Allergic Reaction | Pink 5K Fundraiser | Vitamin D | Battling Bertha Part 4

Allergic Reaction

Exciting week in the land of Chemo.

During my June 4th treatment, I had an allergic reaction to the Taxotere (a.k.a Docetaxel).  I was itchy and had watery eyes.  The charge nurse immediately stopped the Taxotere and brought in two oncologists to consult.  I was given Solu-Medrol, a steroid, and benadryl to stop the reaction.  Then my oncologist was called and it was determined that I would not receive the rest of the Taxotere, nor the Carboplatin.  I was, however, administered the Herceptin.

Taxotere is the synthesized Pacific Yew bark.  Carboplatin is platinum bases.  Herceptin is a protein inhibitor.

I have no idea why I had an allergic reaction the second time I received the Taxotere but not the first.   I am curious to hear what my oncologist has to say.

The fun part of the day was all my visitors!  My friends Tracy, Joy, Kelly and Tanya all stopped by during my treatment.

Tracy in the Visitors Chair

Tracy in the Visitors Chair

Pink 5K Fundraiser

My next chemo treatment is June 25th.  I wont’ be sure until I after I speak with my oncologist on Monday what the course of treatment will be.  But what I do know, is that I will feel great on Saturday June 21st, so I decided to form a walking team, called Battling Bertha, of course, for the Pink 5K in The Woodlands, Texas.  I signed up for the 1 mile walk, as I know 5 k is more than my body can handle right now.

So what is the Pink 5k?

The Pink 5K is sponsored by iGoPink, a division of Breast Cancer Charities of America.  What I like about this charity is it’s focus on tertiary treatment like nutrition.  Here is a statement directly from their website:

“Breast Cancer Charities of America (BCCA) exists for one reason—to eliminate breast cancer as a life-threatening disease.  Our central focus is on educating, empowering and encouraging all women to become pro-active in preventing breast cancer and, if diagnosed, in surviving breast cancer.

“We offer leading edge, state-of-the-art, research-backed programs that focus on all that women can do in addition to medical care.  Our services include nutrition, exercise, and social support all the while defusing the fear that often accompanies breast cancer.  And we provide help now with emergency financial assistance to medicines and medical supplies to women in poverty.”

If you’d like to join my walking team, or donate, visit my Pink 5K fundraising site.

I'm reading this great book and when I'm done I'll have lots to report.

I’m reading this great book and when I’m done I’ll have lots to report.

Vitamin D

I’ve decided to share some compelling information regarding Vitamin D.  My good friend and aromatherapist, Kelly Taylor, sent over this article Top Tips to Reduce Your Breast Cancer Risk from, and I found this article about Vitamin D on the Breast Cancer Charities of America Website.   The research shows that women who are deficient in Vitamin D have a 222% increased chance of  developing breast cancer.

Our bodies absorb Vitamin D from sunlight.  More and more of us do not spend enough time in the sun, even though just 20 minutes per day is all we need.  So it makes sense that a myriad of health problems could result from our sedentary indoor lifestyles.

I’ve added 2000 iu of Vitamin D3 to my daily supplements.  I also take a minimum of 1000 mg of Vitamin C plus 1000 mg Calcium, 400 mg Magnesium and 15 mg of Zinc to support my immune system.

More from Gratitude Geek

Weird Chemo Side Effects | In the Kitchen with Kandas, Oh My! | What to Say to Someone Diagnosed with Cancer | Battling Bertha Part 3

Kandas Always Wins

Kandas Always Wins

It’s been one week since the first dose of Chemo.

It’s been a tough week.

I am winning.

Thursday, I was feeling great (blame it on the steroids) so I drove myself  to the clinic for a post chemo bone marrow stimulating shot, then I had a lovely lunch with my friends Anise, Tucker and Tanya.   Thursday night I was visited by excruciating pain in my hip and leg bones…  apparently the marrow was stimulated.

Friday I received a wonderful and relaxing Acupuncture treatment by Alyson Bayer of Clear Choice Acupuncture & Wellness then went home and rested.

Saturday and Sunday were spent sleeping. Literally. Sleeping. As in 48 hours of sleeping.

Monday, Shane and I met with the oncologist, Dr. Ellent to find out the battle plan.   I will have 3 more mega doses of the triple threat cocktail from hell followed by the shot that rang up and down my body.   Then, we assess the results.

We did have to change up my heartburn and nausea meds.  No need to go into gory details.

HMO Side Note:  Most of my meds are 100% covered.   Win!!

Dr. Ellent is a scientist. He is very clinical. I told him that Bertha felt significantly smaller and he nodded approval but did not seem all the interested in checking for himself.

Bertha is, by the way, significantly smaller, as in I barely feel it.  No kidding.

Weird Chemo Side Effects

My tongue is numb.  No feeling.  Weird.

Lemons taste like rust.  Weird.

Basically, most food just tastes off.   Except saltine crackers.  Those taste good.  Weird.

I have absolutely no desire to consume sugar.  Apple sauce is too sweet.  I force myself to drink my chocolate protein shakes, because they are too sweet.  Weird.

I feel like a tortoise.  Slow.  Everything is in slow motion.  Weird. 

I forget what I’m doing…  more so than usual.    Kinda weird.  Not really.  Squirrel!

In the Kitchen with Kandas, Oh My!

I haven’t been cooking much.   Just too tired.   Our good friends Lynda, Kim and Kelly fed us this week.

A meal is truly the greatest gift a human can give another human.

My two big kitchen adventures:

  • Yesterday I made homemade yogurt, which turned out perfect.
  • Today, I brewed my very first batch of Kombucha.  Thanks to Kelly Taylor for the scoby.

What to Say to Someone Diagnosed with Cancer

Every day cards and care packages are delivered to our mailbox for which I am geek-fully grateful.   I remain in a perpetual verklempt state knowing my army grows every day.

If you are wondering what exactly you should say when you learn that someone has been diagnosed with that dreaded C word, follow the lead of Diane Walker, who wrote in an awesome greeting card:

“Congratulations on beating Bertha and your complete recovery.”

There are two key parts to Diane’s sentence.   Her words:

  • are positive.
  • assume the recovery has already happened.

And so it is!


A huge thank you to Peggy for the glow-in-the-dark iPromise Susan G Kommen pillowcase, Renu for the trio of books, Glenna for the 8 pack of brownies, Diane for the angel and the anonymous person who sent the Louise Hay book. I feel wrapped with love and it feels good.


Chemo Round 1 Results | Chemo Friendly Foods | Overwhelming Support | Battling Bertha Part 2

Chemo Round One:  Kandas 1, Bertha 0

Battling Bertha Round 1 by Shane Rodarte

Battling Bertha Round 1 by Shane Rodarte

Round one of Chemo lasted almost 10 hours.  I felt great, a little bored and restless, but in good spirits for the most part.  I was given some pre-meds that included steroids, anti-nausea and antacid.  Then, Nurse Christie and team began the chemo drips.

My cocktail includes Docetaxel, Carboplatin and Herceptin

  • Docetaxel is synthesized to mimic the extract from the bark of the rare Pacific yew tree which natives used for centuries to heal wounds.  It interrupts cell division.
  • Carboplatin is platinum-based and inhibits cell repair at the DNA level.
  • Herceptin interferes HER2 protein reception.  Since Bertha is HER2 recpetive, this is an important ingredient in the cocktail.  It is also the most potent.

Shane was with me the entire time.  He was able to capture the excitement of the 10 hour battle with his pencil and sketchbook.  I am stretched out in my best warrior pose!

I felt very good last night, but the steroids did keep me up until about 2 am.  I felt well-rested when I awoke at 7 am if a tad nauseous.

Chemo Friendly Foods

Chemo Friendly Foods

Chemo Friendly Foods

My oncologist, Dr. Ellent, made just two food recommendations:  no soy, no chicken.

It is common knowledge that soy is high is estrogen.  Estrogen is Bertha’s favorite food.  I’m all for starving Bertha, so no Soy!  What I didn’t know is that most chicken is fed estrogen, to encourage larger breast growth.  So, no chicken for me going forward.

It was recommended that I try some protein drinks for the days I don’t feel like eating solid food.  Well, solid food is not at all appealing to me today.

I was very discouraged when I went shopping for shakes that they all contained soy!

Then, I noticed Orgain, organic and soy free!  It contains 10 fruits and vegetables and has 16 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber.  What I like about it is that it drinks like chocolate milk.  Not at all chalky.

I need to keep feeding my body electrolytes so I don’t get dehydrated but most of those sports drinks contain lots of sugar.  Mio Fit tastes great and provides both electrolytes and Vitamin B12.

Finally, Premium Round Saltines.  They fit in my mouth better than a square and they are whole grain for extra fiber.  I wish they came wrapped in sleeves like square saltines rather than dumped into the box.  I guess that’s what baggies are for.

To help with the nausea I have been slathering peppermint essential oil on my belly.  An extra perk is that I smell great!

My favorite source for essential oils is Cassia Aromatics.   Owner, Kelly Taylor, a certified Herbalist and Aromatherapist, knows her stuff and can help you find the right oils and blends for your needs.  She is very knowledgable.

My teeth feel a little weak, so I made a mouth rinse with 1 cup water, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon sea salt and 3 drops of Cassia Aromatics Grave Robbers blend to keep my mouth clean.

Overwhelming Support

Inspirational Gifts from SendOutCards

Inspirational Gifts from SendOutCards

Since making our public announcement just a few days ago, we have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from friends and family.

I could have kept this battle private, but there is power in an army, and my army has rallied to my side!  For which, I am both humbled and grateful.

Two years ago I made one of the best decisions of my life.  I joined SendOutCards.

SendOutCards is a greeting card and gift company.  The products and company culture make you feel good.  It feels good to share and receive the products.   This attracts generous, loving, gracious people to become independent distributors, like me.

In the mail today, I found two boxes.  The first is from Diane Walker, she sent a book for me to read during chemo sessions.  Ben Fitts, sent the Fight Like a Girl Card and a bracelet covered with inspirational messages.  I didn’t know Diane or Ben 2 years ago.  Now they are part of my family…  and my army.

I have already won this battle.

Get More Gratitude Geek

Prologue | Breast Cancer | HMOs Suck | Treatment Choices | Battling Bertha


I don’t enjoy writing.  Seems silly to have a blog when one does not enjoy writing.

Don’t get me wrong!

I love the podcasts and video interviews we do each week!  I love disseminating great information for others to enjoy and use.  I love sharing my personal experiences as a business owner, entrepreneur, internet pioneer, network marketer, public speaker, Toastmaster, Girl Scout leader, archery instructor, and mother to a teenager.  I just don’t love writing about it!

Well, now, I have something that makes me want to put my thoughts to words.  Around mid-April of 2014, though I did not know it at the time, I began preparations for war.

Meet Bertha

Bertha is a 2.9 cm x 2.7 cm mass residing in the upper section of my right breast.  The doctors tell me she is 95% estrogen-receptive and 70% HER2 positive, which to them means she is aggressive and fast spreading.


Bertha is an unwanted guest in the temple that is my body.  I have served her eviction notice.   She is not welcome here.

HMOs Suck

I do not want to dwell on the negative.  I will tell you this, if you currently have an HMO, look into PPO alternatives right away!  Most of the tears I have shed these past few weeks have been due to the HMO.  That’s all I am going to say on that subject.  It isn’t relative to the overall battle plan.  It may, however, be the cause of a few unwanted mini-skirmishes along the way.


“Pedicure by Amy” by Shane Rodarte

Treatment Choices

I like looking at health holistically.  In 2010, I watched 2 people that I loved dearly, die from chemotherapy side-effects.  Both contracted infections their bodies could not fight.  So chemo was not my first, nor my gut, choice.  However, the words “aggressive and fast spreading” persuaded me to choose chemo for the first round of battle.

I have been doing research on supplements and alternative treatments for later.  I will share when I find something noteworthy.

Patient Perks

One of the perks the facility where I go for treatment offers is complimentary spa services for patients.  Monday, after my doctor’s visit, he walked me down the hall to the spa and “ordered” a pedicure for me.  It was heaven!  Amy, the pedicurist gave me an amazing calf and foot massage that included acupressure to the feet.  Then, as a special treat, Lauren gave me a new, sassy short haircut.  I figure I’ll be losing hair soon, might as well have less to lose.

My husband, Shane Rodarte, chronicled the pedicure with his pencil and sketchbook.

It Begins

Today, is the day.  Chemo begins.  I’ll be intravenously fed Herceptin, Carboplatin and Docetaxel over the course of 6 hours.  I’ll let you know how that goes in my next installment of Battling Bertha.

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