Hiya hot stuffs!
WOWWWWW, I am so thrilled about this monumental post! Our very own Debbie AKA (Debbiedoesraw - God I love that handle) has some UBER delicious news to share with you. She is one inspiring sassy cat, a true gem. Stories like precious Debbie's teach us all to be turtles. Huh? No race, one step in front of the other, be patient....believe.
Take it away RAW Queen Mayor Debbie....
"A year ago I paid my first visit to the oncologist. An elevated white blood count had prompted my regular Dr. to refer me and I was scared out of my wits. Leukemia had taken my fathers life over 15 years ago and his mother’s life when I was 5 years old. I was angry and more than a little put out. At 47, I was an active athletic PTA mom with a home business doing hairdressing. There was nothing wrong with me; I had no symptoms. This must all be some sort of weird mistake on the labs part. As I sat in the waiting room I kept thinking, “I don’t belong here, I should not be here.” I answered all the questions, twice, gave many vials of blood and left with a new appointment and a possible diagnosis. CLL or chronic lymphocytic leukemia was the doctor’s guess. Whatever that was... I had no idea just how many types of leukemia there were and what this type was. I cried all the way home, more frightened than ever.
The next time I brought my husband with me, as I had to get a bone marrow biopsy. Many of you have had some type of biopsy so you know they are no picnic. I was told it would take “2 minutes” and be a little sore for a few days. After a harrowing, sweaty episode with the gianormous needle, I realized that I was being sold a bill of goods ie: it hurt like hell, seemed to take forever and was sore for a good two weeks. That episode didn’t do much for the trust level between the Doctor and I.
Some off handed comments were made that day, for example,” you could have this for decades” and “ you are not likely to die from this disease but from something else (a bus accident, a TV falling on me or perhaps another unrelated illness?). As I sat weeping, the oncologist’s assistant poked her head into the room and said “Surprised?” like it was an episode of Punked and boy, did Ashton Kutcher know how to freak someone out, huh? My reply was “I have a six year old daughter.” She had no witty retort for that one. I asked what the treatment was and the Doctor said it is incurable and there is no treatment. At least, not until it got to an advanced stage. His assistant breezily let me know that it would be chemo by mouth, as if that makes it all ok, easy peesy lemon squeezy. Shit. I left feeling ready for a fight, angry at the disease, and really angry with the Dr and his wonder assistant, Ms. Sunshine.
I hit the Internet with a fury, finding out all I could on clinical trials, symptoms, treatments, natural cures, anything. I think the hardest thing I learned is that leukemia is canser. I know, duh, but it had never dawned on me. I always segmented it away as a separate illness. Nope, CLL happens when white blood cells join the Blood’s gang called Lymphocytes (wonky, immature white blood cells) and wreak havoc on the lymph system, the liver and the spleen. Even chemo would only reduce them for a time, then they would join a new gang and need a new swat team to take them out. Eventually, they would join The Crips (they no longer respond to the Police aka chemo drugs) and it was game over. The only true cure to make them move out of the hood was a bone marrow transplant, that in itself fraught with dangers of rejection and infection that could take your life or leave you in a worse state of health. At the library, in a five-pound book on cancer, I learned that leukemia, being that it is blood borne soft tumors, is automatically considered metastisized. Double shit. I alternatively cried and was cheered, depending on what I read and whose opinon or research I found.
I read and read till my eyes bled. I research, I networked, I found out all I could about CLL. The markers for the disease prognosis were etched in my brain, so when the Dr. spelled it all out for me I was ready. He said I had a good prognosis; all my markers were in the right place, nothing that would make it harder to treat or quicker to progress. I was thrilled as the news could have been so much worse. My husband held my hand as the good Dr. pronounced, “Your prognosis is good, 7-10 years.” People let me tell you, at that moment I was overjoyed at that news. I let everyone know that I had all the good markers, that it could have been much worse. After the dust settled, I did a mental double take; wait a minute… 7-10 years? Well, hell that is nowhere near enough time! I do not accept that expiration date.
One morning my husband told me he saw a girl on TV, saying she was young, had an incurable canser and had written a book called “crazy sexy cancer something.” For some reason, I pictured a woman dressed in Victoria’s Secret undies with screaming red hair running around yelling, “It’s crazy, it’s sexy!” I went on about my business and put it out of mind as one more book that would just rell me stuff I already knew. I needed facts, damn it, not fun!
I discovered macrobiotics, hit up the Japanese market and quickly found out that it takes a million hours and that all that chewing made me mental. I found books on mental visualization like Getting Well by The Simontens. I tried Qi Gong and self massage. The Power of Now by Ekart Tolle became my bible. I worried, a lot. Books on miracles, sudden remissions and the power of faith kept hope alive. I kept reading.
Each visit with the oncologist brought higher and higher white blood counts and a seeming lack of interest on his part in my questions or my case. I took to calling him “Dr. Textbook” as he would give standard style answers to my queries on diet, treatments and pretty much had no time for me. I felt like I was wasting his time, somehow not sick enough for him to reallly seem to care. Once, after my excited explanation of the visual exercises I did, twice daily picturing my bad cells getting eaten by sharks (killer cells), his assistant Ms. Sunshine, calmly replied, “You just have to accept that you have this disease and that it is not going away.” Pulled my plug and out drained my enthusiasm, but not for long.
One night in October 2007, while browsing the new book area at my favorite library, I saw the book my husband was talking about. Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips:. hmmm, hey she’s cute and this book looks like the breath of fresh air I needed in the isolation tank of research life I had created. Fast-forward to midnight, many tears later, I finished Kris’s book and my life changed forever. I did what Kris said, I read PH miracle by Dr. Robert Young and all the other books she reccommended. TLC had her documentary on and I taped it. In tears and laughter, I watched her go through a near identical journey to my own. I was amazed at all the stories of young beautiful women stricken by various forms of canser. Her blog became my new network and home base. I made some fast friendships with Dee, Bav, Sherry, Michelle, Chris, Callie, Clint, Sandra J, Jennifer, Lisa, Dr. Sue and so many, many other fantastic people. I went raw, starting writing a blog, got a juicer and starting doing the things I needed to do to heal.
Two months later I went for a blood test, oh so confident that I would get super results. Not so fast Quick Draw Mc Graw, the tests came back worse. My white blood cell count had climbed to 29,000 (normal is under 10,000: when diagnosed I was at 17,000). I cried with dissapointment, sure that I had done something wrong or that it would never work. But I kept on the path, doing crazier and well, sort of sexier stuff, like enemas and colonics. (If you go for that sort of sexy, wink wink). Kris and all my other blogmates urged me on and taught me new tricks. Daunted by the raw food cookbooks, I began to keep my food very very simple. I cooked for the family and did raw for me, throwing them a taste every now and then that they loved. You should know that I made a decision not to tell my daughter or stepdaughter about my diagnosis. It’s complicated, but until and unless I am very ill or need treatment, I prefer to keep it to myself and about 500 or so close friends. They just think I eat weird stuff. Being a raw vegan was an adventure and you know what? It was freaking fun! Recently I added more yoga and meditation with my man Deepak Chopra’s Healing the Soul CD. Just a week or so ago, Kris dubbed me her “mayor” of Crazy Sexy Life, her fab new forum/playground. What an honor from the woman who undoubtly saved my life.
Yesterday I went to the oncologist again, this time with a new attitude and four months of raw and green juice under my belt. I had all the good wishes of all my friends, prayers, hope and wisdom, tucked neatly into my backpack. I had a plan, inspired by a chance story I read in ‘Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal’ by Rachel Naomi Remen M. D. called “Who is That Masked Man?” She did therapy with many oncologists and discovered their heartbreak at the poor outcomes of some of their paitents and a deep sense of loneliness. For the first time, I felt compassion for my Dr. and his assistant. Perhaps I needed to approach this visit differently. Instead of taking my resentment and anger with me, I left it in the trash heap of toxic emotions and took a new approach.
As always, the assistant came in and started rattling off the same questions as she had each time. I stopped and kindly said, “You don’t have to ask me all those questions, I feel great and I still have no symptoms,” She smiled, seemed amused and told me in a happy tone that she “Had to ask them.” She sat down next to me, doing her exam. Suddenly, she could be my friend. Ms. Sunshine had become another human, doing her job and trying to be helpful. She had not changed, I had. After the blood draw, my oncologist entered the room. I greeted him and asked about his family. He had mentioned that he had a daughter who liked to run, so I asked if she ran the LA marathon. His face changed, he looked down, smiling and told me she does not run that much, with a bit of a chuckle. Then he told me that my white blood count was at 16,000. The lowest ever since I had met him. It took me a second to register this news, then the excitement hit. I mentioned that I had been coming to see him for a year now and that this was the best blood ever. He remarked “You would not be here if you did not have that blood test, you would never have known.” I told him that actually I was very glad I did find out, that I did meet him a year ago. If I had not made all the changes in my diet and my stress level, used all I had learned from Kris, then I would have met him when the disease was more acute.
In essence, I recognized the gift of the oncologist referral, the gifts that I have received due to the most frightening diagnosis I have ever gotten. He looked at my file, noted that I lost ten pounds since we met and for the first time in a year, really looked at me. He said I looked fit and had good color, looked healthier…hee hee my raw glow was showing! I shared with him that I hoped that I would never have to take chemo and he replied that if my blood stayed this way, I probably never would have to. As he left the room, smiling, I remarked, “ I will come to your retirement party!” Something tells me I will be there and you know what? I’ll miss the guy after all."
For more from Debbie and the rest of the Crazy Sexy Gang visit http://my.crazysexylife.com/
Celebration day for Debbie!!!
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Posted by cancer cowgirl xo at 8:37 AM