Saturday, March 10, 2012

Overwhelmed with Joy

I am so very proud, grateful and overwhelmed with joy to post that my Daughter, Dana Miles Frost, aka yesterday received her third PET Scan of which we have a DVD copy which shows zero SUV and ZERO metastatic disease!!  I could not stop crying with joy and relief yesterday and could not post (lest I steal her thunder) until this morning.  We spent yesterday evening celebrating and buying her a suitcase so she can finally return home to Brad and Dune later this week.

Dana has been in Arizona for 8 weeks and has faced this part of her journey with courage and grace and I am so very proud of her.  She will be here this next week to detox from the last round of IPT and the PET Scan which injects radioactive glucouse throughout her bloodstream.  She will continue to have IV vitamin C, colonics, acupuncture, infrared sauna, structural integration, raw vegan food prep class and I hope yoga and meditation.

Dana is successfully completing her first and second phases of this journey.
The first phase (which I did not blog about) were the two months of shock and pain of diagnosing her disease, researching and deciding on treatment options.  I want to personally thank again Sue Ansari, Liz Jackson, Sharon Smith, Chris Kraft and Dr. David Duhamel, Joda Coolidge, Lois Pozesky, Candace Campbell, Barb & Art Behrman, Linda Hill, my sisters Denise, Debi and Cristin and my husband Doug, My Mother, Dana’s other mother Marsie and husband Brad, my Aunt Joanne, Susan Abraham and all of my dear study buddies at Institute of Integrated Nutrition, Katie Horan, Heather Maurer Raskin, Martha and the rest of our fellow travelers group and everyone else who so helped to guide us on this journey.  Without your support we clearly would not be where we are today and we are so very very grateful.

The second phase is to get rid of the tumor, which Dana has done in less time and much less damage to Dana than it would have taken with conventional medicine. Thank you Gretchen, Lyle and Jordan Hogg, Brad, Margo, and all of our friends, family and neighbors for your unbelievable support and prayers. 

The third phase of her treatment, which is the most crucial and 100% up to Dana, is to keep the cancer from returning.  We will finalize her aftercare this week. But Dana will continue to be in recovery and treatment at home in Detroit and her lifestyle choices are critical to her ongoing success, health and wellbeing.  I’ve always witnessed those actively in a recovery program as being  “better than well”.  She will not be a survivor but instead has learned how to become a THRIVER!

Carpe Diem & Namaste!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Healing from Within

Most of our blogs, time and focus here have been on the external, the treatments to Dana.  As a former psychiatric nurse, I understand the importance of the psyche and the family role.  That said, the role of health coach to my own children can be a difficult daunting task at best.  I cannot be a therapist to my children.  I want to be a mentor but am still on my own journey with my own human limitations.

I want to talk today about the power of the mind and why as a Mother, as Momma Bear it is often challenging not to let my mind and my fears sabotage the journey of my children.  We naturally want to protect our children, to protect them from the pain that we have experienced in our own lives.  This protection, ahem, Ok OVER protection, prevents our children from their own growth.  This is why we have family programs.  This is why I need to heed the 12-step recovery prayer, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference”.

So this week, we have a changing of the guard, I am taking a trip with Doug and Stephanie to celebrate her first graduation (we are not always on top of things here….) and to witness our nephew Paul and Hope’s wedding in Tampa, Florida.  Margo and Brad are supporting Dana in my absence. 

After a few days of reading, meditation and long naps I have a renewed perspective.  I am constantly asking for guidance with the question, “How can I best aid my children?”  The message this past year has remained constant, as has my mantra….”Take it Easy, Let it Go”. 

We all have our personal journeys in this life, no exceptions. Why we are here, what our purpose is and how we extract meaning is an ageless and vital question for our existence.  It is a question that is never asked directly.  Never emphasized in our school systems. Perhaps it is in our religious communities, but I wouldn’t know.  It has been a question that has plagued me throughout my lifetime.  I’ve had careers where I felt I was “in the zone” where I was doing exactly what I was meant to do.  I felt this when I became a Mother.  I felt this at the beginning of my nursing career and then again when I ran a Crisis Center.  I felt that I was using all of my previous experience and knowledge to full capacity to serve others. I believe that it is vitally important that we use our God given talents to serve others.  Vital for our own personal growth and development as well as vital for the community with which we find ourselves in.  And isn’t it strange how we find ourselves in certain communities?  Most often, not by our own choosing... or so we believe.  Dana did not consciously “choose” to get cancer; it chose her.  But what are the messages that these challenges bring to us?  For this is where the golden nugget lies. 

So what are the Golden Nuggets created out of our challenges?  How and why do those that heal themselves later say that the worse things in their lives end up being the best?  How and why do some say that the dis-ease enabled them to discover and find themselves?  What role does our buried unconscious play and how do we reach this Mecca of information that is hidden (and sometimes not so hidden) just below our surface?  Why is it that in the shower or during a repetitive activity such as yoga or working out do we suddenly receive an epiphany?  It is because we have momentarily stilled the mind of the constant “tape player” long enough to actually hear the subconscious.  It is because the signs and symptoms of Illness and discontent, is the physical body’s way of communicating to the conscious mind. “Hello?  Can you hear me?  Something is out of kilter here!”

So we must practice the skill of mastering the unconscious mind.   We must leave what I believe is our Ego mind, the external messages that constantly bombard us to develop a relationship with our inner unconscious mind so that we can relearn what we already innately know.  It is what I have learned, which is that when we listen to our gut and our heart we can know the truth from within.  It is through this practice that we can focus the mind for healing.  This is the power of play, exercise, relaxation and meditation.  This is the heart of why visualization and hypnosis is effective.  This is how the “placebo effect” works.  This is why as one study proved, if the patients believe in the Doctor and he says, “your hair will fallout within 10 days” that 30% of those on a placebo drug will lose their hair too!  This is why visualization and hypnosis is so important and so powerful that hypnosis can even be used to allow patients to undergo surgery without anesthesia.  Meditation and hypnosis merely silences the conscious mind allowing freedom from the limiting thoughts and belief patterns that imprison us.   This is the “secret sauce” the magic bullet, the power of healing from within.  The reason behind why, “Attitude is Everything”.

I am not an expert on any of this but I know that the first steps are to be open to the learning and to practice the discipline of self-discovery.  This is why I need to read and practice my own yoga and meditation religiously and why Dana needs her hubby and sister this week.

More to follow…
Carpe Diem and Namaste
Lisa, AKA Momma Bear with a renewed perspective from afar.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Is Self Love, the be all end all, panacea solution to Wellness?

Is Self Love, the be all end all, panacea solution to Wellness?

Since we’ve begun this journey, several people have told me that the ONE book to read, is Love, Medicine and Miracles by Bernie Siegel, MD.   It usually takes me a while to come around, but I am now a Bernie Siegel Groupy.  This guy has spent a career in conventional medicine as a surgeon, cutting out cancerous tumors and this book is about lessons learned about healing from his “exceptional patients”. He documents the science behind love, faith and healing and psychosocial aspects that are prerequisites to healing.  He does what physicians used to do a century ago, which is to understand the whole patient, the psychological, social and emotional aspects of their lives.  He has learned to understand that dis-ease is often the bodies natural way to communicate with the ego self,  “Hey BUDDY, wake up!  This stress is too much for you!    or.....NOOOOO, please don’t pour that again down your throat again!  Or maybe, “Gee, does this occupation, this relationship, this place really serve you best?  Hey BUD, you may think you are surviving but are you THRIVING?“

Which is exactly why I think we have this all wrong.  Why are we calling those who have met the five year mark in Cancer treatment, Survivors?  We should be celebrating the wake up call and self healing that has occurred with a self proclaimed “I am a THRIVER!”

We have pain for a reason, chronic stomach aches means we are putting something there that shouldn’t be there.  My chronic back pain is a symptom, a message to me that I simply have not been able to let go. It is directly tied to the emotional and physical stress that I keep dumping into my physical body.  When I fail to have the self love and self discipline to meditate and to do my yoga, my mind, my body and my soul suffer. 

Then why is it that we do not give this to ourselves?  Why do women and men feel that we need to carry the world’s problems on our shoulders?  Many of us were brought up in families where “self sacrifice” is applauded. We need to understand that Self Love is not vain, it is imperative to our very own survival.

Here are some direct quotes from Dr. Siegel’s book:

“ One of the things I have learned is that I haven’t discovered anything new about survival behavior. The message is an age-old one and can be found in the words of the prophets of the past and those struggling to survive today’s difficulties, from exceptional patients to members of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Marines. Science and medicine certainly have confirmed through recent research the personality profile and psychology associated with survival behavior and how they affect the body’s chemistry and healing ability.”

“information about healing and surviving has been handed down to us for thousands of years by all the great prophets and spiritual leaders.  What I have learned is that their message is similar to my own. When one finds a common theme in the writing of those who are healers, one knows there is truth in them.”

“Healing is hard work, as is any change one must make in one’s life. .....Yes, cancer can kill and we tend to think of side effects as problems, but there are good side effects too.  An awareness of one’s mortality can lead you to wake up and live an authentic, meaningful life. I can read you an article entitled “Thank God I Have Cancer.” The “Thank God” is for the time the cancer gave the author to learn about the beauty, kindness and love that are here for us to share.  These side effects also produce a longer life as their byproduct.”

I want to personally thank all those that have called and written; we can truly feel the love and the prayers.  

Additionally, Bernie writes:

“The issue is not about living forever and testing God, but utilizing all of the physical and emotional forces available for healing.  The mind and body are not separate units, but one integrated system.  How we act and what we think, eat, and feel are all related to our health.  Physicians should be capable of teaching this behavior to patients.  I spend more time teaching now than ever, and my most grateful patients are the ones who thank me for teaching them how to deal with all of life’s difficulties, not just the physical ones.”
.... “Physicians need to be good technicians and know how to prescribe, but for healing to occur they also need to incorporate philosophy and spirituality into their treatment.  We need to feel as well as think.  ....we need a mutual investment society--the patient and the doctors investing in each other.”

And as I wrote in my previous blog about mindfulness, the exceptional patient must take an active and mindful role in healing which I believe may be why alternative treatments work so well on patients whom conventional medicines have failed. This is why I titled this blog, Healing from Within, because I am convinced that there is no other way to go.  This is why Dana must be and is an Exceptional Patient. When we are active in our role of Self Care, we are Mindful of what we are thinking, eating, and feeling.  We are acting out of self love and able to produce a health and wellness that can also inspire a healthier healing society.  This has been the same message I’ve received this last year from the yoga sutras and transcendental meditation as well as having to go through my own work with my own amazing coach in my integrative nutrition program.  This is the power of movies such as Forks over Knives and Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.  We must first heal ourselves before we can heal our families, our community and our planet.  Self Love indeed must come first.