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I can be a bit of a control freak. Yeah, I know – duh! I’ve lived with it for 45 years and have learned to cope with it, others have too. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. During the 15 months of surgeries and drug treatments it was fine, the doctors gave me drugs – I took them – the drugs killed the cancer cells (and everything else around them). Control.

This cancer survivorship stuff is trickier though. You are kind of out there on your own now, seeing the docs every six months, and taking the daily Tamoxifen pill. I read a lot along the way and found my own ways of taking control, because I need that control. I have my first 6-month check-up with the oncologist coming up, so I’ve been thinking about it lately. Of course, I need to go in there a superstar, I have a reputation to uphold…

I found this article from Johns Hopkins Medicine Reducing Risk of Recurrence – Ten Lifestyle Changes That May Help and decided to see how I was doing:

#1 – Take care of yourself emotionally
Well, actually I think this blog has become my therapy – thanks for “listening”!

#2 – Take care of yourself physically
I feel better and stronger than ever! I exercise daily, eat healthier, and shed those extra 10lbs I didn’t need.

#3 – Eat healthier
Greg is a good influence here – we eat salads, chicken, fish, and vegetables & fruit smoothies with protein have become a way of life! Red meat is still my love and my weakness, but you can’t give up everything!!!!

#4 – Reduce stress
Ok, I got this one! Not working did that trick!! 🙂

#5 – Limit alcohol
Hmmm, that’s a tough one! Let’s just forget May for a minute, because we were on vacation most of it. It says to limit alcohol to one drink a day. Well, I try not to drink during the week? I save those up for the weekends. Might have to file this one under “life is short, you should enjoy it” and move on.

#6 – Exercise regularly
Back on track…I started this while doing the chemo and it really helped. Now that I have more time I exercise almost every day – spinning, running, classes at the gym, even just started with a personal trainer 2 days a week with my neighbor and some other ladies. This makes me feel like I have control and it’s fun!

#7 – Continue with regular health screenings
Are you kidding? No problem here, I am fanatical about this stuff, like clockwork. I’d be stupid not to given what I’ve seen and experienced in my life.

#8 – Maintain a healthy weight
It says women who are overweight are more likely to have breast cancer come back. There you go, that’s enough incentive for me to keep those extra 10lbs off for good! I should post that one sentence on the fridge.

#9 – Have your Vitamin D levels checked
I must admit, bad girl here. I had my Vitamin D levels checked (pre-cancer) and the doc told me to take Vitamin D supplements. I did for a week and then decided the pills were way too big and made me gag. I do like the sun, but let’s face it I live in New England. I’m probably ok for the summer and I guess it’s back to the pills (or more frequent vacations!!)

10 – Take endocrine therapies as prescribed
That’s my daily Tamoxifen pill, which I do take faithfully, despite the ever annoying hot flashes it causes. They are especially annoying because I can’t control them. After a year I understand some of the triggers, and am working on eliminating some of them (but not all, see #5 above).

All in all, pretty good I’d say. It’s nice, I am actually taking control of something important. I am taking control of my life. It definitely feels good.