Monday, October 28, 2013

This Too Shall Pass

Well here I am, months and months later, attempting to jot down some of my thoughts. The darkness that took over the last five months or so subconsciously left me avoidant and with serious writers block. Perhaps I didn’t want to burden, or should I say worry, people with the fact that my life was slipping away. Perhaps I like to write when I know there is a happy ending and I am able to not only offer fellow warriors hope but to ensure family, friends, and those that support me indirectly that I WILL be okay. So Im here to attempt to update the best I can but most importantly I want to calm those thoughts of “what happened to Lisa?", “Is she alive?”, “Why has she not posted an update?"

Lots happened since my last post about mushroom treatment. First off, whether or not it was an anti-cancerous effect, the mushroom liquid drops caused a serious inflammatory response. Due to this my right arm, which has given me difficulty since the beginning of the journey, was extremely painful. Since it has always been an issue I was dealing with, I figured that the tumor in the bone was responding to the treatment and hurting because of the inflammatory response that normally occurs before the tumors die. My arm became triple in size and a useless limb just hanging off the side of my body. The pain was so horrific that I had no choice to take pain killers in order to get through the day. In order to sleep I had to sit up or kneel on the coach with my face down. I went to several doctors and it was pretty much a consensus that I needed a very invasive shoulder replacement. As much as I tried to avoid it I no longer had a choice because the tumor broke through the bone and I was walking around with a broken and very painful limb for more than two months. The choice were amputation, (yup amputation! )or a shoulder replacement. I was told that I would probably not get much use out of the arm but at least the surgery, where they would replace my humerous bone with a metal prostetic would avoid the loss of the limb all together. So in June I had the shoulder replacement and all went well and the pain was better. Luckily two nerves that the doctor didn't think could be salvaged, which would result in very little movement, were able to be saved...a better prognosis for more mobility.

I still needed the pain killers though and stayed on the pain management regimen from the hospital... Which in hindsight was too much. I don't know if it was the anticipation of what the pain would be like after such a very serious invasive surgery or if I was just accustomed to doing anything to keep the horrid pain that I was use to from having a broken bone for so long, at bay. I took myself off the pain killers and I had at least a month or two of serious withdrawal symptoms. I felt like a junkie....depression, chills, shakes, fever, sweating, no appetite, a crave for sugary foods and body aches so bad I felt like I was hit by a mack truck. My once clean and non toxic body was flooded with the toxicity of opiates. I overcame it but it took a lot of mental power. Dealing with the withdrawal symptoms are worse then dealing with the pain of broken limbs or the aftermath of surgery.

Not right away but about 6-8 weeks after I started mushroom treatment, a lymph node or a tumor (different opinion wherever I went) in my stomach was acting up like crazy. First it was just unbearable pain, then it was the inability to eat due to the pain, and breathing was quite a task because of the way this relentless thorn was pushing into my diaphragm. Due to lack of oxygen I couldn't really walk or do much of anything without feeling winded. This put me in the hospital on various occasions. I lost 25 lbs in a month and half. I was frail, weak, and losing muscle by the hour from laying around as much as I was. The worst part of it all was I could not get down Cellect or ANY of my supplements. Mechanically, due to my inflamed gut, I couldn't keep anything down. The more I tried, the more I vomited. I eventually stopped trying. Eating healthy went out the window....anything too fibrous was unable to be digested and the nausea was so bad that very basic foods such as toast , crackers, and carbs became my diet. Even that had to be forced just to be sure I was getting some calories. I had no desire to eat and if it was up to me would have gone without eating in order to avoid the unbearable pain that would follow. The only thing that helped the stomach pain and allowed me to eat the little I did, was acupuncture. Within a month, bumps and lumps were popping up all over my skin. Like a creature of some sort.... visible and palpable lumps between my muscle and skin ... all over my back and stomach. Shit... This was bad.

So here I was at a completely vulnerable state, feeling like a stereotypical cancer patient for the first time...sick, weak, unable to take care of myself, bumps and lumps messing with my emotional state and body image, dwindling away to nothing, not able to do my holistic regimen that kept me alive the past five years, and not knowing if this was it...the end.

On a personal level I was dealing with a lot emotionally. So many things on so many levels. Its no secret that emotional stress feeds cancer. I needed to get better control over my emotions, something I used to do so well but I know was slipping. Throughout my cancer journey I worked full time. Fortunately, my place of employment and supervisor were always understanding of my journey and provided me with the flexibility where I was able to still get my treatment in with maintaining a full time job. I was able to perform my job and provide the kids I work with, with what they needed. It came to a point where I just couldn't give them what they needed. I was able to get to work but when you are in pain and your own life is at risk its hard to provide other people with emotional support and therapy. I only had so much energy and if it was used all on appointments and work, then what about the attention and energy that my husband and our household needed? If I didn't work I could rest during the day , be more of a help around the house, prepare food and be more energetic and present for quality time with Mike. I had to make a difficult decision, that I always toyed with and thought I stop working and not contribute to our household income? Do I provide another loss in these kids lives, who have been through such trauma and hardships? How do I leave my caseload and work to my supervisor and very dear friend to cover after all she has done for me over the years?

It no longer was a hard decision. It was the only decision. I had to focus on saving my life, both emotionally and physically. I stopped working sometime in September and initially it was lots of sleeping, like all day .....then I slowly incorporated all the appointments in my schedule. Unable to drive due to severe weakness my mother or father transported me to all my appointments. I averaged a blood transfusion once a month due to the severe anemia. it was unclear where I was losing blood from but the weakness and heart palpitations signaled when I was due for a fill up.

I always knew and believed that this very dark time would be a distant memory but I just didn't know how I was going to climb out of this very very deep hole that I was stuck in. I had to get out. My clutch...holistic medicine...what I have been preaching about and deep down know what has not only kept me alive but WILL get me to remission, was at this moment not an option. Was it depression or hopelessness that was subconsciously keeping me from my holistic regimen or was this really a mechanical issue due to these stupid lymph nodes/tumors in my stomach? Usually so strong and ready to do whatever I have to do was messing with my head. Was I given up or stuck at an impasse of finding the next treatment method?

At a loss to be able to keep down Cellect and holistic supplements, it was time to have some trust in conventional means. Always up on conventional melanoma treatments, I began to think which one would be the best to look into. Anti-pd1 or Braf mutation drug...Zelboraf. A very long thought process kept short, I chose to start with the drug that targets the Braf mutation (that about half of people with melanoma have). The drug is known to reduce or get rid of tumors. Seems like a no brainer, right? The downside is that in a majority of instances after months to a year the body builds a resistance and the tumors come back and most of the time with a vengeance. It's a tease and hopefulness to be followed with tragedy. But what if it did get rid of the tumors and I can take all my supplements, eat more of an alkaline based diet, and most importantly take Cellect again? After all it's obvious and quite clear that the holistic method is my friend and answer to my cancer. The progression of disease after my inability to do my holistic regimen was living proof that it was effective and my key to survival.

So here is my strategy... Take zelboraf pills, allow the tumors to shrink and bombard my body with the good stuff.... Juices, veggies, Cellect, meditation, and exercise.

So far I'm two weeks into the zelboraf pills and the tumors went down and some even disappeared. This in itself did wonders for my overall morale. I can eat with fairly no problems and went from barely eating to having a very good appetite. I am no longer nauseous and gasping for air. I have more oxygen and can walk further distances without feeling that I'm going to faint. I can drive myself around. Im off all pain medication other than a Motrin once or twice a day.

I can take supplements with no problem. There was some mental work with getting back into Cellect. With my emotions still being an issue there seemed to be some self sabotaging. "I'll start tomorrow" but never did it. Well today I took Cellect ( with a touch of nausea but was able to keep it down). Feeling better was all a result of taking zelboraf. The fear of resistance, what the pill is notorious for, for sure haunts me. My strategy makes complete sense though and I have a pretty good feeling about it.

Lets be honest I'm still stuck in that hole but I'm slowly making my way out where I can see light and don't feel like I'm suffocating to death. Physically I feel a hell of a lot better... It's the emotions that I have to work on. With reiki, meditation and spirituality my emotions will hopefully soon be at a better place. I no longer fear for my life and I maintain optimism that my life plan will pan out just as my heart always wanted it to. Life is not easy and boy does it have it's ups and downs. But there is always something to be happy about. Whether it is the beautiful fall foliage, fun loving memories, a breath taking sunset or recognizing that there is always a person dealing with a more tragic circumstance....there is always something to be optimistic about. As my grandmother and number one angel always said, "this too shall pass." Hopefully sooner than later but I know ..... "this too shall pass."