Suzy G., 53, a self-described “baby boomer workaholic” who runs her own public relations agency in Houston, wasn’t prepared for the physical and emotional wallop that came following a breast cancer diagnosis in January 2010. After undergoing a lumpectomy, lymph node removal surgery and six weeks of radiation, she felt spent.
But the tipping point came after starting a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) treatment, which caused her estrogen levels to decrease. During this time, she also had to stop birth control cold turkey. “I was robbed of all of my estrogen. I had this horrible depression and normally I’m the happiest person in the world.”
She lost 15 pounds and landed in the ER after passing out in a business meeting from dehydration. In addition to stopping the SERM treatment (with her doctor’s approval), Suzy knew the best way to get out of the funk was to stay focused on her career and improve her diet. “I worked my way through it and just started eating well,” she says. “Food was important—I ate a lot to get my strength back up.” She had juice daily and filled up on fresh fruits and vegetables.
Within two months, Suzy began feeling better. Today, she continues to focus on her diet and walks 20 to 30 minutes a day. “I am absolutely perfect now,” says Suzy, noting that she is gaining back the lost weight and is sleeping better. “I look great, I’m healthy and I no longer suffer from depression.” She also takes time to relax. “Once or twice a year I go to a yoga retreat, sit quietly and contemplate life. The diagnosis has made me think maybe there is something else I need to do in life.”
- Chug your greens. Suzy made vitalizing juice concoctions with organic kale, tomatoes, cucumbers and celery. “I pretty much threw anything into it. I started getting stronger the more I drank.”
- Cut out white foods. “I didn’t have the energy to think. I had brain fog because I was exhausted.” Suzy’s remedy: Eating lean chicken and fish, sweet potatoes, legumes, vegetables and fruit.
- Guzzle H20. Cancer treatments, such as radiation, can leave you dehydrated. Suzy carried a bottle of water with her at all times to help her stay refreshed.