I started this blog a week ago so there are updates on relevant sections.
So. I wrote to a friend’s comment on Facebook that I’m not doing too bad with the loss of hair, mostly in the context of cutting it off. It’s a choice I’m making, I’m being Stoic and matter of fact. And that was relatively easy to do while it was just about a shorter hair cut. Now that it is coming out in huge wads, especially in the shower, and surprisingly, now that it is so much shorter (I can’t imagine what the hair loss would have been like with long hair!), I am facing the harder reality of looking like a cancer patient. Thin, wispy and semi-bald. I’ve taken to wearing hats, and kerchiefs. I have not yet gotten to the point of shaving it all off but that might be coming sooner than later as there is almost no point in having a little bit of hair. And no, pretty sure I’m not going to look like some bad-ass action heroine. I have a lot more empathy for men losing their hair going bald hereditarily. I did find out that the American Cancer Society has an office at the hospital oncology wing, and they have wigs to choose from for free, or if none is found that seems acceptable, they will provide a $70 gift certificate to their catalog. So as of my next chemo appointment I should at least have the opportunity to have a free wig. I have already noticed with the warmer weather that hats or kerchiefs are hot. I can only imagine what a wig will be like. I may need to do a henna skull design and just be bold about it.
UPDATE: Went ahead and had Grant shave off the rest as it was rather horrifying having big clumps of hair coming out in the shower, so now I’m bald, and I got more scarves and hats, and I also did get a free wig which is pretty cute from the ACS on Thursday when I had chemo.
Gratitude for Peace and My Learning So Far
Grant and I were talking about how grateful and sort of surprised we both are that we’re not completely freaking out. A friend of a friend had written of her experience in support of mine/ours with a statement something to the effect that “she must be freaking out,” and really that hasn’t been true. Eckhart Tolle quotes the Christian New Testament in Paul and Timothy’s letter to the Philippians, Chapter 4, on the Peace that Passes All Understanding, and we are like, you know, it is amazing, and we are feeling that. Philippians 4 the writers also state, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation….” And amazingly, I can say I feel this more often than not. This is down to those things which have been revealed to me over the years, wisdom which gives me a bigger soul-sized perspective.
And it hasn’t all been through the Christian religion in which I was raised. It’s interesting I’m finding echoes there though. I have learned a different perspective through my counseling training, and IFS Therapy training. I have also found a different perspective through all the synchronicities which aligned to make me a believer in reincarnation, and the belief that Earth is a soul-school, not a one-shot deal, not a final resting place. There is, in both the Christian world, and in the past-life and between-lives regression world, the commonality of “the other side” which is benevolent and loving. The regression world goes on with the belief that the “other side” is concerned with each soul’s continued growth and development, and is always there to support and guide. I think at some point the belief in reincarnation got officially wiped from Christendom, for it is there in some writings if you look for it. But that is a discussion for an entirely different blog posting, or maybe a different blog entirely.
Suffice it to say that knowing this is an experience that is meant to grow me, and that leaving a body, whether now or later, is not hard, but rather peaceful and easy, and more particularly, inevitable, takes the panic and fear right out of it for me. Thank God / Source and my Spirit Guides for showing me that when they did.
Gratitude for Grant’s Love and Support
Speaking of Grant, I have to continue to give him props. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence, as well as researched evidence, that men are more likely to bail on a relationship with a woman with a major illness. Grant is being a rock. In fact, he proposed our engagement on the same day we got the first opinion diagnosis. We make a good team, and I intend to get well from this, and support him in return should the need arise. We are both learning a lot and applying it, which should improve the health of each of us.
A foundation stone to IFS Therapy is the idea of “parts.” “Part of me feels x and part of me feels y.” Parts can be categorized into three types: Managers, Firefighters, and Exiles. Managers are all about controlling things, criticizing, and preventing bad things from happening. I’m sure you can see how managers might flare when something as major as cancer shows up. And it is work for me, and those around me, to do the work of IFS in calming down those managers, and being in the C-ful state of Self-Led-Ness. Self as in Higher Self. This is the core Self that operates in the realm of C-ful-ness. I believe this is the core state that knows and experiences the Peace that was mentioned above. But sometimes it is work to keep the managers from driving one’s proverbial bus. We are working on it. C-ful-ness is a much more comfortable state to be in.
It was recommended to us to watch a documentary called Heal. SO worth the watch. Between that, and Dr. Lissa Rankin’s work, and so many others who have been teaching the same things for a generation at least, it was a good reminder that there is more to physical healing than just chemo and surgery, changing diet, taking vitamins and exercising. There is such a connection between mind and body. And really “mind” should include spirit, soul, emotions, and thoughts. There is plenty of good evidence to show that healing in these realms aids in healing the body. So, I feel like this is my test. I’ve known these things for many years. Maybe I let some of them slip over time. But my intention is to work on all the areas of “me” in order to heal all of “me” including this body which is currently suffering the presence of cancer.
Still not really doing art. Except that I did start. One of my assignments from my primary care doc was to draw a picture of myself. All I could imagine at the time was my fourth-grade self portrait which was completely unsatisfactory. I spent some weeks, really, contemplating how I would really rather do it, and in a moment of driving, or another time in between sleep and waking I found a few more ways to do it. Much more satisfactorily. The discussion above which includes healing “me” made me think of it.
Fundamentally, I am a soul having a physical experience, and this particular physicality I have, which now has cancer, is not “me.” It is a vehicle, an amazing vehicle, my soul is riding around in. So that is part of my trouble with the assignment. Which “me” do I draw? I decided to go for the soul core me. In between-lives soul regression sessions, one of the things a person can find out is what color their soul is. This is an indicator of soul maturity. When I asked I was shown light butter yellow light in the middle surrounded by lavender or lilac colored fringes. So I drew that with colored pencils as my picture of myself. It really was a rough draft, and now I’d like to do it with paints. (Colored pencils have never been very satisfactory to me.) So there’s a tiny bit of art I’ve done.
I have an artist friend, Lili, through whom I met Grant, who is willing to do art with me. We are scheduling time. And I’m also aware that I have had so many offers of help, including art help, since this whole thing came up, that I have not taken everyone up on their offers yet. Know I am thankful, and that, gosh, there is so much to do now!
UPDATE: Another artist friend Michele, who is a jewelry artist, who I met with for lunch recently while closer to her town for a healing appointment, has offered to get together and do art, so I may take her up on that.
And another friend, Lizzie, fashionista, jewelry maker, oil painter, drawer, pottery painter, and damn good at whatever she puts her artistic self to, has been designing and making for me some middle-friendly clothes, and then also making some accessories to throw in with them. She also took pictures and rendered over one of them in a most spectacular way. Voilà.
There you go, an original EAWoody.
Full Time Job, or not
Being sick like this feels like a full time job, between going to many different appointments, to just needing more rest, to having so much homework assigned, I am so grateful I have short-term and long-term disability insurance through my job. It will still not equal my full salary but it certainly is better than nothing. It will keep me out of the poor house.
I know there are plenty in America who don’t have that luxury and for whom a cancer diagnosis can become instant destitution and bankruptcy. This is wrong. America is a rich country. We should take care of our people better. Reform of our “health care” system is required. Single payer for all! We are behind all our developed peer nations. It is ridiculous.
Anyway, back to homework. These are a few of the things I have had assigned as homework:
- Going to the mountains, sitting in the pine forest, next to a stream
- Drawing myself
- Doing art
And these are in addition to more standard medical/physical things I should be doing, like taking a bunch of pills, paying a bunch of bills, getting enough sleep, going to a bazillion appointments, getting some exercise, etc.
Even though I’m not working, I feel like there are not enough hours in the day to do all the things. That is a common theme in my life, and maybe is something that needs fixing for me as part of this process.
UPDATE: Today I went to the mountains to Gateway Park with my Dad. Here are some photos of that. It was a cool, cloudy day, and nice to go for a short hike/walk, take some pictures, and then have a picnic.
So while IFS Therapy talks about Firefighters in one way, I’m going to be talking about them in another way now. Based on all our research and reading, I have come to see my gyn-oncology team as Firefighters. They are there to put out the fire. And like firefighters they may cut proverbial holes in the roof, beat down doors, spray water and other chemicals to knock the fire down. Laudable and necessary. However, they are not that concerned with the cause of the fire, and they are really not that concerned with redesigning and rebuilding after a fire. They are not really operating in the vein of structural engineer, architect, builder, or interior designer. At least not in the typical American Western Allopathic Medical model. Which is why I am so glad I have many others on my team who are.
Since my last major posting I have seen my primary care physician, where I had a Myers infusion, had acupuncture, had counseling, had lymph drainage (that was very interesting and it reduced discomfort in my middle almost immediately), saw my nutritionist, had a spiritual mentoring appointment with my regression trainer Linda Backman, had my all day chemo adventure at University Hospital in Denver, and had a post-chemo acupuncture appointment today. So these are my additional team members I’ve seen in the last 10 days or so. Additionally, I have zeroed in on what appears to be the right dosage of mistletoe to get the desired reaction.
I am really trying to work this from all angles, and do as much as I can without limiting myself to just one small world view. This is based on Dr. Lissa Rankin’s work in Mind Over Medicine as well as that of Dr. Kelly Turner, a social worker specializing in oncology, who has written a book called Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds. She interviewed patients all over the world, and their often non-allopathic practitioners, who found the cure for themselves, and what the commonalities were. Really only two out of her nine key points have much to do with physical health (radical diet change and herbal supplements). The rest are much more mind-body: spiritual, emotional, social, etc. So while chemo and possibly surgery are one set of tools, they are by no means the primary and only set of tools.
CA-125 this time
Before they do chemo, they take blood work, and check the CA-125 number. At the original testing it was 3500. Then at the testing before the first chemo treatment it was already down to about 2450. Well, yesterday, before the second chemo it was down to 400!!! Shocking! Surprising. Dr. Guntupalli congratulated me. The normal range is 0-35 so it is still high but instead of 100 times higher it is now only about 10 times higher. And I can feel it. I feel less pain, have less bloating, my energy is better. And I am quite convinced it is because I am doing all the additional complementary therapies. Dr. Guntupalli’s goal before doing surgery is 35 (maybe 50). I’m thinking maybe it will have dropped to that after this second chemo and a third won’t be necessary. But wouldn’t it also be fun, for it to drop so low, and for the cancer to get so small, that it wouldn’t actually show up on a CT scan, and they would find no trace on which to do surgery? It is possible, based on Radical Remission and Heal. It is possible. A girl can hope.
So this weekend and into next week I will be in chemo recuperation phase. I am hopeful that we learned a lot the last time and can keep the side effects to a minimum. We are prepared. I’ve been grateful that I haven’t experienced nausea and vomiting at all. What a relief.
Have a good weekend y’all! All y’all. Thanks for being part of my social support network.