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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~