Saturday, April 25, 2009

No News IS Good News!

Posted Aug 13, 2008 4:04pm

By the way, a lot of folks had the impression that I have been out of commission through this ordeal, so I want to let everyone know I am up and running! Well, strolling, at least. Other than taking off a few days for each surgery, I’ve been working full time, my energy is great and unless I told you my secret, you would never know anything was different.

This morning Dave & I went to my post-op visit with Dr. Guirguis and as usual, she went over everything with us in great detail. The good news is that nothing is new. Now that all the margins are clear (i.e. no more cancer cells floating around the site) she could confirm that this tumor is considered Stage 1 (on a scale of 0-4, that is more good news). The staging is based on is its small size (under 2cm), the fact that the sentinel lymph nodes were clear, and of all the tests done so far, nothing indicates metastasis (spreading to another area).

We are still waiting for the definitive test on the HER2nu, an antigen that is present on some breast cancers that indicates its tendency for recurrence. But the primary reason for testing this is to determine whether the use of herceptin (a drug that treats HER2 positive cancers) would be of value. The first test said it was negative, but her follow up test showed it was positive, so they are now running a more sensitive “FISH” (Fluorescent In Situ Hybridization) test to confirm the results.

The next step is to meet with the oncologist within the next few weeks to talk about the future “treatment options.” If the HER2 is positive, I’ll do 4 months of chemo every 2-3 weeks, a series of radiation treatments, then a year of herceptin, which I think is weekly. Although herceptin is considered “chemo” it does not have any of the hair-falling-out side effects of the other stuff, so everything starts resuming to normal growth at the end of the 4 months. At which point I would start radiation, so I really hope the Chinese Burn creme is as effective for me as it was for my friend.

At this point I’m just assuming I need chemo, and if I don’t it will be a wonderful surprise. A couple of friends really put the year ahead in perspective – one sent me a baby card and wrote, “At your age, things could be worse…” Another said that she threw up every day for 9 months when she was pregnant, so I need to remember that chemo is only 4 months – without 36 hours of labor or years of dirty diapers! And I get anti-nausea meds that really work.

I’ve been reading the carepages of other women going through cancer treatments, and it certainly is helpful to know what to expect. There are a lot of lousy side effects but they take them in stride, rest when the fatigue hits, ride the mood swings, grumble when it makes them feel better, reorganize their work schedule as needed, and stay busy. Then it’s over. They emerge from that jungle with a new dimension to their lives, and they can reassure the rest of us that we can do it, too.

Thanks again for all your notes and prayers – you are such an important part of healing.
Love, Laurie


Posted Aug 12, 2008 2:44pm

Remember what your friends were like if you were a kid before the ‘70’s?

I gravitated towards the ones that made me laugh the most, which hasn't changed much. This usually resulted in our being relegated to the back of the class where we would be less disruptive, or sent outside or to our room when our giggling stretched our parents’ tolerance. We always pushed the envelope, giddy about getting “in trouble” for being silly.

Between these gleeful incidents, we had tantrums, created drama, and consoled each other about how we surely must have been adopted away from our “real” parents (who most likely were royalty). If we were kids today, I suspect we would be sent for psychiatric evaluation and then drugged into “behaving.” Our cure back then was to seek friends that could identify with our angst and make us laugh about it. We’d balance our moods opposite each other on our emotional seesaw, secure that this confidante would be protection from ever flying into uncontrollable mania or slamming into depression.

One of my first friends – from birth - was Gail. Our mothers worked together, and my dad was her godfather. Gail & I were great friends growing up and had frequent sleepovers during summer vacations; every memory of her involves our laughing until we couldn't catch our breath. At bedtime we'd try to smother our giggles in our pillows, but we were really out of control. We'd get in trouble every time - and go back for more. There were a couple of those episodes at her house that still make me laugh out loud every time I think of them.

We must have been about 10 during one of our sleepovers on a humid New England summer night. We were ehausted from laughing at things only ten year old girls find hysterical and settled down to sleep. Gail interrupted the stillness over and over to jump up to swat at a tormenting mosquito that buzzed her ear. Every time she turned on the light it disappeared, only to return in the dark, and her agitation was escalating. Determined to win, she flipped the light on for a final showdown and raced around the room swatting at the air with her slipper. It outsmarted her every time. I thought this ranting was hilarious, but the elusive bug made her increasingly furious. This made it even funnier for me.

It finally landed by her dresser mirror. She swung her arm overhead for momentum, and with a full swing, smashed it with a loud WHOMP, dragging the carcass downward into a bloody smear on the wall. She gave a satisfied "HMPH!" and headed for bed. I asked her if she was going to clean it up, and she said, "No, I'm going to leave it there as a warning to all the others." Her pounding in the middle of the night and our subsequent round of hysterics tested the patience of her groggy parents, who alternated their visits to our room with frustrated threats to “pipe down.”

I didn't realize how serious she was about this protective shield until I visited the following two summers – mosquito remnants still stained the wall, and she was adamant that it was an effective warning, because she hadn't had a mosquito problem since.

A year or so later we were at the age where we woke up every morning wondering if our breasts had suddenly appeared, and worried that they may not. Gail was tall, slender and beautiful. I always thought she looked like a supermodel, but she wallowed in her angst of being too skinny.

We were sitting on our beds in her room, she was wearing a fitted red t-shirt, and was brooding over how flat and boring it looked on her. She was especially pissed at me that day because I had matured into a "training" bra and it was somehow my fault that she was unfairly running behind schedule. She was working this theory up to a frustrated frenzy, becoming so upset that I had just sat quietly stunned, watching her antics. I was afraid that if I didn't console her through this she may actually get more depressed.

Suddenly she bounced up and started digging frantically through her dresser drawers. She pulled out a couple of pingpong balls and with her lips pressed in firm determination, placed them strategically under her shirt. Gail studied herself intently in the mirror, pouted and blew kisses through several dramatic poses, then did her runway walk around the bedroom. She went back in front of the mirror, put her hands on her skinny little hips and announced, "There, that's how it's supposed to be..."

As soon as she snapped her face toward me and looked me in the eye with the satisfaction that she made things right, we fell apart. We giggled like only preteen girls can, that uncontrollable stuff when you double over and fall down and can't even catch your breath through the laughter. Your eyes squish shut, your voice squeaks and your cheeks cramp in delightful pain, dampened by your own salty tears.

We lost touch in our mid 20’s when I moved to California, and back then we had only phone directories as search tools. Since the internet days, I ran searches periodically, but pretty sure that she had a married name, I felt she was lost in cyberspace. You can imagine my excitement when a search last week turned up her brother’s name! I emailed him from his website, and although he didn’t remember me, he was kind enough to respond immediately:

I wish I had better news for you, but Gail passed on Nov. 17th, 2006, of brain cancer, which was her third bout with cancer after two mastectomies from breast cancer a few years earlier and a few years apart.

He sent a long letter, recent photos and a video from her 34th birthday. I attached faded photos of the lakehouse where they visited, and the black & white photo with serrated edges of Gail & I “gossiping” in 1952.

So call your friends, email them a stupid joke that thanks them for bringing joy to your life, and keep them in your address book until it crumbles.

Gail will always be in my heart, and it's uncanny how she can still make me laugh so hard that tears pour down my face.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

FAQ Part IV of III - MRI Adventure

Posted Aug 3, 2008
OK, so I didn't plan my FAQ Part counts so well...

Q. How did that MRI go?

A. It resulted in a vision that was so overwhelmingly beautiful that I haven't even attempted to write about the details, but I should do so before I forget them.

This story must be prefaced with a brief history of my relationship with my maternal grandmother. Both she and her father were powerful energy healers. My great-grandfather treated animals, and I don’t know how he did that, but he was the guy the neighbors would call when any critter large or small was in need.

On the other hand, my grandmother was busy with healings both at home as well as distance healing, and at times supported the family with this work. Nana started doing this in her native France when she was 15, after a woman told her she had a special gift. My Mom remembers that as a teen, she saw people come to the house very ill, then leave “with better color in their face,” and remembers she later heard stories that some of them no longer had cancer or other ailments. Some came in with a cane and then left without it. She asked what was going on, but Nana was very private about it.

My parents and I lived with them for a brief time, and I spent many days visiting her after that. I went through a period of being very sick as a kid, so I received the benefit of her mysterious care. I didn’t fully understand what she was doing or that there was anything unusual about it. I would go into what we called the “Piano Room” where there was a baby grand, a glass enclosed bookcase and Nana’s delicate African Violet collection on a TV tray by the window. I would sit in a green velvet straight back chair, as Nana stood behind me, speaking softly and passing her hands over the affected areas, which were usually my earaches. Mom simply explained the process as “Nana is praying for … [whomever she was treating].”

After my grandparents died, my Mom sold their house and was cleaning out the attic; hidden in the rafters were about 20 letters dated from the 1930’s. Some were written copies of letters Nana had sent her clients, and others were notes from them. Everything was in French, and during my recent time at home I have been able to start translating them with the help of Google translator and a French dictionary. But that is another story.

In her life on this planet and beyond, I have always felt her presence guiding me through my journey in the healing arts and sciences. My mission has been to combine this inherited intuition with education in science and technology to carry on her work. Which brings us to the MRI…The week before my second surgery, I had an MRI of both breasts. Although having to stay still while lying face up for a spinal MRI can be torture, the positioning for a breast MRI is not uncomfortable. I was lying face down, with my face and breasts positioned in well fitting cradles, and my arms resting overhead. There was a stint in my right arm for an IV of the contrast dye during the final scan, and a bulb in my left hand to squeeze if I needed to signal the technicians.

The MRI was a series of scans over 45 minutes that varied from one to 9 minutes. Each one starts with about 30 seconds of loud tapping, like wooden drums. I appreciate that the technicians inserted ear plugs for me, because the scan is an extremely loud vibration that you can feel shaking up your cells. Since the first one was unfamiliar, I found myself unwittingly bracing myself by gritting my teeth and tensing every muscle. It was not unpleasant to me, but it was intense, even when I relaxed during subsequent scans. What happened next was like being part of a movie, with the pauses between scans serving as the commercial breaks. So the rest of this story is told without the commercials.

I was surprised when the first set of tapping immediately connected me to the sound of tribal drumming, since I have never been attracted to drumming in general. But then the visions began. I saw and felt myself in a clearing in the forest at night, standing with my back to an enormous, comforting bonfire, with a ceremonial healer in a mask and feathered headdress dancing passionately around me, shaking handheld rattles. He was shirtless, and wore a short, thickly layered lower garment, and wide anklets of curved feathers and tiny shells that bounced as he encircled me with his dance. We were surrounded by a huge circle of these traditional healers and everyone I know, dancing, drumming and singing around the fire. [There's an image at Simon Lewis Photography which is pretty close to what they looked like.]

Confident that I would not panic or want any interruptions, my left hand released the bulb. My first thought was to make sure I was grounded and let any illness or darkness drain away. Then I was worried that the earth was already too polluted, and I didn’t want to add to it by sending any disease through my feet. As I grounded myself, I was suddenly standing on the globe of the world, with my hands and feet glowing with a yellow light as though I wore illuminated ankle socks and gloves. With my hands overhead, it felt I was reaching towards the heavens. As the foot-light became rooted in the earth, I saw these roots connect to people all over the earth that were standing and reaching exactly like I was. We were connected with healing light, and it was then OK to release the cancer through the light in my hands to dissipate into the universe.

Back to the circle, everyone was sending me love, light and energy, sweeping their hands in the air around me to drain all disease from my body. I sensed the presence of not only my grandmother, but all my ancestors, like a SoulCollage card I made several years ago. Once I imagined that card, I knew I had to find them and bring them in to complete the ceremonies.

I am the One Who transcends time
to guide your magic.
Fanning the embers of knowledge,
confusion crumbles to ashes.
Wisdom rises in wisps
to perpetuate the Greater Plan.

I rose up to heaven to meet with my healing grandmother and all my other ancestors to tell them I needed them now, and bring them back. They joined my friends to dance, laid their hands on me and I received a new healing ritual with each new scan of the MRI. During one of these rituals, I was laying on my back as they held me overhead and passed my body around the circle. As I moved, a hoop of light would scan from head to toe over and over again, each time dragging away more darkness, until my whole body started to glow.

In the final ceremony, I stood in my spot facing away from the fire, with everyone close, as my grandmother walked toward me. She was glimmering as though she was composed of millions of diamonds. She put her hands on my chest, and sent the cancer went away as my chest, arms, face and entire body took on the same glimmering configuration as she was. As she looked into my eyes and smiled, we both knew she had given me both her gift of being healed, and the gift of healing.

I really didn’t want the adventure to end, but it felt complete at that point. As the nurses (Diane and Diane) helped disconnect me from all the paraphernalia, I told them it may sound weird, but that was WAY cool (I am incredibly eloquent at times like that). I gave them a synopsis of the experience, and one of the Dianes said she thought her great grandmother was a healer, but had only sketchy information. Nonetheless, she was taking a class in music appreciation, and had written a paper on “Medicine Music,” which included the sounds of the MRI. By the time I left we were all hugging with excitement and tears in our eyes. Leave it to me to turn it into a party.


A few weeks later I received this email from my friend Dikla in Israel (remember that I had not told her about what happened in the MRI). This was a deeply heartfelt connection from the other side of the world; it still give me chills to read it:

On Thursday night I went to the best Tribal dance party. It’s all natural, meaning no electronics but drums and Dijiridu and the crowd dances like mad. What a great way to cleanse. As we were dancing under the beautiful sky and stars, they threw some firecrackers and I was thinking of zapping cancer cells. Zap zap zap till none was left. Did a good dance with you girl. We must dance on and on and on.

SoulCollage card for Dr. Guirguis

Posted Aug 2, 2008 5:13pm
(That is her smiling face on the fairy.)

I am the One that brings light to your darkness
to illuminate and calm the hidden fears
remove your ills
cleanse your spirit
and renew your life.

Adventures by the Lake

Posted Aug 2, 2008 5:10pm

Today is quite remarkable – a “me” day. Although to a Leo, every day is a “me” day, this is different. I’m taking time to write, make some SoulCollage cards, call some friends. The giant green figs are starting to ripen on my tree, and every time I pick one, savoring every bite, I am reminded that it is impossible to eat a fresh warm fig and not smile.

The weather is incredibly beautiful, and that, in combination with a blog from my friend Mike, who is now riding 35 miles on his bike after a horrific ACL injury, inspired me to finally get up off my lazy butt and go for a 2 mile walk around the neighborhood. The path takes me past several back yards, and one had a fence laden with brilliant red creeping roses on the inside, and enormous purple morning glories on the other. Absolutely gorgeous.

When I was a kid, we spent our summers at our lake house in RI, and every day brought new episodes of exploring nature. Across the narrow lake from our place was an area we kids called “The Point,” where the shoreline jutted out in a short narrow strip. It was beyond the end of the houses, so it was not maintained as a beachfront, but was thick with an odd assortment of grasses and wildflowers, with delicate baby toads camouflaged at their roots. It was always a treasure hunt to find what new critters were hiding there, waiting to be my new pets. Turtles the size of half-dollars and schools of tadpoles wriggled under the compost of leaves at the edge of the water, the bulging eyes of bullfrogs peeked up between the lily pads.

The musty scent of mud and decaying vegetation that is characteristic of a fresh water pond is always the sweetest perfume to me. The slightest whiff brings me back to those warm summer days when every day was a new adventure, and my greatest responsibility in life was making my bed before noon.

I do have a point here - I took a little detour on this morning’s stroll to walk along the pond, being careful not to interrupt the ducks and a giant white egret preening in the rushes. As I veered off the paved path and down the rocky dirt hill leading down to the pond, a special gift appeared - a "Point" covered with a sweep of yellow flowering plants creeping from the water to the shore, and a wide wedge of black, smelly mud where deep footprints tattled on someone who hadn't watched where they were going. Suddenly it was summer at Lake Wionkehege, and Jackie and George were my best friends. I was 8 years old, and life was glorious and exciting.

It still is, and the adventure continues.
Love to all,

Get a Second Opinion!

Posted Aug 2, 2008 4:48pm

Hi everyone...I’m spending another recovery weekend after Thursday's surgery to remove a microscopic spot, muddling through the ever unfolding mysteries of my health. My surgeon-I-swear-was-sent-by-god had the original biopsy tissue re-analyzed by someone who knows what the heck they are doing, and found that the original pathology report done at the first surgery (by the other lab) may have been way off base. How do these people stay in business, let alone not get arrested...

She is going to do more advanced tests to confirm this, but we had another one of her good news/other news conversations. The good news is that the new test showed it is positive for estrogen and progesterone receptors, which means I would respond to the hormone-blocking meds (such as Tamoxifen or more advanced formulas). Much as I hate drugs, they can save lives that are threatened, and I certainly will not argue with much in that department.

The other news is that although the original report said the gene indicating high risk of recurrence was negative (HER2), the new tests showed it was positive. She's going to have it further analyzed, but if it is positive, I'll do 4 months of regular chemo, radiation, and a year of chemo that is directed at the gene. Fortunately, the "gene-chemo" does not have the side effects of the nasty stuff, and one hardly knows one is being medicated.

I was searching all this information today, and came across a blog on google written by a woman who has just completed this whole process with the same doctors at Sutter. This lady had the same oddball sense of humor as mine; it was a little eerie. I felt like I was looking in a crystal ball, watching the year that lies ahead of me. My body took on some strange sensations as I was reading – I didn’t know if I was going to get sick, faint or levitate. It was at once a feeling of terror, hope and comfort, if that makes any sense.

I am so grateful to have read one more account, especially one so recent, that better illuminates the path ahead. Everything is going to be fine.

Love, Laurie.

You Are My Healers

Posted Jul 18, 2008 9:24am

The other day someone sent me good wishes in my “battle with cancer.” I know this is the usual expression, but I feel very blessed that at no time have I felt any struggle with this. I am very fortunate to be moving through this so smoothly. I feel like something in my body was seriously out of balance, but everything else feels great - the only sign was a tiny, unsuspicious (to the medical profession) lump, and no pain. The worst side effect so far is skin irritation from the bandage adhesive.

However, there are those that are truly facing a battle, and I feel my condition is nothing more than the sniffles in comparison. Whether or not I post updates, I visit carepages at least once a day to go to the Prayer Circles and light candles.

While you’re at it, please say a prayer for my friend Nancy. She had a back injury and is in constant severe pain. It will be a while before she can even get an appointment with a pain management specialist, and then may need back surgery. Between the back pain, hot flashes and this heat wave, she’s miserable – so send your love and energy in the form of cool breezes to soothe her.

I feel great; my surgical follow up is on Tuesday the 22nd, and at this point it looks like I’ll just need radiation. During surgery they test “sentinel nodes” which are the first to absorb cancer cells if it is going to happen. Two were removed; on initial testing they were clear, and in the days to follow, more testing is done. If they are completely clear, we’re done with surgery. If not, we go back in and remove more nodes. Thank you so much for all your support; I truly believe you are all my healers.

Love, Laurie

FAQ Part III - How Come I Have Cancer???

Posted Jul 10, 2008 10:59am

I know this unspoken question is on a lot of minds:

Q. If you’re so darn healthy, how come you have cancer? Or -I eat lousy, I’m stressed and now I’m really afraid - could this happen to me?

A. We are born with genes that can’t be eliminated. However, how those genes are expressed, or play out, is profoundly affected by lifestyle - and the infinite variety of ways your personal biochemistry can react with the environment. Identical twins can be exposed to the same toxic load; one could be severely affected, and the other is not. This can make health a crapshoot, and frustrating if you are deciding between HaagenDas and steamed parsnips. All we can do is our very best to appreciate, honor and nourish the body, mind and soul on every level.

Among a gazillion relatives of the past 3 generations, only 4 have had cancer; I’m the first with breast cancer. If I were not so conscientious I would I have gotten it sooner and worse? Would I have been better or worse if I had thrown caution to the wind like some of my ancestors? Nonno encouraged us to put a splash of anisette in our morning coffee. He was still shooting pigeons off the garage roof at 92, and a darn good shot he was. Cousin Mario was an extreme party guy. By day, he tended his amazing vegetable garden tirelessly, and prepared a weekly pasta extravaganza dinner for 30 from scratch, until his knees gave out at 96 from too much dancing. He’s still sharp as a tack, just not moving as fast.

But their environmental baseline was 100 years ago. Now no one is completely safe. This is the first and last time I’ll rant on about this (maybe), but I love you and want to offer some resources to make the best choices for yourself. Based on way too much reading, I believe the increasing cancer rates are significantly impacted by stress, toxicity and the excessive intake of so-called “food” we call the Standard American Diet [“SAD” – how appropriate].

Over 100 years, we have managed to pollute the entire planet. There is no clean water, no clean air, and very little clear counter space in my kitchen. For the most part, fish is so contaminated by pollution and fish “farming” that it is no longer safe to eat more than once a week – and only if it’s wild. Unless they are organic, meats are loaded with hormones, pathogens and drugs. Don’t even get me started on packaged “food.”

Most major food crops in the US are genetically modified [GM] and produce DNA that is foreign to the planet, and unrecognizable to our immune system. The wind is indiscriminate, so non-GM crops and plants around the world are susceptible to cross breeding with the alien pollens. There are no labeling laws to identify foods containing GM products, but if it’s in a box or can, it’s probably loaded. Read ingredient labels – if you can’t pronounce it, I suggest you don’t eat it.

It is no longer a question of WHETHER your body is contaminated with an inescapable combination of heavy metals and/or over 100,000 chemicals that pervade our life. It is simply a question of HOW MANY you carry, how you can detoxify, de-stress, and build up your system to best protect yourself.

There are resources on my site for more info (not a plug; it’s all free unless you visit Read “Healthy Living in a Toxic World”. Take the Body Burden Quiz to see if your bloodstream is a rapidly deteriorating cesspool or a vibrant spring of life. You might make a different choice for your next meal.

Let’s lighten up:
Q. I'm ready to relax & watch a goofy movie; which one?

A. Some of my favorites, & considerations for kids: Family & little ones – Cars (no evil villains). 10 and older, Rat Race. Teens and adults, Legally Blonde (pretty safe); Hot Chick and Good Advice (some language, light sexual innuendos & roll-on-the-floor silly. Please think of me when you laugh; it sends angels my way. xoxoxo

FAQ Part II - Holistic and natural?

Posted Jul 9, 2008 12:44pm

Thank you for your good wishes and happy thoughts. My lumpectomy is this Friday, and as much as I avoid drive-throughs, this one I don’t mind – I check in at 5:30 a.m. and I’ll be out by noon.

On a lighter note: FAQ Part II.

Q. You’re “holistic and natural” – why not alternative treatment instead of letting “them” cut you up and fill you with drugs?

A. I’m holistic and natural, not insane. If I severed a finger artery in while chanting mantras and slicing organic vegetables at a 45 degree angle (estimated-direction-of-chi) for my juicer to sploosh out healing alkaline beverages, I would not pop herbs and meditate (you already know where THAT leads). I would get to the ER and entertain myself for the next 6 hours with shredded 1983 issues of People until an exhausted, caffeine-augmented intern at the end of a 72 hour shift propped their eyes open long enough to stitch me up and load me with enough antibiotics to fight off the staph infection I picked up from the trashy magazines. (Let this be a lesson – GOSSIP CAN KILL.)

Only then would I would relax in my Buddha garden sipping alkaline broth, which by that time would have formed its own layer of “natural” penicillin mold after sitting out when I abandoned the juicing project for the ER during a typical Folsom 109 degree heat wave. Even possibly in January.

Western medicine is the Rambo/Lara Croft of emergency/life-threatening disease care –best in the world. The problem arises when this care is applied to chronic diseases, which develop over time – diabetes, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, digestive problems, etc. Although medicine relieves immediate symptoms, most of these are the effects of lifestyle, not drug deficiencies. And only lifestyle changes will actually reverse the dis-ease process.

The National Institute of Health finally came to their senses and promulgated (carved in stone) the STANDARD OF CARE for diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, obesity and high blood pressure. Except for emergencies, it is not immediate drug therapy, but “12 weeks of therapeutic lifestyle changes [TLC].” This means a specific program for healthy eating, stress reduction and increased physical activity. It does not mean scurrying you through a 7 minute visit with a suggestion to eat “better.”

“Standard of care” means “the rules you are supposed to follow in a given health condition or you can lose your license and unless there is no one living who is aware of the incident, including the patient or any relative, acquaintance, pet, or rights group, AND every lawyer on the planet spontaneously vaporized, you will get your butt sued besides.”

Only after 12 weeks of TLC are drugs an option – if NO changes are evident. Keep that in mind next time you are handed a prescription. Do not stop any medications now – doing so without supervision can kill you. But if you have any of the above-mentioned afflictions, you have a lot more control than you may think.

When faced with life-threatening disease, do whatever medical procedure it takes to get rid of it. Immediately. Then do what you need to heal on every level. Laugh and love a lot. Veg out regularly. Eat live, fresh, organic food – not dead, packaged food. Exercise.

Hahaha – just kidding about exercise. My extensive research has proven that exercise causes injuries, fatigue and smelliness and can send your obscenely expensive eyelash extensions washing away on beads of ugly sweat onto the tip of your nose where they look oddly displaced unless you also have a little mole there. In which case you obviously have your priorities out of order. While I can joyfully put in 12 hours of hard labor in my garden, the mere thought of a treadmill gives me leg cramps.

So find an activity you love that requires more aerobic involvement than the vigorous thumb manipulations of obsessive texting (refer to “Gossip Can Kill”) and enjoy that activity as often as you can.

FAQ Part 1 - Am I in Disneyland?

Posted Jul 8, 2008 8:21am

Hi everyone – Hope you had a safe and relaxing 4th. We were enjoying the family in Tahoe, with beautiful weather and lots of laughing. I came home to a box full of emails, and I want to thank you again for all the support and good wishes. There are several spoken and unspoken questions, so welcome to: Frequently Asked Questions, a three part series (unless I think of something else).

FAQ - Part I
Let’s start off with one of the spoken questions; I think it’s valid…
Q. Why is it that we’re all so worried about you and you always sound like you’re getting ready to go to Disneyland????????????

A. I wondered about that myself, and if it were perhaps a manic episode. One of my patients, a beautiful, vibrant woman who is a breast cancer survivor, clarified the feelings for me the other day. Her eyes moistened as she expressed that if she had the choice of never having had cancer or having it, she would accept it all over again, because it enriched her life so much. That even if you have a good prognosis, you walk outside and suddenly take a greater delight in seeing your garden. You look up and appreciate the sky and love the people around you even more. And you know you darn well better, because there is a deeper awareness that we never know how long we have to enjoy it.

There’s something about hearing “It’s breast cancer” (or any similar news or diagnosis) that transforms your life in an explosive moment. Until it happens, there is no way to even guess how you would respond. It was such a complete surprise for me, that before he told me the diagnosis, I was a little perturbed with the doctor for running an hour late for my post-op visit, and asked him if we could hurry through the exam because I had to leave in 15 minutes to see patients.

It seems everyone I speak to about this either had breast cancer or is close to someone who does or did. Since that diagnosis, I realize that I am now a member of that Reluctant Sisterhood. Before it happened, we probably would not have chosen this path. Yet I can’t help wonder how many others would accept to walk it again, to become absorbed into this collective conscious and unconscious network of healing.

This is not limited to breast cancer, nor to women; anyone with a need for healing is embraced by this light. No one has to be alone in their pain; there are so many who care and will reach out to offer comfort. So if you ache on any level, don’t hide it – once you open your heart, the way to heal will appear. There is a difference between bitching and laying open your pain to accept love. Although it feels good, the former is isolating if it ends there. Taken to the next level, the latter is uniting, and involves a lot of supported, worthwhile effort to do whatever it takes to heal.

The health field is my life work because I want to help others, so I felt I was quite the little Mother Theresa to begin with. This has been a humbling event; I thought my vision was so great as I explored the jungle of physical and spiritual health with a penlight - then suddenly there were floodlights everywhere. I feel blessed with a depth of compassion and empathy that would never have been so amplified had I not been faced with this detour in my journey through life.
Whenever I’ve worked with a coach or intuitive, I’ve been cautioned not to get too stuck in my head with all the intellectual stuff – and to deepen the connection with my heart and intuition.

There was probably a simpler way to work that out besides getting cancer, but here I am, so I intend to glean every possible lesson. My heart and soul are as sensitive as a sunburn to even the slightest touch of the love and kindness you send, all that is yet to be discovered, and the exquisite beauty of the world around me.

Disneyland can’t compare.


Posted Jul 2, 2008 2:05pm

GOOD NEWS!! Dr. Guirguis's office just called after receiving the MRI - all that seems to be needed at this point is a more extensive lumpectomy and check of the sentinal (most susceptible) lymph nodes. The soonest available date for surgery will probably be the end of next week, but I'll keep you posted.

Thank you, thank you for all the energy and good wishes and prayers and lucky pennies - it all works, I feel every sparkle coming my way, and send my love and gratitude to all of you.

Meditation Can Make You Crazy

Posted Jul 1, 2008 9:56am

I was not looking forward to the MRI on Monday morning – I’ve heard they can be claustrophobic, noisy and having to stay so still can be downright painful. I admit it – I’m a total wimp, and suspect that if the hygienist offered, I would not refuse morphine for my teeth cleaning. So I thought Sunday night would be the perfect time to listen to one of my new meditation CDs, certain it would guide me into a peaceful sleep. I dusted off the old DiscMan and put on my reading glasses to examine the teeny tiny black-on-black control buttons so I could navigate it in the dark.

My brain has a hard time shutting down at night, so while waiting for Dave to come to bed, I created a mindful preparation ritual. I turned off the lamp on my nightstand, and fashioned an elaborate pillow arrangement for the DiscMan so it wouldn’t slip off the bed. Then I snuggled into a comfortable position, focused on the soothing ripples of our back yard waterfall, and did some deep breathing. Once Dave settled in and all was dark and still, I put in the earplugs, pushed the button, and listened to a soft, gentle … shshsssshsshhhhhh….

Off button, on button…. shshsssshsshhhhhh….Change the track button… shshsssshsshhhhhh….

What the… I sat up, stretched over the pillow arrangement and turned on the light. This of course knocked the DiscMan onto the floor. I climbed over the pillows to retrieve it, put on my glasses and bent forward to closely examine the situation. I checked all the buttons – the disc was spinning… shshsssshsshhhhhh….

I unplugged and replugged the headphones a few times until… “THE BODY HAS THE POWER TO HEAL…” at a decibel level that made me bolt up so fast the earplugs were yanked out of my ears. I turned down the volume, put the earplugs back in, did another sound check and got back into bed. I rearranged everything, reached over to shut the light and realized I still had my glasses on. I tried to take them off, but the hangy-down chainguard had become tangled into a cat’s cradle with the earplug lines during the unplug-replug-fly-out-of-the-ears episode. That’s when I started to lose it. I had a laugh attack – the kind where your eyes water and squish shut uncontrollably and you get cheek cramps.

Phew, OK, settle down. I untangled the mess, shut the light and laid back. I took a few moments to collect myself, enjoy some deep breaths, and put in the earplugs. Or at least try to. While releasing them from the grasp of the eyeglass chain, they had taken on a configuration of what can be best described as a two-year-old’s crocheting project.

Another laugh attack.

All the commotion didn’t dissuade my pursuit of Nirvana. But as I finally listened to the soothing voice, I found this particular recording was more of an encouraging monologue on positive thinking than the music-meditation I had anticipated.

Now I was on a mission. There had been two boxes in the package, so I went to the kitchen to get the second one. Up until that point I felt pretty smug, remembering exactly where I had left it on the counter so I could just find it in the dark. What I hadn’t taken into account was that it was bound by that impenetrable antiterrorist plastic wrap that doesn’t prevent it from gliding into a shoplifter’s pocket, but does prevent anyone from ever actually opening it.
Deep breath… Ommmmmmmm….

Turn on the light, find a paring knife, slit the plastic. As I sliced away in the dim light of the stove, I noticed the box shape seemed unusual for a CD. It was. But it was just perfect for a cassette tape and a little booklet. And the cassette player was on a shelf… in the garage.

I closed everything up, poured myself a big glass of water, popped a handful of MyoCalm PM (MY FAVORITE supplement for sleep/stress/pain) and went back to bed. I slept like a rock.


The content provided on this web site is for information purposes only.
It is intended to provide educational material and is not designed to provide medical advice.
Please consult your health care provider regarding any medical issues you have relating to symptoms, conditions, diseases, diagnosis, treatments and side- effects.

Sites and Books

Posted Jun 29, 2008 10:22am

As you can imagine, I've received tons of information about cancer treatment.

The MRI tomorrow will help determine not only the extent of what is going on, but also why nothing is showing up on my other tests. I even had the radiologist for the thermogram of 2 years ago take another look, knowing the diagnosis, and he couldn't find anything that would indicate cancer. Weird.

This reminded me of an event that happened to my grandmother (the "healing" one). She once had to go for surgery because they found a spot on her lung during an xray. By the time she had the surgery a short time later, it was gone. For those of you who don't know, my maternal grandmother, as well as her father, were energy healers. After she passed away, my mother found copies of letters she had sent her clients between 1935-1938. I am still trying to translate these from the old French in which they were written, but here's what I gleaned from her "treatment method" so far:

Eat whole, fresh foods. Don't overcook. Minimize meats.Walk in fresh air every day. Visualize the area healing, and think positive thoughts, several times a day. The client would come to the house for a session, then set up times in between when they would focus/pray/visualize at the same time. My mom said she helped people heal themselves of cancer and other diseases, and many just left their crutches behind after their visit. When we were sick, we would sit in her green velvet chair in the "piano room” as she stood behind or walked around, with gentle touches. What she did was similar to what I now know as Reiki, but we just said Nana was praying for us.

Because of the old style of French, it has been challenging to find someone who is able to translate these letters. When mom's sister Jackie passed away about a month ago, I called a 2nd cousin I haven't seen for years (Jeannine) to tell her. I also told her about the letters. Not only did she teach French, but her husband is native French. Off went the copies, and I anticipate full translation very soon. At the time we spoke, we felt Aunt Jackie had sent us to each other for a special reason. Jeannine thought it was so I could help her with her chronic health challenges. Little did we know how much we would need each other's talents.

Recommendations from my pals at Hawthorn Univ: Donald Yance "Herbal Medicine - Healing and Cancer''

Moss Reports and Moss report tips (GREAT info, even for healthy people) [Her note: He has amazing information on his website for free, but see which reports he has on breast cancer-and if he has one on your specific type. Buy the report, then schedule an appt if you feel the need. He’s been studying natural and medical therapies for cancer for 30 plus years. He’s scientific, conservative and really smart.]

Here are a few recommendations from other folks:

Salvestrol That led me to this site: Issels Medical Center

Herbs, supplements and cancer

Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment

Integrative Cancer Therapy

Nasri Integrative Medicine Health Centre

Cancer Treatment Centers of America

From a friend: Hiring the Heavens by Jean Slatter.
From a doc whose dad has multiple myeloma: My father changed his diet to a strict Alkaline diet and it has changed his life completely and for the better. There is a great book called “Outsmart Your Cancer” that I cannot recommend highly enough.

I also ordered Bernie Siegel's visualization tapes, just before friends sent me "Prepare to Be Healed" and "Healing Well" by Michael Moran. I'll be listening to these every day!

Our Visit to the Plastic Surgeon

Posted Jun 28, 2008 9:28am
The pre-dawn moments have become a special healing time to focus on all the “sparkles” we are exchanging – your love, prayers, thoughts, spells, chants, angels, blessings – whatever way you have chosen to send me, I return a hundredfold. Soon after getting up I turn on the computer that is set up at the kitchen table for the morning. From this post I can drink in our magnificent garden and a concert of manic birdsongs while I write updates, read your messages and respond to each one as soon as I can.

This morning I clicked on the “prayer circle” link at the Carepages home page, where you can click on a photo to read a couple of lines about the person’s request. I invite you to take a just a few moments to visit whenever you can, to click on a photo (or a few) and light a candle of support. There are over 3 million members and over 6 million visitors – imagine what all that combined sparkle could accomplish! [Note - this feature was later deleted.]

We had a second medical consult Friday afternoon – with the plastic surgeon, Dr. Lynne Hackert at the Plastic Surg. Center on Scripps Drive. Although they were expecting me, some of the ladies at the front desk looked slightly surprised, if you get my drift… The all-female staff appears to take full advantage of their job perks. Everything around there is pretty “perky,” enhanced by a collective unconscious need for 4” wedgy-platform-anklewrap-tie footwear. And not a frown line or crow’s foot within 100 yards of the place. Call me a material girl - it was a reassuring display of medical expertise.

Dr. Lynne seems impervious to all of it. She has a natural grace without a drop of makeup, and reminds me of Meryl Streep in that movie where she was always ready to attack the rapids. She welcomed us to her lovely office overlooking the Koi and turtle pond, and soon covered the desk with her implant collection. I thought it very clever that she placed the 800cc (about a double-D) closest to Dave, and invited us to feel the various materials.

So much for a second set of ears. Dave’s eyes glazed over as he used his engineering expertise to assess (fondle) each sample for construction stability. I know he was especially concerned about the largest sizes, since he kept rechecking them intently. Dr. Lynne winked at me and said, “That’s how we keep them quiet so we can talk.”

I don’t think he heard that – or anything else she said from that point on.

We were pretty emotionally wiped out by the time we got home yesterday afternoon. I made a big pot of organic veggie and chicken soup, and we vegetated (organically, of course) with an adventure film for the rest of the evening. We love both of these new docs, and have a better idea of the range of possibilities that lie ahead. It could be about a year of surgeries and treatments, some down-times longer than others, but it will certainly teach me to run my life and business in a way that I engage the help of others, and don’t have to go years without taking any vacation time.

Here’s an email I received from my friend Helene: The Breast Cancer site is having trouble getting enough people to click on their site daily to meet their quota of donating at least one free mammogram a day to an underprivileged woman. It takes less than a minute to go to their site and click on "donating a mammogram" for free (pink window in the middle). This doesn't cost you a thing. Their corporate sponsors /advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate mammogram in exchange for advertising. Here's the web site! Pass it along to people you know.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

In the beginning 6/28/08

Wow - what a difference a caring doctor makes.

But more on that in a minute - I've been going like a madwoman for the past 2 days, and this morning when I woke at 4:30 I just took a few minutes to breathe and take in all the love and prayers and beautiful sentiments you all have sent. It was the first time I cried ever since this all started on Tuesday. It was not for any sadness, but a deep, wonderful sense of connection with all of you incredible people in my life. I can't begin to tell you how much your calls and notes and conversations have meant to me. Going through such an emotional event leaves the heart raw in a good way - exquisitely sensitive to the smallest kindness, and overwhelmed by your outpouring of good wishes. Thank you from the depths of my heart.

It has been awesome talking to you either by phone or email, but things happen pretty fast, not giving me much time to call or write every time. So in addition to any other contacts we have, I'll keep things updated on this page for as much or as little information as you'd like!

This morning Dave and I went to Sutter Cancer Center for a second opinion. The initial appointment process was encouraging in itself. On Wednesday, a young lady named Manjesh had made the soonest possible appt. for me, which was July 16. But knowing how concerned I was about the wait, she said the if I faxed my records, she would put a note on the dr's phone to see if I could come in sooner. Thursday at 8:30 a.m. she called to say the dr. would come in EARLY - before her clinic hours - if I could be there at 8 a.m. today. That's dedication.

We met for over an hour with Lisa Guirguis, MD, whom we both fell in love with. She thoroughly explained my pathology report, all the best and worst case possibilities, as well as every treatment option in each case. She brought in the ultrasound unit to do an exam herself, and explained everything to us in detail. Not only will she have the original tissue samples re-analyzed by a pathologist that specializes in this type of cancer, but she also ordered an MRI of both breasts to make sure we had a better idea of what we are dealing with.

When I told her the name of the plastic surgeon I was consulting with, Lisa gave her high marks and said they work together all the time - and did so yesterday.

What Dave really liked is not only did Dr. Lisa help her assistant immediately write up the MRI referral, but we each got our own map - a "guy map" (regular diagram/street map) and a "girl map" (because we want all the details of the story) that was hand drawn to show where it was in relation to Safeway, the water tower and the fire station.

Within 15 minutes of our getting home, her office called to say our insurance had authorized the MRI. A half hour later, the radiology office called to schedule my appt. for 7:30 a.m. on Monday.
The previous surgeon had given me a huge disorganized binder that was a collection of booklets, photocopies and brochures, and a good luck wish in finding the rest of my medical team. Dr. Lisa's binder is beautifully done by Sutter - "My Personal Journey." The first page is a business card holder, with cards for her, the plastic surgeon, dietician, oncologist, nurse, etc. I feel I'm in competent, caring hands. It's a great day!