Friday, September 21, 2012

An Anniversary

Dear Ones,

It's Friday, Laura and I are headed off for a fun weekend. We are finding some resolutions for the new office challenges that we've been facing, and I'm healthy. So what's with the tears? What's with the feeling like I've been kicked in the chest? What's with the exhaustion?

It wasn't until about an hour ago that I made a connection. Perhaps not the only cause for all this effect, but certainly a part of it.


It's September 21st today. A year ago Laura and I were up in Philadelphia, it was the day of my second chemo infusion. The first dose had been a significant overdose, I had been really sick, nausea, migraines, and had to go to the emergency room to rule out a pulmonary embolism. Going back to CTCS was really hard. I was scared, we were scared. Standing in my power and seeking to adjust the dosages and find a way to get through the treatment was our focus.

It's not my style to spend a lot of time with this sort of anniversary, or even remember them for goodness sake! Yet, I can feel the trauma of cancer treatment - it is still there - new pieces are arriving for my loving attention, for healing.

This is our great earthy crunchy, renewable, solar and organic weekend (Mother Earth News Fair) and I can feel that during some in between moments, I will be letting out another layer of grief, fear and sadness.

The doctors listened. I have lived, it was ok.

There are parts of my body and psyche that don't fully know that yet.

Blessings,
Amelia

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

And You Know What


Dear Ones,

What follows is a bit of a rant, that started because of a few posts that I have seen lately from people who want to tell fat people that it isn't healthy to be fat.

Weight in and of itself is not the problem. The food supply, toxins, diets and other things are far more dangerous. There is such thing as Health At Every Size and a book by the same name By Linda Bacon PhD.

It is really easy to talk about healthy options, however we MUST stop with the judgement and the criticism and the assumptions about people who are larger than others. These posts make the assumption that simply being thin makes a person better. Is that true?

I have lived in a body that happens to be genetically predisposed to carry weight.  This has allowed me the opportunity to deeply experience the way the world treats people of size.  Because EVERYONE believed it was so BAD when I was a child, I was put on diets by 7 and was doing horrible fasting and starvation programs by high school.  My self-image was severely damaged by the large number of people who felt it was ok to judge me, tease me in the halls at school, tell me what I was doing wrong, and the perpetual.... if only you lost weight...

Guess what? I wasn't even "obese" back then. The dieting did that for me.

These days, I am working to make it safe in my skin for me to live happily, every day, every minute.  That's not actually too easy given the negativity that I have absorbed over all these years on this subject.

What I am also finding I must do it speak about this and ask people to think about it.  Im asking you to think a bit for yourself, instead of simply following what the experts, media and "doctors" have to say.

As we as a nation have gotten larger, we have become harder and harder on those who are large.  The State of Georgia thought it was ok to put up billboards that essentially mock and shame children of size.  That is child abuse in my opinion. That gives public permission to treat these children poorly.

I remember a Facebook post recently where someone was just throwing around the word fat, it was being used as a major insult, to demean.  It is a noun, it is an adjective, and it is painful, and often senselessly used.

There are dozens of reasons why we are becoming larger. And there are literally thousands of people who think they know more than the fat people about how they can be better and make their lives better. Because they are better, apparently.


AND YOU KNOW WHAT?

  • We simply must find it in our hearts and souls to be gentle and good to ourselves and each other.
  • It is time to look in the mirror and say I LOVE YOU to our bodies, no matter what perceived flaws are seen.
  • This isn't about weight loss.  I can't be.  This is about caring for the bodies we are in, right now, not in some fantasy future. Thin isn't a synonym for healthy and fat isn't another word for sick.
  • It is time to remember that we cannot judge someone by their outsides. Unless you are living in their skin, you don't get to say/think/"nicely suggest" a thing.
  • We must start learning to listen to our bodies and teach our children that their bodies hold the wisdom of the universe.  We need to trust our bodies, they actually will let us know when we are hungry and what we want to eat.  However, we teach our children from when they are tiny not to trust their bodies or that they are wrong. So by the time we are adults, we have cut off the connection so far that having a "Gut Reaction" is a rarity.
  • Let me tell you, I live in my gut and my belly as much as I can these days.  It serves me with a vast store of knowings.
  • Can you imagine a world where it is really safe to be who you are in your body at whatever size it is? That could incite self-love and acceptance.  


You know what self-love and acceptance could incite?

Health.

At every size.

I love you all - thank you for sticking with me and reading to the end.

You are beautiful and handsome and your body is amazing - what a gift it is to get one and take this journey as a human at this time.

Blessed be.
~Amelia

and if what I am saying makes your skin crawl, thank you for getting to the end. Please read the book, I'll even loan you a copy if need be.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Llamas.. no ALPACAS... oh dear

Dear Ones,

Phalco is a dear and cuddly Alpaca 
Part of what I have found I need to let go of lately is, using the right word.  For someone who has always communicated pretty well and had a lot of words handy in my brain, this is something of an adjustment.

I've found it quite a challenge over the last couple of weeks.  In the camilid family; which includes camels, llamas and alpacas, I have been most familiar with llamas.  So somehow my neural net goes to the word "llama" when it sees something that is pretty close to a llama.  Like an alpaca.

Laura, Sarah and I have had a great time getting to know some llamas alpacas recently, we even got to shear them last weekend (long story, friend me on Facebook for details,) so I have become quite intimate with ALPACAS.  And alpacas are enough different from llamas that I really can tell the difference.

Sarah and Becky with the boys
So for fun, I will add Alpaca photos to this post, even though it really isn't about Alpacas.  It is about chemo-brain or brain fog.  It is here and it persists.  I have to be really careful with spelling, (bless iPhones) and I have often found myself looking at Laura searching her face and brain for the word that I want to use right now. She is good about providing them, gently, and good about softly correcting me when I am just completely off.

Laura, the alpaca shearing goddess
More than one person has suggested that I hold onto this excuse for awhile, say, the rest of my life, give or take.  The detached and evolved me can certainly laugh about that and say absolutely!  The other part of me that is more judgmental and frustrates easily, simply wants to say a complete sentence with all the right words.  I've been known to get a bit touchy!

My oncologist assured me that they now know that chemo-brain is real. He also told me that just a few years ago they actively denied it.  It's real.  No doubt here.

Cooler and a bit scruffy.
Words have always been fun and easy. I am doing my best to hold this new reality with gentle humor.  I had a client today who asked me a question during a hands on part of her session.  I was able to simply say "I cannot access that part of my brain while I am in deep therapeutic space."  It worked, as she didn't know my history and didn't need anything more than that.

So remember, llamas are bigger than alpacas.  And the alpacas at Becky and Cheryl's are really cute boys who seem to forgive me for calling them llamas. 

And I am grateful that I haven't, as yet, called them camels!

blessed be,
~Amelia
who loves new adventures, and shearing alpacas was a delightful adventure, they really are cute!

Oh and it could be the Tamoxifen too.  Just remembered that.




Anniversaries and Turning Corners

Dear Ones,

We noted the first anniversary of this adventure in late June. 

Happenstance got me back to Dr. Mrose, my favorite radiologist at Bay Radiology, for my first set of mammograms exactly a year after I had been in because of the lump I found in my breast.  All is well in mammo-land these days. 

As I continue to play with western medicine, there has finally been a shift to looking forward to long term health! A welcome relief from the "you are a cancer patient, you have cancer" mindset.  Now, the reality is that most of what I can do to support my system and offer it opportunities for wellness are outside of traditional medicine, and I have arranged a team of docs who are supportive of holistic health care, thank goodness!

So, I will be taking Tamoxifen for a couple of years, and then other drugs to reduce the risk of a re-occurrence.  Tamoxifen is pretty interesting and feels important in my situation, it blocks/interferes with estrogen receptors, especially in the breast.  Since the cancer in my breast was estrogen-positive, blocking some of that makes sense to me.  I had been aware of and working to shift the estrogen dominance in my body for many years, Tamoxifen is doing that for me, with sledge-hammer style results.

Because of the Tamoxifen, I have had to get my ovaries and uterus checked out, fun! We also had a unscheduled trip to the ER to rule out deep vein thrombosis one evening.  Thankfully I got to go home with the diagnosis of unspecified rash.  The leg cramps are epic and about a few of the other side effects - that will remain private.

Beyond that, there isn't anything else to do, except be healthy and take good care of myself. (And lots of supplements!) It is a very strange feeling,  after such intensive treatment for almost a year, to then be, simply done.  Hmmm... This huge threat, major danger has been treated, and now I am simply done.  "Come back and see us in three months." Wow.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am really happy to step back into my life and get distance from all of that, and it is a somewhat rough transition and redefinition of self.

But hey, I have gotten to re-define myself so many times in this lifetime and especially in the last year!

Have you seen the hair? 
I love it, it's staying short and blonde!

Blessings to you all,

~Amelia

Who also no longer has a medi-port in her body either, yahoo!


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Good News Today

Dear Ones,

As you probably remember, Laura and I were back at CTCA this week for follow-up and a PET/CT, which is frankly just looking for spread of the cancer. They call it a "new baseline."

We got the results yesterday, And the test came back clear, "no evidence of disease." Blessed be!

So time for us to take a deep breath, feel a lot of relief, and gently step back into life, the new one that isn't quite like our old one.


My system was quite challenged by the radiation, and my immune system is still very diminished -so it may be slow, and with very limited crowds and hugging for awhile still.

Short term, I am focusing on getting our "new" home ready to move into, painting is good P/T and is helping me get my strength back. Then I will focus on getting back to work, etc. As I hope you remember, I hung up my super-woman cape at the outset so am really looking to be gentle and patient with myself in this new process.

Thank you all for your prayers, assistance, and love this year; Laura, Sarah, and I have felt and appreciated them greatly,

Many blessings and Happy Easter,

~Amelia and Laura

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

You look so good!





Dear Ones.

"You look so good!"

Yes, I do. That is a good thing.

At times it feels like people are somewhat surprised. They expect me to appear sicker somehow. I've even felt an occasional judgment float through-perhaps I'm not suffering enough, if I am doing the metastatic breast cancer path I ought to look and feel much worse.

And I find I need to respond to that and share my answers to such questions.

First, I started this process really healthy. Vibrantly healthy and full of strength. And then I started listening to what I needed to get through this journey.

So, I am on sabbatical, I stepped out of my life radically to take the time to honor, care for and heal my body.

Good medical - listened to me, modified medications, spread out the schedule and added extra supports like fluids and vitamins the day after infusions.

Listened to my body.

Stepped out of relationships where I felt I as not being heard.

Holistic supports, nutritional supplements, food choices, homeopathy, acupuncture and massage.

Mind body medicine and support with a counselor at CTCA, as well as my long established therapeutic relationships. I have worked with four therapists throughout this process on different aspects of the experience

Shamanic healing work with a trusted and amazing shaman.

Prayer, my own and that of do many others.

I have gotten to learn to receive and allow all the love and prayer in.

And I have had very wonderful support and help day to day. My family and dear friends have kept in touch and helped as they can. Even Sarah at eleven has stepped up and become more conscious and independent.

My biggest support has been Laura. She has been beside me at all times in this process (unless it is surgical suite or radiation exposure.). She has cared for me and held me and loved me no matter how badly I felt. She put her schooling on hold and stepped up her time at our business, covering many of my clients and keeping it all going. She loves me bald, she loves me cranky from chemo and steroids, she loves me with surgical drains and long drives and when we are both exhausted from the process.

I simply cannot imagine doing this without Laura my love.

Yes, I do look healthy, my scars, burns and damaged cells are covered by my clothes and skin.

Yes, I am walking the traditional medical path for treating metastatic breast cancer. Medicine does know how to treat it with some very good outcomes, and the treatment has improved over the years. The description cut, poison and burn is still how it is done and it is brutal at times.

I am so grateful to have the access and the freedom to walk this path my way. With all the different supports that have made the process bearable and successful.

I have finished radiation and am healing. We return just before Easter for another PET/CT to confirm all is well. Slowly and surely I am and will continue to return to life. Not life as I knew it. That is gone. A new aspect of my adventure in life.

Before this started, a friend told me that I ought to expect to hear about how good I look for a long time. Perhaps it is simply learning to take in a compliment better, on that I will continue my work. Perhaps it is our consciousness about cancer, and the surprise when someone doesn't appear to be dying. Perhaps it is incongruous, that I look happy and healthy while reporting the challenges of this process. I really prefer to be congruous in all things and n this I am so grateful that I don't appear as miserable as I feel at times!

Blessed be.
Amelia

Slowly rising

Dear Ones,

Below is a quick note Laura wrote last night to a friend with a bit of an update. I asked if I could share it to let you all know what is going on these days as I have been so deep in the underworld of this healing journey.
 
from Laura:
We head to CTCA tomorrow for the follow-up bloodwork and PET/CT scan on Thursday, results on Friday. The scan will establish a new baseline and is also the standard test to examine for any distant metastases. We have every reason to believe that all the cancer was removed with the surgeries and that the chemo and radiation regimens have been ├╝ber insurance. That said, there is still the build-up and realism of all the possible scenarios this journey can bring.

So we wanted to send a heads up and ask for extra support, love, and gentle consciousness as we journey through this week.

Will of course post an update when we know more.

Hope spring is awesome for each of you this year!!

Much love,
Amelia and Laura