Rachel

Rachel is a loving, kind, and motivated 22-year-old with a passion for trying new things and pushing her limits. She is determined to help those around her and looks at her diagnosis as a gateway to a new perspective on life.

Her story: "Growing up, I was always very active and loved trying new things. In high school, I started training in classical voice performance, a physically demanding area of study since your body becomes your instrument. By the time I reached my sophomore year of college I was used to rigorous class, rehearsal, performance, and physical training schedules. Despite mybest efforts, I started to experience chronic fatigue among other common thyroid disease symptoms. After consulting an endocrinologist, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease and papillary thyroid cancer. I underwent a total thyroidectomy and central neck dissection followed by a radioactive iodine treatment.

Despite the heath setbacks, I continued my studies throughout surgery and treatment and graduated college having focused on music and international business courses. Throughout my recovery process, I have been working on rebuilding my physical and mental stamina through hobbies such as rock climbing, yoga, biking, photography, hiking, archery, running, swimming, etc. I've been able to try a lot of different activities and continue to stay active in many of them. Overall, my cancer journey has taught me a lot about life, mainly that you can’t rush the healing process. I love helping people, and this experience has given me new opportunities to help people in ways I wouldn’t have been able to before my diagnosis.

Her Goal: "Rebuild my psychical stamina. Become scuba certified; rock climb in Kalymnos, Greece"

Personal Motto: "Just keep swimming."


Maya

Maya is a 16-year-old who won't let anything get in the way of her living life to the fullest. Whether it's gymnastics, wheelchair basketball, or biking, Maya is in her element when she is moving her body. She's an optimist and an inspiration for all.

Her story:  "From the age of 5 I had been competing in gymnastics. So, at the age of 9 when my knee was in pain and my leg was a little swollen, I just assumed it was an insignificant injury that I had gotten while doing gymnastics. At a certain point, my leg was causing me too much pain to just ignore. So my parents brought me to the doctor who diagnosed me with osteosarcoma. Over a period of eight months I underwent chemotherapy and a rotationplasty amputation. I was devastated to lose my leg because no one knew if I would be able to continue gymnastics, but I was driven to do so. After I completed treatment, I spent a year relearning to walk and run so that I could resume gymnastics. By age 11, I was able to get back on the team and compete with able-bodied peers. I even managed to place in several events at the state championships.

Unfortunately, at the age of 13, I tore my medial meniscus due to overcompensating for my amputated leg. So I had to work my way back to being fit. At the age of 15, I was diagnosed with May-Thurners syndrome which meant that my leg was constantly swollen and I could not wear my prosthetic leg. After a stent was placed in my iliac vein, I started to wear my leg again, but I started losing weight, prompting an evaluation for cancer recurrence. Fortunately, there was no sign of cancer, but I was diagnosed with celiac disease. By the time I was able to start a proper diet, I had already lost fat and muscle, causing my prosthetic to no longer fit. Once I began a gluten-free diet and started feeling better again, I began to struggle with athletics. I went through some evaluations and was told that my decrease in activity combined with my weight loss caused me to become de-conditioned."

Her Goal: "I would like to be able to remain fit and active so that I can stay healthy and reduce my chance of recurrence."

Personal Motto: "If you believe in yourself, you can do anything."

To learn more about Maya, click here.


Step Up Your Game by Perfecting Your Morning Routine

How we start a new day can significantly alter our next 24 hours. Although not all morning routines will look the same, it’s important to allocate some time for yourself before you jump into the hustle and bustle of life. Many people find that when they get into a habit of doing morning rituals, like journaling, meditating, and exercising, it impacts their productivity, creativity, and levels of wellbeing for the entire day. 

Get the big things done first. 

While our running to-do list may tempt us to check off the small errands first, it’s recommended to knock out the biggest and most important things first. For many, that’s a healthy workout routine, like a run, or working on a passion project that it always put off later in the day.

Prioritize based on your values. 

Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs gave a powerful commencement address to Stanford University in 2005. Everyday, the entrepreneur and billionaire would remind himself of the life he wanted to live, helping him realign his actions with his purpose. 

 “For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been no for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

Get outside of the box. 

If the traditional morning routine of writing, journaling and exercise doesn’t feel enticing to you, try shaking it up and making it your own. 

Tony Robbins, the world’s most famous life coach, travels the world, hosts events, monitors the dozens of companies he’s invested and involved in, and consults some of the world’s most powerful leaders. Throughout it all, he stays true to his morning routine. That said, he's not just drinking your average cup of Joe. 

According to Business Insider, Robbins wakes up between 7:00 and 9:00, running off three to five hours of sleep. He begins the day with a “adrenal support cocktail,” which includes greens powder, vitamin C, antioxidants, and capsules of other vitamins and nutrients. 

After breakfast, Robbins does a 10-minute meditation he calls “priming,” which includes an intense breath-focused practice, giving gratitude, and visualization. He then performs a high-exertion 15 minute workout and jumps right into his sauna, followed by a cold plunge and ending with a stretch on his back inversion machine. 

Remember, no size fits all. 

If you are a night owl, no matter what anyone says, the 5AM club may not be the best option for you. 

While people may boast about their morning routines, it’s crucial to remember that the best morning routine is one that makes you feel fulfilled, and that you can stick to.


Jack

Jack is a 19-year-old go-getter with a passion for sports. As a student and an athlete, he makes sure to never take anything for granted, as is an inspiration for those around him.

His story: “I currently attend the University of Michigan, where I study computer science and work with the Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse programs outside of the classroom. I played baseball at Wilton High School. Even though I didn’t continue playing baseball in college, I played pickup basketball and frequently lifted weights in order to stay in shape.

My passion for playing and following sports lead me to Michigan, and I hope will lead me into a career in sports as well. I hope to complete treatment this summer so I am able to return to school in the fall and continue my work with the Athletic Department at Michigan.

In October of 2018 I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in my left tibia, which left me on crutches. As someone who moved freely so frequently, the physical limitations of a weak leg bone are frustrating. As it slowly heals, I look forward to being able to walk, use a stationary bike, and more. I have met many children who are less fortunate than I am, so I am grateful for the many kinds of exercise that I am still able to do. I hope to be able to return to playing basketball, skiing, and running in the near future.

His Goal: “Rebuild stamina and lower body strength”

Personal Motto: “We go again.”


How to Set Goals in Times of Uncertainty

Our everyday lives have been shifted and destabilized with the ongoing global pandemic. As we move forward in this time of uncertainty, a few experts offer their ideas on how to best make decisions and set goals.

Goal coach and speaker Jacki Carr recently wrote an article on Medium speaking directly to this common question: How do I set goals in times of uncertainty?

Here’s an excerpt:

“As we are entering a time in our lives we have never been before, some of us might be in waiting mode until things normalize until we normalize. Some of us might have a rule we set that goals can only be set when we are stable and sound in mind, body, and globe. (Author’s Notes:

We make up rules for ourselves to live by and often forget to check in to see if the rules still serve us or are even our own rules for living or someone else’s?). Some of us might feel fear and goals written in fear create more fear, they say. And some of us are relying on old goals, old ways in hope that it will all shake out.

Here is the deal, I never even wrote about the Coronavirus or COVID-19. I did not mention it up there. Because whenever someone is reading this, they are most definitely entering a time in their lives they have never been before.
Heraclitus said, “The only constant in life is change”.

We are always in a state of change, evolution, disruption, or expansion.

We don’t move backwards, time keeps on keepin’ on.
And so do we.

Therefore, when in our lives have we ever actually set goals in times of certainty?
I will tell you…

Never.
Never have we ever.
Because there is no. such. thing.

Take a moment to flip back in the book pages of your life. Tell me when you set a goal and had the exact road map to get there? When have you known every one of the moments that would lead to the finish line?”

A recent article in MindBodyGreen added to the conversation, recommending exchanging plans for present mindedness.

“Planning is important. It helps us organize our lives and create structures and goals for ourselves. That being said, as a society we have a habit of overplanning. We can all be guilty of this. We get focused on planning things down to a T. When we plan, we feel in control, which in turn makes us feel less vulnerable.

Moreover, sometimes the best things in life happen when we don't try to control them and instead let ourselves be vulnerable to the mysterious workings of the universe. I'm sure you can find dozens of examples of how chance and serendipity have led you to some of your happiest and most important connections in life.

So in this moment of unprecedented uncertainty, when all of your best-laid plans will likely seem foolish a year from now anyway, trying to live in the moment as much as possible is important. Let's help ourselves practice present-mindedness when we can and not take for granted the here and now by focusing too much on a planned future.”


The Best Oils to Use for Cooking

"When it comes to your health, "fat" is not necessarily a dirty word. You need some fat in your diet, and it actually performs some pretty impressive tasks like boosting energy, supporting cell growth, protecting your organs, keeping your body warm, and aiding in nutrient absorption and the manufacturing of hormones, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). And oils can be a great source of these healthy fats, but choosing the right variety is key," writes EveryDay Health.

According to experts interviewed by MindBodyGreen, canola oil should be avoided and replaced with other healthier alternatives.

"Despite some trace benefits, canola oil is often considered one of the least healthy vegetable oils because of the way it's manufactured. Most canola oils in the U.S. use chemicals, including hexane (a hazardous air pollutant) to extract the oil from the plant," wrote MindBody Green.

Experts recommend trying olive oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil, walnut oil, sesame seed soil, and avocado oil.

In particular, flaxseed oil is a good source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), one of three omega-3 fatty acids (olive and canola oils also contain omega-3s). You need dietary omega-3s since your body cannot make them on its own. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and thus may help lower the risk of cancer, according to the MD Anderson Cancer Center, per EveryDay Health.

Flaxseed oil may also help reduce symptoms of arthritis, but avoid it if you’re on a blood thinner since flaxseed oil may increase bleeding, advises the Arthritis Foundation.


Owen Brady

Owen Brady.

Star Hockey Player. Resilient Teenager. Fighter.

“In November of 2018, promising prospect Owen Brady was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in his left shin. After months of chemotherapy and rehab, he played his first game Friday and plans to continue chasing his hockey dream,” wrote the Hockey News.

Brady, a top prospect for the 2019 Ontario League draft, played his first game this August after almost 21 months. The 17-year-old was blindsided two years back by a cancer diagnosis. What started as a bump on his left shin while he was playing AAA midget hockey, resulted in an osteosarcoma diagnosis and a 19-hour surgical procedure, during which the tumor was removed and his shine was reconstructed.

“In the second period, I blocked a shot with my knee,” Brady said. “Got a nice bruise-slash-scar on top of my scar. But it’s all good.”

Read more about Brady’s journey here.


Marisa Harris

Coach. Inspiration. Leader

A turning point in Marisa’s life came in 1998 when she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer and given at most 9 months to live. In her quest to heal from cancer, she became certified in Mind-Body Medicine and as a Cancer Guide and Coach.

"Harris tapped the power within herself, as well as chemotherapy, to become a long-term survivor. Now she’s committed to motivating and supporting individuals in finding and using their power to heal their bodies, minds, and souls. Over the last 15 years, she has focused on helping thousands of cancer patients to flourish and succeed during adversity," wrote the WAMC Northeast Public Radio.

Marisa says she realized that recovering from cancer can be easier than recovering from sabotaging qualities of self-judgment and low self-esteem.

She uses skills from her 20-year experience as Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational & Performance Management at a Fortune 500 Company, and her graduate studies in Counseling Psychology at Columbia University.

Read more here. 


What You Need to Know About Healthy Fats

Fat-free and sugar-free diet fads are losing steam as more and more people wake up to the importance and benefits of integrating healthy fats into their diets.

While a fat-free diet was once thought to be an effective weight-loss method, diets such as the Mediterranean diet and the Keto diet have grown in popularity.

"We actually need fats -- can't live without them, in fact," reads WebMD.

"They provide essential fatty acids, keep our skin soft, deliver fat-soluble vitamins, and are a great source of energizing fuel. But it's easy to get confused about good fats vs. bad fats, how much fat we should eat, how to avoid artery-clogging trans fats and the role omega-3 fatty acids play in heart health.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2005 Dietary Guidelines recommends that adults get 20%-35% of their calories from fats. At a minimum, we need at least 10% of our calories to come from fat," reads the article.

In a recent interview with Mind Body Green, Cate Shanahan, M.D., shared what she views as the easiest way to know if something is a "healthy fat."

"If we're talking about fat that's a whole food, that's good," she explained. "That's natural fat, and human beings have been consuming it since there were human beings."

So the real key? Whole-food-based fats. Yep, when it comes to healthy fats, it's not that different from defining healthy foods: The closer something is to its natural form, the healthier it is, wrote Mind Body Green.

Read more about the different types of fats, which to avoid, and which to add to your diet, here.

 


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