“There is a lot you can do from an integrated perspective to assist your health without interfering with the chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation if you choose to do that… let’s take the best of both worlds and merge them together.” – Carol Lourie
Every woman has been touched by breast cancer. It may be you or someone you know or love, but all of us understand, on some level, the physical, emotional, and spiritual impact of the disease. Women with PCOS do not have a higher risk of breast cancer than our peers, though we do have a slightly higher risk of endometrial cancer. Carol Lourie has dedicated her professional life to supporting women and their health. Now, she has focused her efforts on managing cancer in a functional way. Listen (or read the transcript) as we discuss:
- preparing yourself, your family, and your community for treatment
- nutrition for prevention, preparation, treatment, and recovery
- managing side effects
- setting the right mindset
Links to Carol Lourie’s programs and free guides:
Amy: So, on today’s podcast I am inviting back one of my favorite guest speakers and she has been on the podcast twice. I actually don’t think I’ve ever had somebody come on three times.
Carol Lourie: I’m honored.
Amy: Yeah, I’m really honored to have you here. Today’s podcast guest is Carol Lourie, and Carol is on episode 78 and 57. So, be sure to check those out because she gives us lots of great tips to managing PCOS naturally. Carol Lourie, she is a true healer and she helped me out so much this summer with my own personal struggle with anxiety as a result of trying to heal my son who had major surgery. And, she really helped him get into the best physical health place before his surgery and really helped him heal afterwards. So, I owe Carol so much and I’m just so thrilled that she’s come back on the program. Before I tell our listeners more about you I just want to say a big warm welcome Carol.
Carol Lourie: Oh, Amy I’m so honored and happy to be here and anytime I get to see you whether it’s through the internet or at Mindshare it’s just such a joy, and I hope to actually come east and get to visit for longer periods of time. But, hello to everyone who’s listening to wonderful Amy’s podcast. It’s an honor to be here.
Amy: Well, Carol Lourie, and I love her mission. She’s on a mission to bring good health to as many people as possible. She’s a native Philadelphian. Carol received an undergraduate degree from Temple University and went on to attend the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon. She moved to California, obtained her acupuncture license. She has worked as a homeopath and a clinical nutritionist, and she’s really dedicated herself to the study of homeopathy and has attended advanced functional medicine classes for the last 30 years. Wow, what a resume Carol.
Carol Lourie: Thank you. That’s what happens when you get older, the years fly by and you continue to learn.
Amy: But so, today I wanted Carol to come on not only because I want her to tell you all about a really amazing new program that she’s offering, but also because it’s breast cancer awareness month. And I haven’t really covered anything around breast cancer even though women with PCOS as Carol will tell you don’t have an elevated risk for breast cancer. I think everyone has been touched by breast cancer in some way. You know someone that has it and I want her to talk a little bit about the new project that she’s been working on. And then, I also want because she has been working on a program to help women heal from cancer in a real functional way, we do know that women with PCOS have an elevated risk for endometrial cancer. And, I actually at the PCOS Symposium met two women with PCOS who are dealing with endometrial cancer. So, it is happening to our PCOS Divas, and I think for those listening I think it’s important to kind of know what the true risk factors are and that there is hope. And, I think that that’s what one of Carol’s main messages about cancer is. So, I want to kind of turn it over to her, maybe we could start with the endometrial cancer piece and then kind of move into what you’ve been working on.
Carol Lourie: Well, thank you so much, Amy, for that beautiful introduction and hello all of you wonderful beautiful PCOS Divas. I’m so happy to be sharing a few moments with you. So, let’s just start with PCOS. We all know that it’s a hormonal, part of it is a hormonal issue and part of it is a metabolic functional problem with sugar imbalance, and being able to manipulate and adjust to the sugars that you have in your diet. But, as far as the hormonal component is, and one of my approaches is, as Amy has mentioned, it’s the spokes on the wheel or the spikes on the wheel. Everything’s all interconnected in our bodies. So, with the endometrial cancer as Amy has said there is a, actually 2.57% increased risk of getting endometrial cancer if you have PCOS. And, that risk increases as you age over 54. And, one of the components of the correlation with PCOS and endometrial cancer is something called the Lynch syndrome, L-y-n-c-h. And, that’s a genetic mutation which not only does it leave you with an increased risk of endometrial cancer, but it also can lead to an increased risk of colon cancer.
So, to all the women out there who have endometrial cancer in your family or to the two women that Amy met in Orlando, I hope you’re listening. It’s always important anytime for anyone who has any type of cancer to speak to your physicians about genetic predispositions. Because if you do have Lynch syndrome, and it’s a genetic mutation, then you want to be on an increased watch for colon cancers. So, you’ll be getting your colonoscopies possibly every year and not every five years.
One of the things that I think is really important for all of us is knowledge is empowerment. And, notice I didn’t say the word power, because I like to approach healing for women from a feminine perspective. And, I think empowerment has a little bit of a different energy than power. You don’t want to just zoom through treatment. It took a while for the cancer to appear and you have some time to find the right practitioners to work with, not just from the medical perspective but from an integrative perspective also.
There is a lot you can do from an integrated perspective to assist your health without interfering with the chemotherapy, or the surgery, or the radiation if you choose to do that. And, I think that’s one of the areas where physicians have a difficult time. They don’t want you to do anything. And, as somebody who works in an integrative field and is also extremely respectful of what the medical field has to offer in this regard, there are definite ways to take supplements and stop them four days before chemotherapy, and don’t take them for four days after chemotherapy. And, that way you’re not interfering in the chemotherapy that you’re choosing to get.
There are also things you can do to prepare for chemotherapy. For example, you don’t want to eat a steak today and go have chemotherapy tomorrow, you will get really sick. There is now research, a lot of it’s coming out from UC San Diego through this wonderful professor, Doctor Valter Longo, who I interviewed for my course about something called intermittent fasting. And, intermittent fasting is, there’s two approaches. One, is you can dramatically decrease your calories for a few days before chemotherapy and a few days after. Or, in my course I also, if you want to take a more serious approach, you can fast with Miso, and Bieler’s broth, and some vegetable juices. But, what happens with intermittent fasting is cancer loves sugar, and if you’re fasting you’re not giving the cancer cells the energy they like and they want. So, when you get that chemotherapy the cancer cells go, “Oh, here’s food”, and it sucks up the chemotherapy at a higher rate. And, your healthy cells which are protected from some of the side effects of chemotherapy. So, I’m on a mission to have this be standard of care for anyone getting chemotherapy for any illness. I think that this makes really good sense. It’s a medically proven protocol and I want to get it out there. I want it to become a viral, “Oh yeah, I’m fasting before chemotherapy”.
So, that’s one of the things that I’m hoping to do, but back to endometrial cancer and PCOS. You’re going to need help from your allopathic medical team, and I think that’s very important. How can integrative care help you? One of the main approaches I have in my course is mindset. And, Amy and I were talking about that before we came online. There is a very big pressure with cancer. Cancer has a certain energy and the cancer cells are undifferentiated, meaning they just go in there and they gobble everything up and they spread everywhere. And, the energy of cancer as a homeopath can also impact your life and how you approach your treatment and your wellness. And, I think it’s very important to differentiate that. So, the more you can set up boundaries in your life and how you’re managing your care, and your integrative work, and your medical care, the healthier you will be.
Amy: Well, I loved what you said very early on about knowledge is empowerment and how that is more of a feminine energy. And, I’ve sort of been on this mission of women with PCOS embracing the feminine, and I think that a lot of the language around PCOS and I think around cancer too. The fight, the battle, the conquer …
Carol Lourie: Combat yeah.
Amy: The combat is very combative, it’s very ripe with masculine energy and with PCOS we are dealing with elevated androgens. We’re already, infused with sort of that masculine energy just by hormonal imbalance that we need to get more in touch with the feminine. And, how do you think that that plays a role with female cancers? I guess like endometrial and breast?
Carol Lourie: Well, I think the first method or the first approach is to make it part of yourself as opposed to you’re at war. And, I think it’s a very as you just said masculine approach to make this a war on cancer, or combat PCOS, or whatever it is. It’s because what are you at war with? You’re at war with yourself? You’re at war with your own cells? I think there’s, I’m a big proponent of mind body medicine. And, one of the things I do with the women in my office is I help them get into a quiet space and this is true mind-body medicine. And, I encourage them to engage in a conversation with their cancer, or their PCOS, or whatever the illness is, migraines, colitis, it doesn’t matter.
Because the true path of healing is the information that those conversations reveal to all of us, and that is not a masculine approach. That’s really being in touch with the feminine and people go, “Oh, it’s a little weird. It’s touchy feely.” Yes, it is a little strange and maybe it is touchy feely, but the information that you get from those cells … What do I need to do in my life to make my life easier so I can get through this cancer treatment or I can take the supplements I need and exercise as I need to, to diminish my hormonal imbalance and make my PCOS symptoms less for myself. That’s a feminine empowered approach and it’s a feminine moment. And, it has nothing to do with taking the birth control pill or going for electrolysis, which I’m a big proponent of. But, it has to do with deep healing which comes from inside of ourselves and that’s where I think we all need to become empowered and in touch with.
Amy: So, can you give us some more tips on how to get in touch with that?
Carol Lourie: Yes.
Amy: That deep healing?
Carol Lourie: I think women need to find space to sit quietly and ask the questions. It’s not that complicated, and there is a lot of business in our lives. And, I think we need to disengage from that business even if it’s only for five or ten minutes once or twice a day. And, that means turning off your phone, getting out of Facebook, just sitting by yourself and slowing your breathing down, and just ask a question inside of yourself that’s important for your healing. Such as “why am I having such a hard time staying away from sugar?” “What is my resistance about exercise?” Why can’t I … I know intellectually I should, but then I just can’t physically do it.
And, in fact that is a question a woman asked in my practice last week. And, what came up for her is she has PCOS, she is what Americans would term large. I don’t consider her large, but she has some body shame. And, she felt shameful about putting on some exercise clothing and walking around the block. And, once we discovered that that’s what it was, it’s like the resistance sort of dissipated and we talked about going out and getting a nice outfit. So, she looked and she felt like she looked nice when she walked around the block. And, who cares what other people think? It’s like put on your headset and listen to some positive podcast or some nice music and move your body. And, that was a really healing moment.
So, these healing moments can come … I know this may sound strange, but if you’re a mom and your sitting in your car waiting to pick your kids up, you can close your eyes for three minutes and see what comes up. How am I going to make dinner for my family tonight that’s really healthy for me and for everyone? Oh yeah, I’m going to go to the store and buy some more fresh vegetables and I’m not going to open up a box of a processed food. I mean these little things, these little moments really add up, and they are important, and they do matter.
Amy: And, I think in this day and age and I know I even struggle with this, to just be in my car in silence. I always usually have some Audible book that I’ve got going on, or listening to the radio, or somebody’s podcast. And, I find myself, it’s almost uncomfortable to be in that quiet space. You don’t really know what’s going to come up, and I think forcing yourself to become comfortable with being with you and yourself in that situation.
Carol Lourie: I think it’s important to know that your psyche is never going to bring up something that you are not prepared for. And, that helps lessen women’s anxiety about like oh my goodness what’s going to come up, I’m uncomfortable sitting by myself, I’ve never done this before. Your psyche loves you and the inside of you, your feminine wants you to be healthy and happy. And, the messages you get when you sit, as the messages you get from when you dream and you can remember them are very connected to your inner feminine, and it’s about helping you heal on your healing journey and your healing path. And, there are beautiful messages from the goddess, and it’s not going to give you something that you don’t like. It may be difficult like okay you’ve got to stop eating sugar, but why am I having … It’s not going to tell you what to do, it’s going to help you become empowered to realize why you’re having a difficult time eating sugar. It’s not the negative voice that says, “Don’t do that”. Because nobody likes that, of course we don’t like that. It’s going to say, “Well, you’re eating sugar a lot because you’re equating that with nurture and you’re lonely for connection”. Now, that’s a very message than, “Don’t do that”.
Amy: I loved the aha that your client had or your patient had about being afraid to be out there, having people see her when she’s working out. And, I remember having the same conversation with a friend of mine, and I think I wrote about it in the book. About she really loved, in my book Healing PCOS, she really loved to swim, but she didn’t want to be at the pool because she thought everybody was going to be looking at her.
Carol Lourie: Yeah.
Amy: And, I just have to read this quote that I sent to my son yesterday. He’s a freshman in college and trying to make his way, and I thought this was appropriate based on some of the conversations we had. But, it reads, “Once you can come to terms with how rarely people think of you at all, you’ll stop caring what they think when they do”.
Carol Lourie: Very good. Very good. I think it takes a lot of determination to get out there in a bathing suit, to get out there in a workout outfit, if you are, notice I keep saying this, if you are what our society has determined as a large woman. However, large, small, petite, tall, whatever is becoming more a thing of the past. Major runway shows are now having “larger women” is bathing suits walk down the aisle with the tall skinny anorexic normal, what we think of as a normal model, nobody can look like that.
Good for you for being out there, and it’s not about what other people think it’s about what you want for yourself and if you love to swim and it brings you joy, you just go for it. If you want to get healthy and you know that the only type of exercise you can do right now to begin is to walk around the block, I call them power walks. I do my little power walks several times a week, just go for it. It’s not about the other people out there seeing you, it’s about you being empowered inside of yourself and loving yourself enough to put yourself out there and take that first step. And, once you start doing that it’s so self-satisfying you’re going to go, “Oh my goodness, I can’t wait to go swimming again”. Or, “Oh my goodness I felt so great, my legs hurt me in a good way. It means I’m moving my muscles. And, my insulin went down when I walked or when I swam, and I can see that my muscle tone is getting better.” It’s very satisfying inside of your body and for your psyche.
Amy: So, mindset plays such a huge role in managing PCOS and cancer as well. And, I know that nutrition plays such a huge role as well. Maybe you could talk a little bit more about the nutrition aspect of managing and dealing with cancer. And then, maybe touch upon PCOS as well.
Carol Lourie: Well, they’re the same. I think it’s the same for PCOS and cancer. It’s the healthy Mediterranean style diet that, I don’t like the word diet, but nutrition approach. And, for me nutrition and nurturing nutrition is how I like to phrase it.
Amy: Oh, I love that.
Carol Lourie: And, that’s one of the titles of my e-books in my course, Nurturing Nutrition, because it has to be nurturing or else you’re not going to enjoy it, or do it, or want it. And, also mindset, they go hand in hand as the foundation from which we build all the protocols moving forward for your health, whether it’s PCOS, or cancer, or any illness.
Amy: Can you talk a little bit more about Nurturing Nutrition? What does that mean?
Carol Lourie: Nurturing Nutrition has a couple of main categories. One is you eat with the seasons. Two is because you have an illness, whether it’s PCOS or a metabolic imbalance, or cancer, for the majority of times it’s very important that it’s organic. You can’t, your body can not handle outside pesticides. You’re already in a state of hormonal and metabolic imbalance, and you don’t want to add more burden to your body with chemicals. For example, non-organic strawberries are basically like eating the pesticides that they spray, because they soak up the pesticides so much. You’re doing your body a lot of damage by eating non-organic strawberries. So, eat with the seasons, eat organic, and learn how to make food that you will enjoy eating.
Notice I said, “Learn how to make food”. A lot of women don’t know how to cook and men also don’t know how to cook, but we’re talking to women in this podcast, so I don’t want to feel like it always has to be on the woman to cook. But, if you like to eat, and I have these recipes in which I used to be chef, and I used to be a pastry chef. So, I’ve taken a lot of what would have a ton of sugar and just not be gluten-free, and I’ve used maybe two tablespoons of honey in the entire cake, and it’s a gluten free cake, and it’s delicious, and you don’t even miss the sugar. Now, when I eat normal pastries I take a bite and they’re just way too sweet. So, the nurturing component has to be about, you don’t have to stave yourself from treats. You don’t have to starve yourself from food that you love because if you deprive yourself, you’re going to be resentful and it won’t work. So, you need to find the balance between eating the, what I call the modified Mediterranean diet and every now and then you give yourself an appropriate sized treat that will nourish you in a positive way. Meaning you don’t want to be eating … Let’s say you made yourself a gluten-free date nut bread, which I just published on Saturday.
Amy: I saw that on social media. It was lovely.
Carol Lourie: Thank you. It’s delicious. It is so delicious, and it’s very easy. Let’s say you make that and you put, you make muffins and you put them in the freezer. And so, you have one every now and then, which is a great way to do it. And, you don’t want to eat that in the car on your way to work. Because that’s not paying attention to your little treat. You want to sit there and have a friend over, and have cup of tea or even a cup of coffee, and eat it with a friend and share with your family, that’s nurturing. I hate to say this, but sometimes I like to eat in the car. But, I’ve gotten to the point where I only eat an apple in the car, because you get to where you’re going and you go, “What did I just do? I’ve got crumbs all over the car, I’ve got all over myself; this is not healthy.”
So, now I’m the apple in the car girl, but that’s what nurturing is. It’s enjoying community, it’s enjoying family, and it’s learning how to make treats for yourself that really remind you of a nurturing moment when you were little, whatever that is. It’s also bringing in enough fresh organic fruits and vegetables for your household, for your body. There’s no such thing as too many vegetables. Those colors in those vegetables have healing vital nutrients in you that will get into your cells and help heal your PCOS, and help your body become in a better relationship to cancer if that’s what you have. I can’t talk about it enough, it’s so important.
Amy: So, it really concerns me when I hear from women that I say, “I don’t like vegetables, I just can’t eat them”. Carol, can you heal without eating vegetables?
Carol Lourie: No.
Carol Lourie: You know, when somebody would say that to me, I’d say, “Okay, what’s your experience with vegetables?” Somebody said that to me once and it was like the canned corn of her youth. And, I said, “Well I don’t like canned corn either, I can’t imagine eating”. I tried actually, we had some canned corn in the house because we had put some away for an earthquake and my husband opened up the can and I took a teaspoon and I went, “Okay we’re throwing this out”. It was so disgusting. I said, “So, you don’t like canned corn? How about if we start with fresh corn? Steam it up and put it in some boiling water for three minutes, and eat it with salt, and pepper, and butter, and how can that be bad?” And she tried it and she liked it. So, I think you have to figure out what that means. Maybe their experience with vegetables was frozen, overcooked green beans.
Amy: Or boiled Brussels sprouts.
Carol Lourie: Oh God. Actually I love Brussels sprouts, but they’re not boiled they’re sautéed and they’re, you know I hate to say this, but they’re sautéed in olive oil with rosemary. And then, for Thanksgiving we add a little bit of bacon. That’s delicious, yeah. I mean that’s not bad. So, I think if you, I’m talking to the PCOS Divas out there. If you think you don’t like vegetables, let’s try starting with figuring out what it is that you had that made you feel like you don’t like it, and let’s try to think about another moment where we can create something that you will like, no matter what it is. Even if we have to start with corn, which is a carbohydrate, but I’m happy to start with corn if that will get you into the fresh steamed green beans with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, or with butter, and salt, and pepper. I mean there are many ways to eat vegetables. They don’t have to be horrible and overcooked.
Amy: Yeah, and I think roasting, grilling, it kind of brings out the natural sweetness in the vegetables. I agree it’s a non-negotiable. If you’re going to try to heal your PCOS, you have to include vegetables. So, I want to get back to what you’re doing with helping women with breast cancer. As I said we all know somebody who has dealt with breast cancer and I think what you’re doing is really innovative. I haven’t seen anything like it online and I’m very excited about you sharing this with the world. So, tell us more about what you’re doing.
Carol Lourie: Well, thank you so much. It’s so wonderful to hear that, I’m so close, I don’t have a perspective. So, I’ve taken all my knowledge from the last 30 years and I’ve been working with breast cancer, different types of cancer for the last 10 years, but I’ve decided I really want to focus on breast cancer because I’m such an advocate for women’s health. And, I’ve created an online course, it’s called The Path of Breast Cancer Journey with Energy, Empowerment, and Grace. And, it took me a long time to come up with that, the phraseology, and the phraseology is very important. We want to have empowerment.
We want to be able to have appropriate conversations. When you go into the oncologist and they say to you, “Okay we’re going to do this now. We’re going to do it this way.” It’s like, okay and what about, maybe we should consider this, or what about that approach. You want to educate yourself about what type of cancer you have and what the standard approaches are. And, you want to have grace, meaning if you’ve decided on your path to heal your breast cancer, you want to show up and be actively involved with that on every level emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, and physically.
So, you’re going for chemotherapy, as I mentioned before, you’re going to prepare physically, you’re going to prepare spiritually, and you’re going to prepare emotionally. And, you’re going to prepare your whole household, and your family, and involve your community to support you because there are going to be days when you can’t get out of bed, that’s normal. So, you call your support system, and there’s a whole series in the course about how to get the care tree organized, and you call one person, and they call everybody. And the next thing you know the kids are being picked up, somebody’s dropping off food, and you’re able to spend the day in bed taking care of yourself.
There are three modules in the course, there’s treatment for the women who are in active treatment. There is recovery, so you’ve finished active treatment, but you’re a couple of months out of recovery and you’re still not feeling well. Of course, it’s hard to feel well if you’ve been through all of that. And then, there is preventing recurrence, let’s say you’re done with all of the active treatment, it’s a year or two out and you want to know what can I do to keep my body as inhospitable as possible to cancer.
So, there’s three modules and within each module there is five chapters and there are different chapters in the modules, but all of the chapters have, all of the modules have a chapter on the science behind what’s happening. They have a chapter on mindset and emotional empowerment. There’s a chapter on integrative care which includes nutritional work and supplements to take, how to prepare for surgery chemo or radiation, and how to protect your healthy cells. What to do if you’re having constipation or diarrhea, I mean there’s side effects that we need to manage in an integrative way. And, it’s all, it’s not, there are some people out there who feel like it’s one or the other and I really feel like the main attitude with any type of cancer is you want to live. So, let’s take the best of both worlds and merge them together for the oncologist deals with the cancer and I deal with keeping you as healthy as possible, and supporting you in your body and your mind through this arduous path. It’s not an easy path.
Amy: And, I know that you’re offering some support too online. I know that having a PCOS diagnosis can be very lonely, and also finding like-minded women who want to approach managing their PCOS as we were talking about, from that feminine perspective, and managing it more naturally. That’s the beauty of being a PCOS Diva, there’s groups online that I moderate that kind of help women come together. And, I know that you’re doing something similar for women with breast cancer.
Carol Lourie: Yes, we have, The Path of Breast Cancer support group on Facebook as Amy just mentioned. And, for the people who are doing the course there’ll be more of a private group where you get a little bit more of me on the internet a couple of times a week for Q & A and everything. But, I’m on that Path of Breast Cancer Facebook group every day, several times and people are writing in and I really do my best to answer everybody individually.
Amy: Well, I’d love to … I often ask my guests to end their podcast with a message of hope and for those women listening who may have endometrial cancer, maybe fearful that they might get it, or have breast cancer, or have a loved one with breast cancer, can you lead us in kind of a message of hope for them?
Carol Lourie: I think medicine and health care has come a long way in a very short period of time, and there are more and more resources available to all of us. So, whether you have PCOS, or it’s breast cancer, or endometrial cancer, I think putting together a healing team who will listen to you and acknowledge you for the beautiful being that you are is the first step on your healing path. And, I encourage everyone to not settle. If you have a doctor that you don’t like, find somebody who will look at you when you walk in the room and care about your well-being and who you are. I think that’s very important and unfortunately sometimes the healing people get overwhelmed and lose that ability. But, remind them that you’re a person and you deserve the best care on all levels.
And then, treat yourself with that too, really take yourself in hand and say, “You know I may want this kind of sugar thing, but I’m going to go bake something for myself that’s healthier and then I don’t have to feel bad about it”. There are certain times when you have to be loving, but really take yourself seriously about what’s the best path for you in the moment. And, I absolutely believe there’s always hope especially for PCOS. Stick to your plan and really love yourself through all of those difficult moments and within a few months, you will really see the difference in your hormonal imbalance, and it is one plus one equals two. Stick to the program and it really, really works.
Amy: Well, such great advice and a beautiful message. And, thank you so much for the work that you do, and for helping me out this summer, I so appreciate it.
Carol Lourie: My honor and pleasure really, really. It’s one of the reasons I’m here Amy, thank you so much.
Amy: Well, and I just want to thank everyone for tuning into this edition of the PCOS Diva podcast. And, I’m so looking forward to being with you again soon. Goodbye.