Chaos to Calm

A nutritionist's battle with breast cancer, featuring Angelica Hazel Toutounji

November 26, 2023 Sarah McLachlan Episode 28
A nutritionist's battle with breast cancer, featuring Angelica Hazel Toutounji
Chaos to Calm
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Chaos to Calm
A nutritionist's battle with breast cancer, featuring Angelica Hazel Toutounji
Nov 26, 2023 Episode 28
Sarah McLachlan

Join us on a powerful episode of Chaos to Calm as we sit down with the brilliant and resilient Angelica Hazel Toutounji, a women's health and fertility nutritionist who is facing a breast cancer diagnosis with courage and positivity. Through her candid sharing, Angelica walks us through her journey from the first alteration she noticed while breastfeeding to the confirmed diagnosis of non-hormonal stage three, her two breast cancer, and how she seeks to thrive amidst the storm.

Angelica opens up about her emotional rollercoaster, from the tension of waiting for test results to her strategic steps in managing the reality of hair loss. She discusses her daring choice to donate her hair, the trials of chemotherapy, and her exploration of cold capping, a process that lengthens treatment hours but aids hair preservation. It's a peek into the ups and downs of a breast cancer survivor's life, highlighting the significant roles of a supportive team, intuitive decision making, and a strong will to thrive.

From the importance of exercise and modifying diet, to the adoption of positive self-talk, Angelica imparts valuable insights on fostering a healthy mindset during treatment.  This conversation seeks to empower women to prioritize self-care, comprehend their bodies better, and build a supportive community in the face of their breast cancer journey. This is more than just Angelica's story; it's a resource and a beacon of hope for every woman navigating the turbulent waters of breast cancer. Tune in to be inspired, empowered, and enlightened.

IMPORTANT UPDATE! Since we recorded this episode, Angelica has been declared cancer-free.

Find Angelica Hazel here: https://www.angelicahazel.com.au/

Send us a question for the FAQs segment or your feedback, we’d love to hear from you.

Find out more about Sarah, her services and the Freebies mentioned in this episode at https://www.ThePerimenopauseNaturopath.com.au

  • COMING SOON: Discover how to use food as your most powerful medicine, smoothing hormonal fluctuations and easing perimenopause symptoms naturally. (Yes, you have more options than hormone therapy!) Say goodbye to feeling out of control and hello to feeling more like your old self every day, with PerimenoPOWER (because who wants to pause anyway?!)
  • The Perimenopause Decoder is the ultimate guide to understanding if perimenopause hormone fluctuations are behind your changing mood, metabolism and energy after 40, what phase of perimenopause you're in and how much longer you may be on this roller coaster for.
  • Been told your blood test results are "normal" or "fine" while you feel far from your best? Discover the power of optimal blood test analysis with The Blood Test Decoder: Optimal Ranges for Women Over 40.
  • For more, follow on Instagram at @theperimenopausenaturopath.
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Join us on a powerful episode of Chaos to Calm as we sit down with the brilliant and resilient Angelica Hazel Toutounji, a women's health and fertility nutritionist who is facing a breast cancer diagnosis with courage and positivity. Through her candid sharing, Angelica walks us through her journey from the first alteration she noticed while breastfeeding to the confirmed diagnosis of non-hormonal stage three, her two breast cancer, and how she seeks to thrive amidst the storm.

Angelica opens up about her emotional rollercoaster, from the tension of waiting for test results to her strategic steps in managing the reality of hair loss. She discusses her daring choice to donate her hair, the trials of chemotherapy, and her exploration of cold capping, a process that lengthens treatment hours but aids hair preservation. It's a peek into the ups and downs of a breast cancer survivor's life, highlighting the significant roles of a supportive team, intuitive decision making, and a strong will to thrive.

From the importance of exercise and modifying diet, to the adoption of positive self-talk, Angelica imparts valuable insights on fostering a healthy mindset during treatment.  This conversation seeks to empower women to prioritize self-care, comprehend their bodies better, and build a supportive community in the face of their breast cancer journey. This is more than just Angelica's story; it's a resource and a beacon of hope for every woman navigating the turbulent waters of breast cancer. Tune in to be inspired, empowered, and enlightened.

IMPORTANT UPDATE! Since we recorded this episode, Angelica has been declared cancer-free.

Find Angelica Hazel here: https://www.angelicahazel.com.au/

Send us a question for the FAQs segment or your feedback, we’d love to hear from you.

Find out more about Sarah, her services and the Freebies mentioned in this episode at https://www.ThePerimenopauseNaturopath.com.au

  • COMING SOON: Discover how to use food as your most powerful medicine, smoothing hormonal fluctuations and easing perimenopause symptoms naturally. (Yes, you have more options than hormone therapy!) Say goodbye to feeling out of control and hello to feeling more like your old self every day, with PerimenoPOWER (because who wants to pause anyway?!)
  • The Perimenopause Decoder is the ultimate guide to understanding if perimenopause hormone fluctuations are behind your changing mood, metabolism and energy after 40, what phase of perimenopause you're in and how much longer you may be on this roller coaster for.
  • Been told your blood test results are "normal" or "fine" while you feel far from your best? Discover the power of optimal blood test analysis with The Blood Test Decoder: Optimal Ranges for Women Over 40.
  • For more, follow on Instagram at @theperimenopausenaturopath.
Sarah McLachlan:

Hey there, I'm Sarah McLachlan. Thanks for joining me on the Chaos to Calm podcast, a podcast designed for women over 40 who think that changing hormones might be messing with their mood, metabolism and energy and want to change that in a healthy, sustainable and permanent way. Each episode will explore topics related to health and wellness for women in their 40s, like what the heck is happening to your hormones, what to do about it with nutrition, lifestyle and stress management, and inspiring conversations with guests sharing their insights and tips on how to live your best life in your 40s and beyond. So if you're feeling like you're in the midst of a hormonal storm and don't want perimenopause to be horrific, then join me on Chaos to Calm, as I share with you how to make it to menopause without it wrecking your relationships and life. Hello and welcome to this episode of Chaos to Calm. I am your host, sarah McLaughlin, the perimenopause naturopath.

Sarah McLachlan:

Today, I'm really excited to welcome Angelica Hazel Toutjouni, a women's health and fertility nutritionist, to the show. With a bachelor's degree in nutrition, a master's in reproductive medicine and a certified natural fertility educator, angelica's really well equipped to help women understand their menstrual cycle and improve their chances of conception, both naturally and via assisted reproductive therapies. But today, angelica's actually joining us to talk about her breast cancer journey and how she is currently thriving through treatment. So let's dive in. Hi, angelica Hazel. Thank you so much for joining us today on Chaos to Calm. (Angelica: Thank you for having me.) You're welcome. I'm really excited to talk with you today about your journey through well, your ongoing journey, really isn't it? From diagnosis with breast cancer to thriving in treatment now. So perhaps we'll get started, if you don't mind, talking us through the journey so far, how you were diagnosed and how you've got to this point where you're at now.

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

Yeah, absolutely. So I was diagnosed I think it was Easter Thursday with breast cancer and I've got non-hormonal stage three, her two breast cancer. So, going back, I am a mum of two, a busy mum of two, and my youngest is going to be three in October, so I was breastfeeding her. Last year I try and get to that two year mark with both of my girls. She bit me and I'm choosing to think of it as she'd saved my life because I just noticed my nipple didn't heal and it was really red, raw. It was literally like someone had taken the skin off of the top of my nipple. And I was doing all of the natural things, just troubleshooting, trying to just naturally support my body to heal, and it just wasn't going away. So I went to the doctor and she sent me to go again ultrasound. I did that chatting with the sonographer. They were like, yeah, it's not cancer because of these, it's all fine, don't stress. And then so, when away, I didn't think about it so much.

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

And then a few months later I started working at my dream job, in my dream clinic, at a women's health and gynecology clinic, and my nipple was still really sore and I sent to one of the doctors. I was like, hey, can I book an appointment? I've got this thing going on. And she took one look and she was like, okay, look, it could just be an infection or it could be nipple cancer. And I was like, okay, that's pretty hard pill to swallow, but okay. So she swabbed it. I came back the next week and she was like, look, it's not an infection, I'm going to send you to a friend of mine to have a look and just get that second opinion. So I saw the breast specialist and even she wasn't too concerned. She was like you're so young, you know so low, I don't really want to buy up seed if I don't have to, because that could impact, you know, future breastfeeding and all of that stuff. And she's like and it looks like it's healing. So like, maybe go away and come back.

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

So I did that and I kind of remember how many weeks later. But next time I came back I noticed a lump. That week I mentioned it to her and that day it just happened so quickly. So I remember I had a girlfriend with me. I was like we'll go for coffee, we'll just stop by. It should be a quick thing, because every other time. It was quite quick and when I showed her the lump she was like all right, you're going straight downstairs, because it was in a hospital.

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

I got a mammogram. I got multiple biopsies, so I think it was called a core biopsy. They did a lymph node biopsy all of them. So I was prodded and poked and it was very, very uncomfortable. I remember While it was happening this beautiful nurse was holding my hand and I was just bawling. I just was not prepped for any of that. Then the next day the doctor specialist called me and she was so surprised she was like it came back and it's cancer. That was pretty shocking. Then I had the whole Easter weekend, I guess, to fret about it. It was probably the worst place to be when you know something's wrong but you don't know the extent of it.

Sarah McLachlan:

Yes, I imagine.

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

What happened next? She booked me in with this oncologist. I saw her with my husband about a week later and it was just a really bad experience. She just wasn't my practitioner. She was very direct, very you're going to do this and this is how it's going to be. I'm a pretty stubborn person. I don't like being told what to do. It was very confronting for the first appointment with someone to hear about the situation. Fast forward that I managed to.

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

My mother-in-law actually had a contact with this amazing surgeon. I got in with her, loved her as soon as I met her. She's a really prominent Adelaide-based breast surgeon. She works with another surgeon and they're the only female team in the Southern Hemisphere. That's lovely Women Dr Beverly Fosh she does the removing of the breast and Dr Amy Gease does the reconstructing. They went well. I met her and she gave me a hug. When I first met her she just said don't worry, I'm going to look after you. I just knew from that. Yeah, that's lovely. She sat me down. She explains everything really well, like okay, what do you know? She was just really kind about it and it wasn't a doom and gloom. She got my bio as in. We're going to have to do this, but we want to cure you. It was quite a dream. She referred me to her recommended oncologist, who is a lovely man as well. I felt heaps more comfortable just jumping in, I guess.

Sarah McLachlan:

Yeah, it's really important. Angelica Hazel, you acknowledge that you didn't quite have that connection with your first practitioner there. I always tell people that's why I like to do calls before people join my program, so you can get that connection and see is it a good fit, are we going to work well together and especially with something as important as cancer support and treatment? I think it's really good for people to hear that you were like maybe not quite the right fit and find someone else and it's okay to do that.

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

I think it's one of the biggest decisions you'll ever make. I was pretty proactive early on. I joined young women with breast cancer like a Facebook group and I was active with all these other women. I spoke to a few ladies who went through my initial oncologist and I was speaking with women about their experience Everyone, I guess they just said they were just so scared. They just absolutely what they were told, which I completely understand. But I think women or patients in general don't feel like they have that choice and it's okay to ask questions, it's okay to advocate for yourself.

Sarah McLachlan:

That's right, and I think it's especially so for women in my generation and older as well, because we were raised that the doctor is right, you just do what they say, you don't rock the boat, and going for a second opinion was like, or trying a different pracky was not something that we did, and even with the people around us, there's always a lot of people pleasing in our generation as well and not wanting to be a burden. It can feel hard to speak up and do that, but it's so important. I just want to circle back there as well. So you've seen your surgeon, you've seen the new oncologist, and was this still sort of April or are we moving into May?

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

I believe it was. Yeah, it happened within the space of like a week, you know, probably a week and a half.

Sarah McLachlan:

Oh, wow, yeah, it is a super quick timeframe, isn't it, with breast cancer?

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

Yeah, I was like you know when would you want me to start chemo? And I don't even know if I want to do chemo and I'm kind of annoyed my first oncologist as well, because I was like, what do you mean it? And I'm like, well, it's my body, yes. So yeah, I think around April. But the other cool thing I guess I wanted to say was just by changing oncologists I reduced my risk of leukemia.

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

Because one of the things that didn't show well with me was my first oncologist wanted to give me this really strong chemo drug and she wanted to give it to me every fortnight. So when I saw the second oncologist, I asked him about it and he was saying he wanted to do it every three weeks. And I said, okay, well, what's my risk for getting leukemia? I heard that's a thing and he's very active with research and he's like well, that's why I want to give it to you every three weeks, because that's kind of so for me. I just felt like so much relief, like that I am so much, I don't know. I was just really glad that I trusted my intuition.

Sarah McLachlan:

It's always good to do that, to listen to yourself. I mean, you know your body best, you know what's going to work well for you, and I think when you're a nutritionist or like myself, and naturopath sometimes says that it can be not difficult for other Prachies to come on board with us, but there's those assumptions or stereotypes in the room that they may carry in, or we may carry in as well, that can get in the way of connecting and forming that relationship. So it sounds like you had a really amazing team and you would have started your chemo. Well, you did start chemo. That was, I guess, your next up for you, wasn't it?

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

Yes, I did start chemo. And before I get into that, the other cool thing I just wanted to say was the beautiful nurse that was holding my hand while I had the biopsy. I found her in one of the breast cancer groups and turns out she had gone through breast cancer as well. So that's really.

Sarah McLachlan:

She had a lot of empathy then.

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

Yeah, so I think that really amazed me that that unfolded like that. But yes, so I went into chemo very quickly. You know everyone. I feel like one of the big things that I was nervous about was losing my hair. Yes, you know it sounds quite silly in the scheme of things and everyone says it's only hair. It's only hair, which is quite frustrating when you're going through it, because you know it's one thing, you know facing death and you know having to put all these chemicals in your body, but it just sucks that you can't look like you while you're gone.

Sarah McLachlan:

Yes, you're already probably not feeling like yourself because of the side effects of the drugs. And then, yeah, you're looking at yourself and feeling a bit like a stranger. I suppose as well, and just trying.

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

And like I, got a chemo date and I, the thing that I was really glad that I did before jumping into chemo was my hairdresser, who is just a beautiful soul. She organized to cut my hair and Donate it to charity beautiful, and I remember, like you know, so emotional when it was happening, but it was called donate a pony yes, beautiful initiative where they, you know like she'll put your hair in braids and, because my hair was in pretty good condition, it would go to children with cancer or alopecia to make wings.

Sarah McLachlan:

Yeah, healing moment, I guess, yes, if you had to lose it, you were able to donate it before treatment and just for reference for people listening, angelica Hazel has had really long hair yeah, yeah, really really long hair, and lots of it. So there was a lot of a pony to donate and I think that's really beautiful to know that your legacy was yeah, that was going to help another child feel good through their treatment as well. So where about, say you at the moment, in terms of chemo?

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

sorry, and what I went into is I had four rounds of I Think it's called AC, but it's often the slang term called the Red Devil, because it is bright red. Everyone has to completely gown up when they go near you and when you pee afterwards your urine is bright red. So you know, like psychologically it really messes with you. Yeah, going into that and I have four rounds of that and I was doing. I don't know if anyone's heard of cold capping, but basically I have, yes, but listeners might not, so please do explain.

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

So, basically as a way to preserve your hair. And you put this it looks like a wee scuba hat and it basically freezes the hair follicles to try and preserve them so they don't fall out. So I opted to do that and I remember my oncologist was like you know it's well. Actually my husband reminded me that my oncologist said that it doesn't work for Everybody, because I didn't think it would. You know, I didn't classify myself as someone that it wouldn't work for. Yes, the optimist in you, I'm so optimistic so I did that for the first and second Session, and you have to.

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

I guess the worst thing about it is it adds on to your treatment time in the chair. So I think it's half an hour or 45 minutes before and then it's like, I think, similar, or maybe maybe even up to an hour Afterwards. Okay, it's pretty horrific. So you know like when, when your head is being frozen, it is so uncomfortable. Once it's numb, you're fine, but that's you know it. Getting to that cold temperature is just horrific, sorry. I did Two of those and then after the second treatment, my hair just started falling out in clumps and that was very confronting. Yeah, um. So then for my third treatment, I was like well, it didn't work, so you don't have to do the cold cat.

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

So that was a bit of a silver lining and then the plan was 12 sessions of taxal, which is a different type of chemo drug. They said it was lighter, but Honestly, they're, they're all terrible and they all have their artifacts. I did seven of that and I pulled the pin last week and it was just really nice to, I guess, do that on my toes again. I was listening to my body and I just knew that I was done. Yeah, um, so one of the worst side effects with it is peripheral neuropathy. Gosh, yeah, I'm nursing your hands and feet, but also pain. Sometimes I can't feel my hands and feet, sometimes they ache, sometimes, um, you know. So I need to go into the freezer to get something. It really is excruciating. So I Was. I think it was last week. I was just holding my coffee cup in the morning and it hurt to do that.

Sarah McLachlan:

Yeah, and I would have made it hard to look after your children as well, I imagine 100% so doing that?

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

um, you know being able to tap on the computer and you know I hope I get through this. I've got a long and healthy and happy life and what they said from the start was, if it gets really bad, we need to stop because it will be permanent and we don't know when that well, okay, sorry, but that's important for people to listen or to hear that part of the conversation as well as that.

Sarah McLachlan:

Yes, you did decide that it was time for you to stop, but also you'd had that conversation with your health practitioners that there would come a time that it might yeah, the side effects would get too much and it's important to stop it there. So it's not like you just decided now I'm not doing it anymore.

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

Yeah, no, my own colleague was amazing. He basically said you know you've done the hard ones first and Got her to cancer. I'm on a particular drug called hasaptin To give me intravenously for a year but yeah, that's meant to be very effective for the her to the type of cancer. Um, but but yeah, it was just nice to, I guess, going there not necessarily ask for permission, but just yes, I've made my decision and then to have that Supported by him, yeah, it was really good. He said one of the biggest issues is patients feel like if they've got, you know, to a whole sessions down, that they have to complete that.

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

So that kind of messes with your mind a little bit, because you know you want to give, you know you want you want to kick this, but then yeah, for me I don't know. Just last week I just had this knowing I was like, no, I'm gonna be okay and I'm okay finishing, and it's not a sign of weak Kind of me listening to myself.

Sarah McLachlan:

So yeah, that's right. And you yeah, you don't want to end up with permanent damage. Yeah yeah, that's certainly something that you want to avoid there as well, and um, like that, you do have a non hormone sensitive breast cancer. I suppose gives you some other options or different approaches. Well.

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

Rare, so, like my mom, had breast cancer when I was 16, but, she had the hormone positive.

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

What they do because of my age like I'm only 33 the thing that they do at the start of your journey is, if you are young, they will offer you some genetic testing. Mmm, my first oncologist which is probably what made it so hard she assumed that I had the Like one of the bracker jeans. Yes, because I was so young that I would have genetic issues. So my first meeting with her she was saying she's gonna take my ovaries, they're gonna take this, they're gonna Wow.

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

Yeah, I got my results Probably a couple months ago. I have not no genetic. There's no genetic issues.

Sarah McLachlan:

Oh, that's good. So that means you won't have to go into surgical menopause, they won't take your ovaries or anything like that. Okay.

Sarah McLachlan:

Yes, you are very young and I've people heard that before you are 33, which is Un unusual, but it's not maybe as uncommon as what we might think. I know like I've always thought of breast cancer as something sort of more closer to menopause or beyond. But yeah, talking with Dr Chandrika Gibson last week, she was telling me the stats, which I've already not kept in my head, but it's a larger number than what I thought of women under 50 being diagnosed with breast cancer, and certainly you, like that's your situation as well. So can we talk a bit more about the risk factors or risk reduces, because one that you mentioned earlier was that you were breastfeeding and breastfeeding is a breast cancer risk reducer. So can you talk us through perhaps some of the other things going on in your life that would have reduced your risk, and you know people can certainly do this. Still worth doing all of those things if you can, for sure.

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

Definitely yeah. I guess the biggest reason I was so shocked that I got breast cancer was because I've breastfed both of my girls for two years, which I know is incredibly supportive for reducing your risk of breast cancer. I guess family history can play a big role in it. But again, knowing I don't have genetic issues was quite surprising to me. But I'm thankful of that Because often if you do have a parent with genetic with breast cancer, they will look at doing mammograms early, whereas I think now it's maybe over 40 or something.

Sarah McLachlan:

I think 40,. Yes, if there's genetic family history.

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

Yeah, they can encourage it early. But I mean, I'm a very healthy person, like I'm a nutritionist, I eat very well, I'm a metabolic knowledge practitioner, so I'm very thankful I was following that way of living before my diagnosis. In fact, I started on my MB journey last October and I lost 10 kilos. That was definitely attributed to my good health as well. Very active, I don't smoke, I don't drink All of those things can increase your risk.

Sarah McLachlan:

Yeah alcohol is one of the biggest risk factors and, yeah, I think that's really important because alcohol use tends to increase in women in their 40s and 50s as well. So it's good to know, or talk about that, that it is often the elephant in the room that people don't want to talk about. But yeah, alcohol significantly increases your risk more than many other factors in your life.

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

Especially with, like our Australian culture. It is such an elephant in the room, it's just such a thing. But yeah, I haven't drank for like 10 years. That's surprising. But I guess another thing is like there's just more hormones in our food. We're exposed to more things on a daily basis and again, I'm quite careful with this stuff. I don't drink out of plastic bottles, I don't eat plastic containers or that. I buy mainly organic fruit and veg, but all of those things can attribute to your toxic load Stress.

Sarah McLachlan:

Yeah, it's such a big blocker of energy. It's a big blocker of health massive.

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

Yeah, I think that's probably one of the reasons I you know that attributed to my illness because stress. I'm a very driven person, I enjoy my work and it's hard for me to get that balance.

Sarah McLachlan:

Yeah, I think it's the biggest blocker that I see in women's health in terms of health and happiness, weight loss. You know, and it's such a busy society that we live in and you know, we have lots of tools, smartphones and things like that that really help us get lots of stuff done but also mean that we're contactable all the time or people can make demands on us all the time and it can suddenly pop up, you know, in your face when you're relaxing on the weekend and then, you know, change your thoughts and what you're doing there, and it's always a struggle, I think, a constant struggle to try and reduce your stress load. But again, taking the time for yourself or investing in your self care and looking after yourself is something that is not, in the past, not necessarily encouraged. I do think the tides turning and that self care and prioritising ourself is starting to become acceptable and okay, which is fantastic. So, yeah, lots of risk reduces. Did they identify any risk factors for you?

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

They just said it's just really bad luck. That was pretty much all that they said to me, because they were just like, well, we can't work it out.

Sarah McLachlan:

I wonder and you know we'll never know the answer to ponderings and wonderings, but that you don't have the hormone dependent or hormone positive cancer. It's almost like maybe your lifestyle and everything helped that to happen. I assume that with the way that you support yourself and look after yourself and you know, we know, that doing metabolic balance is really wonderful to help keep your hormones balanced and in the optimal ranges, that perhaps had a play in you having.

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

Yeah, yeah, who knows, we'll never know. I'm just very like, from the start I've been very much. I've never done the why me? Thing. It's just more like okay, this is, I had one day of wallowing after I met the first oncologist. I was pretty due to be like all right, this is the situation, let's just tackle it. And yeah, one foot in front of the other, I'm for me. I guess I'm very grateful that I've already got children, because when you think of a cancer diagnosis, then it's also the question of fertility, and that's something I am very into, the fertility space and, yeah, I found that really interesting as well. So often, if you don't have children, it will be a question of do you want to have children? And then they'll look at referring you to a fertility specialist for potentially like freezing embryos or eggs or yeah, yeah.

Sarah McLachlan:

So quite a different journey there for someone with multiple things going on and in that rapid period, you know, it's all kind of happens really quickly, like you were saying before, after the diagnosis there too. So what I wanted to talk to you about now, angelica Hazel, is how to thrive in treatment. So you kind of touched on your mind, the mindset, how important that is, and I always think I was talking about my kids as well and myself. It's important to feel your feelings, but it's when we get stuck in them that we can't move forward, or we and we know that research tells us how important it is or how powerful our mind is in our health and recovering from illness, and so that's one thing that you have going on I always try and think about.

Sarah McLachlan:

Well, what can I learn from this? What is, why am I going through this? What's it gonna teach me? And for you, it's gonna make you even more amazing practitioner, I imagine, and give you a lot of empathy for other women going through here. But, yeah, can we talk about what you're doing, because you are like you're looking really healthy and vibrant and not, you know, oftentimes you see people who've been doing chemo or going through treatment and they aren't looking well and their skin is sort of telling a story about what's happening inside. But yeah, you're not looking that way, looking absolutely fabulous.

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

I guess the first thing is, even though I have breast cancer, I've never really identified as a cancer patient, Like it's just yeah. I found early on, you know, when I was struggling through treatment, something that really helped me was I would look in the mirror and I would just tell myself I'm like you're gonna have a good day today, and some days you don't feel as good, but that's really helped carry me through just that mindset of no, like you're all good, Pick yourself up, and if I do have sad days, I let myself feel it, but I just don't stay in that space.

Sarah McLachlan:

Yeah, so that cancer doesn't define you. It's not who you are. You're still Angelica Hazel and you're a nutritionist and you're a mum and you like tea and travel and food and all those things as well. I think that's really important. Yeah, not to let it define you.

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

I don't wanna go back to how I was. You know I think you can. You know even women with, like their pre-pregnancy body or, you know, menopause. You know, like we can become so fixated on who we were, I don't feel that I wanna go forward into this next, more evolved version of me.

Sarah McLachlan:

Yeah, that's it. Amazing, such a great mindset to have there and yeah, it really carries you forward.

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

Yeah, yeah, I think so. The other thing that I do is exercise has been really big, sorry. In SA I found a like there's a few different options, but I found a breast cancer specific exercise rehabilitation program that I think Calvary runs and I signed myself up to it and it's really cool because you do an hour of exercise and then you do half an hour meditation run by a psychologist. Oh beautiful, sorry, yeah, it's really cute. I'm doing it with lots of older women.

Sarah McLachlan:

Yes, I imagine you would be the youngest person there. Probably, yeah.

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

Oh yeah, so we're listening to, like John Farnham and like you know, all the beautiful women. But yeah, that's been really good because there's lots of research on exercise and supporting you through chemo. It sounds crazy because, you know, after you've got chemo you're so tired and you know you kind of just wanna rest, but you do actually feel better when you move your body.

Sarah McLachlan:

And so I imagine that that movement is not super taxing though, like when we're not talking like at 45 or high intensity kind of workout. Yeah that's because that can be super stressful on your body, but I suppose it helps with your lymphatic flow and your lymphatic system.

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, like before all of this, I was doing KX classes like Pilates. Yes, I couldn't do that now. I know I don't have the stamina for it, but it's all physio-led classes. So often it will be a combination of cardio with strength training and it's just like a beautiful supportive environment. So, whilst I don't wanna be, I still like to challenge myself. Yes, definitely in a different way to what I'm used to.

Sarah McLachlan:

That's great and it's really important to meet your body and yourself where you're at Like. Yes, like you were saying before, you might have been you know, super driven and exercising a particular way and pushing your body, but at this time, what your body needs is that gentler movement that supports and nourishes rather than depletes. So you've mentioned mindset, the movement, meditation. What about food or other? What else are you doing there?

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

So important. So for me I've pretty much I've definitely kept with my parents' course as a metabolic balance diet, just because that has I feel so good when I'm doing it. But I've just adjusted it more for my situation. Yeah, I'm loving the whole fasting in between meals. But what I would do prior to my chemo treatments there's a bit of research on either fasting or fasting mimicking diets, and that is normally like before, during and after. So before my chemo day I would, for the first bit of chemo I would do just water fast and I would break my fast with something really really like nourishing after chemo, probably like I don't know four, five hours after. So I would try and do like I don't know, 36 hour fast as long as I could do. And then when I went into the weekly chemo, I was doing more of a fasting mimicking approach which is low calories, plant based, and then I would fast on my chemo day. So I would do things like I would juice my own veggies, I would have broths, I would you know that kind of really liked food. Yes, so that was definitely an approach that I did and just I focus more on certain nutrients.

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

So I'm big on having lots of cruciferous veg because there's good research with that to support breast cancer. I'm doing things that will naturally support detoxification. So again, lots of like fresh herbs, bicep, cruciferous veg. There is some data on not having too much red meat. Yeah, and it has to be weighed up with because often chemo it will smash so much of your cells, so iron deficiency or you'd get really low hemoglobulin. So I would just have a little bit of really good quality red meat every now and then. But more I'm having more like, yeah, plant-based nutrients or more like eggs, organic chicken, yeah, just lots of veg with protein and I guess, yeah, similar to meat.

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

It's just slightly modified.

Sarah McLachlan:

Yeah, a lot of the time people lose their appetite or find it hard to eat their mouths or in different cancer treatments. Has that happened for you? That you're, it's been harder for you to eat, or?

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

I wish I thought when I initially got diagnosed I'm like what I'm going to get skinny Did not happen. Actually, my first oncologist was like my breast cancer patients. So, like, put on a bit of weight, they're quite puffy and I would say with the first one, when your nausea is really bad, I guess on that day and a few days after I wasn't that hungry, but then, because you're so nauseous, you just want carbs and it was really difficult because the more you know, the more, I guess, the harder you can be on yourself. So, like I know, there's a bit of more of a ketogenic style or diet and I was trying to be not in keto because I didn't want to label it but just go for a more of a carb approach. But it's really hard when you just nauseous and all you want to eat is like that is all.

Sarah McLachlan:

Yes, it's a kind of heart back to if you had morning sickness and pregnancy then, and so were you able to use things like, say, ginger tea or to help with that.

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

Yes, but even that would do, you know what I mean. Like yeah, even that, you'd still feel pretty terrible.

Sarah McLachlan:

Yeah.

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

It was just rough and I think sometimes what isn't talked about is like, yes, that you definitely dietary strategies that work, but then it's also going to be weighed up with your mental health.

Sarah McLachlan:

So sometimes Absolutely yes, not because of the nutrition that it has, but just because it's OK to do that every now and then, and just to look at what you feel like so and I'm sure and there's different qualities of carbs and that as well, and even, as we know, like having a little bit of protein before that carb can really help protect your blood sugar levels and insulin as well. So I'm sure, subconsciously, those things were influencing what you were doing there as well. So, but it's obviously working. Like I said, you're looking great Is that you're a nutritionist, so you know you don't do herbal medicine, but you do herb's as food, as medicine. Is there any in particular that you've been focusing?

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

on All of them. I'm just trying to think what I had. So I saw for a natural path early on and I was definitely getting some liver herbs and that was one in the all through treatment. I did green tea extract, I do curcumin, I was having Nigella sativa, which is like the black seed oil there's good yeah.

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

Cancer Just trying to think what else. I've had so many things, so I've heard so many different herbs and supplements. Turkey tail like a medicinal mushroom. Yeah, making a smoothie or anything. There's some good research on that. Yeah, I'm very big on using herbs and like superfoods as much as I can, so I think it's really great when we can harness the power.

Sarah McLachlan:

I mean, obviously we both work in a particular way that we're using food as medicine, but we have to eat and we have to fuel our body. So why not harness that power and add those functional foods to what we're doing and power it up, so to speak? You know, before we finish up, angelica Hazel, is there anything, any final messages or anything else that you want to add for the listeners?

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

I guess the biggest thing that I would say is that if you've got something going in your body whether it's your breast, whether it's anything and you feel like something's not right, even if you go to the doctor and they rest, you know they say no, you're fine. It's OK to get a second opinion and it's OK to advocate for yourself. And often with things like cancer, you know people want to forget about it. You know it's too scary to kind of look into it. But the big thing that will help you to survive is early detection. And if you go through the whole process and you don't have it, amazing, I'm so happy for you. But just better to be safe than sorry.

Sarah McLachlan:

I think that is amazing advice. It's really spot on that it can feel really scary and big, but early detection is really key and so that's super important there. And also regardless of age, because we see it a lot with perimenopause and menopause. Oh, you're too young to be going through that. That's what you know. I've been told that. I know lots of clients have been told that. You even got told that with breast cancer not to worry about it, that it probably wouldn't be that because you're too young. So I think it was so powerful.

Sarah McLachlan:

If we tune into our bodies, we know our bodies the best. We've lived in them the longest, and if something doesn't feel right, then do follow it up. So thank you so much for sharing your time with us today and your story with us there as well, and all those wonderful things that you've shared about how you've thrived in treatment. We had the your mindset, meditation, movement, food and those functional foods that you've researched there, and I will pop into the show notes your links so people can find out more about you and get in touch with you there. Angelica Hazel, and just once again, thank you so much.

Angelica-Hazel Tjoutjoni:

It was really awesome chatting with you. I guess I was just wanting to say if there is anyone out there that's going through breast cancer and they're feeling alone and they want to chat, like, oh, you can reach out to me anytime. I understand what it's like. So, yeah, please don't feel like you're going it alone.

Sarah McLachlan:

Thank you. That's so generous of you, beautiful, wow. Angelica Hazel's story is amazing. Like we think about how young she is, all those risk reducers that she has going her way and how she's approaching her breast cancer treatment is just really inspiring, I think, with what she's doing and, just to recap, we talked about how she came to be diagnosed and seeking those second opinions or following up and going back and when she felt that things weren't right in her body is really important.

Sarah McLachlan:

At any age that's appropriate and I know it's harder for us in our generation when we're told not to rock the boat, not to do things like that. But you do know your body best, you've been in it the longest and if it doesn't feel right, please do go follow that up. And we talked about some risk factors, particularly alcohol and how it's the biggest risk factor or increases your risk of breast cancer, and we went through Angelica Hazel's tips on how she's thriving in treatment thinking about your mindset and certainly feeling and your feelings are always valid and not getting stuck in that the movement that supports and nourishes your body and helps support your treatment. She's also connected in with a community. It's something we didn't quite touch on but within doing the movement with the breast cancer team. She's connecting with other people going through treatment, and community is a really big factor for success in many aspects of health and health care and meditation and food as medicine there as well. So there are all the things that have combined really well for Angelica Hazel, along with fasting, and so I would encourage you, if you're going through breast cancer or some other cancer treatment, to reach out to a natural health practitioner that can support you and we're not trying to cure cancer or anything like that from our perspective, but support and nourish your body so that your immune system and your body can do what it needs to and you have helped increase your odds of surviving your cancer diagnosis.

Sarah McLachlan:

So thank you so much for sharing your time with us today here on Chaos2Carm podcast. I really look forward to speaking to you next time. It's really common for women over 40 to experience the chaos of changing hormones, mood, metabolism and energy, but I hope you know now that common doesn't have to equal normal for you or them. You can help others understand they aren't alone in feeling this way and that perimenopause doesn't have to be horrific. By subscribing, leaving a review and sharing this podcast with other women in their 40s and beyond. Thanks so much for listening and sharing your time with me today in this Chaos2Carm conversation.

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Navigating Chemotherapy and Hair Loss
Reduce Breast Cancer Risk and Thrive
Navigating Breast Cancer
Using Herbs and Foods for Cancer Treatment
Empowering Women Through Perimenopause Awareness