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  • Writer's pictureCynthia Chin-Lee

A Gift of Transformation

Updated: Dec 15, 2021

My last post was in July (2021) and recently a friend (that’s you, Nancy) asked if there were any updates. You’d think I could have written something between then and now (gosh, it’s been over 4 months!), especially since I’m retired! In my mind I had several posts planned, but I’ve let months go by and just enjoyed waking up late, gardening, cooking, walking on the beach, volunteering, reading, watching comedies and all that good stuff.

Home-made mother's day gift that Vanessa made for me
Gifts don't always come wrapped in bows

If people know I have cancer, they do inquire politely about my health. Before my diagnosis, there would be a 50/50 chance on whether they’d listen to what I had to say and a 50/50 chance of whether I’d even answer the question. I took my health so much for granted that the answer was almost always “fine.”

Now people listen as if I was about to offer them a hot stock tip. Well, I actually enjoy the attention that carrying the cancer card can convey, and the answer to the question is still “fine.”

As of November 7, 2021, I can happily report that my health is good with no symptoms of cancer. I changed my diet from omnivore to vegan in late March and further adjusted that to low-methionine vegan because I’m doing the Nutritional Oncology Research Institute (NORI) protocol. (I promise a post on NORI later). I can credit the diet with helping me lose about 10 un-needed pounds and making me feel better. By better I mean that I have more energy, less bloating and flatulence, better poop (excuse my bluntness), and better skin.

I’ve always been fairly active, but I upped my game a bit with 3 to 4 Zoom exercise classes from where my friend and former Sun Microsystems/Oracle coworker Joy Ohguen Lee teaches. This is in addition to frequent, but short bike rides in the neighborhood and walking on the beach. The Body and Brain tai chi and yoga make me feel stronger (must be all those squats) and more alert so thank you, Joy, for the nudges.

I’ve also agreed to one aspect of conventional cancer care; I’m taking an anti-estrogen drug called Letrozole, one which is often given to estrogen-positive breast cancer patients. It puts the patient in a deeper menopause and it affects your bone density, which is not good for me because I already had osteoporosis diagnosed five years ago. My skin and gray hair are also drier so I look older (but wiser)? My oncologist asked me to go on another drug to help with the bone density, but since that drug has other side effects, I’ve declined.

When I got cancer, Joy, who is also a breast cancer survivor, congratulated me. To be honest, I didn’t really take that too well, but I understand where she is coming from. Cancer, so far, (knock on wood) has made me change certain aspects of my life, but it hasn’t killed me or even made me feel bad. If it weren’t for cancer, I wouldn’t have become a vegan and I wouldn’t have devoted as much time to exercise. Nor would I have renewed my seeking for surrender to the wisdom of the universe and for the comfort of family and community.

The gift of transformation didn’t come wrapped in red and green paper with a shiny gold bow. Instead it came as a phone call from a nurse navigator with an explanation of what hormone-positive, HER 2-negative, staging and grading meant. Nonetheless, cancer has been a gift which I write about with no trace of sarcasm.

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