A Dose of Reality

The beautiful Connecticut shoreline

The beautiful Connecticut shoreline

So the latest news on the cancer front is that my tumor markers have risen. Bummer, I know. But i’m not gonna freak out. I’m just using it as a catalyst to get myself back on track.

The CA 27-29 is a blood test that monitors tumor markers in breast cancer patients. It is far from foolproof and not commonly used as a guaranteed predictor of anything. But many doctors use it as an additional tool to monitor disease progression or possible return. I usually get tested every 4-6 weeks. Normal is below 40 and I have been consistently between 30-40 for a while now. Until a few weeks ago. Now it’s 70. Ugh!

But as I said, I’m not freaking out. I know tumor marker tests can be unreliable. I know things like inflammation (hello recent surgery!) and stress (hello recent move!) can cause a temporary rise in tumor marker levels. As can meds, liver & kidney problems, ovarian cysts, or fibroids. I don’t doubt that with everything that’s been going on lately my body just went on overdrive and produced a few more cancer cells. But I also believe that as my life settles down & I get serious about living healthy again (body, mind, and soul) that my body will naturally get rid of those extra cancer cells and my levels will go back to normal.

So this is where I’m at. Recognizing the fragility of the balance between NED (no evidence of disease) and getting cancer again. It is another reminder of the life-long commitment I must make to live as healthy possible. To decrease stress. To eat right. To exercise daily. To meditate. To understand & honour my truth. To let go of stuff and people that are no longer helpful. To get out there & have fun. To do my part to make this world a better place. When I do this cancer doesn’t stand a chance!

Knowing this, I am working hard to assemble my new healthcare team… Not only do I need a new oncologist, but I also need a Reiki therapist, physical therapist, and psychotherapist. As well as a Naturopath. So far, I think I’ve lined up 2 out of the 5. Fingers crossed that my upcoming appointments work out and the new graceful woman warrior team will be complete.

A few nights ago I had my first reiki appointment here in Connecticut and it was awesome! I went in with pain, tension, and stress and left feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.  I told her nothing about my recent surgery or the pain I was in.  Despite that she instinctively knew what parts of my body needed healing.  Pretty awesome.

I don’t know if reiki works because I believe it will. Or because there is a genuine energetic shift inside me during our sessions.  I know the mind is powerful.  But I also believe that the world, and all living creatures, are simply energy.  Able to shift and be shaped through energetic pathways that are beyond scientific study. Not everything can be explained, rationalized, or understood.  There is definitely something bigger out there. Beyond what our human brains can comprehend.  And for whatever reason, reiki and I just seem to work well together.

I also want to say thank you to those who reached out after my last post to tell me I’m not alone in standing up for what I believe and charting a different path.  I appreciate your stories, your strength, and your courage.  And I am psyched to connect with you further.  I know how important support and connections are for healing. And I know there’s only so much my friends & family can truly understand about what I’m going through.  I need to connect with other holistic breast cancer warriors.

Well, I always say that everything happens for a reason. The way I see it, the rise in tumor markers was an example of what can happen with I get stressed and off track. Nothing major. Just a little reminder…  A dose of reality.  Yes, you have advanced breast cancer. Yes, it can kill you. Yes, you need to take this seriously.  Yes, you need to get your ass back on track.

But underneath it all I still remain rooted in a sense of knowing that I can and will beat this. That it is possible. I can do this.  And I know our new life here in Connecticut is going to help make that happen.

This morning I explored the forest hiking trails that are within walking distance of our new house. A few minutes in I discovered a majestic babbling creek shaded by gorgeous oak trees and I was immediately crying tears of joy.  During my reiki session this week I had imagined a healing place just like this – a peaceful and serene place, with big leafy trees, and sunlight peaking through the branches above.  Now it was here in front of me.  I looked to the sky, tears streaming down my face, and said a big thank you to my mom and the universe for bringing this to me.  Just moments from my new home.

Today, despite all the unsettling aspects of my life I am still filled with gratitude.  Thankful for the beauty and healing energies of nature. Thankful for the gift of our new home. Our first home. Thankful for these gorgeous sea-side towns.  Thankful for the support and love that continues to surround us.  Thankful for this next chapter in our lives.  Thankful for the gift of another day.

Peace.  – T

PS – I know some of you are eagerly anticipating the next segment of our Be Your Truth Pact website (www.beyourtruthpact.com).  There should be a post up in the next few days from Auntie ‘Cole.  Then I think we may have to get Jeanne to finish part 2 of her story with the tax lady before I get to posting my thoughts.  Stay tuned…

Celebrating Nana's birthday in Provincetown!

Celebrating Nana’s birthday in Provincetown!

Enjoying the Mystic Aquarium

Enjoying the Mystic Aquarium

Miss M documenting our goofy moments at the hotel

Miss M documenting our goofy moments at the hotel

PS…

Have to add a PS to my previous post about honouring your truth…

As mentioned previously, myself, my best friend Auntie ‘Cole, and cousin J in NYC have started our own blog to chronicle our quest to live our best lives, honor our truths, and discover our passions.  It is called The Be Your Truth Pact.  Jeanne posted the first entry and it’s brilliant!!!  Go check it out…

www.beyourtruthpact.com

We will post weekly about life’s serendipitous moments, the people we encounter, and the actions we take to live our truth and honour who we are.  

xoxo  – T

I Vow To Honour My Truth

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We made it to Connecticut! Hooray!

Miss M and I are settling into our temporary home at the hotel with hubby. It’s not so bad living in a hotel (free breakfast, swimming pool, maid service). But I’m itching to get into our actual home with our belongings organized and all my kitchen stuff at my fingertips. Looks like it’ll be a couple more weeks before that happens. So in the meantime Miss M and I are spending our days with family and friends, having fun at the beach, planning trips to Sesame Place & Provincetown, celebrating birthdays, and exploring our new neck of the woods. And I have to say our new neck of the woods is pretty fantastic – ocean beaches, seaside towns, acupuncture clinics and health-food stores. I’m loving it!

But as I start my search for a new oncologist I’m really missing my old one – Dr. K. He was such a gift – open minded, encouraging, humble, and kind. A truly great man and doctor. It’s gonna be hard to find someone as amazing as him but I will look far & wide to find the right doctor to continue this journey with me.

Because for metastatic cancer patients in particular, finding the right doctor is a serious issue. We have an ongoing, life-long connection to our doctors. They become a part of our lives. How we feel about them and how we feel when we’re with them is integral to our health on every level.

This week I had an appointment with potential oncologist #1. Unfortunately, the visit didn’t go so well (for me at least). I felt like we were coming from two opposing philosophical standpoints. The connection wasn’t there. And I didn’t feel good when I was with her. So I’m moving on. Continuing the search. Still looking for the right doctor.

I left the appointment with doubt and fear coursing through my veins, chipping away at my confidence and hope. Questioning everything. Am I naive to think I can be the 1-2% who are “cured” and show no evidence of disease for the rest of my life?? What if something does show up on one of my scans? Am I willing to do more chemo or Herceptin or drug treatment? Am I digging my head in the sand because I don’t like to dwell on the fact that most metastatic patients, like me, are in treatment for the rest of their lives?

After some tears, family hugs, and a few glasses of wine I am pushing the fear away and trying to step back into a place of hope, faith, and positivity. You know what? Fuck the haters! Fuck the doubters! Who says I can’t be the 1%??

Look, I know the stats. I know the odds aren’t in my favour. But doesn’t that give me even more reason to take a chance? To experiment? To go against the grain? What have I got to loose? Either way I could be dead in 2 years. Personally, I’d rather enjoy the time I have left, here and now, focusing on my whole self, healing my life naturally and not spend it at doctors appointments and dealing with potentially life threatening treatment side effects. I want to truly live – fully, with gusto, and my whits about me. That’s the way my mom did it. And I respect her for that – Big time!

I am realizing again and again how difficult it is to be a patient who charts their own course. Conventional doctors want to treat me with surgery and pharmaceuticals. And even though I’ve agreed to go down that road before, I’m not sure I will go down it again. I need a team that respects my decisions and recognizes that I am not choosing my path blindly.

I would also love to connect with other cancer patients out there who are choosing to chart a different path. Who question cookie-cutter treatment options and refuse to blindly trust and follow everything their doctor tells them. Right now I feel so all alone. I could really use some reassurance and understanding from someone else who has walked this road too.

Regardless, I vow to not let the haters get me down. I vow to surround myself with positive and helpful healing allies. I vow to honour my intuition and make choices based on what feels right to me. I vow to live my life to its fullest. I vow to be a force for good in this world.

And I will keep repeating my mantra with each breath I take… Healing energy in… Cancer and fear out…

Peace. -T

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