Ann Marie Byars, 2014
There was a time after I had surgery in August, 2011, that I thought I would never go without a turtleneck again. I had a radical neck dissection to remove a cancerous growth – to be safe, they removed 19 lymph nodes, part of the muscle going to my left arm, my left salivary gland, and the internal jugular.
Ann Marie Byars, 8/16/2011 – the day stitches were removed from surgery 8/5.
Then, I had radiation later that year and I was sure I would never show anyone my neck again. I refused chemotherapy – I talked with my doctors, researched the pros and cons, and made the decision.
Ann Marie Byars, 10/2011, After Radiation Treatments
Because of my excellent nutrition program and, thus, general health status, I would go in for checkups and the receptionists would ask me if I was a patient! That really made me feel good. I was often told, “You don’t look sick!”
My daughter is a Speech Pathologist and gave me exercises to strengthen my swallowing reflex. I still have to be a bit careful when I eat and I lost my voice for a while – but, it returned and sounds normal. I was in the doctor’s office for a checkup and a fellow came in speaking through a stoma, an electronic device implanted in the throat. I wanted to cry – I was so grateful because that could have been me. The stoma creates a voice that is like a robot with no inflection, no feeling.
My supplement regimen:
I used Market America Isotonix (TM) supplements exclusively during radiation because I could not swallow pills or anything grainy. Isotonix supplements are powders mixed with liquid to form a solution that is the right pH and pressure that does not require breaking down by the body. This means that the body receives close to 95% of what is in the bottle. I used Isotonix Beauty Blend/nutraMetrix Skin Health Formula (2 caps 3 times per day), which is a potent antioxidant combination of pycnogenol, calcium, vitamin C and hyaluronic acid which are all good for the skin and tissues. I took Isotonix Multivitamin and Multimineral, CoQ10 (2 caps), lots of extra C (1-3 grams daily – 2-6 caps), Vitamin D with K2 (15,000 units – 3 caps), Activated B-Complex (1-2 caps), Calcium Complete (2 Caps), Ultimate ORAC (1 cap), Resveratrol (1 cap) and Acai (1 cap) for energy. I sipped Ultimate Aloe all day mixed about half with water – it comes in natural as well as nice flavors that are quite pleasant. My favorite flavor is strawberry-kiwi. It coated my throat so that it wasn’t as dry and sore, and boosted my immune system. I still had to use the “magic mouthwash” that the doctor prescribed to coat my throat, however, because of my body’s internal reaction to radiation. Now, because my mouth is dryer due to the loss of one salivary gland, I drink more water, run a humidifier at night (the Crane Drop Shape Cool Mist Humidifier is very quiet and works well), and I still use aloe daily to coat my throat. I have learned that it helps to use more aloe the day before I will be talking more than usual, as well. Aloe comes in dry packets that I keep in my purse, too, so that I can put it in water when we go out to eat or in a bottle of water when I will be talking. My latest finding is that misting the throat with aloe from a small spray bottle will keep the throat moist when singing, speaking, etc. and is easy to carry in the pocket or purse.
My skincare regimen:
I used and still use Pentaxyl on my face and neck twice daily. Pentaxyl contains botanical ingredients to help to calm the skin and to soften scar tissue. While I was going through radiation, I used a Cellular Laboratories mask every evening on the radiation area. This helped to calm and hydrate the skin, and removed burning. I followed the mask with aloe and then Pentaxyl. I only had one small spot in the very center of my neck that peeled, much like a bad sunburn. My skin also recovered very quickly and today, I wear whatever I like and sometimes even wear my hair up!
Pentaxyl is also great support for people suffering with rosacea and psoriasis! My clients with rosacea say that Pentaxyl works better than prescription medications and is cheaper.
Everyone is different and may have different nutritional and skincare needs. I provide complimentary consultations to folks with cancer or other life-threatening conditions. I know how hard it can be to find the right products that are gentle on the skin and body and so I work with individuals to find what works for each of them.
I work for myself and am so fortunate that my office is in my home so that I don’t have a job that I have to go to every day. My friends who have recovered from cancer and other life threatening conditions have had a very hard time trying to keep up with the stress from jobs, careers, and families. During my recovery, and even today, I can plan and take days off when I need rest.
The important things start going through your mind when you get a life-threatening diagnosis. Will I be here to spend Christmas with my family? Will I be able to watch my children have children of their own? Will I be there for my children when only a mother’s love and help are enough? Will I be there to take care of my husband the next time he is sick as he is taking care of me now? Will we ever be able to go on that vacation we have had to put off because of my illness? We all know that we are going to die one day. But, when you face cancer or some other life-threatening illness, you come face to face with your mortality today.
At first, you’re just numb. It’s like living in a dream where things just happen and nothing seems real . . . Then, you find out your diagnosis, decide what you are going to do, and you start working with it. Make sure that YOU make the decision on your path forward – this is YOUR life. This is the point where you really start living day to day.
Every day becomes the most important day of your life, every moment the most important moment. The things that you really want to say to your family and friends, you say them today. The things that you really want to do and accomplish in your life change. You assess and reassess your goals and really think of what you most want to accomplish while you are here. You start living in the present and living each day to the fullest because tomorrow really is a dream out there in the future that may never become a reality.
Do what you love, be who you are, and really LIVE each and every day.
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