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.

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