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