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A Message of Hope

Carolyn Byrd, RN-BSN - From Survivor to Thriver

     I have been married for several years and have 3 wonderful children and 2 granddaughters. Life was good until it was suddenly interrupted by a breast cancer diagnosis. What a shock to receive a cancer diagnosis! I have been a nurse for several years but was absolutely ignorant regarding breast cancer. Thinking I was doing all of the right things by having yearly mammograms since the age of 38. Now at the age of 48  I find a breast lump, 5 months after a clean mammogram. Hearing this news of breast cancer was just devastating. Once I heard the word cancer, I did not hear another word. My entire life just flashed before my eyes. I thought this just cannot be happening to me!

     The next few weeks was a blur after such a horrible diagnosis. The pre-surgery appointments included breast MRI, CT scans, and genetic counseling. All of this was so overwhelming! I was diagnosed with an advanced stage 3B, grade 3, breast cancer. I was currently  working as a hospice nurse and was taking care of patients who was dying from the same disease I had.  I was determined to fight back and beat the disease. 

I had the conventional therapy with chemo, radiation and lumpectomy. I also had 8/19 positive lymph nodes. I was prescribed Aromatase Inhibitors (the five year pills) due to my positive hormone status. Within 3 years of being on the medication, my weight increased by 30 pounds, increased hot flashes, painful joints and facets disease in my spine that caused excruciating back pain. I had to undergo steroids treatments for the pain which was unsuccessful. The next step was surgery but I refused. In my heart, I knew that God would some how heal my body. I was spiraling down with a poor quality of life. In 2013 I met someone who introduced me to Juice Plus (concentrated fruits and vegetables in a capsule). 

     I started taking Juice Plus and then went on a vegan diet. Within 6 months, I lost those 30 pounds, and became pain free for the first time in 20 years. I never had to have surgery on my spine! I realized that people was dying from their poor nutritional habits and lifestyle choices. I was inspired to became a certified wellness coach and decided to quit my job as a hospice nurse because I did not want to help people die anymore, I wanted to teach people how to LIVE. I started my own wellness ministry called Live Long and Lean where I coach clients to better health through lifestyle, exercise, attitude and nutrition changes. I also became a Nurse Navigator at a hospital system and helped patients navigate their cancer journey. I recently retired from that job so I could  focus on helping you holistically with your cancer journey.

     I was told that only 1 out of 5 women survive this type of breast cancer in the first five years! I am elated to be an 11 year cancer thriver with the best quality of life ever! I am a  living witness that with the proper nutrition and lifestyle changes, you can beat cancer. I did!

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