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sometimes reading about other people’s cancer experience can be downright depressing. But Dan Barry’s column yesterday in the new york times nailed down so much of what I feel in a way that is both fresh and funny:

“…Then, in the late spring of 2004, probably while I was railing about something eminently unimportant, my cancer impolitely returned. Once again I felt the frigid breath of mortality at my neck. I also felt like a fool. What is the use of surviving cancer if you don’t learn from it? Are improved by it? Am I so thick that I need to receive the life-is-precious message twice?” i can totally relate.

if you are out there “browsing” stop in at ourlittlesweetpea.com A blog that chronicles the hardships of a 10 YEAR OLD GIRL WITH BREAST CANCER. 10 years old. as in diagnosed as a fifth grader. Really makes you wonder about all the crap we are dumping into our environment.

Sorry for leaving you guys hanging. Truth is, I really miss relaying good news. After all this blog is supposed to be “all about my convalescence.” It was two years ago that I was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. One year ago I celebrated very low tumor markers. I was just points shy of the glorious r-word: remission. But now, ever since January, I have been slowly getting worse. It’s hard to regress, frustrating not to know why my estrogen and tumor markers won’t go down. I had my check up over a week ago and discovered that the drug I took for one month, an aromatase inhibitor that is supposed to lower my estrogen, did nothing. My estradiol did not change, it is not one digit lower. My main cancer marker went up about 40 points. On to plan D.

I would much rather be writing about all the amazing people who have helped me through this so far- my mom, nathan, mindy, natalie, my whole family, my friends, even relatives I didn’t even know I had like the wonderful, kind, loving Barbara Zykan just to name a very small sample. I’d rather tell you about our recent adventures in canoeing, my obsession with psychic investigators or the qi gong conference mom and I went to in July. But I still have to talk about my health. I have to focus. I have to get better.

Of course I have learned a lot in the past two years. I know for sure that we are all connected, entangled. I know when I am being prayed for and when people are sending me healing energy. I actually feel it! Cliché as it may sound, I know love is a powerful force that transcends the limits of time and space. With love all things really are possible. I am so grateful for all the love I have been given.

Though I still have new methods to explore I know my spirit is the final frontier in healing. For me, navigating consciousness is no simple task. After all these years I am still not exactly sure how to meditate. I am finding myself frightened at the complexity of it all but willing to give it a try. I kind of wish some shaman would magically appear and wisp me into a transcendent, spiritual trance that catapults me into complete remission. I am ready!

As always I am hopeful. I can see the healthy, vibrant, energetic, happy, abundant future me just on the other side of the horizon. Thankfully, no bright white tunnel of light is standing between me and her.

New *green* smoothie recipe. Only its RED.

Better than Sangria Smoothie

Half a beet
handful of cherries (I used Rainer)
big handful of spinach
two pinches of parsley
one pinch of cilantro (a little goes a long way folks)
one leaf of romaine
juice of half a lemon
1/3-1/2 cup of filtered water

Place all washed, organic ingredients in blender or food processor except for the water and blend until smooth. Slowly add the water until you reach the desired consistency. This one has a nice red wine flavor. Beet is an amazing liver detoxer and blood cleanser as is parsley. Cilantro actually helps removes mercury from your body. Spinach is loaded with vitamins C and A. This one will satisfy.

**********WARNING**********
Place a little post-it near your toilet after consuming. Write on it “YOU’RE OK. ITS JUST THE BEETS” That way you won’t have a heart attack tomorrow when your bowl fills with scary looking beet blood.

I am contemplating fasting. I know it sounds really f-ed up for someone as thin as me to fast but fasting is a great way to detoxify the body and fight cancer. I would probably start with one day a week of juice fasting. I would increase the amount of juices I consume but have no solid foods. I think if I significantly increase the amount of juice calories I consume there should be no risk of weight loss. In theory…

The weight thing is really tricky. After my surgery I was so freaked out about how much weight I lost that I started eating a lot of stuff not gerson-approved. It’s a catch 22 though- The bad foods increase the cancer, the cancer creates cachexia. I think I’m probably better off trying to fight the cancer and coming to terms with the fact that I look cracked out. You know, I thought I had reached that point about a month and a half ago. I even started going for walks in the neighborhood despite my body anxiety. I was doing great until I saw a picture of myself. Yikes. My back is especially scary. Nobody should be this familiar with their own bone structure. Did you know being disgustingly thin makes it really hard to shave your arm pits? They become too hollow for a razor. Who was it that said “you can never be too rich or too thin”?! Let me punch that person in the mouth.

Forgot to mention in my last post that I tried using a natural bristle toothbrush and failed miserably. I did it because regular toothbrushes have nylon. Nylon = plastic, plastic = xenoestrogen. So without doing my homework I impulsively purchased the only natural bristle toothbrush from the health food store- Fuchs record v-natur toothbrush. The website says that the toothbrush is made with boar bristle and assured me that the boars are well cared for and not harmed in the process. The brush is too soft! It just doesn’t get in there good between the teeth. They didn’t offer the harder bristle model but I think I might order one online as a last try. There is kind of a funky “natural” smell and taste but given that my sense of taste and smell are hyper alert and freakishly sensitive, you might not even notice that.

“I’ve got a funny feeling they’ve got plastic in the afterlife” -Beck Hansen

Xenoestrogen (Pronunciation: zē-nō-ĕs-trō′jin)
Definition: Any of the by-products of industrial or chemical processing that have estrogenlike effects. (according to medilexicon.com)

On a typical day, the average woman is exposed to thousands of these cancer-causing, hormone-mimicking, party-crashers. They hang their menacing pink scull-and-crossbones over plastics, cosmetics, household cleaners, meat and dairy products, pesticides, fertilizers and pharmaceuticals. They have even fouled up the purity of our essentials- hitchhiking rides on our air and water. From the treated wood our furniture is made with down to the fabric softener, fabreeze and perfumes so many feel a compulsory olfactory affinity for, we are constantly inundated with xenoestrogens.

I have spent A LOT of time in the past 2 years trying to rid my life of xenoestrogens and, lemme tell ya, it ain’t easy. Recently I’ve kicked things up a notch, getting rid of plastic straws (replaced by beautiful glass straws from glass dharma) I started using cloth bags for produce, I stopped taking all supplements in gelatin capsules (gelatin is made with animal hides which are loaded with estrogen) I even switched to a stainless steel enema bucket but to no avail- Despite having my ovaries removed, my estradiol (the bad, super strong estrogen) remains at PREmenopausal levels to the astonishment of the doctors and laypeople around me. In addition to the still-high estrogen, my tumor markers are also on the rise.

So on to plan B. My doctor said something that has caused a shift in my thinking. He said “Too much of anything is bad for you.” I have been eating the same foods, taking the same supplements- doing the same things over and over for almost 2 years now. The body needs variety. Variety is the best way to ensure your body getting everything it needs. Today I went to the grocery store and bought a bunch of greens that I normally don’t. I came home and made a green smoothie. Here is the recipe:

Summer Green Smoothie

Large handful of spinach
couple pinches of cilantro
pinch of wheat grass
the juice of half a lemon
1/4 red pepper
1 small nectarine
1/3 cup ionized alkaline water (regular filtered water would work just fine here)

Throw all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until you get a smooth consistency. The more blended, the better. I don’t have a food processor so I put mine through the Norwalk first to speed up the process (medium screen) and then threw it into the blender. Gerson is not for green smoothies but why not? Basically it’s just a salad that has been chewed for you. Only it tastes way better than how that sounds. It was so so so good. It would have benefited from half a clove of pressed garlic if you’re into that. I abstained for the sake of my beloved. But it was still so surprisingly super yummy. I put mine in a fancy wine glass with my fancy pants glass straw.

My nutritionist seems to think that some sort of errant gene is to blame for the overproduction of estrogen in my body. We have to find something that will turn the gene off, says she. We both assume it is unlikely that it is being made in the adrenals since my adrenals are totally shot. Fat cells? Sadly my weight is back in the double digits. It is hard to think that my fat cells are doing much these days. DIM and Myomin did nothing to reduce the estrogen and I had a lot of hope for the myomin! Some studies say it reduces estradiol by 70%. No such luck for me. The new plan- I am on calcium d-glucarate. It is supposed to prevent estrogen from being reabsorbed. I have also started femara. It is a rx drug, an aromatase inhibitor. It stops androgen from being converted to estrogen. I will try it for one month. If it works I guess I will be on it indefinitely. I may have to stop doing coffee enemas. Some studies show a link between caffeine consumption and estradiol levels. I have known about this for awhile and I have mixed feelings. On the one hand there is a tumor on my liver that would benefit greatly from the enemas. My liver needs all the help it can get! On the other hand, if this is the smoking gun in the room I need to know.

Sorry this was all over the place. I am too tired to try to make it all cohesive and stuff. I am still not in any pain. Just coughing coughing and more coughing with a side numb chin and a heaping dose of no energy at all.

Love and hugs to each and every one of you! Go try a green smoothie. You will love it!

signs of life

All too often in my health-obsessed state I forget to post about…other stuff. Like my fabulous organic vegetable garden. I can’t take too much credit for this one, my amazing man does most of the work. I did originally plant some stuff, occasionally I move some stuff around, and I pick stuff but those 6 weeks of recovery from my surgery left me mostly helpless. Thank god Nathan has 2 green thumbs! Here are the fruits of his labor.

Bruno helps out with the peppers, basil and chard.

Bruno helps out with the peppers, basil and chard.


these maters are so yummy. i am now ruined for the store-bought variety.

these maters are so yummy. i am now ruined for the store-bought variety.


sunflower
lettuceBox
part of the succulant garden

part of the succulant garden


The "boulevard" in front is shaping up.

I am still amazed that little seeds just *know* how to turn in to big, beautiful, delicious plants. It’s so freaking amazing. I don’t think I’ll ever really get over it.

I’ve got lots of little projects brewing here and there. I’m going to try to remember to post more about my daily goings on in addition to the health stuff.

Next up? I tell you how I’m attempting to eliminate plastics from my life.

Hope everyone is loving, laughing and lounging leisurely through summer.

I just got back from my oncologist. The bone mets are getting significantly worse and there is now a 3cm tumor on my liver. Although there are no tumors in my lungs there is “central peribronchial thickening and mild parahilar ground-glass infiltration on the left” whatever the hell that means.

They still don’t know what exactly is causing the coughing, it could be the medical jargon quoted above. There is also some cancer and inflammation on my mediastinum that could be a factor. There is no fluid accumulation. There is no obvious big sack of fluid to drain.

My hormone tests from both my oncologist and my nutritionist revealed the same thing- my estradiol (the bad, tumor-feeding kind of estrogen) is sky high. It is at PRE menopausal levels. All my other hormones (including the good estrogens) are super low. Why the estradiol is so out of whack nobody knows but I have a theory-

I’ve been taking thyroid supplements as part of the Gerson protocol. I recently read that thyroid hormone can convert testosterone to estradiol. My oncologist confirmed that this is correct. I stopped the thyroid 3 days ago so now I am just waiting. My doctor and I agreed that I should probably try an aromatase inhibitor. I got a rx but I am going to wait a month before I take it to see if things don’t straighten out with my recent revelations. The aromatase inhibitor (Femera) would decrease the conversion of other hormones into estrogens.

Here is the GOOD NEWS- my tumor markers only went up a couple of points. How is it possible to grow a 3cm tumor and have new bone lesions with almost no increase in tumor markers? I’ll tell you how- I think things got really bad immediately following the oophorectomy. My tumor markers were probably sky high and things were probably even worse than what shows on the scans. I think they are coming back down and things are shrinking. The surgery and all the drugs that came with it f-ed everything up for a time.

I am STILL going to heal completely and the low markers are proof. That said I am going to need lots of prayers and love and visualizations of my perfect health. Know it in your heart that I will be healed that I AM healed. You guys rock. Don’t worry about me, I am going to beat it. My belief is half the battle.

where im at

Thank you all so much for your loving comments, cards, good thoughts and all around superness. Sorry Ive been bad about blogging and responding. Every time I go to write lately its like an emotional enema. It becomes less about relaying info to you and more about purging some of my blockages.

I’ve found an awesome lady for acupuncture, Ive been doing hyperbaric oxygen therapy and I’ve tightened up my routine a bit. I had scans this week and last. I get the results on the 9th. I am still coughing and my chin is still numb.

The spiritual/emotional work is in the forefront. I’ve ordered lots of interesting books on the mindbody connection and when they arrive I plan on submerging myself in learning (and relearning) all that I can.

I’ve had some tough and raw moments in the last month but today I feel like I am arriving at a good place. A more nuturing, self-loving and forgiving place. I have to remind myself that we are here to enjoy life. We are where we are at for a reason. Trust trust TRUST yourself and your path. And have some fun, damn it.

xoxo she