Friday, October 16, 2009


This past summer was filled with a high level of anxiety as I searched to find answers to health challenges ... unexplained weight loss (30+ pounds in less than a year), a lump in my breast (which was then removed and I was diagnosed with atypical ductal hyperplasia, the precursor to breast cancer ... or at least, a strong likelihood of it progressing to cancer) .... fatigue (which after seeing my acupuncturist -- a combination of acupuncture and nutritional changes helped with my fatigue). By the end of July, my weight loss stopped for which I was grateful. Next step is to wait till January for a followup MRI as I have chosen the "surveillance" route to deal with my high risk of breast cancer. The western approach of medicine, "catch the cancer early enough." Meanwhile I have continued to care of my body through rest, exercise, healthy nutrition.

In mid-September while in New York for a business trip a new "issue" came up ... a digestive problem I had never experienced before. I said to myself, "it will pass". One month later the problems continued and i kept telling myself "it will pass". As I search the internet to see if others are experiencing similar symptoms I learn that i'm not the only one. I learn that my body has stopped digesting food in some sense ... moving through my system too fast and not knowing or having the proper enzymes to digest food or fat. A few days ago I decide that maybe the saying "this too shall pass" may not work in this case. I contact my primary care physician who tells me I need to see a gastroenterologist. I have an appointment to see Dr. Mackie of Minnesota Gastroenterology on the 28th. The symptoms I am having in combination with the significant unexplained weight that transpired over the past year is of concern to my doctor. It's also of concern to my acupuncturist. I also have realized there is a lump in my breast that is growing again. Maybe it's nothing to worry about. Maybe it is. I am hopeful that my acupuncturist will be able to help me move through this rough terrain as she did over the summer.

This is also a very busy time for me in my volunteer work with Pet Haven -- we are approaching our largest fundraiser of the year, our Fall Benefit. Part of me says, I can't get sick. I don't have time right now to get sick or to have any surgery. This morning I realized ... there is a certain amount under my control; there's a larger part of my life and where i'm going that is not within my control. The truth is I don't what tomorrow holds for me. I don't know where my path will lead me. As I balance the need to be planful and purposeful in the work i'm doing on behalf of homeless animals, I realize I need to allow my body and my spirit the space and time to heal. My body, again, is trying to tell me something.

I have been learning about reading calming signals of dogs. They are always trying to communicate with us. Often we don't listen or understand the signals or squelch our dog's efforts to communicate. Our bodies are constantly communicating with us. For me, my barometer is my digestive system. I feel things in my gut; i hold things in my gut. My barometer is screaming at me now to listen. Interesting isn't it, how we tend to squelch our own signals, our own body's cries for help. If I were a dog, i'd be curling my lip.

If I were a dog, it's as if a trainer has said to me "watch me".

'I hear you. I see you. You have my attention.'


  1. Stay strong. You are already doing such healthy things for your body. Let me know if I can help in any way.

  2. Wow Marilou, thanks for this very personal, honest, and heartfelt post. So sorry to hear of the physical struggles you've had over the past several months. It is so hard when you're heart is invested in any type of helping profession as it is easy to loose the necessary life balance. Mind/body/spirit must all work together, but often we neglect certain areas. It sounds like you are very in-tune with yourself- just remember to always listen to what your body is telling you because if you don't take time out to help yourself, you won't do any good for anyone one else (furry or non)! It is a fine line I have to practice walking everyday! Thanks for the reminder! Big hug from me! Love ya!

  3. When it comes to digestive systems and gastros, I've been through a LOT. I am absolutely here if you have questions, concerns, or need to chat.

    My doc is part of MNGI and they are the best in the city!

    I'm not sure what you have, but I know that a lot of GI issues can be controlled w/ diet and medication.

    My thoughts are with you :)