nutrition

500 Days of Salad

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I usually have a large salad as one of my main meals each day.  Sometimes it's in a bowl, sometimes it's in a tortilla, but the idea is that it's mostly green, fresh and raw.

It's part of the Girlbert's Pursuit of Ultimate Health with Minimal Effort Plan. 

Summer (record-setting!)  heat, having to handwash every dish I use, Boyfriend's preoccupation with Things Concerning How We Pay Our Rent, and my continuing monthly chemo regimen have me pretty well convinced that cooking or juicing three squares a day just isn't in the cards for us.  So, one big bowl, a multitude of delicious, raw ingredients, maybe a knife and a cutting board - totally do-able!

And why not pass on a little of what I've learned from my Summer of Salad-Making, to you?  Let's face it - most of us don't eat enough salad.  We know it, but it seems an impossible hurdle, considering how programmed we are to cook every meal.

Instead of looking at it as, "I have to make a salad to go with dinner," why not look at it as, "what should I put with the salad we're having for dinner?"  Make the salad the centerpiece - give it a little weight with some grains or beans, spruce it up with some colorful veggies or fruit, and suddenly it's a meal.  And when done right, it's plenty filling, but doesn't keep you up all night with your body straining to digest a heavy meal.

So - get creative!

First, stock up on salad fixins you like, or would like to try.  I try not to do the same thing too many times in a row, if ever, to keep myself from getting bored.  I just pick up lots of salad greens (I love mixing arugula into my salads) and veggies when I do my grocery shopping and keep lots of things in my fridge to choose from.

And I've gotten over thinking that I have to cut up a million different kinds of vegetables: carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, radishes, onions, etc, for every salad.  That's way too overwhelming!  The point is, lots of greens for the fiber and vitamins; and a couple of veggies for color, flavor, and interest.  And a fun way to mix in veggies without having to chop, peel, worry about the size, etc?  Shred veggies like carrots, peppers, cucumbers, radishes and zucchini with a cheese grater!

Go easy on the dressing - just lightly toss the greens and veggies to coat before adding additional ingredients.  I usually stick with a tablespoon each of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, for every two people or three to four cups of greens.  Lemon or lime juice is a nice raw substitute for the vinegar.  And use sesame oil (topped with sesame seeds) for an Asian flair.

To make it a meal with enough weight to satisfy, I add quinoa or rice, and beans like garbanzos, black, kidney, or Great Northern (white) or edamamae.  Toss these in just after dressing the salad, so they don't get too weighted down with dressing.

(TIP: Save time by using canned beans or frozen edamamae (thawed, of course).  And I usually make a big batch of quinoa or rice at the beginning of every week and add to green salads as I make them.  If I'm going to used beans and rice, I mix them together in a separate bowl first, so they're thoroughly mixed before adding to the greens.)

If you must add in some meat or tofu, might I suggest small pieces, thoroughly incorporated, to assist your tastebuds in savoring all parts of the salad.  Otherwise, old habit may find you skimming the meat off the top, and being too full to eat much greenery, which is not really the effect we're going for!  And to keep with my "Cooking to a Minimum Theme", might I suggest adding something simple, such as canned tuna or shrimp or smoked salmon?  Or boil some eggs at the beginning of the week and dice into your salads throughout the week.

But don't forget about fruit, too.  I love to add in tasty surpises like shredded apples, blueberries, strawberries, grapes, dried cranberries, figs (fresh or dried - yummy!), even orange slices.  But don't add them until after you dress the salad - they're yummiest "naked"!

Finally, stick with whole, raw foods and top with corn, avocado, a scoop of guacamole or hummus, or some nuts or seeds, too.  I try to stay away from too much dairy, but can't resist topping with goat, feta or parmesan cheese on occasion.  Variety is key for your taste buds and your health!

For those of you still rolling your eyes - maybe you have children who have an aversion to all that which is green and uncooked.  Where do you think they get that from?  (hmmmm...)  Try getting them to help you shop or help you in the kitchen (both is best!).  If they're still hesitant, resist loading up on cheese, croutons and dressing to get the greens down.  Try fresh fruit instead.  Who doesn't like blueberries?  Grapes?  Oranges are fun in salads!  Encourage them to try multi-colored versions of traditional salad fare: bell peppers come in purple (FUN!); sunny-yellow lemon cucumbers intrigued me the first time we were introduced; and tomatoes come in orange, yellow, and crazy shades of red - some even have STRIPES!  And if all else fails, top your greens with fun things like Goldfish crackers, crispy Asian noodles, some whole grain pasta, organic cottage cheese or tortilla chips.  They're better than the alternative: BACK, you fatty, oil-laden croutons!

What's in Your Salad?

Flexibility Returns!

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We have returned.  What's that?  You didn't know we were gone?  Great.

Our trip had been in the works for months, with the primary purpose being to visit Boyfriend's brother, sister-in-law, and new nephew, James.  Road tripping inevitably involves side trips and unexpected delays, but the plan, as loosely defined as it were, was to get out of California and do something different!  No doctor appointments, nothing concrete, no obligations.  Just drive and see.  Sweet flexibility!

We didn't make a big deal prior to our departure, because my platelets were scary low, throwing my chemo schedule for a loop because "there's really nothing you can do, but wait for them to go back up again."  I wasn't going anywhere until those platelets went back up again.  So much for flexible.

Our first big road trip, our first vacation in, err... two years, all up in the air - because I needed more platelets?

Nobody was going to tell Girlbert there was nothing I could do, so I took those uncooperative little platelets into my own hands.  I opened my mind, Googled, asked my cancer support group friends, took my vitamins, exercised, and I ate and ate the biggest variety of foods I could come up with in five days.  On day five I took my next blood test and marched it upstairs to oncology.

"This is better - whatever you're doing is working!" My uber-oncologist smiled and shook his head as he flipped through the results of my blood tests, past and present.  I'd done my homework, listened to my body, and more than doubled my platelets in five days.  Whew for a flexible mind!

I started my chemo that night.  We packed up and left the next day.

More on the Flexible Adventures of Girlbert and Boyfriend coming soon!

Here We Go!

Bits and Pieces To Get You Caught Up On My Week

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A lot has happened!  And I intended to write everday, but I've been allowing Boyfriend to step in with major updates, because we're on the low-stress-for-Girlbert-program.  And I've been trying to be a good girl, despite some peaking (drug-induced) creative and physical energy.

So this is long-winded, but hopefully broken down into enough chunks that you can all manage, whether you choose to skim it over or swallow it whole.  I did attempt to put in some kind of order of importance...

Medi-Cal Continues To Give Me Seizures
    Boyfriend touched on this in his birthday post from yesterday, but after 7 months of hoops with Medi-Cal, I have been informed of denial due to a technicality.  My case has been closed, and I will have to appeal the denial, as well as REAPPLY and start the process over to get the ball rolling back in my court again.  7 months, people.  And this is after my Ninja Neurologist got me on the fast-track to approval with a letter stating that I may not be alive in a year without treatment.  Unbelievable, but as always, we'll deal.  We're putting our heads down with some social workers and lawyer friends, and we'll get it turned around.  The squeaky wheel plan continues.

Treatment Is Going Well
I am really happy to report that two weeks into chemo and radiation, I've had no debilitating side effects.  All the medication I'm on has side effects, don't get me wrong, but I'm managing very well with rest, good food, a regular schedule, and loads and loads of meditation to keep my mind in order.  My docs warned me that the irritation of radiation would cause some more swelling and sure enough, my seizures have increased a bit - I have one or two mild, conscious episodes a day, but only one like the episode Boyfriend wrote about on Friday, and nothing like that since.  I took my activity level down a notch (steroids make me feel like Superwoman!) after Friday, and my Ninja Neurologist tweaked my seizure meds and added a sedative/anti-seizure drug for me to take at night to sleep.  

My docs have all warned me that the further I get into radiation, the more side effects I may experience, as the tuber dies off (ba-bye little tuber!), and my brain may become more irritated throughout.  But we're all prepared to deal - I'll get to take more naps, maybe!

The oral chemo is going really smoothly.  The anti-nasuea drug seems to be doing the trick, not to mention I take my one, oral dose right before bed on an empty stomach.  My only complaint is that one of the major side effects is, of course, CONSTIPATION.  So despite the fact we're still pretty high raw, juicing like fiends, and I'm downing water like it's going out of style, hello hemmoroids!  Good times, but not that I don't have the experience to handle it.  So back to Alice I'll go, as necessary.  I'll need a good cleanse when this is all over, anyway.

So just how is Au-Naturale-Girlbert and her complementary treatment plan really feel about all the drugs and western medicine?  That it's the right thing for my body, right now.  I'm grateful for it, and know this is the route I need to take to heal my body, and ELIMINATE THE TUBER.  But I'm asking LOTS of questions.  Every side effect, every medication and dosage change.  And my doctors have thoroughly explained to me the necessity and purpose of each drug so that I understand the benefits for any detriments.  My comfort level with all of it is quite high.  My only concern is that my mind stay sharp and functional, and hasn't seemed to be an issue with all the increased spiritual practice.  My mind is as clear and grounded as it's ever been, despite all the drugs.  I couldn't feel more blessed.

About My Weight
Many of you have asked if I'm eating.  Yeah, I'm skinny.  Too skinny.  Skinnier than I've ever been, but I'm ravenous!  But I agree that checking in at 5'8" and under 120 pounds is a bit disconcerting (haven't weighed anywhere near that since MIDDLE school!), so I asked Uber-Oncologist Dr. G, about it before I even began treatment.
"I have one more question."  At 6pm, the tail-end of our squeezed-in appointment to get some questions answered before I begain treatment the following week.
"Sure - what's that?"  He turned toward me, from the computer monitor full of my scans and charts.
"I've lost a lot of weight - more than 15 pounds in a couple of months - is that the steroid making my metabolism go wild or something?  I though steoids were supposed to make me gain wight.  My energy has been really high, and I know they have that effect, too."
"How's your appetite?"
"I've been ravenous."
"Have you been thirsty?  Having to urinate a lot?"
"Really thirsty and I have to pee all the time."
"Hmm.  Your blood sugar was pretty high in the hospital," he referred to his computer screen for reference, "126.  Steroids can cause diabetes."
The tears came instantly.  "That's in my family history," I whimpered.  The D-word.  After watching many family members struggle with diabetes, my ultimate health goal had been to keep myself from ever having to hear a doctor tell me I had the D-word.  Cancer schmancer.
Dr. G shook his head reassuringly.  "Dont worry - medically-induced diabetes is totally reversible.  But we'll check your blood sugar in your blood tests anyway to make sure."
My blood test the next day showed my blood sugar back to normal.  Whew.

In the meantime, I shared this story with my brother, who shares my ultimate health goal of avoiding the D-diagnosis.
Perhaps channelling our Grandma T's (sometimes inappropriate) sense of humor, he exclaimed, "Oh my - 118 pounds?  Brain cancer is like the best weight loss program ever!"

And we laughed, because we're Tomlins.

About That Trip Up North...
Boyfriend already touched on this in his earlier post, and I've been meaning to, oh, but for the time of really doing the words justice!

Here's the bomb: Following my treatment at the end of November, we'll be moving up to Marin County, CA - the lovely town of Fairfax, to be precise.

So you remember that trip, over a month ago, now?  I experienced a profound shift while visiting our dear friends in Fairfax, and sensed an overwhelming connection to the place as a healing center.  A mecca, even.  Upon driving into town the first time, we came upon healing center after local market, after meditation retreat center after organic restaurant after holistic health care office, and my only thought was that this was the place for me.  Seem abrupt?  All I can say is that it immediately resonated with me at such a high level, it couldn't be ignored, and the 7 days we spent there only confirmed what I knew in that initial moment.  Boyfriend and I both experienced a huge shift in our relationship during our stay, and we're not attributing that to any accident.  We also deepened our relationship with the dear friends who put us up for the week, and can hardly wait to live in their community.  Not to mention a much better proximity to a major University Hospital, more dear friends, and the Neuro-Accupuncturist I will continue to see throughout my healing journey.  The utmost importance has been placed on my health, increased autonomy, adjacency to nature, proximity and access to like-minded, spirit-driven people, continued healing,  and happiness.

Friends and Family Visiting
I've just wrapped up well-timed visits from friends and family this week.  A great girlfriend from Wisconsin was here over the weekend with her little boy, and such a treat to spend time with them - it'd been over a year since I'd seen her last.  The magic of spending time with children - very healing.  Then my baby cousin (okay, so she's 24!), whom I haven't seen for over 12 years, and her boyfriend stayed with us Wednesday night, and I couldn't be more thrilled to see her and connect with out-of-touch family at this time in my life.  The universe continues to astound...

Relief Is On The Way
In the form of more family coming in to help out, as Boyfriend and I continue to manage schedules, work, and appointments.  We couldn't be more thrilled that my mom will be here next Tuesday for eight days to help out with driving, erranding, cooking and whatever.  Not too mention lots of hugs and love.  Just the relief of not having to drive me to treatment everyday will free up Boyfriend's schedule immensely to get some much needed work done, which will help our financial situation tremendously.  Then Boyfriend's parents will be coming on November 4th for about two weeks, and we're are thrilled for the company and help. They have lots of friends in CA, too, to they're looking at it as a double treat.  Can't wait to see you all.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

That about wraps it up!
Please keep in mind that I share my journey on this blog because I believe it is a powerful tool to help me heal.  Your traffic, your comments, your positive energy - I FEEL all of it, and be assured that what you put out into the universe in a loving way will come back to you in amazing and profound ways.  So leave your love here, and you'll heal yourself...

Amping Up

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Team Tuber-Removal has been chosen and the Tuber-Removal Plan has been (mostly) established!

Have I mentioned that I'm the luckiest girl in the world?  What a week - I have such immense, overwhelming gratitude for the team of incredible doctors I've surrounded myself with as I spent the week planning chemo-radiation therapy.  I'm astounded by their willingness to bend over backwards by working late, calling on favors, and answering every question I can possibly fathom.  It might need a new word - INCREDITUDE.  ASTOUNDITUDE.  OVERWHELMEDITUDE.

Meetings with my radiation oncologist, Dr. S., and uber-oncologist, Dr. G this week determined that the most effective tuber-removal plan for me is a combination of chemotherapy and targeted, conformal radiation.  The radiation will obviously begin to kill the tumor, but as always, allowing the tumor more space could actually cause it to regrow or become more aggressive.  So we'll be giving the little tuber a one-two punch with an oral drug I can take at home once a day called Temodar through the duration of the radiation treatment to keep it knocked back as the radiation eliminates it.

Tomorrow I go in for my final pretreatment scans, x-rays, and further consult with Team Tuber Removal.

I begin 33 days of radiation at the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara on Tuesday, with radiation days five times a week for seven weeks.  I will be taking the Temodar every day for the entire seven weeks.

The complementary plan:
Recent travel, my stay in the hospital, and more travel have all gotten me quite steered off my intensive months of the highly raw, plant-based nutrition program I'd been following to keep my body maximally healthy for my healing journey.  I resigned myself to the dietary changes, going with the flow, despite knowing that I'd have to do a bit of detoxing to get back to where I was prior to three weeks ago.  Especially in the hospital - upon hearing of my vegetarian requests, I received primarily pasta, bread and pancakes.  Yummy, but not much greenery!

So time to shift gears and get back to providing my body with all the raw, clean, whole foods I can provide her.  Boyfriend and I stocked the refrigerator with produce and supplies from our fabulous Isla Vista Co-op the other day and have reinstated Operation: JUICE.  Let the healing power of nourishment by whole, locally grown, organic foods begin!

To give my body a frest start, I'll be going in for a colonic this week with Alice's Natural Health Care in Santa Barbara.  I've long believed in the healing effects of colon cleansing after many years of poor eating habits and digestive struggles, but only been introduced to colonics through Alice.  The results of my first colonic a few months ago were incredible, and I'm looking getting my system back on track and prepared to take in all the nutrition I'll be providing, as effectively as possible, in the the next months.  And Alice is one of the wonders of the world, a grandmotherly, healing type, who spends equal parts educating her patients on nutrition and holistic remedies as she does performing the actual colonic service.

As long as we're on this thread of WAY TOO MUCH INFORMATION, I'll just keep going.  In the midst of my strongest juicing efforts this summer, I was juicing two to three times per day and often telling friends how incredible I felt, in spite of the fact it seemed I didn't have to eat much solid food.  One of the common comments was, "Don't you have the runs or something?"  But my answer was a big, fat NO.  I'd explain that I regularly battle constipation (Anal? Who, me?) and that for the first time in my life, I was actually regular.  So there you have it.  I'm a thirty-two year-old expert on pooping and hemmoroids.  Ask me anything.  So colonics?  Another key to ultimate health.

I will need to be cautious with my exposure to illness as chemotherapy is so detrimental to the immune system, and the immune-suppressing effects of the Decadron I'm taking to keep swelling in my brain to a minimum has already been evidenced by a case of steroid-induced acne.  Vanity moment: First a brain tumor, now adolescent-style, bumpy, erupting acne?   So I'll be keeping a bottle of Immune Boost on myself at all times.  Cold and flu season is here, and this preventative remedy will assist me at keeping the threat of virus-borne illness at bay during my treatment.

My treatments at Dr. Zhu's Neuro-Accupuncture in San Jose went incredibly well, as my brain function, clarity, and energy steadily increased during my week of treatment there.  I'd been complaining of the side effects of the seizure medication, but hadn't realized just how foggy, scattered, and unfocused I had really become, until I felt such incredible shifts following accupuncture.  I can carry on a conversation without dropping words and losing track of what I'm talking about for the first time in months.  My handwriting has improved, after becoming worse and worse all summer.  Attempts to multi-task are no longer interuppted by confusion, frustration and overwhelm.  Exhilarating.  I will certainly be going back to San Jose as needed during or following radiation treatment here in Santa Barbara.

I'll affectionately refer to my complementary team of healers as Team Love The Tuber into Oblivion.  My healer, shaman, and Reiki master friends are on call and ready to assist as I embark on my healing journey.  I couldn't feel more supported and blessed to have them in my corner.

The single, most powerful tool I have in my healing toolbox is meditation.  I have increased my practice to several hours a day, and the effects are far more powerful that I could have imagined!  I can hold a groundedness and clarity throughout my day like I've never known, even before brain tumor.  It's just as Boyfriend pointed out just over a month ago: All the nutrition and healthy raw food in the world aren't going to help me if I can't control my mind.  And now that I've found the way to control my mind, without fail, I know that my spiritual practice is the KEY ingredient to healing myself from within.

Which I fully intend to do.

Getting geared up - let the healing begin!

Back In The Saddle

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I am officially one of those crazy raw-food people.  I've had the juicer a week, and the million-dollar question in our house has become:  "What do we juice next?"  

"Should we try carrots and oranges together?"  

"Yes!"

"What about apples and broccoli and carrots?"  

"Oooh, yeah!"

I've been eating about 80% fresh, raw foods for almost a week now, and I don't know that I've ever felt this good my entire life.  Energy and positivity abounds!

It's been a LONG time since the thought of adding anything to my to-do list each day, particularly something athletic, didn't make me want to throw myself off a cliff.  But my energy level has hit the roof and BEYOND.  I feel like my old self again, only better.  I feel like I can do ANYTHING, maybe even multi-task!  And I WANT to do things!  Like yoga!  And clean my house!  And MAKE MORE JUICE!

Despite the fact that I did get to ride a horse (for the first time since February - yahooie!) and give a young friend of mine a riding lesson last week, I'm referring to getting back on my mountain bike.  I haven't ridden since brain tumor (SBT) and Keppra.

Exercise has been LOW on the priority list for a multitude of reasons.  First, taking the time has been difficult, with brain cancer being a full-time job and all.  And I'm overwhelmed when Boyfriend asks me what he can make me for dinner, never mind what happens when the credit card companies start calling at 7am.  Then there's the fact that even going for a hike would leave me a bit shaky, combining my medication's side effects with physical exertion.  So getting on something with wheels, even with a helmet, hasn't seemed like the prudent thing to do.

But Friday I was feeling restless, not to mention brave, so Boyfriend and I went on an 8-mile ride.  AND IT FELT GREAT.

Hopping on that kid's horse for five minutes last week actually did more lasting damage than the hour-long bike ride.  My inner thighs have been punishing me, complete with maniacal laughter, ever since.  (Is is lame to point out that I didn't bother adjusting the stirrups, and so I went without? For the whole five minutes?)

We just got back from our second bike ride.  STILL GREAT.

Behold, the power of THE JUICE.

Shadow

Alice in Cancerland

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Much of what I've read or seen with regards to fighting cancer on your own revolves around taking care of your body.  Nutritionally, spiritually, mentally.  We all know this, but it takes effort.  I'm finally ready.  No more excuses.  I'm home, my guests have departed, my financial aid forms have been submitted, and the brain fog has lifted somewhat.  Let's get this party started...

So begins a new chapter since my diagnosis.  The quest to gather the information that speaks to me.  To uncover treatments that resonate with me.  To unravel the mystery that lies within me.  To knock this tumor right out of me!  Just this last week has brought much inspiration:

First I stumbled upon Outsmart Your Cancer, by Tanya Harter Pierce, in a thrift store.  It has already proven to be a comprehensive resource for alternative and non-toxic cancer cures, as much of what I've found via Google ends up being covered in this book.

I finally got around to watching The Beautiful Truth, a documentary following the story of a 15 year-old boy, Garrett, who did a school project on nutrition as a major factor in preventing and curing disease, even cancer.  His parents own a farm that rehabs orphaned or injured wildlife and he always researched proper diets for the animals they were taking care of.  All of his research stressed the importance of a proper, natural diets for the animals.  So he began to wonder why you never heard any such thing with regards to humans.  So he began digging, and oh, what a tangled web he uncovered!  The movie provided much food for thought, even if it did sensationalize much of the information.  Discussion of that very flaw with Boyfriend did allow me to declare, "Isn't the benefit of being inspired to learn more worth getting past the presentation?"  He agreed.

Then came Crazy Sexy Cancer, part two in my "Cancer-Movie-Night" series.  A documentary by actress Kris Carr, who turned the camera on herself when she was diagnosed with a rare, terminal form of cancer, was a DELIGHT, if a movie about cancer could ever be such a thing.  Her positive attitude, often turning to raw sadness, grief, overwhelm, and more, really hit the nail with what I feel on a regular basis.  But I've been at this for TWO MONTHS.  The movie chronicled four years of highs and lows during her journey with cancer.  She met other cancer patients going through their chosen treatment paths, all with varied backgrounds, family lives and outcomes.  She spent the four years exploring every option, from diet to acupuncture to yoga to laugh therapy to reiki to spiritual practice.  The movie ended positively, with her cancer not giving her any outward symptoms and her doctor declaring the cancer stable enough that she need not see him or get another MRI scan for a full 12 months.  It was a powerful message for me - never give up, never stop exploring all your options.  Some of my favorite lines (paraphrased):

"It's all in our heads, we all have cancer of the mind."
"I feel like Alice in Cancerland."
"Fuck cancer."  (I want one of the hats from the movie!)
"What are you, one of those guys who likes cancer chicks?"

I'm definitely ordering Kris Carr's book (along with a slew of others) tomorrow.  Can't wait!

I was also inspired enough to purchase Jack LaLanne's Power Juicer today, along with about 53 pounds of organic fruits and veggies.  That's right, I'll be kicking my tumor's ass with knowledge and juice.  Let the juicing begin!

Like Water

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I was crying again.   We were on a hike, trying to get some down-time in before we needed to pack for our trips. 

Poor Boyfriend.  Even I wanted to scream at myself, "Again? With the crying?"

But he hugged me close instead.  "It's okay honey, let it out, let it flow."

There's that word again.  FLOW.

I know I'm angry.  I know I'm repressing my anger.  A shaman told me that anger is fire, and fire could be balanced with more water in my life.  I need to learn how to flow like water.  Take a swim.  Watch the river flow.  Do my yoga with the intention of flowing like water.  Go with the flow.

"So if I'm angry, I can let the tears flow?"
"Yes, just feel what you feel.  Let it out."
"Darn it."
"What's wrong?"
"My contact just exploded from the crying. Ugh,  I can't see..."
"Just close your eyes.  You don't need them to see - just listen instead."

Suddenly I heard it.  The sound of the river flowing beneath us we sat on a rock above the bank.  And everything was clearer.   

Sometimes a flood of tears is the only way to wash away the flames. 

River Flow

Tuber Update

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People have been asking me for a health update. I've been meaning to write it but so much has been happening creatively and energetically, I've been procrastinating. I mean, who wants to talk about her brain tumor when there are so many other exciting things to do? Seriously.

But it's time. Mostly because I think I've spoken to enough doctors and reiterated the information to enough family members and close friends that I'm actually capable of writing an intelligent update at this point. A week ago, not so much. Who knew that I would someday speak fluent medical-ese?

To get you caught up.

I suffered a seizure almost a month ago when I was home alone. I had stayed up way too late, been working way too hard, and I've been really stressed for over six months now. The seizure, head trauma and resulting swelling caused two mild seizures (for which I was concious) a few days later, the day Boyfriend took me to the ER. A CT scan in the ER revealed that I have a fairly good-sized brain tumor in the right temporal lobe of my brain. I was informed by the ER doc that what I had experienced, both unconsiously and consciously were in fact seizures.  I was immediately admitted to the hospital for a week of tests and observation.

What the doctors are saying.

7 out of 8 of my western doctors* agree on the the basics of my situation: The combination of the tumor's presence and my stress level caused the first seizure. The sample taken from my biopsy, the size of the tumor, and my PET scan all indicate the tumor is slow-growing, low-grade, not aggressive, not metabolizing sugar, and only 10% of the cells are reproducing. Surgery and radiation aren't worth the risk at this time. Unless the tumor appears to grow or become more aggressive, it can be monitored very well with MRIs every two months. Oral chemo may shrink the tumor, but there's certainly enough time to feel out more options; there's no rush. All eight doctors do agree that I need to talk to specialists for more information and continue taking Keppra to prevent another seizure. I'm an otherwise healthy 32-year-old woman with a brain tumor.

*The eighth doctor believes that it was solely the brain tumor's presence that caused my seizure. But I KNOW how over-tired and stressed out I've been, so if I get a vote, I'm with the other seven.

What I'm doing for now.

I intend to follow up with the referrals to specialists by my doctors, and whatever tests and MRIs would allow me and my doctors to monitor the tumor. I am staying on the anti-seizure meds for now - my mind has become much clearer over the last week, although I still have to be careful not to try to do too much in any given day.

I have heard many good things about the oral chemo regimen, but will need to do my own research prior to signing on for the ingestion of 2 years worth of chemicals. I've been told that some people have all of the adverse reactions and none of the benefits; some are helped remarkably and have no nausea or side effects.

I've long been a student of metaphysics and alternative therapies, so pursuing alternative and mind-body medicine to treat my condition is an obvious route. I've spoken with many of my metaphysical friends and holistic health care providers for their ideas, support, and energy work. I've been doing some energy work with a magnificent shaman to whom I've just been introduced but have heard about for many months. He has given me homework to do - homework that I've intended to do for a long time anyway, but am now hyper-compelled to do, since being notified that I have a brain tumor. There are no accidents.

I will also be managing my health nutritionally, taking supplements and eating food with anti-cancer and tumor-fighting properties. Most of you know that I lead a fairly healthy lifestyle and eat really healthy anyway. I'll be consulting a nutritionist friend and this book to amp up my nutrition even further. Since my diagnosis I've been craving even more raw, fresh fruits and veggies than normal, so I'm thinking my body already has a good sense of what to do.

I've been doing my energy work, meditation and yoga practice daily. Sometimes I'm joined by Kitty and Boyfriend and it's good to have (even more) support!  I've been working less, relaxing more, and writing, writing, writing. I've been allowing myself to breathe and do what I love, and it's resulting in an increased level of synchronicity in my life! Amazing new contacts, dear old friends and fabulous opportunities abound! 

Next week I'm headed to Denver to stay with friends for the 2+ weeks Boyfriend will be sailing in New Zealand. I'll be relaxing with friends, both human and equine, and meeting with some healers there.

The picture at right shows the tuber's progression over the last 20 days.  My hard work is paying off - you can see that that it's shriveled to a mere raisin of its former, tubular self.

A raisin of a tuber!
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