Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I am Not My Disease Part 2 - Cancer Smacher and the Oxycontin

I have been having another tough week. We are adjusting meds. One to help with side effects of the estrogen blockers, and one for pain. Oxycontin.

Because the Neurontin is a pain killer too, and it was working well for my hotflashes, the doc started to stairstep me down off of the Oxy. Much to my happiness. That drug really alters your chemistry in a big way. I could feel it. In it's big "hit" form, Oxycodone, it almost shut down my breathing. But I slowly adapted to the Oxycontin.

Let me tell you why I took it. If I sneezed, I was on the floor cussing. The tumors on my spine caused GREAT pain. I muscled through, until I had to start chemo. And realized it was going to be too much to try to do. Heal cancer smancher and manage pain. I manage pain REALLY really well. People didn't even realize how much pain I was in. I am not a whiner. So when you hear me whine.......oh boy.

Back to present day. Adjusting to these drugs has been tricker than chemo-world. I am up, down, and all around. And depressive feelings.......really deep depressive feelings.....like pushing a boulder off you in the morning, were coming out of the blue. I was happy one day and crashing the next.

I mean, come on, we are trying to rip all the estrogen out of my body in one foul swoop. It is gonna to be a rollercoaster.

Yes, we stabilized that.....for a week. And then.........coming down off Oxy. Oh Oxy, it isn't a nasty a Oprah would make it out to be. It was a godsend. I needed a break from the pain. But coming off it, even when you aren't addicted to it.....can make you crazy.

The nurse was surprised at I might be feeling the chills/overstimulated mind that were moderately debilitating, over stepping off one pill, when my dose was so low already. So, she is upping the Neurontin.

And this is where the grit your teeth, and find all the resolve you have left to stand back up once again after being knocked down comes in handy. This SO wants to take me into "I give up" land. But refuse. I didn't go through all of this, just to give up to some silly drug!!!! But trying to argue with the side effects of said drugs just doesn't work. If it is going to take you down, it is going to take you down. The thing is, how to manage not to lose yourself while it all happens.

The difference is this....keeping that inner voice whispering...."This is not you, this is not you. This will pass, this will pass. You will get back on your feet. You will get back on you feet.". Because, man, it is so hard to taste "balanced, and happy, and moving on....." only to go back to feeling physically abused land.

So, this is my reminder to myself and to anyone else out there dealing with getting knock down, and knocked down, and knocked down.....

I am not my disease.
Scans cannot even say for sure where it resides,
if it resides, in this body still.
But the little frisky demons of doubt it left behind,
can be far fiercer than their creator.
The ravages of it's charge,
left scars to remind me of it's attempt.
And my savior, these drugs, have their dark sides.

But, I am not these drugs.
They altered my state,
change the chemical reactions in my synapses,
but that doesn't change me.
I, and You, are far bigger than synaptic space and neural networks.
They are just the framework to hang our souls on.
When every cell has been dismantled,
and you see that to be true,
you will be grounded in reality far more
than the mind can ever take you.

So I remind myself....

I am not my condition.
Conditions pass.
I AM, that still small voice,
telling me, I am none of these things.
These things are like a dance,
happening around my core.
Creating a vessel
to house a spirit.
And because my body has been broken apart,
and all that is left,
is this brilliant core,
I am reminded of this truth once again.

I saw this light in others,
when in childbirth, I was pushed to the edge.
Exhuasted, and fading,
the world became only light.
There were no chairs,
There were no windows, or walls.
No heart monitors, or IV's.
Just space and light.

People, embodied, faded,
and they became currents of light,
strong currents,
balls of light,
balanced one on top of the other,
held together by a core so brillant,
their words becames chords of sound.
I was taken to the core of all things,
near death,
and if you saw these things,
would know true beauty.

I am back to that.
The core of all things.
I am getting wrapped up in this exterior dance
and letting fears stifle me.
I am believing I am these drug reactions,
I am believing I am these chemical reactions,
I am not.
And neither are you.

And when you are pushed to the edge,
and you when you fall
you fall with grace, instead of fear,
you will remember that too.
And even in the darkest of times,
you will feel your light.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Little Love Note from the Cancer Smansher Friend

Dance while you can folks, dance while you can.

Look folks, those bones mets, and those meds have me moving like a little old lady.

So for ME, PLEASE.......

get up and shake you booty.

I dare ya'
I double dare ya'


Saturday, March 21, 2009

What I did besides Chemo #2 Acupuncture and Cancer Smansher

It was the day after my first chemo treatment. Or somewhere shortly thereafter. I don't know. It was all a blur. I just remember being on the couch, my goddess of a mother in law sitting quietly by in case I needed anything.....and I remember thinking "What the hell did I just get myself into?".

I could feel it in my veins. Everything going acidic, and heavy. I felt like I was being taken apart cell by cell. All I remember thinking was:

"This does NOT feel like healing energy.....what have I done?".

And then, my acupunturist came that day. She talked to me, about what, I remember very little. But she set me up with what supplements to take, what to avoid (to my shock, she even told me not to take my vitamins on days I felt like I couldn't, because "your digestive system can't break them down, it is too damaged. All you will do is cause more harm"). She assured me a time would come when it would be time to drink green drinks and take my multi's, but today was not that day.

I knew I was working with the right person.

When she went to go leave, my mother in law said, "Oh, my goodness! You look SO much better. Watching you wither was saddening. But NOW, look at you! You have energy back, you have light in you again!"

And that my friends....is what an acupuncturist can do. Not just any ole acupuncturist. Stella is an acupuncturist and naturopath mixed with part guru, and part energy visionary.

There was this pressure, because I graduated from a naturopathic medical school, to "go green". But I did what we teach. I listened to my body. And my body told me, "You need the chemo". Not out of fear of dying, but because my body's wisdom was strong. If that is what we teach, than we had better practice it, even if it goes counter to the "natural" healing movement.

And Stella agreed. I was blown away. She honored my body, and guided me through my journey thus far. You can change doctors. You can change hospitals, but you can't take away Stella.

She knows cancer. She knows the ways the hospitals and doctors run in this town. And her goal is to do everything to support what they are doing, not to undo all the good they did, but to not allow it to do damage, and to enhance the bodies immune system to help in the transformation.

She allowed me my anger.
She allowed me my fears.
She allowed me do whatever I had to do, and taught me to honor the process.
Dance if I felt the urge.
Sing if I felt the urge.
Scream if I felt the urge.
Hide under my covers, if it was what my body was ASKING for.

If it weren't for her, I never would have allowed myself my "crazy" days of crying and rage about it all. I would've tired to stay strong.

If it werent' for her, I would've tried to do too much, not stay in bed on the days I needed it.

And when she walked in, and said, "Are you have this, this, this and this happening...." and I said, "How did you know?!" She put a needle there, there, there, and there....problems resolved.

I attribute my high immune system counts to here. I attribute my overall sense of well-being to her.

When people in the waiting room starting coming up to me and asking "What are you doing? You look so healthy, I don't understand why you are here. I see you every week.....but, you don't seem sick. What are you doing?" ......I gave them Stella's number. (yes, this happened more than a few times in varying degrees.....).

This process with Stella, while it gave me vitality I otherwise would have lost, it didn't come easily. Some days were detoxing days. Some days I was so low on energy...and Stella would make sure I honored it, and rested. So I could have days of pure energetic bliss.

It didn't make all the ills of cancer go away, but it sure made the journey much much better.

She really worked with so much attention to the whole system. She didn't want to flush out the chemo, but she did want to direct it to where it needed to go, and leave the rest alone. She wanted to heal the areas of cancer, but not at the expense of a spleen or liver. She had me eating things I thought were taboo (Sorry Kris Carr, but I ate homemade, organic, chicken soup), and on the days I told her how angry I was feeling, she would just say, "That's the liver cleansing itself. BE ANGRY. Don't hold back." And she would just nod her head knowingly and act as if I just said "I won a Noble Prize in Peace".

Really? Shouldn't I be all sunshine, and rainbows and love? "No." And she was right. But in allow the dark times, I stood in the sun way more often.

She encouraged and worked on all levels. Emotional, physical, energetic. And still is. This healing isnt' over, even if the cancer goes away all the way.

So, here is my golden nugget of truth.......find yourself a good acupuncturist. Not one associated with the hospital. My fear is that they are screened to fit the hospitals slant on healing. Ask around the cancer world, find one with a good GROUNDED reputation. I have limit patience for quacks, and "airy" types. Two feet on the ground and a deep knowledge of the human system beyond body parts but not up in the rafters of the spiritual world either.

Neither one is balanced. You need balanced people around you to heal.

Trust you instincts, not other peoples opinions here. This is an intuitive process and trust your own voice.

I am currently awaiting word from Stella if she is open to more patients. Until then, ask around. If she is open for more people, I will post her contact info here.

Sunshine, happiness, and rainbows!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Neurontin to the Rescue

So, since taking Neurontin to help the side effects of the current treatments, my life is turning around. It really feels like I am coming out of a cocoon. It all feels like it is behind me. If it weren't for the painful joints/bones, I would swear the last year was all a dream, but those pains remind me to keep eating healthy, and to remember to place myself first in the line of "to dos". I had not realized how in a depressive funk I had gone. It was so slow and sneaky. I knew I was fighting it. Everyday, I got up and felt like I was pushing a boulder up a hill, trying to keep the funk from becoming a full out depressive state. The Femara and Lupron were really doing a hack and slash on my mental/emotional/physical state.

But now that I am standing here, mentally, emotionally, and almost physically stronger....it is hard to believe what I just traversed.

I just feel like I can do and handle anything in life now. Life still has it's share of hurts and trials, I just don't doubt I have to the tools to handle them. And new founded faith in my own strength is finally set in.

With that, I am moving forward! In January and February, my posts were far apart because I was so mentally fogged by the treatments. But now, my posts are infrequent because I have a life again. Not so much couch time. No so much nap time.

I am beginning a business/service venture I actually had a vision of when I was 19. I was driving down the road, not thinking of anything but the beauty of the Arizona dessert at nighttime, when BAM, visions of my future race by, like a movie screen. I saw so much detail, including my daughter. Yes, in this vision, I had ONE child, and she was about 7. She is almost 6 now.

So, this is why I always knew I was going to make it through this. I held to this vision I saw at 19. Strange, but true. I even wrote it all down and sealed it in an envelope....which I opened during chemo treatment.

And what was inside the envelope is finding me now. It feels like a synergic effect happening. With very little effort, and perfect timing, I see it all coming to fruition.

One of the most exciting developments is that my dear friend and mentor, Marcia Wiley, a local glass artist, is handing me the reins of her long running creative workshops! I will begin faciliating her Artist Way Seattle workshops! Thank you Marcia for the honor!

At what timing! In May, I receive my Soul Collage faciltator certificate. I will be "offical". What a compliment to Artist Way.

Meanwhile, I have begun writing a book that will be for anyone with cancer, caretaking someone with cancer, or social workers and therapists to use with their clients. It is not going to be autobiographical. It will provide easy to use tools to help those going through cancer treatments become self empowered to keep their spirits high. While the body may be going through so much, we CAN still cultivate our sense of well-being to be strong and bright. I will bring together my experiences with treatment, my education in Healthy Psychology, and the tools presented to me by the remarkable people surrounding me on the journey. (No, I don't have a publisher, but if anyone has some practical advise on self publishing, or how to get your book published, please let me know!) I am very excited to write this, and will even make xerox copies and hand them out, because I see a need for this as I sit in the waiting rooms and watch, and listen. This is my gift....

But that is all I will say for now.....

I will bring you Installment Number 2 - Alternative Therapies I Used.....soon.

Thank you for signing up under followers. It helps me keep on posting! I know there are more of ya'! So, keep on signing up to follow this blog. Lots of GOOD stuff on the way.

Til then,
shine bright,

Friday, March 13, 2009

Living a Healthy Life Despite Cancer Treatments

In this entry today, I am going to share the first of three "alternative" or CAM medicines I used during my course of treatments. These three therapies were, in my experience, the thing that made the difference. I needed the chemo, but these three modalities were key in my well-being and healing.

People in the waiting room would come up to me and say, "I know I see you here every week, for months. But today I see you with the tube coming out of your port. I can't believe you are here for treatment! I always thought you were here to be with someone getting treatment. You look so healthy and happy. Why?!"

And here is WHY:

Complementary Therapy Number One:


My dear friend, and Healthy Psychology research partner, Julie Borovik, was in her first year of grad school for Family Therapy when the little "c" came knocking. She urged me to immediately go to Cai Bristol, a noted local Seattle hypnotherapist to begin. Julie was in New Mexico, in training and didn't want me to wait for her to be done.

I will admit. I was resistent at first. If it weren't for my trust in Julie, I never would have sought this out. But I feared hypnotherapy. I feared losing control, or it really not working.
But I went, because I could see the difference it had made in Julies' life and I trusted her.

I was blown away. It wasn't scarey, I never lost control of the situation, and I felt such a healing effect immediately.

I walked in at that point, with low energy. I was still walking, but tired very easily. At the end of the session my energy was RADIANT, and I walked around the Ballard Farmers market for a couple of hours, in no pain. It was incredible. Utterly incredible.

Cai gave me a CD that week. After an intake session, she gave me a unique, scultped to my situation, CD of hypnotherapy I could do at home. For us, we focused on feeling empowered, hopeful, and clearing out the cacner cells. What is interesting, is that my white blood cell counts never fell below "normal" range, and WHEN I DID THE CD she gave me, felt like my energy and sense of well being soared. Any time I felt really down, low energy, or scared, I put in the CD.

I will admit, I played around a bit, to experiment and see how much hypnotherapy was really helping.

My healing experience went WAY up when I did my hypnotherapy CD Cai made me or when meet with Julie. My sense of wellbeing soared as well. When I didn't do my CD or ideas Julie gave me, I plunged or just "got by". If I could redo this experience, I would include a DAILY DOSE of the CD's given to me.

The good news is, Julie is now practicing hypnotherapy herself. She took over my hypnotherapy sessions once she returned. If you are in the Seattle area, and would like help as you journey through your cancer experience, contact Julie at:

Julie Borovik CHt
Clinical & Medical Support Hypnotherapist

She will be the first to go into my "toolbox" on the sidebar.

My hope overflows that even when we feel like it has the best of us, we will rise to the challenge and face cancer with a sense of well-being!!!!!

Jenna Helm

Just a reminder, to sign up as a follower on the link below to make sure you don't miss an entry.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Thanks Mel - Ilana Yahav

Doing okay today. Got ANOTHER cold of a different variety. Oh well. At least that is all that is all. The girl is home with it too. We watched E.T. and made popcorn. Sunny day.

Wow, could this be any drier and dull to read? Okay, I will shut the yapper and share this cooooool tidbit I found in my inbox today! Thanks Mel!


Monday, March 9, 2009

Moonlight, and Blueberry Girls

Well, last night, my 5 year old daughter awoke at 3:00am. I settled her back into bed and wide awake and energized I layed back down. Then I saw "it". A sliver of silver light splitting the nights darkness and landing on my bedroom floor.

Now, the moon and me have always had an intimate relationship. Something is SO magical about the middle of the night and a full moon. When the world is still, the air cool and crisp, and the silver light is showing us the what the world is like at night.

What does this have to do with cancer? Well, before, I would've loved it, and let my daughter sleep. But the "do this another day" syndrome has left me. So I went back to her and she was till awake. I asked her if she could see the light through the cedar tree. And we found ourselves the most amazing vantage point and whispered about the beauty of a full moon when everything was still. She told me why the moon was giving us light, and that the light was actually the suns light. I told her it was a gift from the sun, a promise that tomorrow will come, even in our darkest times. And back to bed she went.

Tonight, if the sky is clear again, I am going to take her to the beach, and let her see the moon dancing off the waves.

And these are the times I live for. Why I let myself take 4 drugs everyday, and deal.

And this is for all of the young mothers out there, with breast cancer, and young daughters. A little treat from Neil Gaiman.

Blessings by moonlight,

P.S. Let me know your "listening" and add yourself to my new gadget "Followers". I know people are reading, but you guys are a quiet bunch. So, let me know I am writing to someone, and add yourself to my followers listing :)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


So, today, I pulled two healing cards. One was "Empower Yourself". So I did, by speaking up and asking for more information and alternatives. And, into my hands, the Dr. placed a sweet prescription that she (and the pharmacist) said "Women come into this office beaming after I give them this." So, I have help. It was funny, as we were talking about this, I had a hotflash. Turn good and red (I was told) and was fanning myself with perscription slip. lol.

Now, I am reading up into this before I take it. I had a BAD drug reaction once upon a time. A doctor irresponsibly gave me a RX for a drug that is now being sued out of use. She gave me 3 times the limit, and overdosed me with it daily as well. So, I read thoroughly and carefully before any pill passes these lips.

I am also pondering if this is a good long term solution. The drug wasn't developed for this purpose, which is the same as the drug above.

I am wondering if there is a long term natural solution. I am looking into that as well. So, tomorrow, I am going to do some investigating. We shall see.

But if not, I have something....for now.

I also had a wonderful chat with the pharmacist. He said we should put Herceptin into the water, it is so amazing. lol! It just gave me hope again, in the method I have been given. But we also went on to talk about what's on the horizon, and I am very excited. I always thought around 2014, something new would be given to me that could be the final and long term CURE. He said, I wasn't far off at all. So exciting.

I will be your guinea pig, if it means saving millions.

Wew, hope. There is always a solution. Always, even if it just a change of attitude. But maybe, I won't feel so overheated that I feel like I am going to pass out in the middle of the bookstore again. Wew!!!!!!!

Thanks Mel for the company and ride. I haven't laughed so much there!!!!!!

Self-pity trip avoided.......

P.S. My counts are still rocking on in the "normal" person range. Breathe out.

Lupron, Femara, and Zometa....oh my

Okay, dear friends and perfect strangers who follow this blog. I have not been a whiner, but I have become one since I began the hormone therapies. I have been slowly going downhill. I manage, through my many techniques I have described, held onto "me", but it is getting harder everyday to overcome the side effects of these three treatments.

I can barely get anything done or live anymore, because I am constantly being overwhelmed by bones/joint pain, hotflashes (no they are not your garden variety, they are induced by the meds.....far far wores). I sit around in an almost constant cold sweat. They days it eases up on me, are they days you see me. But right now, as I type, I am heating up and breaking out in an all over sweat, then I will be freezing and sweating, and then exhausted from it all. This is my life...all day long. I am not talking mild. This grips me and takes all my energy. I am getting depressed from this, and wanting someone to give me a drug that will knock me out and let me escape from it for awhile. None of my tricks work on stopping these. The best remedy is fresh cool air. I am not talking normal hotflashes here.

It has gotten so ad, I seriously considered dropping these therapies and living with the consequences. This drug is taking away my life. I feel like I am living my life with someone punching my face consistently throughout the day. Really. Sit and imagine that......really that is what it feels like.

Not everyone has this reaction. And supposedly it is a sign that the drugs are working so well. Yet I have no life.

I did some research yesterday. And found some possibly glimmers of hope that I will talk to my doctor about today. A few medical interventions to calm them down.

Yesterday my morning was glorious. I didn't wake up so hot, and sopping wet. I didn't have a flash until noon. And then it all broke down into a horrible cycle of excessive heat and mood swings.

Yes, I am doing things to help, but they aren't helping. So I am going in to the doctor.

I have read this happens to many people, and 50% of the people who get these sideeffects drop the therapy. I understand why. I really really do. This is worse than chemo. Chemo doesn't take down your hormones and beat them to a pulp. So, even when I was scared, or weary, I had steadiness and a hope. I am losing that, even though I know I am doing better. It is so crazy. When I do get the breaks from these side effects, I am so excited, because my body feels so much better. But I am losing having any good days.

I am going to meet up with my hypnotherapist to see if we can address it that way first. it is the only way I have tried yet.

I am turning to my favorite form of "life my spirits and give me energy" therapy, and that is music. Big surprise.

So.......here is a good one. I cant' believe this was given a video. Hey Dave....why didn't you give her a video to this one?????????? Fabulous song:

Hope to have good news after the appointment today. My friends, if you aren't hearing from me or seeing me, it is because of what is going on this month. I was hoping it would pass. But it isn't....so on to see what I can do about it all.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

still here

Still here. Still ticking. Just had a rough month adjusting to the Femara and estrogenblocking injection. That, coupled with a zometa treatment that once again, took me down....and a cold/flu...and another. Well, it has challenged my mental state and my physical state.

I have realized I am not going to be bouncing around like new, like I daydreamed about. My bones hurt, the sweats/hotflashes are almost debilitating at times. I was fighting this. And fighting what is, is always the quickest way to drain your energy. I do lots of visualizations about being in good health, but it doesn't change what is. It reminds me what can be, it brings my energy back up, but it doesn't take away the bone pain, or stop the hotflashes but it keeps me from spiraling into depression or stagnation.

Once I realized I was fighting myself...I stopped...and honored my body's need to heal still. I have put off finding a "job" because I wouldn't always be able to show up. And I don't want to be unreliable or fired. lol! But I am doing work, but for that, I will say no more. It is in a baby stage. Needless to say, I am working. Just not for money. But for the passion behind what I am doing. I will be supported. And it is something I can do now. Oh the inrigue.

I realize this blog entry is not written very well. But I am tired (have some cold effecting my lungs), a kid wanting to talk to me, and a new laptop I am adjusting to....who knew that would be so hard on writing!

So, I will leave it there. I am alive and kicking (sometimes screaming), but I am still here.

That top ten list entry, is missing a few. One thing it is missing, is musical medicine. So, hereis my musical message....because this month, I feel like I keep getting knocked down, like a boxer: