Team in Training: Why I run

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A few weeks ago, I signed up for Team in Training.  For me, it’s one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done, but also one of the scariest.

Team in Training is an organization that works in conjunction with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in order to raise awareness and money for blood cancer research.  When you sign up to be a part of Team in Training, you agree to raise money for the LLS and participate in an event of your choice – typically a marathon, half marathon, or triathlon.  TNT provides a coach to help train you for the event.  The event I signed up for the the Disney Princess Half Marathon.

Now, if you are new to the blog, I’d like to just give you a little bit of background on myself.  I am a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Survivor.  I was diagnosed about three years ago, and after 6 months of chemo, I have been cancer free for 2 1/2 years.  I found out about Team in Training during my treatments and have wanted to participate ever since. Why?

It’s definitely not because I like running.  In fact, there might not be anything I like less than running, except maybe laundry.  Nope, that’s not it.

Here’s the real reason I wanted to join TNT.

I have three kids.

my kids why i run LLS TNT three kids cancer

When I found the lump in my neck, my youngest was about three weeks old, my middle child was only two and my oldest was almost eight. Of course the younger two were too little to understand what was going on, but my daughter was scared. She didn’t know what was going on and I didn’t know what to say to her. Sitting down with her, trying to find a way to explain to her what cancer is, what it can do, and that I had it was one of the hardest things I have ever done and in retrospect I probably did it all wrong.

We found out I had cancer on a Friday. My husband took me to the doctor. When we got home, he went into work, shared with his boss the situation and was immediately sent home. On Sunday, we went to church and I shared that I had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I am a firm believer in the power of prayer and I wanted prayers right away. We had only lived in Arizona about three months so I was amazed at the outpouring of emotion I saw there. People were praying for me, hugging me, crying… there was an outpouring of emotion that was not at all what I had expected. Up until this point, I hadn’t really talked with my daughter about what was happening beyond saying I was sick, but when she saw people crying and hugging me, she started to realize the severity of the situation. At this point, I knew I should have talked with her prior to sharing it with other people. Hindsight is 20/20.

You never want to tell your kids you might be dying.

I didn’t want to scare her. I never mentioned the word cancer or talked about dying, although she eventually realized that lymphoma is cancer and cancer is deadly. But I never said I wouldn’t die either. I didn’t want to lie, and that’s a real possibility when you have cancer. Ultimately, I just shared that I had something called lymphoma, and that even though I didn’t look or feel sick right now, there was a sickness in my body that I had to fight. And that fight, going through chemo, was going to make me a lot sicker before I got better. I think presenting it that way was a good way to explain it – she was prepared for me to be sick and knew that it was normal, nothing to be scared about.

You should never have to tell your kids you have cancer. 

We are in the age of information.  Technology is never far from our fingertips, and a cure for cancer is out there, we just need to find it.

Now that we are past it, I have been trying to pay it forward. In the past, my husband, the kids, and I have participated in walks to raise money for Lymphoma research and I think it really increases their awareness of how many people this affects, but I wanted to do MORE.  That’s why my personal goal is to raise around $5000 towards Lymphoma Research.  Because I don’t want YOU to have to tell your children you have cancer and feel the uncertainty that I felt.

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Being diagnosed with cancer is not something that just happened to us – it’s something that changed our lives – and from the other side of that journey, I can see that it was a blessing. But it’s only a blessing because of the treatments that I was able to recieve, treatments that got rid of my lymphoma, made possible by past donations to amazing orgnizations like the LLS and TNT.  It’s only a blessing because I survived.

And that’s why I run.  It’s not because I like running… it’s because I want everyone to LIVE.  I don’t want anyone to experience what I did, being afraid you might die, having to tell your kids.  I run so future generations can live.

How can you help?

1 – Donations

Of course, I appreciate your donations.  Every little bit helps – $5, $10, $100 – I am grateful for it.

But over the next 6 months, I’m going to be getting really creative as I work to raise $5000.  So in addition to making a donation, here are some other ways you can help.

2 – T-Shirts!

100% of the the profit raised from these T-shirt sales will be donated to the LLS Team in Training Program to help continue to find a cure for blood cancers!

Shirts are lavender burnout workout tees. On the back, it says “I ran and I ran and I ran every day, and I acquired this sense of determination, this sense of spirit that I would never, never give up, no matter what else happened. ~ Wilma Randolph” followed by the LLS Team in Training Logo. On the front, cancer survivors will have the word “survivor” printed on the front of their shirts. Shirts for non cancer survivors will be left blank on the front.

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Shirts are $18 plus $5 shipping. If you would like to order more than one shirt, please contact me directly via facebook or at mrsamy@hotmail.com so I can combine shipping for you and send you a custom invoice. Also, if you are local and would like to pick up your shirt in person, please contact me so I can waive shipping and send you a custom invoice.

You can order via this link:  https://payableform.appspot.com/forms/79y82

3 – Dollar Days

Follow me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/amyelizabethallen) or Instagram (@amyallenfitness) to participate in Dollar Days once a month.  Not sure what that is?  Follow me to find out.

4 – More to come, I’m sure, as I figure out new ways to raise awareness and money!

Thank you!

Amy Allen

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The Ultimate Reset: Review from a Cancer Survivor/Post Chemo

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If I could recommend one thing to every cancer patient who has finished chemo and beat cancer, it would be the Ultimate Reset. During chemotherapy, cancer patients spend months filling our bodies with chemicals to fight the war on cancer. When it was all over, there is nothing I wanted more than to purge my body of all those chemicals. Just a few months before I finished chemo, I read about a product being released called the Ultimate Reset. I read the results of this amazing 21 Day Cleanse and I wanted to do it. Right then. But doing it during chemo is a horrible idea! All of the toxins are playing an important part in the battle going on inside you. I decided to wait until I had the results from my post chemo PET scan, and once I got the all clear, I would give it a shot.

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So, 1 month post chemo, I went in for my PET scan. One week later, I got official word that my body was cancer free and the following Monday, I started the Ultimate Reset. Let me tell you a little bit about what this product is and what it does.

It is a 21 Day Cleanse that takes you through three phases, Reclaim, Release, and Restore.

Reclaim

In Phase 1, you Reclaim your body, balancing its inner chemistry and preparing it for change—much like soap loosens grime.

Release

In Phase 2, you Release the toxic compounds that are clogging your cells and stored within your tissues—like a purifying surge of clear water that flushes away years of impurities.

 

Restore

In Phase 3, you Restore your metabolism to maximum efficiency, while fortifying your body with the nutrients, enzymes, and probiotics it needs to maintain healthy performance in the future.

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My Experience:

Three days into the cleanse, I started waking up early. I am not a morning person. I am a sleeper. But I was hopping out of bed at five in the morning, without an alarm, full of energy and ready to start my day. By the time I finished, I literally felt the best I have ever felt in my entire life. So many people were asking me “How’s it going? How do you feel?” And with a huge smile on my face, less than two months post treatment, I could tell then that I had never felt better. All of the toxins, including the cancer, were out of my body and I was completely restored. I was reset.

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Ultimate Reset FAQs

Will I be hungry all the time during the Ultimate Reset?

No. You’ll eat three healthy, satisfying meals every day. Most participants found the meals provided them with plenty of food. Just in case, though, we also give you a list of tasty snacks you can eat while still maintaining your Reset.

What’s the difference between the Ultimate Reset and most cleanses on the market?

During the Ultimate Reset, you’ll eat three healthy, satisfying meals every day and take supplements. You won’t starve, drink only juice, or eat only meal replacements. You’ll become familiar with delicious new foods and recipes that will help you maintain your health gains beyond these 21 days. In other words, the Reset isn’t a quick fix. It’s a path to real, long-term change.

Will I lose weight on the Ultimate Reset?

Probably. Most Reset participants have lost weight. However, they’re even more excited to have acquired new, healthy habits and released unhealthy ones. They’ve eliminated cravings for sugar and caffeine, learned delicious ways to prepare fruits and vegetables, and grown more aware of how different foods affect their moods and energy levels, making it easier for them to continue eating healthily.

Can I work out during my Ultimate Reset?

No, for the 21 days of the Ultimate Reset, we suggest you refrain from strenuous exercise. The Reset is already giving your body a serious internal workout. After your Reset, you’ll be ready to resume your Beachbody® workout program and benefit even more from your efforts.

I’m on medication. Can I do the Reset?

Check with your physician before beginning the Reset to make sure that it won’t react negatively with any medication you’re taking.

I’m pregnant. Can I do the Ultimate Reset?

No. Your body’s systems are already working hard. Wait to do the Reset another time.

What if I have questions, or need help understanding something in the Reset?

Don’t worry! You’ll have the support and guidance of ME every step of the way. And because I’ve already completed the Reset, I’ll know how to answer your questions from experience.

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Happy Birthday to ME!

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I don’t know that anyone appreciates this quote more than me…

Two years ago, I honestly wasn’t 100% sure that I would have any more birthdays and now I am so grateful for each and every one.

Last year, on my 30th birthday, I was blessed to be in Argentina on an all expenses paid, first class trip to Buenos Aires and Uruguay, compliments of Beachbody.

This year, I’m not on a cool vacation but instead I get to enjoy it with my kids and I am so very grateful for that.  And do you want to know why?  Having cancer taught me to appreciate every minute and make the most of them. There is no guarantee on the amount of time you have left and I’m going to continue to make every minute count.

DIY Banana Face Mask

banana face maskAs I have shared before, part of my post cancer journey has been purging all chemical and artificial things from my life.  Up until now, that has included the food we eat, the cleaners we use, and medications.  For the most part, we eat organic, non-gmo whole foods.  I use primarily homemade, chemical free cleaners.  And I have forgone typical medications in favor of more holistic treatments and essential oils.  But one area that I hadn’t addresses, and to be honest, I hadn’t thought much about at all, is my bathroom products.  I’m talking about skin care, makeup, shampoo, bodywash, etc.  Until two weeks ago, which is when this happened:

breakout after face peel chemical reaction

Madison and I were having a girls day – doing nails, face masks, etc.  For Christmas, my mom put a face mask in her stocking – one of those $1 things you can get at Target or Wal-Mart – so we got it out and put it on her face.  We left it on for about 5 minutes, per the instructions, and when we took it off, this is what her face looked like.  And it burned so badly, and for a while, I thought we were headed to the doctor.  It did clear up after a little while but it really made me step back for a minute and evaluate some things.  I have been working so hard to get rid of chemicals, but I’m still putting them on my face everyday?

So here is the first step in the next stage of my healthy journey – cutting chemicals out of our skin care products.  After this disaster with the face mask, I told Madison to look up natural recipes and we would make our own from now on, and here is our first try.  It was a big success and my face felt very moisturized when I was done.

Side note to moms – this is a fun project to do with your girls… but you might not want to let them apply the mask… just a tip from a mom who has been there…

Banana Face Mask

banana face mask

Ingredients:

1 banana

1 egg yolk

1 T. avocado oil

Step One:

Mash the banana.  Here’s a neat trick – before you start mashing with the fork, use it to poke the banana full of tiny holes and the mashing will be MUCH easier.  And one more thing – mash that banana as fine as you possibly can – the less chunky it is, the better it will feel on your face.

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Step Two:

Mix all the ingredients together.

banana face mask

Step Three:

Apply to your face and let sit for 20 minutes.  Here is where my advice will come in really handy… unless you want Banana Face Mask in your ears, in your hair and down your shirt, think twice before you let your ten year old daughter apply it…  and just be warned it is very cold.

banana face mask

(She really looks like she is having a little too much fun, doesn’t she?  Don’t worry, I took a video when it was her turn!)

Oh, and PS – the cucumbers are optional but I think my daughter has been spending a little too much time on Pinterest; she insisted they were necessary and to be honest, they were a nice addition.  My eyes felt very refreshed along with my skin.

Step Four:

Rinse face with cold water and enjoy your fresh smooth skin!

So why did we decide on those particular ingredients for our face mask?

Banana – the Vitamin C cleans skin and helps repair blemishes and antioxidents neutralize free radicals that case early aging!

Egg Yolk – Vitamins B2 and Zinc can help heal and prevent acne, and the B3 in them aids with circulation for a healthier feel!

Avocado Oil – rejuvenates dry skin and also help prevent signs of aging.

Hope you enjoy!

Amy Allen star diamond coach

Growing your own Organic Sprouts

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For Christmas, my sweet husband bought me a grow your own sprouts kit… Well, actually, I picked it out, told him I wanted it, and he told me to go ahead a buy it for myself, wrap it and put it under the tree… I guess it doesn’t matter how it got there. The bottom line is I love adding fresh sprouts for my salad and now I can grow my own.

There are a great many benefits to eating sprouts.  Experts estimate that there are up to 100 times more enzymes in sprouts than there are in traditional fruits and veggies.  The protein quality is also higher, and the vitamin and fiber content increases substantially over traditional fruits and vegetables.  Sprouts also help to maintain alkalinity in the body.  And while I am not a doctor, I have read studies that indicate broccoli sprouts may be helpful if you are fighting cancer**.

I ordered the kit pictured above from www.seedsnow.com and in retrospect, I didn’t really NEED the kit. I already had most of the items needed around my house aside from the seeds. The kit was handy because it came with everything I needed, but I wasn’t completely happy with my purchase.  It was advertised as non-GMO (true) and organic, but actually only one of the seed packets was organic.

I would recommend ordering just the organic non-gmo sprouts from www.seedsnow.com and sourcing the rest of the materials yourself. It would likely save you money and wouldn’t be too difficult to do. So here is what you will need:

  • Organic, non-gmo sprouting seeds
  • A large mason jar
  • Some sort of mesh to cover the mouth of your jar
  • A towel
  • Water

Step by Step Directions

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Step One:

Measure out sprout seeds. I used small alfalfa sprout seeds, so I used 2 Tbsp of seeds. For larger seeds, like peas, you may need up to ¼ cup.

Step Two:

Put your seeds into the ball jar and cover them with water.  There should be about an inch of water over the top of the seeds.  Screw on the lid with mesh covering attached and allow to sit overnight, 8-12 hours.  Cover the entire jar with a small towel during the entire process (the sprouts should be kept out of the light as much as possible during the process).

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Step Three:

In the morning, drain all of the water off the sprouts and rinse them with fresh water – you can leave them in the jar while you rinse them.  Drain the excess water and turn the jar onto it’s side and shake the jar to spread out the seeds evenly.  They should be damp but there should be no standing water.  Cover with the towel.

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Step Four:

Over the next three to five days, remember to rinse the sprouts 2-3 times per day, and always leave the jar on it’s side, covered with a damp towel.  Again, you can leave the sprouts in the jar to rinse them; just be sure to drain the excess water.  By the fourth or fifth day, your jar should be full of organic sprouts to enjoy any way you choose.  After the fifth day, I did leave mine in the jar, uncovered in the fridge.  I’m not sure what the correct procedure is for storing them but this has worked well for me.

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These organic sprouts are a great addition to any clean eating, organic, non-gmo meal plan.  Enjoy!

**Side note – the American Cancer Society does not recommend sprouts in your diet if you have a weakened immune system such as occurs during chemotherapy.  While there are a great many benefits to eating sprouts, be sure to consult your doctor first if you fall into this category.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

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Post-chemo, one of the things I became a fanatic about was cutting out chemicals from my life.  No, no one knows what causes the type of cancer I had, but since my treatments, I have done everything in my power to ensure that if it does come back, I won’t be able to blame myself.  So for me, that includes soaps, bug spray, medicines, cleaners, fertilizers, etc.  If there is a natural way to do it instead of automatically going to chemicals, I have sought it out.

Now I make all of my cleaners, including all purpose cleaner, window spray, granite cleaner, laundry soap, etc.  The only one I haven’t been able to find a good substitute for is dishwashing detergent but trust me I am looking.  This post will be part one in a series of the cleaning products I am currently using and I am very happy with the results of.

The recipe I use for laundry soap is dry – I don’t know about you, but trying to find space to store mass quantities of liquid in my house with three kids is precarious at best and a disaster at its worst.  The recipe is pretty simple – just 3 ingredients. It is low sud so it does work in HE washers.

  • One bar Fels Naptha soap, grated
  • One cup Borax
  • One cup Washing Soda

I’m a little extreme, so I made an extreme batch – I used 10 bars of soap, 10 cups of borax, and 10 cups of washing soda, mixed it all up and then put it in a pretty glass jar with a pretty label in the laundry room.  I have no idea how long it will last.  For my family of 5, I’ve been using this batch since July (so over 6 months now) and I’m still not halfway through it… so I’m hoping if I make up this much at a time, making laundry soap will be a annual event.  I use one tablespoon per load and I am very happy with the results.

The only issue I would mention is there is no smell.  This doesn’t bother me – if my clothes are clean, they don’t need to smell good – but I know some people prefer that their clothes have a scent.  I don’t use fabric softener or dryer sheets (again, the crazy fanatic no chemicals thing) but I’m working on a way to use essential oils to scent my clothes in the dryer (so far, I haven’t had any luck but I’m not giving up yet).

 

The Neulasta Shot

I knew chemotherapy would be bad. I knew it would make me sick, nauseous, and tired. But I didn’t realize that the shot the next day would be worse. I had chemotherapy every other week. And the day after chemo, I went back in to get a Neulasta shot to boost my white blood cell production.

 

From what I understand, the Neulasta shot basically tells your body to start producing more white blood cells because the medicine in the chemotherapy is going to kill all the ones your already have. It’s like what happens when you get the flu – the way your bones start to hurt – times seven. I dreaded going in for the shot more than going in for chemo. Not only did the actual shot hurt (and I’m not a baby about shots, but this one was bad), but it also made my bones hurt. Bad. Like I couldn’t take a shower for several days bad because each tiny drop of water felt like a bullet hitting my bones.

 

But as much as I wanted to (and I REALLY wanted to…) I never skipped it. And I never got really sick. I was never hospitalized for low cell counts, and I was never hospitalized for extreme sickness, so for me, I have to say it was worth it. If you are on the fence about it, do it. And if you are thinking about skipping it, don’t.

Product Review: Biotene Gum

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Product Review:  Biotene

I don’t typically chew gum, but I just about invested stock in this company while going through my treatments. I don’t think my dry mouth was as severe as it could have been, but these products are amazing. I personally used the gum (almost every day), the toothpaste, and the mouthwash. I strongly recommend having them on hand to use for the dry mouth associated with chemotherapy.

Here is a link to purchase the product on Amazon. (I don’t get any kick back from this, so feel free to use it or not! It’s just here for convenience).

Product Review: Nioxin

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Product Review:  Nioxin

 

If you have read any of my story, then you probably know that I didn’t lose my hair during cancer. You can watch more about that in my YouTube video. But my hair did thin out quite a bit and so to combat that, I used a product called Nioxin. It’s just a shampoo/conditioner/scalp treatment for thinning hair, but it helped me tremendously. It thickened my hair and stimulated hair growth in the areas where it was most thin. You can get it from a beauty store like Ulta for just from Amazon. I highly recommend #6 which is specially formulated for thinning, chemically treated hair. Even if you have never had a perm or had your hair colored, go for the chemically treated one because you have so many chemicals in your body from chemotherapy.

 

Here is a link to the product on Amazon (I don’t get any kick back from this, so feel free to use it or not! It’s just here for convenience).