Sunday, February 19, 2012

Good Days and Bad Days

We have good days and bad days here.  This past weekend, spending time at the magical and majestic Grand Canyon were Great days.  On the way home, Dana told Doug, “I don’t even feel like I have cancer”. 

                       This weekend, as Ben Harper would say, "I was blessed to be a witness"!

The last two days have not been good days.  Dana tried a new therapy, one that is supposed to be a more effective Hyper Oxygen routine that takes less time sitting and using less blood, but a therapy that had an immediate effect on Dana.  Within seconds of having her own treated blood re-infused in her, she experienced blurred peripheral vision out of one eye, a complaint that her right arm was heavy and a pressure and aura similar to a migraine as well as lightheadedness.  Believe me, when Dana complains of being “lightheaded”, pay attention as she has a tendency to go down (see blog 1).  She received an extra IV bag of normal saline and then another new therapy called PEMF for her head as well as over her tumors.  We came home and she ate a voracious salad with everything in it and some special broth I concocted with Medi-Aminos (all her amino acids), Himalayas sea salt and spirulina, chlorella and sea vegetables.  Warm, nutritious and yes, even palatable!  She seemed to feel better until after American Idol when we went to bed and she felt progressively worse, feverish, cold and achy.  I received a text at 4am saying she had been up all night and didn’t think she could make the 8am yoga class.   

I knew she was really sick when she wanted to forgo the 10am myofascial therapy and go back to sleep.  The doctors of course wanted to see her, take more blood and evaluate her.  Oddly enough, they were excited with her low-grade fever and symptoms. We are told that those who react this way usually make great progress with cancer regression as this is sign of the body’s own immune system kicking in.  Still, I cannot emphasize how hard it is to see Dana so weak and frail during these acute incidences.   It is once again an exercise in faith and prayer that we are on the right path.  Yes, and healthy questioning every day.

I just finished reading a book that a fellow caregiver lent me here called Counter Clockwise by Ellen J. Langer that was thought provoking and so relevant to the process we are going through.  Ellen has won a Guggenheim Fellowship Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest from the American Psychological Association and the author of Mindfulness, which is on my next “must read” list.    Her research has shown time and again how we can be influenced both positively and negatively by our own limiting mindsets, by what our culture mores dictate and the power we give over to “experts” such as our physicians.   This effects how we age as well as how we heal.

As a retired nurse who witnessed the loss of two loved ones to lymphoma and Hodgkin’s Disease undergoing conventional medicine, my mode is to question everything and everyone.  It is no different here and now and especially so as we take, The Road Less Traveled.  All of us naturally want to believe that our Doctor has all of the answers.  As Ellen says, “ The impulse to surrender our future treatment wholly to the professional hands of medical practitioners is understandable.  Leaving the doctors to make all the choices relieves the existential fear of being responsible for a decision that could in the end hurt us.  But not to be involved may hurt us more.”

What is being reinforced here is the power of the individual in the healing process.   The days that I am being the Momma Bear and the extreme nag are the days that I am taking away Dana’s self responsibility.  She has correctly written that at 28 she should not be living with her mother.  I admit that I am powerless over her disease and her recovery and that is a very difficult realization for me to accept.  Part of Dana’s recovery here is to actively learn about all of the treatments but more importantly to look at possible causes & stressors so that the she can prevent a reoccurrence.   There are many methods to get rid of the cancer, some more lethal than others.   Truly healing from within addresses emotional, psychological, social and physical healing.   We are not only what we eat, we are what we breathe, and most importantly what we think.   Just as we can fill ourselves with junk food, we can fill up on mindless entertainment and go through life mindlessly reacting to others expectations.  Or we can live a life with intention and fill ourselves with mindful, spiritual and positive thoughts.  Studies have shown that Optimists have better prognoses.  We can journal, meditate and get in touch with our inner selves and our higher power.  What Dana reads, watches, thinks and believes is vitally important. 

Ellen Langer also writes, “ By recognizing the limits to what the physician can know, we can become more confident in the importance of sharing that information.  We act as health learners, fully engaged in our health and better able to work with the experts.  We become the expert on our individual health and the doctors become the consultants.”

“If we are our own expert, we might consider using several get different views.... that signal to us that we are in charge. When we understand the limits of medical data, we can accept that receiving the same view from multiple people does not necessarily mean that they are correct.  It may only mean that the physicians were trained similarly.  We don’t become stressed when views differ; we become more aware of how important our own role is to the process.  To help us make decisions, we take a more active role not only in considering the information we receive but also in bringing information to the discussion.

“We shouldn’t wait to be asked questions that our doctor believes are important to help with the diagnosis; doctors' questions are based on normative data, on what is true for most people.  If we were the experts, we would offer information that we feel correlates with how we are feeling. Instead of asking, "Is this related to that?" we would ask "How might this be related to that?" Doing so encourages a different sort of information search, one that leads our consultants to consider one particular case instead of the general one.”

We are all individuals and need to recognize the limits of man-made “statistics”.

My favorite part of my role here is watching my daughter empower herself as she takes control of her health and wellness with the grace and spirit that is her signature.

Carpe Diem

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Chemo & Radiation Versus Love & Gratitude

Many are asking for more details on the last few weeks here so I thought I would start at the beginning.  Here is a journal entry I wrote a couple of weeks ago for Dana's blog, The Thunder Stealer.

January 18, 2011

Chemo & Radiation versus Love & Gratitude

If I am Momma Bear, then Dana is the Courageous Warrior.  So courageous to be thinking about and pursuing out of the box cancer treatments. Dr Lodi reminded us yesterday that Dana does have one of the 2% of cancers that are "curable" with conventional medicine.  50%-85% survival rates after five years,... but at what cost?  Longterm effects of chemotherapy and radiation include risk of future leukemias, 30% higher risk of breast cancer, weakened heart, lung and thyroid from irradiation to the chest and neck areas, weakened immune system and more.  Which is worse then, the disease or the "cure"?  More importantly, conventional medicine does not address the cause of the cancer in the first place.  "Let's use napalm to bomb the body and a nuclear bomb to kill those cancer cells and hope that the host still stands..."  In my heart and gut I couldn't watch my beautiful talented daughter go through that.  This world lost her grandmother and an old boyfriend to that treatment for lymphoma and Hodgkins years ago using the exact same treatments.  True, we have better anti-emetics today to help with the nausea and vomiting, but we are using the exact same drugs and protocols developed in the 1970's.  Let’s think about that folks for one nanosecond.  Think about the progress we have made in technology since the 1970's and how radically different our communication has evolved from typewriters to pc's and ipads. Yet cancer has grown dramatically.  One out of two men will develop cancer in his lifetime and one out of 2.5 women will be affected.  Why have we not won this "war on cancer"?  Perhaps we need to have a paradigm shift.  This is similar to the futility of the "war on drugs" and treatment is likely to be the same.

Nevertheless, Dr Lodi cannot "guarantee" success,  no one can really, except for Dana.  We are not fighting this war, we are surrendering.  We are learning to let go and let God.  Dana will need to let go of all of the myths of modern life.  Let go of the marketing mumbo jumbo we are bombarded with minute to minute.  We cannot drive our 30 minutes to the clinic everyday without passing McDonalds, Wendy's and other convenient stores selling dead artificial foods that are sold to us as "Happy Meals".  After all, don't we "deserve a break today"?! 

Today we start on a juice fast (yes me too, as I am small part of the solidarity project and the surrogate for Hubby for a few weeks)  the juice fast gives the body and digestive system a break while Dana is also cleansing the toxins out of her system using multiple treatments that include colonics, far infrared sauna, and lymphatic drainage.  More than 70% of the lymphatic system is located in the gut to filter the daily toxins we consume, thus leaving little to fight infection, to combat cancer and to clear the body from the toxins of chemotherapy.  So we will be, in essence, re-directing the immune system to be working for us.  Did I mention the  study done that showed rats lived longer consuming the cardboard box than the processed cereals we are feeding our children?  Dana's pancreas is enlarged, fortunately not from cancer cells but from overwork.  You see, when we eat cooked artificial food, our pancreas has to produce the digestive enzymes that have been killed by microwaves, pasteurization and food processing. These same enzymes, that nature provides us free of charge, are available to us in real raw food.  The juice fast not only rests the lymphatic system, it rests the pancreas and liver too.  During a fast, the body naturally protects other vital organs while allowing the body's natural armies to find and fight disease. 

But diet is only a part of the treatment. Of essence is our mind, body, spirit relationship. 

Which leads me to the love and gratitude in the title of this blog. We saw a fascinating film yesterday titled, "Water, the Great Mystery".  The movie enlightens us to all of the research done on water, from the making of the hydrogen bomb to work you may have seen showcased in the movie, The Secret.   Water changes its structure based on energy vibrations, and thoughts are powerful energy vibrations.  Thoughts of love produce beautiful crystal structures while anger, fear and hatred produce entirely different structures.  Our bodies are more than 70% water, our brains are 85% water.  Every action from thought to digestion to regeneration and procreation are electrical impulses affected by water and energy.   Water has structure like nerves that react to stimuli and water is capable of recording and storing information.  Water structure can be changed by thought.  This is why for generations, and in every culture, we have said prayers and blessings before meals.  This is the magic of holy water.  This is why, my very dear friend Gretchen Hogg says we should say "infinite love and gratitude" every day over our food and bodies to balance our energies.  This movie explains how the power of love, prayer and faith can change the structure of water and therefore provide God giving healing powers.

The most vital question is this, "why is it easier for us to accept chemo, radiation and surgery than love and gratitude as treatments for cancer"?  Why are we so programmed towards self abuse?  Must we self sacrifice everyday? Is it essential to have a "no pain, no gain" attitude or is it just the opposite?  Do we just need to Let go, Let God and Let Live? 

Why is it that we can all easily and readily discuss what is wrong in our lives, our world and ourselves yet we struggle to say what brings us joy and bliss?  Why do we have to be stoic and fear crying and showing emotion?  How does holding in our emotions contribute to our aching bones and dis-ease?  Why are we afraid to dance without alcohol?  Why do we need artificial stimulants to get us going in the morning and to be able to relax at night and go to sleep?  Why do we need certain clothes, cars or objects to feel complete? Why have we lost our God given innate ability to trust our own God given instincts and ability to heal ourselves? Why do we think that modern day science can improve upon Mother Nature?  Why do we relinquish our own power and authority to others by treating symptoms with chemicals that produce more symptoms and a need for more chemicals?  Why do we think that chemo, radiation and surgery are more effective than love and gratitude and why is self love the hardest task and yet the most essential task for modern man and woman to master? 

More to follow.

Namaste and Carpe Diem

Momma Bear

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Exercise in Faith

Healing from Within... personal journeys

January 28, 3:45 AM Fountain Hills, Arizona  Yes, my daughter has cancer, the unthinkable in her otherwise healthy beautiful body.  My great friend Gretchen who is so generously sharing her spare bedrooms with us and her wisdom says that we pick our journeys and challenges in this life in order to learn the lessons we need to learn.  So I've decided to join my daughter in writing a blog to attempt to share this personal journey in the hopes that others may benefit from our lessons learned.  This, and the fact that is is cathartic to write and marvel at the growth we are experiencing as we work to heal from within. 

I am continually amazed at my daughters gift of writing as I read her blog  Her writing not only exhibits her humor and cleverness it also portrays her strength, courage and willingness to share her own vulnerability.  To understand the importance of vulnerability see this link on Dr Brene Brown on Teds Talks

I rolled over this morning and felt the familiar aching in my body that signals where I hold my stress and emotional trauma, pushed my hips and spine back into place and rubbed my chakras as I said a prayer of thanks for surviving yesterday's trauma.  (You see, I too, am learning so much about healing from within.  At 52 years old, I am hopeful that Dana's structural Integrative Therapist may actually be able to finish straightening the spine that my yoga has been loosening up.  and Yes, Gretchen and my Yoga guru Rolf Gates are opening me up to the world of chakra's and energy portals within our bodies. This experience, along with others this year, is opening me up to a spiritual practice that has been sorely lacking.

This entire journey, has been an exercise in faith and a constant reminder that I am indeed powerless.  It has also been a reminder to me to listen and trust my inner intuition, something I have too often ignored in my lifetime.

We are in Arizona, partly because my heart and my gut were screaming at the thought of Dana undergoing conventional chemotherapy and radiation therapy.  It is a huge leap of faith  and a testament to Dana's courage to be here.  You see, Dana has The 2% of cancers that is deemed "curable" in conventional medicine.  "curable" means still breathing in five years and one day from now and often at a cost of future long term side effects like other leukemias, breast cancer, damage to heart, lung, thyroid, etc...  Conventional medicine often fails to acknowledge or address the cause of the disease it merely treats the symptoms.  (Which is why so many cancers return despite "treatment"). Yesterday, however, I was eternally grateful for  conventional medicine and the wondrous prompt response of our emergency medical system.

Yesterday, Dana completed two weeks of a combination of alternative and somewhat conventional treatments at An Oasis of Healing and wanted to celebrate with a little "retail therapy".  (Again, read her blog to get a more thorough understanding of what this experience has entailed.)

One minute she was thrilled and excited over finding great bargains at H&M while wearing a stunning white dress and the next minute she is weakly crying for me to come help her as her face turns an equal white, with her skin cold and clammy before she collapses.  As I am a trying to tell her to take some deep breaths, attempting to assess her on whether she pulled out her PICC line, she gives me a confused look, her body starts to jerk and my baby blacks out in my arms... All the while I am screaming for someone to please call 911

Within in a few seconds she regains consciousness but is confused and disoriented and I am able to move her from the bench to the floor to wait for the medics who arrived within minutes.  Ladies, if you want to be surrounded by 8 strong attentive men this is a way to do it!

Later, I knew she was feeling better in the Emergency Room when she lamented over losing out on the clearance bargains she left behind.

Did I tell you this whole process takes a leap of faith?  As I am driving to the Emergency Room I am praying to God, to Jesus Christ, to my higher power to help Dana through this, to help guide us through this process to help us so that we may in turn help others, for that is indeed where I see our purpose.

Later, after it was deemed that Dana was stable and recovering from dehydration, I walked back to the car to get the rest of her clothes to witness the most beautiful majestic sky.  Dana and I have seen some gorgeous sunsets from Gretchen and Lyle's deck but Not this.  This sky was different, the clouds were widespread and painted a bright deep coral and there was a rectangular angled blue streak through them.  Difficult to fully describe but feeling the calm after the storm, I was able to take a moment to Thank God.

Namaste and Carpe Diem