48. Weaving Alternative Treatment with Western Medicine - Kristin Silberstein's Healing Journey with Cancer

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We were so inspired by this beautiful talk with Kristin Silberstein on her journey of healing from cancer. Kristin is currently battling breast cancer for the second time. She talks about how it was so important to her in the beginning to try to identify the whybehind her diagnosis, and weighing the numerous approaches, both medicinally and via changes in lifestyle. She shares the added nuance of dealing with the judgements of others regarding her chosen approach.
Kristin talks about the role meditation has played in and out of her healing journey. She shares the active measures she has taken to try to manage stress and stay focused on what is truly important to her. She shares details about the specific approach she has taken to combine traditional Western approaches such as chemotherapy and radiation with Eastern approaches such as acupuncture and cupping. She also shares home remedies such as sun water and grounding which she has found valuable.

[00:00:22.110] - Kara
Hello and welcome to the Meditation Conversation. Today we are joined by my friend Kristen Silbert. Christine and Kristen and I have known each other now for many years. We first job out of College. Kristen also went to IU, Alexandra.

[00:00:46.670] - Kristin

[00:00:47.910] - Kara
You should know. What do we say, Alexandra? Go....

[00:00:52.710] - Alessandra
I don't know if we've been through that.

[00:00:54.360] - Kara
We have, this is like the third time.

[00:00:56.730] - Alessandra
Okay. I completely forgot about that.

Go....So that you can become more familiar with this. I think there's an honorary degree for Alexandra at some point for all the time she's heard me talk about how everybody I know went to IU, basically. And everybody we've had on this podcast either has an IU or a Bloomington connection, it seems. But anyway, so we both had our first jobs out of College together. I think I maybe was a year.

[00:01:37.890] - Kristin
Out before maybe a year older.

[00:01:40.040] - Kara
Yeah, I wasn't going to say older, Kristin.

[00:01:42.930] - Kristin
Oh, sorry. The first one to graduate.

[00:01:48.170] - Kara
One year more experience. I think that's how I was going to say it. And so we were both computer people working in the back end of the computer systems back in the day and both graduated from the Kelly School of Business at IU, which I was thinking this morning. It's funny because we called it the B school, the business school. And I have actual B school in a couple of weeks because I'm learning how to take care of bees. Why is the B school sound so familiar?

[00:02:28.650] - Kristin
Different B's.

[00:02:29.770] - Kara
Exactly. Like the real deal now. So we were friends and colleagues and then it's been a while since I worked there. But you're still there in a different capacity now.

[00:02:47.200] - Kristin
Yeah, sort of. But yes, employed. Exactly.

[00:02:55.270] - Kara
And so you have gone on a really incredible journey the last few years, which is why you're here. So you are in your second battle with breast cancer and you have just finished chemo for the second round. And the reason that I thought it'd be great to have you on is because the journey that you have been on has led you to combining traditional Western medicine with a more alternative and holistic approach. And I know that when you and I have talked about this, it's been kind of difficult for you or it was kind of difficult for you to find information about what was available and what kind of combinations work well together. And so I just wanted to have you on so that we can talk through like what have you learned and what were the right approaches for you. And I know all of this is very individual, but it's been really beautiful how you've been able to combine both the best of both and the results that you've had from that. So why don't we take a step back from all of that to start with and just talk about the first time that everything happened.

[00:04:24.110] - Kristin
So this was back in 2015. And so I was 36 at the time. We had a one and a three year old. We just moved to a new house. So, you know, that's stressful. And I find this lump that I assume I actually just stopped breastfeeding, like a couple of weeks earlier. And so I immediately assumed it was something related to that. I didn't pay a lot of attention to it. Obviously, I was young, but as we've already mentioned, obviously I end up getting bad news there. And it obviously turns my life upside down, as it would for anyone. And you immediately get thrown into the healthcare system where you're seeing doctor after doctor.

[00:05:27.630] - Kara
And with your particular situation, there ended up being it was in both breasts and it was two different kinds and it wasn't genetic, right?

[00:05:39.450] - Kristin
Yeah, exactly. So obviously, being under 40s is very uncommon, and then it's actually only 4% of people are diagnosed in both breasts. So take those both of those statistics in combination is obviously extremely rare. So on one side, it was more advanced, but the other side was considered stage zero, which means that there was cancer throughout the breast. But it hadn't actually left the Ducks yet. It was still contained. The other side had already spread outside the Ducks. And then later I learned it had already spread to at least one of my lymph nodes as well. So obviously that side was more concerning. But yes, so very unusual diagnosis. They immediately ran genetic testing for obvious reasons, which came all back negative, which I learned later, too, that actually people diagnosed with cancer immediately, people tend to think, oh, it must be genetic, especially with young people. But it's actually only I think about 15% of people have a gene that are diagnosed. So it's actually not common for people to have a gene. Now that's not to say that there aren't genes that are later found out. So from my first diagnosis in 15, I think they ran about 26 genes to my diagnosis.

[00:07:23.640] - Kristin
In 2019, they ran about 50 genes. So obviously we're only learning more as time goes on. But still, all genetics came back negative. But what I immediately found was you want answers in terms of why did this happen? What can I do about it? And you feel like you've lost all sense of control. And I think at least my immediate instinct was I need to gain some type of control back in my life. And so I need to better understand cancer. What causes cancer? What can I do about it? I immediately started researching. I felt like I wasn't getting any answers from traditional doctors. The answers were all just geared towards the medications or surgeries or things that I need to do from a Western perspective. But nothing that really made me better understand why this was happening. And people would challenge me to say well, you're never going to know. And that's true. There's never going to be. Oh, this is why. But I felt like it was kind of the definition of insanity. If I just continue doing what I'm doing, then how's that going to help me?


[00:09:07.430] - Kristin
So what I learned was that cancer, fundamentally there's a lot of different causes, but essentially stress, the food we eat, exercise, obviously, genetics can also play a role. And toxins, chemicals were exposed to those kinds of things. So those were my areas of focus. And each of those, I kind of dug deeper into that and reflected on what that meant for me because otherwise I would have said, oh, I eat well, I exercise, I'm doing all the right things. But obviously not obviously, something was missing. So like I said, with each of those things, I just took time to kind of reflect with food. I said, okay, well, I've been eating, I don't eat fast food. I don't eat a lot of sweets, but everything was I don't eat instead of what I do eat.


[00:10:28.730] - Kristin
And that was an interesting conclusion that I came to for myself of, okay, but do I eat enough fruits and vegetables? Do I eat enough of this? And I started researching plant based. So I was like, okay, maybe I should be eating less meat. Okay. Maybe I should eat less dairy. All these things, the value of nuts and seeds and whole grains and all the things I had to look at it more holistically and not just okay, I don't eat fast food. So why am I giving cancer? So that was food. And then stress. Stress is a big one. Right. And that's part of how we with.

[00:11:25.610] - Kara
These two little kids. I can't imagine. I don't know. Things like that are pretty easy.

[00:11:33.370] - Kristin
It's actually funny because that you say that because I've thought about that so many times, I'm thinking, oh, I wasn't that stressed. And then I'm like, are you kidding me?

[00:11:46.370] - Kara
Sometimes it's like you're so immersed in this world where you see it reflected everywhere and you're like, but this is what everybody is doing.

[00:11:55.670] - Kristin
Yes, it is exactly the rationalization that I had. Everybody else, I look around and I'm like, other people have children, other people go to work and they don't have cancer. And why? It's just a normal amount of stress.

[00:12:18.590] - Alessandra
Both with food and with lifestyle. It isn't until we get the contrast that we know. Like you said, I eat well. But then I've seen with my own diet when change is like, oh, okay, well, there are levels of eating healthy, and it's only when you stop and reflect that you can kind of see that, oh, I was actually very stressed. I wasn't really in a good state of mind at all. But when you're in that, you're kind of in survival mode and you just keep on spinning in the wheel until you stop it.

[00:12:49.310] - Kristin
Yes, that's exactly how I felt. That's exactly how I felt. You actually stop and reflect and say, you know, things are kind of crazy. Every day was just like, okay, we got through today. Okay, what's, tomorrow?


[00:13:06.930] - Kristin
And I realized I wasn't taking any time for myself. I mean, and I know other moms or parents can relate to that, but actually doing things for me or doing things that I enjoyed, I felt like every minute that I wasn't working, I should be spending with my kids. But that's stressful, and that not taking time for yourself to actually decompress. Stress was definitely one of those that I thought, okay, this is an area I can really focus on and improve on, obviously, the toxins and chemicals. I definitely did a lot of research on that. I learned all about environmental working group, if you guys are familiar with that. But where it evaluates all sorts of products, it's EWG.org. And you can type in cleaning products or lotion, anything that you put on your body or you're exposed to, you can type in there and it tells you the chemicals that you're being exposed to, your level of risk with cancer and everything. So you get a whole clean out of the house and all that. So each piece I evaluated and is actually Kara and I were connected on social media, and when I was going through all this and I was reading about her journey with meditation and picking up, and I thought, that's something that I need to look into.

[00:14:55.750] - Kristin
But it always kept falling to the bottom of my list. And it was like, okay, yeah, I need to be doing that. I need to be refocusing. I need to be having more calm in my life. And instead it became but I also need to research or let me plan this vacation because that will help my stress level. But then I'm just adding more to my to do list.

[00:15:27.030] - Kara

[00:15:28.470] - Alessandra
We think we can solve it to do with more to do but healthier to do when we actually just need to be. And I know, me and Car, we're not exceptions. Even though we teach it sometimes it's like, what am I doing? That's right.

[00:15:47.250] - Kara
Yeah. There's a lot of satisfaction to taking things off of a to do list. And I fall into that, too. And it is so much about also, just once you create that habit, then it's like, you don't have to think about it so much. It's like, okay, do the meditation and then do.

[00:16:04.260] - Kristin

[00:16:05.160] - Kara
But to cultivate the habit, it's not easy.

[00:16:10.410] - Kristin
No, it's not. And even now, fast forward several years and I'll step back. It's a priority for me. It's still like, okay, did I do my meditation today? Okay. Make sure to fit that in. So I'm still in that kind of mindset, and I need to still evolve, and it's an evolution for everyone. Yeah.

[00:16:40.820] - Kara
It's a journey. It's not like, oh, now I do it. And here I've arrived. It's a practice.

[00:16:47.970] - Kristin
Yes, exactly. So I think if I go back to that first diagnosis, I think that I was not happy or satisfied, I'll say with traditional doctors and what they were, their lack of knowledge in alternative space. And so I felt like I really need to do that research on my own and kind of learn from that. And I also felt like sharing it with people. It definitely was difficult. And I kind of figured out who my allies were in the space and who weren't. I think that was also a challenge for me in terms of people kind of just thinking, okay, that's crazy. Okay, so when do you start chemo or when, you know, everybody's kind of used to the traditional things, but I felt like people thought, okay, that stuff great, but that's not going to help you. But I did continue even a year out, two years out, I continue to really dig deeper to say, what am I missing? Are there things that I'm missing? And I basically just didn't want to ever have regret to say, oh, I didn't take the time to try this or do this. So I talked to a lot of alternative medicine doctors locally, and then I ended up going to one at Cleveland Clinic, which was a great experience.

[00:18:35.410] - Kristin
And they run all sorts of tests. And I felt like I was talking to somebody who could relate better to what I was feeling and what the gaps were for me. So that was a good experience. And then Ironically, it was around Christmas time, right of 2018, beginning of 19 or whatever. I reached out to carry and I said, okay, I'm finally ready to embrace meditation.

[00:19:07.490] - Alessandra
That's great.

[00:19:08.660] - Kristin
Yes. This has been on my list, something to do. And I was like, okay, the new year is here. This was one of my resolutions, was to understand meditation better and really get into it. And obviously, I knew Kara was quite knowledgeable on this. So I reached out to her to talk about it and just better understand how I could integrate it more into my day to day life. I had already and you had touched on this, but I forgot to mention it. But during that first diagnosis, I was reading a book about it's called something like something about successful surgeries or something like that when I was undergoing bilateral mastectomy. There's obviously major surgery. And so I'm reading this book, and part of that was around meditation and just being in a good mental place, being very just your attitude positivity going in. And then it was showing all these studies about how people's recovery and just surgeries were just way more successful for people who had practiced these things. So I started doing meditation before that surgery every day for a half hour every day. And I wasn't working at the time. So this is my priority of I want to make sure I'm in a good mental place before going into the surgery.

[00:20:52.890] - Kristin
And I will tell you that it really helped me and my mindset of going into that surgery of just in a calm, lower stress. It's obviously already stressful, but lower stress place. And in fact, I even gave my surgeon a piece of paper that I written out of that came from the book. That was something. And he recited it to me right as I was going under. But it was something about being calm and relaxed, and it was just affirmations. This is going to be a successful surgery. You're going to have minimal complication. And so I asked him to read that to me as I was going under. And who's to say, right. Because you don't have the alternative. Yeah.

[00:21:50.480] - Kara
Can't run a parallel test.

[00:21:52.350] - Kristin
You can't. Exactly. But all in all, I did not have any complications. My recovery was in my mind, as it could have. As good as it could have been. And most people are on narcotics for a week or longer. I may have taken one narcotic the first day I got home. And other than that, I was just taking time. It was just a smooth surgery for what it could have been. Again, you don't know. But there's no it didn't hurt harm.

[00:22:38.570] - Alessandra
Yeah, exactly.

[00:22:39.310] - Kristin
There's no harm. Yeah, exactly. Okay. So then let me go back now to met with Kara. And so I did start again trying to figure out how to fit it in with everything else, because at this.

[00:23:04.920] - Kara
Time you're back at work and you are in or whatever you want to call it. Yes.

[00:23:13.170] - Kristin

[00:23:13.490] - Kara
Although you were having some pain at that time, I remember.

[00:23:16.390] - Kristin
Yes, exactly. I was having pain in my arm, which then made me nervous that there was something there which ended up being nothing. So that was obviously good news. But I had that pain going on and just wanting to better figure out what meditation looked like, what I should be focused on, kind of the basics. How do I do it? What's good practice and all that kind of stuff. And then I started listening to your podcast and got even more tips, which was helpful. Yes, I know that's right. And you had sent me a couple of meditations that I then started listening to, which was good. So I think all in all, I would not say I was an experienced meditator, but I definitely was trying to integrate it into my life, and I understood the value of it. So all that was good. So then things change again. So July, I feel another lump. And again, I'm just I guess to a fault. I'm like an optimistic person, and I immediately don't think it could be for somebody. And the percentages are so low on people who have infections who have a new breast cancer.

[00:25:11.290] - Kristin
The percentages are so low they almost don't even talk to you about that possibility. It's like, okay, you'll have them affect me and then you'll be good. And so it didn't really occur to me that it could be cancer again. Immediately I thought it was like scar tissue or something, like something like this. But obviously not. My actual first reaction was, I can't believe it. After everything I've done that we're in this situation again.

[00:25:50.740] - Kara
No, you're a unicorn.

[00:25:54.830] - Kristin
My daughter would love that.

[00:25:58.370] - Kara
Well, they're very cool right now.

[00:26:03.570] - Alessandra
They do radiate with a lot of energy. I wish the listeners could see you.

[00:26:08.060] - Kristin
Oh, thank you.

[00:26:08.980] - Alessandra
But I think you can also hear in your voice, and I think it's remarkable. And I recently met with my cousin who is selling brain tumor, and.

[00:26:22.570] - Kristin

[00:26:22.880] - Alessandra
Don'T think we can relate me and Cara, who has not experienced it, but I just think it's remarkable because I hear the same thing in you as in her. Like, it kind of gives you another perspective on life.

[00:26:42.170] - Kristin
Even after the first time you get a whole new perspective on life, you don't take things for granted. One of my big takeaways is just do things that make you happy. You know, spend time with people who make you happy. Don't dwell on things that bring you down. And there's always going to be things that are stressful or make you sad or mad, but you can't dwell on those things. And you have to just focus on unhappiness because it's hard to explain it to somebody who hasn't been through it. But spending time, you just have a new appreciation. Spending time with your family or with friends or just doing things you enjoy, it's like you have a whole new appreciation for that that wasn't there before.

[00:27:48.160] - Kara
It's interesting, too, because I was just reading recently about the difference between positive thoughts and negative thoughts from a quantum perspective. So there's actual the density of those thoughts. So, for example, light is, like very expansive. And it's like the most expansive, like the least dense matter, I suppose, and then sound kind of starts to compress that energy a little bit more. And the same is sort of with thoughts. So, like, positive thoughts are much more expansive and open, and then they start to compress. Like, the more negative the thoughts get, the denser they get. But from an energy perspective. So it's funny. I mean, not funny, but it's just interesting because you're approaching it from just an appreciation, like a new found experience of like, okay, I can see my life from a different lens now and the preciousness of it and the vulnerability of it, I want to spend it in the most efficient way that I can. I'm going to get the biggest bang for my buck from an emotional perspective. But it's funny just to have just read that. Well, actually, also from an energetic perspective and keeping like, you can see what Alexandra is seeing and commenting about with how you're radiating.

[00:29:27.830] - Kara
And it's like clearly there is a match there with how you're integrating your life with this positivity and lightness that's been reflected in what you're seeking out in your relationships and in your time and things like that. So it's really beautiful to see that synergy.

[00:29:50.560] - Kristin
Yeah, that's really nice.

[00:29:52.220] - Alessandra
I also found it a little bit interesting talking to my cousin or I was reflecting on it. And we should all adapt that kind of lens. We should all look at life because we're all dying at some point and we all have that disease. We don't know. Like I could die tomorrow in an accident. I don't know. Why do we walk around pretending like we're a mortal in this body?

[00:30:20.940] - Kristin
Well, yeah. And you feel like that when you're young, in your twenties or whatever, you feel like you're going to live forever. And then as you get older, I feel like, OK, you know, you'll die at some point, but you feel like it will be when you're 90 or when you're old, especially if you're living a healthy what you think is a healthy lifestyle. You know, you feel like you can live for a long time. And I think you just assume that in some ways it's not a bad thing. You don't want to feel like it's a balance. You don't want to feel like, oh, I'm going to die every have this fear, right?


[00:31:04.550] - Kristin
But it's a balance of being grateful without the fear weighing you down. I had a lot of reflections on working and care knows this, too. But I definitely made a conscious choice to eliminate stress as much as I could from from actual work, where choosing to take a job that to me was less stressful and had less travel and less time away from my kids and family and stuff and not feeling like I need to just continue to go for that promotion or go for something that works. Working in the evenings every night. And I know and that's very in our culture as well of like how much we're working. And now I went into a job interview two years ago now, and I was very upfront and I'm like, listen, I don't like to work at night. I don't work on weekends. And I want to be upfront about it because I don't want there to be. Yeah.

[00:32:21.140] - Kara
So it's fair for them, too. If this is a good fit, then that's great.

[00:32:28.190] - Kristin
Exactly. I don't want to give the perception that I'm going to work all these hours because that's not my priority. And it wasn't before, but now it's just amplified. Now that is definitely not where I want to spend my time. Is working itself is not a bad thing. There's a lot of things I enjoy about working at 09:00 at night is not something I enjoy. So those types of things, I definitely more consciously I'm very open about it as well. I think people are sometimes afraid to be open about that, especially obviously at work. Yeah.

[00:33:26.170] - Kara
So you had in July of last year, this was when you went in and you were thinking that there was scar tissue or something.

[00:33:40.010] - Kristin
Yeah. So then I got the call again saying that it was breast cancer. Like I said, immediately I'm thinking, it doesn't make sense to me.

[00:33:56.310] - Kara
There's no breath there. How does that work?

[00:33:58.400] - Kristin
Yeah, exactly. It's just the whole thing makes no sense to me. It's very hard to rationalize. I couldn't rationalize it the first time, but the second time was even worse. You just really can't rationalize it.

[00:34:11.890] - Kara
I know.

[00:34:20.170] - Kristin
Everybody'S diagnosis is different, but for me, there were such long periods of time. You get that initial diagnosis, but then there's just long periods of time before you know more. So as it spread, how serious is this? Is it aggressive? Has it been there for a long time? How big is it? All the factors that play into your outcomes. You don't know anything at that point other than you have cancer. And so that time period for me was excruciating, I mean, as it would be for anyone. And you don't want to think the worst, but it's hard to not think about worst case. And then I'm like, well, especially going through this the second time, it's like, well, clearly something is wrong. So why is this happening again? So, Karen, I connected because I was extremely stressed would be an understatement. I had a constant headache, which I don't get headaches. And I had a constant headache from the day I was diagnosed. I think it was almost two months. It was just because I just couldn't release that stress. Without knowing more information, I couldn't really figure out how to release that stress. So then I know we talked about meditation and just trying to and I remember that you told me, don't be stressed about being stressed.

[00:36:10.660] - Kristin
And that was so impactful to me.

[00:36:15.130] - Kara

[00:36:16.570] - Kristin
But I was I was like, oh, my gosh, I'm so stressed. I'm not sleeping and I have this headache. All I could think about was how horrible this is for my body to be. The stress.

[00:36:31.670] - Kara
No such a dichotomy, because that knowledge about knowing how bad stress is for us then compounds, Ironically, the impact on the body. So we have to really try to control our reaction to stress.

[00:36:50.270] - Kristin
Yeah, it's so true. It's so true. Yeah. No, I definitely started doing more meditation, which I think, well, as you know, it just gives you that recentering. I mean, even talking to Kara, it was just so positive and gives off such positive energy. And it's hard to describe to somebody else. My whole body would feel relaxed and feel better after just talking to you. It's hard to even put into words, but you just are giving off so much positive energy that I'm just soaking in. Thank you. Yeah. For sure. So I could definitely recognize what that was doing for me in a positive way. So I knew there were ways to get to a better place mentally. And it definitely became something that it wasn't a check the box thing anymore. It was almost like, I need to do this. I need to breathe. I need to calm myself every day because otherwise my head was just spinning all day. So I definitely practiced with breathing and all that, just kind of centering myself. But that time was extremely difficult. And once I started getting into a mode of doing things and getting more answers, then I just felt the stress leaving my body.

[00:39:06.730] - Kara
So once they were like, here's the prognosis, and then here's what you can do, then that started to just help because you've got like, okay, I know what I'm dealing with in the plan.

[00:39:19.020] - Kristin
Yes, exactly. Having a plan.

[00:39:22.680] - Kara
Yeah. And with your plan, you took that sort of other dual pathway approach as well. So you've done the traditional chemo, and you're about to enter radiation, but you've also done all of this holistic stuff. So I love how you've just been able to combine these two worlds. So do you want to talk a little bit about that?

[00:39:45.950] - Kristin
Yeah. So this is kind of one of my other big takeaways is when you're in the healthcare system, no matter how good your doctors are and whatever, but you need to be an advocate for yourself. And I know other people who've been through health journeys for themselves or with a family member, whatever. Such a difference between people who just are there to take information versus kind of pushing the envelope to say, is there more or asking the right questions? And so one of the things that I was asking at one of my initial appointments, I stopped asking about food because that was a lost cause.

[00:40:35.220] - Kara
Yeah, I know, because when we've gone. So I've been with you at some of your chemo treatments, and we always laugh when the snack trolley finds out because these sweet women, these volunteers come by and they bring the food and, oh, my gosh, it's all processed. It's all sweet. It's salty. Can I get you a Popsicle? Can I get you look, we've got chocolate chip cookies, and they know by now that you don't take it.

[00:41:04.090] - Alessandra
I mean, you're always very kind, but.

[00:41:05.800] - Kara
It'S like, no, thank you. I had breakfast, but it's like, also, I'm trying to heal. Don't give me freedom.

[00:41:12.740] - Kristin
Exactly. Like after my surgeries, and they want to give you something, and they're like, can we give you some crackers or, like, canned soup? And I'm just like, okay, this is trash.

[00:41:34.810] - Kara
I'm trying to heal nutrition. My body doesn't need to fight.

[00:41:40.990] - Kristin
No, exactly. It's so funny. It's funny. Not funny.

[00:41:46.490] - Kara
Right, right. Yes, it's interesting.

[00:41:50.290] - Kristin
Yes, exactly. But I asked about I think I initially asked about Acupuncture, and the reason I initially asked about Acupuncture specifically was I knew this time I was going to have to go into menopause and just all the side effects of that, especially my age, that I had read that Acupuncture specifically could help with that. So that was initially my question is there is somebody who could do Acupuncture or who's available at the hospital or anywhere else that you would recommend for this type of situation. And I was given the name of a doctor who is at my hospital who and his title was integrative medicine. And I thought, oh, gosh, this is going to be interesting. This is like somebody who I can really have a good conversation with about all the other things I can be doing. It was amazing. The first appointment that I had, well, first of all, of course, it's all out of pocket, which makes me laugh. Right. But anyway, the first appointment that we have, I knew he would be supportive of the traditional Western things that I was doing as well, because he's at the cancer center at the hospital.

[00:43:31.470] - Kristin
And that's a contrast between when I went to the Cleveland Clinic integrative medicine Department, it was very much of an us versus them kind of mentality and that it felt like it wasn't an integrative experience in that they both didn't really support each other. It was kind of, yeah, we've got this Department and we have this Department, and you kind of have to pick sides. And obviously, I didn't like that feeling like there was judgment. I felt that I had chosen to do radiation or I chosen to do these other traditional things that was like, okay, well, do you know the harm that you're causing your body? I'm like, well, yes, but I also know that there's data that supports that this can help me as well. Anyway, this experience was extremely better. He accepted and was supportive of the traditional things I was doing, but also said there's ways that we can help manage your side effects through chemotherapy, that we can just even get you into a healthier place in general and how you're fighting cancer. And so one of the things that he's known for, as I've talked to other some of his patients, is he says be like water is his slogan.

[00:45:03.630] - Kristin
And he explains to me that.


[00:45:07.880] - Kristin
Fill out the storm, and it says, what are the stressors in your life? What causes you stress? How do you deal with them and things like that, which was definitely not on a traditional doctor's checklist. And so he says to me, okay, I need you to be like water. And what that means is that if you think about water flowing and it comes to an obstacle, it finds another way and it just keeps flowing. It will continue to flow, but it will flow in its own path and it will find a way to get through obstacles.

[00:45:49.050] - Kara
What to have somebody like that?

[00:45:52.830] - Kristin
It just made so much sense the analogy. And he just said, you know, we all have stress in our lives, but it's how we come to an obstacle or how we deal with challenges. We just need to go with the flow and that accepts these things and move on. And don't think that there's going to be challenges in your life that aren't able to be overcome. You can imagine I'm sitting in the doctor's office, and he's taking the time to explain all this to me about how to relax, how to be in the moment. He talked to me about how when he initially started practicing medicine, that he would go into each patient's room and think about all the other patients that are waiting for him, and he would feel stressed thinking of his entire list of to do for that day and said, I'm going to change my mentality. And every time I'm in a patient's room, you are the only person that matters. It's not the person that's third down the waiting list. I am completely focused on what I want to work on with you and take as much time as I need to in order to feel good about our interaction or what we're doing today.

[00:47:28.090] - Kristin
And you can tell the difference. I mean, it's like night and day between a traditional doctor that will come in. He's got his question, she's got his questions. And okay, let's go through the list. Let's check this. I've had so many appointments now, but I know so much about his family, and he asked he has such a calm presence about him. He's just such an amazing person and so grateful that I was able to have him available to me during my treatment. And I wasn't able to get in. He had some family emergencies, and I wasn't able to get in to see him immediately after my first chemo. But I was able to get in right after my second one. And my first one was horrible. I mean, it was way worse than I expected. I was feeling just absolutely horrible. And I go in for my second one. I barely it's like, okay, how am I going to do this again? I go in for my second one, I go to see him, and immediately my side effects start getting better. So he's doing acupuncture. He's doing cupping on me. He's also doing mild chiropractic adjustments.

[00:48:51.350] - Kristin
He's done things, all sorts of things that are just like, he'll get on my back and just kind of like almost like an adjustment, but not really. It's like a massage kind of adjustment. He always asks me, he says, okay, when was your last massage? When are you getting per massage? He's asked me about meditation. I look forward to going because I always feel better.

[00:49:18.890] - Alessandra
That's wonderful.

[00:49:20.550] - Kara
After I see him, he also recommended some, like, mushroom tea.

[00:49:24.950] - Alessandra
I think you were doing in the beginning.

[00:49:27.150] - Kristin
Yeah. So supplements has been another area. I used to be a believer of like, well, why do we need supplements? Our bodies should have enough of what we need if we're eating a healthy diet. And now I'm completely on the other end of the spectrum. But he gave me some mushrooms. He gave me other tickets. So he told me to fill a glass jar of water every day and put it out in the sun and let the sunlight absorb the water, and it actually transforms the water. And then I drink that water the next day. Wow. Yeah. And actually, I've been researching it, and there's actually a lot of evidence around it. So that was another one of his suggestions.

[00:50:22.270] - Alessandra
That's actually an ancient yogic tool.

[00:50:26.470] - Kara

[00:50:27.730] - Kristin

[00:50:28.660] - Kara
I've seen with crystals, they have some bottles, like glass bottles that have crystals, maybe in the bottom or, like, around it, and then you put the water in there, and then the crystals affect the molecular or I don't know if I should say molecular, but the structure of the water so similar thing. And I've seen people with Indigo glass bottles that they're putting the water, and apparently that has some effect on it, too. But I love this guy.

[00:51:04.790] - Alessandra
The sun is very healing and not too much exposure, but I forget that also now it's like, oh, you get skin cancer if you're out. But we do need the sun as well.

[00:51:16.180] - Kristin
Yes, for sure. Yeah, exactly. This time. So it's interesting. My first diagnosis, I was very fixated on, I'll say traditional things, like I said, like food and exercise and that kind of thing. And this time has been much more understanding how these other things can really help heal you. The water has been one aspect of that for me. We just call it the sun water. My kids call it healthy water. They're like, do we have any more healthy water? So the water. But the other thing that I've been doing is called grounding. Yes. So that's been another. So my cousin introduced me, or she sent me information about grounding, which is another way that the Earth or your natural resources can help heal you. But the concept is basically just having your body connected to the Earth. So, like, your feet or whatever on the ground, that the energy from the Earth actually reduces inflammation in your body and can help you heal. And it's obviously good for everyone because inflammation is bad for everyone. But it's fascinating, the research that's been done on this topic as well that I had never heard of before, you can buy them, but grounding that especially in the winter when you can't be out, you're not really outside as much in your bare feet, is that there's a mat grinding mat that you can put on your bed that you sleep on.

[00:53:14.840] - Kristin
That then stimulates that grounding effect while you're sleeping, which is even better for you because you're in that healing mode when you're sleeping. So it's even more interesting. This journey has been different, but in such a positive way and not as focused on all those little day to day things, but more focused holistically on your health of your whole body, which has been fascinating.

[00:53:52.090] - Kara
Yeah, it's amazing. Yeah. You've had such a journey, and it's wonderful. Nobody would wish for the prognosis, but it's beautiful to see what you've been able to make out of it. What would you recommend? Just as like if somebody is kind of at the beginning of a difficult journey like this, it wouldn't necessarily even need to be cancer. But I know that for you, like you said, you were turning toward traditional medicine and not getting the answers you wanted. Do you have any kind of takeaways that could help somebody who's going through something like what you've been through?

[00:54:34.100] - Kristin
Yeah. Well, I think the main thing I would say is just really do some self reflection, and that could be through meditation or it doesn't have to be meditation. It could be through journaling or whatever is right for you, but just really evaluate all those aspects in your life, whether that's your mental state or your physical state, or are there negative things in your life that you can evaluate and eliminate? Are there ways to bring more positive energy into your life and that positivity can come through all sorts of things like food and exercise and all those other things, and don't try to take on everything at once. And I think that's been a challenge for me as well, is that you want to do everything at once. And that's stressful for my husband, too.


[00:55:42.990] - Kristin
You want to change everything all at once. And it's like, okay, let's just try to tackle one thing at a time, like this month or this whatever. We're going to focus on how we can improve on X or whatever. But I think that's kind of the main thing. Like I said, being an advocate for yourself and really asking the right questions. We've talked about this is such a gift that I have been able to get connected to this integrative doctor. And I would never have been connected if I didn't ask. And the reason is because he's one doctor for there's so many cancer patients and not even just cancer. He treats other patients as well. But I would have never been connected if I didn't ask or done my own research to better understand these things. So I would say really be an advocate. Be an advocate. Yeah, all of those things. But don't get overwhelmed. Just one thing at a time. Yeah, for sure.

[00:56:57.690] - Kara
That's really beautiful. Well, thank you so much, Kristen. I just love talking to you.

[00:57:06.030] - Kristin
Well, thank you.

[00:57:06.980] - Kara
And it's a joy that you've been able to share this experience. So thank you and all the best.

[00:57:13.920] - Kristin
Thanks for having me. Yeah, I appreciate it. I know.

[00:57:17.150] - Alessandra
Thanks for sharing with us.

[00:57:19.140] - Kristin
Yeah, absolutely. I appreciate you having me on and I really appreciate having you in my life and having you as part of my journey.

[00:57:34.560] - Kara
It's been amazing. Thank you. It's an honor for me. Thank you and all the best for the radiation. Let me know how I can help you with that.

[00:57:45.480] - Kristin
I appreciate it. Thank you. You so much.

[00:57:49.250] - Kara
Well thank you and thank you everybody for joining us. And we look forward to the next meditation conversation.

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