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Breast Cancer is a terrifying and overwhelming thing. The range of emotions from doubt, to fear, anger, and even depression. Disbelief that what you thought was a benign lump, turned into something much more sinister. Anger that you managed to draw the “short straw” by being diagnosed with this life-altering disease, fear of the treatments that lay ahead and what they will do to your body, and hope that you won’t be forced to deal with the severe side effects that Cancer treatment can sometimes cause.
The path to being a Breast Cancer survivor is not an easy one. A lot of pain, suffering, and tears that very few will truly understand, and it is a struggle I will never wish on my worst enemy. After treatment is over, the second half of the journey begins. Healing your body and return to a normal life, whatever your “new” normal may be.
For me, life after Breast Cancer has not been an easy one. Lingering side effects from treatments, like joint pain and fatigue. Digestive problems that were made worse by “My Journey with Nerlynx (Neratinib).” No matter how many hours I slept, or how healthy my diet was, I consistently felt off. Every day felt like a desperate struggle to claw my way out of the hole Cancer had put me in, and to find my way back to health. I had almost given up hope that this was my “new normal,” and life would never be what it once was until I made the Isagenix & Breast Cancer Connection.
My Breast Cancer Story:
My stage three A, triple positive Breast Cancer in September 2016 at the age of 37. My treatments consisted of six rounds of very nasty chemotherapy medications, double mastectomy surgery, five weeks of radiation, and chemotherapy maintenance for an entire year, and finally reconstruction surgery. It was a very rough road.
At the time of my diagnosis, I weighed about 130lbs, which was a comfortable weight for my 5′ 7″ frame. I soon learned that maintaining this weight would be something that turned out to be much harder than I ever expected it would have been.
The hardest part of the breast cancer journey is not the diagnosis itself. Instead, it is what all the treatments do to your body, both physically and mentally. There is the unrelenting fatigue, the brain fog that makes it nearly impossible to think straight, and taste buds that are so confused; even your favorite meals taste like crap. I guess this is why so many people lose weight during cancer treatment because, to be honest, the last thing you feel like doing is eating when food is unappetizing.
Throughout my treatment process, and with the help of my Naturopath, I did my best not to do anything that would hinder my treatments. I tried to follow a healthy diet, and avoided all supplements, for fear they would lessen the efficacy of the chemotherapy treatments. Of course, I also used my cancer diagnosis as an excuse to eat whatever I felt like eating. I would eat cookies; Oreo’s were my favorite, ice cream, and any other “treat” that caught my eye in the grocery store.
At every checkup, with my oncologist, my vitals are checked, which includes weight. While my weight stayed about the same throughout my treatments, it wasn’t until after I completed my last dose of maintenance chemo in September of 2107, that the numbers on the scale started to change. At first, I blamed it on multiple layers of clothes due to the cooler temps, or the two fluid-filled expanders in my chest, but denial soon turned into reality when certain clothes in my closet that used to be baggy on me, no longer fit.
Like most, I turned to Facebook to vent my frustrations. Most just made sympathetic noises that they too were dealing with weight gain, but I couldn’t help but feel like my problem was different. My body had been through hell, both physically and mentally, and there had to be something more to rid myself of this constant feeling of unwell.
Then a friend, who I had known since grammar school, mentioned how the Isagenix line of products could be the key I needed to heal my body and regain my health. She had been using the products for years, her mom who has survived Brain Cancer and was also using Isagenix products with her oncologist’s consent. Since she was a long time friend, I knew she wouldn’t recommend something to me that she hadn’t thoroughly vetted herself, but I couldn’t help but remain a bit skeptical.
What Is Isagenix?
She provided me with more information than I could ever want. Nutritional information, as well as the success she had experienced while using the products. Since my cancer was estrogen positive, my biggest concern was whether or not the products contained soy. If you are not already aware, soy contains isoflavones, an estrogen-like compound, that can mimic Estrogen in the body. I am on not one, but two different medications, Zoladex and Aromasin, explicitly designed to block Estrogen in the body. Zoladex keeps me in a chemically induced menopause, while the Aromasin works against other sources of estrogen, like that which comes from belly fat. While it is not always possible to avoid Soy entirely, I try to be as proactive as possible.
All products are free from artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners. The products are manufactured using only non-GMO, or GMO-free ingredients, which means all products are free from genetically modified ingredients, which is very hard to come by in the nutrition marketplace. The protein shakes are soy free, and most of the meal replacement bars are soy free as well.
Isagenix is committed to the understanding of the relationship between diet, nutrition, and health. All products are science-backed and designed to specifically support weight loss, long-term weight management, improvements to cardiovascular health, the release of toxins from fat stores, and enhancements to performance.
Cancer treatment unleashes vast amounts of chemicals on the body to kill Cancer; it is critical to rid the body of any excess toxins in the most natural way possible.
Isagenix & Breast Cancer:
I first started with Isagenix in September of 2017, and I have to admit that I soon found myself blazing a new path, so to speak, when it comes to Isagenix & Breast Cancer. The traditional schedule is a blend of Shake and Cleanse days. On the Cleanse days, you are supposed to take four, 2oz servings of the Cleanse For Life product, with the only allowed food being Isagenix approved snacks.
I felt so miserable that I had and still do have, concerns over doing a full day cleanse. On a daily cleanse the body goes through natural detoxification. For a healthy person just looking to lose weight, and take back their health, it’s merely ridding the body of environmental toxins.
Cancer treatment exposes the body to more toxins than the average person, all with the goal to kill cancer. These treatments harm both the evil cancer cells, as well as the healthy ones. Healing from Cancer is not a process that happens overnight. You don’t just finish treatment and magically feel better the next day. Instead, it is a very long road to healing the body from all the damage that all the medications did to it.
Sure, your blood work may look normal, but if you’re like me you probably still feel off. So my reasons for not doing a full day cleanse are simple. It has nothing to do with the Cleanse For Life product itself, or its ingredients. Instead, I worry about pushing my body too hard and making it do more purging than it is ready to do.
Now, this does not mean that I do not use the Cleanse For Life Product at all. Quite the opposite. Instead, I have come up with my own modified schedule that you will see below.
What’s In My Cabinet:
With so many different products to choose from, it can be challenging to wade through what is best for your body after Breast Cancer treatment. Most Isagenix Representatives will recommend a Pak or System to start, and while that is fine for the average person, we Pink Sisters need a slightly modified program to ease our bodies into healing gradually.
The Isagenix Isalean Shake was the very first product I tried when I placed my very first order over a year ago. They contain 24G of undenatured whey protein which is Cheerful Cow Certified. The Whey Protein comes from cows free from hormones or routine antibiotics. Each shake is low-glycemic, a source of active enzymes to aid in digestion, and supports lean muscle growth which is critical for us Cancer survivors, since there is a good chance you were not out running marathons while going through treatment. They are also a great source of healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and energy fueling carbohydrates. I have the Creamy Dutch Chocolate, French Vanilla, Strawberry Cream, and Chocolate Mint in constant rotation. Peach Mango is now a permanent flavor, but it’s not personally one of my favorites, but don’t let that deter you from trying it. I also love the Seasonal Mocha, Cookies n Cream, Raspberry Cheesecake, and Pina Colada. I order those whenever they are released. I did try the Pumpkin Spice, and personally, for me, it’s not one of my favorites, but if you’re all about Pumpkin Spice for fall, I highly recommend picking it up when it’s released.
The Isagenix Ionix Supreme has been a must for me from the very beginning. It features a blend of Adaptogens specifically designed to help protect the body against the adverse effects of stress. When I first started with Isagenix, I was dealing with constant fatigue that made it hard to get out of bed in the morning. Then there was the brain fog, that made it hard to think straight, not to mention almost impossible to write a lengthy blog post that made any sense at all. I use Ionix Supreme every single morning, and it has done wonders for my energy levels as well as my mental state. My tolerance levels drastically improved and I was no longer short-tempered and quick to snap or get overwhelmed by the littlest of things.
About a month ago, I ran out, and in the few days I was without this product, I noticed the difference. I became quite short-tempered and could no longer tolerate minor hiccups in life. This product is now permanently in my auto-ship order, so I never go through this again.
Isagenix Isalean Bars:
I first dipped my toe into trying the IsaLean Meal Replacement bars when the Smores flavor came out in the Fall of 2017, and I immediately fell in love. There have been many days that I don’t have time for a traditional lunch, particularly on those days that time gets away from me, and before I know it, it’s 2 PM, and I hadn’t had anything to eat since my Protein shake when I first woke up. One bar is a source of 18-19G of protein, depending on the flavor, and just one bar leaves you feeling full and satisfied until dinner time.
Since trying the Smores bar, I have tried the Chocolate Decadence, which I have fallen in love with, although I recently noticed it does contain Soy, the Chocolate Cream Crisp does not, so I might need to try that one at some point. My husband is hooked on the Lemon Passion Crunch, so those are always in my auto-ship order, to make sure I don’t run out.
These bars are just so easy to grab and go, especially if you’re out running errands, or have a day filled with doctors appointments.
Even after finishing my cancer treatments, I still need to make the monthly visit to my Oncologist for my Zoladex shot, and with that comes the routine blood work. I no longer have my port, so they have just the one arm to poke to draw the required four tubes of blood for testing. For blood draws to go smoothly, we need to make sure we’re well hydrated. Sure, we all know we’re supposed to drink plenty of water, but there are just some days where that is easier said than done.
A while back I experimented with the Lemon Lime Hydrate and immediately fell in love. I add it to my shake on mornings where I feel like I need a little bit of a boost. This product is designed to help athletes stay hydrated during workouts, and it works to hydrate and replenishes the body with needed nutrients naturally. I also mix this product with the Amped Recover, and I give it to my husband after he’s been working out in the yard all day.
The ingredients in the Isagenix Hydrate products are all-natural, and much preferred to popular sports drinks like Gatorade. I’ve mixed the lemon-lime in with my Cookies and Cream shakes, I’ve also mixed it with 8 ounces of water in one of the shakers and drank it straight on hot and humid days where I’ve been sweating a bit more than I would like.
Isagenix Fruits & Isagenix Greens:
I’ve said it before, and I’ll mention it again, before, during, and immediately after my treatments for breast cancer, my diet was not the best. I ate what I wanted when I wanted it. So the added pounds didn’t come as much of a surprise. My fruits comprised mostly of the occasional banana, or orange if I was feeling up to it, so I know I was missing out on a lot of the nutrients that can only come from fruits.
The Fruits and Greens were released about four months after I had started using the Isagenix products. One scoop of the Fruits delivers the antioxidants and phytonutrients of over 30 fruits, including superfruits like Acai berry, noni, mangosteen, pomegranate, and wolfberry. I have tried pomegranate in the past, and I never quite could get used to eating those little tiny seeds, so I would much rather get the needed nutrients in a powder form that can be mixed into water, or my morning shake. I’ve found this pairs well with the French Vanilla or the seasonal Cookies n Cream.
Dark leafy greens, on the other hand, is one of the areas of my diet that has always been lacking, even before my battle with Breast Cancer. Sure, I would eat the occasional salad, but I would opt for pasta as a side dish over a helping of green beans, or broccoli. Kale and collard greens were something I wouldn’t even consider touching, and Brussel sprouts were undoubtedly a no-go for me.
After surviving my bout with Breast Cancer, I knew I needed to make a change to my diet. I was already in my late 30’s and continuing to eat the way I did for most of my life, was not doing my waistline any good. The greens offer all the phytonutrients of over 30 vegetables, herbs, and botanicals, like ginkgo biloba leaf, grape seed extract, and green tea extract, all in one scoop. While my husband and I have started to incorporate more healthy veggies into our diet, I’ve found the greens is an easy way to get all your daily nutrients in just one serving.
I will warn you, when the greens have been mixed, it can be quite unpleasant to look at and is in no way as sweet and appealing to the taste buds as the fruits are. I’ve mixed it with the Dutch Chocolate shake, as a means to someone mask the flavor of the greens. While I know its something I should be using on a more regular basis, I tend to choose the fruits instead, due solely to the flavor. I’m going to need to work on this because just one scoop provides the nutrients from veggies like Brussel sprouts, beets, dandelion roots, and other vegetables I would never eat by themselves.
Before using Isagenix:
For years, I would down a few handfuls of dry cereal before heading out the door, taking my coffee with me. My cancer diagnosis changed this a bit, as I started forcing myself to make some scrambled eggs, and a sliced apple or orange for breakfast, along with my coffee.
Although I was eating healthy protein for breakfast, it wasn’t long before my morning fuel had run out, and I quickly found myself on the hunt for a snack. I started bringing yogurt, granola bars, and other snacks with me to work, to tide me over until lunchtime.
Depending on my energy levels, some weeks I would prepare salads to bring to work for the week, while others I would choose to try my luck with the offerings in the cafeteria at work. On good days I would opt for the salad bar, and on others, I would eat two slices of pizza, chicken nuggets, and french fries, or anything else that looked appetizing.
Similar to the post-breakfast effects, my body quickly burned through lunch, and somewhere around the 2-3PM time window, I found myself getting hungry again. More times than not I would raid the candy bowl, even after snacking on the crackers or chips I had brought with me from home.
My husband and I rarely planned our meals, so dinner in our home was always a struggle. Most nights we would stare into the fridge or freezer, looking for some form of a meal epiphany. If neither of us found anything appetizing or lacked the energy and motivation to cook, many nights, we would end up ordering takeout from our favorite pizza place or gorging ourselves on homemade Mac N Cheese.
After Isagenix & Breast Cancer:
No matter what time of the morning I get up, my daily routine starts with my protein shake and one cup of coffee. While the flavor varies from one day to the next, it always has a scoop of Ionix Supreme in it, as that is a must in helping me keep my cool for dealing with whatever stresses the day brings.
Immediately following the completion of my cancer treatments, I was eating a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches, mostly because they were easy to make. I struggled with not having much of an appetite, and limited energy, so something that was quick and easy was a must. One year later, and I now eat mostly a salad for lunch with chicken for protein, or one of my healthy green patties. If I’m short on time, I will snack on one of the Isalean Bars to keep the tummy from growling, and to tide me over till dinner.
If needed, I will snack on one of our Slim Cakes. They are nutritious little cookies that provide 5 grams of fiber.
Post cancer, I have been making a conscious effort to plan out our meals for the week. I’ve raided Pinterest for a variety of healthy recipes, including Paleo and Whole30 options. In doing this, I have also been forcing myself to try recipes with ingredients in them that I wouldn’t usually eat because I know my body can use the nutrients. I have also been making a conscious effort to cut down on the amount of bread and pasta that we eat. Ever since I was little, I loved pasta, but post-cancer, my digestion can no longer support large quantities of it. So, we have gotten creative and experimented with recipes using Zoodles, aka Zucchini noodles, or cauliflower rice.
Life after Breast Cancer with Isagenix:
I’m not going to lie, my journey up to this point has not been an easy one. It has been 2+ years of unrelenting fatigue, body aches, brain fog, and countless other side effects that have lingered long after my cancer treatment ended. I still struggle with hair growth, the fatigue comes and goes, as do the body aches and brain fog, but I have to admit that the Isagenix products have been a godsend in helping to fuel my body with much-needed nutrients, especially on days where I have had zero interest in eating anything that was healthy.
While I still have a long way to go, and about 30 lbs to lose, the introduction of Isagenix into my daily life has helped put a stop to the ever-growing number on the scale. I know I am not a poster child for the before and after of weight loss, but my focus from the start has been different. I wanted to work on slowly healing my body from the inside out from all the damage that Chemotherapy, Radiation, and Surgery had done. My strength and muscle mass are starting to return to my body, although I do still have some days where getting up from a crouch is still a struggle. But all in due time.
The damage done to my body from cancer treatment did not happen overnight, so it’s unrealistic to think that healing will occur in the blink of an eye. It can be easy to get frustrated when looking at the big picture and wishing you feel better than you currently do. Or getting upset because your unable to do something you once did with ease. We all have to remember that our bodies have been through a lot, and the path to success starts with healthy life choices and taking life one day at a time. Remember the road to your new normal is a marathon, not a sprint, and fueling your body the right way is essential to achieving the best version of the new you!
NOTE: Post contents are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Those with health conditions are encouraged to speak with their doctor before starting any new health & wellness regime. Each situation is unique, and I can only speak to my personal experiences with the Isagenix’s products.