Friday, December 27, 2013

Merry Christmas


I hope you were able to spend the holidays with your loved ones in joy and happiness.  Fortunately, by afternoon on Christmas, I was able to get out of bed and enjoy time with my family.  I am so appreciative of my family’s support and flexibility around these holidays.  It’s been rough on everyone and the stress and emotional toll has been felt by all.  It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to give you an update and wanted to get one out soon, despite this being short and to the point.  

Unfortunately, things have been a challenge.  The pain continues to be quite intense.  I find relief by seeing my Acupuncturist and sitting in our hot tub, along with using several pain medications.  Most of the time you can find me surrounded by an assortment of hot packs also.  My bowels are still very sensitive and I am eating little.  Ironically, I have found organic cottage cheese to be a friend.  The nausea/vomiting has been sporadic so it’s been very difficult to keep up with my fluid intake.  Plus you have to be awake to consume liquids and I spend the majority of my days sleeping.  My kidney function is now showing some signs of the effects from the dehydration.   

I’ve had two rounds of chemo, both with a medication called Gemzar (Gemcitabine).  This is one of the chemo medications I had during my second treatment of chemo last spring.  At that time it was very effective, in combination with another medication, to clear the cancer quickly.  Of course, the cancer unfortunately also returned quickly.  With my most recent blood work this week, the Gemzar has been deemed ineffective this time.  After two rounds, the cancer tumor marker has continued to increase another 100 or so points.  I’m scheduled to have chemo again tomorrow with the plan to change to another agent called Topotecan.  The goal will be to have weekly treatments of the Topotecan.  I’m anxious to feel relief of all the pain soon, but still feel uneasy about “needing” chemo.  

I muster up enough energy at least once a day to work on “me” in the mind/spirit realms of treatment. I love using Byron Katie’s The Work to challenge all of my beliefs.  For example…it would have been natural for me to develop fear and feel hopeless with the chemo not having the “hoped for effects” so far.  BUT, in using her work I am reminded that just because one method did not work, does NOT mean that I’m following the path of most women with ovarian cancer where all available chemo agents are exhausted without suppressing the growth of the cancer.  I cannot know, beyond a doubt, what will happen to me.  Regardless of what has happened to many others, regardless of how many treatments are needed or not.  I am reminded to stay present in the NOW.  To stay aware and in gratitude of what my reality is in this moment and just how many things are working effectively.  I’m not saying this easy, but it’s been the best thing for me to keep from feeling completely hopeless.  

I thank all of you for your continued support and thoughts of well being for me.  
In love and gratitude,

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


If you’ve been waiting for my update, based on my last blog entry, I thank you for your patience.  I’ve been trying to complete this entry for sometime now and just can’t seem to do it.  Hopefully today is the day.  I’ve done a lot of processing over the past few weeks and spent 15 beautiful days on a healing vacation in November that I’m so grateful to have experienced.  I’m now ready to share. 

On November 5th, I travelled down to Akumal, Mexico in the Riviera Maya, about 60 miles south of Cancun.  The organization, Healing Journeys out of Sacramento ( was holding a healing retreat at Tao Inspired Living Wellness Center.  If any of this sounds familiar it is because I went on a similar retreat last year with Healing Journeys to Tao and Tao is ran by Jonathan Ellerby (the organizer for the trip I took to Africa).  Fortunately, I had the courage to ask Jonathan if I could have an opportunity to speak to the group.  As many of you know, speaking is a new passion for me and one I choose to continue to pursue as a career.  On a funny note, it also meant that on my speaker’s resume, I could now list an international venue.  Yes, I am now, technically, an international speaker.  Jonathan asked that I speak about my journey and tools that I’ve learned along the way.  I spoke on subjects of joy, self-love, living life fulling, and techniques to use to change limiting beliefs.  I felt great about the presentation, and received wonderful feedback, as well.  Besides the wonderful sessions of the retreat facilitated by Jonathan, I was also able to swim with the sea turtles, see the ruins in Tulum, visit the beach, play in the ocean, and enjoy the company of a wonderful group of people.  

From Cancun, I flew to Washington DC to visit my friend of 37 years, Sonja.  She has 8 month old twin girls, who happened to have their first tooth break through while I was visiting.  Despite the fussiness you would expect with teething twins, the girls were, overall, very happy.  Sonja and I had many opportunities to sit and chat as she dealt with the many needs of the girls ALL day long.  Over the past three years, I’ve dealt with grief over losing my own fertility with the cancer.  At this moment, I realized what a challenge it would have been to focus all my energy on my healing if there had been a small child in my life.  I felt very grateful that I never had to deal with feeling torn between caring for myself and feeling like I couldn’t give my complete care to a child.  A definite highlight of my trip to the DC area was Sonja taking me to this place called Spa World.  It is now one of my favorite places in the whole world.  In addition to the healing Bade Pool with ionized jetted water, there are 7 different poultice rooms that provide healing and detoxing through natural material and stones.  It was wonderful!

From DC, I flew to Boston for the Infinite Possibilities workshop with Mike Dooley.  Are any of you familiar with messages from the universe through  The message is your thoughts become things and by directing your thoughts you can help life take the direction you intend and desire.  I am now a certified trainer in Infinite Possibilites and can facilitate workshops if anyone is interested in putting together a group of people who would like to change how they think and how to help to make their dreams come true.  

I hopped on a short flight from Boston down to New York City to visit another friend of 37 years, Adam.  The hospitality Adam offered was beyond what I could have ever imagined.  He had truly gone the extra mile.  We were able to enjoy the 9/11 Memorial, the Cloisters, the High Line, Wicked, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and lots of time just catching up with each other.  

As healing as the whole trip was, unfortunately, it was trumped by increasing pain.  I had a little bit of pain on/off prior to leaving, but 5 days into the trip the pain began and never let up.  It was unbelievable to me how intense in such a short amount of time the pain took over.  I felt desperate for relief and to know what was going on in my body.  I emailed by oncologist and asked to have a PET scan set up for when I returned.  I gave myself permission to change my travel plans at any moment and go home if I felt the pain was too much and I was no longer having fun.  Through that permission I was able to take it day by day, at times moment by moment and truly enjoy each opportunity I was able to experience without taking anything for granted.  

The lab work upon return jumped much higher from 53 to 221.  And, as expected, the PET showed cancer growths throughout my abdomen once again.  Considering the huge amount of pain, I started chemo immediately on Nov 29th.  The past few days have been rough.  I will write more as I feel better but I felt pressured to at least let everyone know what was going on.  I appreciate any healing energy you can send my way.  
In love and health,


Friday, October 25, 2013

Statistical Odds

10/25/13  What percentage (no pun intended) of your life involves odds and statistics?   When I walked into the living room the other day (October 14th, to be exact) my Dad was watching Sports Center.  The news caster was reporting on the amazing feat of the two Boston teams the day before: The New England Patriots and the Boston Red Sox.   It was a different type of sports report in that the newscaster was giving a statistical percentage of a win at each highlight of the game.  New England was winning throughout the game but the Saints went ahead towards the end.  New England won with the last throw of the game, a 17 yard touchdown pass in the end-zone.  Then they flip to the come back of the Boston Red Sox who were behind 5 - 0 in their playoff game.  They score one run and the newscaster gives the statistical probability at that time of a win.  Then in the bottom of the 8th Ortiz hits a grand slam home run.  In any game a grand slam is absolutely exciting (I have had the privilege of witnessing one in a live game in 2010 with the San Diego Padres hitting one off of the Los Angeles Dodgers...SWEET!!!) but in a playoff game where the chance of winning is looking pretty dim a grand slam will light up any stadium.  So the Red Sox are now tied 5 - 5 with Detroit.  In the 9th they finish it off with a walk off run to win 6 - 5.  The newscaster then says: “0.2% chance of both professional ball teams in Boston to come back with a win yesterday. 0.2%.” 

I don’t share any of this because I’m a huge sports fan and love an exciting come back story (although I do).  Or because I’m a Boston fan and am elated for their wins (because I’m not).  I share this because today I was devastated.  I saw my medical oncologist.  I started the visit by saying I was not happy with my latest CA 125 #.  He said he was not happy with it either.  He explained that it is an early trend but the numbers do seem to be trending as if the cancer is growing again.  These were words I was quite aware of being shared at this visit, but they still hit with a very hard blow.  He went further to say that he would like to do another PET scan in 3 months, because once the numbers start trending up, it takes about 3 months to show evidence of the disease on a PET.  He even when further to talk about starting chemo again at some point.  All I wanted to do was yell shut up, run out of the room, and cry.  But I didn’t.  He recognized that he was aware that I didn’t want to think about starting chemo.  I asked if we would do the same chemo medications.  He said yes since they were very effective.  I looked puzzled at him since I don’t consider cancer growing again within 2 -3 months after chemo stopping, EFFECTIVE.  He said, “You’ve had a good few months.  I know you want more, but you have had some quality to your life since starting chemo.”  Don’t get me wrong, this is a wonderful man and a wonderful doctor for me, BUT he has been trained to treat based on statistics and his own experience.  Obviously, he has a set way of seeing the course of this disease progress in a person.  And that path is extremely bleak.  I had only a 15% chance of being alive in 5 years after the 2nd diagnosis.  I don’t know what the number drops to with a 3rd diagnosis. 

I do know this... on a day where I felt extremely sad, defeated, cheated, and puzzled, the divine sent me a message through that sports cast.  I rarely hear sports casts that have odds given during the play by play of the game, in fact I don’t think I have ever heard a sports report like that.  And to hear it on a day where I experienced such a blow and to have those two teams beat the odds of a 0.2% chance of both winning.  I’ll take my 15% and run with it and feel it’s plenty sufficient.  More important I’ll believe the message was specifically for me, sent by the universe, to remind me to trust in the process and journey, and know that I am fine and will be fine with my divine guidance.  

I quote Mark Nepo from The Book of Awakening, “It seems our ability to be authentic and free can’t touch us until we breathe our way below the twitch of our patterning.  Often, this requires outlasting the anxiety of needing to catch or fix what comes our way, so we can truly respond from the center of our being.”  

I wrote most of this post the day it happened, but decided not to send it immediately.  As I reread it today I feel I’ve done what Mark Nepo describes, I’ve outlasted the anxiety, and can feel, from deep within, that I am fine.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself the past week visiting with my cousins out of state and feel especially upbeat, health, and happy.   I write this from my cousin’s house in Idaho, overlooking a lake with the beautiful reflections of the trees shining through the water and truly feel the I Am!  
Please think of me as this happy and healthy Denise during the coming week as I go for another blood test and an appointment with my surgical oncologist.  

Love, gratitude, and health to all of you and all the support you continue to pass my way.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Is the Glass half full or half empty?


In what realm do you live your life?  Do you truly live in the reality, seeing things through practical, black and white eyes?  Or do you live more in the realm of intention, where you assume the state or situation that you dream to be in?  Maybe you live with both of these working for you at different times.  Over the past few years I’ve learned that I live more in the dream realm with believing things are what I want them to be rather than what they may actually be. 

Maybe it’s not at all the actual state that we are in, but in how we choose to view each day and event in our lives.  Unlike many, I’ve viewed cancer as a gift.  Maybe not a gift I want to keep on giving, but a gift nonetheless.  Recently, a friend made a comment of how my life has been a series of tragic events over the past few years and how sad she is for me.  It shocked me a bit to hear her say this, because I never really saw it that way.  Yes, some unfortunate things have happened, but I still feel I have a great life.  I don’t feel my life is great because of what happens or doesn’t happen in my life, BUT because of who I am and how I choose to handle what life events occur.  

I’ve had a couple of things recently test my Polly Anna view on things.  A member of our survivor group recently passed, after a 10 year struggle with ovarian cancer.  As a board member of the Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Central California, I attended an Ovarian Cancer celebration dinner the last week of September (September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month).  I didn’t know many of the women at the dinner and I quickly became aware that many in this group have had quite a struggle with the disease.  At least 5 of the 15 women at the dinner were “typical” ovarian cancer patients.  They don’t really talk of their first diagnosis or a recurrence, the way I do.  They speak of being in treatment on and off for the last 5 or so years.  One woman had been in treatment for the last 8 years and spoke about the chemo she was currently taking was the only one remaining that she had not used.  She said, “If this one does not work, that’s it.”  I quickly became panicked and wanted to leave, but I had rode there with someone else. 

By the time I reached home I was deep in fear mode.  I doubted my dreamy perspective and way of dealing with things.  I thought that maybe I should be looking at my situation more realistically, rather than always being quick to assume that I’ll be an outlier of the statistical odds.  As a Nurse Practitioner I know that what these women described is the most common course of the disease.  As a dreamer, I didn’t want to believe that it could happen to me.  I was truly rattled to my core and cried myself to sleep that night and woke up the next morning crying again.  

I’ve been put to the test again today on how I view my life and situation.  I have to admit that I’ve been living in fear all day which is why I’m choosing to write today.  My hope is that by writing out my thoughts and sharing with others, that I will change my perspective on how I’ve been thinking all day.  Please don’t excessively worry about what I’m sharing, because I know that if you contact me in the next 24-48 hours I will have already changed my perspective back to my Polly Anna approach and will be viewing today as just a tiny blip in the journey.  Today may actually be the reminder I need, NOT to live in the mode of fear, and simply BE! 

I have blood work done every 4 weeks to check my tumor markers.  This is a way for the oncologist to monitor if cancer cells are growing again.  It is not the most reliable of tests, in that many other conditions in the abdomen can elevate the number.  While I was in chemo, my numbers dropped lower than anything my oncologist had ever seen.  So I knew that after chemo the numbers would go up some, but there is no way to know how high they will increase before leveling off.  The level maintained in August at 4.  The number increased slightly in September to 8 and I hoped this would be where it leveled off.  This week’s number was 12.  With perspective, I realize this number is still very low but it has me rattled.  Part of the issue, is that I don’t have the experience of having the level checked and seeing fluctuations without any significance.  My only experience with fluctuations was the number increasing, starting the fall of 2011, which ultimately showed the cancer had recurred.  

I’m left to redirect my feelings on this matter, away from fear, and adjust my outlook to remember where I am at today.  I am alive, first and foremost.  I am enjoying life.  I am feeling well.  I am completely impassioned with what I envision for my future. I am ultimately grateful that the lab test is NOT showing a huge elevation.  I will continue to be faithful, to all that I do, that I believe is helping me to achieve a greater state of health.  I will, also, continue to write because I enjoy sharing with all of you and I am deeply interested in hearing how my thoughts help you to experience just how precious it is to live our lives together.  

Thank you for being in my life and interested in living to the fullest.  Here’s to being the ultimate optimist.  

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Inspiration, what is your source?

You never know how, why or when you may inspire someone.  I’ve been physically active my whole life.  At one time I even ran 2 marathons and did a sprint triathlon.  As far as I know, this did very little to inspire people to action.  It may have inspired them, but inspiring to the point of action is so much more.  Then comes 2010, when I get cancer.  During this time I regularly blogged about the importance, FOR ME, to somehow muster the courage to walk at least to the neighbor’s house and back.  I walked almost daily, regardless of how weak I was.  At times it took someone on both sides of me to help hold me up.  

Now, my cousin declares she is doing her first 5k (at the age of 42) because I inspired her to be physically active.  I am so happy for her and grateful for her doing it.  Yet, I laugh, that in my weakest, least physically active time in my life I’ve inspired someone else to be physically active.  

The gifts don’t usually come packaged as we would expect, right?  And, as most wonderful things in life, the serendipity here is that now that she notified me of signing up for the 5k, I feel more motivated to try to increase my physical activity.  Give and Take is so beautiful.  Thank you Melanie!!!!

If you feel like it, share what inspires you....

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Birthday Expectations

9/18/13  Birthday Expectations
First let me say thank you for all the wonderful birthday wishes and comments.  Here are some thoughts that I typed up on my birthday that I thought I would share. 

I wake up with no plans except a dental appointment which should actually count as negative points (no offense Dr. Trueb and staff).  I trusted it would all come together, but as the morning went on I had doubt.  I had a birthday text waiting for me upon rising (thank you Jan Turner-Davis) but nothing on Facebook.  Mom had a birthday card on the kitchen counter but she wasn’t home (or so I dramatized).  My dad, sister, and brother-in-law were all in Oregon.  

Unfortunately, I have to admit I expected more.  As the morning progressed I began to try to put together a plan of what to do.  I love to play BINGO but do it rarely and thought of going to the Indian casino an hour away but found out there was no BINGO tonight.  Mom kept saying, “Whatever you want to do, let me know.”  But not much was coming to mind.  Part of the issue was, I was low on energy.  I just spent the past 5 days traversing the states of Oregon and Washington for my niece’s college soccer team and sightseeing with my family.  I kept telling myself that I didn’t need anything to do ON my birthday, because I had a lovely day in Seattle the day before.  That should fulfill the birthday celebration, right? Well, for me it wasn’t.  By this time I had a couple of calls and emails and was being asked, what am I doing fun for my birthday and I had no good answer, other than a dental appointment. BAD!  The pressure set in to make it a FUN day.  

I contacted Jacqueline about going to Emeryville to hang out with her.  By the time I finished at the dentist, I didn’t feel like doing anything.  That appointment was enough to wipe me out.  A few other ideas floated by, but nothing took hold.  I resolved to being okay with doing nothing and just relaxing.  I have never been a huge Facebook person, but found today it was the perfect medicine to help me feel like I was spending my birthday with friends.  I posted about the meaning of birthdays on my blog and my FB page and the responses began to flow in.  

One response in particular excited me, it was from the gentleman who farms my land stating they were harvesting my grapes tonight and I could spend my birthday celebrating at the harvest with a glass of wine.  HOW PERFECT IS THIS!!!! In my excitement I quickly sent out an email and post via FB to invite others to join.  My grandiose mind quickly visualized many friends being able to attend with the last minute invite.  As I write this it is 30 minutes before the wine party start time and mom has put together a basket of goodies, we have several bottles of wine chilling and no one yet who RSVP’d they could attend.  I surrender to the outcome and pleasure in the excitement of what it could be rather than what it is. 

Despite the low attendance at the wine birthday fest (1 person, besides Jerry the farmer, Mom, and I) it was a lovely evening.  While waiting for the “crowd” to arrive I tinkered in my sister’s garden, fed her chickens and collected the eggs, cut a bouquet of Dahlia’s and enjoyed being in nature during the harvest.  Shortly into the evening, Jerry pointed to the sky.  The Harvest/Full moon was rising.  How perfect.  It was so beautiful and I felt joyfully satisfied.  It did turn out to be a perfect birthday.  I no longer take birthdays for granted and want each day to be special, but especially my birthday.  I appreciate all of you helping to make it great!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Birthdays bear different meanings for all of us, and present varying significance at various times in our lives.  When we are young, we usually look forward to our birthday and especially to the party and gifts.  Their are milestones in birthdays: reaching a 2 digit numbered age, becoming a teenager, at 16 to get our driver’s license, 21 to be legal, and then by the decades at 30, 40, 50...and for some 100.  During mid life the birthday may be more of a dread for some.  It seems after a certain age, though, there is a sense of accomplishment in reaching each birthday and the birthday becomes a celebration once again, even something to be proud of in making it so far in advance age.  
Since having cancer, I view birthdays differently, more similar to the advanced age person, as if each birthday is a huge accomplishment.  It no longer is taken for granted and truly becomes a day of celebration.  Although, each day after surviving cancer can be experienced as a day of celebration. Sadly, I used to dread my birthdays.  Partly, due to my high expectation of it needing to be an EXTRA special day.  In my 20’s, it was a huge reminder of still being single beyond the age that I thought I would marry.  Then after marrying, it became a reminder day that my biological clock was ticking and I had yet to have children.   In many ways, cancer changed my views of birthdays from dread, to yet another milestone.  
I sit today in an odd mood.  It’s my 42nd birthday.  At the point that I turned 39 I knew there was something terribly wrong with me, but didn’t know what.  Shortly, thereafter, I was diagnosed with cancer for the first time.  My 40th birthday was reason to celebrate in a colossal fashion for it being the 40th and for it being my first birthday post cancer/surgery/chemo.  My 41st birthday was challenging.  I worked that day and none of my co-workers even knew it was my birthday.  I experienced a fatigue that plagued my body so intensely that it was a struggle to even move the computer mouse at my desk.  Once home that night I had a meltdown and told my mom, “I’m pretty sure I have cancer again.”  Working in the medical field for years, one of the most common complaints is fatigue, but, for me, there is no other level of fatigue than what cancer brings to your body.  My 41st birthday was one of those days that just to exist was too much effort.  
Today, on my 42nd,  I am alive, healthy, and pretty well emotionally.  Part of me desires to have something fun and joyful to do.  Part of me is completely at peace with having nothing to do and to just BE!  I cherish the joy I see in everyday, including today.

“I have been born again and again and each time, I have found something to love.” Gordon Parks

I believe I have been born again and again throughout the milestones in my life.  I look forward to the new path taking place in me now as I allow the guidance of the next steps to be birthed.  Happy Birthday to all of you, and please see joy in something today as a birthday gift to me!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Path Ahead


Finishing chemo and having a clear pet scan are huge reasons to celebrate. Many people think this is the end of the road in healing, so to speak, and all should be normal again after that point.
Cancer is a symptom of the systems in the body that malfunctioned. Chemo is a survival mechanism to rid the body of the cancer. True healing to restore normal function begins after the survival techniques are successful (a cancer free body). So my journey of health is only just beginning. 
I saw my surgical oncologist last week.  It was the first time I have seen her since she diagnosed me with cancer in October. I gave her the book Divine Matrix by Gregg Braden. The book bridges the concepts of science and the power of the mind and belief. I told her that I hoped it would help her understand some of the things I do that may seem crazy. She was quick to say that nobody can say what I do is crazy because I'm sitting here and the odds said I shouldn't be.  It made me realize that even though she's always supported me that she really did fear I would die this time. She helped to validate my strong desire to feel great again and reminded me to be patient with myself saying it takes about six months after chemo to have good energy and stamina again.
I started swimming laps at the gym pool to help get in shape. I've always swam freestyle. Because my cardio fitness is so depleted I decided to swim a backstroke lap in the mix every few laps to catch my breath.   I fumbled with the backstroke and had to adjust my technique to prevent from splashing a bunch of water up my nose.  Naturally my eyes focused up, but on the part of the ceiling that was in front of me, in the direction of the rest of my body.  I realized if I focus my eyes upward, like I’m looking toward the top of my head (in the direction that I’m swimming) that the stroke seems smoother.  I've never considered myself a strong swimmer and know very little about proper swim strokes.  
This change in backstroke technique reminded me how to maneuver in life also.  When the focus is on where we’ve been, looking into the past, then things can be more difficult (i.e. water splashes into my nose).  When the focus is mostly straight up (in the present) and slightly forward to where I’m headed then life is more manageable.  
Rather than dwell on what I’ve endured over the past few months, I’m headed on a new journey.  I leave tomorrow for the most incredible healing journey that includes wildlife, adventure, nature, and sacred ancestral experiences.  I look forward to sharing this life defining experience with you when I return.  

Once again, thank you for your love, prayers, and support.  
In love and health,


Monday, August 5, 2013

Celebrate my PET

Is anyone in the mood to celebrate???

I have the most wonderful news.  I had my PET scan and it is absolutely clear, meaning NO evidence of cancer.  I’ve actually known of the results now for a few days, but was trying to tell as many people as possible in person.  I found it was just so much fun to celebrate with each person as I shared the news.  I’ve felt guilty for not sending this out sooner, so I apologize if you’ve been waiting to hear.  

Not sure if there is anything more to say in today’s blog.  I’ll let you enjoy the wonderful realization of me clear of cancer for a second time.  YEA!!!

Thank you to everyone for your support, prayers, and belief in me. 
In love and health,


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Surrender/Miracles 7/21/13

Wayne Dyer writes in Your Sacred Self, “Your level of awareness will shift so dramatically that you will no longer feel bound by the agreement that defines reality for most others.”

I believe this is what I was experiencing or feeling when I thought I could cure myself of cancer.  I felt that if I BELIEVED I could cure it than I could and I had read enough stories of people doing such a thing that I felt it was in me to do the same.  I felt this was my journey and purpose and once I cured my body of cancer than it was my purpose to reach out to others, as an example, to show them they also had the power within to heal whatever the issue/disease in their life.  Gregg Braden writes in the Divine Matrix, that it only takes the square root of 1% of a community to hold a belief that can then change the dynamics and beliefs in that entire community.  I envisioned myself speaking to large audiences sharing with them my story and inspiring them and helping to instill in them the same belief in the power they hold within to heal.  

After being hospitalized and told by the medical experts that I could slowly let the cancer grow (already I couldn’t eat due to the tumors strangulating my intestines) or try chemo.  Up to this point I had been completely resistant to the chemo due to the belief that I was to heal the cancer on my own and this whole vision I had for that healing then to be my purpose in life to empower others in their healing.  (quite a tall order for myself as was pointed out by my nutritionist/EFT practitioner.  She jokingly called me out saying, “Not at all a lot of pressure.”  She encouraged me to focus on what healing looked like for me and temporarily put the bigger vision to the side).  It was a huge release for me to surrender the idea of curing the cancer on my own.  I don’t think I was wrong in the idea of “no longer feeling bound by the agreement that defines reality for most others.”  I probably was just trying to “control” too much, rather than trust the Divine.  I’m sure my thoughts and ideas on all of my actions over the past few years will evolve as I spiritually grow, but this is how I can make sense of it all right now.  

I agreed to do the chemo and from that day until a few weeks ago when I initially read the above passage, I have felt like I settled or sold out on my original vision.  I felt like I did “the norm” and most of you know that I don’t like to be the norm.  This stems totally from being ego driven of wanting to be special.  I now know we are all special in our own way (subject for another blog).  When I read the above passage my belief changed. The belief I’ve held that taking the chemo was in some way failing myself has changed.  When reading the statement above, my soul spoke.  My soul said, by having the awareness that I was “no longer bound by the agreement that defines reality for most others” I laid the foundation for the healing.  I hadn’t achieved “physical” healing prior to this because I was so set in my path and vision.  I needed to surrender to the ways in which healing occurred and open myself more to the partnership with the divine.  

Yes, on the surface, it appears that the chemo has been the answer to ridding my body of cancer.  I like to look at it as all the internal growth I had done up to that point that led me to a place of surrender and through the process of surrendering I accepted the Divine and as such, healing.  I was stubbornly against the chemo and had made it the enemy.  This created much struggle and dis-ease in my physical and emotional body.  It took the growth of my spiritual self in my soul to surrender to whatever (the chemo, Western medicine, the vision of my new life purpose, to miraculously healing) to actually hold the space in which TRUE healing is transpiring.  Marianne Williamson says, “The moment of surrender is not when life is over.  It’s when it begins.”  I’ve always believed that emotional and spiritual healing is the key to physical healing. I never once doubted the ability of the chemo to rid my body of the cancer cells, but I saw that the true healing and cure, would come from within and my connection through Source.  

Obviously, I can’t say I will never get cancer again, but I believe if I continue on my journey of spiritual healing I can BE regardless of cancer.  If I’m diagnosed with cancer again I will accept, like I did with this second diagnosis, there are still huge transformations for me to experience and this is the vehicle in which I take on the huge transformational shifts and healing.  Some believe it is the nature of humans to need pain (physical and/or emotional) to create a shift.  I’d like to believe that as we grow in our enlightenment, the severity of that pain can decrease, for us to heed the message it is time to change.  I know, at the very least, my perception of the pain vehicle has definitely improved.  

I’ve never been one to view cancer as the enemy or something horrible, but I know I was quick to move in to action the second time around and truly experience those things that bring JOY to my life, rather than focus on the daunting reality and statistics that were quoted to me.  I do believe in miracles and I believe miracles are daily happenings if we open our eyes to all that is in our world.  After my last post, several of you sent me messages about miracles.   “A miracle is just a shift in perception” says Marianne Williamson.  I choose to shift my perception, surrender to Spirit and love, and continue to grow my awareness that is not bound by normal reality.  

Friday, July 12, 2013

Inner Peace 7/12/2013

I had hoped to give this update after chemo last week, but found I needed time to process all my emotions from this past visit with my oncologist.  

Many expected me to go into Friday’s appointment with cheer and relief because it was scheduled to be my last chemo.  This expectation, alone, stirred mixed emotions in me.  Yes, I was happy that it was my last chemo.  BUT, the day I get the chemo is not the issue, it’s the ill feelings for the week or so afterwards.  My relief of my last chemo comes more the week after, which is today.  

To start I will share that my CA 125 tumor marker came through at an all time low of 4.  My oncologist was amazed and said he had never seen a value this low.  YEA!!!  I expected the appointment to be fairly routine and to celebrate together that I had made it through all 6 rounds smoothly and my lab values continued to look great. All of this cheer around my labs and last chemo, unfortunately, was trumped by the discussion with my oncologist before receiving chemo.  

Somehow the conversation turned very dark, very quick.  As had been previously discussed, my oncologist scheduled a PET scan to be done in the next few weeks to assess if there is any cancer remaining.  What he hadn’t mentioned in prior visits, that he discussed at length at this visit was using the PET to assess if a new type of cancer had formed as a result of receiving so much chemo.  This is a side effect that is initially discussed at the beginning of treatment, but of course, as a person who is trying to rid their body of one type of cancer, the focus is not on worrying about your body developing an entirely new type of cancer.  Chemo can be very effective, but at times, so effective that it wipes out the immune system to the degree of making the body more susceptible to other types of cancer cells.  

An awesome goal for a cancer patient is to “graduate” from oncology, meaning it has been so many years since last having cancer that one no longer has to be seen by an oncologist.  The appointments are scheduled every 3 months for a year, then graduated to every 6 months for two years, and then annually up to 5 or so years.  My oncologist notified me that I would NEVER “graduate” from oncology.  He said the cancer would return, not to be discussed IF I have another recurrence, but that I definitely would.  I’ve known the statistics or odds of a recurrence, but I don’t like to focus on numbers based on other peoples’ lives.  In October when I was diagnosed this second time, my surgical oncologist gave my family the statistic of a 15% chance of being cancer free at 5 years.  So I’m quite aware of how lethal this type of cancer is, but to be reminded causes quite a sting.  My focus remains on healing in all areas of mind, body, and spirit...not the risk of another diagnosis. 

I left the office feeling bruised, battered and beaten and had yet to receive the chemo.  Jacqueline and my mom were with me and we all had a similar stunned look on our faces and tears in our eyes.  While in the chemo chair, I asked them, “What just happened?” The feeling so distant from celebration of the last chemo, the mood was that of mourning over the past few days.  I felt so defeated it was as if I had already been diagnosed with cancer a third time.  Hence the need to go inward and silent and process this visit.  We now concluded, that considering my behavior of running from chemo the first few months after this diagnosis, my oncologist could have been implementing a fierce scare tactic to ensure I would not venture far from his nest for the future.  Either way, I’m happy to report I am feeling better physically and emotionally and am looking forward to distancing myself from chemo and building up my stamina and strength.  

Words that comforted me in my silence: “I know I can connect my mind with the divine mind and guarantee myself peace in any moment.” Wayne Dyer

I would love to hear your thoughts on the blog site: or through email.  

In love and health to all of you,

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Self Love

Have you ever faced the criticism of others, especially when it comes to your outer appearance?  Have you been faced with being labeled too thin, too fat, too black, too white, too sick, too healthy, too tall, too short?  By nature, we are judgmental beings.  Even worse than judgment felt from others, is the judgment we face from within.   To quote Marianne Williamson, “Until we have met the monsters in ourselves, we keep trying to slay them in the outer world.”  Mastery of this beast from within is a true key to allowing life to come from a place of joy.

I’ve felt that achieving a greater acceptance and love from within, alone, can be miraculously healing.  In the past few weeks the universe has tested me, and I’m afraid to admit that at first I failed to a certain degree.  

I know many of you can relate to the struggles of weight.  With my first bout of cancer I gained considerable weight with the chemotherapy and steroids.  I slowly lost all that I gained, and even more, over the past year and half.  Well, now I’m on chemo and steroids again and have seen the scale rise in a short amount of time.  In one week I gained 7-8 pounds.  More than just the number on the scale, the weight gain has been uncomfortable in my body.  

The weight gain was a mystery at first and I became critical wondering what I was doing wrong.  I held stressful thoughts because I’ve had a belief that I’m healthier when I’m thinner.  I’m willing to accept this is only a belief and that it isn’t necessarily always true.  I was thinner and at a comfortable weight while lying in a hospital bed with a bowel obstruction and my abdomen full of cancer.  There is no doubt I’m healthier now than four months ago when that was happening.  When I questioned my oncologist about the weight gain his answer was simple, “It’s the chemo.”  He was not concerned.  It was relieving to have the weight gain completely excused away by my doctor but it didn’t change the struggle in my mind of self-acceptance.  

Those close to me have been very quick to remind me of how well I feel and how well I’m doing because of the chemo.  AND how alive I am as a result of the chemo, alive enough to just lose the weight later on and stop stressing about it.  Too true!!!  So again, it’s in how I view the situation and how I accept who I am now that will ultimately heal (what I believe needs healing). 

Another quote from Marianne Williamson: “The mystic path is a journey of personal transformation, and while the goal of the journey is to become our true selves, we can only do this by letting go of who we are not.”  I’m not my thin self anymore, but I’m also NOT the sick person that I was.  I am me, in all my glory of loving life and all that is offered to me through the Divine.  Not only my second chance, but my third chance to heed the guidance and inspiration from Spirit to transform.  

Medical Update:  I have now finished 5 rounds of chemo.  The dosage on the chemo was reduced the past two rounds because my liver enzymes became elevated.  I continue to use Neupogen injections the week after chemo to try to stimulate my bone marrow that is suppressed with the chemo.  I still have hair!  Yea!!!  It has thinned, but I have great hope that it will survive this current round and the next.  I am also able to eat again.  

The best news is that my CA125 tumor marker is now at 5.  This is the lowest I’ve ever been, even after chemo the first time around.  At my last appointment, my oncologist was so impressed with the numbers that he said he could hardly wait to do another scan on me to see how well things would look internally.  He looked like a kid waiting for an ice cream cone.  It was cute.  

He is discussing the option of some sort of long term chemo or hormone blocker medication after the 6 rounds of IV chemo.  This discussion will depend on the results of the scan after chemo.  I’m feeling well, for the most part.  I have a lot more bone aches from day to day and my energy/stamina is still quite low, but I can definitely deal/live with these things.  I feel very fortunate and happy with my life.  And just writing that last sentence chokes me up.  I know the reality of this disease and truly feel blessed with where I’m at in my healing.  I carry with me a deep sense of knowing that there is much love for me to still give and experience on earth and I make this my purpose every day.  Thank you, to each of you, for being a part of my journey and transformation.  

In love and health,


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

5/22/13 Spiritual Vacation

If you are into vacations that provide spiritual growth and a connection with nature/animals, then check this out.  Jonathan Ellerby is the CEO of the Tao Wellness Center which I visited in the Riviera Maya last October.  This was the trip I took the week after being diagnosed to help me sort out my thoughts with this cancer recurrence.  I have no doubt that the Canadian trip will be as special as it is unique.  I'm not sure if I can manage going myself due to my chemo schedule, but take a look at it for yourself.

During one of my first chemo sessions the first time around, my friend Jacqueline, asked me what I wanted to do to celebrate finishing chemo.  She consistently reminds me to incorporate fun in my life (day to day fun and the big fun).  Some of my top passions include traveling, animals, nature, time with friends and family.  So we decided we would take a trip after completing chemo.  Naturally, Spirit provided me with the details for a trip of a lifetime prior to me even knowing I would do chemo this time around.  My reward and goal with completing chemo is a different trip that Jonathan is leading, two weeks in Africa/South Africa for spiritual and physical healing with local medicine "men" and witnessing the great migration safari.  Big Bucket List item.  

Medical Update: I'm happy to report that my CA-125 tumor marker is now 7.  When I looked over all of my CA-125 results over the past 2 1/2 years, I noticed that I've only had 3 results in the single digits.  Along with this one, two results after I finished chemo in 2011 were 6.  This is a huge milestone in my book.  I'm so relieved that the chemo has been effective.  This 4th chemo round hasn't been quite as nice as the last one, as far as symptoms go.  I'm still needing to take the anti-nausea medication and feeling some yuck.  Each day is better though and I know "this too shall pass".  

Many of you have said that you are sharing some of my thoughts from the blog with others.  I appreciate this, as I would like to help as many people as possible through connecting with my journey and what I'm experiencing.  I created a facebook page that you can share, that includes a lot of what I share in the blog, minus the personal medical details.  Please feel free to share this with anyone who you think may enjoy it.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend,
In love and health

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

5/15/13-Soul Questions

I had an idea for this blog post.  I’m an avid Super Soul Sunday watcher on Oprah’s OWN network and she always asks a series of questions to her experts at the end of the show.  I always answer them for myself and the answers usually vary some from episode to episode.  So I thought I would share with you my answers from the episode I was watching this morning with Jean Houston.  
Hopefully this can be a thought provoking experience for myself and all of you.  

  • If you don’t usually think about this, I challenge you right now to think about what do you want in the next 10 years of your life?
I want to remain healthy in body, mind and spirit.  I want to continue to develop deep, loving, fulfilling relationships with others.  I want to expand my platform to teach/inspire/share my life lessons and thoughts on holistic healing to help others on their journey.  I want to feel safe to pursue more creative endeavors in my life and accept the love of a partner in my life.  

  • What is the soul?
I see the soul as the most loving and kind parent who is gently providing opportunity for growth in the individual.  Some of the opportunities may not be fun and may downright be considered tragic events in our lives, but nonetheless those events help us to evolve. The soul is there to help guide us to find ourselves and our purpose in life. The soul does not interpret any of our actions as right or wrong, it simply takes our decision and then provides another opportunity to help us on our journey.  The soul knows the potential of who we can be and the impact we can have with humanity and gently guides us to recognize that part of ourselves and the connection with all other beings. 
“The soul is the lure of our becoming.”  Jean Houston

  • What happens when we die?
I believe our soul lives on.  I believe the afterlife provides the most loving, accepting way to be.  Having cancer, of course, brings up many thoughts of mortality.  I definitely think different now than the first time I had cancer.  I’ve come to realize that I don’t fear death and what happens when my body ceases to function.  More of my fear has been in the illness and pain that I fear would come from the cancer process.

  • What is your definition of God? 
I often use the term “the universe”.  I believe God or the universe is an essence that is everywhere, in everything, AND everyone.  Our challenge is to see the God-likeness in ourselves and all of those around us. I don’t believe God is some being elsewhere that will pass judgement on us when we die.  
“The creator has planted within every creature a fragment of himself, a spark, a spirit of the same nature as himself and, thanks to this spirit, every creature can become a creator.” Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov

  • Do you pray?
Yes, regularly
  • What is the central focus of your prayer?
I pray for guidance to be the best me through God to serve others.  I ask that I be able to recognize and be open to the guidance and messages that are from spirit.  

  • The world needs....
Each individual to accept love and growth in their lives through all others.  In the past, I very much came from a place of doing everything on my own.  I now believe that living your life knowing we are ALL connected is the key.  There is no you and me; there is only US.  This one is a daily challenge for me.  

  • I believe...
I believe in the spirit of all of us to become who we are designed to be, which is far more than what we could ever imagine. 

I appreciate all of you sharing this experience with me.  I know some of you may say, why does she share all of this and not just share her medical update. I believe true healing of the body comes from the person’s soul and as I express and allow my soul to BE through sharing my mind and spirit thoughts it is creating healing.  So just as the chemo is helping to rid the cancer cells now; all of you through this blog are helping me to express my soul and heal at the deeper levels that will bring a lifetime clearance of cancer cells and create health at all levels.  So thank you!

So for the medical update:  this time, I’m happy to say, the update is short because all has been going VERY WELL!  Since I last wrote, I had chemo on April 26th.  Unlike most chemo days, the pain “train” hit a few hours after chemo.  I had acupuncture the day after chemo which helped with the nausea and fatigue.  Dr. Shen (Acupuncturist) also gave me a Chinese herb to help my bowels and it has definitely helped.  Since I found the acupuncture to be effective, I went again the week after chemo.  With this round, I think I’ll go 3 times in the week after chemo.  I had the typical week after chemo of feeling down, but this time it wasn’t as bad.  This was the first round of chemo, ever, that I had no vomiting.  YEA!!!  With the diet modifications of mostly liquids and soft foods, I remained out of the hospital this time too.  My intestines are doing much better.  I’m happiest when I’m around friends and family and that has been possible the past few weeks with me feeling better. Thank you to all of you who I’ve been able to visit with.  
I had lab work done today to make sure my counts are acceptable for chemo, and so I will have my 4th round of chemo this Friday.  My oncologist wants me to do at least 6 rounds.  

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on today’s post. 
In love and health,

Thursday, April 25, 2013

4/25/13 Friends=Gratitude

Friends = Gratitude
I’ve been fortunate enough to spend this past weekend with friends and am so grateful for the time together.  Saturday morning I was able to reunite with my St Joseph’s family which is full of healers and fellow cancer survivors.  Thank you for such a warm welcome.  Saturday evening and Sunday were spent with college friends, such beautiful people that I’ve now been friends with for over 20 years.  I truly feel privileged.  Many of you have commented on how many people these emails go out to and I often joke that this goes out to “100 of my closest friends”.  And I honestly believe that.  All of you are so close and dear in my heart - I just have to consistently remind myself of your love and thoughts for my health and happiness.  That is the main reason why I do this blog - to stay connected with all of you.  It’s been too easy for me to forget the love and connection of all mankind and that is one thing I’m trying to change. 

A few weeks before the bowel obstruction/hospitalization I lay in bed one night worried about what I was going to do.  I knew the pain was increasing and could actually feel a mass on the right side of my abdomen.  I feared in that moment that I would have to turn to chemo.  The thought completely devastated me.  At that moment, I thought if I do chemo I will not tell anyone.  I will seclude myself and will not be able to face anyone because I would feel like a failure.  I felt like people would be thinking that all of my alternative methods failed, and how ridiculous I was to think I could heal the cancer on my own.  I truly felt like a failure, but I see now this was devastating because it was my ego talking.  No such thing ever happened.  I went into the hospital and was pretty much faced with the choice of having chemo or allowing myself to deteriorate due to a dysfunctional bowel.  There was no choice: chemo was it.  

A month or so after doing chemo I had the realization that I was never made to feel defeated or like a failure by anyone, BESIDES MYSELF.  You all remained in a place of love and caring for my ultimate well being and nothing more.  You accepted me into your arms and remained gentle with my struggle of the choices in front of me defined by the ultimate desire for health and happiness.  I THANK YOU so much.  You really have no idea how much it means to me to be able to have gone through the struggle of feeling defeated and accepting of the chemo and have NO ONE think of me as a failure and instead shower me with your love. It is simply amazing to feel the well wishes, prayers, healing energy, healing light that all of you send. Thank you, again, to Meika, for sending out the email asking for people to come together twice a day to pray for me.  I know it makes a difference. 

So thank you for holding the space for me to BE.  To see myself as simply someone trying to heal in her own way, whatever that may be,  someone on an adventure to find the definition of healing (thank you Sandy Z for this lesson).  Most important in this journey is not only to find value and acceptance of all types of healing, but to truly find ACCEPTANCE of MYSELF and my JOURNEY of life.  

So for the medical update: With one chemo treatment my CA 125 (tumor marker) decreased from 256 to 28.  WOW!!!  Thank you for making that miracle happen.  After two courses of Neupogen (to boost my white blood cells that were depleted from that first chemo) I was able to get my second treatment of chemo on Friday, April 5th, after a complete emotional breakdown on my part.  I was looking for every reason to NOT get the chemo.  After my blood tests passed, my temperature and my blood pressure were normal, I finally surrendered to getting the chemo and allowed it to be.  I remained in bed, for the most part, until the following Thursday.  I finally felt like I was coming back on Thursday.  I guess I felt too well and pushed too hard because on Friday I was much worse.  I began to vomit and have intestinal pain.  I remained in bed again that Friday.  I woke up Saturday feeling well again and unfortunately I ate normal that day.  By Saturday night my intestines were a mess again and my mom had to take me into the ER.  I spent 6-7 hours in the ER and had another CT scan.  The good news was there was no bowel obstruction, the bad news was the “thickening/narrowing” of the intestines were even worse.  The ER doctor recommended I stay on a liquid diet for an indefinite amount of time. Why the intestines were doing this remains to be debated.  The radiologist read the CT as this being cancer.  This was very disappointing and yet confusing to me.  How could my tumor markers improve in such a miraculous way, and the CT look worse.  I spoke with my oncologist the next day and he said he specifically compared the CT from Feb to this current one and every lymph node measured smaller.  He explained the  problems with the intestines could be inflammation, possibly from the chemo or the cancer.  There is no real way to know what is the cause without a surgical biopsy (which is not an option).  So for the past two weeks I’ve remained on a liquid and now soft food diet and have done well.  I’ve actually been able to go off all pain medications this past week.  I did blood work yesterday that passed so I will have my third treatment of chemo tomorrow.  I’m also happy to report that my CA 125 is now 15 (normal is 2 - 35)!  

Thank you for being interested in my progress.  I appreciate all of you in my life and make it a goal everyday to feel your love and well wishes for me.  
In love and health,

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Update 4/3/13

Well I’ve delayed in writing a post because I was trying to send out some profound words, plus give a health update as of 3/29.  I’ve lacked the motivation to create the profound for some time and have now probably waited too long because several of you are reaching out asking what is going on???  So I decided to delay the profound for now and will suffice to just give the health update.  

I still only have had the one chemo treatment of both medications on March 7th.  My white cell counts continue to be too low to receive chemo again.  The plan was to skip day 8 of treatment (day 8 is only one of the medications) and resume with both medications at the scheduled date of round 2 of chemo on March 29th.  I did my pre-chemo blood work on the 28th and shortly after was contacted by my oncologist, Dr. Ng.  He said my white cell count stayed the same (still below normal), but the auto Neutrophil count was even lower than the testing 2 weeks ago.  Chemo was cancelled again.  This time it really didn’t bother me.  I was strong in my feeling that there is a stronger power deciding when and if I need chemo again, and that is what is determining the schedule of chemo treatments, not the medical protocols, the doctor, or me.  

I met with Dr. Ng in the office on Friday, March 29th.  His plan is to lower the dose of each chemo agent for future treatments.  He gave me the option of whether to stay on the day 1 and day 8 treatment plan or to just have day 1 only in the 21 day cycle.  I chose one treatment only at this point.  He ordered another course of Neupogen injections to do now and the plan is to do the injections with each round of chemo, now knowing what an effect the chemo has on my bone marrow.  The Neupogen is a growth factor that stimulates the bone marrow to produce at a much greater rate.  Although, right now it seems necessary, it is a very difficult medicine for me to tolerate.  It too, has the potential, to create extreme muscle and bone ache.  I seem to have gotten far more aches than the average person, but also not considered dangerous (just painful).  On Sunday, March  31st the effects were so bad all of the pain medication I have could not control it.  I ran a fever for about 24 hours and really could not function.  Fortunately, the rest of the days have not been quite that bad.  

On the more positive note, much more positive note...with my blood work done on Thursday, March 28th, we also checked the CA125 (ovarian cancer tumor marker).  My previous level the week after chemo was 256, this time is was 52 !!!!  It had dropped 204 points.  My surrender to the chemo definitely helped.  This is why I believe the past few treatments have needed to be canceled.  And why I don’t think I need day 1 and day 8 of treatment each round.  I have even challenged Dr. Ng’s thinking about whether it’s necessary to do 6 rounds of chemo.  With such a positive result after one treatment (not even one complete round), why do more than necessary?   Medical protocol says with ovarian cancer you give no less than 6 rounds (NO MATTER WHAT).  I’m starting to open the door in Dr. Ng’s thinking to treat me based on me and my results, not what medical research/protocol dictates.  Either way, I’m very confident in my ability (with higher guidance) to decide what I need in treatment and even if it is suggested to do more based on research and protocols, I will do what is necessary for ME!

I have been resisting the chemo since I last received chemo (April 2011) and I believe with the surrender to the treatment it allowed me to relax and trust so much that it opened myself for everything else I’m doing to work even more.  Especially for me to reach a place where I could be open to feeling all the love and support of all of you out there and dissipate the feeling that I was in this all alone.  Thank you.  

I will get you the profound when I feel inspired to write in that way.  
In love and health,

Friday, March 15, 2013

Roller Coasters

Roller coasters
Does anyone out there love roller coasters?  Do you like the fast, thrilling rides or the upside down/corkscrew types?  In 2002, Robert, my nephew, and I spent a whole week riding roller coasters at some of the greatest parks in Ohio.  

The more appropriate question for this post today, is how big a fan are you of the roller coasters of LIFE???  Not nearly as much fun as the roller coasters in the amusement parks, are they?

So I made it through my first treatment of chemo in round 1 last Thursday.  It was not nearly as awful as the chemo agents that were used the first time I had cancer, but still was much worse than I had hoped.  My mom always phrases the symptoms as...”the train has hit”.  Well the train started to hit Saturday morning with nausea.  I was able to enjoy a nice visit with my co-worker from Kaiser Fremont, Angela.  Thank you Angela for coming to visit.  By late afternoon Saturday the train had hit and continued to be parked in my station through Sunday.  With this new chemo regimen, the complete fatigue has been the main theme.  Each day it has been a challenge just to get moving around the house.  

I went for blood work yesterday, Thursday.  Before each chemo treatment I have to have blood tests done to check that my values are strong (or normal) enough to receive chemo again.  My oncologist, Dr. Ng, called yesterday afternoon to say that my blood values were already too low to receive chemo again today.  The plan is to give me a daily injection of medicine called, Neupogen, for the next 5 days that should help my body boost the white blood cells again.  

So needless to say, I’ve felt a roller coaster of emotions over the past two weeks.  I was very resistant to do chemo for the longest time.  Then by having a do or die type of situation, I sought out the chemo treatment to reduce the size of the tumors that were restricting my bowels.  And I felt completely beat down by the first chemo treatment, but tried to ready myself to receive the 2nd treatment.  Only, to then find out I’m not healthy enough at this point to even get chemo again today.  It feels like being disappointed that you can’t drink the glass of poison.  I obviously don’t like how chemo makes me feel and struggle with that, but I also know that it is the one thing that can help me heal the tumors.  

After a few hours of disappointment and grief, I chose to surrender to the outcome and trust that I didn’t get chemo today because I didn’t need it.  I choose to think that the first treatment worked so well that today’s treatment wasn’t necessary.  

So now I get a two week break from chemo.  With the daily injections for the next 5 days, I hope my blood values will improve and I will begin to feel better.  Dr. Ng said he will put together a plan to try to find the happy balance of an effective chemo dose for the cancer, but not so effective that it is destroying everything else in my body. 

I am open for visits if anyone would like.  Of course, you must be very healthy and have no risk of developing any illness (like if you have a family member who is sick) since my immune system is wiped out right now.   

I think the key to having the most fun at any type of roller coaster, whether, it’s the topsy turvy fast one’s, or the emotional life altering one’s is just to relax and literally ride the wave.  For every climb up the mountain, there’s a fun ride down the hill on the other side and I find it’s the most fun if you raise your arms over your head and scream with joy!!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Aha moments

I'm on a roll with aha moments in the past 24 hours and it feels great.  I would like to share the one from today and see if it provokes any thoughts with all of you.

"All death is a reminder to turn up the volume on your life." Oprah

I have struggled with dealing with the thoughts/fears around becoming more ill and dying.  This goes against the thinking that I want to live by because my belief is that the fear CAUSES illness.  You see the vicious cycle that can form.

So I sat today and pondered Oprah's words and came to the conclusion that this journey of cancer is exactly that, to turn up the volume on my life. There is no death to come from this. If death were the goal here, than it would have already happened.  I had enough cancer in my body, even with this second go around, that it could have already advanced enough to cause death.  That is the reality of it, plain and simple.  My surgical oncologist even said last week: keep doing what you're doing.  The thought is that at your advanced stage of cancer that you'd be dead within a year without treatment.  She considers the recurrence to have started in Dec of 2011 so I'm well over a year now.

BUT, I'm not that sick, and I'm not advancing in my illness, and I'm definitely NOT dying.  No more than anyone else that is.  The reality is: I'm thriving, I'm living, I'm exercising, I'm BEING and I'm turning up the volume on life.

Fear in my life has evolved from the fear of being alone,  to the fear of death,  to now - the fear of not living life to its' full potential.

What can you do to turn up the volume on your life?  Let's live life to its' full potential TOGETHER!!

In love and health,

Thursday, January 31, 2013

1/31/13 Exercise - What it means to me

Exercise - What it means to me
Please don’t turn away so quickly just because I intend to talk about the E word.  That’s right.  Many people are so opposed to exercising it has become like another 4 letter word.  

I write today because I was completely moved during exercise this morning, pun intended.  Today I was able to do U-Jam (hip hop type aerobic dance class).  The bonus was the class was taught by my favorite U-Jam instructor, John.  This guy can move. Whether you want to exercise or not, it’s worth it to go to his class just to watch him move.  The big deal about today is that it’s the first time I’ve been able to exercise in the past 6 weeks or so.  I’ve been doing some heavy energy work which has led to a lot of detoxing in my body.  This has left me feeling under par, to say the least.  

John usually plays some strong, inspirational music during the cool down and like I said I am completely in awe of his movement.  During the cool down today, I became so emotional with the thought of wow I completed the class, and on a bigger scale WOW I’ve been diagnosed with cancer and I can move.  It was one of those moments of complete appreciation for life that brought tears to my eyes.   I felt happy to be alive, happy to truly FEEL alive, happy to be able to move, and so grateful to be able to exercise.  

Many people complain about exercising, but I challenge you to TRULY consider how fortunate you are to have the capacity to exercise.  I feel fortunate that I do enjoy exercising, I’ve rarely looked at it as a chore.  So, to not be able to do much more than walk the past 6 weeks was emotionally challenging.  And I also look back at this cancer diagnosis compared to the first when because of surgery and chemo I wasn’t able to exercise for 8 months or so.  Some days, a walk to the neighbors house 40 yards away was considered a success.  I am absolutely thrilled that today, not only did I take Oliver for a walk, I completed 60 minutes of inspiring, exhilarating, and lively U-Jam.  

I hope this blog helps you to appreciate the consistent movements your body is capable of doing and to challenge you to increase the movement you allow your body to experience. 

In love and health, 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Radical Permission, Yea Niners

Radical Permission:  This was a theme that emerged shortly after the 2nd cancer diagnosis.  Somehow, without cancer I put restrictions on how I made my decisions, how I spent my time and money, how I allowed my fun/leisure time, and probably many other things.  I would venture to say that most of us do this, but I’ll speak for myself. If you enjoy this post, than I would expect you relate to what I’m saying on some level.    
The perfect example of this radical permission came a little over a week after the diagnosis.  This amazing story is also a perfect example of manifestation: setting an intention and releasing any attachment to the outcome.  The SF Giants (my fav baseball team) won the pennant on Monday, Oct 22nd.  As I was celebrating the win in my living room, I looked to my mom and asked her if she thought it would be too morbid to send out an email to all my friends and family and announce that it is on my bucket list to attend a World Series and Superbowl Game, especially in a year where my team was playing.  I NEVER ACTUALLY SENT THE EMAIL.  Two days later, my dear friend Becky, called and asked if I would like to attend a world series game with her.  WHAT??!!  She said she checked on tickets and there are some still available.  My frugal self had to ask what kind of money we were looking to spend and then said, “hell with it, let’s go!!”  This was the first time we had talked since the diagnosis and so she proceeded to say some words of anger and such towards the cancer.  I openly admit my view on cancer is quite different than most and I usually insist on seeing the journey and positive experiences and growth that could come through this opportunity.  So I shared with Becky in that moment, without cancer, you and I would not have given ourselves permission to spend the money and attend this World Series game.  AND WE WENT TO THE GAME!!! And the Giants won the World Series.  Yea Giants!

The other part of this conversation is being able to honor my radical permission with decisions/obligations in my life.  I am now living with radical permission to say no if I don’t feel like something is right for me.  Anita Moorjani, author of Dying To Be Me, explains that our decisions are better made from the heart.  We are taught to decide from our head, but it benefits all on a bigger scale when we decided from our heart.  When deciding something, do you decide based on what is best for you or feels best to you OR do you decide out of feeling obligated based on the other people involved?  The more we can live from making decisions from our heart, the more our lives and cells stay in balance rather than in dis-ease.  This can also be viewed in examples where you say yes to someone when it doesn’t feel right to you, you are actually saying no to yourself.  You can also think about it from the other party’s point of view: would you want someone doing something for you because they felt they HAD to and not because they really wanted to?  

Radical Permission, think about it...  This one is for you Maria V. 

On a more lighter note, if anyone has means to help me attend the Superbowl, especially with 49ers going I would greatly appreciate it.  Just throwing it out there.  

In love and health to you all.  Thank you for your continued support.  Please feel free to share your thoughts via the blog or email.  

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Welcome Back 1/6/13

As you can see I finally was able to get my blog working again.  This post is very much overdue.  Welcome back to those of you who enjoyed my blog during my first journey with cancer.  Welcome to all of you who may be new to the blog and are here to support me in the second journey with cancer.

Just to quickly summarize:
Dec 2011: I developed a slight pain, CA125 tumor marker was elevated (for me) but still within normal range.  CAT Scan was normal.
We (my surgical oncologist, Dr. Chen, and I) decided to do monthly lab markers and exams.
The markers created some confusion in that they decreased in value on two different months but overall continued to increase.  With each increase Dr. Chen was more and more convinced that the cancer was back.  With each decrease she became very confused because she said with cancer you will never see a decrease unless the person is receiving chemo.  She on several occasions recommended a PET scan, but I declined.  I felt great and believed that what I was doing was keeping me healthy.
All that changed somewhere around mid July/August.  I began to feel very fatigued and was having some abdominal pain.
Late September I agreed to do a PET Scan which was completed on Oct 13th.  The PET showed 6 tumors total that were located throughout my abdomen.

My one AND ONLY treatment option through traditional medicine was chemotherapy, and the same chemotherapy I had received with the first bout of cancer.  There was some concern of whether this protocol would even work due to how quick the cancer had returned after finishing chemo in April 2011.  One other important factor that played into my decision making was a statistic that wasn't meant to be told.  You all know that I'm not someone who compares my self to general statistics.  I don't like to fit into the boxes and Dr. Chen knows that about me.  She also has a bit of the PollyAnna syndrome so we agree on the matter of not comparing myself to a statistic.  She misunderstood a question my dad was asking in our initial visit after the diagnosis and thought he asked the success rate of using the same chemo protocol.  She ultimately said that there is a 15% success rate of being cancer free for a total of 5 YEARS.  WHAT???!!!  So really what she was saying was that with full treatment of chemo, there was an 85% chance that the cancer would be back for a 3rd time in the next five years.  I kindly said, no thank you.

I hadn't immediately ruled out chemo as an option, but it wasn't something I was jumping in to quickly. I decided to take some time to sort out my mind and while doing that began the "FUN TREATMENT".

I found out I had cancer on a Monday, gave medical notice to my job on Tuesday, worked my last day on Thursday, and drove down to So Cal on Friday to spend the weekend with my family at Disneyland.  Three days after returning from Disneyland, I cheered my SF Giants on at a World Series game. Three days after that I flew to the Riviera Maya to spend the week 60 miles south of Cancun in Mayan Paradise through enjoying the area but also attending self-improvement workshops through the Tao Wellness Center.
In the next couple of weeks I saw my long time favorites, Barbar Streisand and Barry Manilow in concert, went to an Anita Moorjani lecture in Monterey (see pic of me swinging in Darla's front yard).  A few weeks after the diagnosis my dad asked,  "so when are you going to start treatment?"  I said, "I already am in treatment, fun treatment".

After a month or so, I began to feel the pressure to decide what I needed to do.  I met with a doctor in Santa Rosa who does alternative oncology.  He outlined a treatment protocol for me that would require me to be in Santa Rosa 2-3 days/week, would be at the minimum of 8-10 weeks, at the average cost of $1500/week, could make me fairly sick (similar to chemo) and he still recommended one chemo agent in addition.  WHAT?!

I decided to get away.  I was fortunate enough to have friends lend me there home in Aptos that was a 2 minute walk from the beach. (Thank you John and Chris)  Oliver and I escaped for 10 days to be "normal, non-cancerous" beings and enjoy time with nature, reading, and just being.  The time away was exactly what I needed and helped me to feel in control of my destiny again.

After returning from Aptos, on Dec 9th, I met with an oncologist in Stockton, who would be the facilitator of chemo if I decided to start treatment. He did his homework about me and came in with all guns ready to fire to place every fear possible in me for already waiting so long to start chemo.  He basically said that with "my disease" they would consider it a success if they could keep me alive for 5 years.  I kindly explained that was exactly why I wasn't so eager to choose THEIR treatment and find one of my own.  He tried to bargain with me and said, "go ahead and enjoy the holidays and then let's plan to start chemo the first of the year".

During the two months since finding out I had cancer again I had been doing many things to continue to increase my health (nutrition, movement, detoxing, supplements, energy work, meditation, spiritual work, ....) For those of you who followed my blog in the past, you read many entries on my meditation healer MerriAnn.  MerriAnn did her own research on alternative ways to "communicate" with cancer cells and created a meditation that specifically allowed me to thank the cancer for it's service and give it permission to leave my body and release it to the universe to be used in a loving functional matter.  This was in alignment with out I viewed the cancer cells and my journey with them.  I listen to the CD of this meditation daily.

One of my other main healing methods has been working with my friend Sandy Snider.  Sandy describes herself as an intuitive coach, but is so much more.  She is a communicator with one's angels or guides, whatever you prefer to title it.  We spend several hours each week working through my thoughts, beliefs, fears, and any other feelings that could have created imbalances or dis-ease in my physical body.  She, through her gift, is able to help me release the energy attached with these emotions and therefore help me to heal my body.

I believe that all diseases are related to the emotions and beliefs that we carry with us throughout our lifetimes.  There is actually a lot of science out there that proves this point, but I still write this as "my belief" because I know this is a fairly foreign concept to most.  With this in mind, as I address those fears/beliefs that have limited me in the past, the energy associated with them is released and the cancer resolves.  Since the height of my CA125 tumor markers at 143 in the beginning of November, the marker numbers have dropped 48 points to 95 on my last blood draw this past week.  Traditional medicine cannot explain this.  The belief is that the numbers can only drop through surgery, chemo, and radiation.


I will continue to treat in the ways that I feel serve me best.  I completely believe that I am healing the cancer WITHOUT chemo and will continue to do so.

I thank you for sticking with me on this very very long blog entry and for all of your overall support.  I hope to blog regularly and share not only what I'm doing, but some of my thoughts that have influenced my healing.
Love to you all,

Dr. Oliver