Archive for November, 2012

The 70 Emotions of Cancer-Heritage: My Story

As a coach, I feel it is important for you to know my story. And this is a way of sharing my past like no other.

(Thank you Ashley Ambirge for the format!)




When my Grandma Hill was diagnosed with cancer a year before my birth.



When I was born in 1981, without crying, due to baby pneumonia.



When the overnight nurse stayed way past her shift to make sure I was alright. More than once. I still have the framed blessing she gave to my parents for me.



When seven days later I was able to leave with my Mom and Dad to the 160-acre hobby farm we called home.



When I told my parents I was getting a sister named Nikki with brown hair and brown eyes just like me.



When my four-year-old-self told the judge, “Yes I want her as my sister,” at the adoption hearing.



When I ate farm-fresh, home-grown, home-cooked food for the first five years of my life.



When I “finally” started having homework to do.



When I learned my Dad’s first wife and infant daughter were killed by a drunk driver.



When my Grandma Hill made her famous carmel rolls.



When she started using crutches because her left leg bones were deteriorating.



When I would sneak brownies and cookies while the parentals weren’t looking.



When she died, malnourished and starved.



When in fifth-grade I wrote, “Sisu: Strong-Willed One” and dedicated it to her memory. A+ work per Mrs. Berglund.



When I gave my Dad permission to borrow my college fund for the farm.



When two friends pulled me aside on the playground to inform me I was bleeding through my  jeans. And when, the next month, I bled through again and added nearly passing out on the choir bleachers to the ordeal.



When I couldn’t get my ears pierced because if God wanted more holes in my body He would have put them there. He also didn’t want me to have painted nails.



When I kept winning Grand Champion trophies and trips to the Minnesota State Fair for my swine-showing skills.



When I had my first underage beer, thanks to a friend sneaking two cans into the house.



When I held animals for neutering and clipping.



When I didn’t understand why I didn’t fit in.



When I got my first job off the farm, serving at Berchin’s A&W Family Restaurant.



When I won the title of “Dairy Princess”. Twice. And later, “Pork Ambassador”.



When my Grandma Carlson died at home.



When I learned my Grandpa Carlson had cancer when he was younger, but died from a stroke years later. And six-months after his bride.



When I lived on Diet Coke, chocolate chip cookies, and Twizzlers while throwing parties at the farm where it seemed like a hundred people showed up.



When I didn’t see my Grandpa Hill the weekend before I traveled to England.



When the call came in that he died and that I’d miss the funeral.



When my parents filed for bankruptcy.



When I thought I had to decide on a career, a college, and a program that would provide for the family.



When, after hundreds of hours, I chose to study actuarial science at Drake University because actuary was the top-ranked job according to U.S. News and Drake had one of the best programs.



When I started dating my very best friend. A boy named Brian.



When we went to my senior prom together. Especially after my junior year fiasco.



When I won more scholarships than anyone in my class.



When the first two girls I attempted to make conversation with at Drake snubbed me. HARD.



When my courses did not live up to my expectations of the stimulating learning experiences I desired and my roommate did not live up to the “you’ll meet your best girl friends in college” expectation.



When I joined the women’s rowing team.



When I would drive ten hours every other weekend to visit Brian at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. SO whipped!



When I transfered to a community college back home to do generals. And then took a semester off. Then transferred to UW-Eau Claire. And then did the whole loop over with a few more community schools added to the mix, starting with Drake. That’s five transfers in five years between just as many schools.



When I pulled my stellar resume together: great GPA, great community service, great recommendations. All set to join the real world.



When the only job offer I had available to me was as an overnight assistant manager at Wal-Mart.



When I graduated from UW-Eau Claire’s Entrepreneur Program in 2005, weighing in at 212 pounds on a 5’7″ frame.



When my Great-Aunt Julia, my Grandma Hill’s sister, died from breast cancer in February 2007.



When my Uncle John, who was originally going to be the minister for our wedding, died from cancer in May 2007. He was a favorite. As was Julia.



When we said, “I do” on July 28, 2007. I weighed 227 pounds. ON. MY. WEDDING. DAY.



When we bought our home in October 2007.



When, in 2010, I found out Lexis-Nexus had added two felonies to my background report in 2003 that weren’t mine.



When I found out my Dad had bladder cancer.



When his doctor said it was due to the pesticides used on the farm.



When I quit working for an employer who would hardly work for himself.



When Brian challenged me to go wherever I needed to go and do whatever I needed to do to build the career of my dreams.



When I journeyed solo from Wisconsin to Arizona with site-seeing stops at the Rocky Mountain National Park and the Royal Gorge before setting up shop to gain residency and rock ASU’s Global Health program.



When I flew back home for Brian’s 30th birthday weighing 35-pounds less than when he’d seen my last.



When I called the ambulance to rush myself to the hospital.



When I realized that at least this happened while I was home.



When the ER doctor said my blood work was serious to the point I could die if they were unsuccessful in getting my numbers down.



When I was told I could now eat whatever I wanted, two days after having my gall bladder removed.



When I discovered the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN) and stayed up until 4 a.m. reading every last page of their website. (Thank you Derek and Amanda!)



When I enrolled in IIN as soon as they opened for the day. And then trashed my ASU application.



When I moved back home to Wisconsin from Arizona in the dead of winter because Loki, our four-year old puppy I chose from the humane society was on her last days. Weighed in at 152.5 pounds on my last day in the AZ.



When I brought my Mom to the hospital to have her skin cancer removed.



When I moved into my office.



When my Dad changed, and then I gained 15 pounds.



When my Mom moved forward.



When I got my first tattoo in my Grandma Hill’s handwriting. I’m inked with “sisu” a Finnish word my Grandpa Hill used to describe my Grandma Hill. It means strength of will, determination, perserverance against all odds.



When we celebrated my IIN graduation with my family and closest friends.



When I discovered the focus of my practice – upgrading cancer legacies.



When two days later I opened an email for a Center for Advancement in Cancer Education (CACE) lecture in Eau Claire.



When I completed a cancer support educator training hosted by CACE in Philadelphia two weeks later.



When I look around now at all the people I’ve connected with, at all the support I have, at all the resources available, at all the people I’m serving, I’m absolutely loving, LOVING the magic of life! Knowing that my work makes a real difference and carefully weaves and pulls every experience from my life together is empowering. (And those 15 pounds…they’re already on the way out!)



That said, I have a smackerel of advice.

Be brave.

Get to know and trust yourself.

Face your fears.

Get comfortable in uncertainty.

Forgive your past.

And for the love, chose happiness, chose health, and chose you.



The Secret to Fighting Cancer with Your Lifestyle Choices


Keeping it simple tonight, with shout outs to three places that know a secret or two about fighting cancer with nutrition:

  1. Chris Beat Cancer
    At 26 Chris was diagnosed with cancer. He had surgery, refused chemo, and changed his lifestyle. This is his story.

  2. Dr. Colin T. Campbell
    The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health.
    “For more than forty years, Dr. T. Colin Campbell has been at the forefront of nutrition research. His legacy, the China Project, is the most comprehensive study of health and nutrition ever conducted.”
    Seriously, go check it out.

  3. BeatCancer.Org (The Center for Advancement in Cancer Education – CACE)
    Admittedly, the website leaves much to be desired. That said, the way CACE adheres to its mission – “To provide research-based education on how to prevent, cope with, and beat cancer through diet, lifestyle and other immune-boosting approaches” is solid.
    See what their clients have to say.
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