruciferous vegetables to the extent I can with my protein first rules and tiny tummy. ✅ She also recommended a probiotic called VSL#3. Need to research. May add that down the line. 
  • Keep the protein supplements going and stay at the high side of the 60-80 gram Bariatric requirement. ✅

It’s comforting to know I don’t have to change much and since it’s anticipated that surgery and removing the mass will be the cure for me with no follow-up treatment, life should continue as normal after I recover. They will follow me for 5 years which is typically the timeframe for recurrence. There’s a 5% recurrence rate based on what the surgeon told me — much better than the 80% I’ve read from the National Kidney Cancer association. Stupid Google. 

So it’s all good. I just want to put this surgery behind me. It’s going to be a long recovery. So I’m putting together my Netflix and Hulu playlists and nesting in the house. The worst of it will be over in a few weeks. 

Thursday we get to go down to SF for all of my pre-surgery tests and meeting with the anesthesia team. Those peeps need to be my friends. So another crack of dawn drive to the beautiful bay is in store in a couple days. Have I mentioned how amazing my husband is?

So there you go. Now I am off to make lists. 

Practicing self-care through grief

One of the drivers for my recent lifestyle transformation journey was the death of my father on June 9, 2015. The minute the calendar changed to June, all of the feelings came rushing back. I’m in a funk. 

There’s nothing like facing some scary medical stuff that makes you realize your parents are gone. I think it’s an innate thing to want your mommy when you are sick. And since my mom has been gone almost 17 years (wow), I’ve instinctively always called my dad when I needed support. 

I’ve been thinking about him a lot lately, and what it would be like if I had known then what I know now. 

Self-care is something I did not understand until after my dad passed. I always put everyone’s needs in front of my own and I did not take care of myself. The last six months of my dad’s life, he was in and out of the ICU, I took weeks off from work at a time, and I completely fell apart. My nutrition was the worst ever. I have no idea what I ate during that time and I felt like crap. Comfort foods I imagine. I had major anxiety and couldn’t be around people.

I was constantly taking care of something whether it was medical appointments, grocery shopping, emergency room visits, wrangling caregivers, fielding complaints about him from his assisted living facility. Uh. Non-stop. 

After he died, I struggled with severe depression and anxiety. I was just not myself. I was stuck. It wasn’t until I was referred initially for weight loss surgery that I started researching life after surgery and the some of the methods for dealing with some of the emotional sides of this process. 

Journaling became a great outlet for all of these feelings and keeping a daily gratitude journal really helped to turn things around.  I have talked about all of my tactics for maintaining positivity. I am taking time this weekend to breakout that list and take care of myself through these next few weeks. I have more medical tests, doctors appointments and an ortho consult on the horizon. And I can’t call my mommy, but thankfully my brothers entertain me on the group text we have had going since June 2015.  

Peace and Love. 

Listening to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which like me, is 50. 🎵🎶

Pondering on Thanksgiving Eve

November is a hard month. November 12 is the anniversary of my mom’s passing in 2000. Last year was my first Thanksgiving without my dad. It was really rough. Not to mention I was in a serious depressed state this time last year until I had some magical adjustments of the meds. I honestly had a family member recently tell me this was all in my head. Uh, yeah, exactly. I sat out Family Thanksgiving last year. Mike and I went out alone out at the casino and I am sure I was acting psycho. We just talked about that today. 

Thanksgiving comes with baggage from childhood and from my complicated relationship with my dad. I think being a holiday totally entrenched with food customs, it’s a tough one. 

Tomorrow I have a plan. And not everyone in the family is along for the ride but I plan on ignoring them and their unintended efforts at sabotage. The plan: turkey with gravy and Brussels sprouts for dinner. 

For dessert I made this:


It’s a sugar free crust free pie! I’m so not a baker but I made this so I could join in the festivities. Here’s the yummy recipe

Starting the day off freezing my butt off doing the Run to Feed the Hungry with my niece and 15,000 other people. I’m going to get my Apple activity turkey badge! See it up there? Just waiting for me!


I’ve been warming up for this days for sometime now with my attitude of gratitude. I take time every morning to capture at least 3 things I am thankful for that day. It gives me some perspective. Life is good. Tonight I am feeling particularly grateful that I am in a much better place than I was last year. 

Wishing everyone a very happy thanksgiving. Stay safe. Designate a driver. And for heaven’s sake — no political discussions at dinner!