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.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Time Will Come

I'm grateful for so much each day. Things pop in my head, and then I start smiling. It can be as simple as, "My house is so rad. It's full of daylight even when it's rainy outside!" Lately, though, I've been going for the big ticket items. My mind has been full of happiness thinking about how wonderful it is that I haven't had a seizure since August 5th (the day before my birthday - I was probably just too excited!). I haven't taken anti-seizure medicine since September 27th. And, biggest of all, as Danny and I were running errands today, I realized that I could have just finished last week as my first week of radiation, but instead, I'm happy and healthy and trying to kill this brain tumor with alternative means. I realize that I might have to do radiation (eventually - if there is no other option, and it starts completely growing like an even nastier weed), but right now I'm enjoying the ability to take this into my own hands.

Yesterday, my parents, Danny and I met with the other brain tumor fighter that has been taking the artemisinin. We met with her and her husband and we shared notes. We talked all about the different protocols, the different research out there, and we reviewed both of our pathology reports and all of our MRIs. It was fantastic and incredibly inspiring. Our friends have managed to completely shrink her brain tumor through alternative means. It's unbelievable. Although we had never met, there had been email after email for the past year or so. We combined heads and together, I feel like we can conquer this.

At first I was very concerned because there are so many different types of stage 2 astrocytomas (which we both share), I wasn't sure if we were matching apples to apples. But after sharing our pathology reports, our friend has the same type, along with the "negative for loss codeletion of chromosomes 1p/q 19p/q (can't remember off the top of my head which one has which letter). Anyway, my point is that I have those two chromosomes, as does my friend, which means that our tumors are more aggressive and signify a shorter lifespan. Anyway, after watching her scans, and seeing her brain tumor shrink and shrink, scan after scan, I knew that things were looking up!

Maybe surviving a brain tumor isn't just about luck, or fate, or genetics. Maybe, just as I was hoping all along, it might be treatable or even curable by using healthy choices, and by following herbal research. There just might be a way to treat a brain tumor with diet and supplements. Sometimes the supplements are in massive doses, but who cares! It could slow, halt, or kill the tumor. Wow. This is so big. I just have to keep positive about this process. I'm taking the safe side, unlike my friend who took some pretty substantial amounts (with no serious side effects), but I figure I can still up the ante at my next MRI if things aren't up to my liking.

I'm just so grateful to have this opportunity to squish this with healthy means. I'm forever indebted to our dear friends.

It is going to be so hard to wait for my next MRI in January. I want to start seeing results now! I keep telling my overzealous soul, "Patience little friend, there is no rush. Enjoy each moment, each day, each kiss, each hug, each laugh, each smile, each apple, each salad, each green smoothie, each new smell. The time will come." Each time I have to tell myself that little mantra, my core warms, my cheeks get rosy, I start smiling, and I feel lighter than air. It's the best. It's my favorite problem to have :)

Truly, how wonderful is it that I am not headed for week two of radiation in the morning. HOW WONDERFUL!!! ! ! I know my oncologist probably thinks I'm stupid, but I don't care. This is my body and my life. I will not give up on it, or take the easy, less effective solution. I will fight, I will laugh, I will live, I will not give up.

Friday, November 4, 2011


The other day my mom surprised me with a puppy spa day for Emma. Emma loves getting pretty and clean, and the dog was starting to get stinky. It's our fault since we take her out for jogs, and walks, regardless of the weather. Her nickname should be puddle. Anyway, while the sweet dog was getting beautified, I sat at a cafe next door downloading artemisinin research articles onto the blog.

It was so much fun sitting at the cafe, just a half a mile from our home. I enjoyed the walk, crunching leaves beneath my feet. Even though we've been living in Green Lake for a full month, I still hadn't been to a coffee shop, I had done all of my blogging and computer work from home. It was nice to have music, and delicious smells. The people coming and going, studying, visiting, laughing and reading, it was invigorating. It made me feel alive and important. That probably sounds weird, but there's something about being out in society, amongst people, that makes me feel like I'm doing something, something more than just being, just existing. Anyway, I loved it. Because of my dietary restrictions there wasn't anything I could eat, but I had a hot tea and that was good enough for me. If the cafe was busy I would have left, no need to take up the table, but I got lucky and there was plenty of room. It was a really fun treat, and a great morning (both for Emma and for me).

The downloaded articles on Artemisinin can be found on the right side of the blog, under Pages, and Artemisinin Research. It's just under the image of my big old tumor....oh my gosh, I just checked the link and the research isn't displaying. Damn. There went three hours of time. I'm not that handy with technology, especially when it comes to this blogger stuff. Let me try again and see if I can upload successfully this time. There's no easy way to upload documents. Please bare with me.

On another note, tonight is the WPIG Pigture Perfect Silent Auction! Yay! Hopefully my piece of art will raise a few bucks for Ryther. Even my parents are coming, and that's very exciting!

As for the diet, I've had a few friends asking what I'm able to eat, or what my current restrictions include. Here's my deal:

No meat
No diary (except for a glass of milk to take the artemisinin, dairy fat has the best absorption rate with the pills)
No processed sugar
No four
No alcohol

But, I CAN eat:

Whole grains (brown rice, bulgar, quinoa, etc)

Here's a typical day:


  • Green Drink (a blender stuffed with spinach, one cup of water, a teaspoon of fish oil, a teaspoon of flaxseed oil, half a cup of blueberries)
  • Vitamin E (400 I.U.), Vitamin D3 (400 I.U.), Vitamin C (500 mg)


  • Apple or a handful of mixed nuts 


  • Mixed greens salad (chopped purple onion, raw apple, ground flaxseed, squeezed lemon, shredded kale, fresh basil, fresh cilantro, chopped raw garlic, cracked pepper - on days when I have it, avocado)
  • Black beans or brown rice if I have it left over from the previous night (I cook the beans from dry beans to avoid the chemical in canned goods)
  • Green Drink (a blender full of mixed greens, and a stalk or two of kale) or an apple (we have a whole box of organic ambrosia's. They're delicious! After that I imagine I'll change up my fruit.
  • Mixed greens salad (same as above)
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Brown rice or some type of legume

Surprisingly, I don't live my life starving. I feel superb. I have more energy, less headaches, and I feel great all around. I'm still have my bad days of exhaustion if I do too much, but I feel so much better. I know that I can live on this diet forever if I choose to. Basically, I eat any and all vegetables, I eat some fruit but I try to keep it limited. Same with the legumes and whole grains, if I eat to much of those I get bloated and I get a stomach ache. I also prefer to eat raw veggies (except for broccoli, raw broccoli grosses me out).

So there it is. That's my basic diet. If you live in Seattle, or head there from time to time, my new favorite place for fresh juices and raw vegan food is Thrive Cafe. It is truly unbelievably delicious. It's heaven. Try it out! My favorite fresh, organic juice is Refresh, and I finish it off with an Elixer Shot, the Cobra. Both are delicious and make you feel like you're ready to run a marathon, and conquer the debt crisis, both at the same time. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Not A Freak-Er-Out-Er

The past few days I've been collecting medical records. I took a bus yesterday to get copies of all of my MRI scans and all of my radiation reports. Oddly, it shows that there was no tumor growth until between the MRI of July 14th and this current MRI. That means that all of the new growth was in a 3 month period. That's really bad. I didn't freak out when I read it, which is surprising. I guess I'm not much of a freak-er-out-er (I leave that to my mom - sorry mom, but it's kinda true). I have bouts of panic, every couple of months or so, but for the most part I'm oddly calm about this whole thing.

I cried four days after this past MRI, but it wasn't about the request to start radiation. It was after seeing a friend for the first time. Our friend Eric stopped by the house to drop something off, and after he left I finally started crying. I sobbed and told Danny that it's so hard to see the kindness in peoples eyes, and the sadness, and it's because people love me and they care. I hate that my friends and family have to worry and hurt over this. I feel like this brain tumor shouldn't exist. My friends shouldn't have to know about this area of life. It's not like my friends need a lesson in compassion, they're already at their full compassion level. I don't think any of them could be more compassionate in their lives, even before they had this whole tumor thrown in their lives. I just hate this. I hate that people hurt. I hate that people are scared. And it's all because of me. I'm sorry to all of my family and friends that this tumor is effecting you.  
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