As a Jewish person (by choice, by conversion, the hard way, over a year, in NYC) I feel connected to the white haired, angry yet helpful G-d of the Old Testament.
As a person who was raised in the Presbyterian church, I do also love me some Jesus. (And a good old-fashioned Protestant hymn.)
As a dyed in the wool, former- Dead-following, ecstatic dancing, sage burning hippie, I feel connected to the earth and the stars and the turning of the wheel. I believe in magic and fairies and elemental forces.
I know to some people, these things are mutually exclusive, but this is just my way. I know there is something bigger than us.
And while I might not always know what to call it, I do talk to it every day.
In times of trouble or doubt, I ask for direction and most importantly, I ask for my answers to be delivered in ways that I can easily understand. Then I go and do mountains of research and tap every human resource possible; all the while looking and watching and listening for signs.
And I always get them.
Taking time off chemo to undergo that pesky brain radiation had the expected result. My disease has advanced. Again, I landed in the hospital and now I am two steps back. On oxygen again, weak, behind the eight ball. Now the question I faced was this: would my current treatment still be effective, or had the time off given the cancer an edge? If so, what would my next treatment be and would it even work? I had just sent off a fresh biopsy to Paradigm for analysis and the results were disappointing. The sample taken was too small, there was nothing to report.
That left me in a tricky spot. Should I just go for the next thing and hope for the best? This would mean I could never go back to my old treatment regimen and would never know if I could have gotten more mileage from it. On the other hand, I could give my old protocol another week to see if it would finally kick back into gear— but in doing so, would risk further advancement of my disease in the case it was really tapped out.
So, I asked. “Help me out here. Show me in ways I can understand.”
When I woke up, this was the first thing in my inbox:
Okay. I guess I can see how a decision making app created to help a person select a vacation destination or a new expensive camera might also aid a chick in pursuing various chemo options. I download the thing, run the numbers and sticking with the current treatment comes out ahead. Barely.
I send an email to my favorite witch, Paige Zaferiou. I ask her to throw some cards on my behalf. Here, in part, is what she reports:
The short-term outcome of staying the course is the Daughter of Swords. This indicates a potential need for study, schooling, learning of some kind. . . This card can also indicate that a message is coming to you, and it will contain important information you do not yet possess . . . Finally, the card I pulled to determine whether you should truly stay the course is the 10 of Cups. That is the card of YES, of happiness, and wishes come true. . .
Okay. If I’m smelling what she’s stepping in, I keep going with the old stuff, but keep an eye out for some new info. Mmm hmmm . . .
Lastly, I hit up my favorite random bible quote generator and here’s what it kicks out:
Old Testament, natch. I see you, YHVH. (But also, Christians sometimes refer to the Book of Isaiah as “The Fifth Gospel”, so I see you, too, Jesus!) I take this one to mean I should listen to my gut. Which I do. I tell my oncologist I want to give the old stuff one more chance. Just to be sure.
Fast forward to yesterday’s chemo.
I am focused, determined to make the most of this. I go alone and I don’t even read. I rest quietly, imagining the great General Patton standing in front of an ginormous American flag, like the opening scene of the movie “Patton.”
Just like in the movie, he yells,
“I don’t want any messages saying ‘I’m holding my position.’ We’re not holding a goddamned thing. We’re advancing constantly and we’re not interested in holding anything except the enemy’s balls. We’re going to hold him by his balls and we’re going to kick him in the ass; twist his balls and kick the living shit out of him all the time. Our plan of operation is to advance and keep on advancing. We’re going to go through the enemy like shit through a tinhorn.”
I don’t know what a tinhorn is, but in my mind I see a tiny Patton step off the edge of the stage and into my IV tube. As he gets sucked in, another mini general takes his place and does the same. They march into my bloodstream. Kicking cancer’s ass.
Wait. Something is wrong. The back of my head is on fire? I sit up, confused. Itchy. A nurse walks past my door, looks my way, does a double-take, reels back in. I look at my arm, hand, see my veins bulging like snakes. Suddenly, there are six nurses in my room. There is a great deal of rushing around. Someone squirts a huge dose of Benadryl into my line after the generals. I fall over sideways, like a bear shot with a tranquilizer dart. “You could have warned me” I say.
What I didn’t know, is that on or around the sixth dose of Paclitaxel, some patients suddenly display an allergic reaction. For those that do, this signals the end of this course of treatment.
Aha! The missing information!
Nope. There’s something else. Today, from my oncologist:
We looked back at the genomic analysis from early 2014 and it highlighted that TOPO2A is expressed in the cancer cells, which could mean that this is one of the drivers of the cancer. Inhibition of this enzyme could therefore be an effective strategy. Liposomal doxorubicin would be the best drug with which to pursue this.
Now THAT is what I call news I can use. I start my new treatment next Thursday. I am happy I did what I did. I may have lost another week but I know now, with certainty that the treatment had done all it could. I never have to say, “I wonder if . . .”
I am confident the new stuff will do some good for a good long time.
I am grateful to whatever force it is that guides us if only we ask. And listen. And if you haven’t seen it, “Patton” is a really good movie.
Hey, sorry to keep doing blog posts on weird stuff that’s only available here in Vegas, but hey — at least this way, you’ll have a list of things to do next time you visit. Other than cocaine and hookers, I mean.
I read a little something about Yoga Among the Dolphins at the Mirage in the Sunday NYT. Dolphins are okay, but I never really felt like they were my spirit animals or anything. There are people though, who ascribe all sorts of magical powers to them. Dolphin have healing energy!? Obviously, I needed to find out for myself — what was the porpoise of this? (Sorry. Had to.)
Bottom line? It was a yoga class. In the middle of a fish tank. As far as I can tell, I didn’t receive any telepathic communication or healing vibrations, but the sounds of honking and squeaking and clicking was a nice distraction from the burning pain emanating from my hamstrings. At one point, when we were in Purvottanasana pose, I glanced over and one of the dolphins was up against the window, floating upside down, imitating us.
After class ended and we left the small studio within their tank, they swam along beside us on the surface of the water, flipping their tails as we walked away.
Honestly, the best part of this whole experience was having access to the Mirage spa afterwards. I drank a smoothie and then took a 25-minute shower, glopping at least 40 dollars worth of Moroccan Oil conditioner onto my head. Then I sat around the the steam room trying not to hear a midwestern tourist complain loudly about every possible thing under the sun. Eventually, she ran out of problems discuss with her friends and decided to go do something else. To celebrate my freedom from a hot wooden box, I stuck a couple of cucumber slices on my eyelids and held them in place with an icy cold washcloth blindfold while I marinated in the Jacuzzi. After a long while, I climbed out of the whirlpool wrapped myself up in a robe and laid down on a lounge chair to watch fake candles flicker against the faux venetian-plastered wall.
I felt just like a marshmallow – some kind of gooey blob held together by a thin exterior membrane. I thought to myself, “This is heaven.” Which led me to wonder: “What if this really was heaven?” What if after we die, we go? I thought about it for a while and decided that wouldn’t be so bad — as long as that loudmouth broad doesn’t get in.
PS: Yes, I have seen The Cove. I don’t support marine shows. The Mirage enclosure is a research-only facility, the dolphins are rescues, (not captured) and they are not made to perform tricks for food. The dolphins seemed really happy and healthy — just in case you were wondering.
Have you heard of the book, The One-Minute Cure?
This book description reads like all annoying chain emails which originate from under-educated elderly libertarian bachelors living in flyover states:
“The One-Minute Cure: The Secret to Healing Virtually All Diseases, reveals a remarkable, scientifically proven natural therapy that creates an oxygenated environment within the body where disease cannot thrive, thus enabling the body to cure itself of disease. Over 6,100 articles in European scientific literature have attested to the effectiveness of this safe, inexpensive and powerful healing modality, and over 15,000 European doctors, naturopaths and homeopaths have recommended this self-administered, one-minute treatment to more than 10 million patients in the past 70 years to successfully treat cancer, AIDS, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, hepatitis, multiple sclerosis, herpes, Rheumatoid Arthritis, asthma and most other diseases.”
Funny how being diagnosed with a life-threatening, incurable condition instantly and irrevocably disabled my bullshit detector. Not only am I no longer wary of such ridiculously overblown claims, I am, in fact, excited by them. That’s why I went on the internets and ordered up myself a whole grip of potentially eye-blinding, skin-burning, fatal-if-swallowed-in -undiluted-strength 35% hydrogen peroxide.
Long story short, oxygen is the enemy of cancer. Supposedly, ingesting very, very carefully measured amounts of food grade, 35% hydrogen peroxide solution helps to oxygenate one’s system, making it inhospitable to all sorts of viruses, bacteria, malignancies, etc. (NOTE: This is *not* the same kind of peroxide you can buy at a drug store, which is about 3-5% strength and full of stuff you don’t want to ingest. Food grade, 35% peroxide solution must be mail ordered and specially shipped, due to its hazardous nature.)
First thing this morning, I put on a pair of rubber gloves and eye protection, gingerly unwrapped the three layers of protective covering from the peroxide bottle, unscrewed the lid, and used an eye dropper to add exactly 3 drops to a six-ounce glass of distilled water.
Then I drank it.
It was fucking scary as hell.
I waited for some terrible burning sensation or sudden death, but nothing happened. According to the book, you’re supposed to leave a three-hour window between taking the peroxide dilution and eating, but there’s no mention about drinking, so I didn’t get to have my first coffee of the day until 11 am. Which sucked. Also, since you’re supposed to do this three times per day, I believe a more accurate name for this book would be, The Nine Hour Cure.
I ate lunch at 2 and now it’s 4:57, which means I will take my second dose in three minutes. The plan is to increase the dose by one drop per day, up to 25 drops. After that, you’re miraculously cured of all disease and may return to a “maintenance dose” of 3 drops/3 times a day. Or else you take it wrong and die or maybe just accidentally blind yourself. I’m not sure this is for me, but I’m going to give it a try for a few days and see how it goes.