Saturday, August 9, 2014

It Works Product Reviews

 In my last post I shared that I was sampling two of the products from It Works. My first experience was with the body applicator "wrap". I have "wings" or "dog ears" left over from my last reconstruction that poke out near my hips. They are unsightly and a constant reminder of my body's betrayal. I applied the body applicator wrap around my back covering each 'wing'. I left it on for longer than the recommended 45 minutes because I'm a hard-headed-determined-to-use-up-every-drop-of-product kind of gal (cheap). Here is my before photo and the after photo with hand-y pointers showing my 'wings' in both photos. 

Pretty amazing isn't it?


The second product I tried was the Lip and Eye Gel I've been looking so forward to using. I have dark circles under my eyes regardless of amount of sleep I get at night. They're genetic - practically everyone in my family has them. My husband, in his loving way, calls them my raccoon eyes. I've tried all kinds of different products to at least minimize them: concealers, foundation, under eye creams from various brands, essential oils, etc. Never any real results came from repeated applications. This herbal-based gel was applied over a mineral powder in the parking lot after a meeting in town. It took me about 30 minutes to drive home and get my husband to take an after photo. That's it! Below you'll see the that eye on the left is the before and the one on the right is the after. Again, I used my hand-y pointers to show my problem areas. 

 Amazing!

These are seriously my before and after photos. Each photo was taken at a different time and with the eye photos in a different location. The only altering was the color balance and cropping to show only the applicable area. No smoothing, no cloning, nothing was done to alter the appearance of the photos. These are really photos taken using either an iPhone or my iPad and any balancing or cropping was done on my iPad. Genuine change brought about in a ridiculously short time - nothing else!

Let me know if you'd be interested in some change of your own! If you have issues that are different, ask me if there is a product that can help you - chances are It Works has what you need! Comment here, send me an email (erikav@me.com), or visit my webpage (www.biologybrain.myitworks.com). End of sales pitch!


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

New Endeavor: It Works Product Introductions

Ever since I was terminated from my job, we've been struggling financially. A friend of I mine read of our financial problems and suggested I sell It Works products like she does. Well, I took the plunge. I'm hoping perhaps some of my readers will too.

I tried the crazy wrap thing for myself. Literally overnight I noticed improvement of my trouble spots - 'wings' left over from my reconstruction surgery. Amazing! The only way to get rid of these 'wings', I thought, was to have more surgery (revision plastic surgery). For a cosmetic problem, I wasn't willing to spend the money or pain. Now with these crazy wraps, I don't have to worry about further surgery. 

There are many different products - not just wraps. All the products are herbal based without complex named chemicals. On my webpage through It Works, you can access each product's ingredients list, how much is in each serving and how much/if it is part of your Daily Value. Pricing depends on your commitment to purchasing. If you're willing to commit to 3 consecutive months of product (each month can be a different product), then you are a Loyal Customer (LC) and get heavy discounts. Retail customers don't get the same discounts but still get the same products. If you sign up to become a Distributor you get free products that you can use yourself, give away, or sell. Additionally, you make commissions off of the products your LCs and retail customers buy. When you get other Distributors signed up, you earn commissions off of their commissions and some really great monetary rewards. The success stories of this company are phenomenal. I'm hoping to be one of them!

Body
Ultimate Body Applicator (4 applications LC $59; retail $99)
Defining Gel Body Contouring Gel (LC $45; retail $75)
Fab Wrap (82 feet LC/retail $7)

Greens
I've also been drinking Greens. In each serving is 8 servings of fruits/veggies, the antioxidant effect of 20 cartons of blueberries, probiotics, and pH balancing goodness. Each serving is also an energy boost without any harmful caffeine or other chemical energizers. There are two flavors available: orange and berry. There are several different options for Greens: 
30 serving jar (LC $33; retail $55), 
90 serving jar (LC $79; retail $139), 
30 single serving on-the-go packets (LC $35; retail $59), and 
60 Chews (LC $30; retail $50). 

Skin
There are several skincare products as well. The Lip and Eye Moisturizing Cream Gel (LC $29; retail $49) in my next order. This product smooths skin tone and lessens the look of wrinkles, bags, and puffiness. One thing I struggle with is my constant dark circles under my eyes. It's genetics combined with allergies, and not helped my erratic sleep cycles. I have high hopes for this cream.

There other products I haven't tried or investigated yet, but sound wonderful. 
Facial: Deep Hydration Mask (4 applications LC $59; retail $99)
Cleanser: Facial Cleanser Gel (LC $33; retail $55)
Toner: pH Balancing Mist (LC $33; retail $55)
Stretch Mark: Moisturizing Body Cream (LC $39; retail $65)
Hair Skin and Nails: Nourishing Complex (60 tablets LC $33; retail $55)
Preventage: Day Cream Gel (LC $25; retail $45)
Repairage: Night Cream Gel (LC $29; retail $49)

Lifestyle
There are many different tablets available for weight loss, colon health, revitalizing, healthy joints, anti stress, multivitamin, bone health, essential fatty acids, nutrition, weight loss energy, and even a menopausal support. 
Advanced Fat Fighter with Carb Inhibitors (60 tablets LC $23; retail $39)
Ultimate Thermofit: Thermogenic Weight Loss Formula (60 tablets LC $39; retail $65)
Regular: Support for Colon Health (60 capsules LC $27; retail $45)
It's Vital Core Nutrition: Cutting Edge Multivitamin (90 tablets LC $29; retail $49)
New You: Body Revitalizing Formula (90 tablets LC $49; retail $89)
Relief: Support for Healthy Joint Function (60 tablets LC $29; retail $49)
Confianza: Anti-Stress Formula (60 tablets LC $25; retail $45)
It's Vital Minerals: Support for Bone Health (60 tablets LC $23; retail $39)
It's Vital Omega-3: Essential Fatty Acids (30 soft-gel capsules LC $23; retail $39)
Ultimate Profit: Advanced Superfood Nutrition (vanilla or chocolate powder LC $69; retail $115)
It's Essential: Weight Loss Energy Bar (dark chocolate berry flavor LC $25; retail $45)
Estrorhythm: Support for Menopausal Symptoms (30-day supply LC $79; retail $139)

Packs
We all know that sometimes things are meant to be used in conjunction with other things. Well, these packs put various products together in a way that maximizes effectiveness. 

It's Vital Complete Nutrition Pack: Core Nutrition, Minerals, and Omega-3s (30 packets LC $60; retail $115)
Wrap Pack: 4 Ultimate Body Applicators and mini Defining Gel (LC $69; retail $115)
Skinny Pack: 4 Ultimate Body Applicators, Defining Gel, and Advanced Formula Fat Fighter (LC $112; retail $189)
It Pack: 4 Ultimate Body Applicators, Defining Gel, Facial, Lip and Eye, and Greens on the Go (LC $179; retail $299)



Saturday, July 19, 2014

Another Life-Affirming Cancer While Pregnant Story

I am always happy when there is another article discussing cancer while pregnant and that abortion is not an option. When I was diagnosed in 2009, I'd never heard of any one having cancer while pregnant. If I'd strained my brain, I probably could have speculated that it happened, but it was not something on the my radar. I think that's true of most people -- cancer happens and women get pregnant, but those are separate entities. So any awareness of cancer while pregnant is good. Awareness of treatment choices for cancer while pregnant being better than abortion is excellent

Awareness does not always lead to the broadcast of correct medical information about all the viable options - surgery, chemotherapy, or surveillance until the natural end of pregnancy. Many articles give hero status to women who refuse any treatment (including abortion) during pregnancy. It is obviously an excellent decision to continue the pregnancy despite a cancer diagnosis. However, the awareness of chemotherapy's safety while pregnant suffers when pregnant women are quoted as refusing chemotherapy due to its 'risk' to the baby. Obviously, these women are brave for continuing the pregnancy and they are also brave for making the decision to wait until after their baby's birth to begin treatment. I have no issue with women who choose this option. It is equally brave and heroic to continue the pregnancy while choosing to receive chemotherapy. My issue stems from the implied or blatant dismissal of this latter choice. 

Statements like, 

"chemo is safe during pregnancy but “any time you place chemicals into your body you are placing your child at risk and even possible miscarriage.”" (From this article: http://www.lifenews.com/2014/07/18/mother-pregnant-with-her-10th-child-refuses-cancer-treatment-and-abortion/ )
                         are misleading at best and derogatory at worst. Many people will completely miss the admission that chemotherapy is safe during pregnancy due to the wording of the rest of the statement. These people will only remember that this woman was a brave hero for refusing to 'risk' her baby's life to save her own. They'll take her opinion* that chemicals (chemotherapy) increase the risk of miscarriage and other harm to heart. This particular woman had surgery while pregnant -- most likely with chemicals (sedatives and anesthetics) given during the operation -- apparently without problem or risk of her child. Little or no thought will be given to the actual medical facts of chemotherapy while pregnant. That lack of thought can be dangerous and discouraging for women who choose chemotherapy while pregnant based on their doctor's advice and their situation. 

Every pregnancy is most vulnerable during the first trimester. Women have a higher risk of miscarriage in the first trimester. Once the second trimester begins, the miscarriage risk decreases significantly and continues to decrease as pregnancy progresses. The risk of birth defects is also most significant in the first trimester. Most of the vital forming of the baby happens in the first trimester - differentiating a single cell into various organs and putting all body parts in the right anatomical place. Various chemicals, whether in abundance (alcohol) or not enough (folic acid), can create life-long errors in formation during this trimester.  For that reason, to my knowledge, chemotherapy will only be initiated after the vulnerable first trimester of pregnancy. 



I was pretty high risk for miscarriage without addition problems (I miscarried 4 times prior to my last pregnancy), but when I was given the option of chemotherapy while pregnant, I was reassured that doing so would not increase my risk. Both my Oncologist and the Maternal-Fetal OB were asked a bazillion questions about that aspect intentionally. An increased likelihood of early contractions were one of the biggest 'risks' associated with chemotherapy during pregnancy according to the Maternal-Fetal OB that I saw in Houston, TX. She actually didn't bring it up until I told her I'd been noticing contractions ever since my diagnosis. However, she again assured me that a) any time you stress a pregnant woman she's likely to have contractions and b) those contractions are rarely 'productive' and therefore not a true risk to the baby. All other risks during chemotherapy pregnancy were similar whether chemotherapy was used or not. My increased risk of miscarriage remained whether I had chemotherapy or not.

I ran into people online and in real life that told me I made a selfish decision to have chemo while I was pregnant based on this thought. It made my reality even more difficult as people questioned my respect and love for my unborn baby. In fact, at one point I had (a few) someone(s) baldly tell me that my decision was *not* pro-life or even Catholic based on their perceived risk(s) posed to the unborn child during chemotherapy. To them, it did not matter that I had an oncologist who specialized in pregnant patients receiving chemotherapy. Her reassurances and research in this area was dismissed based on their ignorance and perception of what was 'healthy' for me and my unborn child. My referral to a Maternal-Fetal OB specialist and her advice was also dismissed. Constant monitoring, measuring, and visualizations ordered by this specialist amounted to nothing in the eyes of my detractors. Life-long respect for life, adherence to the teachings of the Catholic Church, and my own bio-medical education meant nothing to these detractors as they were obviously more pro-life and Catholic than I. I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that while I knew I'd made the best decision for me and my baby, these words of detraction resulted in increased fear, stress, doubts, depression, and anxiety. These derogatory words were probably more detrimental to my pregnancy than the actual chemotherapy was. 

I'm all for awareness of cancer while pregnant and chemotherapy while pregnant. While I hate that women face such struggles, I'm always happy to read an article giving the true life-affirming options of continuing the pregnancy with or without chemotherapy. Such articles will hopefully educate people about this devastating situation and give these women hope for their baby's and their own lives. However, I am saddened when opting for chemotherapy while pregnant is indirectly implied to be as bad a choice as abortion. Nothing could be further from the truth. While everyone is entitled to their opinions, it is crucial that medical realities aren't supplanted by emotional opinions. A devastating cancer diagnosis while pregnant is difficult and stressful enough without adding further confusion to the matter based on erroneous opinions. Let everyone know that a diagnosis of cancer while pregnant isn't a death sentence to either the woman or her child - both can live through chemotherapy, surgery, or the natural end of pregnancy. 

Moral of the story: Abortion is *never* in the baby's best interest. Cancer during pregnancy can be survived by both. Viable options include chemotherapy, surgery, and surveillance until the natural end of pregnancy. Mother and baby can survive and thrive despite a cancer diagnosis regardless of which of these treatment options is chosen. 

*I am in no means trying to denigrate this woman for her opinion or choice. Nor am I trying to lay guilt on her doorstep for her choice or opinion. She is a brave and heroic woman for resisting the oft-repeated option of aborting her child. I give her great kudos for that decision alone. I also give her and her family my prayers as they continue through this struggle. She has as my full sympathy and support during this time of difficulty. May God bless her and keep her healthy. 

Medical and Media References to Chemotherapy During Pregnancy

http://breastcancer.theoncologist.com/article/case-control-study-women-treated-chemotherapy-breast-cancer-during-pregnancy-compared - I'm more than likely included in the number of pregnant women treated with chemotherapy in this journal article by my Breast Oncologist, JK Litton. This one also shows that there is improved outcomes in pregnant patients verses non-pregnant patients.

http://www2.mdanderson.org/depts/oncolog/articles/11/10-oct/10-11-1.html - My Breast Oncologist at MD Anderson is in this one too.

http://connection.asco.org/magazine/article/id/2857/active-cancer-treatment-during-pregnancytwo-perspectives-on-timing-and-drug-choice.aspx - Another article by my Breast Oncologist. The second half of the 'debate' on this page, to me, displays someone desperate to find an excuse to worry. Note the large number of references used by my Breast Oncologist verses the solitary reference used by her 'opponent'. 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2753540/ - Another article by my Breast Oncologist in full text presentation.

http://www.mdanderson.org/transcripts/Breast_Cancer_and_Pregnancy_Transcript.html - Another interview with my Breast Oncologist. This is a terrible transcript with numerous typos, but the gist is the same as the others.

http://www.news-medical.net/news/20120822/Chemotherapy-during-pregnancy-an-interview-with-Professor-Sibylle-Loibl.aspx - The doctor interviewed here said that she hopes no more "unnecessary terminations" are carried out on pregnant women with cancer. 

http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/05/16/pregnant.with.cancer/index.html - Another one with my Breast Oncologist in it.











My Chemo-Jane hair-style

My Chemo-Jane hair-style
I just had to have my mom buzz my hair because it was falling out so badly.

Pre-op wearing my hand-crocheted cap with my prayer shawl.

Pre-op wearing my hand-crocheted cap with my prayer shawl.
My loving husband is watching me distract myself with a game on his iPhone.

2 days after my BMX w/ 100ccs in the TEs

2 days after my BMX w/ 100ccs in the TEs
I even have a fashionable belt to hold up my drains.

3 weeks post-op w/ 400ccs in each TE

3 weeks post-op w/ 400ccs in each TE
The smile is fake because the TEs were irritating!