Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Roller Coaster of Life

It's been awhile since I've written and true to the nature of life some wonderful things have happened and some challenging situations have taken place.  I'm not sure where to even begin, which is probably why I've postponed writing on the blog.
On the most sad note, my cousin Patti, passed away from Ovarian Cancer last month.  She was my hero in surviving this disease and truly living life for 11 years post diagnosis.  I brought her to one of my ovarian cancer support group meetings and it was as if I was bringing a celebrity, due to her long years of surviving.  She is greatly missed.
On another challenging note, Oliver and I were involved in a car accident.  We were stopped at a light when this truck drove through the grass and sidewalk of a gas station and broad sided us.  He proceeded to hit us another 3 times in his attempt to leave the scene.  He ultimately ditched his car and ran on foot.  I was very fortunate  that many people stayed on the scene to help us.  Luckily, we were in my Volvo SUV.  What they say about Volvo's durability/safety, is so true.  My vehicle showed some body damage but was ultimately totaled.  I figured with as hard as we were hit, the frame was probably affected.  We are both fine, we were banged up but doing well now.  Time now to go car shopping. If anyone has any ideas, I'm looking for a wagon/SUV type of car that will have good gas mileage, and seats that fold down FLAT to fit Oliver and my bike.
I've recently added another person to my team of healing practitioners.  I'm working with a holistic nutritionist who is also a certified EFT practitioner.  She has been fine tuning my many changes I've already made to my dietary regimen plus working on some of the emotional aspects of diet with the tapping.  It's been great.
I had a wonderful weekend with all of my family in Crestline, California, up in the forest and on a lake.  It was the 50th wedding anniversary party for my Uncle Harlo and Aunt Eleanor and my cousin Brianna's wedding.  Dad, Dana, Robert, and I canoed around the lake.  We all took turns trying our balance on a paddle board also.  It was great.

I am very excited to be hosting a home party this Sunday to help some wonderful ladies sell their products.  I'm featuring my Aunt Dolly's paintings, which I've loved my whole life.  Sandy, my neuro-reflex therapist, has also launched a new ALL NATURAL skin care product line and will be showcasing her product.  My cousin, Cindy, a master crafter will be selling her purses and jewelry.  If anyone would like to come by, it will be an open house from 1-4pm.  Spread the word, I would love to have a great turn-out for these ladies.
I thank you all for your continued support,
Current Affirmation: All is well.  Everything is working out for my highest good.  Out of this situation only good will come.  I am safe.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Numbers are Down!!!

I am pleased to announce that my latest lab values are showing improvement.  I have not been completely honest or revealing in my information in my posts in the last few months.  After my oncology visit in April, my oncologist was convinced my cancer was back because my CA125 tumor marker numbers had doubled.  There is some protocol in western medicine that says when the values double it means that the cancer is back.  My oncologist ordered a PET scan to assess my status.  I thought long and hard and decided I didn't want to have the PET Scan.  Many of you may not agree with this, which is why I was rather elusive in my post after my April Oncology visit.   I wanted the decision I made to be based on what I felt was right for me and not take in to consideration what other people thought or what they would do for themselves.  I also did not want FEAR to play a part in my decision making.  I strongly felt that I did NOT have cancer, and that if I did,  I probably would not take traditional treatments anyhow so felt the PET Scan would complicate things more than help.  I did several new treatments that helped more along the lines of energy medicine and working on things emotionally for me.  Of course, I continued to exercise, juice, detox and all of the other many modalities I continue to use day to day.
I thought the challenge of my increasing numbers was a big lesson in my journey. How easy is it for me to preach about achieving health through natural ways of treating the mind, body, and spirit when everything is fine and dandy?  I think it is pretty easy for a person to preach they are against some particular treatment when they are healthy enough to never have to make the decision to use that treatment.  When I was faced with the possibility of the cancer being back and had to decide what I felt was right for me, what would I choose? I STILL felt that what I was doing was the right thing.  Who knows, maybe the cancer was growing again and with the things I am doing it has now stopped growing?  Or maybe it was never growing back in the first place? But I do know that whatever inflammation caused my numbers to increase in the first place is now reversing so I will take that as a sign that I'm doing things that work for me in body, mind, and spirit.
Thank you all for being in my life. Until next time,

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

I'm laying in bed here with Oliver, appreciating being his mother.  Our family is off to the Santa Cruz area today to go to the beach, Gayle's bakery and possibly the flea market.  I hope whatever you are doing you are appreciating being a mom (if you are one) and/or you are appreciating your own mother.  Have a wonderful day.

Also as a reminder, here is the announcement that went out in the Stockton Record to publicize for my presentation at St Joseph's Hospital in Stockton if any of you who are local want to attend.

Special Presentation (May 16)

Treatment Beyond the Prescription Pad – (you do not need to be ill to benefit from this presentation!)
St. Joseph’s Medical Center will host Denise Southwick, Family Nurse Practitioner and cancer survivor, for an interactive presentation demonstrating tools to ‘wake up’ your life after receiving a life altering diagnosis. This free presentation will be held on Wednesday May 16, from 6-7:30 P.M. in St. Joseph’s Medical Center Auditorium (take elevators to bottom floor). No registration necessary.

For more information, call 467-6550 or email

Happy Mother's Day

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Isn't perspective nice.  We don't know good without knowing bad.  We don't know beauty without knowing ugly.  I had a moment yesterday that presented this lesson to me once again. I went in to the infusion center at Stockton Kaiser to have my port flushed.  This is something I have to do every 4 - 6 weeks to keep my port functional.  Reminders of cancer are never too far away, unless I purposely work on creating screens from my vision to help me see the people rather than the disease.
The infusion center is where I had all of my chemo treatments.  As I was walking out of the clinic I realized I had a huge smile on my face and felt so happy.  It was the dichotomy of the present compared with how I left that clinic a year ago.  It was the wonderful feeling of being able to just go to the appointment by myself, to actually drive myself there and drive myself home.  It was being able to walk in AND OUT of the building on my own two feet, no wheelchair, no support from Jacqueline and my mother sandwiching me on both sides, no having to stop on the way to the parking lot due to not having the strength to make it in one stride, no feeling of of nearly passing out or extreme nausea.  
The wonderful feeling of walking into the clinic and having JoAnn, one of the nurses who administered my chemo many times, have a wonderful smile on her face to see me.  And to compliment me on how great I look and notice that I've lost weight. She even commented on how I lost the "moon face" caused by the steroids they administer to try to prevent your body from being killed "too much" from the chemo.  How lovely it was to only be there for 15 minutes, compared to walking in the clinic at the beginning of the day and leaving at the end.  I didn't need to take multiple bags as if I was camping for the weekend.
Please do something each day to be grateful for what you do have rather than what you feel is missing in your life.  As you do this, it will also serve as a reminder to me to continue to see life this way.  Life is so much more beautiful when you're trying to see all that is right with it.  Consider your perspective.
Love to you all,

Monday, April 30, 2012

Treat-Meant for You Day

Oliver and I participated in St Joseph's Treat-meant for you day for anyone diagnosed with cancer in the past year or currently in treatment.  It was a beautiful sunny day.  Oliver was so good with all the participants and so willing to give love to anyone who showed interested.  I also made a presentation on the meaning of cancer and forgiveness.  It went pretty well.
My next presentation will be Wednesday, May 16th at St Joseph's if anyone is interested in attending. It is from 6-7:30 and I will be talking about: Treatment Beyond the Prescription Pad.
I continue to juice and drink green smoothies.  I'm also cutting back on gluten more and more.  I really don't think I have a gluten issue but my blood tests continue to show high inflammation so that is my next step in changing my nutrition.  I'm eating about 75% or so raw and very rarely any processed foods.  I find doing one thing at a time, either taking away something or adding in something one by one has been helpful for me.  Dad and I are in the process of planting a garden.  My cucumber and spinach seedlings are starting to come up.  We already have strawberries and parsley producing.  YEA!!!
I'm considering putting on a fire-walking event.  If anyone is interested in attending, please let me know.  They historically are very powerful, potentially life changing events for people.  Some of you may have seen Oprah walk with Tony Robbins.  A gentleman I met at Jack Canfield's seminar in 2009 is a facilitator so he is helping me start the planning. Should be fun.  I will keep you posted on all the details.
Please keep in touch and thank you for being in my life.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Hello to anyone out there who is still following my blog.  I hope there are some of you out there still.  I am doing well.  As far as my physical health goes, I continue to see my surgical oncologist on a monthly basis.  I continue to have normal exams, but unfortunately my CA125 blood test continues to rise.  My pain that started most of this work-up is almost completely gone.  Not sure if that is due to decreasing my intake of nuts (almonds) but could be linked.  I have another blood test and exam next week.
I have been offered a 20 hour position in Fremont Kaiser which means I will soon have benefits.  The job is the same as I'm doing now but will now be guaranteed hours and the very nice benefit package to go along with it.  Very reassuring for me to soon have that in place.
Oliver and I are making pet therapy visits a few times/month and getting more relaxed with it.
I am speaking this Saturday at St Joseph's Treat-meant for You day for people diagnosed with cancer in the past year or currently in treatment.  I will be speaking on forgiveness.  Oliver will also be there with me for Pet Therapy.  It will be a wonderfully rewarding day.
All in the family are well.  Rileigh will be coming home soon for the summer.  Robert is going to Peru at the end of the month for a vacation.  Dana and Bobby are working hard to pay for Rileigh's college and have found a good balance of playing hard too when they have a day off together.  They are taking a trip to Vegas at the end of the month to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary.  Dad is playing softball again.  Mom is keeping busy on the house and taking classes to further her spiritual growth.
I was dedicated enough to finally write out my goals for the year with action plans on how to achieve them all.  One goal is to continue to do this blog every 3-4 weeks if not on a more consistent basis.  I hope all of you will keep me on track with that goal.
Please be well and keep in touch,

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Tax Season and Mind/Body/Spirit Presentations

Many of you, I'm sure, dread doing your tax work like I do.  Even though I don't enjoy it, it is not usually something I procrastinate.  Most years I have my taxes done by mid Feb.  This year has been different.  I have put it off and put it off and put if off.  A few nights ago, I finally was able to make myself sit down and work on some of it.  I soon realized why I had such a procrastination block.  Obviously, I have significant health bills, receipts, miles to track and such for my 2011 year of treatment.  As I was going through receipt and receipt after receipt of all of my visits I began to cry.  By looking at all those receipts, I was reliving the year of feeling so awful and it wasn't so pleasant.  My procrastination had a real reason behind it.  My taxes are still not done, in fact I'm suppose to be working on them now.  So, as you can see, I continue to procrastinate a bit with it.  But now I allow myself some of the delay because I better understand what's behind it.  
On a brighter note, I had the opportunity to give a presentation on Mind/Body/Spirit yesterday to a local Women's Shelter.  It was great.  I spent a good deal of time over the past 10 days working on the presentation and it was very well received.  My mom was kind enough to go with me and video the presentation so I can use it as a critiquing tool to see how I can make it better.  My next presentation will be in April at the St. Joseph's Treatment for You Day which is a "spa day" for anyone diagnosed with cancer in the past year.  If you know anyone who has been diagnosed in the past year and lives in this area, let me know and we will get them signed up.  
And for those of you who aren't on Facebook and don't already know: Oliver and I became certified as a Pet Therapy Dog Team.  We are waiting for our national certification to come in the mail, but once it does we can officially make visits on our own.  We are currently scheduled to appear at the Treatment for You day that I mentioned above.  Yea!  We have a graduation picture that I'm hoping to get through email and then I'll post it here for everyone to see. 
Love to you all

Monday, February 27, 2012

Perspective and Appreciation

Good February day to all.
Just wanted to say a few words about gratitude for the small things that can sometimes be overlooked.  I recently was sick with the flu.  After being sick for a few days I decided to attempt a short walk with Oliver.  About half way through the walk (and in the back of the orchard) I felt very tired and was ready to be done.  I immediately turned to negative self-talk and said I shouldn't have gone so far.  But, I'm happy to say I quickly corrected myself and said...remember when you could only walk to the neighbors house, or only down the street, or needed help with a person on each side holding my arms to get through a walk.  Then I realized all of that was only a year ago.  It brought a smile to my face.  In a years time how far I've come.  This is the perspective in which I want to see things and live my life.  Thank you for the opportunity to choose to walk ON MY OWN.  Thank you for the beautiful almond blossoms on the trees that provide a surreal scenery in which to walk, aroma and all.

To give you update on the other things going on....

I am changing jobs to Kaiser Walnut Creek.  I will still be working Perioperative medicine but this job is a 20 hour position so will have benefits.  YEA!!!  My days of paying Cobra are soon to end.  I have a very good feel about the environment and the people I will be working with.

I am also becoming more involved in St Joseph's cancer program.  Jim Linderman is the head of the cancer center and him and I have had several discussions about my vision of a wellness center.  He has offered me 3 different opportunities to help move me in that direction.  I will be presenting as one of the breakout sessions at St Joseph's Treat-ment for You Day.  This is a day of pampering for people diagnosed with cancer in the past year or two  They offer help with diagnoses, massages, manicures, and good fun energy with others with cancer.  I will also be presenting a 90minute workshop/class at St Josephs in the spring.  And just today he asked if I would make a 30 min presentation and one of the Women's shelter in the area in March.  All of this is extremely anxiety provoking but also the direction I would like to take so I'm pushing myself beyond the fear.

As far as my health.  I continue to feel good.  The left lower quadrant pain comes/goes.  I had yet another visit with my surgical oncologist.  My exam remains normal, other than the left sided pain. But my Ca-125 values continue to creep up.  My level is now 30.  So I've gone from 6 (post chemo) to 30 two weeks ago.  I decided to continue and wait so we will repeat another blood test and exam in 4 weeks (March 15th).  I continue to juice twice daily, green smoothie once daily, exercise, and eat mostly raw/whole foods.  I attended a Women's Wellness nutritional conference put on by David Wolfe's Longevity Now for 4 days in Costa Mesa which was wonderful.

I hope you are all doing well.  Thank you for your support,

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Update Thursday, Jan 19th

It has come time to give all of you an update on my health.  On Saturday, December 17th I began having some left sided lower pain.  It persisted over the next 2 days.  On the following Monday I called in to my Gyn Oncologist's office. My physician was out for the week for the holiday but her nurse advised me to have my Ca125 (tumor marker test) done earlier than planned.  Unfortunately, the test showed an elevation compared to my numbers over the last year.  I had been running 6 throughout the year. I went up just a tad to 8 in September and the test on Dec 22nd was 17.  This is still in normal range but a definite change from what I had been trending.  My physician called me once she was back in the office and advised a CAT scan and an exam with her.  I was already scheduled to see her on Jan 19th for my routine 3 month check.  I did the CAT scan on Dec 28.  It unfortunately has added to the confusion, rather than helping.  It didn't show anything on the lower left side where I was feeling the pain, but there is a small nodule just below my belly button area.  Unfortunately, no one knows what this nodule is or its significance.  Dr. Chen called me a bit frustrated herself.  We decided to repeat another Ca125 before coming to see her on the 19th.
So today is the 19th and I did have an exan by Dr. Chen which was normal.  Unfortunately, my Ca125 continues to creep up and is now 24.  Dr. Chen would like to believe that my pain and the increase in my blood test is from Diverticulosis, but cannot know for sure.  We discussed jumping into a variety of treatments including: chemo, PET scan, and Laparoscopic Surgery with colonoscopy, or waiting.  I chose to wait.
The plan is to continue to follow Ca 125 values and exams over the next few weeks and see what the trend is.  Dr. Chen again wonders if all my wonderful healthy eating of raw foods/roughage/juicing is creating a diverticulosis but was quick to say continue doing what you're doing.
I would like to be confident with all the good changes I've made, how good I feel overall, and everything I've been working on to improve my health that there is no cancer developing in my body again.  But the stress and fear of the unknown still remain in the back of my head.
I was trying to keep all of this quiet from all of you until I knew something definite and could reassure you and just let you know what I HAD been going through. BUT I continue to not have answers.  You all know I'm pretty much a "writing on the walls kind of gal" and it's hard for me to say all is good and I'm feeling great when any of you are asking how's it going.  Sooo, at this point I prefer to be completely honest and let you know what is happening even though I don't have solid answers.
I appreciate any support, prayers, positive thoughts, healthy guided visualizations you can do on my behalf. I deeply hope to be writing to you soon letting you know there is a decrease in my Ca125 value.  Until then, I will continue with massage therapy, acupuncture, neuro reflex therapy, electro lymphatic drainage, supplementation, detoxing, juicing, exercising, walking/loving on Oliver, meditation, and learning/reading all I can on living a balanced/healthy diet in mind, body, and spirit.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Article in St. Joseph's Cancer Quarterly

I wanted to share an article I was asked to write for the Cancer Quarterly Newsletter put out by St. Joseph's hospital in Stockton.  I have participated in several of their activities over the past year and the head of the cancer center (Jim Linderman) asked if I would contribute to their latest newsletter.  I hoped to put a link to the entire newsletter in this blog, but my technical abilities or inabilities are preventing me from doing so.  Anyway, here is the written words of the article without all the glory of the actual newsletter.  Hope you enjoy!

Embracing My
Cancer Diagnosis
By Denise Southwick
My diagnosis of stage 3C Fallopian
Tube Cancer came in November of
2010. It was quite a challenge for me to
play the part of the patient, because I’ve
been a nurse practitioner for 14 years.
I was happy being the one in the white
coat providing support, treatment, and
education to patients. I wasn’t supposed
to be the bald one on the exam table.
Well, our journeys are not always as we
As long as I can remember, I’ve tried
to live my life from a positive perspective,
believing that there is a higher power out
there working with me. I welcome the
lesson in every experience, despite the
perception of it being positive or negative.
Fortunately, I maintained this attitude
with my cancer diagnosis. I knew I had
been struggling with stagnation in my life

and felt I could be doing more to aspire to
happiness. So when the diagnosis came,
I accepted that this was my opportunity
to shake things up and take my life to a
whole new level. Easier said than done!
I found that I embraced my cancer
diagnosis and all that I could learn.
Unfortunately, I was not so enthused
about the chemotherapy. My energy and
ability to be positive were zapped and all

I could focus on was how to get through
the next few minutes, hours, and that
particular day.
When opportunities arose that
seemed to me to be baby steps towards
getting back to living a purposeful
life, I tried to push myself to partake. I
agreed to have a foot rub by my massage
therapist. And agreed to attend a
KMBS workshop at St. Joseph’s about
meditation. And, reluctantly I agreed to
participate in the Treat-Meant for You
Day. I’m the first to admit I really didn’t
want to go. I didn’t want to be around
“sick” people, because I was already
struggling with trying to maintain a
healthy frame of mind.
What if you could be in an
environment where the person with a
full head of hair was more of the anomaly
than your own bald head? And most of
the people around you truly understood
what you were going through – not
showing sympathy but ALSO walking
that same cancer path. What if this
environment also provided services that
helped you feel like a whole person again;
provided insight on how to heal in every
way with laughter, giving, and relaxation?
When I arrived and saw all the people
with head dressings such as wigs, hats,
scarves, and a few brave bald ones, I
thought to myself, this is going to be so
depressing. Boy was I wrong.
I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with
“my people” who understood just what
I was feeling. Those providing services
wanted to help and wanted, so much,
for this to be a positive and healing
experience for all involved. I encourage
any of you newly diagnosed, to embrace
what the Treat-Meant for You day has to
offer. Along with Treat-Meant for You I
found many modalities including support
groups, acupuncture, massage therapy,
meditation, and nutritional supplements
that are helping me heal my mind, body,
and soul. My focus now is in helping
others who are called to walk a path
similar to mine.

Dr. Oliver