Monday, December 15, 2014

Change is Coming

We are on the cusp of serious changes in the brain cancer world. Serious changes!! I can't even believe how fortunate I am to have been diagnosed during this time. Imagine, the first fMRI (a scan to navigate the brain before surgery so that doctors can avoid healthy systems and only cut out tumor tissue) was in the early 1990's. Eeeek! I'm 10 years older than the fMRI. Yikes!! If I wouldn't have had an fMRI for my first brain tumor resection, I could have come out with the permanent loss of my speech, and motor movement. Holy cow would I be a different person. A lifetime in a wheelchair? A permanent inability to speak? A permanent inability to read and process language/speech? In ability to communicate? Would I have essentially been a vegetable? Ugh. That makes me feel viscerally ill, then immediately relieved. Thank you for those who have blazed before me. And now, it is my duty to help others who may come in my path.

I can't share the super secret details about this new badass cancer fighting company out of San Francisco until it launches in February, but please know that things are about to change. This is going to blow your minds. I'm not saying this to be a jerk, or to just dangle my secret, I'm saying it because it's going to bring more hope and save more lives than anything I've ever witnessed regarding cancer care.

If you're dealing with brain cancer, you know that not much has changed in treatment for decades and decades and decades. Why? We know, YOU know that so many things can help fight cancer, and yet brain cancer has a horrible cure rate - in fact almost all cancers have a horrible cure rate. Why is that? We know that it isn't because there aren't things that work. Is it because it's hard to institute change? Because it takes forever for clinical trials to complete? Is it because clinical trials usually only use one treatment, when it's clear that to fight cancer you need to have multiple cancer fighting modalities? From my own research, and now for the past year with's research, I know that there are all kinds of things that fight brain tumors. But why is it that the research is published, yet not instituted? And why don't we hear about it? Why aren't doctors familiar with what works? With off-label drugs, and diet, and nutrition, and clinical research? And meanwhile people are dying. They're DYING. For whatever reason that they don't help us, be it their fault or not, it's unacceptable. And the only way that things will change is if we institute change ourselves. Reference the fight against HIV/AIDS. They demanded change. They marched for it. They screamed at the top of their lungs because people were dying. Why aren't we doing that? Why aren't we pissed?! Oh wait, we are pissed, but it's complicated. We're tired. We're confused. Our disease afflicts our brains, our epicenters. It effects our energy, and our thought processes, our reasoning, and our logic centers - it's different for everyone, but ultimately, it makes it very hard. We don't know how to make the change that we want to see. But for the first time, I just caught a glimpse of hope about a new system of treatment, and it's going to be public in February, along with the trailer for a new documentary about brain cancer, featuring Ben Williams, PhD., also available in February. (If you're not familiar with his amazing story click HERE.)

I hope this trailer excites you as much as it did for me. Complete goosebumps. And I hope it ignites a fire. Everything is culminating in February, it's all coming together. It's time to take charge, and start demanding change, and I can't believe I'm alive, and part of this movement. Albeit a small part, but still a part. Please let me know what you think about the movie.

Enjoy. (Click image.)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Pick Positive

Wow, life has been in the fast lane lately, I havent even found the time to post, but here I am. I'm back!

As I rode the train to the airport this morning I thought about how much my life has changed. That it was put on hold, due to the tumor, causing a necessary pause. A scramble then a freeze. And now, like the thaw from a very long winter, my leaves are unfurling, and I may even flower this year. Do I still get scared? Hell yes. Every day. I have all the same cancer fears, but the stubborn voice in my mind says, "Don't borrow trouble." I want to live until I can live no longer. I want to laugh, and dance, and read, and hug, and learn, and share, until my last breath. Life is so freaking fun I can't even stand it. And people are so nice. Why focus on the negative? It's so boring. 

So now I'm at the airport meeting my buddy Linden. I think I've mentioned her before, but can't remember, she's fighting an AA3. We're headed to San Fran to check out a new cancer research facility. Although, I don't know if I can talk about it much yet, as it isn't up and public. So we'll leave it at that. Suffice to say that there is more hope out there than people can even imagine. So keep fighting, keep smiling, keep those negative voices down. 

It's another beautiful day.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Out of The Shadows

Ugh, the dread in my body in having/needing to write this post has been weighing on me for quite some time. Like months. How embarrassing! Why can't I be fearless? Why didn't I just start talking about it from the beginning? That way there wouldn't be a buildup. I avoided it because I didn't want to deal with people's opinions. I hate bringing up controversial subjects (unless it's face-to-face where there's an open dialog), and I hate to be judged - which is weird because I have been taking control of my health, no matter the cost, definitely to the chagrin and disapproval of several of my original doctors.

I've been dragging my feet because I don't know where to start. And there are so many details as to what helped me make my decision. I know that I can't include them all because it would be exhausting, and verbose, and complicated. I'm nervous because I feel like I'm not going to be able to really explain myself. Suffice to say that I have joined private groups, and read the research, and talked to, and met with, 40-50 cancer fighters who have shared their private stories about personal cures and cancer stabilization. What is it, you ask? It's hemp oil. Also known as Phoenix Tears, or Rick Simpson Oil. You can also just call it medical marijuana or marijuana extract processed into an oil. There's a lot of names out there, and they're not all exactly the same, but they're pretty similar. I have several cancer friends who are using it in very large doses (1-2 grams a day) with dramatic results, and I have other friends who take it in small amounts and they're still getting results.

Does it work for everyone? Unfortunately not. But, as a person who lives in a legal state, I figured (after researching, and talking to fighters who use it as treatment) I might as well add it to my protocol. You might think I'm crazy, or that it's overkill, since I have now gone two years without tumor growth, but I'm sure you've heard me mention the fact that tumors are crafty little fellas that weasel their way back even during treatments. It's almost as if you're never safe. The moment you think you're golden, it'll rear its' ugly head.

I'm sorry that I'm not going to thoroughly explain the facts of my decision, but I figured at least I would throw it out there and you can research for yourself to decide if it's a legitimate form of cancer treatment, or seizure treatment. Ultimately, I am embarrassed that I was hesitant to share. People are constantly telling me how surprised, and grateful they are about my willingness to open up, but everyone has their limits, including me. I would have been perfectly fine keeping this private. It would have kept me from being judged, which is incredibly appealing, but you know what? This isn't really about me. This is about an amazing seizure and cancer fighting treatment that I think everyone should have access to. (I mean, come on, why else would they be doing cancer clinical trials with it!? It's because there's something legitimate about the plant's properties.)

When I started, I was doing the Rick Simpson protocol. You start with a dose of the oil in the size of a grain of rice three times a day, for four days. Then you double the dosing for the next four days, then you double again and treat for four days, continuing the schedule of increased dosing until you hit a gram per day. I worked up to three grains of rice three times a day. It was awful. I hate feeling high. It made me unable to function. But, it was during the month before the MRI and I was really scared about the scan, so I tried to dose up as fast as I could. What I found was that, although I hated the "high" feeling, it was magic for my anxiety (duh), and stress (duh), and sleep (duh), and seizure activity, and skull pain which is invasive, and constant. I don't really complain about my pain because I feel like dwelling on it exasperates the issue. But it is real, and never used to go away, and the fact that medical marijuana mitigates those issues is amazing to me. It's not a miracle, and it shouldn't even be a surprise because there is tons of literature and research to sustain those claims. It's not just my word. As an aside, the day that I had my seizure, I missed two doses of oil because I wanted to be 100% with my wits about me as I was waiting for the results of my MRI. I wanted to be able to process the information in an objective way in case we needed to make major decisions.

I buy the oil from a co-op that rigorously tests their products, and it comes in a 2:1 ratio of CBD:THC. I currently work with a 48% CBD to 24% THC, but I want a second oil with a 0.3 % THC level because then I can take as much as I want throughout the day (don't forget that the CBD doesn't have psychoactive effects, and it's the major seizure stopper). That's the goal, to be able to dose all day long to prevent seizures. I have since stopped taking it during the day, instead I dose at night, a few hours before bed. Ingesting the oil orally takes three hours to get into my system, although for others it's different. I would still take the higher THC oil, I would just continue to ingest that specific oil before bed to avoid any unwanted side effects.

Here are two wonderful videos that I hope you will take the time to watch. They explain a lot:

I feel crazy saying what I'm saying about medical marijuana. I believed a lot of the negative hype about weed, but as a gardener, researcher, cancer fighter, epileptic, and take charge kind of woman, I have drastically changed my stance on marijuana. I am in awe of it. And I feel like people should have the right to grow and ingest a plant. I realize the complications of teens, and recreational use, and impairment while driving, etc. but I'm getting very sick of people telling cancer patients what they can and can not do with their bodies. We're forced into toxic treatments that don't have acceptable success rates. You guys know me, I follow the Hippocratic Oath of, "First do no harm." Some people debate on whether or not medical marijuana causes harm, but it is not deniable that radiation and chemo are much more destructive than hemp oil. No one has ever died from it. You can't overdose. An overdose of hemp oil is just sleep. That's it.

I have friends in states across the country who are fighting active stage four cancers and they deserve the right to try whatever they need to survive. Period. That is why I am sharing my story about my medical marijuana use. My friends don't deserve to die just because of where they live. They should get to have access to the same life saving treatments that I do. They should have the right to improve their quality of life, to abate their pain, and sleepless nights, and overwhelming anxiety.

I feel like I'm leaving out so much, and I'm very nervous to hit the "post" button. It's scary to put yourself out there to be judged, for people to have opinions about the choices you make in your life. But it is important for me to be an advocate, to step out from the shadows, and be honest about the incredibly wonderful effects that marijuana has had on my life. No one could be more surprised than me. I am exceedingly grateful that I continued my research and was able to keep an open mind so that I could benefit from this amazing plant.

Here are a few teasers, but please do your own research and decide what you think.

Multiple Cancers
"Cannabinoids could provide unquestionable advantages compared to current antitumoural therapies: (1) cannabinoids selectively affect tumour cells more than their nontransformed counterparts that might even be protected from cell death." -

Breast Cancer
"Analyses of the tumors revealed that cannabinoids inhibit cancer cell proliferation, induce cancer cell apoptosis, and impair tumor angiogenesis." -

Brain Cancer
"Results obtained by our group and others during the last decade have shown that THC, the main active component of marijuana, reduces the growth of different types of tumor xenografts including gliomas."-

"Both cannabinoids (THC & CBD) can reduce cell numbers by inhibiting cell-cycle progression and cell growth as well as by triggering apoptosis and engaging autophagy (19), and are also antiangiogenic and antimigratory (15). The two compounds have also been combined in a preparation that is currently licensed to treat multiple sclerosis, which is now undergoing trials with glioma." -