Virginia Beach

I had a really perky piece in my head that I can’t post now, not with tragedy staring us in the face. My fiftieth high school reunion is coming up – I’m not going. Besides being to close to the end of chemo, I hated high school (but that’s a post for another time.) I did, however, want to see an old high school mate who lives in Virginia Beach. I made my reservations knowing that there had been a shooting, but not understanding the scope of it until I had.

It’s been years since Charleston lost the AME 9 to the monster who pretended to serve God with them and then took their lives. I don’t look for a reason: How can there ever be a reason for evil? No murderer gets a pass in my book for mental illness. As someone who has struggled with mental health challenges her whole life, not once have I ever plotted the demise of someone I didn’t know. THAT is evil.  We can search for the basis in whatever we want – illness, ideology, but in my mind there isn’t any.

I offered my friend my condolences and my support. We barely know each other, so there’s nothing else I can do. And there is a bigger, more immediate tragedy that I am facing, which is why I pulled the piece about my best friend. Her mother has been diagnosed with cancer, and it’s pretty far along. As we get older (my nurse practitioner reminds me as I go in for my weekly appointment), we’re not as strong. I was stage 2-3 when I was diagnosed (we’re treating stage 3 just in case) and had been fighting on my own for a year. My body was pretty run down. My friend’s mom is stage 4. She’s in her late seventies. That’s a lot for a body to take.

Tough week. I want to say that as we get older, it gets harder, but I don’t think that’s the truth. The truth is that we have hardship our entire lives. It’s how we grow. It’s what makes the good times, those moments that we try to stretch into hours, days, weeks, sparkle and take our breath away so much more spectacular.

It would be dishonest of my not to talk about God right now. I am always reluctant because to me, that’s the most intimate part of my life. I feel like I’m kissing and telling. As Einstein said, I don’t believe in God, I know God. I know that no matter where I go, in this dimension with all y’all or in another with someone else I love, I am with God. I don’t need to know that there is A Plan, I trust that there is one and that I have no clue what it entails. My only job is to treat others with love, dignity, and respect. I find that is a full time job and an especially necessary one. It’s my only hope. Hugs and love, Y’all. Spread it around.

Adversity

One of my goals is to be more organized about my writing, I say as I sit here in my apron (yes, I use an apron. I am a slob!) in the middle of answering a business email. What’s on my heart today is adversity and the pattern of events in our lives. Anyone who knows me or has read this knows that I am in the process of healing bone marrow cancer. I feel good about the prognosis. This is how that happened:

In the 1950s, things were a lot different from today. Computers were not used generally, let alone able to fit into a pocket. We had our hair washed in the kitchen sink so my mom could slide our little bodies under the faucet at will – her will. She let us know that we had to endure getting our hair washed. Oh, believe me, I was the kid that tried to talk her out of it. I ran, I hid, but I always ended up under that damn faucet singing “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Now, YOU might think that MHaLL had nothing to do with getting your hair washed, but when we hit a rough patch (i.e., being legally drowned by our beloved mother under the kitchen faucet), my mother would make us sing with her. She had a beautiful, rich alto voice. Our little voices would chime in with hers until the dreaded drowning was over.

Eighteen years later, I had a pretty bad experience. I made sure that I distracted myself until I was safe because my mom had showed me that no matter how bad things are, they will be okay in the end. That water faucet is going to turn off, and my hair is going to be clean until the next time. I had a few days to pray and think of new reasons why my hair was still clean and didn’t need to be washed.

But she saved me. Think of everything that you have been through. Yes, it gets harder as we get older because we are exposed to so much more, our lives are bigger so our woes increase accordingly. But our coping skills improve – and our song repetoire expands. Cancer isn’t the worst thing I’ve been through; it’s just the hardest for the people I love because of all the stuff I’ve been through, it’s the most socially acceptable. I get so much love, support, food, it’s humbling to me that that many people would go out of their way for me (well, not my best friends: we have the goods on each other…hehehe).

I’m not close to dying, but if I had to go now, I would be just fine.

Memorial Day

Today on Facebook one of my friends posted about the astonishing number of our military members and veterans who commit suicide. I was born in 1951, right after WWII ended 5 or so years before. My older brother served in the Philipines during the Vietnam War. My dad came home with a heart full of hatred; my brother came home with veins full of heroin. Neither was a winning proposition.

I was lucky: I had a mother who knew how to teach resilience and who had an open heart. As a little girl, I remember my dad and mom arguing because my mother was helping the young Japanese couple next door understand how to do things in our neighborhood. Their trash hadn’t been picked up, so my mom went over to show them how to sort it (recycle in the fifties? Your trash didn’t get picked up if you didn’t separate it! Not like today where in some places you pay to recycle.). My father was furious: he, of course, blamed them for the war. To be certain, the Japanese had a hand in what happened. My father couldn’t win the war, he couldn’t move forward. He, like man other men and women who have fought wars – or served in our military in any way – stay there, needing those days to be the glory days. Because of the huge personal sacrifice?

Some of the stories posted by people who served and their families were heartbreaking: they didn’t have to see combat to feel a loss of who they were enough to drive them to suicide. My brother and I have spent our relationship off and on. At one point, after not hearing from him for over a decade, I was in the state where he lives and saw a man built like I remember him on the side of the road with a sign, panhandling. It’s been close to a decade again since we’ve spoken, and I guess I don’t expect to hear from him. It’s so hard to go forward with someone who has given up, who doesn’t even try anymore.

Through all of this, I remember the hope I felt because my mother would defy my father and do what was right. She made his favorite meal, made us kids act right during that time, as if to soothe him through the difficulty she could see in him. But mindful of what she was teaching her children about prejudice, forgiveness, and someone who looks and talks differently from oneself, she perservered. I will always be grateful to both of them for their example, because they worked it out. I played with the children next door, and our moms smiled and chatted as best they could through the two languages. And I will always love my dad for loving my mom enough to let her get him through the struggles he had with this.

Chemotherapy

Sorry for the distance between posts. After trying 3 alternative treatments (in addition to one chemotherapy session at the beginning of 2018), I realized that the tumor had grown so significantly, that I had to seek some sort of treatment to be comfortable until I died, or do something to cure the cancer. It ended up being the latter.

The first treatment consisted of assigning myself to the tutelage of a medical intuitive. I felt pretty good under his care, but he was not an honest man. The cancer didn’t spread, but it didn’t diminish (I had my family doctor do ct scans every 6 months).

The next treatment consisted of a purple foot bath. Alas, the only thing that was cured was the whiteness of my towels. I actually could feel the tumor’s size increase as my ability to sit for the hour or so the footbath required became so uncomfortable, I had to give it up. The footbath was made up of herbs, and I purchased it through a woman in Oregon. When she fell ill (she was in her eighties), I contacted the person from whom she bought it. For someone like me, neither of these humans was a good choice. Neither of them wanted to talk to me (“You’re not paying for that as a part of the treatment.”), so I had nowhere to go with questions. When you are facing a life-threatening illness, you tend to have those.

The third treatment was a suppository from a company based in Massachusetts, but the product came from Canada. It was a combo of THC and CBD oil. The THC was to cure the cancer (illegal where I live, but as a 67 year old pillar of my community and white, I felt I made a good poster child for the legalization of marijuana. During this time in Missour, the authorities searched the friggin’ hospital room of a man with stage 4 cancer for his stash. Luckily, he had none. My heart stopped for him and for me.); the CBD oil was to keep the cancer from spreading and ease the pain. It did neither. Border waits made this unwieldy. Besides, I was already in so much pain that using a suppository became difficult.

My best friend packed me up in the car (she has been through everything with me), and off we went to my original oncologist. I insisted I wasn’t returning to chemo and wanted radiation. My best friend convinced him that I would need radation if he liked his office as it stood.

Off to radiation I went for 5 treatments. The idea was to ease the pain until I died a graceful, pain-free death, no longer having to worry about what I was going to do with myself as I grew older.

More tomorrow. I have to get ready for a birthday party (not mine). Hugs. I promise to write again tomorrow.

 

A Kardashian Moment

I am having a Kardashian Moment, so I am going to share just about my hair today. After being a born-again-blonde for the last 20 years (I really was born with white-blonde hair, I swear!), I lost my hair to my very first chemo in March 2018. I wasn’t singled out; that’s how some chemo works. Now, after letting it grow in, then shaving it because I looked like a porcupine, then letting it grow, I am the proud owner of Mr. Minnillo’s Hair. Mr. Minnillo was an older gentleman with thick, wavy, salt and pepper hair who lived down the street from my family while we were growing up.

This is not what I had in mind when my hair started growing back. That it was gray and dark wasn’t a huge surprise, but the texture! I’ve never seen this hair on my head before and had no idea it was hiding in my head. And I have as many cowlicks as I have hair! When I get my hair trimmed, I come home and cut daily for the next 3 weeks. My hair might or might not be uneven, but it sticks out at will a different place every stinkin’ day. How can I have a bad hair day with one inch of hair? It’s unbelievable to me.

And as time has gone on, what I have learned is that if I let my hair grow beyond Mr. Minnillo, I am Combover Gumby. It starts to swirl on one side, grows to the top, then doubles back with the most interesting curl I’ve ever seen. There’s no cure for that.

But what all of this has made me think about is how total strangers have used my hair to support me. When I was in the middle of an ugly divorce years ago, I had to meet my then-husband at the bank. In the middle of his giving me a hard time, a man in about his thirties walked by me, smiled into my eyes and said loudly, “Great hair!” I felt like he was on my side.

And people walk up to me on a daily basis to tell me how great my hair looks. Yesterday a woman I don’t remember meeting even told me that she saw me when I was bald and loves how it looks now. It just blows me away! The biggest thing I’ve felt since diagnosed with cancer is how kind people are, how willing they are to extend themselves to a total stranger. I guess in some respects, being bald and older (cough, cough) makes me stand out from the crowd, right?

Don’t misunderstand: I wouldn’t have shaved my head for money if I had had a choice. I liked being blonde. But this is my new normal, and I want my life to be happy. I’m trying to cherish these amazing moments that will become nursing home memories. My life’s mission is to make people feel valued and empowered. When people do that for me, I understand why I want to do it. What if we filled the world with only happy people?

 

Thanks Giving

All I have to do for dinner is prepare asparagus. My friends know me and know my cooking prowess. Rinsing and baking a vegetable is perfect for my skill level. I am grateful further because I can write this article. There is so much more I am grateful for as well: I have good health (yes, even with stage 2 cancer, one can be healthy!), a wonderful home to live that allows me to kayak at will, and most of all, the most amazing friends and family anyone could have! It feels like way more than I deserve.

Today, in addition, I’m thankful for the messages of thanks I’ve received about CBD hemp oil and the positive changes it’s made in so many lives. Anyone who tries it has good results, and they can’t wait to tell their friends. Since many people want to discuss CBD hemp oil before they try it, I’ve been allowed to talk with some wonderful people. Not only do I get to hear their stories, I have something to offer them to make their lives better, help them create lives worth living. From my personal experience, trying to accomplish something when I am in pain – physical and psychological – is an exhausting challenge. That I have something to offer people that is so easy and relatively inexpensive to use to help overcome that is a miracle to me.

Thank you, also, for your faith in me. Many of the people who call me don’t know me, yet they trust me with their stories and their wellbeing. It is a great honor. One woman in particular purchased CBD hemp oil for chronic pain. She wanted to try whole hemp oil but since she did almost no drugs, she was worried about what would happen. I suggested she call me when she was ready to take it. When she did, I walked her through using it. “I am here if you want to discuss how you feel or any weird effects you are having.” She promised to call me if she did. That was in the evening. No call that night. No call the next morning. Finally, I called to make sure she was alive! “Yes,” she said. “I’m just able to do everything I want so I didn’t think about you!” Perfect. That’s the result I want.

Please let me know how I can help you have a better life. Have a wonderful day!

Dosage

Let’s talk about how much and what CBD hemp oil to use to relieve whatever ails you. I have a wonderful friend who has a bad back. At my suggestion, he tried the Proprietary Gold Hemp Extract 24-27%. When I first started using whole hemp oil for the discomfort and anxiety I experienced with bone marrow cancer, the Gold set me free! I felt that ‘ah’ moment when the pain and oppressed feeling lifted, and I could focus on my life.

My friend, however, even though he felt relief from his bad back, didn’t like the taste. “It tastes like cut grass!” Yes, it does. He loves the gummies but doesn’t get the relief he did with the extract, just a little lift. I told him that using gummies instead of extract was like taking a knife to a gun fight: You’re probably not going to win.

When you have something big going on like a hurt body or an ailing psyche, it takes some milligrams of CBD hemp oil to help alleviate that. The New York Times in their October 28, 2018 issue interviewed (among others) Dr. Esther Blessing. She is an assistant professor at New York University of Medicine. Dr. Blessing is coordinating a study of CBD hemp oil as a treatment for post traumatic stress disorder. According to the good doctor, “In order to treat anxiety, we know you need around 300 milligrams [of CBD hemp oil].”

Hence my suggestion that my dear friend try some serious extract instead of just some gummies or chocolate. Don’t get me wrong: You need a little boost, nothing like a little sugar mixed with come CBD. If you want to do something more serious, it would probably be more beneficial to take something that will allow a higher dosage and availability of CBD hemp oil. A nice extract, some drops, a vape, a suppository will accomplish that.

As always, it’s important to experiment. Everyone’s body chemistry is unique. And even when you go to the doctor, doesn’t s/he say of the prescribed drug, “Let’s try this to see what happens.”

You might not like the taste. I don’t pretend that I do. Right after my CBD hemp oil countdown is over (90 seconds counted sloooowly), I find the taste of hot coffee washes the CBD taste away in one or two swallows. Please also remember that you willingly ate dirt and worms as a kid, and the effect wasn’t nearly as nice.