Tuesday, May 31, 2011

WHO: Cell Phones May Cause Cancer

Today, the top story on cnn.com is that cell phones may cause brain cancer/tumors. Specifically, the article mentioned gliomas, which is the category that my astrocytoma falls beneath. WOO HOO! I have been waiting for scientists to prove that cell phone radiation is dangerous, even lethal. I truly believe that my brain tumor was caused by my excessive cell phone use.

I bought my first cell phone in 2000 while I was in college. Since then, I've logged millions, maybe even tens of millions of minutes. I was far from home, and used my cell phone to keep in touch with my high school friends, family friends, my brother, my parents, and all of my friends locally around TCU.

I was the girl who always had a cell phone stuck to her ear. If I was driving, I was talking. If was on my patio, I was talking. If I was grocery shopping, I was talking. It's embarrassing now, looking back, how I behaved. When people are on cell phones they think other people can't hear them. I've heard some pretty inappropriate, odd phone conversations just perusing the grocery store, and I'm sure I was no different.

My extreme cell phone use continued when I moved back to Washington. I was in a new city, often spending several hours every night talking to friends. I've used my cell phone as a lifeline. I've counseled many a friend, and likewise been counseled. Most days I logged 5+ hours. Many times when the conversation/conversations ended, my face and ear area were sweaty and hot.

90% of my cell phone conversations were placed on the left side of my head. When I first saw the image of my tumor, I noticed the location. It was exactly where the little antenna of the cell phone was located (remember those guys, you popped up the antenna to get better reception - now they're embedded inside the phone and you don't even see them). I've done some research, and I believe cell phone radiation is the new cigarette smoke. People have always coughed and coughed from smoking, yet we wanted to believe that it wasn't bad for us. The logic with cell phones is right there, it makes your head hot and sweaty. The little cell phone has beams coming from cell towers directly touching your head. The in-use battery pack alone sounds like a dumb idea to have next to your brain. It's all so obvious now.

I wish I would have listened to common sense. I always thought it was eerie that the cell phone caused my ear to heat up and sweat. There had been little blips in the past few years from what I would have considered paranoid fanatics that consistently fear everything. I chalked up radiation to paranoia. The truth, though, is that radiation really does heat your brain. It cooks it, slowly. For people like me, who have been physically attached to their cell phone for hours upon hours a day, then years upon years, the risk is overwhelming. It is scary and now sad.

If I would have read the article below, back in 2000, I like to think that I would have been more careful. I'm a preventative measure woman. I've always taken vitamins, eaten a myriad of vegetables daily, I drink a lot of water, I run, I've always been a money saver, I try and work hard today believing it will pay off tomorrow.

When I first found out I had a brain tumor I stopped talking on my cell phone unless I had it on speaker phone. Radiation is the only thing I can link as a contributing factor to my tumor. I've always been very healthy, my lineage has barely any cancer of any kind, let alone brain tumors. I truly believe that my cell phone use was a catalyst.

If you are interested, please read the article below. You don't have to change your cell phone behavior. That's the beauty of choice, but at least now there's all kinds of information for you to absorb and do with it what you will. Here's how I view it, most people can not live without driving in cars, so, as a safety measure we wear seat-belts. Speaker phone on cell phones is like a seat-belt to cars. We're in a technology culture, and even me, who's scared of radiation, still has a cell phone. I just choose to be more cautious. Who knows what will unfold in the years to come with cell phone radiation, but either way, one thing is for certain, once you have a cancerous tumor, it's too late to prevent it.

WHO: Cell phone use can increase possible cancer risk

By Danielle Dellorto, CNN
May 31, 2011 1:49 p.m. EDT
(CNN) -- Radiation from cell phones can possibly cause cancer, according to the World Health Organization. The agency now lists mobile phone use in the same "carcinogenic hazard" category as lead, engine exhaust and chloroform.

Before its announcement Tuesday, WHO had assured consumers that no adverse health effects had been established.

A team of 31 scientists from 14 countries, including the United States, made the decision after reviewing peer-reviewed studies on cell phone safety. The team found enough evidence to categorize personal exposure as "possibly carcinogenic to humans."

What that means is that right now there haven't been enough long-term studies conducted to make a clear conclusion if radiation from cell phones are safe, but there is enough data showing a possible connection that consumers should be alerted.

Gupta: Cell phones, brain tumors and a wired earpiece
"The biggest problem we have is that we know most environmental factors take several decades of exposure before we really see the consequences," said Dr. Keith Black, chairman of neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

The type of radiation coming out of a cell phone is called non-ionizing. It is not like an X-ray, but more like a very low-powered microwave oven.

"What microwave radiation does in most simplistic terms is similar to what happens to food in microwaves, essentially cooking the brain. So in addition to leading to a development of cancer and tumors, there could be a whole host of other effects like cognitive memory function, since the memory temporal lobes are where we hold our cell phones."

The voices urging caution to consumers have gotten louder in recent years.
The European Environmental Agency has pushed for more studies, saying cell phones could be as big a public health risk as smoking, asbestos and leaded gasoline. The head of a prominent cancer-research institute at the University of Pittsburgh sent a memo to all employees urging them to limit cell phone use because of a possible risk of cancer.

"When you look at cancer development -- particularly brain cancer -- it takes a long time to develop. I think it is a good idea to give the public some sort of warning that long-term exposure to radiation from your cell phone could possibly cause cancer," said Dr. Henry Lai, research professor in bioengineering at University of Washington who has studied radiation for over 30 years.

Results from the largest international study on cell phones and cancer was released in 2010. It showed participants in the study who used a cell phones for 10 years or more had doubled the rate of brain glioma, a type of tumor. To date, there have been no long-term studies on the effects of cell phone usage among children.

"Childrens' skulls and scalps are thinner. So the radiation can penetrate deeper into the brain of children and young adults. Their cells are dividing faster rate, so the impact of radiation can be much larger." said Black of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Manufacturers of many popular cell phones already warn consumers to keep their device away from their body.
The Apple iPhone 4 safety manual says for users' radiation exposure to not exceed FCC guidelines, "When using iPhone near your body for voice calls or for wireless data transmission over a cellular network, keep iPhone at least 15 mm (5/8 inch) away from the body."

Blackberry Bold advises users to, "keep the BlackBerry device at least 0.98 in. (25 mm) from your body when the BlackBerry device is transmitting."

Friday, May 27, 2011

Redistributing Problems x2

I've still been thinking about the post from yesterday, the whole concept of redistributing problems.

I started thinking about everyone I know, and the stories I've heard or witnessed. I have very special friends who have lost a child, who've lost their mate, who are seriously dealing with cancer and all kinds of treatments.

I turned on the TV this morning, poured a cup of coffee, and the first images I saw were people sorting through rubble trying to find loved ones in Joplin, Missouri after the devastating tornado. There was a girl some where around college age who was searching for her cousin. Her cousin was sucked up through the sunroof of the family car, just having left his high school graduation. I couldn't help but cry for them. Tears before 7:30am is unusual for me, but it was cleansing tears. I'm sad for all of the victims and families, and at the same time I'm so grateful for my life.

All of those stories make me incredibly grateful for my situation. I'm healthy, I'm alive, Danny is healthy and alive. My parents and my brother are healthy and alive. In fact, all of my family is healthy and alive. It definitely puts things in perspective, when horrible things happen to people you love, and it effects me even when it's strangers.

My tumor is a bummer, but it's not the end of the world. It's something that I deal with, every day, but the majority of my day is filled with happiness and laughter. My stress level is low, or at least I try to keep it that way. I have everything at my fingertips. I'm in a wonderful place both emotionally and physically. Thinking about other people's stories, helps me focus on all of the wonderful things in my life. I'm sad that people have to go through hard things. I wish I could change it. Since I don't have the power to do that, the least I can do is not take my life for granted. In honor of those who are hurting, I'm trying to live my life to its' fullest.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Redistributing Problems

I heard a saying last night which has me thinking. It was said to a close friend. She was told the statement, "If you were to take all of your friends, in fact, all of the people you know, and gathered everyone's problems, put them into a bucket and redistributed them, each person would wish to have their original problems back."

Danny and I talked about that concept later, and I don't know if it's true. My only real problem is my diagnosis. I would gladly take the tumor back before I wished it redistributed to someone else, but if it was to evaporate I'd be thrilled! I wouldn't want my tumor back. Problems are relative, certainly, but the person who originally made that statement either didn't have any real problems in their life, or they were just trying to make people grateful for what they do have.

Interesting concept though. 

I don't think any of this is making sense, sorry.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

This little guy paces back and forth across my window ledge at work, all day, everyday. He's so cute! He struts his stuff, checking out his reflection. Either that, or he has a massive crush on me :)

The only problem is that Bingie my cat already thinks I'm his girlfriend. 
And he loves white meat.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Yawn Waves

Sorry I've been very sparse with my postings. We've been preparing for Danny to take off for his training in Portland. When it rains it pours, now Danny has a possible job opportunity in Wenatchee (just a possibility not an actual offer). We've been scrambling to play with the hypotheticals of both positions. The difference between living in Seattle and Wenatchee, the difference in pay and most of all the difference in medical benefits.

I find that I'm not sleeping well with all of the changes, and uncertainty. I'm trying to keep my knees bent, but it's exhausting. I'm working on taking it in stride, focusing on each day, but at the same time we have to analyze every detail to make sure that we're making the right decision. A career change, a location change, a huge lifestyle change, any one of those things is overwhelming let alone all three.

Last night I could barely sleep with all of the thoughts racing through my mind. I try to quiet them down, but there's a lot to do, a lot to analyze, and I'm sad about the possibility of doing long distance. I'll miss having Danny around. It's as simple as reading our books before we fall asleep at night. I love talking to Danny, we're always laughing even when we're trying to fall asleep. I know that there's always a phone, but a phone doesn't hug or give a smirk when I miss the door jam as I'm walking.

Anyway, with all of this stress I've found a new way to fall asleep. It's kind of an old new way because I've done it before, but forgot about it. I start by laying in bed with my eyes closed. I pick a person, a friend or a friend of a friend, and I think about what's going on in their life. I focus on thinking positive thoughts about them, something like, "I hope that so-and-so's husband notices how beautiful she is, and says it to her tomorrow." If for example, I know a friend isn't feeling acknowledged and attractive. It's kind of a goofy or dumb thing to do, but I feel better, like I'm a guardian angel in training. I just want my friends and the friends of my friends, everyone in fact, to have wonderful, fulfilling, happy lives each day. Who knows if my nighttime ritual helps anything. I know I'm not powerful enough to change other people's behavior, but a girl can dream for happiness for others.

When I was younger, I told my mother I was convinced there was an invisible yawn wave. I had watched people catch a yawn from other people, even when they weren't looking at each other. I also noticed an instance where a woman caught a yawn from another person at a traffic light, never having noticed the yawn instigator. I can't seem to figure out the refraction of the yawn wave or the physics of it, but I'm convinced it exists. I'd like to think that dreaming for others, like the specific happy thoughts for my friends, even when they're not in a close vicinity, could be like a yawn wave.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Oops. I've misplaced my camera cord, which is the only way I know how to download my photos. Pesky little thing, snaking away like that. I have a few photos from over the past several days that I'd like to share, but oh well, it wasn't to be.

Do you ever feel like you need distractions to get outside of yourself? I do. If I have too much time to think, or spend too much free time on the internet, I can tend to punish myself and Google my life expectancy. Now, why in the world would I do that?! It just seems self destructive and insane. I already know the numbers. I have a median survival rate of 4 years (according to the WHO).

I know that people can get hit by a car tomorrow, but that's not the same thing as having a mark on your head to get hit by a car and die within 8 years (the car analogy is a poor one anyway, it's not like this thing is going to strike me dead all of a sudden - it will be a deterioration). Some people have told me to ignore this tumor, just to live my life but I feel like that's short sighted and completely impossible. Danny and I have talked at length about this tumor, our lives, and how things are going to be different because of our situation.

I don't shut down when I'm afraid, I still live my life. In fact, when I'm really scared, I want to do everything all at once. I want to read my book, pull weeds, trim plants, hug my parents, visit with friends, run with the girls, talk all night with Danny, think about all of the wonderful people in my life and soak it all in.

I'm still running like a mad woman. I think it's pretty crazy that after the brain surgeries it took me five months to be able to run a 10k. Now, I'm running four 10ks a week (as a workout, not running in actual races). Sometimes, when I'm pushing my legs to move as fast as I can, I think about outrunning this crazy little nugget in my brain. I'm working toward a balance between acknowledging how far I've come, the things I'm capable of doing now, and being honest about what may come. In order for me to truly be grateful I have to assess the fact that I will not always be as healthy as I am now. I could have just as easily been diagnosed with a stage 3 or 4 brain tumor. I am incredibly grateful for every moment I have. That doesn't mean that I don't get down, or scared. In fact, I think it would be odd if I didn't.

I'm scared, but more than that, I'm grateful. I have my strength, I have my hair (woo hoo!), I have a wonderful family, and insanely loving and kind husband, I have supportive friends, happy bunnies and nests full of baby birds outside my doorstep. I have it all. I even have the love from my friend's children. Quick story, I picked up my friend Jenny yesterday, and as we were leaving I gave both of her children a hug (ages 3 & 2). I asked her youngest, Jackson, if I could have a hug, fulling knowing that he isn't always generous with the hugs for people. Not only did he quickly come over for a hug, he initiated a full blown kiss on the lips. Wowza! Hot dog! Yep, Danny'd better watch out, I'm pretty sure I'm in love with that little guy. I'm a very lucky girl. I'm scared (I know, I know I already said that) but more than that I'm very happy, very grateful, and so thrilled to be alive and kickin'. Every day I'm given love from so many directions. I have everything to be grateful about, and everything to look forward to.

Sorry this whole blog post is jumping all over the place, I guess I have a lot to say and it's not coming together very cohesively. One of the reasons why I've been scared lately, several days ago, the left side of my upper lip became paralyzed for almost five minutes. It was incredibly tense, the skin and muscle below were tight, poofed and spamming. It effected the area around the lip and side of my mouth. It was incredibly scary to lose complete control.

Most people would think that it's a normal bodily tick, and perhaps it was. But, the doctors have been tracking a twitch underneath one of my eyes. Apparently, twitches (and now the partial lip paralysis) could be baby seizures, perhaps even signaling real seizure. So, although I believe the facial freezing was just a normal thing it was still scary. I live my life not stifled by fear, but there is definitely an undercurrent. I don't have the luxury of saying, "Oh, I'm sure it's fine." Instead, I have to note the date and time, and the symptoms. It's hard when to know if I'm been to minute with my symptoms or observations, but I figure it's better for me to take the time and listen to my body, than to ignore it and jump behind the wheel of my car only to have a seizure and injure someone. 

So that's that. On a final happy note, here is a list of veggies in my garden this year:

Vegetable & Fruit Garden
Purple Cabbage (bunnies are already eating these...I should have known)
Cherry Tomatoes
Abe Lincoln Tomatoes
Beefsteak Tomatoes
Roma Tomatoes
Lemon Cucumbers
Sweet Onions

Pepper Garden:
New Mexico Peppers
Orange Habanero
Super Cayenne
Hot Banana

Herb Garden
Sweet Basil
Red Rubin Basil
Purple Ruffle Basil
Flat Leaf Parsley
Moroccan Mint
Pineapple Mint

Lots of goodies this year! I should have known that the bunnies would eat the cabbage before it even got started. I know all about Peter Rabbit and his rummaging through the cabbage patch. Oh well. It's worth it!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Technology Break

Happy 33rd birthday, Kaal! Today is my brother's birthday. He has been my partner in crime, my protector, my personal comedian, a rock, a kind soul, and a best friend. All the best to you, my crazy bro! XOXO

Sometimes I need to take some time off from technology. I spend my extra time reading, and sitting on the patio watching the birds. I garden, and take pleasure watching my plants grow. I laugh with Danny and take things slow. I find that there's never enough time in the day to do all of the things that I need to. But, truly, there are so many things that I can safely put off for a day or several.

I've literally been watching my plants grow, and with that, I've been watching my adopted bunnies nibble on them. Last night, after my nap, I went to the window to look outside. There were two little gray blurs sprinting around my garden playing "tag." I'm not sure if they were siblings or if it's mating season....they all look alike to me. Either way, it was hilarious, and I'm hoping to see baby bunnies soon. That's possibly the best. I adore little furry things. I just want to pick them up and cuddle them, and then put them in my pocket and save them for later.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Life In Limbo

I feel like I'm in limbo. During this past year, I kept thinking, "If I can just [walk/run/talk/read] make it one year, I will have conquered this. I'll be back to my regular life." I kept my scope on the one year mark, always working toward a better future.

I was reeling, just trying to function and progress. Now I don't know how to navigate. I feel like I have completely different challenges, like, what to do with my life. I'm enjoying doing presentations. I'm enjoying my job. I'm enjoying trying to be healthy and running, but I want to challenge myself further. I just can't seem to figure out which challenge to take on. It has to be sincere, and from the center of my heart or I know I won't finish, or give it enough effort. Maybe the challenge will present itself, and I won't have to even think about it, kind of like the brain tumor. That was certainly a monumental gift of a challenge.

Somehow I thought that if I could survive the first year, everything would fall into place and my life would make sense. Instead, lately, I find myself sitting straight up out of a deep sleep, my heart racing, the previously subconscious notion of death bearing down on me. I can not ignore the reality of this diagnosis, and yet I don't want to obsess over it. I can say that, and yet, at the same time my body knows what my mind doesn't want to admit, I'm scared.

I'm in a new phase. I'm out of survival mode, I'm in a grey area.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Tearful Presentation

The presentation in Friday Harbor was incredibly emotional. It was powerful to scan the room, see my brother, my mom, my sister-in-law, my Carol, Libbey & Mary, Danny's mother, Susea, and other familiar faces. I had everything organized, the timing of the photos for the slide show, note cards, even blog posts, but quickly it was thrown out the window. I became overwhelmed, and for the first time during a presentation, I cried. 

It was embarrassing to be so vulnerable, but the eyes upon me had compassion. Some teared with me. I love to share my story because I'm grateful for my life. I want to empower people. I want to help them find their smile. My goal is to encourage the audience to ignore other people's expectations, and to never give up.
I often can't believe what an incredibly extraordinary life I have. I'm so happy to be alive, and I want to share that joy, my perspective, with others.

I don't know exactly why those who teared up felt emotional. It could have been empathy for me, or it could have related to their own life. Either way, I was thoroughly touched. I share because I want to impact lives in a positive way. The Rotary in Friday Harbor gave me a huge gift. A gift of support, kindness, patience and love. It was not the seamless presentation I was trying to accomplish, but the fact that they connected emotionally was everything I was hoping for.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Friday Harbor Rotary Presentation

I'm headed up to Friday Harbor today with my mom. I have a presentation with the Friday Harbor Rotary, and I'm really excited. It will be fun to see familiar faces, and hug people that I haven't seen in awhile. One of these days I'm going to video record a presentation to share here on the blog. I'm not too crazy about watching myself, but I'm sure it'd be a really helpful exercise.

For this presentation, I was wanting to revamp my whole process but I just couldn't pull it together. My mind is often cloudy and I feel like the synapses aren't firing at the optimum level. Sometimes my brain feels like Homer Simpson's.

I still feel like my brain is grasping for connections, and my thoughts don't work as seamlessly as they did before the surgeries. Last night, as Danny and I were talking about this frustrating little situation, he reminded me that I've only had one year to recover.

It's hard to be patient though. It's easy to feel like I'm plateauing, or even regressing. Sometimes I feel stupid. I do fine talking in conversations, the problem is the thoughts swirling in my head when I'm trying to organize large scale ideas. My inability of mental organization is incredibly foreign. I used to conquer all kinds of difficult mental tasks. I loved a challenge, and excelled at schooling. Now I feel slow, and inept. At times I still feel like a guest in my own brain, trying to navigate through thoughts. It's hard to explain.

Brain trauma is hard to explain to people. You can't see it. A lot of times, people can't tell the difference between Jessica before and after. I have a hard time when I'm exhausted or stressed, and that can be isolating and frustrating. I'm not able to just push through. It's not the end of the world and I'm incredibly grateful to have progressed so far already. I'm just sharing how I feel on the inside, the part that people can't see.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mom's Cake or Lack Thereof

Friday's birthday cake baking didn't go exactly as planned. This is a photo from my camera phone. It's blurry because I instantly started tearing up. As the angel food cake came out of the oven, I burnt my finger on the rack and I lost my balance. The cake was not completely cooked and the top started shaking as if it was built with jello, quickly jumping ship onto my running shoes. I think the cake would have survived my lack of balance, but in my haste to get the batter in the oven I accidentally filled a cheesecake pan instead of a bunt pan. Oops. Sometimes I feel like the character Romona, in the Beverly Cleary's children's book series. It's frustrating to not even be able to use utensils right, or do what you used to do easily, or have it take so many times to get things right. It's like one side isn't talking to the other. I hate complaining about it, and I hide it, but life is hard. It's hard to try and get back.

I was able to make a lemon filling with fresh lemons which was the saving grace. I took the cake from the pan and stuffed it, spoonful by spoonful, into a ramekin. I cut out the center and stuffed it with the lemon filling, then grated lemon over the top. Not too bad in a pinch!

I was thoroughly upset with myself, but now that I've had time to look back the whole thing was incredibly funny! I had the best of intentions and I was trying so hard to make her the perfect cake, but sometimes all you have is just a great story.
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