Episode 058: Bridging the Gap Between What Your Doctors Are Telling You and What They Aren’t

Episode 058: Bridging the Gap Between What Your Doctors Are Telling You and What They Aren’t

So much of what a cancer patient faces feel beyond their control. But there are some things can be done that will bring feelings of empowerment and support healing.

Back with us for her third and final episode this month is Katie Leadbetter of Clean Eating with Katie. In Part 3 of this four-part series, Katie speaks to those who are fighting cancer on how to bridge the gap between what doctors tell you, and what they don’t.

Katie also wrote a blog post titled, “What Will Be Your Catalyst for Change,” discusses “pink-washing” and why we don’t need more breast cancer awareness, but rather, breast health education and prevention.

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Naomi Nakamura: You're listening to the Live FAB Life Podcast, Episode 058. Back with us for her third and final episode for this month is Katie Leadbetter of Clean Eating with Katie. At age 35, Katie is a breast cancer survivor and shared her deeply moving and personal story two episodes ago in Episode 056, and then last week, in Episode 057, she shared how to support someone with breast cancer. This week, Katie is speaking to those who are going through cancer treatments, and she's discussing how to bridge the gap between the things that their doctors are telling them and what they're not. As you'll hear her share, so much of what a patient faces feels beyond their control, but there are things that can be done that can bring feelings of empowerment and can also support healing.

In addition to sharing all of this, Katie also brings awareness around pink-washing. Admittedly, this is something that I never thought of or even considered before, and she shares why we don't need any more breast cancer awareness, but rather we need breast health education and prevention. Now, she also shares another blog post that she wrote called, "What will be Your Catalyst for Change?" She lays some truth bombs here, so you don't want to miss it. Now, I'll link to that blog post in the show notes, which you can find over at livefablife.com/058. With that, let's get to the show.

Welcome to the Live FAB Life Podcast, where we have real and honest conversations from a bigger, functional perspective on health and dealing with the pressures of living in a fast-paced world. I know you're busy, so I won't take all day. Kick back for a few minutes and get today's on-the-go tips and practical solutions for everyday healthy living. I'm your host, Naomi Nakamura, a holistic health coach and safer beauty advocate based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Let's get started. Okay, Katie. Welcome back to the show.

Katie L.: Thank you for having me.

Naomi Nakamura: This is part three, so you have become a regular.

Katie L.: Whoo!

Naomi Nakamura: Just for a quick recap, for those who are listening to this episode for the first time, we actually had Katie on two weeks ago. She shared her story as a breast cancer survivor with us, this being October and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and then last week, she shared some tips on what we can do to support someone who may be going through breast cancer, or really any type of cancer. Today, we're back for part three, and we're going to be talking about how to bridge the gap between what your doctors are telling you and what they aren't telling you. Specifically for this episode, you're going to be talking to those who are the patient, who are going through cancer directly, and hopefully, giving them some advice on things that they can do that's within their own power, especially during a time where they may feel powerless.

Katie L.: Yes. That's part of the problem is, I asked my doctor, "What should I do? What should I eat?" He said, "Just eat whatever you've always been eating." I was flabbergasted, because I'm eating a really clean diet, but he doesn't know that. He hasn't asked me what I'm eating, and he doesn't know that. I could be eating McDonald's three times a day, and he doesn't know that, so I was like, "Well, I guess I'm on my own here to figure out what I'm going to eat." My plan initially was to stick to a pretty paleo, a low-sugar diet, really high-quality, organic, pasture-raised, grass-fed, all the good stuff, but partway through, I also read a book, probably early on, actually, I read a book called Anticancer. I'm always going to ... I mess up his last name. It's by Dr. David Servan-Schreiber.

Naomi Nakamura: I'll include a link to it in the show notes, so if anyone listening wants to find out what that book is, go over to the show notes at www.livefablife.com/058, and I'll have a link to the book there.

Katie L.: I read that book. I highly recommend it for everybody. It's not just if you ... His perspective is that everybody has cancer cells in their body, and we know that we have all these processes in our body that are working to, whenever there is cancer, to stop it, and so we do all have it, but it's just a matter of sometimes it becomes unchecked.

Naomi Nakamura: That's an interesting perspective.

Katie L.: Yeah.

Naomi Nakamura: Which I feel like can be a whole different conversation.

Katie L.: Yes. Yes. That's his perspective from the book, and so this could be a book that anybody reads, not just somebody with cancer, anybody who's looking to avoid cancer, which is probably everybody.

Naomi Nakamura: Or, honestly, probably anybody dealing with-

Katie L.: Yeah-

Naomi Nakamura: ... any chronic-

Katie L.: ... absolutely.

Naomi Nakamura: ... disease.

Katie L.: Yeah, the take-home messages are going to be probably similar, I think, for any chronic disease. What I really, really liked about the book is, one, he is a doctor, and two, he is a two-time cancer survivor, so he knows his stuff on both sides of the spectrum, and you kind of feel empowered to be able to have a little bit of control over this situation you have no control over. Obviously, your treatment plan and things like that you may not have control over, but you can control what you put in your body and how you react to cancer and things like that, so that's really where this kind of comes in.

Naomi Nakamura: I will say, what you're going to share here, none of this is to replace the treatment that you're already going through. This is to supplement it.

Katie L.: Absolutely. Yeah. This, I did in conjunction with conventional medicine.

Naomi Nakamura: Really, what you're about to share is things that we should be doing every day, regardless of whether we're struggling with any type of health issue or not.

Katie L.: Yeah. They're not revolutionary-

Naomi Nakamura: No-

Katie L.: ... but -

Naomi Nakamura: ... so why don't we get into it? What's number one?

Katie L.: The main thing that he said was, "Eat a diet with lots of plant, but quality protein," so quality meats. When I say "quality," to me that means pasture-raised chicken and pork, and it means grass-fed beef, and it means wild codfish, those kinds of things. That's what I mean when I say "quality."

Naomi Nakamura: Just to back it up and go a little bit deeper and a little bit further on that, the reason why those things are important is because things that are not grass-fed and things that are not pasture-raised, they're supplemented with things that aren't good for the animal and not good for the human.

Katie L.: And they're going to be causing or contributing to your overall amount of inflammation in-

Naomi Nakamura: Inflammation-

Katie L.: ... the body.

Naomi Nakamura: ... in your body. Yes. All of the hormone, and poor-quality foods and all of that will, as bad as that is for the animal, if you're eating those things, that's going to transfer to you as well-

Naomi Nakamura: ... but at the same time, we need protein there.

Katie L.: Yes. Especially to help us detoxify-

Naomi Nakamura: With healing.

Katie L.: ... because, yeah-

Naomi Nakamura: Detoxify and healing, the body rejuvenating and replenishing itself.

Katie L.: Exactly. I should say plants, he didn't say organic, but in my mind, I'm like, "Organic plants-"

Naomi Nakamura: Well-

Katie L.: " ... as much as possible."

Naomi Nakamura: ... it's the same thing. It's the same concept there.

Katie L.: Exactly. Exactly. He also talked about really a low refined sugar and low refined carb diet, so he really emphasized that you shouldn't be having a ton of sugar in your life, especially processed sugars is different than you have in fruit sugar, but 10 servings of fruit a day also isn't great for most people.

Naomi Nakamura: That goes back, again, taking it a step further into keeping sure your blood sugar is balanced, because that's really the issue there, and when it's not, then it contributes to inflammation.

Katie L.: Absolutely, and so that goes in hand with refined carbohydrates. They do ... I mean, sugar and refined carbohydrates are almost synonymous. They are very similar to how they act in the body.

Naomi Nakamura: Right. Well, and I always think about this is, if it's not a protein and it's not a fat, it's a carb.

Katie L.: Yeah, and then the other thing that he talked about was, the diet should be low in poor-quality fats. For us, as 21-day Sugar Detox coaches and things, we know that that means you're going to be looking for avoiding vegetable oils as much as possible, and that's the canola, the soybean, the grape seed, all of that. Margarine, any kind of butter replacement, and even just conventional butter, really, is to me kind of to be avoided. It's not as, if I have a hierarchy, I don't avoid it as much as I avoid canola oil, but it's definitely not on my things to buy, so grass-fed dairy, fats like ghee and butter, and then coconut oil.

I don't know if you mentioned lard, or tallow, or duck fat, but for me, those are all fats that do not oxidize at low temperatures, because they are saturated fats, and so I opted for all animal-based fats or saturated fats if coconut oil.

Naomi Nakamura: Well, and also, if you want to add healthy fats to your diet, salmon, fatty fishes, and avocados, all good things for us.

Katie L.: Yeah, and I forget that people have come up with this fat-phobic sort of mindsets that they-

Naomi Nakamura: Oh, gosh.

Katie L.: ... grew up with.

Naomi Nakamura: I mean, that's how I grew up with. It was like reading a label. Never even looked at sugar grams at all. It was always like, "How many fat grams does this have?"

Katie L.: Right, so yeah, so some people may be underfed, as far as fats go, completely, and so just including high-quality fats, olives in their diet, avocado, fatty fish, like you mentioned, those are all really important things to just include, let alone what you should cook with. That was kind of what his perspective was on diet, and I was like, "Cool, because I'm already pretty much doing this." That was a little-

Naomi Nakamura: I feel like-

Naomi Nakamura: ... that would contribute so much to your resilience as you're going through treatment. It's a little mind-blowing that your doctor said, "Well, just keep eating how you're eating," because no, no, you have to make these changes, and even going a step beyond that, you can even add in a whole bunch of healing foods like bone broth.

Katie L.: The cool thing about this, what his recommendation is, it doesn't mean you have to be paleo. Right? It doesn't mean you have to be vegetarian. This fits a wide range of things, so it's not so prescriptive in that way, which is something that I really appreciate, because it does fit a wide range of people, and they're-

Naomi Nakamura: Right-

Naomi Nakamura: ... and you can figure out what works for you, but basically what this-

Naomi Nakamura: ... is saying is to eat a whole-

Katie L.: Real food.

Naomi Nakamura: Eat a real foods, whole foods diet. That's-

Katie L.: Exactly.

Naomi Nakamura: ... and anti-inflammatory diet, oh, and then bring in the foods with tons of nutrients, like bone broth, that would help your body regenerate itself.

Katie L.: Exactly. Exactly. That was the first tip.

Naomi Nakamura: Clearly, we had a lot to say on that.

Katie L.: Yeah. I know. The second one was meditation. The more I learn about meditation, the more I know I need to be doing it, and so during my treatment, I really tried to include some meditation in my practice. I did go to, I mentioned in the last episode about the Bay Area Cancer Connections. I did go to one of their meditation ... I don't know if it was a workshop or whatever it was called, but the session on guided meditation, I figured, "Why not? It's a free resource to check out." I had some books on meditation. I had my apps, so really trying to get that practice going was important to me.

Naomi Nakamura: I think that really opens the door to more of a conversation on the mind-body connection, and that's really what this is getting at here.

Katie L.: Yeah, and I mean, there were definitely, I kind of oscillated between, "I'm okay. I can handle this. I'm going toward," and then I'd have the days where I'd have a pity party, and I'd be crying or just like, "I need a hug." Those kind, I'd go back and forth, so I'd have those days when I definitely needed the meditation to help quiet the mind, and those days when I quote-unquote "didn't need it," but I know I needed it.

I would have days where I'd feel fine, and it's like, "I don't need meditation. I can totally do this. I got this, cancer. You're done." Then there'd be days where it's like, "No, my world is downward-spiraling." Knowing that I needed to get a stable mindset around this just to calm those fears, I'm not prone to anxiety or depression, so those aren't things I typically deal with, but it doesn't mean I don't, couldn't benefit from-

Naomi Nakamura: Also - as you're going through treatment of having chemo, and radiation, and all of these other medications, those things are going to affect your gut health, and having that basis to help quiet your mind, I think, is a really good way to combat those things going into your body.

Katie L.: I will put this here, too. Before surgery, a book was recommended to me in my support group called Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster. I'll get you the link so that you can include it in the show notes. If you're having any kind of surgery, I would recommend it. It's a quick read, and it has some guided meditations to help you calm your mind as you prepare for surgery, because that was probably the most nervous, scared time for me was surgery. I just never had a surgery except my wisdom teeth, and I don't like the hospitals. I don't like - this is not okay with me, so that meditation was really helpful.

Just a little story about that book. I got it two days before my surgery was scheduled, and I was having some pain in my breast where the lump was, even though it was shrinking and dying, if you will. It would come and go, and I didn't really know what it was. My masseuse was like, "You've got to come to terms with these things." I read the book and started the meditation practice, and it's super woo-woo, although there, again, it's super woo-woo, but tells you that you need to talk to whatever part of the body is being operated on, say you're sorry.

I definitely had some resentment towards my breast at that point in time, because it had quote-unquote "caused" this, but it didn't. I was trying to come out of that mindset, and so I did that meditation. My surgery got postponed two weeks because my surgeon was sick, and I kept meditating, and the pain went away before the surgery. That pain went away, and I was like, "This works. I don't know how it works. I don't need to know how it works, because it works." That meditation and that idea of whatever is aching or in pain, I just started talking to it and just saying, thanking it and apologizing for anger and frustration and maybe resentment that I was feeling toward my breast at that point in time.

Naomi Nakamura: That's a good point to make, and I just want to share with you a book that I read. I read this probably about five years, maybe longer, six years ago. During that time in my life, I was constantly injured. I was doing a lot of endurance work, but I was injured all the time, and I was in pain all the time. I don't even know who recommended this book to me. It might have been my chiropractor, but there is a book by a man named Dr. John Sarno, and it's called The Mindbody Prescription: Healing the Body, Healing the Pain. It's really all about exactly what you just said is when you bring your mind in tune with your body and you accept what's going on with it, but you use the power of your mind to reduce the pain in your body. It does work.

I read it, and at first, I was like, "This is a little woo-woo for me," and this is before I really was more accepting of woo-woo things, but you're at the point in time where you're like you're willing to do anything to help ease the pain. I tried it, and it really does help. It is all about the mind-body connection.

Katie L.: Yeah. Absolutely is. I definitely recommend everybody work on a meditation practice, and that's something like I'm saying also to myself, because I come and go out of my meditation practice. I go-

Naomi Nakamura: Same.

Katie L.: ... to yoga regularly, and I meditate there, for sure, but my everyday meditation practice could always use improvement. I say it not just everybody like I'm a guru, because I'm not. I still need to work on it myself.

Naomi Nakamura: Hey - I pay 12.99 a month for Headspace, and I still don't meditate every day, and every time I see that charge, I'm like, "Dang it, I need to get better at that."

Katie L.: Yeah. Yeah. Totally. His third suggestion is to go to a support group. I remember reading it, being like, "I'm not doing that. I'm not going to cry in front of people. I just, from strangers." Then, I don't know, you toss things around in your head for a little bit, and it's like the resistance lowers a little, and then it brings in the information about those who go to support group, their survival rate is ... I don't know, remember the statistics, but it's better than those who don't. I'm like all about those things. I will increase my survival rate. Any of those things, whether they be Western or non-Western medication, I was doing all of them. I came to terms with it. I found the Bay Area Cancer Connections where they offered support groups, and ones that specifically fit my situation, which was really helpful.

I don't know that everyone has access to something like that, but at the end of the day, anybody could have related to my cancer story. Right? It wasn't like, "Oh, because she's 31 and has this and X, Y, and Z, I can't really ... " You can all relate, so I think you don't have to have that specific group to benefit.

Naomi Nakamura: Just a note on that. You shared a lot about the Bay Area Cancer Connection ... Did I get that right?

Katie L.: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Naomi Nakamura: In the last episode, so if you are interested in learning more about the specifics around that particular support group and what it looked like, if you are somewhere looking for a support group for you, make sure you go and listen to the last episode.

Katie L.: I will say at first it was super awkward. Apparently, that day that I went was, one of the girls was moving away. She was kind of out of treatment, moving away, and so everyone went to dinner beforehand and had dinner with her. I felt like a super outsider, and then I tell my, we get it, we go around, and you just kind of tell what you're going through. For some people, they're almost out of treatment, or they're in the middle of the treatment. I had just shaved my hair, I think, the week prior, so I was in the second round of chemo, so I was about a month into everything. I just cried a ton, and it felt super awkward, and I was like, "Probably not going back." Then I went back, and I went pretty regularly. They were like-

Naomi Nakamura: Was any of it cathartic, just to be able to release all of those feelings, knowing that everyone else in the room went through it, too?

Katie L.: Absolutely. It definitely was cathartic. It was also a place where I did end up making some good friends. There's like three women that I'm still in frequent contact with, and one of the random connection, one of the girls, her boyfriend is a bass player in a band, and then [Jim 00:17:54] ended up joining that band for a long time, and they played together, so they became really good friends. We ended up finding-

Katie L.: ... some really good connections in that group of people, and it's really where I learned which questions to ask my doctor. That's where I learned it, and because I'm not a questioner by nature, and I didn't go down the Google rabbit hole, I didn't really know what to ask, so that's where I learned the questions to ask. I just, it was a nice thing to go through. I think I started in July and then finished about in February when I went back to work, because that's the last time I went.

Naomi Nakamura: Well-

Naomi Nakamura: ... I will just say that your husband was very supportive of you, and your mother was very supportive, and your family and your friends were, but there's something about being connected to somebody who actually went through what you're going through.

Katie L.: Absolutely, yeah, and I know that like my mom friends have tons of moms' groups, and it's like they can relate. It's like, "I get that." It's almost like a support group, but it ends up just being more a play, technically a play group, but I think it's also a support group for those moms. What was interesting was, when I went to the support group, almost everybody that was there had moved to the area from somewhere else. They mostly went to the support group because they didn't have a big network of people rallying behind them. I call them my people, Team KLB.

That's why it's the Team KLB section on my blog. Katie Leadbetter, with LB, so that's why, what it's called, but so I have this big group, but I still benefited from going to the support group, and a lot of the women didn't have that big support group, and close by, anyways. They had friends and family all across the country, but they just weren't local, and so that ended up being really helpful for those folks. I guess especially if you don't have, if you are new to the area, or you don't have a big family, you don't have a big friend group, a support group is absolutely crucial.

Okay. His last thing that he talked about was exercise. He is a runner, and he had brain cancer, and he ran all through treatment. I was like, "I could not imagine running through all this." At some point, I did end up getting a PICC line put in, which is, some women get a port near their arteries to their heart to get chemo in that, intravenously that way.

I didn't get that, because I only had six rounds of chemo, but I did have a bad reaction to one of those rounds, so I got a PICC line in partway through, which is basically long-term temporary IV, so they just, they go on the operating table real quick, they put a hole in your arm, and they put a tube all the way that ends up by your heart, and they do take an X-ray to see that it is actually by your heart. Then you just have this opening to your vein that that can just go in that way, so you don't have to get a poke every time. When I found out about it, I was pissed. I'm not going to lie. I was like, "I don't want that. This is BS. This is not part of the plan," but it ended up being not that bad, because I overfreaked out.

It was more of that, "This isn't part of my plan," that was my issue, but anyways, it wasn't a big surgery, but it did make things harder, like I definitely couldn't go swimming after that if I wanted to go to the gym and go swimming. Yoga would have been hard to continue to do. Running may have been harder to do this because you're moving your arms, and it's up by my bicep, and so some of the movements would have been harder. This is a caveat. I wasn't going to run, for a multitude of reasons. It was important, whatever you're doing, it's important to move in some way.

Naomi Nakamura: Because that helps just with detoxification and just to keep energy in your body.

Katie L.: Yeah. Definitely. I mean, it helps with lymphatic flow. Especially the lymph is especially associated with cancer because if it spreads to your lymph nodes, that's of a bigger concern. That's usually a next stage up in the cancer treatment, and what they do to treat it becomes different, so you want your lymph to be moving, and we have lymph nodes near some of our crevices, if you will, like your underarms, your armpits. You have them near your hips, and your knees, and things like that, and all over the body, but that's some of where the bigger clusters are, so it's really important to keep moving, and get your blood pumping, and move, get your heart rate up, but it also got me outside, and I-

Naomi Nakamura: I was going to say, and that could just simply be just walking.

Katie L.: Yes, so for me, exercise was just walking. I tried to walk most every day, and I had lots of walking buddies, as we talked about in the last episode.

Naomi Nakamura: Did you just go for like a set amount of time? Did you try to go for distance? What was that walking like for you?

Katie L.: I mean, the pace was pretty low, because I just also, after so much inactive time, because I did just lay in bed a lot of the time, you start, your muscles start to atrophy. I was very weak, comparatively, by the end, and so it wasn't fast, but it was, we would just go for like a half-hour, hour, depending on what my time was like, or my friend, whoever was walking with me. We would just often walk in the neighborhood where I live, but we would take different routes, and I knew about how long each route took, so like, "Oh, it's going to be about 45-minute or whatever."

Sometimes, I would go to trails nearby with friends, but they were like pace trails, not hiking trails. I wasn't up for hiking. I felt like I would have, I'm sure I would have been heaving and huffing and puffing. Yeah, so for me it ended up just being, exercise was just walking. I didn't do a lot of stretching or yoga or any of that kind of stuff, but I think you do what works for you. The point is to move, definitely get to movement. Like I said, I think, I don't know if I said this before, I did have some trouble with sleeping during chemo, because I think a couple of things. One, I didn't do much. You lay in bed all day. You're not really physically exhausted, so exercise was an important part of that. The other part of sleeping issue was being on steroids.

Naomi Nakamura: I think that's where the meditation can help, too.

Katie L.: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative), and I definitely did practice that to help get me to fall asleep, so I think those were the big takeaways that I took from that book, so I think these are all things that we can do for ourselves, and so it's nice to be able to have that control over what you're doing. Even though there's so much that's out of your control, at least you have a little bit of control, and you can ... I mean, this is good stuff for everybody to do. Right? You can't imagine a doctor being like, "Yeah, you shouldn't go to a support group," or, "You shouldn't meditate," or, "You shouldn't go for walks." I mean, they might tell you not to really exercise hard, and that would be maybe a reasonable thing depending on what your treatment is like, but I think walking would be reasonable, or light stretching would be reasonable, for most people.

Naomi Nakamura: Just to recap before we go on, number one would be to eat a real foods diet, eat anti-inflammatory foods, and eat real whole foods. Number two would be to meditate. Number three, we have here support groups, but I think you can just also simply say, "Have a community. Have community [inaudible 00:24:14]." Then number four, exercise.

I kind of want to pivot a little bit and talk about something that you brought to my attention that I guess I was kind of aware about but didn't give a lot of thought to, and that is the problem with Pinktober. October is known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and that's why we're having these episodes. I was just in San Francisco this morning, and I think there must have been a breast cancer walk going on, because I saw large groups of people walking in pink shirts, so I'm guessing that's what it was, but you brought to my attention this issue of pinkwashing. Can you explain to us what that is?

Katie L.: Pinkwashing, to me, is, and you can probably google it, it'll come up, it's this kind of this awareness month that we just talk about breast cancer, and there's pink ribbons everywhere. It's great to feel that support. I mean, I have like the breast cancer ribbon wreath that I put on my door in October, so it's not that I don't like it, but it's also, what is that doing to support women going through treatment or to prevent future women going through cancer? I think that's the hard part about it is, it's, I feel like some of those causes, or like the Safeway donations that you can just donate to whatever. It's like a dollar here, a dollar there. That's great and very well-intentioned, and there's nothing wrong with that, but I just don't know that it's going to help anybody. It's making more awareness, but I feel like we have enough awareness, and we really need to be talking more about breast health month and maybe breast cancer prevention month more so than breast cancer awareness month.

Naomi Nakamura: When you brought this to my attention, I started thinking more about this whole idea. It's a shift in mindset between awareness and prevention.

Katie L.: I think we have plenty of awareness, and so it's all about prevention, and I think, I did publish an article on my blog a couple years ago at this point in time, and it's called, "What will be Your Catalyst for Change?" There weren't any warning signs for me, necessarily, that I could have made a change earlier, but don't you think I wish I would have changed some things in my life? Anybody who gets a diagnosis wants to go back and redo or undo a lot of the things that they did.

Naomi Nakamura: Yeah, and I think for any chronic disease, that person will always be having those thoughts in their head.

Katie L.: Yeah, and so it goes the same with diabetes or anything else that does have some factors in it that I contributed to. I'm not trying to place a lot of blame on myself or feel guilty that that is not happening for me. I know that there's things I wish I would have done differently, but I'm not like, "I gave myself cancer." I'm not-

Naomi Nakamura: Well-

Katie L.: ... in that mindset.

Naomi Nakamura: ... and there's a lot of things that you're just exposed to that really are beyond your control.

Katie L.: Right. Right, but whenever you get this kind of news, you wish you had done things different. Again, I think that goes back to why the doctor says, "Just eat whatever you've been eating." He doesn't want to make me feel like I've been doing something to harm my health, that I caused this, so in that way, I'll give him a slight bit of a pass, because I understand that perspective, but I also understand that he could have said, "Walk more, and maybe eat a few more vegetables every day." Whatever. It would have been very simple, but anyways, anybody who's facing something wishes they would have, did something different, so I think we all have these things in our life that are little warning signs, the indicator light on your car has gone on, telling you you need maintenance. Right? There's a little thing happening in your body

Naomi Nakamura: That literally just happened to me today, by the way.

Katie L.: Me, too, but there's something going on in your body that you're maybe not listening to that sign, because it seems insignificant, and so what could that first warning sign be? That's kind of what that post is about, but that's the idea. It's like, okay, so your friend gets diagnosed with cancer, and you're pissed, and you're saying, "F cancer," and you're donating to a cancer charity, and you're bringing them meals. Those are all great, but are you making any personal changes in your life? What will be the thing that pushes you to make the change? It's usually the big diagnosis, but perhaps, instead, it could be the preceding event that may be happening instead of just putting a Band-Aid on it and dealing with the thing because you're just like, "Oh, I have this small issue. Now, I'm going to put a Band-Aid." Let's actually solve the problem instead.

I think a lot of people have, I wrote about in here that I had heartburn for years before I realized that that was an indicator of a gluten intolerance for me and for a lot of people, and so I just kind of ignored it, because heartburn is quote-unquote "normal." It's not normal. We know it's just common, and so there are ... I'm not saying this caused my cancer, but I'm saying there are lots of little problems that we dismiss as little problems that are contributors or early warning signs for a bigger problem later-

Naomi Nakamura: Yeah-

Katie L.: ... on.

Naomi Nakamura: Well, and when you have too many little problems ignored and unaddressed, they're going to keep growing like a weed and will become a bigger problem.

Katie L.: Exactly.

Naomi Nakamura: It's one form or another, whether it be a disease or something else.

Katie L.: Yeah. Exactly. That's part of this kind of awareness month. We're all aware about it, but maybe instead, you can resolve to make a commitment this month instead, look, a commitment to your health this month, like something that you're going to either start doing or stop doing, because you want to be ... Maybe one way to honor someone's struggle going through a diagnosis other than changing your health, like, "Wow, my friend just got diagnosed with X. I'm going to do this for my life, because I'm going to honor what they're going through, and I'm going to do without the sugar, or the dessert, or whatever, because I want to improve my own health." That's a great way to honor somebody who's struggling with their health.

Naomi Nakamura: I love that. I really love that a lot. I think that just hits the nail on the head. Getting back to pink-washing, are there any other problems that you see with pink-washing other than the need to shift from awareness to prevention?

Katie L.: Yes. I think the other issue in ... There's an article about it I'll send you the link to that you can put in the show notes about pink-washing, and it's talking about a lot of these companies that are putting out these pink things for the month of October, but they're companies that are selling known carcinogens. One example in the article is, KFC fried chicken buckets are pink for the month of October, and it's like, I mean, let's stop right there, because KFC fried chicken is not a healthy food for any of us to be eating for a multitude of reasons. This idea that they're a good company now because they're supporting breast cancer awareness, and, I don't know, that whole thing just kind of boils my blood. There's another example. They talk about a company that sells drilling part for oil, like oil rigs. They make pink part for the month of October, and it's like, the gasoline and oil, these are, I mean, Prop 65 in California, like gasoline exhaust fumes are known to be carcinogenic in the state of California, and -

Naomi Nakamura: Now that you bring all this up, so I actually did the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. I think it was in 2004, maybe 2005, and as you're seeing this, I'm thinking, because a lot of the obesogens and a lot of the toxins that are known carcinogens and known to contribute to women's health issues, especially breast cancer, are found in the personal care and beauty products that women use, and now that I'm looking at it, I'm like, there is a lot of irony there.

Katie L.: Right, and, I mean, I did the Avon Walk as well. I did it two years ago, and I think the company may be making products that are known, we know as known carcinogens, but I do think the money you fundraise does go to prevention, and research, and supporting women who are going through treatment. I mean, it's almost like it does one of those things that I like, and it does one thing that I don't like, so there's that. I don't-

Naomi Nakamura: Well, I mean, well-

Katie L.: ... want anyone to feel guilty for doing the Avon walk.

Naomi Nakamura: Right.

Katie L.: It's-

Naomi Nakamura: Right, but-

Katie L.: ... really hard and really awesome.

Naomi Nakamura: Yes, the walk itself is great, but at the same time, they're funding an event to help with a disease that their products have been known to contribute to. I guess that's the point I'm just realizing.

Katie L.: There is some irony there. I know, I understand as well. That's kind of the issues with some of this pink-washing is, it's like everyone's got a breast cancer thing, and it's like, "Well, what are your products? How healthy are your products for people? Are these known carcinogens?" They may or may not be. I couldn't tell you that about everything, but I know plenty of them are, so that's kind of like maybe just, we have the saying, "Think before you pink," because it's like, think before you send that money, donating to whatever charity it is, or get that pink thing, like all this plastic pink stuff. I'm like, "Oh, my gosh, all this plastic." We all know that plastic is contributing, so-

Naomi Nakamura: It off-gasses all of those toxins.

Katie L.: Yeah, yeah, and so it's just being aware. "Think before you pink," is kind of the take-home message.

Naomi Nakamura: Actually, next week, coming on the episode, I have another friend of mine who, in her past job, she worked in politics advocating for women's health. We're talking about, this is like back in the early '90s, and she gives a lot of perspective on, "What does it mean to be an advocate for breast cancer awareness for women's health?" She gives a lot more insight into this as well, but, I want to ask you, what are your favorite charities?

Katie L.: I have three that I really think are pretty great, and two are the local ones that I mentioned either in this episode or in the previous episode.

Naomi Nakamura: I think both.

Katie L.: Or maybe both. Bay Area Cancer Connections, it was formerly Breast Cancer Connections. They are in Palo Alto, like I mentioned, and they are a great local resource that provides services for women who are going through treatment, and same with Cancer CAREpoint, provides service for I think multiple kinds of cancer, people who are going through treatment here in the Bay Area. I think what would be really great is to find a local place like that for wherever you live and donate directly to that, because you know it's going right back into your community, and so there's always like, I feel like there's less overhead and less, I'm wondering less where the costs are, where my money is going, how much money is going to fund the big organization, if it's a smaller organization.

Naomi Nakamura: Well, and also, I think you need to look at, what is the organization trying to do? Because sometimes, the organization does need funding to pay the staffers, or the-

Katie L.: Right, absolutely.

Naomi Nakamura: ... they are trying to do to move forward, especially when we get into more like health protective laws, that type of thing, but I think the point you're trying to make here is to, before you donate, take a look at the organization, see exactly what their mission is and what they're trying to do, and make your decisions based upon, "Do you want to help, in your local community, do you want to help moving the needle on more health protective laws," but just to be aware of what the mission and what the organization is trying to do.

Katie L.: Yeah, absolutely. Then one that's like a national organization that anybody could donate to is the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. They are doing research for prevention. I think they're a good one for working on a bigger level, like we need to find out, "What can we do to prevent this," more so than how we can treat it. I feel like we're at a point right now, with breast cancer specifically, that it's a much more treatable cancer than it used to be, and then compared to other kinds of cancers, but we need more research on prevention.

Naomi Nakamura: Cool. Anything else to add as we wrap up this series?

Katie L.: I think that's it. Just thank you for having me and for bearing with me through an emotional story-sharing and for getting this story out there, because I think it's important for people to hear it.

Naomi Nakamura: I think it is, too, and I really want you to thank you for being so open not just with sharing your story, but also with all the resources and the knowledge that you've come to acquire as you went through this experience yourself.

Katie L.: Thank you.

Naomi Nakamura: If you enjoyed this episode, it would mean the world to me if you would subscribe to this podcast, write a review, or even share it with someone who you know would enjoy it, too. In the meantime, you can find the show notes for this episode and all other episodes over on my website at www.livefablife.com. There, you can submit a question to be answered right here on the show, sign up for weekly updates, insider access, and get behind-the-scenes scoops, and learn how we can work together, too. Most importantly, thank you so much for being here, and I can't wait to connect with you again on the next episode of the show. See you next week.


Naomi Nakamura is a Functional Nutrition Health Coach. Through her weekly show, The Live FAB Live Podcast, programs, coaching services and safer skincare solutions, she helps people with chronic skin issues clear up their skin by teaching them where food meets physiology and how food, gut health, stress, and toxins are intricately connected to the health and appearance of our skin. Naomi resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and can often be found romping around the city with her puppy girl, Coco Pop!
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