Things Cancer has Taught Me

Hi friends!

Well it’s been a while since my last post. All is well. In going to my support groups, I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learned since all of this began just three month ago. There are things that I’m grateful for and things that really piss me off. Today, I’ll post about the things cancer has taught me, and I’ll save my rants and raves for another post.

1. When someone you care about gets diagnosed with something (anything), it’s hard to know what to say. For me, I know I would probably cry if I talk with someone about their scary diagnosis, so I know I’ve avoided it in the past. BAD KATIE! I now know that whatever I do/say, I need to do/say something. Whether it is a call, a card, a text, an email, it doesn’t matter, just doing something to show that I care is what matters. Since my diagnosis, so many people have reached out to me (some that I’m close to, some that I’m not close to – even the checker at whole foods gave me a hug!!) and I have learned that people just want to know that others are rooting for them in their time of need. Obviously, I have the best team ever, because I am constantly reminded of this. This was lesson number one and a lesson I needed to learn.

2. Don’t take a single moment for granted. While I know that I am going to be cancer free very soon and I am going to live a long and healthy life, hearing “it’s cancer” makes you think about your mortality. After one of my first doctors appointments, I had dinner with friends and family because I wanted to spend as much time as I have with people that are important to me. I remembering telling Jim, “Life is for living” which to means that I’d like to spend as much time as I can doing the things I love and spending time with the people I love.

3. Everything is normal, until it’s not. That was on a billboard about strokes that I used to pass on my way to/from Bauman College. For the first few weeks after my diagnosis, that saying came back to me many times because it definitely suited the situation. I feel like, at times, I took my health for granted, and once I was no longer healthy I wished that I had been better to myself (eating, sleeping, exercise, etc.).

4. Get off my butt and exercise! I know that I am totally guilty of complaining about not wanting to workout or exercise after a long day of work or just because I’m feeling lazy. But now that my ability to exercise has been very limited, I wish so badly that I could go for a run, bike ride, hike, or swim. Looking into the future, when I feel like skipping out on my exercise, I’m going to remember this time and make myself do it. PLUS, exercise is super important in disease prevention/reduction of symptoms.

5. It’s okay to cry. Whenever. For whatever reason(s).

6. The people that are most important in my life are the people that have been supportive through my time of need. People that haven’t been supportive, aren’t people that I need in my life. True colors….

7. Dogs are awesome. Jax, Zoe, Izzi, and Pismo have been the BEST company to have with me each day. If you don’t have a dog, I highly recommend reconsidering that decision. 🙂

8. Being more grateful. I started my #100happydays project to help me with being more grateful for the good things in my life and the timing for the project couldn’t have been more appropriate. It has now become my #cancerbabeshappydays project and it has helped me to realize that being grateful and appreciating the good things is really valuable. (If you’re not on FB/IG, I try to post a picture of something that has made me happy each day and I include the hashtag #cancerbabeshappydays.)

9. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s also okay to be weak and vulnerable. It’s all a part of life. We’re in this together.

10. I have the best team. I know that I’ve said this before, but I really mean it, and it comes straight from the heart. You all are **AMAZING**. Thank you. I love you.

Well… that’s it. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to say that I’m grateful for cancer, because well, then I’d be a masochist. And I’m not a fan of the “everything happens for a reason” or the “it’s part of god’s plan” BS either (I’m agnostic). But I am grateful for the person that I’m becoming because of it. I have learned a lot and I know I will continue to do so.




Hi #teamklb,

The chemo session last week had some complications. The first drug they give me, Adriamycin, is what they call a vesicant – can irritate the skin and veins. They have to be super careful that none gets on my skin or the nurse’s skin and to clear the veins with saline as they push it through the syringe. On its way in this time it really hurt my veins and Chemo is NOT supposed to hurt. My arm was red and swollen and still is today. The day after chemo, I went in and they took pictures, measurements, etc. and they had the doctor look at it. He said that he doesn’t think it leaked into surrounding tissues, but that the vein is just irritated by the drug. So they have scheduled me to have a picc line put in. This is like a more permanent IV line put into my arm and feeds into a much larger artery which means I shouldn’t have this issue with my veins being irritated. It’s scheduled for Tuesday 8/12 at El Camino Hospital. It’s about an hour long procedure and I can go home that day. If you know me well, you know that this is the kind of shit that really scares me and while I know in my head that this is very minor, I really wish this didn’t have to happen. And I’m pissed that’s it’s the week that I’ll be feeling better from chemo, because it’s going to be taken up by this bullshit. Anyways, we’ll being wearing some pink that day too, even though it’s not a chemo day. Thank you again for all of your love and support.





Round three of chemo starts tomorrow. I think I’m ready. This round of chemo was different than last round, but not too bad. The first round I got some rashes on my hands and the skin on my fingers were peeling, and I also broke out (pimples) on my face. But I normally take a skin supplement called Sibu – sea buckthorn oil which is rich in omega-7 and is good for hair, skin, and nails. I’ve been taking it since March and I’ve noticed much less acne on my face and much stronger nails. During the first round of chemo my throat was really soar for most of the time and so I stopped taking my supplements. Plus, let’s be honest, getting up and taking supplements before bed required WAY too much energy. But since I started taking them towards the end of round one and all throughout round two, no facial breakouts, no rashes, and no peeling skin! yay!

I did feel a bit more nauseous this time, but I still only had to take the anti-nausea meds about 3 times. I still need to eat small meals and keep my blood sugar up, or else the nausea tends to occur. I felt more emotional with round two (can you say pity party?) but I’ve heard from other breast cancer survivors that one of the drugs, Zoladex, can make you more emotional. The Zoladex was new for round two. It is a seed that gets implanted through a shot (larger needle) so they numbed me with Lidocaine first and then implanted it. It dissolves over four weeks and then I get it again. The Zoladex is a drug that preserves fertility, and has also been found to help fight the cancer. It increases your odds of getting pregnant post chemo from 40% to 60%. In order to preserve fertility, it puts you into early menopause (chemo also does this). I’m still waiting on the hot flashes! We aren’t planning to procreate post chemo, but if it will help fight the cancer, then I’m game. The other three chemo drugs that I’m on are Adriamycin, Cytoxan, and Taxotere. I’ve heard this is the “gold standard” of chemo drugs for breast cancer.

I generally feel tired, but okay on days 1-3/4 of the cycle, feel like crap (read: SUPER TIRED) on days 4/5-10 of the cylce and then from days 11-21, I feel more like a human being and I feel up to doing normal things, like driving, housework, hanging out with friends, and homework. I’m still going to school to be a nutritionist through Bauman College, but I have switched to their online program and I do everything from home.

Right before each round is over, I have to get my blood drawn to check my white blood cell counts (BTW – I have NOT passed out once with all these needle shits. I’m becoming one tough broad with all of these procedures, shots, IVs, etc. all of which give me the heebie jeebies) and then I meet with the doctor and he clears me for the next round. After round one, the tumor that I could feel (there are two, one I can feel and one I can’t; obviously the one I discovered was the one I can feel) felt smaller to both myself and the doctor. 🙂 but after this round it is more noticeable to both myself and my doctor. He did say that it felt less firm to him, which could be good because you want to attack tumors from the inside out. This means you’re killing it at the epicenter and maybe the tumor cell wall is dying. He still thinks we should go forth with round three of chemo. After round three, I have a breast MRI scheduled, where they will be able to tell what’s really happened. If the tumor is shrinking like they want it to, I will continue with three more rounds. If it is not shrinking enough, then I will have mastectomy surgery early. I plan to also get a second opinion at Stanford with my MRI results, just to make sure that another doctor agrees with whatever my oncologist says.

A couple of fun facts about my experience (in case you know someone going through this, you can share it with them, AND this may be TMI, but it’ll make you laugh): I’ve lost nearly all body hair, still remaining is: arm hair, nose hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes (no more shaving or waxing!! 🙂 and the bowel movements are quite a bit different (especially for someone that is quite regular like myself, I know TMI, but I’m going to be a nutritionist, and we all should be more open about this topic), one morning on my way to the bathroom (which I have only 5 minutes to get to, once I have to go), I though I had a fart, turned out to be a shart! Afterwards, I went and told Jim “oops, I crapped my pants!”. We got a good laugh out of that.

Thanks to all the walking buddies, I appreciate you getting me out there! Thanks for all the offers too! I will continue to need walking buddies for many months to come, so keep the messages coming. 🙂

Team KLB shirts: We’re (by that I mean Jim, I deserve no credit) still working on the shirts, but have run into a snafu. We’ll keep you posted!

Thank you to everyone that has registered for the Hers Keep Abreast Walk/Run in Fremont on Sept. 27th. I’m beyond honored that people are walking in my name. ((love & hugs)) Jim and I are registered for the 5k walk, but there will be people running too. Feel free to sign up for whatever you prefer. Here’s the link HERS KEEP ABREAST 2014 – Team Registration – Adult 18 & Over – Group/Team Registration

Many people have offered to bring us food. If you’re interested, please note that we are Gluten Free and we eat very little dairy. Also since toxins build up in meats and many produce, and now is not a time for me to ingest more toxins, we eat grass fed & finished, pasture raised, organic, and non gmo whenever possible. That being said, that food is PRICEY and it’s more complicated to make GF, DF food. SO if you’re not up for it, I totally get it. Our dietary restrictions are challenging, please do not feel obligated in any way. (This is just a good way for me to get info out to mass groups of people.) If you are interested in bringing something by, I don’t have a calendar set up, but have thought about it, until then shoot me a PM, text, or email. Soups, fruits, and veggies are the foods that are most appealing to my deadened taste buds.

Last, but not least, if you’re up for it, put on some pink swag tomorrow and join me in saying eff cancer!!

Thanks #teamklb for all the love and support. I heart you all! Smooch!!





Second round of chemo is going a bit better than the first so far. Definitely tired, but maybe a bit less tired than before. Or maybe I’m just used to having less energy? Hair shaving party went well. It was a very emotional day for me, and considering that I’m quite the crier, I didn’t cry too much. 😉 I definitely had some second thoughts about whether to have the party. I had a lot of anxiety leading up to the party, but in the end, it was the right decision for me to be surrounded by #teamklb. I felt loved and supported and it was easier for me show my bald head to world after showing it to y’all first. Thanks to those of you who made it, and to those of you that were there in spirit. It trHair shaving partyuly means a lot. My hairstylist came and did my makeup first, which I think was a good decision for me. Thanks Laura! A good friend of mine took photos for me. Thanks Vanessa! Thanks for the food, the positive energy, and the gifts that I continue to receive – you are all too generous!  I appreciate you all more than you will ever know.


I recently read Anticancer, by David Servan-Schreiber. Highly recommended by the way! He helps to bridge the gap between what your doctors are telling you and what they aren’t telling you – like what you can do to help yourself. This is what people diagnosed with a disease want to hear – give me some control and power when I feel like I have no control and no power over this situation.  He is an MD and a PHD and a two time brain cancer survivor- so this isn’t quackery here! Main recommendations: 1) eat a diet similar to what we already eat – lots of plants, quality meats, low sugar, low refined carbs, low poor fats, 2) meditation 3) support groups, 4) exercise. This brings me to my “favors”. One, there are two support groups that I’d like to attend, but they’re on Tuesday nights in Palo Alto and I’m not driving much these days. If you’re interested and free on the first and third Tuesdays, let me know and we can talk details. Two, I’m interested in trying to go for a walk everyday -30 minutes is recommended, and I’d like a buddy to help me get motivated to get out when I’m feeling tired and to be there on the walks with me just in case I’m not feeling good and I don’t want to be far from home and alone. I’m thinking evenings to avoid the heat and sun (chemo drugs and sun don’t mix well). Again, hit me up if you like to be a regular walking buddy or an occasional buddy. I’m open to whatever.

Again, #teamklb, I’m eternally grateful.




Team KLB

On Thursday 7/3, I met with the genetic counselor and learned that I have the BRCA1 genetic mutation. The good news is this helps to explain my cancer and why I got it at such a young age. The not so good news is this means I’m at a higher risk for a second breast cancer and for ovarian cancer. Also it increases my risk for pancreatic cancer as well as melanoma.

My mom and Jared will also have the genetic testing done so that we can learn about prevention for those family members that may also carry the gene. (This gene also increases risk of male breast cancer and prostate cancer.)

What this means is that I will likely have a double mastectomy and reconstruction as well as an oophorectomy (ovaries and fallopian tubes removed). This significantly reduces my risk for either breast or ovarian cancer later. While this is shitty, I’d rather go through this one time and then move on with my life. My decisions aren’t final and I will do more research first, but this is the plan at this point. The other genetic mutations that I was tested for came back negative and they would have increased my risk for many other types of cancers. In other news, I’m feeling like myself again and can carry out normal daily activities without exhaustion. Thank you for your continued support, love, and kindness. You are all the most amazing people and I am lucky to be able to call you my friends and family.




Today is day 13 in the first chemo cycle. Many of you have asked how I’ve been doing. The answer is surprisingly well. I’ve had very little nausea and as long as eat small meals frequently, I’m okay. My main symptom is exhaustion and it’s like nothing that I’ve ever felt before. Just sitting and talking with people wears me out. OUT. But the good news is that I’ve had more energy the past few days. During days 15-21, I should feel more like myself. YES!! I also had the most painful aches in my bones on days 7-8. It was the strangest feeling and nothing made it better except Tylenol. Thank heavens for Tylenol. This was likely due to the Neulasta shot that I got on day 2. This shot boosts your white blood cells since the chemo effects them. (white blood cells are produced in the bones, which I’m sure you all know, but the teacher in me…)  I’m also susceptible to infection since I have low white blood cell counts and my body can’t fight off infection as well as it normally does (so if you plan to visit me and are sick, please reschedule! 🙂

I have also started losing my hair 🙁 They said it would happen around day 21, so I plan to shave it on day 20. Hopefully it will last me until my hair shaving. Which brings me to the hair shaving party. Anyone that would like to come see the new bald me and the new me with wigs, is welcome to come over next Tuesday 7/8. Feel free to bring snacks or drinks. 6:00 at our place. Be forewarned: I will cry. But it’s okay to cry. Jim and I are handling this well, but that doesn’t mean we (me) don’t get emotional at times. It’s a part of the process. He is my rock and I am his. Thank you all for support through all of this because you are making it easier on Jim and I. Last, but not least, my next chemo is scheduled for July 10th and if you’d like you can join me in wearing some pink that day! 🙂

Thank you all again. From the bottom of my heart.





We had our chemo class today and learned all about side effects, etc. My first chemo is scheduled for tomorrow from 10:30-1:30. Feel free to send out cancer killing vibes during those hours :). Chemo will be every three weeks. I expect to feel okay for the first few days after chemo and then blech on days 4-5 afterwards. The second full week I’m also not supposed to be feeling well because my blood counts will be down. Week three I should feel decent again and then it starts all over. My hair should fall out around day 21. I have plans to shave it and get a wig/scarf. Thank you all for your offers of support thus far. It makes this journey easier. I’ll keep you updated here as I know more.

xoxo <3,




The MRI came back last week and showed that the left breast was clear. Good news. They found a second tumor in the right breast – 8.5 cm. The first tumor measured 3.5 cm. The first tumor is classified as invasive ductal carcinoma and this newly discovered tumor is classified as ductal carcinoma in situ. Basically the second tumor is contained within the duct and the first tumor is invading the surrounding tissue. There was also a suspicious lymph node. The surgeon expressed concern to possibly biopsy the lymph node first which would delay chemo by up to 2 weeks. This was a concern of mine and after presenting my case to the tumor board the surgeon called tell me that the tumor board unanimously agreed to start chemo because of the aggressive nature of the cancer.

I have chemo class scheduled for Tuesday and I’m hoping to start chemo ASAP after that.

Thanks for all of your texts, calls, emails, messages, flowers, etc. I am doing okay. This is scary and effed up but I’ve got a positive attitude and the BEST support network out there.



The 52 New Food Challenge – Okra

Jennifer Tyler Lee has found something that I almost never eat; I believe I have had it once or twice. I don’t think okra is very common out here in California but I know I have seen it in some Indian dishes. It’s not that I don;t like it, but since it isn’t very common I haven’t sought it out much. Jennifer Tyler Lee recommends sautéing it with garlic or making an Okra Risotto. I love risotto, so I’m supporting this option!

Food Facts:okra

  • It originated in Africa and migrated to the Mediterranean.
  • It is a mucilaginous veggie which some folks like and other detest.
  • Good source of vitamins A, B6, C, and K, folate, niacin, riboflavin, manganese, calcium, magnesium, copper, and potassium.
  • Good source of fiber.
  • It contains the antioxidants beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
  • Studies have shown that the seeds in okra may help reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
  • In mice studies, the antioxidants helped to reverse cognitive deficits that were due to nerve damage.
  • Cooking okra does not lessen the nutrient value.
  • Younger okra pods are less mucilaginous.

From The 52 New Foods Challenge by Jennifer Tyler Lee and Superfoods by Tonia Reinhard.

The 52 New Foods Challenge – Corn

This week’s new food is Corn. While I do love corn on the corn and am totally addicted corn tortilla chips, this is a contentious food for me for a couple of reasons.

  1. Most corn is genetically modified. I personally don’t trust GMO foods and try to avoid them as much as possible.
  2. Corn is in everything. Dextrose, corn syrup, HFCS, maltodextrin, corn starch, and more. Many foods that are highly processed and then added to processed foods are also highly allergenic foods. As a species survival mechanism, plant foods contain tiny amounts of toxins. Overconsumption of one type of food builds up the amount of toxins we are exposed to. So I recommend limiting corn consumption.
  3. Corn is one of the top 8 most allergenic foods.
  4. Ever seen whole corn kernels in your stool? MOST people don’t digest corn well.
  5. It’s not a nutrient dense food and crowds out room for more nutritious foods.

With all that said, I do occasionally eat corn, I usually opt for blue or purple corn because these heirloom varieties are less likely to be genetically modified. Jennifer Tyler Lee recommends a corn salsa or popping the corn while it’s still on the cobb. That sounds like fun! I DO love heirloom popcorn made on the stove with ghee and then topped with real butter. It’s my vice.

Food Facts:

  • purple-cornCorn is native to Central America.
  • Corn is high in vitamins A, B5, B6, C, folate, thiamine, niacin, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, manganese, riboflavin, and zinc.
  • Good source of carotenoids, specifically zeaxanthin and beta-cryptoxanthin, as well as phenols.
  • Carotenoids can help to lower blood pressure as well as reduce risk of breast cancer for post-menopausal women.
  • Modern corn has been bred to have more sugar and is lower in phytonutrients.
  • Blue corn has nearly thirty times the antioxidant values of modern white corn.
  • Darker yellow corn varieties have more nutrients than white corn.
  • There are other varieties as well: red, orange, purple, blue, and black. These varieties are rarely found at the store but could be grown at home.
  • Frozen corn is equally nutritious as fresh corn; canned corn can also be as nutritious as fresh corn.
  • Corn is not a complete source of protein alone.
  • Corn contains niacin, but in whole food form, it is not bio-available. Native Americans soaked their maize in lime which allowed  the niacin become available for the body.

From The 52 New Foods Challenge by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson, Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno, and Superfoods by Tonia Reinhard.