#10 Please Unplug That Air Freshener – Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) is for real

Have you ever gotten into someone else’s car, or into a cab and the air freshener was so intense that you felt nauseous or started to get a headache? Maybe you went to a friend’s house and they had scented candles burning in every room. At first, you might think it smells nice, but then you get hit with a clammy feeling and brain fog. If you’re an asthmatic, you might feel your lungs begin to constrict.

Perhaps you’ve sat next to someone at work, on a train or in an airplane and the smell of their perfume, aftershave or shampoo made you feel sick. If this has happened to you, you might count yourself among a growing number of people suffering from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS).

A recent experience I had while teaching a yoga class at a local business prompted me to write about MCS. When I walked in to teach the class, the smell of a plug-in air freshener was so overpowering that I began to feel nauseous and clammy. By the time I left the class I had a headache and felt overall like crap.


What is Multiple Chemical Sensitivity?

With the rise in companies that market scented products and the deluge of fragrance chemicals in the marketplace, more and more people are having negative reactions to these products. It’s happening so much that it has become known and is being diagnosed as multiple chemical sensitivity.

In an article titled National Prevalence and Effects of Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine in March 2018, the author Anne Steinemann, published findings from a study of 1137 randomly selected individuals. This study found a national prevalence in the United States of more than 12% of individuals who have been medically diagnosed with MCS, which is a three fold increase over similar studies’ findings in the past ten years.  

The study also revealed a national prevalence of more than 25% self-reported chemical sensitivity, which is a two time increase in the past ten years.

If you are one of those individuals who starts to feel crappy just walking down the household cleanser aisle in the grocery store, like I do, you’re not crazy and you’re not alone.  According to Johns Hopkins some of the symptoms reported by individuals who experience MCS include:

  • Headaches
  • Rashes
  • Asthma
  • Muscle and joint aches
  • Fatigue
  • Memory loss
  • Confusion

These symptoms range in severity and can be so debilitating that some people have had to quit their jobs because of the effect of fragrance or other chemicals in the workplace.

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is such a growing issue that even the American Lung Association encourages fragrance free workplaces and schools in an attempt to avoid the respiratory difficulty that chemical fragrances can cause. You can find a sample policy for implementing a fragrance free workplace on their website.

Steinemann’s study found that more than 50% of people with MCS experienced respiratory distress when they were exposed to fragranced consumer products, nearly 50% also experienced migraine headaches, 38% experienced skin problems, and nearly 32% had asthma attacks.

So what is causing this trend and why are hearing about it now?

Walter J. Crinnion ND,  a professor at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and the author of Clean, Green and Lean says that our bodies accumulate toxic loads in our day to day lives as we are exposed to chemicals everywhere from our carpet to our personal care products. That toxic load would include exposure to radiation, chemotherapy and prescription drugs.

Consider the findings from a study published by the National Academy of Sciences titled Considerations for the Diagnosis of Chemical Sensitivity. This study suggests that a person’s total pollutant load must be evaluated, including physical and emotional factors, toxic exposures and any biological issues that the person may be dealing with such as infections, parasites or disease.

This study states that the total pollutant load combined with an individual’s diet and unique biochemistry will determine their body’s ability to detoxify pollutants, and therefore how intense their reaction to chemical exposures will be. It goes on to say that not only do your genetics play a part in this biochemical sensitivity, but your unique reaction is influenced by the toxic body burden you experienced as a fetus, and your present toxic body burden and nutrition whenever you are exposed to chemicals.

This supports never underestimating the power of good nutrition and the importance of keeping processed foods out of your diet to lessen your chemical burden. More importantly though, this reinforces the Ayurvedic concept that your body’s energy is influenced by the state of your parent’s bodies at the point of conception. It always fascinates me when western science validates what has been known for thousands of years in Ayurveda.


What you can do if you suffer from MCS

If you’re someone who suffers with MCS, you don’t have to avoid the scent of night blooming jasmine or chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven. MCS doesn’t mean that you don’t like pleasant scents, it means that you are having a reaction to the chemicals that produce artificial scents. Things such as such as phthalates, styrene and resorcinol, commonly used chemicals in fragrances that are known to disrupt human hormones.

It’s important to have a basic understanding of the impact these chemicals can have on your health. Some tools you can use as a reference to the nearly 3000 different chemicals used commonly in the fragrance industry are the  transparency in chemicals list published by  International Fragrance Association (IFRA), and Unpacking the Fragrance industry, a 13 page downloadable safety report on the fragrance industry published by Women’s Voices for the Earth, an organization dedicated to reducing toxins in our environment.

Eliminating as many toxins from your environment as possible is a great next step. You can check the labels on products, however, many chemicals that are used to create fragrance are not required to be listed on the labels. Most of the time you’ll just see fragrance”listed because companies can use this labeling loophole to protect their proprietary formulas. I can certainly understand the importance of keeping trade secrets, however, if you have a potential toxin in your formula, I think that ingredient should be required to be listed. (If only I ran the world…sigh)

What you can do is look for products that do list all of the ingredients. These are generally going to be safer for you (aka they have nothing to hide) A good resource for non-toxic home cleaning supplies is ThriveMarket.com There’s also Methodhome.com which has product lines for home and body. The website has a comprehensive list of the ingredients in each product, including what’s used for fragrance.

There’s also Mrs Meyers Clean Day which offers quality cleaning products filled with essential oils and again gives a comprehensive list of each ingredient used in their product line, with an explanation for why its in there.

Essential oils are also a great resource. Floracopiea, my go to essential oil company, has a beautiful line of oils and serums for skin care, along with valuable free resources on using essential oils to care for your body. Beautycounter is a tremendous resource for safer and effective skin care, and especially safer sunscreens, with a focus on not adding synthetic fragrances. (Full disclosure, I am an independent consultant for Beautycounter)

A natural alternative

If you’ve never used essential oils as cleaning agents, you should know that they don’t leave oil everywhere. The name itself is a little misleading. Essential oils have powerful antibacterial, antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Remember they are the immune system of the aromatic plants they are extracted from so their job is to kill outside invaders and to keep the plant healthy. They are called essential because they are the very essence of the plant.

Essential oils are  also wonderful to use for home fragrance. You can blend many different oils to create scents that you enjoy. As an added bonus, while you diffuse them your home and your respiratory system are also getting the health benefits of these oils.

Contrary to other home fragrances that can trigger respiratory distress, I keep essential oil diffusers running in my house to support my asthmatic kid’s respiratory health. Diffusing oils like tulsi/also known as holy basil, eucalyptus, cypress and peppermint can actually be improve respiratory health.

You can have fragrance both in your home and on your body without the use of harmful chemicals. You do need to educate yourself though. Essential oils are very powerful and most of them should only be applied to the skin with a base oil to prevent irritation. Make sure you read up on what you’re using, or you refer to the expertise of someone who works with essential oils. You also want to be sure to use a reputable resource when purchasing essential oils, especially if you’re going to put them on your skin.

These oils can often be expensive to produce so, to keep the price point low enough to sell a high volume of product, sometimes manufactures will adulterate the oils by adding, lower quality oils, alcohols or even solvents which is exactly what we’re trying to eliminate from our environment.

Some of the most commonly adulterated oils are sandalwood and rose because of their high price for purity. Rose essential oil can cost up to $250 a dram which is less than a quarter of an ounce. It can take up to 60 roses to produce one drop of this oil through steam distillation, and you can imagine how much work and cost goes into growing that many roses. Also, popular oils like lavender, peppermint, thyme and oregano are commonly adulterated. If you’ve tried using essential oils and you had a reaction to them, you may want to double check to see if your oil was adulterated.

Looking to the future

I can remember a time when organic produce wasn’t a thing. You just never heard that term or had that option, but as the awareness of harmful pesticides grew, the demand for organic foods also grew. At first you would need to seek a “health food store” in order to find organic products. Fortunately, now you can find organic selections in nearly every grocery store. Some main stream grocers have even developed their own line of organic products. Hopefully, as we support natural products and the use of essential oils for home and body care, we’ll also see an increase in the availability of safer products. I’m sure we all know that the almighty dollar drives business trends and each time we make a decision as consumers we influence that trend.  

If you experience multiple chemical sensitivity or if you have resources for safer more natural products to help detoxify our environments, I’d love to hear about it. You can find me on Facebook and twitter @Laura_Lummer and on Instagram @breastcancerrecoverycoach. So please look for me and become a part of our community of thriving breast cancer survivors..

#9 What’s a dosha? How understanding your body through Ayurveda can lead to a healthier life.

I talk a lot about reconnecting with our body after cancer treatment, in fact the subtitle of the book I am working on is, “Reconnecting to Your Body Could Save Your Life.”

The reason that I put a lot of emphasis on this is because we have powerful intuition as humans, especially as women. When we are in a mindful state, tuned into ourselves and aware of what is happening in the moment, aka being present. We are able to sense what is working for us, mentally, physically, and spiritually.  

However, when we go through a life-threatening, frightening and difficult experience like cancer we often tend to tune out of our body and out of the present moment as we slip into survival mode. It’s not uncommon to hear and it wasn’t uncommon for me to say, “I just need to live through this.”

When I think back on my treatment days, the last thing I wanted was to have toxic chemicals pumped through my veins while I was swallowing dozens of other chemicals to counteract the side effects of chemotherapy. This was not a part of my lifestyle beliefs. However, the one thing I did want to do was to stay alive. So, I disconnected from my core values of living a mostly chemical free life, to doing whatever I had to in order to live.  I didn’t want to have my breasts cut off, but when the decision came down to them or me…they had to go. Another disconnect.

Most of us cancer survivors, got through treatment doing what we had to do, which probably included things you really didn’t want to do. Now you’re living with a body that feels different, looks different, and maybe doesn’t please you aesthetically.

How do you deal with that? You disconnect. You don’t look at yourself. You don’t show yourself off to your partner in the same way you used to. Maybe your posture even begins to change as you subconsciously roll your shoulders forward protecting or concealing your surgical area.

It’s in reconnecting to your body, in getting a firm grasp of what it is that’s important to you that will help you move forward beyond surviving and into thriving. That’s where Ayurveda comes in and where it can help you.

What is Ayurveda

Ayurveda, is a Sanskrit word meaning the science of life.

The knowledge of Ayurveda dates back more than 4,000 years to  ancient texts known as the Vedas. Ayurveda is part of the fourth book of the Vedas, the Arthavaveda. It is one of the world’s oldest medical systems and is still used by the majority of the population of India today.

Ayurveda focuses on creating healthy habits, related to food, herbs, sleep, movement, personal hygiene, and personal surroundings including color and aroma.patient

The history of Ayurveda is complex and includes Sanskrit words and universal, spiritual ideas which go beyond the scope of explaining and understanding in this blog post.

Incorporating Ayurvedic practices into your life works to create an environment in your body that maximizes its self-healing capacities. When we gain an understanding of what our body needs, and we understand what it’s like to feel good and to be in balance, we also learn to distinguish what being out of balance feels like, and what steps we need to take to get back to feeling well.

One of the things that I love so much about Ayurveda is that even though it dates back thousands of years, it is a living science and can be adapted to our modern lives.

At its very core, Ayurveda looks at the energetic qualities and the interconnectedness of all things including, people, health, food, relationships and habits.  It considers how different energies affect each other to bring about balance or imbalance.

Once you learn the philosophy of Ayurveda, a structure begins to take place that paints a beautiful picture of how all of the qualities of the world and the universe work together, affect each other, and build upon each other. A significant part of this structure is that of life forces or Doshas.

Energetics of the Doshas

There are 3 doshas in Ayurveda, and all 3 exist in everyone and everything in different combinations. The doshas can be most easily understood as groups of qualities.

For example, if you know someone who has a bad temper, you probably refer to that person as a hot head. Or, if someone loses their temper we say they lost their cool, or we tell them to cool off. Notice the reference to the hot and cold energies of these emotions.

Let’s take a look at inflammation. Studies show that inflammation is the root of many of common diseases, including cancer. The qualities of inflammation are hot, red, and swollen. In order to treat inflammation we apply ice, anti-inflammatories, alkaline foods, or things that cool. This is a very Ayurvedic approach in that opposites bring balance, and like increases like.


The doshas are combinations of the qualities of the five elements; earth, air, fire, water and ether.  When we are in balance, feeling great, having enough energy to get through the day, free of digestive and elimination issues that create discomfort, sleeping soundly and waking feeling refreshed, this is called our prakriti.

This is our natural state of balance where the energies and qualities of our bodies are in sync and working just as they were intended to.

Conversely, when we are in a state of disease, or we are overweight, lethargic, in pain, not sleeping soundly,  or experiencing frequent indigestion, this is called our vikriti, a state of imbalance.

Understanding what your balanced dosha or prakriti is helps you to become aware of imbalances when they begin so that you can take steps to correct them.

The interesting difference between Ayurveda and western medicine is that Ayurveda doesn’t just look at symptoms, but at the qualities of the symptoms.

For example, if you have a headache, you might say this is a stress headache because you notice your shoulders are tight and you have a lot on your mind. or you might say this is a sinus headache because you’re feeling mucus and congestion. Either way, you’ll take an aspirin or other pain reliever to relieve the pain.

However, in Ayurveda you would address the qualities of the headache with a change in diet, or nutrition or routine or even herbal support. If the headache is dull and congested, you would take steps to reduce those qualities through herbs or other steps that have the opposite qualities. Make sense? Ayurveda is looking at addressing the underlying energetics that are manifesting into the symptom you’re experiencing.

Kapha Dosha

Kapha (Kah-fah) is the combination of earth and water and all of the qualities of those elements including heavy, dense, cold, oily, sticky and liquid to name a few. Here are some attributes of the physical and emotional manifestation of Kapha:

waterPhysical– Big boned, overweight, oily skin and hair, but also thick  hair and nails, mucus and congestion, deep voiced, slow digestion, clammy skin, sleeps a lot.

Emotional– loving and attached, possessive or firmly rooted in specific beliefs, slow to anger and slow to change.

Pitta Dosha

Pitta dosha is the combination of Fire and Water. The qualities of this energetic combination include Hot, sharp, mobile, oily, liquid and light.

Examples of physical and emotional manifestations of these qualities are: 
Physical– fast metabolism, reddish skin or easily flushed a tendency toward heated digestive issues like heartburn, sensitive teeth.

Emotional sharp intellect and probing mind, acne or rashy skin, medium build with an affinity for athleticism, competition and a quick or intense temper. The western comparison would be the type A personality.

Vata Dosha

The Vata dosha is the combination of space and air. Vata includes the qualities of dry, light, cold, mobile, rough, and clear. Examples of Vata Dosha Are:

Physical- dry hair and nails, thin, constipation, fast talking and walking, stiff joints.

Emotional- Vivid dreaming, Creative, flexible, anxiousness and fear, cold hands and feet.space

Think about the person you know who is naturally very thin and seems to never stop moving or talking. The classic western ectomorph.

Dosha Accumulation and Management

These are just a few of the qualities in each doshas and it’s important to understand that everyone has all 3 of these doshas in them in different combinations. Some qualities being naturally more dominant than others and some changing with age, seasons, and  environmental circumstances.

For instance let’s say that you are naturally high in Vata qualities. Your thoughts move quickly from one thing to the next, you may find it difficult to focus on one thing or to complete sentences sometimes. You might have a fast metabolism and find it difficult to gain weight. You might also have a lot of creativity and you can run like Forest Gump.

As we age we enter the Vata time of life, so you will experience more dry, stiff, rough qualities in your body and let’s say it’s late fall which is a Vata season, cold and windy, add the holiday season to that which may create a lot of stress, planning around events, travel, and shopping.

fallIn this scenario you can see that vata qualities are piling on from every aspect of life. You may begin to experience unpleasant symptoms of high vata like insomnia, constipation, panic attacks, bloating and gassy digestive issues, painful bones and joints.

However, if you understand the concept of doshas and you become aware of  what’s happening in and around you, there are steps you can take to manage vata. You may incorporate vata reducing foods and practices such as eating warm gooey foods, (stews not cinnamon buns), or take hot, relaxing baths, create consistent routines around eating and sleeping and rub warm oils on your body to decrease all of the vata that is accumulating.

Hopefully from this example you can see that like increases like and that increasing any one dosha or group of qualities too much is where you experience symptoms of being out of balance.

When you apply nutrition and lifestyle habits to bring ourselves back into balance, they have the opposite qualities of what is troubling us. If we increase our awareness of what is happening in our body and in our lives then we can catch these imbalances early and make adjustments to support our health.

However, if you are not aware or you turn a blind eye to imbalance then the imbalances go deeper into our system and the manifestations become more and more severe.

Vikriti and Prakriti

It’s important to remember the difference between the natural state of a dosha in your body and the imbalance of one. If your naturally a high vata dosha, and you have more vata going on than any other dosha in your body,  but you feel good because this is your nature, this is your prakriti. However, if vata has gotten too high and you are experiencing physical or emotional discomfort, this is you vikriti and this is when you need to take steps to support your health.balance

The best way to understand your dosha, both your prakriti (balanced state) and vikriti (imbalance) is to have a thorough intake done by a trained Ayurvedic practitioner.  You can find a list of practitioners here, and of course you can contact me. 

In lieu of seeing a practitioner and to get a cursory understanding of your Ayurvedic constitution, you can take a simple online test like this one from Banyan Botanicals. My absolute favorite Ayurvedic supplement company.

Ayurveda and Cancer Recurrence

Ayurveda is a beautiful, gentle way of reconnecting to your body and to your life. It’s a way of understanding how your body feels when it’s well, and understanding the signals that it sends to you when something is out of whack.  

As survivors, a common source of anxiety is the looming threat of a recurrence and an excellent way of reducing that anxiety is by learning to understand your body and the changes its going through. That way you can distinguish between signs of too little rest, or too little movement, or too much of the wrong foods compared to identifying signs that something is wrong at a deeper level and needs medical attention.

I’d love to hear your questions or comments about Ayurveda. Please find me on Facebook  and share your thoughts with me and with our community of survivors.

If you haven’t downloaded my book, 6 Habits of Health Happy Breast Cancer Survivors, please go to my website LauraLummer.com where you can download it for free.

Until next time,
Let your lifestyle be your medicine,


#8 Health Halos and Understanding Leaky Gut

Recently, there was a natural foods expo local to where I live and as I looked through the list of vendors and checked out the products on their websites, I was dumbfounded by how many of the products were nothing but junk food with a health halo.

 If you’ve never heard the term health halo, it means that certain foods are perceived as being healthy basically because of the way they are marketed when they are really just junk food with fancy packaging claims such as organic or all natural. When foods have health halos we consumers have less guilt purchasing and consuming them, therefore we often over consume them.

Studies show that we think an organic food is more nutritious and less calorie dense than an identical food that isn’t organic. Now let me clarify, if you could choose organic, non-GMO food over a non-organic, GMO food, I believe that is a better choice. However, be aware that may only mean a less toxic choice and not necessarily a more nutritious, less calorie dense choice.

Let me give you a couple of examples:

I compared a 28 gm serving Lays potato chips to the same amount of Sensible Portions Veggie Straws. You can guess which one had the health halo right?

Here are the facts:

Lays had 160 calories and 56% of calories from fat. Veggie Sticks had 130 calories with 46% of calories from fat. Not a huge a difference here, the Lays had 10 grams of fat, the Veggie Sticks 7.  The veggie sticks have 230mg of sodium and the Lays only 170mg. The Veggie Sticks have 0% of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, iron and calcium, the Lays 0% Vitamin A, 10% Vitamin C, 2% iron and 0% calcium.

Is one product really healthier than the other? I’m going to take the leap and call these two a tie.

The second comparison I made was with the Quaker Chocolate Chip Granola bar and a Snickers candy bar of the same size, the Snickers had 220 calories, the granola bar had 200 calories. The Snickers had 10g of fat, 29g of carbohydrate, 110mg of sodium, 24g of sugar, and 4g of protein. The granola bar had-7g of fat, 34g of carbohydrate, 140mg  of sodium, and 1 gm of protein. Both sound like junk food to me.

I choose Snickers for this comparison because if I were going to eat a candy bar that would be my go-to favorite. However, I would not, nor have I ever seen someone, bring home a box of 8 snickers bars to have around for snacks. Why is that? Because the word granola generates mental images of hippies and health food, we think of it as a healthy snack. This product has a health halo and even though it is pretty much just candy, that’s not how we perceive it.  So, we don’t think twice about buying it, eating it, or keeping boxes of it in our house. Yet, when we’re standing in line at the checkout, we may beat ourselves up for giving into the temptation to indulge in what we believe is the guilty pleasure of a Snickers because we’re programmed to think of it as candy, and candy is forbidden.

As we get into the subject of gut health, it’s important that you become more aware of health halos and health claims vs. nutrition facts. Remember marketers are paid a lot of money to make you want to buy their product and they know the buzzwords that get consumers to do that. Read your labels and approach any packaged food with caution.

In the nearly 6 years since completing breast cancer treatment, I have put a lot of effort into managing the changes that have occurred in my body as a result of cancer treatment. Some of those changes include fatigue, joint pain, weird infections, frequent illnesses like colds and chronic sore throats, digestive distress like bloating and heartburn, and what seems to be the new set point for my body weight.


Last November, I was referred to Jim LaValle of LaValle Metabolix Precision Health and Wellness by my amazing trainer Alexandra Bernardin the Co-Founder of Kilo Strength Society.

After a very thorough initial assessment that included my medical history, a detailed blood panel, a physical assessment and a urine test which looked at how my body processed many different hormones, I was informed that I had a lot of inflammation in my body. This was really no surprise to me. The frustration that led me to Jim’s office was the feeling that I was doing everything possible to combat inflammation without seeing the results I was expecting.

Jim told me there was no doubt I had leaky gut.  He reassured me that leaky gut is something he commonly sees in people who have gone through chemotherapy and that the symptoms I was experiencing were very common to leaky gut which, fortunately, can be healed.

Radiation and other toxins such as prescription drugs can lead to leaky gut as well because of the reactions and free radicals they create in the body. However,  the studies I found on radiation and leaky gut were all related to abdominal area radiation treatments.

As a believer in and practitioner of Ayurveda, I subscribe to the underlying philosophy that all imbalances begin in the digestive system. Interestingly,

This Ayurvedic view of health agrees with the philosophy of Hippocrates, the father of medicine, who believed that all diseases begin in the gut. Even though I had been working for some time on trying to improve my gut health with food and probiotics. Jim, with his pharmaceutical background and his naturopathic expertise, took things to a whole new level of diet and supplementation as we went to work on my leaky gut.

It’s now been three and half months and I have seen considerable improvement in almost every area I was concerned with. So I thought it was time to bring some more awareness to leaky gut, what the causes are, what it can result in and what you can do about it.

Although I am an advocate of natural health care, when I first heard the term leaky gut some time ago I have to admit that I dismissed it as some hokiness. Shame on me for being judgemental without having proper information, because there’s no question this is a real issue and that a lot of people suffer from it.

Leaky gut is not just a result of cancer treatments but it can also be caused by a poor diet, chronic stress, other drugs, and toxins, imbalances in the gut microbiome or the bacteria in your intestines, inadequate digestive enzymes, infections and excessive alcohol consumption.

In western medicine, leaky gut is commonly referred to as intestinal permeability.  Our intestines are designed to allow nutrients to pass through the lining into our bloodstream. If this didn’t happen then everything would just stay in our intestines, and literally, go in one end and out the other. Obviously, that’s not how our bodies work. The cells in our intestines are connected to each other by what are known as tight junctions. This is the space that allows materials to pass through to our bloodstream. Leaky gut occurs when these junctions widen and allow larger molecules that aren’t supposed to be in our bloodstream to pass through, and herein lies the problem.

Before getting too far into the problem, I also want to point out the benefit of increased intestinal permeability. According to an article published in the Natural Medicine Journal, which looked at a small study of 60 breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, the chemo agents used did increase gut permeability.  However, the fact that intestinal bacteria were relocated to other places in the body was believed to make the chemo agents more effective at fighting tumor cells. This was especially true with the platinum-based chemotherapy drugs like cyclophosphamide. Interestingly, in a November 2013 issue of Science, a study found that that the bacteria released into the blood due to increased intestinal permeability in mice being treated with cyclophosphamide was so important in fighting tumor growth that when these mice were treated with antibiotics to combat the rogue bacteria, the antitumor effects if cyclophosphamide became so ineffective that 80% of those mice died.

The important message here is, like so many other things we have to go through during cancer treatment, that treatment may suck but it saves your life. Moreover, if you understand what happened to you during treatment, then you’ll know what needs healing and you can start down the path of making yourself healthy again.

Some of the symptoms of leaky gut include food sensitivities especially to gluten and dairy, which are the first two things Jim asked me to eliminate from my diet. To be truthful I still haven’t done that 100%. I would say I’m 85-90 percent compliant with eliminating both of those foods. I just happen to love my coffee and I want it with cream, please.  This goes to show that you don’t have to be perfect to get results. Unless of course, you have lactose intolerance or celiac disease, then compliance is much more important. Other symptoms of leaky gut are joint pain, fatigue, bloating, acne, mood issues, and inflammatory skin conditions just to name a few.

If leaky gut goes untreated according to an article published in BioMed Central Gastroenterology, some of the diseases that are related to intestinal permeability include:

gastric ulcers, allergies, infections, irritable bowel syndrome, acute inflammation, celiac disease, arthritis, some cancers, and obesity-related metabolic diseases like type I and II diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

If you have some of these symptoms or you think you may have leaky gut, there are some things you can you do about it. Jim LaValle in his book Cracking the Metabolic Code recommends taking a lactulose/mannitol challenge test. He also has a lot of information in this book on intestinal health as well as a short quiz you can take to assess your intestinal health along with some suggestions for improving it if you have an issue.

You could also try eliminating dairy and gluten-containing foods from your diet and see if you begin to feel better.  Another option is to add or increase the number of prebiotic foods in your diet. Prebiotics are foods that have a lot of indigestible fiber which is basically food for probiotics. Eating more of these foods can support building a healthy gut environment or microbiome. Prebiotic foods include leeks, jerusalem artichokes also called sunchokes, if you like artichoke hearts, I think you’ll really like jerusalem artichokes. They look a little off-putting at first because they’re not pretty, but all you have to do to eat them is to clean them really well and then prepare as you would a potato. You can pan or oven roast them by tossing in some fresh herbs like rosemary and a good olive oil. Cook them until they’re soft as you would with a potato and then enjoy.

 Other prebiotic foods are garlic, onions, asparagus, and dandelion greens which you can toss into salads and other dishes the way you would with spinach. Just think of eating more greens and you’ll be on a good path.

You can also add a good probiotic into your daily routine, once you’ve checked with your doctor of course.

 Definitely eliminate processed sugary foods and beverages, even ones with a health halo. Go with the mantra of more whole foods!

 If you haven’t heard of the Whole30 food plan, that’s something you might want to try in order to give your gut a 30-day break from things like dairy, gluten, phytates, and lectins.

It’s my hope that as cancer treatments progress, we’ll begin to see more follow up care by experienced, licensed professionals who understand the damage that the toxicity of cancer treatments can create in our bodies. I’m forever grateful that my life was saved by these drugs, but I would have loved to have had an aftercare plan that included healing from the damage that was done. I love to see a future of nutrition, exercise and supplementation recovery programs for anyone who has to deal with any type of cancer and its treatments.

If you have tips and information that have helped with your healing, I would love for you to share them with our community on my Facebook page, There are so many well-informed ladies out there, let’s help each other on the path to a healthier life.


Here’s to your health,



#7 Five Facts You Need to Know about Ketogenic Diets for Breast Cancer Recovery

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An Invitation
Before I get into the meat of this blog I want to extend an invitation to you to help me celebrate my sixth year of cancer survival next month, July 2017 by sharing your stories of survival with me. I would love to have the privilege of sharing your story on my social media, through my blog, and on my podcast with other survivors. Please email your story to Laura@LauraLummer.com, and if your are interested in sharing your story in person on my podcast, please include that in your email as well because I would love to have some of you sharing through your own voice, on my show next month.

I truly believe that many women need to hear that one story that connects with them and helps them to believe that they can get through the struggle that often accompanies breast cancer survival. That story could be the one that you have to share. Let’s join our voices and create more support for other survivors in doing so. I’m looking forward to receiving some stories about not only how you survived, but how you thrive now. Tell me what changed in your life. Did you pursue a dream that you wouldn’t have if you had not gone through the experience of breast cancer, or do you have a different outlook on life now? I’d love to hear so once again please email your stories to me at laura@lauralummer.com

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All right let’s get into talking about a LCHF or low-carb high-fat diet otherwise known as a ketogenic diet. Before we get too deep into this I do want to acknowledge that as breast cancer survivors, many of us have special needs or continue to take prescription medications. I’ve shared in previous podcasts and blogs about my own experience with having very high levels of insulin, glucose, cholesterol and high blood pressure following treatment and especially when I was on tamoxifen.

It’s important for me to remind you that I am not a doctor or a registered dietician, although I spend a lot of time researching, reading and ensuring that the information that I’m putting out to you is valid and comes from professional, educated and credentialed resources it’s important that you always put your health and safety first. So please do your research, follow-up with your doctor on anything that you read here, especially if you’re on medications or have metabolic conditions that are under, or require medical supervision like heart disease or type two diabetes.

History of Ketogenic Diets
In my last blog, which was part one of this series on managing weight after breast cancer treatment, I wrote about the struggle I went through and all of the different avenues and resources that I exhausted while trying to manage my weight after treatment. Which was the first time in my life that I have been faced with this difficult challenge.

I also wrote about how I had seen people around me experiencing great successes with a low-carb high-fat diet, but I really had a hard time wrapping my mind around eating high-fat and being healthy. Also, I’ve never been a big fan of the so-called “diet” I’ve always been an advocate of balanced eating and moderation. Or at least what I perceived as balanced. But, I do try to keep an open mind to other options. I started to do some research into the ketogenic diet because I wanted to lose weight, but I also wanted to be sure that it was safe in the sense that it would not increase my risk of cancer recurrence.keto food

What I discovered was that there are multiple versions of a ketogenic diet. One version is a low-carb high-fat diet (LCHF) and the other is a traditional ketogenic diet. The ketogenic diet includes up to 90% of its calories from fat. Whereas a low-carb high-fat diet is more of a modified Atkins diet.

The Atkins diet recommends 50% to 60% of calories come from fats versus the LCHF diet which recommends more than 75% of calories coming from fat sources. Atkins also includes more protein than the ketogenic diet or LCHF diets which recommend keeping protein intake between 20-25% of total calorie intake and then adjusting it downward as needed for weight loss. This is because, these diets are primarily concerned with controlling levels of insulin and glucose, and higher intakes of protein can cause more of an insulin release.

By no means am I criticizing the Atkins or any other type of diet, I’m just offering this comparison to help you get a better understanding of what the low-carb high-fat or ketogenic diet actually is.

One of the first resources that I was fortunate enough to come across when I began looking into the ketogenic diet was a researcher that I referred to in last my blog, Dr. Dominic D’ Agostino. Listening to interviews with him led me to other excellent resources, which led me to the surprising discovery that the ketogenic diet has been around since 1921, when it was discovered that this diet worked exceptionally well for children who suffered from epileptic seizures.

When children with epilepsy were put on a ketogenic diet the majority of them completely recovered and stopped having seizures. After a period of time, this diet fell out of fashion as more pharmaceutical drugs were developed to control seizures, even though many of these drugs did not have nearly the same success rate that the ketogenic diet did.

The Keto diet for the treatment of epilepsy was resurrected in the 1990s when James Abrahams, the writer of many movies you’re probably familiar with including Airplane, The Naked Gun, and Scary Movie Four to name a few, was searching for help for his young son, Charlie, who had severe epilepsy.

Charlie-Abrahams-epilepsyHis search lead him to Johns Hopkins where he became acquainted with a dietitian who recommended the ketogenic diet for Charlie. Even though all the drug therapies Charlie had been subjected to in the short span of his 11-month life had failed to manage his condition, the ketogenic diet succeeded. Eating this way allowed Charlie to get off of the drugs he was taking to manage his seizures, recover from epilepsy and live a normal life, even though his original prognosis was that he would live a life of seizures which would result in progressive mental retardation.

James was amazed at the results of the ketogenic diet and at the same time, angry with the medical institutions that didn’t give this information freely to so many people suffering from epilepsy. He was passionate about getting information about the ketogenic diet out to other parents that were in his desperate situation. He started the Charlie Foundation to spread the word and educate other people who desperately needed help for their epilepsy or for their epileptic children. He also wrote, directed and produced the 1997 movie, “First Do No Harm” featuring Meryl Streep. This was the story of an elliptic child whose life was changed by the ketogenic diet.

Since starting the Charlie Foundation, the ketogenic diet has been found to benefit many other conditions including Parkinson’s disease, ALS, cancer, Autism, Traumatic brain injury, and type two diabetes  As a result, the name of the foundation has been changed to the Charlie Foundation for Ketogenic Therapies in an effort to continue to promote the studies and trials of the ketogenic diet across the spectrum of these diseases. I highly recommend checking out their very informative website for information dietary plans and recipes.

I could go on for a long time about the science of a ketogenic diet as there’s a ton of science out there and it seems that more studies are popping up all the time. However, today we’re going to focus on how the ketogenic diet may support cancer patients and cancer survivors and improve our odds of survival. First, I’ll give you 5 key pieces of information you should know about ketogenic diets, and then I will give you five tips on getting started with a ketogenic plan.

5 ways Ketogenic Diets Benefit Breast Cancer Survivors

1. Cancer cells need glucose to grow and survive
In 1923, near the time that the benefits of the ketogenic diet and were discovered for epilepsy, a German biochemist named Otto Warburg, publicly stated his hypothesis that cancer was a metabolic disease. Meaning something gone wrong in the body is the root cause of cancer and rather than it being caused by genetics, which was the accepted theory at that time. What Warburg discovered was that cancer cells used a different way of creating or accessing energy than normal cells. Cancer cells use a process called cellular fermentation even if there was oxygen present for them to use, which is what healthy cells would go to first. Fermentation requires glucose or blood sugar to be present. In fact when cancer cells do not have access to glucose they often die. This process of cancer dying in the absence of glucose to this day is called the Warburg effect.

We all know that chronically high blood sugar is something we want to avoid. However, there’s also a common understanding that you must have a certain level of blood sugar or glucose in order to function. And that’s true, but when there’s not a lot of glucose in our blood we can use ketones for energy instead. When our body is using ketones for the majority of its energy rather than glucose we are said to be in ketosis.

It is important to distinguish that ketosis and ketoacidosis are two very different conditions. One is quite dangerous and the other quite safe. When we are in ketosis we are using the energy of the ketone bodies that our liver is making. When a person, usually a type two diabetic, is in ketoacidosis their system has become very acidic, their body is producing ketones, but just as their body has become resistant to insulin and is not able to correctly use blood glucose for energy, the energy from the ketone bodies is also not being used, so it builds up in the blood is filtered out by the kidneys and found in the urine. It’s important to realize that saying you’re in ketosis is not something to be afraid of.

Another situation in which your body produces ketones for energy is when you’re in a fasted state. At this time your body accesses your stored fat and your liver makes ketone bodies for energy.

2. LCHF/ Ketogenic diets keep glucose low and reduce insulin response
The bottom line here is that following a ketogenic diet helps to keep blood sugar and insulin levels low in the body. The is a benefit to cancer patients and survivors because cancer cells cannot use ketone bodies to create energy, to live, or to multiply. When our body is making ketones and we are using them for energy more than glucose, studies show that cancer cells don’t have the food necessary to grow and multiply. In a situation where people are currently being treated for cancer, this can be a supportive therapy for chemotherapy or radiation and in fact, tremendous success is being found using both fasting and a ketogenic diet in while patients are in treatment.

Dr. Jason Fung, Author of the “Obesity Code unlocking the secrets of Weight Loss”, is a kidney specialist in Canada, an advocate of the ketogenic diet and of intermittent fasting. Dr. Fung talks in his lectures and in his books about how important it is to keep the insulin response low so that our bodies don’t become insulin resistant which then leads to us having high blood sugar. It’s also commonly known that insulin encourages fat storage, I mean that’s its basic job, to store energy in the body. The more carbohydrates we eat, the higher our blood sugar goes, insulin we secrete, and the fatter we get. Let alone the fact that the higher our blood sugar is, the more fuel that’s just floating around in our body eligible to be picked up by cancer cells.

3. LCHF/ Ketogenic diets reduce metabolic syndrome and risk of diabetes
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that increase your chance of heart disease and your risk of becoming a diabetic when they occur together. Metabolic syndrome is a step in the progression of the development of diabetes. The progression may begin with chronically high blood sugar, resulting in weight gain and metabolic imbalances.

If you have at least three of the following conditions occurring at the same time, you are considered to have metabolic syndrome:

  1. A waist conference for females larger than 35 inches (89 cm), or for men, greater than 40 inches (102 cm)
  2. Chronically high triglyceride levels
  3. Low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL cholesterol)  Which is less than 40 mg/dL in men, and less than 50 mg/dL in women.
  4. High blood pressure, consistently 130/85 or higher.
  5. Fasting blood sugar greater than 100 mg/dL or higher.

On a ketogenic diet, studies have shown that all of these conditions are improved in most people. Additionally, most people experience a decrease in waist circumference pretty quickly after following a ketogenic diet. This is significant for more than just your favorite bathing suit, abdominal fat is the most dangerous place to carry around extra body fat when it comes to increasing your risk of disease. (It’s also the first place that body fat loves to accumulate after menopause.)weight loss

4. LCHF/ Ketogenic diets reduce cravings and hunger
There’s an ongoing debate as to whether people lose weight on a ketogenic diet because they eat less, or because they metabolize fat differently than carbohydrates (maybe both). In my experience and the experiences of those around me, the high amount of fat in the diet leaves you feeling so satisfied that you really do eat less. You don’t constantly feeling the need to graze throughout the day. As you become more adapted to eating this way you literally lose the cravings for sugar and sweets.

5. LCHF/ Ketogenic diets Improve Brain Function
For cancer survivors who underwent chemotherapy as a part of their treatment, chemobrain is no joke. The American Cancer Society (ACS) states on their website that even though the direct cause of chemobrain is uncertain the results are real and can include:

  • Memory lapses
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Trouble remembering details
  • Trouble multi-tasking
  • Feeling disorganized, slowed thinking and processing of information
  • Trouble remembering common words or difficulty completing a sentence

ACS also states that these symptoms can last for months to years after treatment.

Although I looked for research on a ketogenic diet specific to chemo brain I didn’t find any, however I did discover many other studies on ketogenic diets and cognitive impairments. One study, published in March 2016 by the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. This report said that part of the problem in Alzheimer’s disease is the brain’s lack of ability to properly use glucose as fuel. However, this report states that clinical trials have shown that increasing ketone availability to the brain through nutritional ketosis has a beneficial effect on cognitive outcomes in Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive impairments.

How to start a Ketogenic diet
A traditional ketogenic diet, otherwise called a strict ketogenic diet, is a 4 to 1 ratio, with fat being four times that of your calories for carbohydrates and protein combined. You can imagine that that’s challenging for some people, not only to begin to cut carbohydrates back that low but also to increase fat by that much. There is also the option of a moderate ketogenic diet would keep the carbohydrate intake between 20 and 50 g per day.

If you’re not one for calculating percentages, there are several online tools that can assist you in creating a ketogenic food plan. One that is particularly simple and yet thorough is called the 
Keto diet buddy. Just enter your information like height, weight, age, gender and this website will calculate your goals at a maintenance level, for a moderate calorie deficit, and for a large calorie deficit.  It’s pretty cool and it even has an app that you can put on your phone. I use My Fitness Pal and then which shows my macronutrient intake in a little pie chart. I recommend finding a tool that’s easy for you to understand and use. There are lots of resources out there and new ones are popping up all the time as this diet becomes more well-known.

I don’t want to turn a blind eye to the very real challenge that our society faces with sugar addiction. Thinking of eating a ketogenic food plan could cause a bit of panic in some of us because it means going through that emotional struggle of detaching from sugar. It’s important to understand that a ketogenic diet is not something you do halfway. You can’t be taking in large amounts of fat and eating carbohydrates and sugar at the same time so it’s really something that you have to commit to. Once your body adapts to eating this way, you can have a treat now and then, if you even still have a desire for it but you have to cut out the sugar when you increase the fat.

Simple steps to getting started:

1. Eat Whole Foods- One of the first steps that you have to take in beginning ketogenic the plan is to get the processed food out of the house. If food comes in boxes or bags when it shouldn’t it has had things added to it to keep it preserved and fresh for a longer period of time than it could in its natural state. You’ll find sugars in sausages, sauces, salad dressings and other places that you might not expect so please check labels look for sugar, high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, maltose, dextrose or sugar by any other name and steer clear of those products. This includes eating processed or fake low carb foods. Focusing on eating vegetables, meats, cheese, dairy products, eggs, nuts, and other natural foods.

I do just want to qualify something here because I’ve had this question from many people and I want to clarify that fruits and vegetables are carbohydrates. We have vilified the word carbohydrate so much that whenever we say it, people think of bread, donuts, cookies and that’s not always the case. Fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes are carbohydrate foods but they’re also rich in phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. All of that is important for a healthy digestive system and many other functions in our body. So, don’t be afraid of fruits and vegetables because they’re carbohydrates just be mindful of how many eat and how sensitive your body is to any or all carbohydrates

2. Don’t fear fat– We have been so programmed to fear fat that even when we are given free rein to consume it, we struggle to get our mind around the fact that it’s OK to eat. A ketogenic diet is not a high-protein diet, which is the first thing people tend to go to.  It’s a moderate protein diet so you want to keep the protein intake between 20% and 25% of your total calorie intake. I’ll give you an example of this. The other night while having dinner with my sisters, who are all following a ketogenic diet with a lot of success, I was helping one of them calculate the amount of nutrients she was eating in the My Fitness Pal app. When we saw that her fat intake was below 60% she was a little surprised, but as we reviewed what she had been eating, a lot of the foods were much higher in protein than fat. She was ordering a ribeye steak and a side of vegetables for dinner, so I had her order an extra side of drawn butter and some blue cheese crumbles to put on top of those veggies and that steak. Sounds delicious right? It was! So slather on the butter and don’t be afraid of cheese. Obviously, if you’re lactose intolerant you’ll work around the dairy and if you’re vegan you have many beautiful oils to choose from as well. On my last podcast show page, I even posted a vegan ketogenic cookbook along with other resources that you could reference for ideas.

3. Get a cookbook or sign up for a website that’s focused on a ketogenic diet- It’s a very simple diet to follow but make sure you have an understanding of how it works. Many people see quick weight loss when starting a ketogenic diet and then they plateau. If that happens, it’s important to know that you have options like drinking more water, reducing the amount of your protein intake, exercising a little more, and maybe adding more fat. I recently discovered a fantastic resource, the Dietdoctor.com. This website is beautiful, simply laid out, and contains interviews with physicians and specialists that can answer and address all of the concerns that you might have about eating a high-fat low-carb diet. It has delicious recipes, and if you choose the membership option it’s free for 30 days and then only nine dollars a month.

I went with the nine dollar a month option because you can choose all the meals you like and it prints out a grocery list for you which is awesome! I also love to learn and there are courses and interviews with tons of valuable information on this website. Whether you cook or you don’t cook, or you’re concerned that giving up sugar is going to be too much, there are all kinds of options and articles on this website to help you make an informed decision.

4. Be aware of the Keto flu- A common experience people have when they begin a ketogenic lifestyle and they’re transitioning from using glucose as their primary source of fuel in the body to using ketones, their body goes through an adjustment period and they can feel pretty crummy. Common side effects can include leg cramps, fatigue, constipation and lack of endurance. This is often called the keto flu. I personally experienced a challenge in getting through my workouts for about two weeks, and then surprisingly I showed up in the gym one day and felt like wonder woman. That’s when I knew that I had made it past the adaptation point. So be patient with this way of eating, and consider, being more gentle with yourself for the first couple of weeks as you’re adapting. Instead of intense workouts, take some walks, do some restorative yoga and give your body time to adjust as you eliminate refined carbohydrates from your diet. You may notice that your body flushes fluid very rapidly and you have to pee a lot!  Keto flu symptoms can be related to this loss of fluid and can often be remedied by becoming more hydrated, adding salt to your food, or drinking sugar-free electrolyte beverages.

5. Find a community or a buddy for support.- I highly encourage you to find somebody to begin this new lifestyle with. If you have children or a partner at home that will support you in this do it together. It’s fun to experience the results and try out the new delicious foods together. They’re also communities like my Facebook page where survivors can share their experiences and successes. Having support can make the whole transition a lot easier and help you stick to the ketogenic lifestyle when you’re at home or even when you’re out.

Be patient with yourself
Remember, we are all different and going through cancer treatment affects our DNA and the way that we respond to many different things. So be patient with yourself. Although I lost several inches and 10 pounds in the first two months that I followed this way of eating, my sisters and my husband have all lost a lot more weight than me. It’s important not to compare to others because I know that my body has been through a lot of stressors that their bodies have not and I’m really grateful for the success that I am seeing and for the difference that I’m experiencing in energy, the lack of hot flashes, joint pain, and fatigue.

I hope this introduction to the ketogenic diet has inspired a little bit of curiosity in you and that you’ll check out some of the resources that I have posted on my website. You can also email me at laura@lauralummer.com. I’m always looking for information that I can put out there to be the go-to resource for other cancer survivors and I really believe that the ketogenic diet has a tremendous amount of benefit to offer all of us.

Look for me on Facebook at Laura Lummer, on Instagram @TheBreastCancerRecoveryCoach and become part of our community of survivors who share wisdom and support with each other.

Until next time,

Let Your Lifestyle be Your Medicine,


Interested in working one on one with Laura? Email her for fees and availability.

#6 How to Win the Struggle With Weight After Breast Cancer

Weight Management Blog Title

If you follow my podcast, The Breast Cancer Recovery Coach, then you may have noticed that I did not post any new episodes in the month of May, and if you don’t follow my Podcasts, it would be awesome if you could find a time to go to the iTunes Store or to my website and check it out and become a subscriber so that you never have to miss an episode.  That being said let me get back to my absence in May.

When you make a decision to put yourself out as a public personality for any reason, mine obviously being recovering from breast cancer, most people don’t realize how much work goes on behind the scenes (That included me!). After working on starting my own business for over a year, while working full-time at a local nonprofit, everything came to a head in the month of May when I took on planning a big event at work, and two of my children became sick, one of them so ill she was hospitalized for a few days. No differently than everybody else, my life just sometimes gets in the way of what I really want to do.

Keeping it real

As much as I love podcasting, and as much as I enjoy my work as a breast cancer recovery coach, I think it’s really important to acknowledge that the struggles we go through in life are real for everybody and I am no exception.

Another facet of putting yourself out there in the public, at least for me, is that I really want to focus on things that are positive and solution oriented. I want to motivate people, inspire people, and highlight people who are doing amazing things but, I believe that it’s also important to be transparent. I want to reach out to everyone who listens to my podcasts, read my blogs and follows me on different social media platforms and connect at that level where we are all really clear on the fact that life is not easy for anybody, and some things are harder for some of us than others because we all have different challenges as well as different coping mechanisms. Although that’s a reality, it’s my passion to support others in finding happiness and health through those challenges.

Since the theme here is being transparent, I’m going to talk with you about something that I normally don’t talk a lot about publicly. Again, because I feel like it’s a little more about highlighting struggle then it is about focusing on moving forward and looking at things that are positive in our lives. However, I’ve learned that sharing my struggles helps me to connect with people who are dealing with similar situations and to support them in finding successful resolutions. Also, sometimes it just feels good to know you’re not alone. When you feel like the only person going through something then you think you’re doing something wrong, or  that you’re just a hot mess. That’s exactly how I felt when it came to managing my weight during and after breast cancer treatment.

I’d like to share my story with you today, so that you understand that even as a health and fitness professional, with a degree and several certifications in exercise and nutrition, post treatment weight management has been a real struggle for me. Just because you understand the science behind diet and exercise doesn’t mean that science is always going to work for your body type.

If you downloaded my book “The Six Habits of Healthy Happy Breast Cancer Survivors”, you know that I addressed some of the issues of weight gain in the book. I talked about how I try to focus on being healthy more than on being thin, but let’s face it ladies, when we gain weight or when we are outside of what we perceive as our ideal weight and we won’t even consider putting on pants that don’t have lycra in them or, our tummy gets in the way of certain poses in yoga class, it can be frustrating. It’s uncomfortable and it can undermine our feeling of self-confidence and self-esteem.


Many of you have had surgeries on your breasts or have had your breasts removed, as I have, and you’ve had to process how that affects your sense of femininity and confidence. Add to that the extra weight on the tummy and anywhere else that resulted from the treatment you went through, the chemically induced menopause, or maybe even the treatment that you’re continuing to be on, like tamoxifen or other hormonal therapy to reduce your risk recurrence, and you can find yourself dealing with some pretty profound mental, emotional and physical effects.

Worse yet, I know that many health professionals don’t empathize with your plight. They try to use the same old laws of thermodynamics and they think you’re sneaking ding dongs in the middle of the night that you’re not telling them about.

I know, from my own experience that there are other factors at play here and someday, when they get around to doing the studies on what chemo really does to us long-term, a lot of people will have an awaking, and maybe even owe some apologies.

My Story

Personal Branding and Business Headshots by TRUE BLUE Portrait

After my first surgery and the discovery that cancer had spread to my lymph nodes, I was told that I needed to have chemotherapy. The nurse who was getting everything scheduled for me to meet with the oncologist said to me, “Laura, the good thing is that you can eat and drink whatever you want between now and the start of your chemo. Go ahead and plump yourself up because when you start treatment you’re going to lose a lot of weight. So, take these next few weeks and enjoy everything you wouldn’t normally eat.”

Well, you don’t have to tell me that twice because I love me some good food. I thought that sounded like a great deal, and a well deserved treat considering what I was about to embark on. I had three weeks to just eat, drink, and have fun and you better believe that I did that!  I gained 10 pounds in the little over three weeks between that appointment and the beginning of my chemotherapy.  I was not at all worried about it because I was certainly going to lose 30 pounds or more over the next four months of chemotherapy. In 1993 my brother  went through Chemotherapy for testicular cancer and he lost well over 100 pounds, so I was sure that I would come out needing to put more weight on to get back to a healthy size.

Dropping the bomb

Finally, when the dreaded day of my chemotherapy orientation appointment and my first infusion arrived, I had to deal with more than I was prepared to hear.

I remember my heart beating so hard it felt like it was in my throat, and at the same time it was so heavy it felt like it was in my stomach. It took everything I had in me not to get up out of that chair and bolt out the doctor’s office. I had no idea what this is going to do to me, traumatic memories of what it did to my brother, and I did not want to be poisoned…but, I also did not want to die.  

As I was trying to listen to the doctor over the voice in my head that was screaming, “RUN!! Get out while you can!” I heard something that didn’t make sense, and then wait, stop, rewind, did I just hear my doctor say that I could expect to gain 25 pounds or more? Whatever else was going through my head at the time, that statement certainly snapped me out of it. I remember stopping my doctor mid sentence  and saying, “Hold on a second. What do you mean gain weight? Don’t you mean that  I’m going to lose weight? I’m supposed to walk out of here, bald, pale and skinny. I’m supposed to look like Gollum from The Lord of the Rings, not like some corn-fed farm girl. What are you talking about?”

Apparently chemotherapy had changed a lot since I watched my brother go through it in 1993. Well, maybe the chemo hadn’t changed that much, but there was a pharmacopoeia of new drugs that had been developed to manage the side effects of chemo. Now I could expect to continue working, I wouldn’t have to be hospitalized and I was to tell my doctor about any and every side effect that popped up because there was a pill for just about everything.


Those pills combined with the steroids I would be taking would most likely cause me to gain weight. Especially because I was 48 years old which meant I would probably be put straight into menopause by the chemo and my hormones would begin to wreak havoc on me too.

Let me tell you, I was not happy when I was told I needed to have chemotherapy, but I was really sick to my stomach when I heard that I was about to gain 25 pounds or more after I’d already gained 10 pounds getting ready to go on a chemical diet that I had no control over.

However, staying true to my optimistic nature, I told myself, “It’s going to be fine Laura. That’s just the average. It’s something they have to tell everybody. You have a clean diet you’re going to exercise throughout this whole treatment (or so I thought.), you’re going to be fine.”

I remember stepping on that damn scale every time I went in for an infusion and thinking, “My God I didn’t even gain weight this fast when I was at the end of my pregnancies, what is happening? My mouth was filled with sores and blisters. I was sick to my stomach all the time, in the bathroom battling unmentionables for hours every day, barely eating because it was so uncomfortable and then I’d just get sick anyway and  yet I was gaining weight like crazy!”


 If the laws of thermodynamics say that calories in verses calories out is the way to lose or gain weight, then somebody needs to go back to the drawing board because the calories in were not exceeding the calories out and I was packing on the pounds. By the time I completed treatment I had gained a whopping 40 pounds!!

Still trying hard to stay positive and look for the silver lining, I would tell myself, “Laura it’s OK. It’s only temporary. It’s a result of all the steroids, but the steroids are helping to manage the symptoms and allowing you to continue to work and to continue to participate in your life.” I would give myself permission to let myself off the hook. To not stress about weight, and to know that as soon as this chemotherapy was over on December 30th, 2012 I had only three weeks left before the cycle of cell death and regeneration was complete and then BOOM! I would be right back to normal.

I had a juice cleanse planned. (I live in Southern California, so that’s a thing)  I had a workout schedule that would ease me back into some high-intensity training. I even convinced myself this was going to be a fun challenge. You know like that book, “From Fit to Fat to Fit”? This was what I was going to do. I could be that example of from fit to chemo and cancer back to fit. This was a story I could live with. Thinking that way helped me to get through it until the magical time came when chemotherapy was over!

Getting back to getting healthy

I was so excited to end my treatment. In my head I had actually convinced myself that I was going to be normal after the three-week cycle of chemo had left my body. I mean, my doctor told me I was going to be normal, right?  I was looking so forward to throwing out that bag of pills. I was going to be done with the heartburn medication, done with the Effexor I was taking for all the nerve damage in my hands my feet, done with the steroids, done with the chemo, and even though I had to go on tamoxifen, my doctor told me that it was well tolerated and I probably would not have any side effects. YES! Free at last!

I had a bilateral mastectomy scheduled for March and in my head was this plan of how much stronger I was going to be before that surgery happened, how much weight I was going to lose, and how much more fit I was going to be. I was going to do nothing but focus on regaining my health for three months and BAM! I would bounce right back from that Mastectomy in no time!

I tossed out my bag of meds, and I picked up the first part of my two-week juice cleanse.

I want to stop at this point and reflect on how interesting this is to me. I’m not a fan of cleanses per se, I believe that a healthy body functions well and cleanses itself just as it was meant to do. However, I felt so bad after chemo that I went against my own knowledge, my own understanding, and I drank the Kool-Aid, or…I drink the juice.


For two weeks I was freaking starving,. I had terrible headaches, I was weak, but I was determined. I was going to wash all to the chemicals out of the tissues in my body with these green, gingery, peppery, crazy juices (Which gave me indigestion so badly that I couldn’t lay down flat to sleep.) I even woke up one morning to a blood vessel that had popped in one of my eyes, so I look like Rocky Balboa. I imagined it was from the intense pressure in my head that felt like it would explode at any moment from being so hungry. I hung in there though. I completed the two weeks and I did not lose a single ounce. Talk about deflated. I drank things that tasted like soap and nothing changed?!

Now, I’m well aware that two weeks is not a very long time. Still, I thought I would lose a pound, or gain some energy, see some kind of a difference…nothing. Add to that, in my infinite wisdom I threw out all of my prescriptions that were masking the damage that chemo had actually done to my body. I was now in so much discomfort, I walked like a 105-year-old lady, every bone in my body hurt, my joints were painful, the neuropathy in my hands and feet was intense, and I was still 40 pounds overweight! Not to worry I would find another path.

A  friend of mine, had discovered a liver cleanse and she lost 25 pounds in a month after following this plan. Her husband lost 20 pounds, her sister lost 20 pounds and I thought, “This makes perfect sense. My liver has been under a lot of stress because it  had to work through the detoxifying of all those poisons that were pumped into me during chemo, so I should focus on supporting my liver.” (Can you tell at this point that i had never struggled with managing weight prior this experience?) I mean I was just throwing anything against the wall to see if it would stick! Science be damned, I’m desperate!

I called the physician who created the liver cleanse and I filled him in on my history, my current struggles, and I asked his thoughts. Of course, he told me that this cleanse was exactly what I needed and that I could expect to lose at least 20 pounds. Once again, I drank the Kool-Aid.

I spent a few hundred dollars on the cleanse, I took shots of fresh squeezed lemon juice, and olive oil, I ate the digestive enzymes, I took the probiotics, I followed the very low-calorie food plan, and a month later I was hungry, fatigued, in pain, and I was still 40 pounds overweight.

At this point it was time for my mastectomy followed by a few months of recovery and other reconstructive surgeries. However, I’ve always been a believer, and still I am, that weight-loss happens in the kitchen and fitness happens in the gym. Even though exercise of course contributes to burning more calories and supporting weight loss, a lot of body fat can be lost by just changing your diet. I wasn’t about to let the inability to exercise stop me from losing weight.


I became laser focused on my food. I found a local company that would prepare my food for me because there had been so many months of frustration and failure to budge my body’s composition that I started doubting myself. I thought maybe I was doing something wrong. So, I handed my nutrition over to them and I ate what they made for me for about six months. I had my food prepared, pre-measured, pre-cooked, pre-packaged and nothing. I lost no weight at all. NONE.

Lucky for me, I am a very stubborn person. When I set my sights on achieving something it’s pretty rare that I give up.

I went back to my GP, had my thyroid tested and found that everything was fine. I went to an endocrinologist to see if she could discover something that perhaps only a specialist could identify. I learned that just about every hormone in my body was out of whack and I walked away with a vitamin program that she told me, would support my body in overcoming the stress that I had been through with chemo and all the surgeries. She explained to me that sometimes the body reacts to such an extremely stressful situation by holding onto fat. That made sense to me from an Ayurvedic perspectivequestion mark. In that philosophy a situation of anxiety, stress and wasting is brought into balance by holding onto to heaviness, something that the body finds grounding and safe. This Doctor explained that I needed to make my body feel supported on a cellular level in order to let it know it could let go of  fat. I  proceeded to drop a couple hundred dollars more on vitamins with renewed hope. Sadly, the results were dismal. There was a small shift in my hormone levels and no weight loss after 90 days.

My GP suggested I try the Mediterranean diet. My oncologist just shook his head and said, “I don’t know.” A trainer that I considered hiring told me it had to be something I was stuffing into my pie hole.  That made me want to stuff my fist into his pie hole. But I didn’t…I just kept searching. I was determined to find someone who would understand that I was doing everything I could possibly do, following every single rule of fitness, health, and nutrition without success and that they would say to me, “I know exactly what you’re going through. I see this all the time, here’s what you need to do.” The closest I came to that was my plastic surgeon telling me that she has women in her office, in tears every day with the same frustrations that I had. She said, we spent several months trying to kill you and then bringing you back. Your body has a lot of stress to work through. At least she made me feel like I wasn’t crazy.


As I write this I am reminded of one of the most ridiculous comments people make to cancer survivor’s. I’m sure it’s said with only good intentions, but if you are not a cancer survivor and you’re reading this, please don’t ever say it to another survivor again.

don't do it.You say you’re frustrated with losing weight and someone says to you, “Well, you should just be glad you’re alive!” How does that make sense? Why is it OK that if you haven’t had cancer you can be frustrated with your weight and try to lose some extra body fat, but if you have had cancer you don’t get to be frustrated and you should just be glad you’re alive?

These two things are completely unrelated. It’s like love and sex people, it’s mutually exclusive. I’m very happy to be alive every, single day, and every, single moment of every day, but I would still like to lose the extra body weight that I’m caring around. See nothing to do with each other…anyway let’s move on.

Stumbling onto something

I began doing more research into menopause and its effects. (My first chemo treatment hurled me into menopause with a fury.) The overall recommendation for losing menopausal belly fat was high protein. So, I tried high-protein, Paleo block diets, and I hired a trainer/nutritionist who specializes in working with breast cancer patients. He was awesome and helped me realize that I had worked my way down to eating almost nothing out of the fear of gaining weight.  He changed how many calories I ate, switched around the macronutrients to  higher protein, lower carbs, higher carbs, higher fat, lower fat and I did start to see a little fluctuation. I would lose 2 pounds, then gain a pound, lose a pound, gain 3 pounds, but at least something was starting to shift.

Meanwhile, I had seen some people around me have considerable success following a ketogenic diet.  I had understood from all of my reading and research that having a high fat diet as a cancer survivor was something you wanted to gravitate away from because it could change the intestinal flora and perhaps increase reabsorption of estrogen which is something that an estrogen, progesterone positive survivor wouldn’t want to do. Still, the successes that I was seeing were remarkable. So I started doing some research into the ketogenic diet to get a better understanding of how it actually worked.


What I found shocked me, in a very wonderful way. I came across some interviews with Dr. Dominic D’Agostino, an Assistant Professor at the University of South Florida College Of Medicine, Molecular Pharmacology & Physiology. This guy is smart, he follows a ketogenic diet, and he is in amazing physical condition. His lab  studies the effects of metabolic therapies on brain cancer and metastatic cancer among other things. The information that this man had to share was so compelling that I started listening to every interview ever done with him. I read the books that he recommended, listened to podcasts about the ketogenic diet, read cookbooks about the ketogenic diet and I got excited to give it a shot.

What I discovered was that the ketogenic diet is not seen as a risk for cancer survivors. It’s actually beneficial to cancer survivors because it transitions the body from using glucose, or blood sugar, as the primary source of energy to using ketones as the primary source of energy. Now I don’t want to get to scientific here when it comes to the differences between these energy sources, but let’s just say that ketones are something your liver makes when there’s not enough blood sugar to give you the energy that you need.

That’s a dramatic oversimplification, but I will be going into a lot more detail about the ketogenic diet on my next blog post. There is actually a lot of great science out there regarding the ketogenic diet and a couple of the books I read sold me on its validity. If you want to check those out before my next post, you can find them here on my website under resources for Episode 7.

The primary take away for cancer survivors is to understand that cancer cells grow in the presence of sugar. They must have glucose in order to survive, and in fact they can absorb sugar at a rate of up to  200 times more than a normal healthy cell. So when you are consuming a diet high in fat, and very low in carbohydrates, such  as the ketogenic diet, the glucose that is in your blood is mostly used by your brain and your red blood cells with any gap in energy being supplied by the ketones that your body is now producing once you become adapted.


Success at last

I started the ketogenic diet the last week of April 2017. This is now mid-June and I have lost 8 pounds! I have also lost inches in my hips, waist, and stomach. I have read many case studies where people experience much more dramatic weight loss than this right off the bat, but I’m not complaining.  For the first time in nearly 5 years of consistent trying,  I’m seeing a decline on that scale. I’ve lost an inch and a half in my waist, I’m not having any bloating, I have not taken a TUMS or a Prilosec since the beginning of May and that is remarkable! My hot flashes have dramatically decreased and I don’t experience energy lows in the middle of the afternoon.

Now, I realize that a ketogenic diet isn’t for everybody. Some people are not going to be comfortable eating high amounts of fat or they don’t find that to be appealing also, some people may not have the degree of carbohydrate intolerance that others of us struggle with.

My family history points to me having a predisposition to carbohydrate intolerance as my father was a  type 2 diabetic, morbidly obese, and lost his life to comorbidities caused by his diabetes. I also have overweight siblings and a family tree full of heart disease. This is a big part of  why I have been so focused on nutrition and exercise throughout my life. I did not want to end up living a life of diabetes and heart disease.

However, thanks to the science of epigenetics, we know that if you have a genetic predisposition to something, even though you make as many of the healthy lifestyle choices that you can to prevent those genetics from kicking in and creating diseases, if you are exposed to extreme emotional, physical or chemical stressors, such as cancer, radiation, surgeries and chemotherapy, those stressors can trigger genes to turn on and begin expressing themselves in ways that can lead to the full-blown disease. I am certainly no doctor, but I believe that is exactly what happened with my body.

Let me say that again, I am not a doctor, or a registered dietitian. The information that I’m giving you is from my own personal experience and although I do have a health science background I’m not qualified to give you medical nutrition advice.

Be sure to check with your doctor before you make any dramatic changes in your diet or lifestyle. Your health, your safety, your happiness, and your well-being are of primary concern


I hope that sharing my story helped you to see that if you are struggling with weight gain after breast cancer treatment you are not alone. I also want you to know that if extra body fat is a concern because of your own sense of confidence and self-esteem or if it’s a concern because of excess body fat being related to cancer recurrence, don’t give up. Keep asking questions, keep trying, keep tweaking your diet and stay consistent.

Make sure you’re staying away from processed foods, sugar,  flour, bread, cookies, soda and food that comes in boxes and bags when it shouldn’t. That stuff has got to go. If you don’t make any other changes, start with getting rid of the processed carbohydrates in your diet, then pay attention to your body by practicing mindful eating. Check in with yourself to see how different foods are affecting you, and how different foods effect your energy level. Notice if you walk around with brain fog most of the time, or if you get it in the afternoon and how different foods affect that feeling.


I believe that your body gives you many signals on what is good for it and what is not and you just have to pay attention. You will know when something’s working and when it isn’t if you’re paying attention. Don’t feel like you have to stick with one thing if it isn’t giving you the results that you want, or if it isn’t making you feel like you have enough energy to actively and happily participate in your life at whatever level you choose. Don’t settle for feeling bad. Keep pressing forward, and be sure to listen to Episode 8 where I’ll talk in detail about the ketogenic diet and it’s benefits.

I know the struggle is real ladies. life is difficult sometimes, weight management is difficult often times,as is menopause, aging, dealing with hot flashes, family, work, it’s all out there and it’s a lot to balance, but it’s easier to balance if you understand that others are looking for ways to balance it too. I know there are a lot of brilliant women out there who have found ways to achieve success and balance and to find happiness on a daily basis. Let’s work on coming together to share those ideas and celebrate our successes.

Look for me on Facebook at Laura Lummer, on instagram @TheBreastCancerRecoveryCoach and become part of our community of survivors who share wisdom and support with each other.

Until next time,

Let Your Lifestyle be Your Medicine,



#5 Five Ways That Lavender Can Support Your Health

While sipping on a mock-tail of lavender lemonade, and coconut water topped with fragrant, dried buds of lavender at a new, local gastro pub this week, I was reminded of how versatile both the flower and the essential oil of this lovely plant are. Personally, I keep a diffuser in my office that I refill each morning with oils to support whatever my mind and body are needing at the time, however, when I have a particularly challenging project to work on, or I’m feeling a little stressed out, my go-to blend is one of lavender, lemon, clary sage and a drop of rosemary to keep me calm and focused.

Lavender essential oil is said to be the most widely used essential oil in the world. For this reason, it is also commonly adulterated, so you should always look for the organic oil and know the source you are buying from.  Lavender’s (Lavandula angustifolia) popularity has not happened by chance. This perennial shrub, native to the Mediterranean area, is just one of more than 20 species of lavender, each with their own unique scent and properties.

When most people think of lavender, relaxation comes to mind. The scent of lavender is commonly infused in spas, and sprayed on pillows to encourage relaxation and peaceful slumber. The sweet, herbaceous scent of lavender is considered in Ayurveda to be feminine, cooling and calming as it has an affinity for supporting female hormone imbalances including the relief of some PMS symptoms.

Perhaps one of the most well-known stories of lavender is that of Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, who was injured in an explosion at his family’s, perfume business in 1910. Rene-Maurice treated his burns with lavender essential oil, and the rate and efficiency with which the wounds healed began his passion for using essential oils. The Gattefosse Company still exists today and continues its commitment to the socially responsible creation of personal care products. Lavender also continues to be used in many home pharmacies for the relief of pain from minor burns.lavender

When one product has so much versatility where do you start with it? Here are five simple ways to use lavender in your home pharmacy or office to support your emotional and physical well-being.

  1. Support the immune system. Diffuse lavender essential oil by itself or in a blend to soothe a sore throat, support recovery from ear nose and throat infections, support respiratory decongestion and to calm the nervous system. Diffusers are easily found online or through essential oil retail companies, but you don’t have to spend a fortune to benefit from one. I’ve been using this simple spa room diffuser daily for nearly 2 years with no problem.Here’s a lavender blend that I love. Fill your diffuser with water and add: 6 drops of Clary Sage, 2 drops of lemon3 drops of lavender.
  2. Relieve muscles tension and soreness and support lymphatic drainage. Lavender is one of the few essential oils that is generally safe for anyone to use directly on the skin without dilution, however, it’s always wise to play it safe and test it on your skin first or use a diluted blend. For muscle tension, especially on the neck and shoulders, combine about ½ teaspoon of lavender essential oil to about 1 ounce of your choice of base oil and gently massage into your skin. For even more benefit use mahanarayan oil for the base oil. This herb-infused, ancient remedy is great for reducing pain and inflammation in muscles and joints without a strong menthol odor.
  3. Wound healing. For minor cuts, sunburns and rashes, apply lavender directly on the skin or combine 8 to 10 drops into½ounce of aloe vera gel to soothe and support healing.
  4. Insect repellant. Apply lavender directly to the skin or blend with water and mist yourself.
  5. Restful sleep. Experience the benefit of both the relaxing aroma and the calming effect of lavender by incorporating it into your nighttime routine with a cup of warm lavender tea (here’s my favorite) and a spritz of lavender on your pillow or rub the essential oil on the soles of your feet.lavender


I hope you try at least one of these uses for lavender, and as you become familiar with the beauty, safety and ease of using this medicinal jewel, I’m sure you’ll find new, creative ways to use it even more often. Don’t wait for spa day to roll around, when you can treat yourself to relaxation every day. If you’re not sure of a good source for lavender, this is my favorite, trusted source and an amazing company to boot! (I don’t get paid to say that.)

Sweet dreams.

Feel free to email me with questions at Laura@LauraLummer.com. Become a part of our thriving community of breast cancer survivors by following me on social media @TheBreastCancerRecoveryCoach or like my Facebook page here , and subscribing to my podcast, “The Breast Cancer Recovery Coach”.

Until Next time,

Let your lifestyle be your medicine,
Personal Branding and Business Headshots by TRUE BLUE Portrait

Find out more at LauraLummer.com

#4 You’ll Love the Soothing Benefits of this Awesome Beverage

As a Breast Cancer Recovery Coach, I believe it’s important for me to help my clients find ways to incorporate healthy eating, physical activity, herbal remedies and mindful practices into their busy schedules in realistic ways.

As much as I love to cook and would prefer to start everything from scratch, my schedule, and probably yours, doesn’t always allow the time for that. So, I look for the healthiest alternatives that allow to me to consistently incorporate these practices into my day and I treat myself to the “scratch” version whenever I can.
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Golden milk is a perfect example of this. This amazing, anti-inflammatory,  drink is a pleasure to create from coconut milk, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger and honey. Can’t you just smell it filling the house with fragrance already?

When I’m in a pinch for time (or just tired), the Gaia, organic, premixed version does just fine. I get the yummy flavor and all of the benefits, other than the pleasure of handling the individual ingredients myself. This mix is also vegan and a little different from most golden milk recipes in that it uses cardamom rather than cinnamon and it also contains ashwaganda which is a powerful rejuvenative herb. Ashwaganda is used in Ayurveda  to support those who have been weakened by chronic disease, and exhaustion is said to be particularly rejuvenative for  muscles, bone marrow and semen.

If you’ve never heard of golden milk, I’ll break it down for you.

  1. The primary spice in golden milk is turmeric (curcuma longa) known mainly for its active ingredient, curcumin. Turmeric has been called “the spice of life” in Ayurveda for centuries but, in the recent years it’s health benefits such as anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, have been studied more and more frequently which has shot turmeric to the top of the popular herbal supplement list in your local health food store.

When I searched turmeric in the PubMed (U.S. National Library of Medicine) database, I found over 1100 studies on everything from its effects on brain health to diabetes management to cancer protection.  Dr. Vasant Lad, a well known Ayurvedic physician and the founder of the Ayurvedic Institute in New Mexico, has said that turmeric cures the whole person. Pretty sweet, right?

The power of nature is so awesome, and that’s one of the things that I love the most about golden milk. It harnesses the power of:

Ashwaganda (Gaia Version): tonic, nervine sedative, rejuvenative, aphrodisiac.
Cardamom (Gaia Version): Stimulant, expectorant (said to neutralize the mucus forming effects of milk according to Ayurveda), carminative, diaphoretic.
Cinnamon: Carminative (reduces intestinal gas), antibacterial, expectorant, diuretic, analgesic.
Coconut Milk: The benefits of lauric acid, capric acid (medium chain fatty acids), and antimicrobial lipids.
Ginger: Carminative, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiemetic (reduces vomiting), cardio tonic (good for the heart).
Turmeric: anti-inflammatory, antiarthritic, carminative topical anti-bacterial & antifungal, anti-atherosclerotic, anticancer.
Vanilla (optional): Antioxidant, sweetener and delicious.
Honey (optional): Sweetener, anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant.

That’s a lot of good stuff for one warm and yummy beverage and I say yummy in all sincerity, even my kids like it!

There are different versions of the golden milk recipe, including ones with black peppercorns which gives the drink a little more heat and detoxifying qualities as well as enhancing the bioavailability of turmeric by up to 1,000 times. You can also prepare a golden milk paste by combining the herbs and spices with coconut oil and storing it in the fridge, then combine with warm milk when you’re ready to have a cup.

Here’s a simple recipe that you can make at home if you want to take the “made from scratch” route:


1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk (of course you can substitute with cow milk, almond milk…whatever delivery system yo need to get these herbs into you but coconut is the traditional version)
1  cinnamon stick
1 (1-inch) piece turmeric, unpeeled, thinly sliced, or 1/2 tsp dried turmeric
1 (1/2-inch) piece ginger, unpeeled, thinly sliced, or 1/4 tsp dried ginger powder
1 tablespoon honey or 1 tsp vanilla or scrapings from 1/2 vanilla bean (optional)
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil
Ground cinnamon (for serving)
Bring coconut milk, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, coconut oil, vanilla (if you’re using it) to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into mugs add honey if you like and top with a sprinkle of cinnamon or cardamom. Enjoy!


Feel free to email me with questions at Laura@LauraLummer.com and keep updated on daily nutrition and exercise tips by following me on twitter or Instagram @TheBreastCancerRecoveryCoach or like my Facebook page here .

Feel free to email me with questions at Laura@LauraLummer.com. Become a part of our thriving community of breast cancer survivors by following me on social media @TheBreastCancerRecoveryCoach or like my Facebook page here , and subscribing to my podcast, “The Breast Cancer Recovery Coach”.

Until Next time,

Let your lifestyle be your medicine,

Personal Branding and Business Headshots by TRUE BLUE Portrait

Find out more at LauraLummer.com

#3 How to Enjoy the Benefits of Beets in an Appetizer

The recipe for these delicious roasted beet and herbed goat cheese crostinis is coming up but first, let’s look at all of the reasons why you should look for ways to incorporate these beautiful root vegetables into your diet.


Most people think of beets as the lovely, deep red root but, make no mistake the entire plant is edible. In fact, beet greens are a powerhouse of minerals and vitamins including A, C, K, and B6. The greens were originally the part of the plant that was consumed before the sweetness of the root was discovered by someone whom I can only imagine was one very hungry person. You can cook the greens as you would cook spinach or, clean them very well and toss them in a salad or, run them through your juicer.

Beetroots are not only a good source of Vitamin C and fiber but, recent studies suggest that the phytonutrients and betaine contained in these colorful roots fight inflammation in the body and may play a role in protecting against the formation of cancerous tumors in humans. Beetroots are also rich in nitrates which are converted into nitric oxide in our bodies. Nitric oxide has the effect of dilating or relaxing blood vessels. This improves blood flow and can help in lowering blood pressure. Good stuff right?
One thing that I haveIMG_1189 to point out is that the sweetness of beetroots is due to their high natural sugar content which makes them a cheap source of sugar and therefore, one of the most prevalent genetically modified crops. So, if GMOs are on your avoid list (and they should be), be sure to use organic beets in your diet.

These tasty little crostinis are just one of dozens of ways to incorporate the awesomeness of beets into your diet. Be sure to check out some more sources to discover lots of new ideas for enjoying the benefits of beets.

For this recipe, you will need:

1 baguette sliced into 1/2 inch pieces (Or just buy the pre-sliced bag)
1 40z package of herbed goat cheese (If goat cheese doesn’t float your boat, use any spreadable, herbed cheese such as Alouette)
1/4 cup pesto (I used the premade kind from Buitoni)
2 or 3 Tbsp of capers (Depending on how much you  like them)
Olive oil -For drizzling
Salt– To taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees

Scrub the beets clean and slice off the greens (Which of course you will want to save for eating later.) and the root tip. Then slice them into 1/4″ slices. You don’t have to peel the beets but, do try to keep the slices as even as possible so that they cook evenly. Lay the sliced beets out into a single layer on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt then pop them in the oven for about 10-12 minutes.
They’re done when you can press a fork through them and they’re soft all the way through. These slices cook fast because they are thin so don’t walk away and forget them, you’ll end up with beet chips…which are actually delicious too.

While the beets are cooking, slice the baguette and toast the slices to a nice crunchy, golden brown.

Assemble your crostinis:
Smear a little of your spreadable cheese on top of a toast bit, lay a beet slice on top of the cheese and then drop a teaspoon of pesto on top of the beet, press a couple of capers into the pesto and hope that no one comes home before you get a chance to eat them all because they’re delicious!

According to MyFitnessPal, 4 of these Crostinis come out to about 294 calories, 38g Carbs, 13g Fat, 10g Protein.


Feel free to email me with questions at Laura@LauraLummer.com. Become a part of our thriving community of breast cancer survivors by following me on social media @TheBreastCancerRecoveryCoach or like my Facebook page here , and subscribing to my podcast, “The Breast Cancer Recovery Coach”.

Until Next time,

Let your lifestyle be your medicine,






#2 How to Choose to Live a Carefree Life

A few months ago I was introduced to the Oprah/Deepak 21 Day Meditation Experience. I’m not really sure what my expectation of that experience was. Of course I have heard of Oprah Winfrey, I mean who hasn’t but, I had honestly never seen any of her shows so I didn’t have a personal understanding of why she is considered such a force of nature.

I downloaded the meditation series titled, “Become what you Believe” and I listen to it daily for 21 days. Sadly, in the free experience, each meditation disappears after five days so, by day 7 I had purchased the series because I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to listen to these meditations over and over again. Each morning  I would listen to a meditation and then as I got into my car to go to work I would  listen to them again. Obviously I didn’t meditate while driving in my car but, I would listen to the introduction where Deepak Chopra  describes the concept of that day’s meditation and suggests a thought to keep in mind for the day.image

It’s so helpful to be reminded of how the way we think impacts everything in our lives. Even though my life is committed to empowering others physically, spiritually and emotionally, I certainly don’t  go day-to-day without incident. Having that suggestion, that outside input on where to check your thoughts and how to steer them back into the right direction, was refreshing. (That’s why people use coaches right? ) So after listening to each of these 21 meditations repeatedly I decided to invest in a second series titled “Creating Abundance”.

In this series there was a particular meditation that lightened my heart and  has brought me back time and again to remind myself to live carefree. In this meditation, as in all others, Deepak offers a centering thought for the day that reminds the listener to be lighthearted and to trust in the universe and know that all is well. This sounds like such a simple task however, when you’re thinking about things like the choices your children are making, the property taxes coming due, the finances flowing out faster than they’re flowing in, whether or not the aches and pains you’re feeling are cancer coming back, being carefree it’s not really that simple…or is it?

I was once told, by a very wise Yogi, that I could choose to drop my anger at any time. I debated this of course, because we often are attached to our anger, as I was. I told him that it wasn’t that easy and that sometimes you have a right to be angry. So, he offered me the analogy of getting into a car and heading off to work feeling pissed off at the world for whatever your teenager or your spouse pulled before you walked out the door, or maybe you’re just having a bad hair day. But, once you get into those doors at work and the receptionist greets you or a customer walks in, you put on your smiling  face and you proceed with your work happily and gracefully.  So, where did the anger go? You dropped it. You left it somewhere else and maybe later in the day or on your way home you’ll decide to pick it up again but, you did make a conscious choice to drop it.carefree

Remembering this experience I started thinking that maybe I could just make that same choice to be carefree. I could  choose to drop the worry and pick up the lightheartedness. I could say to myself, “I choose to be carefree and to trust that all is well.” This is exactly what I did and what I have been doing, and it’s working.

There are some things in my life that many people might consider to be tumultuous.  But, as I stand here writing this, at this very moment I am healthy, my family is healthy, the mortgage is paid, the sun is shining, I have a job, and the list could go on for a very long time actually. Now, I fully realize that in the next moment anything can change but, that doesn’t mean that it could change negatively, expect miracles right? Things change every day, all the time and we have to find a way to live each moment with lightness and a carefree attitude because it truly is the only moment  we have, as far as we know, in this life.

How many times have you experienced a situation and thought,  “This is making me feel physically ill.” There are many studies that show that it actually is making you physically ill. Stress and negative thoughts have been shown to contribute illness. Your negative thoughts do create chemical changes in your bodies they can undermine your health. Of course everyone acts differently to different types and amounts of stress and some people can take more than others but, why take it at all if you have a choice to be carefree?

Remember that you are the mountain and just as the seasons change on the mountain, trees grow and fall, the mountain remains steady and strong in the midst of all of the changes.image

Why not choose to be carefree? Give it a try for a week.  Every time you catch yourself in some kind of a spin worrying about where things are going to come from or where things are going, take a minute and just stop. Say to yourself, “I am lighthearted and carefree. I can trust in the universe and I know that all is well.” Then, don’t try to talk yourself out of it. Keep saying it over and over and over until you feel your heart lighten up, just a little bit. Let me know how it works for you.

Feel free to email me with questions at Laura@LauraLummer.com. Become a part of our thriving community of breast cancer survivors by following me on social media @TheBreastCancerRecoveryCoach or like my Facebook page here , and subscribing to my podcast, “The Breast Cancer Recovery Coach”.

Until Next time,

Let your lifestyle be your medicine,


Learn more at LauraLummer.com



#1 Creating a Jubilant Life After Beating Breast Cancer

When I was in elementary school, I used to love to write stories and enter writing contests. As I grew older, I  dreamed about writing a book one day, but I never imagined that book would be about recovering from breast cancer.

Health and fitness have been a passion of mine my entire life. When I was a kid I would watch my dad, a Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff, practice karate and lift weights. He inspired  me to be strong and fit. I would read through his body building magazines and play with the weights that he kept in the garage while I watched for any sign of muscle to begin to show in my arms. Throughout my high-school years, I played on every sports team I could squeeze into my schedule. As I grew older and had children of my own, I loved cooking wholesome food, and learning everything I could about exercise and nutrition. In 2004 I was invited to a local yoga studio by a friend of mine and I was immediately hooked. I began to practice and study yoga regularly which motivated me to become a vegetarian and to focus even more on how I nourished my body. I became a certified yoga teacher in 2006 which was also the year that I graduated from the California College of Ayurveda with a certification as a Clinical Ayurveda Specialist. Ayurveda is the East Indian traditional system of medicine. The word itself means, the science of life. Like yoga, I was enthralled with Ayurveda from the moment I was introduced to it at a workshop in the yoga studio I attended. After graduation I began working at a wellness center where I developed lifestyle programs, and formulated herbal remedies for my clients based on Ayurveda principles.

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In 2010 I decided to take my exercise knowledge to the next level and I earned my personal training certification through the American Council on Exercise (ACE). I believed that I had a well-rounded understanding and approach to wellness and I was certain that I would live a long healthy life. Maybe I would even be one of those 80-year-old ladies who still looks great and does hot yoga every day because after all, I did all the “right” things to earn the privilege of a long, healthy life.

So, when I rolled over in bed on that sunny July morning in 2011, in my adorable condo thinking about my full, happy life and the fun of the upcoming 4th of July weekend and I felt a lump in my right breast, I was shocked. I had never had cystic breasts, so I knew right away that something wasn’t right. In 1993, my brother lost his young life to testicular cancer at the age of 32, and when I felt that lump, my heart dropped into my stomach as the memories of what he endured, and how it all ended came flooding back to me.  How could this be happening? This was not the way my life was supposed to go and certainly not the way it was supposed to end! I had so much living to do, children still to raise, cancer was not a part of my plan…until it was.

   I was diagnosed with stage 2, invasive ductile carcinoma on July 11th 2011. In August, after running through all of the scenarios for treatment options with my doctor, I had a lumpectomy because I thought that was the safest choice and the one that I  had the time, medical benefits and finances to deal with as a single working mother.

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During the lumpectomy, my doctor found that cancer had spread to my lymph nodes. The stage of my diagnosis was increased to 2B, and I was told I needed to have 6 rounds of TAC chemotherapy (Taxotere, Adriamycin, and Cyclophosphamide). To say I was devastated by that news would be an understatement. I just kept thinking about the suffering my brother endured for the last six months of his life. The suffering that I never wanted my children to have to watch anyone go through, especially not me. Fortunately, for me and my entire family, prescription management of the side effects of chemotherapy had come a long way since 1993, and even though my treatment wasn’t easy, it went better than my brother’s had and it had a better ending too.

While I was going through chemo, my post-surgical pathology revealed that I still had more cancer in my right breast. Because I was small breasted to begin with, it would have required as mastectomy to get all of the cancer and clear tissue margins around it.  At this point I wanted nothing more than to get this treatment done and never to have to deal with it again. I  was concerned that if  I  had only a single mastectomy, I would be back in that chemo chair in the very near future dealing with breast cancer again. Vanity also played a part in my decision because I wanted my breasts to be symmetrical and look somewhat normal after reconstruction. So, I made the decision to have a bilateral mastectomy in March of 2012 followed by reconstructive surgery.

Between, expansion, infections, and slipping implants, I had four surgeries between March and November of  2012. I wrapped it all up by having my nipples tattooed on and I was officially done with everything in December of 2012.  Well, almost everything. I just had to figure out how to deal with the bone and joint pain, 40 lbs of weight gain, the neuropathy in my hands and feet, and accepting the changes that chemo had caused to my skin, my face, my eyes, my digestive system, and everything else in my body, including being chemically thrown into full-blown menopause!

I suppose this is where the real story began for me. During cancer treatment, I just had to follow the protocols, but when treatment was over and I had to deal with the aftermath, the struggle to regain my health was real and it took diligence, research, trial and error and more than a few frustrated tears.  However, it led my down a path of healing, growing and fueled a desire to serve others that I could never have imagined. Now, I use my experience with breast cancer, and my education as a Healthy Lifestyle Coach, Clinical Ayurveda Specialist, Personal Trainer and Yoga Teacher, to support other women who have survived breast cancer to find their way back to health.


I believe that balance in all things is the healthiest way to live. I’ve learned to let go of a lot of ideas that did not contribute to my well-being while still pursuing the activities that I love the most including, playing with my grandchildren, yoga, challenging myself physically with exercise routines and mentally with practicing non-judgement (Of myself and others) and mindfulness. Now, I give myself permission to do what I can do, not necessarily what I used to do, or what everyone else is doing. I’m still a work in progress and some days are better, and easier than others, but every day I make a conscious decision to choose happiness and to fully participate in life.
I don’t take any medications now (lucky), and I concentrate on making my lifestyle my medicine and my vehicle to wellness.

Feel free to email me with questions at Laura@LauraLummer.com. Become a part of our thriving community of breast cancer survivors by following me on social media @TheBreastCancerRecoveryCoach or like my Facebook page here , and subscribing to my podcast, “The Breast Cancer Recovery Coach”.

Until Next time,

Let your lifestyle be your medicine,
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Find out more at LauraLummer.com