What My Mom’s Death Taught Me About My Own Health

So this journey has been very difficult to say the least. If you don’t know what journey I am referring to click here to catch up. A lot of self discovery happening. As I’ve mentioned in my previous blog post, since losing my mom I’m not exactly sure how to be me anymore. One thing I did about a week ago was sit down and make a list of things I want to do within the next year to be closer to my destination. Which is figuring out who I am again. There’s things on the list from, get closer to God, to sky diving. No I do not intend to get closer to God by skydiving. Nothing is off limits on this list. Crazy things, awesome things, impossible things, no biggie things, and so on.

The reality is that I probably won’t be able to accomplish everything on my list, at least not this next year. However one thing that is immediately attainable on my list is to take my health and fitness more seriously. Having been witness to my mothers suffering with terminal illness for the passed seven years, especially the last two of them, has opened my eyes to another side of health, that is nutrition. It amazes you when you’ve been told by doctors that your mother needs to be on a high-protein diet, but the hospital is feeding her jello. Meanwhile she doesn’t know better because her idea of eating healthy is eating lots of yogurt. In the last year of my moms life I did a lot of research on eating for health, but I was to no avail because my moms health was so declined by then that I couldn’t help her. This is when I learned that using food for medical purposes is best done as a preventative, than it is a treatment. However let me clarify that it totally CAN be used as a treatment in a lot of instances.

Upon reflecting on what I have learned I decided that it is time to start implementing these things in my own life. My mom was only 46 when she passed away. Her mom was only 58 when she passed away, and her mom’s mom was also only 58 when she passed away! Do you see a pattern here? I decided for the sake of my children to hopefully never have to know the pain of losing their mom too soon, that I have to take control of my health where I can. It only makes sense to me that the best way I can do that is by controlling what I put into my body. Now a lot of things factor into a person’s health, genetics, etc. Though I am certain, from my own experience in watching what my mom went through, that it is a lot easier to get healthy BEFORE disease gets a hold of you, than it is to restore health to an already unhealthy and malnourished individual. Shoot I might even go as far to say that if your body is kept in the right conditions that some diseases, such as cancer, wont even have the opportunity to dwell there. Though I may not be confident enough yet to say that irrefutably, I have heard it said before. So the last couple weeks I have began to exercise just bout every day, and eat for my health. At first the adjustment is a little difficult, and even made me feel crummy. My body had to detoxify a lot of junk out, and that made me feel sick. I also experienced some hypoglycemia because I cut off my sugar intake maybe a little too drastically (I suggest tapering that one down). However determined to push through, I am feeling amazing now. My husband has even joined me on this part of my journey and he is already reaping the benefits as well. As a matter of fact he has lost 7 lbs in his first week!

I will make an entire blog post about what we are doing currently with our diet and everything when the time comes, but all that leads me to my next discovery on this journey. Through all my research and commitment to myself I have found that I really want to use this to help others. So today I am adding to my list to become a holistic health and wellness coach. I truly believe that God gave us everything we need to live life healthy. The problem is that we live in a society of convenience and we have lost touch with natural remedies. Why would you put much thought into your health when there is a pill for everything? Why would you put much thought into food preparation and ingredients when there is fast food on every corner? I used to be one of those people who didn’t worry about my health because “that’s the doctors job”. It doesn’t work like that. I believe in the healing properties of medicine don’t get me wrong, but I also believe in the healing properties of nature, and I think the two have the best outcome when combined. So I am not saying stop all your meds, but I am saying that you may be surprised at just how many of them you find yourself no longer in need of once you start to take better care of your body.

So, next on my list is figuring out which way I need to turn to be on the right path towards my new goal. Any tips on where to begin? What do you guys think about nutrition, and its healing powers? Are you also inspired to eat for your health? Let me know what you guys think in the comments.

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Cervical Cancer and HPV

So if you ask any of my close friends I am notorious for TMI (to much information), that being said I am gonna throw the big red TMI flag out there now so if you continue reading, well you’ve been warned.

Alright, so today I am going to the lady doctor for my yearly. That’s right I am getting a pap smear today. Ladies dread this appointment but it is SO important. A pap smear is a test that samples cells from the cervix to check for abnormalities that may indicate cervical cancer. I am ashamed to admit that I am actually overdue for my pap. With everything that has happened in my family recently I have had to reschedule my appointment like three times. However today is the day.

As I have made it well known, my mother battled with, and eventually lost her life due to cervical cancer. According to cancer.gov “Virtually all cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV, and just two HPV types, 16 and 18, are responsible for about 70% of all cases”. However, HPV is not ONLY responsible for cervical cancer. It is also responsible for 95% of anal cancers, 70% of oropharyngeal cancers, 65% of vaginal cancers, 50% of vulvar cancers, and 35% of penile cancers.

HPV is scary, but many people don’t even know what it is. HPV stands for Human papillomaviruses, which are actually a group of more than 200 viruses. Out of the 200+ types only about a dozen of them have been identified as high-risk, and only two of these, HPV types 16 and 18, are identified as the main cancer causing culprits. HPV is transmitted sexually, but that is nothing to be ashamed of. Of course the more partners you have, the more likely you are to obtain the virus, but don’t think you are in the clear if you have only been with one partner. If your partner has been with even one other person before you then you can definitely be infected with HPV. To make it even worse the CDC estimates that 90% of Americans will be infected with HPV at some point in their lives, and around half of those infected are of the high-risk types. Most high-risk types occur without any symptoms at all, and in case it wasn’t scary enough there is NO test for it in men! So unless a man manifest physical symptoms of HPV, men can’t even know they have it. Which is why it is spread so easily. HPV never goes away and is not curable, however just like most viruses it can become dormant for many years.

There are vaccines that have been created to prevent contraction of the high-risk and cancer causing types of HPV. They are designed to prevent cancer, however there are some controversy that surround the vaccines. I highly suggest educating yourself about them, and considering it for you or your children. The vaccines can be given to both boys and girls, the series can begin from age 9, and is recommended for young women through age 26, and young men through age 21. Some people do not agree with the vaccines, so as I stated educate yourself, and make the best choice for your family.

The most important means of protection from the virus is obviously protected sex, but if you have ever been sexually active its also important to stay up to date on your paps ladies. Pap smears are virtually the only test for HPV and early detection makes all the difference. So I propose a call to action, education is key. Share this with your loved ones to educate them about the seriousness of HPV, how to detect it, and how to prevent it.

My mom caught hers fairly late. By the time she found out about her cancer the first time it was already stage 3, and by the second time stage 4. In part of my journey in moving forward in the wake of her death, I think the best way I can honor my mother, is by sharing this information with women, and by staying on top of my own health. What happened to her, doesn’t have to happen to us.

My Top 5 reasons for Homeschooling

First let me start with a little disclaimer. This is an opinion post, my personal reasons for homeschooling. If you don’t agree that’s fine and I am in no way stating that my reasons should be taken into account for every family. My convictions are mine.

So, my children weren’t always home schooled, in fact my oldest did public school for four years. He loved it at first, and so did my daughter who did two years in the public school system. So why did we jump ship? Here are my top five reason that my family quit public school and boarded the home school bus… (get it “school bus”? Okay… bad joke.)

  1. State standards- If you’re like me then you don’t come from a home school background at all, and the idea of getting away from state standards is actually quite frightening. In public education we grow up believing that everyone has to meet the same state standards to achieve any level of success in life. Like, how can you amount to anything if you don’t know the same 4th grade vocabulary words as everyone else, right?

    The problem for me when it comes to state standards is that it is like a one size fits all education policy. State standards don’t leave much room for students who have a different learning style. For my family state standards were not a good fit. Especially when our state adopted Common Core, which is being adopted by many states. In fact if you do a quick Google search you’ll discover that “Forty-two of the fifty U.S. states and the District of Columbia are members of the Common Core State Standards Initiative”. Going further it seems that the only states left that haven’t adopted common core are Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, Alaska, Nebraska, Indiana, and South Carolina (insert surprise face emoji)! I could go on about common core, but that’s another post all of it’s own.

    That being said, the only two options for anyone to get away from state standards are either the private school option, or the home school option. Personally, at the time that I first became convicted about making the switch, private school was not an option for us ($$$) so home school became a serious consideration. There are many wonderful home school curricula to choose from that do not follow state standards and can be adjusted to meet the standards of your family!
  2. The health of my children- This one is definitely specific to my family. First of all, my daughter deals with a few different health issues. She is severely asthmatic, she has eczema and several allergies. Mainly the big one is her anaphylactic allergy to peanuts. The school that my children attended was not peanut free, which would have been okay if they had some sort of policy in place to protect the children who suffer from severe peanut allergies, but they didn’t.

    Every day at lunch my daughter was sat at the same table as all of her classmates, and all the glory of their PB&J’s. We even had incidents of other children taunting her with their peanut butter covered fingers, waving them in her face in the annoying “I’m not touching you” kind of manner. Her allergy is so severe that if she even touches an object that another child touched who ate peanut butter, she will have a reaction. Let me put it this way, for children to be waving their peanut contaminated fingers in her face is the equivalence to pointing a loaded gun at her. If you’re a good parent and you teach your children gun safety (ie. don’t point guns at people) do me a favor and take a moment to teach your children the dangers of anaphylactic allergies. You may think I am being dramatic if you can’t relate. It wouldn’t be the first time I have encountered this response. I once had a mom (we’ll call her Janice) exclaim to me that her daughter has a lactose intolerance and can’t have milk and that I was just being dramatic. To which I replied “Okay Janice, your child gets a tummy ache, my child CAN DIE!” Please people, for the love of all things good in the world, learn the difference between an intolerance and an allergy.

    The school policy also would not let her have her EpiPen, on her. Which I understood that it was for the safety of other children, but for my daughter this meant that if she had a reaction she had to try to get all the way to the nurses office at the front of the school, by which time she could be in anaphylactic shock.

    Also, her teacher was another one who did not understand or take her allergy seriously. According to that schools policy, although the school couldn’t be peanut free, the classroom that contains a peanut allergy is supposed to be peanut free. Her teacher did not enforce this and every day students were bringing peanut snacks anyways. Finally toward the end of the year she put up a peanut free sign on the door just to appease me, but even still she did not enforce it. The fact that even the small policy that the school did have in place was not even being enforced was enough for me to figure out that the only way I could keep my child safe was to keep her home.

    Moving on to my oldest son. He always struggled a little bit in reading, and fell behind because of it quite a bit. He was the one who really made me realize the error of state standards and how to some kids (kids like my son) they can be more harmful than helpful. He is a brilliant boy, he just learns differently then the “standard” child. Its also no secret to anyone who has ever spent five minutes with him that he has a very hard time focusing for very long. Eventually in about first grade we talked to his teacher about the possibility of him having A.D.D. By second grade we had a diagnosis. This didn’t come as a surprise to us because I myself have A.D.D. and it is thought to be hereditary.

    After the diagnosis I met with his teacher to talk about any possible extra help that the school may have available to him. Possibly some special reading class for kids like him with learning disabilities, or just in general a hard time learning. She informed me that day that the school has no such program for the kids, no special class, no tutoring, no after school programs, nothing. She told me that the school policy only offers extra help to kids after they fail the third grade. Wait a minute? So they will push my kid along even though he is struggling, let him fail the third grade and THEN they will offer him the help that he’s obviously needed since kindergarten… got it… No, not okay. So other than everything that his teacher could do for him within her power, and the best efforts we could do for him at home, the only other option that the school left me with was going to be to medicate my child.

    Now, I am not anti-medication, in fact some days I still consider it (sarcasm). But that is not the road that I wanted to take for him. This was another deciding factor that pushed me to consider homeschooling as an alternative to what was offered in the public school system. I wanted to explore other learning styles to help him learn before pushing pills on him if I could help it. Which by the way he is now no longer struggling in reading and is doing pretty well in his school work!
  3. Freedom from schedules- Another thing that was appealing to me about homeschooling was that my family would have the freedom to take school with us wherever we go. This means that we could visit Disney when it’s not so crowded if we want to. We can take a day trip to the beach if we choose. The kids can stay the night at grandma’s house on a week day. You name it, the world is ours for exploring. We also don’t need doctors notes when the kids have sick days, and we never have to worry about truancy because of the many days my daughter has to spend seeing specialty doctors, who only schedule kids during school hours (I’ll never understand this by the way). When my daughter was in public school, in kindergarten I literally got a call from the truancy officer to let me know that even though most of her absences have been excused for illness, her name had come across his desk. Wow, even with excused absences I could have possibly faced a penalty for my child missing school because I have to prioritize her health? My bad, for keeping her alive I guess… I was pretty shocked.

    Now, just because we are not bound by scheduling around a traditional school year, doesn’t mean that we don’t have routine. We may not have to do school every day, but we do have a general flow of how we do things and for the most part we stick to it.
  4. They’re MY kids- In the midst of my battle with the public school system, I began to feel as if I had no control over what happened with my children’s education (and from some aspects even their well being, see number 2). I couldn’t wrap my brain around the concept of giving birth to these kids, raising them up this far to the best of my abilities, teaching them everything they know, and then just relinquishing them over to the public school system as if it was my debt to be paid to society or something. To me the public school system ties parents hands behind their backs. No matter how involved you are, the state standards and school policies won’t change for your kid. The more I had no say, the more I felt this way, and the more I considered homeschooling. It just made the most sense. If I wanted to have a say in my children’s education, I had to take matters into my own hands.
  5. Jesus- Like I said in the disclaimer, this is an opinion piece so if this isn’t your belief that is okay. I understand that not everyone believes the same way, and I am okay with the public school system not teaching Christianity in school. As a Christian I wouldn’t appreciate someone teaching my children the ways of other world religions, so I get it. However it is important to me that my children have a Christ centered education. Again, the only way for that to happen is to enroll in private school or go with the home school option. However if that is not your thing, there are plenty of secular home school curricula to choose from as well. Personally Jesus is a part of our every day life, in everything we do, and it just didn’t feel right to me that we upheld this standard in our family except when it came to education. My kids now get to learn math, science, language arts, social studies, AND BIBLE, something that would not be offered to them otherwise. That matters to me, it just does.

So these are my top five reasons that I chose to home school. I’m sure I probably forgot something important, but hey I can come back if I need to. Let me know what you think in the comments. If you are a home school parent, I would love to hear your reasons! Are they different from mine, or do we share a reason or two? Let me know in the comments!