Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Healer, Heal Me

Hubster and I belong to a large corporate HMO provided through his place of employment. We have benefited from it greatly. Both he and I have seen the inside of the ER, logged up plenty of doctor visits for various illnesses and injuries and taken advantage of their pharmacy and radiology departments. So in no way do I wish ill will or mass destruction on the institution. They have served us well.
But... when I received my cancer diagnosis, I knew I had to be well informed about treatments and procedures. This was a major life changing decision I would make - one that would impact not only me but my circle of family and friends. I needed to explore all my options.
After the conventional medicine follow-up tests, I was immediately placed in the cue for appointments with a surgeon and oncologist and offered a visit to a radiologist. I turned that one down. I was getting overwhelmed.
Conventional medicine offers the trinity of treatment for cancer - chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Sad to say, it is also known as cut, poison and burn.
Each doctor presents their method of treatment much like one would sell you a time share. You go in their office, and after the prescribed welcome hand shake, they sit you down, tell you that you need their services and if you don't take advantage of their offer within 24 hours, your window of opportunity will be gone - oh and so will you...
Doctor Surgeon told me I had stage 3 cancer, needed surgery and gave me the colorful pleasant pamphlet showing the different methods of cutting out your colon, depending on where the cancer is located. The pictures showed happy, smiling doctors with happy, smiling patients before and after the procedure - oh, they were all artist rendered pictures - and gave a brief description of what would take place. Reminded me of the pamphlets you get when you buy into the new housing subdivision, shiny  new houses with shiny new lawns and pretty flowers. What they don't show you is how your subdivision is really going to look like when they are behind schedule and you still only have a foundation sunk in mud two months after you were scheduled to move in.
My picture showed a happy lady looking at her colostomy bag like it was a tattoo. Neat and easy.
I figured by the steady, controlled look on Doctor Surgeon's face that she was familiar with doing the surgery, but not so much the aftermath of what her patients went through after the deed was done.
After her pitch, I kindly let her know that I was contemplating a naturopathic approach, gave her my research findings and assured her that I was under the care of a licensed educated naturopathic doctor and not doing the witch doctor approach with bones and eyes of newt. Her eyes took on a glazed and guarded look, let me know that there was no founded studies "out there" that supported naturopathic cancer treatments, told me that she could not accept my decision and sent me on my way with a pronouncement that I'd probably be back like the others too sick for her to save.
My next appointment was with the oncologist. He was an older, serious man who cut to the chase, told me  he'd read Dr. Surgeon's report and knew of my "alternative treatment plan". He offered me his treatment - 5-FU chemotherapy along with radiation at the same time. He told me that there would be side effects - hair loss, nausea, diarrhea, severe anemia, low immunity to other illnesses, and although they don't know why, my hands and feet would turn red and blister. Oh, and the radiation? Just imagine an enema with acid... need I say more? He sent me on my way with a little more compassion. He let me know he could not agree with my alternative approach, but wished me well and would support my decision - because it was my decision.
So, I came away thinking - I have a better chance of dying from the treatments rather than the cancer.
Next: Healer, Heal Me - Part 2

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Carbs and Salads

What wouldn't we give for
That extra bit more
That's all we live for
Why should we be fated to do
Nothing but brood on food
Magical food,
Wonderful food,
Heavenly food,
Beautiful food,
Food, Glourious food glororious fooooooood

What are we waiting for?.............FOOOOOOODDD!

Lyrics from Oliver

I'm a bit of a foodie. 
I enjoy cooking it and eating it. I enjoy watching the Food Chanel even if I can't eat much of what they prepare. Needless to say, before my "adventure", my weight was a wee tad on the heaver side of optimum for my height. My blood pressure - on the higher side of normal.

After Hubster had his heart attack, see link - http://verbalismbuffet.blogspot.com/2013/07/have-heart.html I decided that we would face the music. Our diet - although not bad, needed an adjustment. We began with smaller portions and more fruit and veggies.  We both lost a little weight. Off to a good start.

And then my world flipped upside down in January of 2014 with the cancer diagnosis. I knew it was all out war. Cancer or me. One was going down. I'm a fighter. Ain't no cancer gonna do me in. 
First course of action - vitamins and minerals to strengthen my immune system and extreme diet change. My naturopathic doctor (ND) put me on a reeeeally low carb diet. We're talkin' 35 grams a day low carb diet. 

If you go online, you'll get conventional doctors who argue that sugar does not feed cancer. Of course most of them in their medical studies are not required to take nutrition classes. On the other hand, naturopathic doctors do study nutrition. They understand the connection between what we eat and how our bodies process what we put in our mouths. Seems like a no brainer to me. 

Simple carbs turn into sugar. http://howtothinkthin.com/instincts2.htm

 Bottom line. Cancer does feed on sugar. http://www.naturalnews.com/024827_cancer_sugar_women.html
 So what does a low carb diet look like? At first - hell. No pasta, starches (potatoes, rice) bread, sweets, fruit - comfort food. Out went mac and cheese and cheese cake. Spaghetti Factory and Olive Garden? Nope. Instead, the salad bar became my best friend. And you know what? My body began to thank me. I lost a ton of weight. The pounds melted off of me. I began to feel better and had more energy. Sure it was hard. 
I whined a lot - glared at people who slurped down spaghetti noodles and chased it with thick slices of sour dough bread.

There were melt downs when fast fix chemo/radiation seemed better. Get it over with. Fill me with poisonous chemicals and  burning radiation. But thankfully the voice of reason (aka G~d) would remind me that His ways for me might be long and hard and restrictive, but in the long run, best. Did I want side effects which produce side effects or did I want one step at a time healthy alternatives that might take a lifetime? Quality of life won. And let me stop right here for a moment. I am not advocating my choices for everyone. This is the direction, after much prayer and thought, I have chosen to go. If you are or have gone the chemo/radiation route, may you have much success. May your life be full and long. We're all in a journey. This is the direction I'm to go in.
Next: So what treatment are you doing? 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Soul Clutter

Above all else, guard your heart; for it is the source of life's consequences. Proverbs 4:23

Collecting comes naturally to me. It's in my DNA. When my father passed, we plowed through paper piles - speeches, sermons, research material and photo magazines. My mother, on the other hand saved coupons, clipped recipes; collected canned food,toilet paper and paper towels. The latter, I think because she lived through the depression. I've heard similar stories of children cleaning out their parents homes to find a larder of staples. 

I find that the rule of thumb is this:
No matter what you throw out, you'll need it the next day.
So, it makes sense to hang on to it. Saves money. Don't you think?

This doesn't work for spiritual and emotional clutter, however. Our bodies were not created to collect mental, emotional and spiritual baggage. There have been many studies done, and the conclusion is the same - our mental, emotional and spiritual health dove-tails with our physical health. It's been found that many cancers, along with other physical maladies can be linked to a previous traumatic experience or unforgiveness. 
So it came as no surprise to me that this would need to be my next course of action in my healing journey. A spiritual and emotional clean out was in order. The cupboards and drawers of my soul needed de-cluttering. Anger, resentments, unforgiveness, what ifs, cares and worries had to go.  

I am so very grateful that my Heavenly Abba (daddy) is kind, compassionate, merciful and gentle with me. My time of soul searching and cleansing was guided. Never did I feel overwhelmed. After all, G~d is holistic and the Master Physician. He knew that to create a healing environment within my body, He needed to create a healing environment within my soul. I was safe in His Hands.

The holistic healing process is slow, steady, gradual. It doesn't happen overnight. Unlike conventional medicine - take a pill or do a procedure for immediate relief in spite of the long term damaging effects, my journey is a process. Its all about repairing and restoring; well being and wholeness. 
I can't have a hidden junk drawer. Life happens. New things try to replace the old. My job is to fill my soul with things that nurture and heal.
Here are tools that help me in renewing my mind:
  • Everyone has a story. When someone makes me angry, I determine that their actions or words come from what they are dealing with themselves. 
  • Even if someone truly hurt me and I have every right to be angry with them, will rehearsing the deed create an environment of peace within me? Will wishing ill will upon them change what has already happened to me?
  • In most cases, the person who has wronged me, has put it out of their mind and they've moved on. It's me who remains in a thought prison bound to re-live the deed. My anger, resentment and unforgiveness changes my body chemistry, not theirs. 
  • G~d is on my side. He has not caused my misfortune. He may have allowed it, but like one watching a parade from the Good Year Blimp, He sees the beginning as well as the end. 
  • Most things I worry about never happen. And if they do, G~d is there to walk with me and give me what I need to get through it.
  • Melt downs are inevitable. When I have one, I allow myself the tears and fears for a moment and then pick myself up, dust myself off and start all over again.
  • I talk to myself. Yup! I really do. Out loud, even. But then again, so did King David. Read the Psalms. He was always talking to his soul. 
Prayer, deep breathing, listening to soothing music, aromatherapy, good trustworthy friends, good deeds, petting my cat, laughing, crafts... Things that occupy my mind, fill my soul, make me smile - these produce the chemicals that my body needs to create healing.
Next: I can't eat that either??

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Visible Means of Support

"Friends are those rare people who ask how we are and then wait to hear the answer." Ed Cunningham

I remember sitting on my couch, plotting my means of survival. If I'm to get through this, what will I need? Prayer - check. A team of medical providers who wanted me to live; healthy and whole - check. Research material to educate and empower me - check. A support team who would surround and protect me.

Due to a very unfortunate turn of events, Hubster and I were forced to leave our spiritual family - the ones who had carried us through the death of our baby grandson and Hubster's heart attack. We'd walked through the valley of the shadow of death with their love and support. Who would be here for us now?

G~d is faithful.

We still had the friendship of two of the elders of the congregation. Hubster called and they came over, oil in hand and prayed over me - twice - no hesitation - no judgement. 

G~d's timing is perfect.

A few weeks before I got my diagnosis, we were invited to join a small home fellowship from our daughter and son-in-law's church. We knew the pastor and his wife and several from the congregation due to their support for our family at Rhys' passing. We were still tender from our excommunication, but they welcomed us with open hearts and arms from the beginning. 
When I shared my "news" during our time of prayer, they gathered around us, prayed, cried and held us. My son-in-law lead out in prayer. It was a powerful, healing time. I knew I was safe. One family in particular took an interest in my healing journey and provided me with several books that proved to be instrumental in the L~rd's special communication with me as mentioned in my last blog, http://verbalismbuffet.blogspot.com/2015/03/trust-in-lord.html
I also joined the women's fellowship Secret Sister program. I received encouragement cards from my secret sis at the perfect time, on several occasions. After one particular melt down, pity party, the next day, a card arrived with exactly what I needed to hear. 
I also had my family, including my brothers and sisters-in-law who rallied around me and offered their prayers and encouragement.

This is an excerpt from my blog Blankets and Seasons:
I may have to bundle up awhile longer, or I may be headed into a sweet spring, but this one thing I know. My Heavenly Father has an endless supply of blankets that He will provide. And when spring and summer come again, I have a keepsake cabinet that I will store all my blankets in. 
If you find yourself in one of those seasons where you need a blanket, I pray for you someone to reach in their cabinet and pull out one of their prized blankets to share. And if you know someone who looks like the chill of winter is upon them - give them one of yours.
I've learned that blankets come in different "fabrics" - prayer, a listening ear, hugs, phone calls and cards of encouragement. These blankets are necessary for optimum health.
May I encourage you to think of those in your circle (or even those you don't know well). What kind of blanket can you give them?  
Physical health thrives on spiritual, emotional and mental well being. we're all in this together.
Next: Cleaning out the closet.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Trust In The LORD

"Cancer is but one of the many ways the body tries to change the way you see and treat yourself, including your body. This inevitably brings up the subject of spiritual health, which plays at least as important a role in cancer as physical and emotional reasons do."  Andreas Moritz

I have choices and I have time. I have Heaven on my side, and I have people who care for me.

I knew I couldn't be pressured into making life changing decisions without lots of prayer and support.  

My surgeon, void of compassion, gave me the grim battle plan. Due to the nature of where the mass is located, I would have to endure chemo (hair loss, blisters on my hands and feet, nausea, diarrhea...) and radiation (think an acid enema - chemical burn in the place the sun don't shine) at the same time, then, the lower portion of my colon (rectum) removed and for the rest of my life have to wear a colostomy bag. And yes, I know that there are worse things others deal with and, yes, if this is my fate, I'll woman up and deal with it. 
Everything was said, probed, tested and done. The ball was in my court.

I have Heaven on my side.
My first course of action was to take Hezekiah's example. He was a King in Israel and received bad news.

And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up unto the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD. 
  And Hezekiah prayed unto the LORD...   Isaiah 37:14-15
Then I waited. 
 G~d is faithful.
I began to receive verses from scripture. Not the hunt around and find something kind of thing. I've done that before. I ended up with...
Flip, flip, flip, close your eyes, point - "And Judas went and hung himself."
Flip, flip, flip, close your eyes, point - "Go and do likewise."
No, this was the "you know it's a supernatural thing". I'd be watching TV and a scripture reference would pop into my mind. I'd look it up and it would address the very thing I'd just prayed about - mostly a concern or fear. This happened several times.
And I'm not one to hear the voice of G~d on a regular basis.
Along with the verses, I'd be reading - scanning actually, a book or article and something would pop out. Something that addressed the very question I'd just had. Or, my mind would go into a mini melt down and I'd doubt my decisions or path I felt I was to walk, grab one of the books my naturopathic doctor, or a friend 
had recommended, open a random page and, bingo, the sentence that addressed my concern would jump out at me. 
Coincidence or coinkidinkles? Nope.
Next: I have people who care.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Timing is Everything

I'd always regarded naturopathic or holistic methods of healing good for others, but not for me. Not that I disagreed with it, but I watched my friends go that route, and frankly, watching them shove a handful of vitamins down their throat at every meal seemed like such a chore. It was expensive and time consuming with all the dietary changes. Too restrictive, I concluded. 
And then, my son got very ill, and his place of employment didn't provide medical insurance.
We visited several ERs within the year and the treatment was the same. No insurance? "Sure we have to treat you, but you'll get minimal care. We'll throw you some pain meds because that's what you want - everyone does, that's the real reason you're here. And you'll leave without answers, or solutions. And, oh, by the way, we will demand you pay us for our shoddy treatment. Have a nice day."

My mother bear instincts kicked in. On the internet I went. Let's give this naturopatic medicine a try. If we're going to pay out of pocket anyway, what have we got to lose. We found a possible clinic and took advantage of their 15 minute free consultation.
We found a fit. Treatments began and we saw improvement. But more important, we found people who really did care about my son and his well being. 

So now, here I am. A grim diagnosis - a grim treatment plan. "Sure we can fix you, but it might cost you your overall health and quality of life."
Naturopathic treatment would be out of pocket. Expensive. But the forecast was brighter. We'll help your body to heal while you heal. And even if you end up having to go the conventional way down the road, you'll be prepared for it physically. I made the call, took advantage of their 15 minute free consultation, chose a doctor and began baby steps towards recovery.  Along with the handful of vitamins and minerals I took everyday, and a major diet adjustment, I received what I consider a lifeline. I was given empowerment, and tools. Books to read about taking back my own health by my lifestyle, diet, attitudes, mindsets. I was directed to studies that the money backed political agenda groups don't provide. Research that is being conducted daily, small studies on small budgets showing that there are indeed other ways to cure cancer. Reports from real people with real health issues that show promise. Reports from doctors who have been shunned by their colleagues because they exposed the medical industry for what it can become when money is the prize.
I received all this along with hugs and encouragement, and staff who cared about little ol' me.

It seems though, when G~d shows up, so does the enemy. In spite of all my positive
progress, I still had melt down moments. Without warning, the "little black cloud" would materialize and I'd start to panic. "What if I'm not hearing from G~d after all. What if this treatment plan is causing more harm than good? 
Once again, I used my weapon of choice - my go to prayer - "Help!!!!
Next: Body, soul and spirit - the connection.