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September 27, 2011

Battle vs. Balance

For the first time in a very long time, I awoke from restful slumber energized; seven hours of uninterrupted and unassisted sleep.  I glance at the date noting it is three months, to the date, that I first discovered the former mass in my breast.  Following my last treatment, an ominous feeling set-in and failed to subside from my mind; that is until late last week.  Intuition, listening to one’s inner voice, is paramount for healing and those seeking balance.  Today is a new day; the battle is over and my quest to balance my mind, body, soul, is in the forefront of my journey.  Today, I am hopeful.   

Today was to be the third of eight chemotherapy treatments; the key words being – was.  I have chosen to forgo chemotherapy and traditional western medicine as if fails to address the cause of this dis-ease [cancer].  Time to say good-bye to the battle as I welcome the new task at hand, a quest for balance.  Causation points to a disruption, at a cellular level, and this is where my attention has turned.  As a society, in large part, we embrace the notion that when diagnosed with cancer, we must undergo chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.  Why is this?  Have I become the classic “rogue client” as I turn away from this conditioning?  Not at all.  Science supports my conclusion and choice.  I am choosing to allow my body to heal itself, naturally.  My mind is strong; my mind is telling my body to heal itself and to come back into balance.  To do this, it is imperative to build my immune system, allowing balance.  Nutrition is foundational, a raw vegan diet.  As a now former pesco-vegetarian, this shift is not too alarming to my senses.  The absence of my beloved sugar, this may prove to be another story.  Cancer and I agree, we love sugar!  My strategy is to forgo my partnership with cancer in its entirety.  Good-bye sugar.  Detoxification is the next building block followed by vitamin, mineral, and natural supplements, and finally inner peace.  I will rest my body, mind, and soul; my intention is to allow my body to heal itself.

I have submitted my medical history to three alternative medicine clinics located in California and Nevada.  Ideally, I find acceptance into one of these phenomenal programs. They are outpatient clinics, the length of stay between two – four weeks costing on average, $5000 per week, not including travel and lodging.  Post outpatient, I would continue to incurring expenses as I maintain supplements and other alternative modalities.  There is not a quick fix.  Once I find balance, I diligently must continue to maintain balance – this is the challenge spanning my lifetime.  For now, I embrace my new nutritional requirements and begin with alternative modalities today.

There is much excitement in the air!  Within 30-days, I plan to have my family return to Oregon.  Literally and figuratively, I will be able to take a deep breath of fresh air.  Today, I am hopeful.

September 18, 2011

Thoughts, the dark side of finding peace...

I am left alone in my thoughts often as of late.  These thoughts build on one another; blossoming into a multitude of new-fangled directions.  I visualize myself standing in the clearing of a sumptuous forest; the midpoint where countless paths intercept.  I gently close my eyes; raising my chin high into the sky as my head sinks deeply into the back of my shoulders.  As though I am preparing for flight, I extend my arms outward, palms facing the sky, and each finger is lengthened.  I breathe the crisp fresh air deep into my lungs and exhale freely; my body and mind are tranquil.  My face beams an expression of pure joy; I am at peace.  Although the paths before me are many, there is no predetermined right or wrong choice that awaits my footsteps.  At this moment, I enjoy my sense of peace and the quiet tranquility of my surroundings.

Scratching The Surface Of Two Thoughts
I reflect on two thoughts shared by a sister friend.  She sensed that this [cancer outcome] is a choice that I will make, she noted that my soul is weary, and there are many lessons that I will learn.  Could it be that I do have a choice of sorts whether I overcome this cancer?  I am not convinced one way or the other at this moment.  I am however, convinced that my soul is in fact weary.  The many years, perhaps lifetimes of being a caregiver, advocate, and shield of sorts has rightly tired my soul.  I question – do I possess the inner strength to continue protecting?  Do I hold the burning desire to live on being my authentic self, or is that time quickly approaching.  I am unclear.  Questions continue to linger while answers appear elusive.  My heart fluttered and smile widened at the thought of reuniting with my grandfather who passed several year ago, meeting my little sister for the first time, and hugging my dear friend Peggy who left this earth before her time.  Is my existence on earth truly my choice, in far reaching terms?  I am weary to the depths of my soul; I am weary.

Without question, I am ready for this cancer to be my rear view mirror.  I truly do not want to continue with chemotherapy.  Losing my hair, not that big of deal, you know it is like whatever, I have bigger things to worry about.  I never imagined it would my daily goal to evacuate my bowels, unassisted.  Nevertheless, it is what it is.  I do not even understand why I am torturing myself with these chemicals.  Essentially, I am cancer free right now; the lumpectomy removed any visibly formed cancer cell masses and my tumor markers are currently within normal ranges.  The doctors do not have some magical treatment regimen to prevent this type of cancer from returning and taking up residency somewhere else in my body – typically the brain.  How revolting in nature, is it to be forced to choose to pump these chemicals through my veins, damaging perfectly healthy and fully functioning organs; followed by the removal of both breasts.  The finale being five-weeks of radiation.  And for what?  Where the hell is hope, the statistical data that indicates these revolting and unimaginable acts [treatment choices] will save my life?  The answer is that what I seek is not in existence.  All this is not to say that I have lost hope; quite the contrary.  I am at peace.  I am realistic yet optimistic.   

Destination Known As Hurt
I maintain and hold tightly to this ideology; people do well if they can.  I forever consider and remind myself of this rather simplistic saying that is riddled with its own complexities.  This ideology has served me well in my later years. 

When peeling back the emotional layers I clearly have revealed the authentic feelings of deep sadness.  Moreover, it is hurt.  Remove the anger, disappointment, unmet needs, and yes, sadness.  What remains fast is the constant manifestation of hurt.  Do all roads lead to this destination known as hurt?  Perhaps.  Consider that in the darkest moments of one’s life, our true character is exposed; filters no longer exist.  Through my eyes, my filter, many needs remained unmet for far too long by the individuals I self-appointed as the caretaker of these [my] needs.  I deemed it their [self-appointed individuals] duty and purpose to fulfill a particular need – believing it was not a far-reaching appointment in that these labels and roles followed western tradition. 
The Lost Mother Son Relationship
Ironically, my sole biological child boasts angrily that I have failed him immeasurably.  I pause in unbridled reflection.  Parallels may be drawn in a broad sense between his hurt and mine.  Yet there is a vast difference.  I say this as to not be dismissive of his perspective rather as a cautionary measure to ground my thoughts in truth.  While one’s perception is their reality, my son has methodically altered his childhood story, devoid of personal responsibility.  Even in this moment, he projects his hurt, anger, rage, loss, and personal responsibility onto others.  I am the primary recipient.  Leaving me in a quandary is that I created half of this child yet he represents the essence and character traits that I advocate against.  His words have become carefully sharpened weapons; his intention is to wound if not decimate the intended target.  An altered story, if recounted enough over a sustained amount of time – may allow one to believe these intentional rewrites.  The question then becomes why is there a need to produce an altered childhood story, the why behind the behavior.  For him, as for many, I believe it is his deep shame, regret, and pride.

At age 15, my son succumbed to his demons.  Today, nearly six years have passed; I have seen glimpses of the sweet kind-hearted boy that I raised for many years.  Sadly, much time has ticked away since my last glimpse of his kind heart in action.  For many years, I held my head in shame for the unconscionable behavior and flawed character of my son.  I no longer carry his shame; it is his to carry not mine.  While children may be a reflection of a parent, they [children] do not necessarily define the character of a parent.  Unequivocally, more than anything that pierces my heart is to know my sons potential, his true authentic self, and that it is not present with him today.  He has buried his authentic identity underneath altered stories, shame, and pride.  Understand, I SEE my son; I listen to every word, rise, and fall in his tone, and his never-ending fantastical stories.  In his desperate quest for self-acceptance, the words he speaks to others may echo a happy, successful, and well-adjusted young man.  This is a fa├žade.  His sadness is deep.  His loss is unimaginable.  His shame is paralyzing.  Prior to taking my last breathe on this earth, I hope to see My Son reappear at least once. 

His words no longer hurt me.  Today, I am hopeful.

September 9, 2011

Warrior Juice Number Two…

The final countdown is underway as I look forward to my last Warrior Juice session, two down, six more to go.  I really do not want to do this anymore; it really sucks!  I continue to compare the first round of WJ with the second in an effort to deduce - are the WJ sessions becoming easier or increasingly challenging.  The answer remains allusive.  I chose not to sport the new ginger wig to my WJ session, opting for a colorful scarf.  My fellow Warrior Juice recipient Angela was celebrating her final WJ session.  I too am looking forward to my last treatment on January 10, 2012.  Curtis and my dear friend Vanessa joined in the Warrior Juice festivities.  Vanessa carried with her the most beautiful gift bag, inside was the softest blankie.  As I revealed the blankie, my fellow WJ recipients were jealous!  They passed the blankie around as they gently stroked the blankie.  Love It! 

The nurses connected the bag Cytoxan to my SmartPort and I was off to good start.  Everything was going well until the nurse started to push the “Red Devil” drug into my SmartPort.  Instantly, I did not feel well and they immediately stopped.  I remarked, “I feel like a freak.”  The nurse asked if I had another descriptor; I remarked, “I feel like you’re poisoning me.”  The nurses sprang into action.  They pulled the curtain around my station, took my temperature, and applied the blood pressure cuff.  My blood pressure had spiked, my face was red, and I felt as though I was going to pass-out.  I was able to recover and complete my WJ session.  I was significantly fatigued.  Upon returning home, I continued to experience severe fatigue.  Curtis fed me small pieces of crackers and popsicles as I lay in bed.  Later in the day, I hastened Curtis to the bathroom.  As I sat on toilet (excited to evacuate my bowels – after experiencing major stoppage following WJ session one), I broke-out in a cold sweat and felt as though I was going to pass-out.  Sweat rolled down my head, to my forehead, and onto my face.  Unable to complete the job, I launched onto the bathroom floor.  There I lay with my pajamas around my ankles.  I began weeping and said “hun I need you to clean me up!”  He dutifully agreed.  He then remarked, “It has been a long time since I have done this!”   At that moment, there was nothing funny about what was happening.  However, in hindsight, no pun intended, it must have been quite to visual!  Nevertheless, severe fatigue and mild nausea are the reigning themes of Warrior Juice Two. 

Today is three days post Warrior Juice number two.  Curtis is now sporting a baldhead to match mine, very sweet gesture and it looks great as well.  I still maintain that I really do not want to do this [Warrior Juice] anymore but truthfully, who the hell would CHOOSE to be a recipient of Warrior Juice …right?  I do feel as though my mind is not as compromised this go-around or it could simply be that I am becoming one with my chemo-brain; I am leaning more towards to later!  Things that I am doing well include resting, knowing my limits, expressing my emotions, keeping my sense of humor, and remaining positive.  Looking beyond cancer to see the beauty that surrounds me still brings a smile to my face.  I appreciate friends, family, and others that continue to keep my family in their prayers and send positive thoughts, emails, voice messages, texts, Facebook messages, and blog postings.  Many thanks to those who have extended their generosity, through monetary donations, on my online website:                                             

Garage Sale & Fundraiser

Curtis and the boys are holding our Garage Sale & Fundraiser tomorrow.  If you are local, please stop by and for those who are out-of-town or unable to attend, please consider showing your support by donating to my breast cancer fund [link located above].  I am simply tickled pink about my signage for the sale so I just had to share at photo! 

Life is good.  Today, I am hopeful.

September 4, 2011

Has it really been three weeks already?

As of late, I frequently mention that Warrior Juice has seemingly slowed the natural passage of time.  Yet, it is nearly “that time” again!  I began the big 60 hour fast last evening around 10:30pm; Warrior Juice #2 is scheduled for Tuesday at 10:30am.  In an effort to “get fat,” prior to the upcoming Warrior Juice session, I am pleased to report that I have been successful; I now sit at 128 pounds.  Now, the goal is to not drop below 125 pounds despite the pre-Warrior Juice fasting period. 

You know you are having a fantastical day when:

1.  You have an unassisted – chemical or otherwise induced, bowel movement
2.  Your hair is not falling out in droves leading to a complete shaving of one’s head
3.  Your primary eating utensils do NOT consist of plastic flatware
4.  You can taste the natural essence of each morsel of food placed in one’s mouth
5.  You can form a coherent thought and immediately verbalize said thought
6.  Your head-wrap or wig stays in place absent multiple adjustments
7.  You can continue to be positive and keep a sense of humor in the face of adversity

The big decision has been made; my husband and I will relocate our family back to Oregon following my last Warrior Juice session.  It is important that my family find peace with my diagnosis.  I have undergone a lumpectomy and currently, I am a Warrior Juice recipient; the last session is January 10, 2012.  Within seven – ten days of arriving back in Oregon, I will undergo a double mastectomy and after healing, a series of radiation treatments. 

Living in Texas, since 2007, has been filled with many challenges and achievements.  Curtis and I continued serving as therapeutic foster parents, welcomed nine children into our home since 2007, and formally adopted 16-year-old Carlos earlier this year.  As we look to exit Texas our oldest two sons, Kenneth and Dominic, will remain in Texas to complete their college degrees.  Our younger sons, Carlos (16), Cole (15), and Jackson (12) will travel back to Oregon.  Our experiences in Texas have prepared us to be increasingly dynamic individuals, parents, professionals, advocates, and members of our community. 

Preparations are underway for the big move back home to Oregon.  We have launched a new fundraising/donation website: JourneyThroughBreastCancer  I have been preparing for the big Garage Sale & Fundraiser on Saturday, September 10.  I have never organized a garage sale however; I have to say that my first just may be the most organized in the history of garage sales!  I made special price tags for each item.  Curtis and the boys will move the large sale items outside and sell, sell, sell.  I will be unable to assist with the garage sale as it will only be four days post Warrior Juice #2 and I will be down for the count.  We are hoping for a large turnout and for those who are out of town or unable to stop over, will extend their generosity utilizing the donation website; our goal is to raise $11,000. 

Two fun facts I have learned exclusively because I have cancer
1.  According the pre-surgery height/weight chart, 
2.  According to the Women’s Health Boutique, 

Who knew that a wig fitting could be so fun?  Earlier in the week, I traveled to the Women’s Health Boutique to have my wig fitted to my newly shaved head.  I quickly learned that I have a petite head under my massive mane of hair, requiring some custom adjustments to the new wig.  While the alterations were underway, I proceeded to try on several different wigs in various styles and colors.  Paula H. “made it work” and I walked out with my new hair – I am a Ginger!  I love it.  I should have dyed my hair years ago; talk about green eyes “pop’n” and my freckles…oh so cute.

 I am determined to eradicate cancer FOREVER from my body, despite the not favorable five-year survival statistics.  I remain positive and continue to be amazed by the multitude of beauty when looking beyond the cancer.   

~Today, I am hopeful.