Integrative Oncologist

Integrative Oncologist

Today I had an appointment with an integrative oncologist naturopath, Dr. West, in Boulder, whose name had been given to me by another cancer person-in-healing. This was a very interesting and uplifting appointment for both Grant and I. Dr. West is on board with a lot of what I have already been doing, and has some additional suggestions and tweaks for ways to improve. She is good with watching the CA-125 number to see if it is low enough already to justify not having a third chemo and going straight to surgery. I should be getting those test results the end of this week. She also believes I should go ahead with surgery. Most importantly to me, she is on board with taking it from there without further chemo, as her focus (as is Dr. Fields’) is to build up the “terrain,” a.k.a. my body and its immune system, enough for it to do what it already knows how to do in keeping the cancer in check, and/or taking care of it entirely. One interesting suggestion was that there are a couple of clinics she knows of in Canada that do hyperthermia, and mistletoe intravenously, among other things, and her reaction to our suggestions of clinics either south of the border or in Europe was a little lukewarm in comparison, and she had good reasons for that reaction. She would like to do further testing, as well as medical file sharing between all relevant parties, so she can have a good idea of exactly where my “terrain” is and what it needs to function at its best.


So, alas, one of those things is exercise.  I don’t know why I have such a block, or as we would say in IFS Therapy, “a part up” around exercise.  Maybe I need some more counseling work there. Intellectually I know exercise is important. On a practical, daily, time, and interest level, it just never happens because there is always something more important and/or more interesting to me. So my job is to find exercise that seems interesting to me, and it is kind of hard to come up with. Doing various typical rec center kinds of things are just not that interesting to me. Maybe taking up various forms of dance would be more to the point, because I am an artistic soul, and a musical soul, and so maybe moving my body artistically with and to music might be the closest I’ll find. However, I do also like being in the mountains, so maybe hiking. And I have liked in the past bicycling, at least as a kid, sometimes, when it wasn’t to school in the winter in the cold and all uphill both ways. Playing in the water was fun as a kid, but I’m not a great technical, formal swimmer. I LOVED playing Ultimate Frisbee as a teenager and got quite good, but that was so much about time and place, and most importantly the people with whom I played, that it is really not replicable at this point in my life. So, still thinking about all that.

Boulder, My Home Town

So while we were in Boulder County we had lunch at my favorite Indian restaurant, and visited my dear friend Lizzie at the yoga studio, both in Louisville. Lunch was a bit cheating, maybe a lot cheating, but it is really the best Indian restaurant around, and so I cheated. Generally I’m being quite good.

After that, we went to downtown Boulder to have some quality time, walking along Boulder Creek, going for a drive up Flagstaff Mountain, and going to Pearl Street to find something to eat for dinner. I got exercise (walking!), vitamin D (sun!), and some endorphins (fun!). While wandering on Pearl Street Mall, I heard, “Andrea!” and lo and behold, my old school friend Maria was calling my name. She and her mom and some of their friends were having dinner on a café terrace. Maria and her husband bought my parents’ house when they moved out of Boulder, so we have that connection as well. It was very good to see them! I’m sort of surprised she recognized me with no hair, a hat, and sunglasses, but she did.

Hair; No Hair

Speaking of no hair, today was also the first day I wore my wig out in public. I wore it most of the day, until I started feeling like it, or more precisely the squeezy head stocking that one wears underneath a wig, was going to tourniquet my brain! It was kind of fun to have “hair” again, but also kind of weird. I have to confess to having hair envy these days. I see people with even medium length hair and think, “Do you know how long it’s going to take me to have hair even that long?! Three years probably. And to get it back down to my waist, five or six. My head, or rather, other features such as my nose and ears are not going to go well with cute pixie hair cuts, not really. So, all I can say is, “Grow, Hair, Grow!”

I had been having, apparently typical, post-chemo, post-shaving head itchiness and sores. Man, that was a pain! That’s part of why I could NOT imagine wearing the wig. Utter misery. But I have found a shampoo/treatment that works well, and it is all calming down and healing up, and so today I thought, “Yes, maybe today I can wear the wig.”

I have vastly expanded my selection of scarves and kerchiefs.  I got some really great batik kerchiefs at Jax Outdoors, which are all cotton and so absorb and add comfort to uncomfortable heads.

Mostly at this point the itchiness is about the super short hair. I have learned intimately which way my hair grows, where its nap lies. I did not know this before. That is a plus I guess.

Other plusses of being bald include much shorter shower and prep time, no hairs to clean out of the drain after every shower, no need to brush or comb out tangles, if I wore a saffron robe I might pass as a Buddhist monk, chemo has also slowed down or stopped hair growth on other parts of my body which I might normally shave so that has also provided “ease and flow” to the showering process, I now wear cute hats I wouldn’t have before, I do not find my stray hairs on my clothes or anywhere else, I can turn over in bed without turning over on my own hair and getting stuck, and … that’s all I have come up with so far.


Also I was reminded of the word in French for bald: chauve. (A side note: a chauve souris is literally a “bald mouse” which actually refers to a bat.) This was at my French Meetup Group yesterday. I was able to attend and do a show and tell about my time in France. I focused on the town of Mandelieu La Napoule and the Chateau there. Lovely. I miss it. Elle me manque. The last chapter in Radical Remission by Kelly Turner, PhD, focuses on having strong reasons for living. So for me, returning to France, and Europe, is one of my strong reasons. I love it and I miss it.

Other News

This last week was mostly about recovering from chemo 10 days ago. Still no nausea and vomiting, but instead of diarrhea, which I was prepared for, the digestion went the other way. Was able to manage that too, but it threw me as they had said my reaction to chemo would likely be the same each time for me, and it wasn’t. So had to recalibrate and adjust.

Tomorrow I have and art date with Lili. So at last, some visual arts will be happening.

When I get the latest CA-125 results I will let you know.


3 thoughts on “Integrative Oncologist

  1. Wow, Andrea. This whole process is like getting to know yourself, down to the follicle level. As for exercise, walking is a basic and wonderful thing! Brisk or meditative, in the city or mountains, it’s all good. As you describe in this very post, it combines vitamin D and fun – a great form of integrative medicine! If you can walk in the trees, all the better. The Japanese call it “shinrin-yoku” – forest bathing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Christina Tomich May 28, 2018 — 4:17 pm

    Keep fighting Andrea, you got this!!


    On Tue, May 22, 2018, 12:34 AM Staying C-ful with the Big C wrote:

    > Andrea posted: “Integrative Oncologist Today I had an appointment with an > integrative oncologist naturopath, Dr. West, in Boulder, whose name had > been given to me by another cancer person-in-healing. This was a very > interesting and uplifting appointment for both Grant an” >

    Liked by 1 person

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