Friday, June 22, 2007

The Diagnosis

Well, after all this time, we finally have an official diagnosis in my mom's case - it's Breast Cancer that has metastasized to the bone marrow. So this is why she has been feeling so completely exhausted. The marrow is where the blood cells are made... the cancer has been crowding her 'baby' red blood cells out... she needs those to carry oxygen to every cell in her body. So, that's where we stand.

She's continuing with her hormonal medication, but also started an intense holistic, nutritional program a few weeks ago. Even her oncologist was surprised by how quickly her platelets are responding to "something"... of course, we didn't share with the oncologist that we were doing anything natural or nutritional... we had already been severely scolded for that when mom was first diagnosed with breast cancer 2 years ago. How pathetic is that?! Shouldn't our "healthcare" system welcome anything and everything that could truly help the patient? Just a thought!

Anyway, we'll see how things go. All my research is telling me that when it comes to metastatic breast cancer, nobody on the planet can tell us how it's really going to play out. For all the thousands of women with metastatic breast cancer, there are just as many varying scenarios and 'survival rates'. It really seems like it's random chance, with very little rhyme or reason in many cases. For our family, we actually take this as a positive. It means that anything (good) CAN happen... and why wouldn't it??!! It's all in God's hands anyhow - and we're OK with that.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Soakin' Up The Love and Sunshine!

Our family experienced yet another blessing in our journey this weekend. After the way things have been going for the past couple months, I had started to think that my mom might never visit our home again - we live a couple hours away, and she has just been so exhausted that we didn't think she could/should make the trip.

The heartbreaker about that potential situation was that I knew how much peace our home brings mom. She has spent countless hours here, especially since the kids have come along. She loves to sit out on the dock in the early, crisp mornings and watch the lake "wake up". It brings her great joy. So when I got a call from dad yesterday morning that mom felt strong enough to make the trip, I was ecstatic!

She did all the doting grandmother things with the kids (with the exception of the physical exertion part)... getting caught up on all their home videos, looking at school projects, looking at all the photographs from the last couple months, reading with them, listening to their highly theatrical story-telling and all their new songs, and , of course, watching closely over them with the deeply loving, ever adoring eyes of a grandma. My heart was truly happy to witness the love they share and how it filled mom up.

I also loved to see her out on the dock several times soaking up the warm, life-giving rays of sunshine. That's right - life-giving! Natural, "unadulterated" sunshine is a necessary precursor for our bodies' production of Vitamin D. We desperately need this vital nutrient for numerous functions in the body to occur at their highest potential. In fact, even the most conventional of medical/allopathic researchers are finally on board with the rest of the health and wellness experts on this subject. It is widely recognized that vitamin D significantly reduces the risk of developing cancer... some studies say the risk is cut by 60% (includes breast cancer).

We can get Vitamin D from foods like egg yolks, oily fish (sardines and salmon) and fortified milk. We can also inexpensively, safely and easily supplement with Vitamin D. Regular exposure to sunshine is my personal favorite! In fact, I like to combine it with other activities that are good for me, too... exercise, reading, recreational activities, gardening, etc.

Now obviously you can't sit out in the midday sun without protecting your skin! But, leading health experts agree that we would do ourselves a big favor if we exposed our skin to 'gentle' sunlight (morning or late day) for several minutes, without toxic, chemical-based sunblock being baked into our pores. The ultraviolet rays can't trigger the Vitamin D conversion as effectively if they're being 'blocked' by sunscreen. (I'll definitely be discussing the issue of what we put on our skin in future postings.)

Anyhow, mom left her mini-vacation with us feeling well-rested, full of love and healthier... and she had a great tan! Oh, and it was a much-needed break for dad, too!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Tiny Victories

After being 'forewarned' a couple weeks ago that she would most likely need transfusions twice per week now, my mom hasn't needed a transfusion since her very first one. Yay, mom!

I know this doesn't mean anything has ultimately changed in her underlying condition... it still is what it is. It's just nice to see my mom and dad rallying around this shared vision and goal of "building" her blood to avoid the need for transfusions. Their bi-weekly announcements of, "nope - no need for a transfusion again!" have become mini-celebrations and tiny victories for our family!

Mom is definitely feeling stronger than she was a few weeks ago, but still frustatingly 'pooped' compared to her apparent 'perfect health' just a few short weeks ago. It's all part of God's perfect plan... absolutely nothing else makes sense!

Since we're still waiting for the official bone marrow biopsy results to differentiate between breast cancer metastasized to the bone vs. leukemia, the oncologist still hasn't really begun any official treatment. Mom had already started taking Arimidex again - nothing else though since this all began. The protocol she has been following in the meantime is focused on rapidly rebuilding health.

Her diet has been wonderful for many years, so she really hasn't had to tweak much there... she's just made sure to lay off excessive soy products (and stick to fermented ones), since the jury is still out on the soy/reproductive system cancers (breast, prostate, etc.). She eats an enormous amount and variety of fresh, organic, seasonal fruits and vegetables. She drinks a Greens First breakfast shake daily, religiously takes ultra pure fish oil (Innate Choice is our favorite) and is taking high 'doses' of glyconutrients as well as medicinal mushrooms.

Who knows why she's feeling better and stronger right now... if it's her holistic protocol, her incredible outlook on life, or just God workin' his plan! What I DO know is that I don't know... nor does anyone else, regardless of how many letters they have behind their name! So, for now, we're just happy to go with whatever seems to be giving mom a better quality of life - and celebrate the tiny victories with her!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Perspective and Priorities

It's incredible how perspective and priorities change, being on a journey like this with my mom. "One day at a time" finally has real meaning for me. So do all the sayings about living in the present. The past is nice, but it's done! The future can be too overwhelming. I have really found comfort in Jack Canfield's lesson in The Secret about driving all the way across the country in the dark, with only the next 200 feet ahead of you being visible with the help of headlights. It's possible to successfully navigate the entire journey by only seeing a little bit at a time. "Take the first step and the next one will be revealed." That has been an enormous turning point for me in the last month. I don't know what will happen with mom in any given day, let alone the next few weeks and months. I was driving myself crazy trying to see too far ahead. It's impossible! I just take the first step each day - call mom and see how's she's feeling and let her know how much I love her. That I can do!

My priorities have also evolved, secondary to this life-changing event. I find myself "cleaning house" of my usual activiities - I've gotten rid of the trivial, meaningless routines I had just a few weeks ago. Faith, family and health are my top priorities. Everything else can wait! I guess you could say that I've streamlined!

God is amazing! He has certainly made it perfectly clear to me what matters most in life! I do appreciate the blessings of strength and growth and faith He has given me in the last few months. Oh, that's another expression I'm finally understanding at a much deeper level... "let go and let God!" Now I get it!!!