Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

I received the perfect gift on the last day of 2011. I was able to spend the morning with my brother, his wife Courtney, and their two children Isla and Wade/Toby (mom calls him Toby and dad calls him Wade). 

Courtney, Wade/Toby, me & Isla

 Isla & me down by Green Lake

My newest nephew Wade/Toby

This year has been a serious journey. It started as I finished up my final speech therapy sessions. Then, I had the chance to visit Jess & Dre in Abu Dhabi. In February, Dan and I shared vows beneath the Eiffel Tower during a 24 hour layover in Paris. In the spring I was able to create a presentation and share my brain cancer story with three different Rotary clubs around Washington. In the summer, I had the chance to visit my Polish relatives, and hug, bond, laugh, explore, and fall in love with them. Soon after, arriving home, Danny and I signed a legal marriage certificate. He's all miiiiiiineee!! Woo hoo!! Three days later, unrelated, I started having seizures and worried that my health may be declining. The next MRI showed our worst fears were correct. Little Herman, the tumor in my brain, was getting taller and fatter, faster than most of his peers. Instead of following my radiation oncologist's recommendation, I refused radiation and immediately started an alternative supplement program with artemisinin, completely changed my diet, amped up my cardio, and added strength training. Within 9.5 weeks I'd lost 19 lbs. I'm currently feeling wonderful, and I'll find out in less than two weeks, if my program is effective in keeping little Herman at bay. 

Along the way I've had friends support me with fundraisers, loving emails, text messages, cards, photos, hugs, and laughter. Even though I know that I am a person living with brain cancer I feel happier than I ever have in my life. I have everything to live for, and I am so grateful for all of your support. Thank you for helping me have another wonderful year! I enjoyed every single day. Even the challenging ones. I hope to share many more stories in the coming twelve months. 

Please have a fabulously hilarious and awesome New Year's Eve! Please be safe, and know that you're loved. So don't do anything stupid like drive drunk! :) 

Cheers to another amazing year!!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Adorable Firecracker, Little Ty

I have a very special family that I want to share with you. Their son, Tyler is such a joy, and right now he's about to embark on a very long phase of his life which includes lots of surgeries, and tons of hospital visits. Tyler's first surgery is on January 4th, and you can hear all about him, and his family on their blog. Please send them your prayers, or positive energy, or whatever it is that you do. They are such wonderful people, they truly deserve it!

Tyler's mother is a very dear Wenatchee friend who has been close to my heart for the past eight, almost nine years. She is a true kind soul. I remember when Sarah found out, while she was pregnant, that Tyler has congenital scoliosis. The doctor wanted to know if she would like information and the location for an abortion. Sarah was shocked. She was already so in love with her son, that letting him go was absolutely out of the option. Tyler is her first child, and from before she was even pregnant, we all knew she would be an unbelievable mother.

Please support her on her journey. Here is the link for the blog of her son:

I hope Sarah doesn't mind, but I took a photo from her facebook. It was just too cute not to share :)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

We're Going To Beat This!!

Things I learned while running the lake today:

A three legged dog is just as happy running as a four legged dog
Unicycles are a surprising efficient mode of transportation
Squirrels love playing tag
Ducks are equally adorable sleeping or awake

I've been so excited about this upcoming MRI that I can't stop myself, I've ran the lake three days in a row. I'm not fast, it takes about 45 minutes, but who cares, it's a lot of fun!

I feel so wonderful, full of energy, refreshed, alive, I just feel like pinching myself. This is such a change from the weeks before the last MRI. Even if the results from this scan are poor, I'm not worried. I'm under the opinion that if I feel wonderful, that's 80% of my life. The other 20% which is the cancer is just that. Just cancer. I still have a "B" in life. That's incredible!

Although I am, still, a little nervous, I'm mostly excited, and I'm not really afraid. I'm a bit afraid (how could you not be), but mostly I'm just happy. I'm happy to have so much energy, and to have such a wonderful life.

As I ran yesterday, nearing the end of my loop, all I could think about was the little things in my life that make everything so great. I am the most grateful I've ever been, and I honestly didn't think I could get more grateful. It's what I think about all the time. I'm grateful that I have Danny, that I live in Green Lake, I'm grateful for my health, I'm grateful for my family, I'm grateful for my friends, I'm grateful for the artemisinin, I'm grateful for PCC and all of its healthy produce, I'm grateful for our home, I'm grateful for our pets, I'm grateful for squirrels, and I'm grateful for moss because it's so pretty (I could go on, but I'm afraid it'll be annoying).

This morning, as I was sprinting out my run, in the very last steps I thought to myself, "We're going to beat this!!"

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

That First Mile

I have an embarrassing story. In fact, I may have mentioned it before, but I'm going to tell it again.

I just finished jogging around Green Lake, and although when I started it was misting, while I was halfway around the lake it started dumping rain. Rain drops were cascading down my face, down my neck, I was soaking wet. When I first moved to Seattle I was worried about the weather, I was afraid I would hate the rain. Now that I've lived here for three months, I can safely say that the rain is soothing. I love it. Even when I run, the drops have a way of cleansing you from the outside in.

Rain Outside Our Living Room Window

As I ran, and the rain continued to pour, I thought about how different my life has become. I flashed back to 2006 when I was stifled in a poorly mated marriage. I stopped running for a period of time, a few years, and I didn't focus much on the food I was eating - I ate all kinds of crap, anything that sounded delicious. That year, I topped off at a yearly doctor's exam at 183 lbs. I am 5'6 and 3/4" (I always have to add that almost inch). That doctor's appointment was a changing moment for me. I decided that I was being stupid, that just because my husband wasn't in love with me, didn't mean I couldn't love myself. So, I started jogging. At first, I could only go about a block. My lungs would burn, and I'd be wheezing up a storm. I hated the fact that when I ran I could feel all of the extra fat on my body bounce, and I was frustrated that I didn't fit in any comfortable workout clothes. I was disgusted with myself. I was in a love/hate relationship with my own body, and struggling with my self worth.

Once I was able to jog one mile, I decided to set a goal. A big goal. I signed up for a half marathon. I didn't care how long it took me to do finish, my only stipulation was that I was not going to walk - no matter what. It took about half a year to train for the 13.1 miles, but I did it. During the race, in the final couple of miles, as I trudged through, I was neck-in-neck with two speed walkers, it was hilarious!

Finishing that race was one of the most challenging and surprising things I've ever accomplished. It showed me that I'm capable if I put my mind to it. It was not easy, that's for sure. Some days I didn't want to run, but I didn't want to give up. By the finish of the race, after all the months of training, I was down to around 150 lbs. I was healthier, and I promised myself that I would never give up on myself like that again.

Crazy memory, huh. It nice to have ups and downs in life. The downs are truly what makes you strive to improve and appreciate things.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Is That A Mojito!?

I just stole this from my friend, Sara's blog. It's just so funny I couldn't help it. Sorry Sara, and Merry Christmas! XOXO :) Please enjoy, this must be seen.

90-95% Of Cancer Rooted In Lifestyle/Environment

Almost Merry Christmas! Kind of, I'm two days early. It feels like Christmas (even though we don't have a tree). It's a combination of the smells outside (it's sooooo cold), and the lack of traffic outside our living room window. This is the first Christmas that Danny and I have had, just the two of us. I'm excited! It's not going to be the homemade cinnamon rolls that my mom always makes, but a green drink in pajamas will still be fun.

I finished the 4-4-4 last night and I'm so grateful. It was starting to make my stomach upset and the right side of my body was tingly. The tingles are good, that means it's working. My digestive system is still a little bit off, so I went for comfort food this morning. My old favorite toast with Dave's Good Seed Sprouted Bread, an egg (free range of course with no gross hormones in the chicken or its food) doused in tumeric, with a massive clove of garlic chopped on top. It is the first time I've had an egg in two months.

The toast still isn't sitting well, but I'm sure it'll even itself out. I'm going to wash it down with some broccoli tea and see what happens.

On a different note, thank you to everyone who donated to Matt's Movember quest. Thank you to those who've donated to the Islander's Bank account in Friday Harbor. Thank you for those of you who have already bought from the hopeforjess site on Etsy. Danny and I have been talking, constantly, about how fortunate we are. The money that you've donated has given us such a relief. We are still getting medical bills from 2010. Isn't that crazy?!?!? My goal is to continue to get healthier and healthier, treating my body with respect and kindness. I'm excited for this MRI because I believe my brain will look better than it did in October.

I believe I can beat this, and my confidence isn't based in hope alone, it's research backed. Dan and I were recently sent a thread from a cancer post, which included several research studies. Below is an excerpt which I found encouraging (to read the full post and access the research studies please click here):

Cancer is a Preventable Disease that Requires Major Lifestyle Changes
Abstract. This year, more than 1 million Americans and more than 10 million people worldwide are expected to be diagnosed with cancer, a disease commonly believed to be preventable. Only 5-10% of all cancer cases can be attributed to genetic defects, whereas the remaining 90-95% have their roots in the environment and lifestyle. The lifestyle factors include cigarette smoking, diet (fried foods, red meat), alcohol, sun exposure, environmental pollutants, infections, stress, obesity, and physical inactivity. The evidence indicates that of all cancer-related deaths, almost 25-30% are due to tobacco, as many as 30-35% are linked to diet, about 15-20% are due to infections, and the remaining percentage are due to other factors like radiation, stress, physical inactivity, environmental pollutants etc. Therefore, cancer prevention requires smoking cessation, increased ingestion of fruits and vegetables, moderate use of alcohol, caloric restriction, exercise, avoidance of direct exposure to sunlight, minimal meat consumption, use of whole grains, use of vaccinations, and regular check-ups. In this review we present evidence that inflammation is the link between the agents/factors that cause cancer and the agents that prevent it. In addition, we provide evidence that cancer is a preventable disease that requires major lifestyle changes. A more detailed discussion of dietary agents that can block inflammation and thereby provide chemopreventative effects is presented in the following section. Most carcinogens that are ingested, such as nitrates, nitrosamines, pesticides, and dioxins, come from food or food additives or from cooking.

If 90-95% of cancers are rooted in environment and lifestyle, shouldn't we be able to reverse most them? I still believe that my cell phone was to blame for my brain tumor. I think it was the radiation. Lots of people think I'm misguided, but I don't care. They don't do the research, and most people don't know to check WHO is doing the research. Most of the studies stating that cell phones are safe have been funded either directly or indirectly by the major companies that profit from them. Anyway, enough of my rant. Back to the cancer.

My body isn't going to right itself, I need to build up the Natural Killer cells, they're the little warriors of your immune system that go out and clean up tumor cells and viruses. It's been proven in studies that people with cancer have a depleted amount of NK cells. So, just by eating "clean" food will not, alone, fix my problem. This cancer is a whole body disease, it can not be eradicated with food alone. I need to build up my immune system, and cultivate my NK cells. With supplements you can increase your NK cells, and often after a period of supplementation, your body starts to create more on its own. I just need to train my body, and give it a jump start of sorts. Anyway, I think I'm getting to technical in all of this - sorry. I tend to get really excited about this stuff.

I want so badly to fix this cancer and help others. I don't mind doing the leg work. It would be my ultimate dream to get to the point where there is no detectable cancer in my body and then help others achieve the same outcome. That would be the ultimate. I can not imagine how wonderful that would feel, to replicate the success. But, first things first, I have to start with me.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Final High Dose Day (First Round)

I got a little nervous yesterday morning, fearful of a seizure, so I started with a 3-3-3 (butyrate, artemether, and piperine) instead of the 4-4-4. I took the pills at around 9:45 am and then I grabbed the necessities, a tall glass of water, the cordless telephone (in case of emergency), pre-seizure pill (just to be safe), several books, Emma and Mr Bingie for cuddling. The morning was quite uneventful, though. I quarantined myself in bed until 12:30 pm when I was starving and had to head down for some breakfast.

Since the side effects were nil, I decided last night to do 4-4-4. No effect, and this morning I took another 4-4-4. Tonight is the last pill set, and from then on I'm just going to focus on my diet, and exercise. I need to read up on anti-inflammatory foods. My biggest focus is on reducing inflammation so that the MRI scan shows as clearly as possible.

I'm excited about this MRI but, of course, I'm a bit nervous. My body feels wonderful, I have more energy than I've had in ages, my skin is clear, I've lost around 18 lbs (I had packed on some weight after the seizures). When I originally checked in for brain surgery in April of 2010, I weighed 151. I now weigh 141. The great part is that I still have fat on my body. I honestly didn't know that I had THAT much body fat. It has been pretty eye opening. I still wear the same clothing size, but everything fits better. That's nice. You'd think that the fat-loss of this diet would be the best part, but it's not. The most exciting part of these past several weeks has been the way that I feel. I am healthy and alive. It's miraculous.

On a side note, I had a crazy dream last night. I have a habit of having those. I dreamt that I was in a remote area down around the Mississippi sound, somewhere in south Louisiana. I was in a house on a hill, overlooking lush green trees and the beautiful water. Danny was working on an oil rig in the bay, which I could see from the living room window. On my hip was my friend Jenny's three and half year old daughter. All of a sudden, from the south east I noticed a funnel cloud over the water. I remember saying, "Look Bailey, see that funnel cloud?" I glanced over my shoulder, and when I looked back there were three, one headed directly for our house. I ran to the next room and ushered her into the bathtub with my mother. With nowhere else to hide, I returned to the living room and scrambled under a table, taking a deep breath. I was aware the tornado/hurricane, would be crashing down immediately. I took another deep breath and closed my eyes as I heard the crashing of glass all around me. I felt my body levitate in air and I sensed that I had been caught up in the whirlwind. My biggest concern was the impalement of some sort of foreign object, but I understood it was out of my hands. I didn't panic, I just hoped that everyone in my life knew that I love them all dearly. I remember the whooshing of the wind, and the centripetal force. I hoped I would survive, but I knew I had to acquiesce to the forces around me. The next thing I realized, I was waking up surrounded by debris. The sky above was a crisp blue, and I was completely uninjured. I dug around to find my mother, Bailey, and my father, and they were all unharmed. I hopped in a car (my college car, Buttercup, a 1979 diesel which I've long since sold) to head down to the waterfront to find Danny. As I was driving, people were walking, looking for people, some were crying, others were in shock. Then I woke up.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

More "Hope"

The first day of 2-2-2 twice daily went great yesterday. I was dizzy and felt a little bit disconnected to my limbs, but that's no big thing. I was able to avoid eating until noon, at which point I made a homemade humus bok choy sandwich, and ate an apple. The most noticeable side affect came at 11:01 am (I'm taking copious notes). I had a sharp pain in my head, then I had a rushed taste of metal in my mouth. Within seconds it was gone. I'm hoping that it was a massive explosion of cancer cells, that all of the iron spontaneously combusted, and now my body is flushing out the debris. A girl can dream can't she?!? :)

It's nerve wracking to put myself out there with this new treatment. I kept worrying last night, what if it's a bust? But then, while we were laying in bed, I asked Danny to give me his mental illustration of the artemether as it gets digested. Of course he leant to a military analogy. He kept saying things like, "The artemether soldiers are marching through your intestines." And I asked, "Are they singing a marching song like the do in the movies?!?" It was fun to take the stress out of the situation. I'm lucky to have a man that will play along.

Today I have a break from the artemether, piperine and butyrate. Tomorrow, though, we double the dosage and take the pills twice. Instead of the 2-2-2 twice daily, it will be 4-4-4 twice daily. I'm excited and nervous at the same time. I keep telling myself, "Why not believe that I can beat this. Why not believe that the artemether will work. Why not believe that I can change my destiny. Maybe ridding myself of this cancer IS my destiny!"

I want this protocol to work so badly, not just for me, but for all of my friends that I've met that also have brain cancer. I am in the perfect position to try new things. I have a supportive husband that never ceases to amaze me. I have a great family that helps me stay on track that researches all of the alternatives. I have friends that walk hand in hand with me, that keep me laughing, and smother me in hugs. I don't have the responsibility of children. I have the drive to stay on course. I want this to work so that I can be a guinea pig to help others change their destiny too. There is no reason why we can't beat this. Doctors don't even really know what causes brain cancer. They believe it could be a wide variety of things. If there are a wide variety of causes, then it's fair to reason that there could multiple cures. We just have to figure them out! And, if this artemether doesn't work, then that doesn't mean that other things won't.

Here's a fun photo from last night's dinner.
It looks pretty boring, but it was surprising filling.
Shown: Homemade spinach and jalapeno humus, raw broccoli (for dipping), and an everything but the kitchen sink salad (purple kale, arugala, spinach, green onions, garlic, tomato, avocado, fresh cracked pepper, squeezed lime, & extra virgin olive oil)

Danny is such a sport. Often nights, dinner is a simple meal. Last night might have been the most simple meal in a long time. I think, maybe, I was trying to make up for the naughty martinis from Saturday night. Like I've always said, I have to be just a little bit bad or I get stir crazy. The little gremlin in me needs to be fed, then I can go on with strength and determination.

On another note, I have an amazing story of friendship and love. I have no idea how my life has been so magical. I am the luckiest girl. I have been surrounded with literally, living angles. Do you remember the piece of art that I made for my friend Meghan's philanthropy? It was called, "Hope." Anyway, last night, Meghan stopped by with a huge package, she had called earlier, asking for help. When she arrived, she started cutting open the package, and I just assumed she needed a bunch of cutting done for someone's Christmas present or something. Nope. She needed me to sign a few things....

Meghan bought my piece of art at the WPIG Pigture Perfect Art Auction so that she would have the rights. She then came up with the idea to contact a bunch of my girlfriends (shown below in the row boat), to chip in to start a site on to fundraise. It's called Hope For Jess and it's prints of my piece of art. How cool is that!?!

The girls paid for all of the prints (there are regular prints and canvas prints). Megs said that the prices are a bit dear, but that's okay. If they don't sell, maybe they can put them on sale :)

Girls Weekend 2011
Top: Libbey, Lauren, Kristin, Jenny, Michelle, Laura
Bottom: Jessaca, Meghan, Julia, Me
Not Shown: Jessica (Abu Dhabi) & Courtney

I am still, so blown away. This is exactly why I should be doing this protocol, and whatever protocol may come my way in the future until we figure this out. It is imperative that someone like me work as a guinea pig so that others that don't have the energy or time, or resources, can get well. I constantly feel love and support, and I am just so grateful for all of the friendship and generosity. I feel like we're all working together as some sort of badass team, working for the greater good. Maybe that's a lofty attitude, but it's just how I feel.

On a final note, I am happy to share that three years ago to the day, Danny and I had our first date. It was the most magical night of my life. At one point, he insisted that he carry me like we were going over a threshold, all because it was snowing and I was wearing heels. It was perfect in every way, and it makes me cry with big fat tears of joy that we came together. He makes me happy from morning to night. Even when we're cranky there's always laughter. If you've never met him, I'm sure you can tell how amazing he is from the stories on the blog. He has never wavered in his support or love. He found me sexy even while bald with 52 bloody staples across my head. He shuttled me on two hour drives in each direction to doctor appointments, to rehabilitation appointments, his dedication never wavered. When we didn't know if I'd read again, or get back to running and living my life, when I could only use one syllable words, and we didn't know if I would ever have enough energy to truly LIVE, he was happy just cuddling on the couch, or resting silently. I know that he is my soulmate, that I am the best person I can be because he supports all that is good. A partner like Danny is a miracle to come by, and I think about that every day. When I'm stressed, I just picture his face and it soothes me. He is a main reason why I have the will and desire to strive for perfect health. I know it will be an ongoing journey for the rest of my life, but with Danny by my side I know I can do it! Cheers to Danny, my love.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Pursue New Understandings

This weekend, Danny and I first stopped at my parent's house for a slumber party (when leaving, my mom loaded us with two of every vegetable available in the organic section from her supermarket - gotta love moms!), then headed to an Elves getaway over in Chelan at a friend's lake house. It was so much fun goofing around, listening to music, relaxing in the hot tub, and laughing with friends. Since I was off the artemix, I even enjoyed a couple of martinis. Friends and family truly are the best medicine.

Coming Up Over Navarre Coulee

Now, I'm back at home and I've just finished the first dosing of my artemether (9:15am). Calculating it by weight (thanks Dad & friend), I am starting with two pills of the following: artemether (40mg ea), butyrate, and piperine. I take it on an empty stomach. Then, I refrain from eating for a few hours (two or three, as long as I can manage). During the day I eat normally, but I need to stop by 4:30pm so that I can take my second dose (same quantities) on an empty stomach at 9:15pm.

I'm excited and nervous to see what happens. Today I'm starting with the 2-2-2 twice a day, and tomorrow I'll do nothing, making sure that there aren't any odd side effects. Assuming everything's okay, on Wednesday I'll start 4-4-4 twice a day.

When I first started taking the artemix, back a few months ago, I remember getting very tired and periodically dizzy. I'm already feeling the dizziness. It's probably a good time to go lay down and see if I can read or just rest my eyes. I think this week is going to be pretty subdued while I do this extra dosing. I'm only going to do this protocol for one week, then, after that I'm going to work on building my immune system. I need to clean up any cancer cell die-off that is occurring so that it doesn't skew the results of the MRI.

On another note, I've been thinking a bunch about what it means to be happy, and I read this:

"Genuinely happy people do not just sit around being content. They make things happen. They pursue new understandings, seek new achievements, and control their thoughts and feelings. They also learn from others." What a great quote.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Off The Artemix

Photo Of The Day: Sleepy Kitty - Mr. Bingie Butterbutt

I stopped taking the artemisinin last night. Phew, that's going to make life easier. It has been serious dedication to stop eating at 4:30 pm each night. There are still a few pills left in the bottle, but we stopped because there were a few signs that perhaps my liver and kidneys were getting tired. I won't get into the details - nothing scary, just a little too much information. For the next few days I'm going to try and flush my system with more of my vegan diet (especially my green smoothies), and lots of water. In a couple more days, when I feel like my body is ready, I'm going to start the high dosage of artemether. Our goal is to do a 1-2 punch on the cancer cells and see what happens. I should only be on the high dosages for 3-5 days, we're going to feel it out. After that it's smooth sailing until the MRI on January 13th.

I'm excited and nervous about the transition. I'm hopeful and excited, but at the same time, sometimes I worry that I haven't done enough. The artemisinin is shockingly non-invasive, and easy to consume, I wonder if it's even working. I try not to think negatively about this treatment, but I'm human. Things just pop in my head from time to time. I'm excited to get the results and find out. Patience is incredibly important, and yet so hard to come by. It probably doesn't help that I read Tug McGraw's book recently, which in its final chapter detailed his death from a glioblastoma which is what my brain tumor progresses into (eventually). Big mistake. I don't think I needed to know all the heartbreaking details. I've been looking to books and videos to uplift me and give me strength. The problem is that some books are just flat out sad. It's tricky stuff.

At least, if this protocol doesn't show up as effective, I still have more tricks up my sleeve. That, my friends, is what I'm so grateful for today. There are always more ways around the same problem! I'm also grateful that I only have the diffuse astrocytoma and not the glioblastoma. I'm so grateful for that!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Stockholm Syndrome?

I've been thinking a lot lately about this brain tumor journey that I've been on. It's crazy. What a huge diagnosis. It has completely evolved who I am.

For the longest time I've looked at this brain tumor/cancer as a fight, that I'm at war with this little growing nugget in my brain. But the truth is that Herman (my tumor) has taught me invaluable lessons. I've learned more about kindness, about love, generosity, grace, perseverance, tenacity, curiosity, patience, true happiness, and so much more. Instead of fighting Herman, I'm confused because I'm so grateful. It's such a dichotomy. I have so much love in my heart that I've been able to go through this and learn so much, and at the same time I'm at odds with the fact that the same thing that I appreciate so much is supposed to be my demise. It's confusing.

I was okay, as a person, before the brain tumor, but now I can say that I'm truly proud of who I am. I hope it's okay to say that I'm proud of myself - that it's not cocky or weird. It's just that sometimes, in my past, I haven't always been the nicest person, or the most kind, generous, or patient. I'm embarrassed to say that I went through a decent phase of superficiality while I was in college.

Anyway, I'm curious. I'm curious about how this is all going to play out. I feel more at ease with this cancer than I have ever been. But, I wonder, if I am okay with this brain cancer, is that giving up? I don't feel like I'm giving up. I'm still exercising, focusing on my strict diet, laughing, and living my life, but at the same time, if I'm not "fighting", am I accepting? And, is accepting bad?

I can't quite put my finger on this one. Is this healthy or do I have Stockholm Syndrome? I don't even know how to answer this question.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I am Healthy and Strong

It took me a bit, but I finally hooked my camera to the computer. Here are a few fun photos from the WPIG Pigture Perfect fundraising event a month ago.....

Great Minds Think Alike

Mom & Dad

My Thoughtful Hilarious Beautiful Seattle Girls

I have such a wonderful life. I can't even believe it. This past weekend, Danny and I hid from the world. We watched old episodes of Sons Of Anarchy (sometimes I have to close my eyes). We walked around Green Lake. We laughed. We went and checked out the luminaries down by the water - it was beautiful even though I have no idea what it symbolized.

I am so grateful to be alive! I still get doubt and fear. It pops up just for a second here or there throughout the day, but I've started combatting it. Each time I fret, and worry about this cancer, I take a deep breath and I say, "I am healthy and strong." And it's true! I am healthy, and I am strong. I will not live in fear of this cancer. Instead of fearing this coming MRI (next month to the day), I am going to use my logic. I have not had a seizure in over four months. I can walk around Green Lake, even if I can't always run it. I have started lifting weights three nights a week. I am capable. I feel great. I am healthy. I am strong. Most of all, I'm happy.

Luminaries Around Green Lake

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Moan & Gripe With Me

Last night, while I was in the shower, I started thinking about how goofy I am. Instead of being excited about the jog halfway around the lake, and concurrent walk the rest of the way home, I was disappointed in myself. What the hell? How backward is that. Instantly, I started laughing to myself and changed my thinking. Exercise is exercise. I flashed back to the days I was in the ICU. I remembered the paralysis on my right side. I remember not being able to walk more than a few steps without being winded and exhausted. I remember months of slowly training to start jogging again, and eventually, my first 10k. I have everything to be grateful about. I might get tired, and yes, that's disappointing, but I'm still here. I'm still nourishing my body with nutrients, sleep, exercise, meditation, and cognitive challenges like reading. My mind and body may be tired from time to time, but they are also the most healthy they've ever been. Sometimes, more doesn't mean better. I don't have to run five miles to get the same results. I just need to do quality exercise, breathe deeply, use it to rejuvenate my mind, and be grateful for the opportunity to work my body. There was a time when nurses told me I might never jog again. I have happily proved them wrong. When I'm down or frustrated, I have to remind myself that, if there's a down side, there's always an up side. I already feel better. Still tired, but much happier! And that's what it's all about :)

Last night Danny got a kick out of my study session. I've been reading the book, Cancer: 50 Essential Things To Do, by Greg Anderson and taking notes. I'm researching the way to navigate through this diagnosis, and learn from survivors. I figure, those who have fought the cancer fight, have learned things about attitude, nutrition, spiritual well being, and much more. The only way to be successful is to learn from others and use a whole body and mind approach. Anyway, I didn't realize he was taking a picture - he thought I looked "pretty cute" all wrapped up in furry blankets. Danny calls me a pillow monster. I somehow manage a way to turn our bed into a mass of pillows, and fluffy blankets. I like my nooks to be cozy and safe.

Just before bed, after I turned out my lamp, I stretched out, closed my eyes, and pictured my body hovering above. I just wanted to picture my body and see what it looks like in my mind's eye. The moment the image appeared in my mind, I noticed there was a light blue, and medium turquoise blue color surrounding my body. It morphed and phased into white light, then pale blue, white, pale blue, finally resting on white as it surrounded my body. The colors oscillated around the peripheral of my body - with no particular section of interest. It was really interesting. It felt good. It felt positive.

I believe that I can make myself healthy, with help from western medicine, alternative treatments, nutrition, spiritual well being, stress regulation, exercise, attitude, and enough sleep. I'm realizing that there's a lot of dedication needed, but it's all for a great purpose, and it helps me excel in all areas of life. Sure, I would love to be sipping on a mammoth goblet of red wine, nibbling on truffle-infused sheep cheese, but seriously, who cares (and someday on a special occasion.....). We can't do everything we want, eat whatever we want, and have whatever we want. That's life. The most important thing to remember is that I have the opportunity to earn my health, and each time I earn something, each time I meet a goal, I'm fulfilled and proud of myself. I just have to give this more time so that I end up looking at this as a lifestyle and not a diet or temporary thing. There will be times when I can take it easy, but I need to earn it. This whole body approach is proven to improve overall health, and that's my goal. I have to stay focused and enjoy the positive effects of the changes in my life since my last MRI. My skin is clear, my weight is down to 140. I'm more calm, and my headaches are minimal. Of the 43 days since making these changes, I've only had 3 or 4 days of headaches. That's amazing.

This diet is not what most people choose to do with their lives. It's quite extreme. But, unfortunately, it's how we should all be eating. I wish it wasn't the case. I wish we could eat sourdough, homemade pizza, jelly, cookies, and all the yummy, white carb, white sugar foods that taste so delicious. The sad truth that no one wants to acknowledge (because it sucks) is that sugar (other than in whole foods) is very bad for you. White flour is very bad for you, white potatoes are bad for you, and table salt is bad for you. If there are ingredients in your foods, you should try not to eat them. Foods should be coming from the source. The problem is that people are busy, or tired, or it's expensive, or whatever. Usually, it takes someone getting sick to change their ways. Sometimes, even then, people don't change. I'm not saying that I can cure this brain cancer just with food choices. I wish that were true - and who knows, maybe I could, but the point is that we need to give our bodies a fighting chance. A platform to succeed. Even if you can't seem to give up all of the bad stuff, just try to cut back. You don't have to be as extreme as I am. Start small. Choose oatmeal over cereal. Choose a spinach salad over iceburg lettuce. Choose a quinoa salad over a potato. Choose brown rice over pasta. Choose steamed broccoli over honey carrots. Choose vegetable soup over clam chowder. Avoid the bread basket. You always have a choice. You DO have the will power if it's important to you. Make your health your priority. If I can do it (even though I moan and gripe), you can do it too. Moan and gripe with me!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pilot Light

Where is pepped up Jess? Danny and I just tried to jog around the lake but I only made it half way. I have the energy of a sloth. It's exhausting to lift each finger to hit the keys. I have over 40 emails that I haven't responded to (sorry friends). I'm overwhelmed. I hate when things get overwhelming. I wish I could just sleep it all away. I feel like I'm losing the fight, and I know that all it starts deep within me. If my pilot light's out, I'm in trouble.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Ride The Free Radicals

I forced myself to get out and head down to the lake today. It took until noon to get me going, but hey, I still made it! All I could think of, other than the crazy variety of ducks, was the fact that my artemisinin therapy isn't effective unless I exercise. Even when I'm exhausted, I have to be able to rally and get the most out of this drug. My next MRI is on Friday, January 13th and I want to know in my heart that I've given this drug everything I've got. That I've encouraged the artemisinin to filter through my large intestine, swim through my veins, hurdle over my blood brain barrier, ride the free radicals into the cancer cells and explode them. That's how I picture it anyway.

I only have 13 more days of my artemix pills. From then I will take a few days off to remove the toleration levels, and then I will take 3-5 days of pure artemether. Artemether is the component that actually crosses the blood brain barrier, I've been using the term "artemisinin" as a blanket statement, but I've actually been taking artemisinin, artemether, and artesunate all three in combination. It's in the artemix pill. Anyway, I'm hoping that the final punch with the artemether will do a solid number. Then, after that, I will stop taking all doses of sweet wormwood and do a massive immune therapy boosting regime. It's important that I stop the sweet wormwood at least two weeks before my MRI because cell death can look the same as tumor cells. It's all so tricky and calculating.

Being healthy, overcoming this cancer, is a full time job. Erin, thank you so much for the suggestions, please thank your husband too! It is impossible for me to research all of the options, and I am so grateful that you passed that info along!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

CRF (Cancer Related Fatigue)

Sorry I've been MIA lately. I've been exhausted. I'm having a hard time getting up in the morning, and just after I eat my green drink I'm back into bed. Thankfully I have books around the bedroom to continue my cancer fight, even if I'm too tired to do much. One of the things I read, surprised me. Apparently, my exhaustion has an actual term. It's called cancer fatigue, cancer related fatigue, or CRF. My brain tumor is fighting for the nutrients I consume, and usually it's the tumor who wins, not my body (according to research). Apparently the brain tumor is similar to a fetus in the womb, it takes what it needs first (at least, that's what I've heard about fetuses).

The fatigue is something I can discuss with my new GP. The doctor at Seattle Healing Arts seemed to be the perfect fit. I have another appointment with her on Thursday to review all of my MRI scans, pathology, and radiology reports. She's a wonderful western style medical doctor and yet, alternative therapy minded. The perfect combo. It's important to have a combination of both. If I'm going to beat this brain tumor I have to straddle the line of traditional, alternative and some day, experimental. I will not look down on any treatment unless it causes more harm than good.

Anyway, I'm pooped. My eyes are droopy, my body is fatigued, and there is no amount of rest to knock me out of it. This thing always comes in waves, hopefully I'm on the crest.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Healing By A Village

I am such a goober. I was laying in bed last night talking to Danny, when I realized that I didn't come up with the idea of finding cancer survivors. In fact, it was from a book that was given to me by a fellow brain cancer fighter, Jude. In the book (The Story Of Two: Fighting Serious Illness with an Attitude and an Advocate) was a story of a man who went to great lengths to survive his metastasized malignant melanoma. When I read that book, I realized that I should find more success stories. Without Jude's gift, who knows how long it would have taken me to figure out I could learn endless tricks from other cancer survivors. That's another wonderful thing about this blog, it has connected me with so many people that I never would have known. With my new friends, they bring with them knowledge, support, ideas, books, videos, doctor recommendations, researchers, and insurmountable hope. I'm so grateful for you! All of you.

Growing up in Friday Harbor, I was raised by a village. Now, I'm being healed by a village. Great things happen when great minds come together with a common cause. I can't thank all of you enough for helping me fight this. If you ever come across doctors, books, stories, treatments, research, please continue to send it my direction. I can't promise I'll try every outlet, and sometimes things fall through the cracks and I forget to follow through, but I'm working as hard as I can to explore each avenue. Thank you for continuing to help me stay up to date, and energized. This is quite a big challenge to take on, but like I've said in the past, I'm up for this - I can do it.

On another note, I want to share the late, but still exciting news of our friends Matt and AJ. Matt is Mr Movember, you might remember him from previous blogs. Anyway, during this crazy hectic month, Matt and AJ not only took on fundraising for my medical bills, but at the same time, their family grew! They welcomed twins. Here are a few photos that I stole from their Facebook pages :) Congrats you guys! And, welcome to the crazy world, Hazel and Owen.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Empowering Books

I feel like a chicken with its' head cut off. I think it's pretty normal to go a bit crazy after a bad sickness, and I'm no exception. After 10 days of laying in bed, I went nuts yesterday and conquered too much. It was just so nice to be able to get up and goof around. I've not only started back up on my artemisinin pills, I also laced up and jogged the lake too. While I was jogging, I swung by the Green Lake Library to get a long over due library card (pun intended). While there I randomly picked up two amazing books.

About two weeks ago I realized that people survive cancer all the time, beating the odds and surprising doctors. It's something that I knew, peripherally, but somehow it hadn't completely sunk in, the concept just wasn't quite tangible. I started to think about it though, the other day. I wondered how people are doing it, how are they outsmarting their cancer? Ever since this diagnosis, I've been trying to find my way, slowly figuring out the way to win. Apparently, I'm not the only one who has looked to survivors for guidance. The first book I picked up at the library is called, Cancer: 50 Essential Things To Do, by Greg Anderson. This book, although I'm only a few pages deep, has completely changed my life. The author was diagnosed with a nasty metastasized lung cancer and given only 30 days to live. Crazy, huh. Anyway, Greg was pretty upset for a few days, but then he realized that people beat cancer all the time, and it became his mission to listen to other survivors, trying to figure out the common threads of action. I recommend it to anyone fighting cancer, and also for anyone in the inner circle of support. It's so well written, so real, and truly, it's an inspiration, a motivation, and I just can't say enough about it.

The other book I found is called, Brain Surgeon, A Doctor's Inspiring Encounters with Mortality and Miracles, by Keith Black, MD. It's a neurosurgeon, his life story, his surgeries and his perspective on things. A sentence in his book, in one instant, helped me realize that my brain is elegant (a word that I never would have used to describe my brain, yet fits perfectly). He is completely fascinated by the brain, and as he speaks about tumors and the brain, he helps me fall in love with the big grey squiggles upstairs. 

Both books are empowering and positive. I'm so grateful that I can read again. I still can't conquer books the way I used to, but hey, reading is reading no matter how slow. The recovery from the brain tumor is recent enough that I can imagine life without being able to read. I remember the frustration of not understanding the concepts written on paper. I remember the lack of understanding with dialog and accents. I'm SO HAPPY to be able to read and understand written word. I will never take that for granted again. It's amazing how much reading energizes my soul and catapults me to a whole new mental state. Once you read something, you're a changed person. You've evolved. I love evolving. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

New Doctor

I'm so excited! I just made an appointment with a new doctor, a primary physician. She's at Seattle Healing Arts, and I'm thrilled to be a patient there. Look at all of the different therapies!

More About Our Therapies
Seattle Healing Arts practitioners offer a wide range of therapies for healing body, mind, and spirit, including:

I was referred to Seattle Healing Arts by a friend who loves her general practitioner, named Takla Gardney, but she wasn't taking new patients until February. So, I did the next best thing, I took the next available appointment, and let fate take its' course. Turns out, my new doctor is an MD, and specializes in Biodynamic Cranial Osteopathy. I get to meet her on Thursday.

I feel like this is the first step in a whole body healing approach. It's nice that my new doctor has all kinds of treatments at her fingertips. This is going to be great! Since she works with herbalists, I bet there will be someone who can partner with me on the artemisinin front. Very, very exciting! 

In life, we have to take matters into our own hands, especially in medicine. No one is going to fight harder than you. Never forget that. I believe that there is no one sure way to heal. When we run into a road block, we have to outsmart the disease. My goal, obviously, is to kill the tumor cells in my brain. There are a lot of different ways to support my body to make it a tumor killing machine, and I'm on a mission to figure it out. Luckily I don't like being told, "No." If I hear something is impossible, I worry, and wonder if it's true, then I get frustrated and I look for holes. I will not roll over and give up. This nasty little tumor better look out, he's in trouble!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I'm Back

Hello World! I'm crawling out of the deep sickness that tried to claim my life. At least, that's how it felt. Dramatic much? Yes. It's the story of my life, just ask my parents. In fact, my mom once caught me crying in front of a mirror to see what my sad face looked like. In my defense I was really young, like five or so, but I'm's a photo taken on the day before Thanksgiving...not my finest moment. PS See Linda (Dan's mom), I love that blanket you gave us for Christmas last year. Bet you thought I was just being nice :)

Now that I'm back in the land of internet, I'm catching up on my emails. Over the past several days I've been given such amazing compliments on the blog, and actually if I think about it, I've been flooded with flattery since the whole tumor-gate started. I've been raised to graciously say, "Thank you," when given compliments, but I must say that it's hard to hear so much praise. It incredibly kind, but at the same time I feel guilty, like I've fooled people. I need to make sure that it's widely known that when I'm cranky, I can be bitchy, and short. I say things that are stupid. I have an uncanny ability to put my foot in my mouth and completely offend people or accidentally hurt feelings. And most embarrassingly, I judge people by their facebook posts (when I actually hop on and check my messages).

I believe the only thing that makes me special is that I've opened a window to my soul for anyone to see, that being the blog. People are inherently good, but we often don't know the thoughts swirling around in the minds walking past. We definitely don't know what the person in front of us is going through (unless you live in Friday Harbor ((cheap small town joke)) - but even then, we have no idea how people are truly feeling). The truth is that we don't know what's in another person's heart, or mind, but if I had a window into each person's heart who reads this blog, I believe that each one of you is full of complex life stories, love for other people, happiness and kindness, work ethic, and morality. I am blown away by the kindness and thoughtfulness of the comments I've received, and I need to make sure that you all know that I have the energy to fight, research, fight some more, dust myself off, scale over walls, live with joy and love in my heart, conquer fears, and contemplate all things because I receive endless love and support from all of you. I would not be me, without you.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

The night after the last post, we checked my temperature and it was at 101. Apparently I was feeling slightly better but that was because I had been feeling so horrible before. Each day I've been getting progressively better but the temp is still hovering around 100 degrees. So, effective immediately, we just decided that this Thanksgiving will be Danny and my first holiday together alone. We've decided not to bring my infectious body around our loved ones. So, happy Thanksgiving to all of our friends and family, from afar :). I am grateful for my life, Dan, family, friends, health (although slightly compromised at this point in time), and the love that I receive every day. Thank you for all of the support that I am fortunate enough to receive non-stop. Thank you for the emails lately, I've had a constant stream of "kick toom-ah butt" energy sent my way and I appreciate it so much. Danny and I are incredibly grateful for all of the team members joining us on this fight. We wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving, full of warm hugs, and deep belly laughter.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Brains Behind The Operation

Well, I'm still sick, but at least I'm feeling kind of better. As long as I'm vertical I can manage - horizontal is when my hacking cough sets in. I asked Danny yesterday why it is that I can handle brain surgeries, but not a common cold. What a baby! I'm still convinced that my immune system was juggling the stress of that silly little mole surgery. I used to be so tough, conquering things head on. What gives?

The only thing I can figure, is that I don't do well with optional pain. I also, will never elect to have surgery. I'm just too terrified. This little knife show that the dermatologists want to do, is a preventative measure. I had a mole removed and they thought that all of the cells were excised, however, unfortunately, the pathology came back as a moderate atypical melanocytic nevus and they left somewhere around 1-2% behind. Now they want to go digging for more.

The problem is that I'm a weeny. Since the cells are only "pre-cancerous" cells, and not cancer, there's no way we will ever know if the cells will progress. Well...actually...there is, I guess, if I show up with melanoma down the road. Of course, the fact has not been lost on me that I currently have brain cancer, so obviously my body isn't doing a stellar of a job fighting the bad guys.

Another thought swirling around in my head, is that the artemisinin that I had been taking (I stopped when I woke up with a fever and since I'm still dealing with a pretty serious head cold, I've put all supplements on pause), also fights melanoma with a vengeance. So, I wonder, do I need the surgery? Is this necessary? I've lost night after night about going through with this surgery, but what if I make the wrong choice? I've been horrible with the ambiguous questions ever since surgery, maybe even since I was born. I can sit on the fence playing the devil's advocate all day, and the next day, and the day after that.

I know I need to make a decision soon, but it's incredibly difficult. That partnered with a letter in the mail from UW stating they have scheduled my radiation. Yikes! I talked to an assistant to the nurse of my radiation oncologist (say that five times), and told her that they didn't make a very good case for me to do the radiation. The only positive outcome (they say) is that the radiation will stunt the side effects of the brain cancer. "Stunt." What the hell is that? Seriously? "For how long?" I asked. The answer was that they can't be sure. So, I'm supposed to pay for a procedure that does not extend my life, does not kill the cancer cells, and should/could/might stunt the symptoms of the brain cancer? Eh. Ok. That seems absolutely asinine. That's seriously the plan? I'm supposed to have my head screwed to a board and get beamed with radiation for an hour a day for 5-6 weeks and lose all of my hair, possibly lose some or all of my vision, possibly lose my motor movement and cognitive abilities? I might lose the ability to speak or read down the road, and it could cause more malignant brain tumors in the time that I have left? All of that, just so that they can say that they might have "stunted" the symptoms.

And, here I am feeling like the bad guy, the idiot, that doesn't want to do it. The naughty patient that isn't buying into the "stunt it" approach. I feel great not doing the radiation right now, I would currently be starting week 3 or 4 of treatment, but at the same time I wonder if I'm crazy. All of their words don't add up to doing the radiation, but at the same time, radiation is the standard procedure. Radiation is the next step. It's what you do.

Am I crazy to believe, or hope, that I might be able to fight this fight without radiation? Am I stupid to think that I can win this battle, and survive? Am I doing enough? Is this, currently silent killer, proliferating and taking over my brain? I want to win, but I know that wanting isn't enough. Thinking positive isn't enough. If I only have a 1% chance of surviving this brain cancer, I need a better plan. I need the BEST plan. I have the fight in me, but that's not going to kill it on its' own, I need the brains behind the operation.

I try not to stress about this cancer, but it is absolutely impossible, especially just before bed. My latest reprieve is a trick from my good friend Janice. I start by closing my eyes, and then I pick a category. Next, I systematically go through the alphabet, and find an item for each letter. Here's an example from last night (I even had Danny help me for a few letters, but it didn't work. It started to be a fun game, and we ended up laughing too much so it defeated the purpose - good on stress but bad on sleep). I picked the category of, Adorable Animals. For the letter "A" Danny picked, armadillo (don't know how cute they are, but I gave him a pass). For the letter "B" I picked bumble bee (also kind of a fail since bees aren't animals they're insects). Anyway, I think you get the picture. In all of the times I've used this technique, I have only made it to "N" before falling asleep. I love waking up in the morning and trying to figure out the letter that put me to sleep. All in all I think this fun sleep trick is pretty astounding and hilarious, either I don't have much in my repertoire, or it's incredibly relaxing. Either way it sums up as success!

Okay, time for bed. Tonight I think I'll try Bodies Of Fresh Water (including all rivers, lakes, waterfalls...etc....). Something tells me I'll be lucky to make it past "G."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

"Lint Is A Shell's Best Friend"

Hi Friends. In the quest for more laughs, here is the first installment of Marcel The Shell With Shoes On.

FYI I woke up with a fever this morning and it's getting progressively worse. It's that heavy lung, sore throat thing, so, of course, I canceled the little surgery. Can't go under a knife when I'm not feeling well, it would slow the recovery, right?!? Right? Eh. Back to bed.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Laugh Of The Day

"Guess why I smile a lot. Because it's worth it." - Marcel

Gotta love friends that send random videos, just because it's a Tuesday. I know, I know, it's Wednesday, but I didn't get the email until today :).

I just laughed so hard that tears were running down my face. Then started it over and watched it two more times. I'm a total sucker for ridiculous and cute (best when it's both) little things and it doesn't hurt to have tiny red shoes and one eye.

Thank you Meghan!!! Love it. I think I'll go watch it again.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I'm Pooped.

I've had a wonderful past several days, but as it says in the above title, I'm pooped. Thank you Jenny for coming on Thursday, then Jess & Michelle on Saturday, and finally Sarah on Monday. I am dizzy with exhaustion, but it was absolutely worth it. Between visits I read an amazing book sent by a dear friend from Friday Harbor (another brain tumor fighter), titled The Power Of Two: Surviving Serious Illness with an Attitude and an Advocate, by Gerri and Brian Monaghan. It is an uplifting, yet serious book that helped stoke the fire inside. I need success stories to keep a positive outlook. Anyway, my head feels like it's exploding. In fact, don't tell anyone (ha ha...just kidding - I realize this is the internet), but I'm still in my pajamas. I've been in bed all day. I had big plans to try and get to the bank to fill out some paperwork (we're pulling away from those big nasty banks and headed to our old credit union). Oh well. I will not be leaving the house today.

We also adjusted my artemix supplement last night by adding a pill of piperine (it helps the artemix absorb while in the large intestine). There's just so much research to be read, and it's some pretty deep stuff. It's tricky because it's important to keep up and read as much as possible with this artemisinin, but at the same time I'm absolutely exhausted. Danny, my brother, and my dad have been helping sift through the research, (mom's studying MRI stuff). We even have my friend Meghan's husband Sean, and his father reading up on it (Thanks guys!!). There's just so much to know, so much to figure out. It's overwhelming. I don't understand why there aren't more doctors recommending these supplements. There are all kinds of success stories in Asia, and Europe, and success even in the research studies in the United States. Why aren't doctors prescribing artemisinin in the United States? Why do they want me to do radiation when it won't prolong my life? Radiation won't kill or stop the brain tumor's growth, and it will not shrink it. However, sweet wormwood COULD. What is wrong with this picture?!?! Depending on the dosages and protocol, we are finding research with an average of 40-50% success rate of either stopping, shrinking or killing the brain tumor cells. Why isn't this information out there for other brain tumor patients? We're told by our "amazing oncologists" that they don't know what causes brain tumors, and that there really isn't much you can do other than wait and watch. Then, once it starts growing again, they zap the tumor with radiation which won't even increase survival time. What is happening here? The sweet wormwood has almost zero chance of neurotoxicity (only in extremely high doses), and if there are any toxic effects they are reversible with steroids and other medications - no effects have found to be permanent (except for the published account of a poor child who was given a massive dose via suppository - it was in an anti-malarial move). What is happening, or what HAS happened to our medical system that we don't appreciate several century old medicine like herbs and instead favor a failing system of zero success. I don't get it. It leaves me confused.

I'm overwhelmed with things (way to state the obvious Jess), and I need to catch up on rest before my surgery on Friday. It's finally time to have that moderate dysplasia surgery on the nasty mole on my right breast. The doctor says I can't lift more than 10lbs after the surgery for 2 weeks. TWO WEEKS? Whaaat? Instantly I thought to myself, "How much does the vacuum weigh....?" Is that sick or what :) Anyway, I'm sure the restrictions are just to be safe, at least they'd better be. I can't promise that I'll lay off the vacuum. I have a black hairy dog and a gray fuzzball of a cat - two weeks is a death sentence. We will have shag carpet within four days. Gross.

Ok, sorry for the random post. Back into bed.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fun New Recipes

I am having so much fun on this diet! Instead of looking at all of the things I can't eat, I started looking at all of the ingredients I CAN eat. At first it was tricky finding recipes, but then everything changed, I started looking at food logically. Since I'm eating a whole foods diet, the most logical spot to look for recipes is raw food diet websites - the whole raw food movement is based on using whole foods. Anyway, I can take the raw recipes and tweak them, like heat the chili recipe below, or add brown rice to my pseudo sushi. Here's two very fun dinners that both Danny and I loved. Even my friend Jenny loved it (she came from Wenatchee to spend the night and catch up).

Bad lighting but delicious chili

Vegetable Chili

3 tomatoes
1 green pepper
1/2 of a purple onion
4 large cloves of garlic
1 cup of shiitake mushrooms (remove the stems)
3 stalks of celery
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon of oregano
2 teaspoons of hot red pepper powder (I used cayenne pepper powder)

1 cup raw unsalted walnuts
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of coriander powder
a good pinch of sea salt

Dice all of the chili vegetables (except for the garlic - mince that) and put them in a bowl. Add the seasoning and mix it all together. Take half of the mixture and put it in a food processor or a blender. Blend it all up until it's smooth. Pour the blended mixture and the chopped stuff into a pot, stir and turn the burner on to medium low.

While the chili is warming, put the walnuts into the food processor or blender. Blend until until they're mostly chopped. Toss in the seasoning and olive oil. Blend just a bit more so that the walnuts are coated with the seasoning.

Check the chili and make sure it's hot enough. Dish the chili, then add a large spoonful of the walnut topping.


nori seaweed sheets (I used roasted)
1/2 cup julienne red bell pepper
1/2 cup julienne purple cabbage
pickled ginger

Avocado filling:
1 avocado
2 large garlic cloves - minced
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder

Brown rice filling:
1 cup of raw brown rice
2 cups of water
1 tablespoon of ginger powder
1/4 cup of sesame seeds
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
2 large garlic cloves - minced

Start by mixing all of the brown rice filling ingredients in a pot on the stove. Turn the burner on hot. When it starts boiling, turn the pot down to low, or medium low, just low enough so that the water is simmering and put a lid on it. It should be done in about 50 minutes. When the rice is done, let it sit for about 10 minutes to cool.

In the meantime, julienne the veggies, and find your sushi mat (if you don't have one, you can still make this recipe but you'll have to be gentle with the rolling).

Grab the avocado filling ingredients and start by mushing the avocado in a bowl. Mush it until it's creamy, then add the minced garlic and the cayenne pepper powder. You can add a pinch of sea salt if you'd like, but I don't think it really needs it. Stir it in nice and evenly.

Once the rice is cool, start by grabbing one nori sheet. Scoop rice into the center of the sheet and spread it out to either side of it, leaving the top and bottom bare (if this isn't making sense, I recommend googling "how to make your own sushi" there are a billion photos out there). Anyway, lay out the veggies in a row in the center, from side to side, and spread the avocado mix on top of that. Sprinkle the pickled ginger along the avocado. Then, start at the bottom (where there should be no rice), and start rolling toward the top, you will roll over the center, and keep rolling until you get to the top where, again there shouldn't be any rice. Get the very end of the nori a little wet, you can lick the entire end of the sheet, or get your finger wet from the faucet, then roll completely. The nori will bind to the other nori during the rolling process. Grab a very sharp knife (I chose a serrated bread knife), and cut your roll into little sushies. You're done! Yum!

Optional: I grabbed wasabi powder, soy sauce, and created a spicy mixture for dipping. It was a huge hit! Both Danny and Jenny said it was delicious. At least, they did when they were done blowing their noses :)

Pretty fun to be two-for-two on the recipes!

Sorry if the sushi instructions are confusing. It's so hard to explain. Anyway, if you're going to try it out, maybe check out some goggle images so that it all makes sense.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mo For Me?!?

I don't know how to write this blog. I've started and deleted the whole thing about three times already. I guess I'm just at a loss for words. I'm embarrassed but grateful at the same time. It's confusing and hard to sort out. I guess I'll just start from the beginning.

I received an email a few days ago from my good friend AJ. It was an email to a billion of her friends:

Hey guys, 

Matt is participating in Movember this year, although doing it a little differently. He will be growing a nice and bushy stash per usual, but he will be raising money to help out the medical expenses of our dear friend Jessica Oldwyn who is battling brain cancer. To learn more about her brave and courageous story check out her blog:

and to monitor Matt's stash growth and to learn how to donate check out his blog:

Please donate!! We thank you for your support! 
AJ and Matt

Of course, as I read it I turned bright red, and thought to myself, "Those little BUGGERS!" They didn't even ask me. Then I realized, of course they didn't, I would have said, "no." :) I don't want anyone to be put out, and I'm already grateful for all of the support emotionally and physically that people give. I'm overwhelmed. It's true AJ & Matt fashion, always thinking of others. They are a force to be reckoned with, changing the world one massive effort at a time. Thank you AJ, for helping spread the word, and Matt growing your lovable facial hair. I am incredibly grateful that you chose to help me in this way.

Matt and AJ have been wonderful friends to both Danny and I. We grew up with Matt, shared a billion laughs and memories, and from the moment I met AJ, I was completely in love. They are both possibly the most generous people I've ever met. When the Haitian earthquake hit, AJ and Matt threw a huge fundraiser in their city of Montreal. From the moment I met each of them, they've lent support, love, laughter, and kindness. They're wonderful.

Not only are they a mainstay in my life, they also are responsible for Danny and I coming together. When Matt and AJ were leaving Seattle and moving to Montreal, they threw a going away party. I remember specifically at one point in the night, I looked over and saw Danny come toward me, precariously carrying three drinks at once (he swore they weren't all for him). I noticed how handsome, how tall and strong he was. I looked into his eyes and thought, "Wow! Danny's looking goooood." He asked for my number that night. A few months later, on our first date, he told me that when he first saw me at Matt and AJ's going away party, he was walking through a doorway carrying three drinks. He said he almost tripped and his heart skipped a beat. He thought, "Woah. Jessie Oldwyn sure has grown up." How cute is that! In the same moment, we were in awe of each other and it's been the same way ever since. I still think he is the most handsome man on Earth. And as you all know, the kindness man on top of that.

Here are some fun photos I dug up to share:

The first time I met AJ. We were all playing home run derby, obviously not taking it as seriously as the boys. 

The going away party. AJ and I were on a hunt for a lost alpaca. The tuques on our heads were to represent her homeland, the great white Canada.

You'd think I'd be crying since she was leaving. Good thing she doesn't appear to be offended :)

The only picture I have with Matt that night is when I stole a bite of his lamb burger. Oops.

Someone told us to look fierce. Done.

Nate (Matt's bro), Matt, Dan & Dallas at Matt and AJ's wedding.

Danny and I at Matt & AJ's Wedding

My brother, Matt, Me, AJ & Larry visiting in Friday Harbor this summer. 

I am very embarrassed to imply that I want people to donate. I am only sharing the information because AJ asked me to. Please check out the blog just to watch Matt's mustache grow, and laugh. He's hilarious, and it will be a wonderful distraction!

What an honor. I've never had anyone grow a mustache for me! So cool.
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