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November 21, 2011

Peace, Clarity, Answers ...

My mind has been filled with many thoughts over the past several weeks; organizing them remains a challenge.  As I write I am plagued with considerable menopausal hot flashes, oh how enchanting at 40 years of age … lucky girl.  The after effects of chemotherapy – the gift that keeps on giving.  It is hard to believe it has only been four short months since being diagnosed with TNBC.  I would like to find peace, clarity, and answers to questions and situations that weigh heavy on my mind as of late.  Last evening, I stared off into a grand black and white scenic print of the Eiffel Tower hanging on my bedroom wall.  My husband noticed tears falling from my eyes; he gently began stroking my head that resembles a blossoming chia pet.  Sensing that I was somewhat lost, he offered comforting words as I expressed my fears, hurt, deep sadness, and doubt.  Is all this worth it?  Is it even working?  Do you realize this will always be looming in the shadows?  I am only 40 years old and facing the idea of death; I have written about this many times prior, yet it still looms from time to time.  It is strange; the feeling unsettling. 

I must seek answers to my own questions – Is this worth it?  When I say this, I am referring to treatment of TNBC whether it is western or alternative modalities.  Clearly for me, chemotherapy was not worth it.  Chemotherapy was slowly killing not only cancer cells but healthy cells while depleting my senses and entire body system.  Fact, chemotherapy prematurely thrust me into menopause at 40 years of age.  I am hopeful this will conclude the collateral damage.  Fact, yes this is worth it, I am alive!

Is this even working?  Fact, yes what I am doing is working and I have the empirical evidence to support this finding.  Since moving back to Oregon my heart rate has dropped from a whopping 97 – 103 (bpm) to 62 – 79 (bpm) and my blood pressure dropped from 138 to 103.  For the most part, my blood work looks good.  Tumor markers remain in normal range and white cell, red cell, and platelets counts are nearing normal range.  This is all positive news.  There continues to be areas of concern that I am working on, for example my liver function tests were elevated and my hormone levels indicative of menopause that is here to stay.  The SmartPort removal was a relief and psychologically supports my decision to stop chemotherapy treatments.  I was able to decline anti-nausea and pain medication following the port removal surgery.  This is a good sign that what I am doing is working.  My body is becoming healthy. 

Do you realize this [cancer] will always be looming in the shadows?  I do not have the answer for this one as of yet.  Why?  The answer is quite simplistic.  I do not want TNBC to be looming in the shadows of my life therefore I do not want to give it undo attention and focus.  I make every effort to live in the present; not the past nor the future.  I want to enjoy today.  I do not choose to worry about what if scenarios – this would surely reduce my life span significantly.  I am aware of the statistical data and the endless array of what if scenarios; I am not in denial of my diagnosis.  Triple negative breast cancer is not who I am nor does it define me; I am most certainly not going to place TNBC at the center of my world.  Why would I choose to give this enormous power to cancer … no way!  

There are many questions from friends about my current treatment modalities, most notably, Ayurveda.  Recently, a dear friend, tears welling in her eyes, said that she wished science supported Ayurveda as a treatment for cancer.  My response – I am not looking for cure to cancer, I am seeking to balance my body.  If my body has the ability to heal itself, it will.  In order to create the most conducive healing environment, I must build my immune system and bring my body into balance.  Another question is, are you still doing all your alternative stuff?  It seems that since I no longer am undergoing chemotherapy that many people think that everything is great with my health, I can go get a job, and resume living my life as though nothing happened.  I giggle a bit, inside myself, when I hear this one.  The answer is heck yes I continue with my alternative modalities!  My body did not get out of balance overnight and it surely will not self-correct overnight either.  This is a lengthy process, not a quick fix.  Sadly I am unable to participate in all the modalities I need on a regular basis as we cannot afford them – insurance does not cover any of these practices with the exception of acupuncture.  As far as seeking employment, I would LOVE to work!  However, my full-time job right now is to get healthy.  Therefore, work must wait.

Finally, there is the idea of collective consciousness.  I have numerous individuals who believe that I will conquer this diagnosis and will live to grow old.  I have several individuals who believe I have already beaten the odds.  Then there is my sweet teenage girl that I mentored in Texas who has professed not once but twice on FaceBook that I am cured!  You know, I am going with her declaration because it sounds perfect to me.  When the collective conscious is that I am healthy and cancer free, it has the ability to make this a reality.  Living in the present.  Believing and imagining healing and good health. 

Today, I am hopeful~

November 3, 2011

Yes, sweets ARE "no no foods" ...

I am forced back into reality as I acknowledge that I am neglecting to take every measure necessary to bring my body into balance.  I am frustrated and disappointed with my choices, so much so, I embraced my crying person status.  The choice should be simplistic yet I struggle?  Why is this?  In a moment of distress I speak aloud to myself “seriously Christina do you want a cookie or do you want to live … it is that simple!”  The knowledge is at my fingertips and yet I quite skillfully obfuscate this newly acquired knowledge with convoluted justifications.  Classic – I shall eat this ice cream, after all it is about quality of life.  Yet by condoning this action, I am defeating my goal of bringing my body back into balance.   It should be an easy choice … do not eat the “no no foods”.  Feeling defeated, I tearfully spoke with Curtis as I expressed my deep sadness as I searched for an answer as to why cutting out sweet sugary yummy food was increasingly challenging.  The one thing that cancer and I agree on ... WE LOVE SUGAR!  I then voiced that cancer is no fun! 

~ Desperate to turn things around I quickly declared that I am choosing to live in the present, with determination, I will nourish my body with the proper foods; this will allow my body to continue to heal itself.

Realty check number two.  With excitement my dear friend Leslie speaks often of her upcoming birthday; 11/11/11!  She is an incredible inspiration and support person in my life.  Cleverly, I contacted a close friend of hers in order to organize a birthday surprise, a girl’s luncheon only to come to the realization that physically, I am not able to bring the surprise to fruition.  I am devastated.  I must face the unpleasant reality that has become my new life, my energy levels continue to be weak and my immune system is working overtime.  Once again, I became a crying person.  All I wanted to do was to create a forever moment for Leslie, for her to know how much I love her and cherish our friendship.  What I realized is that she already knows this and together we create forever moments each time we speak.

Recently I reconnected with a classmate from junior high school; we did not share the same circle of friends.  I sensed this individual was caught off guard by the FaceBook friend request I sent, in fact, I believe the response was do you remember me?  What proceeded was an exchange of emails where this individual wrote I am not the same angry hateful person I was when I was a kid. I thanked this individual for sharing noting we were kids a very long time ago...it's all good.  This individual, whose name I did not want to openly disclose without their approval, is a beautiful person; I knew it back in junior high school.  You see, we all have a story that explains the why behind behavior; I choose to see the good in people and easily see beyond tough exteriors.  Frequently, it is the kids that present as tough and hard that have the softest hearts, I understand this as I often presented as a tough girl.  I was spot-on about the soft heart of my former classmate.  I am witnessing an extension of this individual’s kindness; I am deeply touched and amazed.  Thank you to my former RA Brown Jr. High classmate who today I call friend.

There is so much beauty in my life that I would have never experienced if not for this cancer diagnosis.  Life is good.  Life in Oregon is fabulous.  I am happy to be back home in Oregon.

Today, I am hopeful~