5 things learned through breast cancer process

FOX 2's Katie Fehr was diagnosed with breast cancer one year ago. Today, she's in remission. She credits her doctors and local hospitals but she learned a lot of tips for taking better care of herself and for managing the cancer chaos. This piece is written by Katie - in her own words - to share some of the things she learned. 

It's hard to predict what you will think when you get up on stage in front of thousands of people - but when I stepped onto the stage at this past weekend's Making Strides 
Against Breast Cancer Walk, it went something like this: "Wow. That's a LOT of people." 

More than 20,000 people came out to support the cause. I was honored to get up and speak because I'm passionate about sharing what I have learned in the year since I was diagnosed.  The Strides walk is a celebration but I want to make sure that those diagnosed with cancer know that what you see on that day - the smiles, the celebrating, the pink - is just ONE day of having cancer. It's a good day to be sure, but it's just one. Most days of having cancer don't look anything like that - so if you don't feel "pretty in pink" it's totally ok.  That's something I learned throughout all of this - it's ok, not to be ok, just make sure you get support. That's one reason we do these walks - because we don't need any more awareness (Am I right? The pink ribbon is everywhere.. on my bananas, my eggs, the police cars in my town)… we don't need awareness, we need ACTION. The action we took on that day will help so many through ACS programs like Reach to Recovery.  If you missed Saturday's Walk in Detroit - there are others coming up including the Ann Arbor Walk this Saturday, October 19th

So I learned, it's ok not to be ok and I learned to get support - but I also learned some practical tips as well. 

TIP 1:  Cheers to smoothies!  
I had great care from great doctors at Beaumont and University of Michigan but a cancer fight takes many forms. They got me into a NED "No Evidence of Disease" status, but I need to do my part too.  

I had to get my diet in order and one way I did that was with a smoothie I call my cancer-fighting smoothie. It has cancer-fighters like kale, blueberries and flax seed and I love starting my day with my smoothie or a fresh juice. 

TIP 2: Paperwork, Paperwork, Paperwork. 
If you're diagnosed with any health care crisis you will soon be buried in paperwork. Find a way to organize it that works for you - like a binder.  

I used a combination of color-coded folders and a vertical expanding file organizers - I bought this one
Keeping all of your paperwork in one spot is critical - because you will be inundated with forms, flyers, and information. 

TIP 3: Don't lose your medical order forms 
We have all done it - the doctor gives you a medical form for a test order like a mammogram and you lose it before you even get home. It happened to me - I had an order for a mammogram in 2017, I lost the form, and when it was re-written by a different doctor, it was written for a standard mammogram instead of a 3D (public service announcement - if you have dense tissue a standard mammogram may not catch cancer).  

The standard mammogram - just five months before I found my lump - didn't see my cancer even though it was there. Lesson learned. 

So - now when a doctor hands me a medical form I scan it using an app on my phone and email it to myself using a keyword I can easily find. I use a made-up word: MEDFORM.   

So now, if I can't find the paper order for my mammogram a year from now, all I have to do is search my email and I can print it out again. The scanner app I use is Genius Scan.

TIP 4: Get a pillbox. 
I was having a hard time remembering if I had taken my medicine. I bought an inexpensive pillbox which made all the difference. It also made me feel like a patient, so I upgraded to a cuter one, that I don't mind using. I found mine online here.

TIP 5: Go nuts.  Coco-nuts that is. 
I was having skin issues following radiation, and one of my doctors said that all of her patients with the best skin use coconut oil in the shower. I tried it, and my skin issues cleared up in ONE. WEEK.  

I have continued using it because it's great for dry skin.. but do note, it makes your shower floor a little slippery. Ha! 

So that's it - five things that I learned through this cancer process. I don't call it a journey, because any journey I go on better have white sand and some palm trees at the end. Here's to our health!