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Today's parenting: Quirky, or conscious?
February 7th, 2011
04:09 PM ET

Today's parenting: Quirky, or conscious?

In recent weeks, writer, cancer survivor and mother of two young children,  Amanda Enayati has written about pursuing a healthy life for her family by cutting excessive sugars, bad fats, dyes, preservatives and pesticides from their diet and reducing her household's "toxic burden." Today, she reflects on modern parenting and her willingness to be considered different.

Am I really that extreme about health? I don’t know that I am.

It’s possible that my pediatrician groans whenever he sees me coming. Perhaps he is a touch annoyed that I don’t let him stack my kids’ vaccinations on top of each other, that I make him spread them out over the course of months, that I demand mercury-free vaccines, that I tend to hold off on giving my children antibiotics until it’s absolutely clear that there’s no way around them.

So maybe I’m a tad eccentric.

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Filed under: Children's Health

In defense of crunch:  What we use (and don’t)
January 28th, 2011
09:29 AM ET

In defense of crunch: What we use (and don’t)

Last week, writer, cancer survivor and mother of two young children,  Amanda Enayati wrote about pursuing a healthy life for her family by cutting excessive sugars, bad fats, dyes, preservatives and pesticides from their diet. Today she tells of reducing her household's "toxic burden."

“Crunchy” is what we used to call our handful of friends who seemed to live on the outer edges of reality when it came to healthy foods and personal products. We loved our friends, of course, tolerated their quirks, but mostly passed on using their homemade patchouli bath products or eating their tofu scramble served on a bed of raw zucchini noodles.

In the days when I first began considering how to lower my family’s household toxic burden, I thought of my crunchy friends often—how I had once found them so extreme, so eccentric, perhaps even rolled my eyes inwardly at some of their practices. But here I was all these years later, knee-deep in scientific journals, and suddenly the Mad Hatter seemed … not so mad.

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Filed under: Children's Health • Toxic America

One mom's extreme search for healthy living
January 20th, 2011
01:20 PM ET

One mom's extreme search for healthy living

One of the most profound  byproducts of a serious health challenge can be a patient’s need to seize control over some aspects of his or her life, hoping those changes may affect the outcome of illness. Today, in the first of three parts, writer, cancer survivor and mother of two young children,  Amanda Enayati reflects on her newfound vigilance - some might say obsession - with achieving a healthier lifestyle for herself and her family.

Prologue

“Why did I get cancer?”

I think in the first years after diagnosis, I asked anyone and everyone who crossed my path: doctors, surgeons, oncologists, specialists, nurses, orderlies and receptionists. All I ever heard was: “We just don’t know.”

I tried to make a case for myself, as if somehow that would undo that which was already done: But I am young. I have no family history. I have no genetic predisposition. Zero high-risk lifestyle habits. Nothing! The disease just showed up one day like a nightmare houseguest no one was expecting or was happy to see.

“So why did I get cancer?”

Eventually, when they were all good and tired of me, I was greeted with blank smiles and an imaginary chorus of crickets chirping.

But an unanswered question of that magnitude does not just go away. It replays in your mind over and over again. It makes you suspect things that appeared innocent just a few short months ago. It makes you, well, paranoid.

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Filed under: Children's Health • Healthy Eating

Breast cancer: Etiquette
October 15th, 2010
08:48 AM ET

Breast cancer: Etiquette

This week Amanda Enayati will share the milestones of a life-altering journey that began the day she learned she had late-stage breast cancer more than three years ago.

Today let’s discuss cancer etiquette. I would call it serious illness etiquette but I thought I would specialize since cancer is what I know and, who knows, maybe the rules are different from disease to disease. (And yes, every one of the following has happened to me at some point.)

Finding out someone has cancer is awful. It is a cruel disease, which will strike one out of every two Americans. Hearing the bad news is shocking and devastating but it’s probably more shocking and devastating for the cancer victim than it is for you.

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Filed under: Cancer

Breast cancer journey: A new lump
October 14th, 2010
09:09 AM ET

Breast cancer journey: A new lump

This week, Amanda Enayati shares the milestones of a life-altering journey that began the day she learned she had late-stage breast cancer more than three years ago.

A few weeks later, I went back to Stanford to get an ultrasound on the lump that my oncologist had found—now officially known as “eight inches from the left nipple at one o’clock.”

I arrived at 1:30 and waited about a half-hour until I was ushered into a tiny waiting area and told to go into a closet of a dressing room to change out of my shirt and bra, and into the hospital gown. I opened my mouth to protest the gown but decided to pick my battles. I stepped in and changed into a forlorn white cotton shirt-thing with a smattering of tiny pink and green flowers and a handful of bedraggled white strings hanging off of it. Does anyone truly know how to tie these things? And is it really necessary for them to be so hideous? I felt like the indignity of having to wait around like cattle only to go in to get your boob squished for the better part of an hour was bad enough without having to don a costume that makes you look like a refugee from Camp Fashion Faux-pas, Class of 1974.

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Filed under: Cancer

October 13th, 2010
10:58 AM ET

Breast cancer: High risk of recurrence

This week, Amanda Enayati shares the milestones of a life-altering journey that began the day she learned she had late-stage breast cancer more than three years ago.

Stanford Cancer Center, where I have been treated since I was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer with a 9-centimeter tumor and spread to two lymph nodes in August 2007, is strictly high end. It has a mix of shiny golden blonde and medium brown wood floors, elegantly broken up by exquisite imported marble tiles and rich, patterned brown and caramel carpets. The lobby has high ceilings with large windows that let in a ton of natural light. The furniture is chic and understated in butters, tans, smoky oranges and bronzes. Expensive art hangs against large swaths of creamy white wall.

A shiny black grand piano graces the corner as you walk in. There’s usually classical music playing, sometimes even a harp. Today, a female cellist plays a hopeful passage.

A few times a week masseuses come to give free massages to patients and family members. There are valets out front waiting to whisk your car away if you can’t be bothered to park it yourself. I have heard horror stories about some of the other top cancer centers around the country, and I am truly grateful for all this cheer and opulence.

By the time I arrive at the Cancer Center for my six-month follow-up appointment, I have worked myself into such a state that I am literally shaking and can’t make myself stop. It’s as if I were standing in the middle of a snow bank in a bikini.

I was told at the very beginning of this surreal ordeal that I will be at high-risk of recurrence for the rest of my life. I am young. I am hopeful that the rest of my life will amount to a handful more decades, though each time I dare look them up, the five-year survival rates claim otherwise.

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Filed under: Cancer

Breast cancer: Surgery
October 12th, 2010
09:21 AM ET

Breast cancer: Surgery

This week, Amanda Enayati shares the milestones of a life-altering journey that began the day she learned she had late-stage breast cancer more than three years ago.

The mastectomy of my right breast took place in September 2007. Because the tumor was enormous, they also had to remove some muscle from my right chest so that they could make sure they had “clean margins” around the mass.

Would you believe that I really wasn’t fearful going into the operation? And though my breasts were probably one of my nicest features, I wasn’t particularly traumatized about losing one, either. I’m still not.  To me, it was a matter of: It’s diseased and so it’s got to go. Frankly, I still feel attractive. I know women whose continuing refusal to remove their cancer-ridden breasts became tantamount to suicide. I don’t relate to that kind of attachment to your breasts but I am able to understand it. Really, do we need to look any further than the images we’re constantly force-fed by our media to understand why not having breasts is unthinkable to some women?

I don’t remember much about the morning we all drove down to Stanford hospital to check in for my operation. My dad was driving the car, I think. My husband, sister-in-law and best friend were there. My mother stayed home with the babies.

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Filed under: Cancer

Breast cancer: Diagnosis
October 11th, 2010
10:37 AM ET

Breast cancer: Diagnosis

For the next five days, Amanda Enayati will share the milestones of a life-altering journey that began the day she learned she had late-stage breast cancer more than three years ago.

I had felt something in my breast for more than a year before I decided to get it checked out. I never in a million years imagined it was cancer. I had been either pregnant or nursing continuously for almost four years straight. I thought what I was feeling was a clogged milk duct.

I have no family history of breast cancer.
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Filed under: Cancer

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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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