Updated: Sep 3, 2020
Today marks one full week that we have been in Mexico. Overall this week was a good week. Sadie's treatments are going well. She had an IV catheter put in her chest so they don't have to fiddle with the "teeny, tiny" veins in her arms. She started the low dose chemotherapy and her body is handling it well; no side effects (ie. nausea) so far. Dr. Bautista says she is very healthy except for her little "problem"; he doesn't like to say the word cancer. Her tests show all her organs are functioning well and her blood work is all good except for the high white blood cells and platelets that mark the cancer. She wasn't really feeling sick before she started treatments so she finds it hard to say she is feeling any better now. She is still feeling fatigued and needs a lot of rest time. I think her appetite is way better than before; she eats more than I do at most meals now. I'd like to think that is because she is feeling better but it might just be that she likes the meals here better than my cooking at home ;)
She has a healthy appetite most days and we are following the healthy eating plan religiously. Mariana (the kitchen nutritionist) sneaks extra calories into all her meals (an extra egg, or avocoda, or hemp hearts). The food is very tasty and I will need to get some of their recipes before we go home - like the almond toast which tastes like white bread and the sweet potato oatmeal pancakes that are mouth watering. If you are curious the diet is no sugar, no dairy, no red meat, no processed foods. 80% of what you eat should be vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds. Protein should be white (chicken, eggs, turkey, fish) and carbs should be brown (brown rice, sweet potato, sprouted grain). They have alkaline water in the coolers and we are supposed to drink at least 2L per day. Only green juice is allowed (I think it is a mix of cucumber, celery, kale, mint) and no fruit juice. Fruit is restricted to 4 servings a day so the focus is on lots of green vegetables. Everything should be organic. Coffee is restricted to one cup a day. The only sweeteners allowed are stevia and monk fruit. The only cheese allowed is vegan cheese which has a an odd taste and we find is manageable only in very small portions. To my dismay, cheese is supposed to be a condiment not a food group. The diet is very similar to a heart healthy or diabetic diet with a focus on low glucemic index (GI) foods. We have found a nice lady who will grocery shop for us and deliver the groceries to the apartment so we can maintain the diet outside of the clinic. It can be tough to find organic foods and some of the healthy foods (like hemp hearts and vegan cheese) in Mexico so she ends up going to 2-3 stores every time she shops for us.
We have meet many great people at the clinic. Sadie is the youngest patient here right now but there is another young fellow in his twenties that is also undergoing treatments. He and his girlfriend are expecting a baby. She sits in the waiting room, working on her laptop beside me most days. Quite often I am in the waiting room with with a bunch of older men as there are several women with breast cancer undergoing treatments. There are a few Amish couples here from Indiana - I chatted with the men as their wives underwent the chemo treatment at the same time as Sadie. Yesterday a new patient came in from Edmonton. She was accompanied by her adult son and daughter. They flew in on a private flight. We had much to talk about and it was comforting to share stories about common places we knew like Hinton and Fort Mac and Red Deer, as well as common experiences like the hail storm that hit Calgary in June. Everyone is very open and we share knowledge and experiences. There is a fellow here from California with his mother and strongly recommends CBD oil. She was only given a few months to live and is going on 3 years now. There are a few patients who have extreme cases and were turned to palliative care by their doctors back home. Ruby (a very talkative, loud and wonderfully positive lady) shared her story of a rare breast cancer that did not improve with conventional chemotherapy. Her last day was yesterday and she shared that for the first time she was feeling that she had a future to look forward to when she returned home. Her cancer is not completely gone, she still has one tumor left (she had multiple before coming here) and will continue with the home program and hopefully that last tumor will continue to shrink. Her son was with her and guessed that Sadie was a cheerleader in high school and called her a crazy Canadian when she told him she was actually a hockey player. He also asked Sadie if Donald Trump was the president of Canada too which gave us a laugh. We met a lady from Maine who is accompanied by her husband right now. Her daughter was with her the first week and her husband was heading home this weekend and her son is arriving. They are taking turns staying with her. She was treated for breast cancer back home and was in remission for 8 years before the cancer returned to her liver. She felt the chemotherapy at home was too hard on her (from her previous experience) so decided to pursue the option here instead. It is really great to have a little community to share experiences and stories with and great to meet so many new friends.
Today is Sunday so our only day off from treatments. We are planning a day of nothingness. Just relaxing, resting and enjoying the sound of the waves on the beach below our apartment. I want to thank everyone who has sent positive notes and messages this week. It is wonderful that you continue to keep Sadie in your thoughts.
Sweet potato and oatmeal pancakes with fruit puree, fresh fruit and coconut (yum!):
Our apartment is the one with the large covered patio: