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June 26, 2016

Oxygen Hyperbaric Chamber

I just started using the oxygen hyperbaric chamber last week and I am THRILLED with the early results. I have complete two 60 minute sessions and have experienced a reduction in inflammation in the axillary region. Not only has the inflammation decreased but my energy is increasing. Imagine what I cannot see, all those cancer cells are dying. The oxygen chamber treats over 80 aliments from autism, CP, arthritis, PTSD, TBI, cancer and more. I am strongly encouraging everyone try the chamber at least one time. When you call to schedule your appointment, tell them I sent you and you will receive your first 60-minute session for only $39.

New Leaf Hyperbarics
1200 Executive Parkway #230
Eugene, Oregon

I am now rock’n my bald look once again, the third time to be exact. I do not mind being bald, I actually kind of like it. I continue to work on placing my eyelashes on so they look as grand and glorious as possible. Some days they just go on wacky and seems impossible to fix despite multiple tried to reapply. I have been asked many questions recently so I want to answer a few of the questions that I can remember off the top of my head. If you have more – send them my way and I will answer them privately or publically. Thank you for being interested in my journey.

Q: Is the mass operable?
A: No, the mass in not operable. The majority of the mass is a grouping of lyphnodes that have become diseased and inflamed causing them to, as I put it, develop their own city. If the site were to be operated on, it would most likely spread the disease throughout my entire body.

Q: Have you looked into “Orphan Drug Designation”?
A: To the extent, I know I do not qualify.

Q: Have you looked into “Right to try drugs”?
A: Yes, I have looked into right to try drugs which means that if you have a terminal diagnosis, you may gain access to trial drugs that are in Phase 1 FDA trial specific to the type of diagnosis you have. Although there is a pathway to gain access, there are currently no drugs being researched by the FDA for triple negative metastatic breast cancer that I am interested in trying. Equally, the process to access the drugs is quite complex and often requires biopsies and other procedures.

Q: Have you tried to get an assessment for the Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber with Samaritan Health? (The local medical group in my area)
A: Yes, I was referred to the clinic for wound care by my oncologist. My appointment was canceled and I was never assessed because I do not qualify. However, I met directly with the MD of the clinic along with an RN who were very kind and compassionate. They offered a detailed explanation of why I do not qualify to use the chamber, this included literature. Even if my mass was completely open and ulcerated, I would still not qualify. There are strict guidelines on who can have access, typically it relates to diabetic wound care.  

Q: Does your oncologist support your treatment choices?
A: Yes, my oncologist respects and supports my treatment choices, he is extremely compassionate, encouraging, and supportive.

Q: Will you keep doing chemotherapy?
A: I am making this decision week by week. For now, I believe it is in my best interest to continue with low dose chemotherapy infusions.

Q: Is it hard for you to lose your hair again?
A: Nope, not really. It is a part of my journey that I have embraced and accepted five years ago. Plus, being bald is kind of cool.

Q: Is it scary to have your diagnosis?
A: I do not think it is scary, I just look at it differently – this is part of my journey and an opportunity to learn more about myself as I grow as an individual.

Q: Do you think you will really use Death with Dignity?
A: I am not sure. What I do know is that everything is in place to utilize DWD if I so choose. What I will say it that I am unwilling to suffer unnecessarily. I too am unwilling to watch my family and friends watch me suffer.   

Q: Does your family support your treatment choices and the way you are walking your journey?
A: Absolutely!

Well that’s all of the questions I could think of that have recently came my direction. Again, thank you to everyone that is walking this journey with me. Yes it is filled with twists and turns but it sure has been a great ride! Love to you all. Please continue sending prayer and healing thoughts and energy my direction. 

Today, I am hopeful~

I continue to utilize alternative modalities in combination with western medicine, a majority of which is not covered by medical insurance. If you would like to offer financial support you can mail donations to the address listed below or make a direct donation at your local Selco Credit Union. Every dollar donated goes directly towards my treatment.

Mailing donations:
Christina Garrett
PO Box 192
Philomath, Oregon 97370

Selco Credit Union Direct Deposit: "Team Christina"


June 21, 2016

50% to 75%, it is a bit rough

My friend Tanya and I prior to infusion.
I am enjoying this week, I am in the off week cycle of chemotherapy; three weeks on, one week off. The first two infusions I chose to do low dose chemotherapy at 50%, then the third, I chose to increase to 75%. I was comfortable with 50% and I was functioning quite well, minus the day after the infusion – Fridays were my say something crazy day! I chose to increase the dosing to 75% due to increased inflammation and pain that was emitting from the mass in my arm pit. The growth is beginning to look like a third breast it is so large and the pain continues to be around a 7/8. There is something about pain that psychologically can bring you to your knees, I must be diligent to apply positive self-talk, self-care practices, and processing of all the emotions that fade in and out. I am being diligent to remain positive and hopeful. 

After infustion. 
My energy level is decreasing and I am now napping regularly in the afternoons, it has become part of my new routine. My body is tired and needs rest in order to continue healing. The rash that appeared last year after a few infusions of chemotherapy has returned on my knees and elbows. I think what a strange place to get a rash - I too wonder why there? I am sure someone has a theory or two. I leave myself notes and make hand written lists of things I need to do as my memory recall is drifting away. I often laugh when Curtis asks me where I have been and I can’t recall, so we head out to my car to see where I ran errands to and what I picked up. Upon one look we learned
I had purchased some plants for the yard along with a couple household items from Target.

I was pleased to have some letters arrive from my writings pals. The trick now is to figure out what hurts less, to write by hand or type; I may have to get even more creative. I did receive a letter that contained many questions directed at me. I am still processing how I feel about this -there were about 8-10 questions folded into the typed letter. I was a bit taken back, but I am not quite sure why. My first thought was that I do not know this person very well, but I so admired her when our paths crossed, she is “good people”. The questions made me think that she had read every blog entry I had written, which was flattering. These questions identified that there are dangling pieces of stories in my writings. Why is that? I too thought about the many questions all the readers of my blog must have - but they remain unanswered. I thought too, I am sharing so much of myself and yet you want more? I am still processing as I type. I just reread the typed note. All these questions circulating in her head and her choosing to just go for it and ask me the questions hoping I received them well. They are good questions too. I like it. I like the fact that she just went for it and asked me all these questions she had floating around in her mind for all these months. Many of these questions I do have answers to share while there too may be ones that I leave dangling - I too believe this is okay. This is one of the reasons I have enjoyed writing back and forth with people - there is no time-line or expectation to write a response, although I always do respond. The most striking part of writing, it encourages me to experience life at a deeper level, to push myself to be a better person, to grow in my spirituality, and to live from a place of gratitude. So keep asking me those questions while sharing a piece of yourself - the authenticity of the correspondence thrills me.

My slipping memory is something I accepted a long time ago. I typically don't remember what I write to people, what our telephone conversation was about, or why we laughed so hard we were brought to tears. This is okay. What is rich is that in each moment, there is so much love and an authentic exchange of ideas, that the details can fade away because we all leave feeling better for having that slice of time together. It's actually quite magical, at least for me. 

I recently learned of an oxygen hyperbaric chamber in Eugene, it is not covered by insurance, but I can have access to the treatment! I have scheduled an appointment this week. I am so excited because this modality is medically proven to aid in healing of wounds. The side benefit is that cancer cells cannot live in an oxygen rich environment therefore I will be killing cancer cells while healing the wound. My hope is to utilize the chamber every day for 10 days and then reassess the situation. 

There is quite a bit of assessing and reassessing going on in my life right now, I want to make choices that support bringing my body into balance, from a direction of least resistance, and from a place of love. I am determined to turn away from making decisions and choices based on fear or desperation. I feel pretty good about how things are going; yes, this journey requires patience and I have that. This journey requires positivity and I have that. This journey requires deep spirituality, and I have that. This journey requires being open to receiving, and I have that. More than anything, this journey requires unwavering faith while living from a place of gratitude. Seeing the beauty through the pain, through the struggle, through the tears. I know I have what it takes to walk this journey even when there are many obstacles. I am forever grateful for the amazing family, friends, and others that are walking this journey with me, believing in me and giving me the strength to walk with grace. Thank you. 

Today, I am hopeful~

I continue to utilize alternative modalities in combination with western medicine, a majority of which is not covered by medical insurance. If you would like to offer financial support you can mail donations to the address listed below or make a direct donation at your local Selco Credit Union. Every dollar donated goes directly towards my treatment.

Mailing donations:
Christina Garrett
PO Box 192
Philomath, Oregon 97370

Selco Credit Union Direct Deposit: "Team Christina"

June 13, 2016

Life is Good

Last rent check ever!
There is much to share that has occurred over the past few weeks. Curtis and I are the proud new owners of our forever home. We have been renting homes since returning to Oregon in 2011. When I was diagnosed with cancer nearly five years ago, we were living in Texas and we wanted to get “back home” to Oregon. We placed our Texas home for sale, unfortunately, this was around the time the housing crisis hit Texas. In the end, we were forced to short-sale our home, cut our loses and do whatever it took to get back to Oregon. We imagined renting for many years until I regained my health and saved money, then we could purchase a home. However, this turned out not to be the case.

When I was very ill last year, I applied for disability and eventually was approved. One day when I was reviewing my banking account, I noticed a large sum of money had been deposited into the account – the source was social security disability. I later learned that I was eligible to receive back payment of benefits – yippee! My first thought was to call my friend David who owns a mortgage business to see if we could get approved for a home loan; we had this lump sum of money that could be used as a down payment. I called David on a Thursday, gathered up all the necessary documents he needed to send through underwriting for approval, dropped the documents off Friday morning and by Friday afternoon learned we were approved for a home loan! We could not believe it; it was like a miracle of goodness was happening for our family. By the following Friday, Curtis and I had found the perfect gem of a home listed for sale by a local builder, we made an offer and it was accepted. No more renting for us, our money now will be put toward our own home. As it turns out, the amount of money needed for the down payment on our new home, closely matched the amount of money received from my retroactive disability payment. Seriously, this is such a blessing; a home to call our own where I can nest, create my perfect Zen retreat where I will regain my health.

We have moved into our new home and everything is organized and put together. I absolutely love my new home – it embodies peace, positive energy, and healing. I cannot stop smiling, there is such an eagerness to have a space to call my own, one where I know I will be poised to regain my health. Our family was able to move with such ease because we have many wonderful friends that offered to help with the move, cleaning of the rental home, and unpacking our current home. Curtis and I are filled with gratitude by the outpouring of love and support from the incredible individuals in our lives.

My health has been interesting since returning from Germany. While I was making progress in holding back the cancer cell grow in Germany, not having access to the drugs upon my return, through my body into a tail spin of sorts. I have found a way to access one of the medications by having it shipped from overseas, however it is very expensive so although I still have a small amount of the injectable medication, I am not able to take it at the recommended dosage. But you know, we have to work with what we have so I have found some creative ways to utilize herbs and plants to garner some forms of medication. For example, Laetrile is a cancer fighting agent banned in the US. One can access Laetrile overseas and I was being treated successfully with the drug while in Germany. Laetrile is compounded from apricot seeds; therefore, I located a supplier of the seeds and am able to ingest the bitter seeds daily. I too have added a new supplement recommended by acupuncturist that is compounded by a local Oregon man. Is what I am doing working, who knows! What I do know is that I have energy and am feeling pretty well. Quality of life is critical and I have a lovely quality of life.

The other side of the post Germany treatment is that I have had an extreme upswing in tumor marker counts along with the mass, located in my arm pit, growing alarmingly large and increasingly uncomfortable. The mass was slightly weeping and was about to ulcerate, kind of where I was last year this time except for much worse. After much consideration, I decided that utilizing low dose chemotherapy, in conjunction with my other modalities is the best decision for my body. I have now had two infusions of chemotherapy at 50% the regular dose – this is what low dose means. My infusion day is Thursdays. The recovery is doable thus far. The day after the infusion I am a bit out of my mind. I say lots of crazy strange things that no one understands; I too am incredibly tired and cannot keep my eyes open. However, by Saturday I seem to be back with it and ready to resume living. The cycle for chemotherapy is weekly for three weeks then one week off. I have decided that this week’s infusion will be at 75% rather than 50%. The mass in my axillary region causes a great deal of pain and discomfort, my hope is that with the increased dosing, it will speed the healing process while still being gentle to my body. After a week of no chemotherapy, I will need to reassess my condition and figure out what is best for my body. Low dose chemotherapy seems to be helping a bit. I too am utilizing my infrared sauna as a replacement for hyperthermia a treatment modality I was receiving in Germany.

Chemotherapy infusions have been okay. It is always a challenge to get a good vein for the IV. The second infusion was painful with a few additional pokes – that’s no fun. I am forever dealing with constipation from the morphine I take for pain control, add chemotherapy and I am doubled down on the constipation train! Enemas are a typical event for me. Wednesday night I was telling myself that I needed to have a bowel movement prior to chemotherapy. Well Thursday morning I awoke to an unfamiliar stomach cramping – yes, I do believe I was going to actually poop, for real! Over the next 20 minutes I proceeded to evacuate around 5 feet of fecal matter from my bowels! I clogged our new toilet causing the beginning of “Poop Gate 2016”. Curtis had to sort out the poop mess I made. Our little puppy Bella had some poop stuck to her fur needing Curtis’ attention and then our dog Junior pooped in the rocks instead of the grass. Thank goodness Curtis is such a good sport about all this! Holy Crap – for real for real. Below are some photos, the before and after photos are obvious! 

For now, I am working on finding my groove and settling into my new routine. I love that everything is falling into place making life easier and bringing increased joy into my life. Yes, I am still in a great deal of pain every day, but I choose not to allow this to be a barrier to my happiness. I just keep on going with a smile on my face. Sometimes I have a tender moment where my heart hurts – but this is brief as I am able to look around and see the abundant beauty that surrounds me. Life is good. Please continue to send healing thoughts and prayers my direction as they are needed.

I am missing writing letters; there was a group of individuals that I exchanged letters with frequently but this kind of faded away when I left for Germany. I hope to hear from you all again! It is amazingly cathartic for me to write. I will say that I am increasingly forgetful with the chemotherapy infusions so please do not be offended if I do not recall a conversation – it is my new normal that I fully embrace. Thank you to everyone that continues to love on my family, support us during this journey, and for believing that I will regain my health. I am filled with love and gratitude for having so many dedicated, loving, and authentic family and friends in my life. I am a lucky girl.

Today, I am hopeful~