All posts by heidi

Free Dedicated Helpline Coming Sept. 1 for Leiomyosarcoma Guidance

If you or someone you love has Leiomyosarcoma, you will soon be able to call a new helpline offering free counseling support. The designated phone number will go live Sept. 1, 2018, and is a collaborative effort between the National LeioMyoSarcoma Foundation and the Cancer Support Community. Operating hours will be Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The phone number will be announced by Sept. 1. International rates apply.

Trained CSC professionals and counselors will provide information, counseling, and navigation services in both English and Spanish at no cost to callers.

Medical advice is not provided, and must be directed back to the patient’s oncology care team. Information provided on clinical trials and genomic/genetic testing must always be further discussed with your oncologist/oncology care team.

Cancer Support Helpline services include, but are not limited to:

  • Connecting callers to local or national resources, transportation services and other local programs where patients live, providing direct coordination support to patients
  • Short-term cancer counseling and emotional assistance
  • Treatment decision planning in support of the oncological care team
  • Financial navigation and counseling regarding the costs of cancer and its treatments
  • Specialized information on finances / financial planning guidance
  • Clinical trials navigation/information and search assistance
  • Genetic/genomic information assistance
  • Access to an online distress screening program, CancerSupportSource®
  • General information about the Cancer Support Community

For questions, please contact Annie Achee at annieachee@aol.com.

NLSMF also has created a new website about life changes: https://nlmsflifechange.wordpress.com/

How to Prepare for Death More Quickly Than the Emperor of China

The emperor thereupon ordered Xu Fu to gather a group of several thousand young boys and girls and set out to sea to search for the immortal men.

Records of the Grand Historian, translated by Burton Watson

Qin Shi Huang (259-210 BCE), who became the first emperor of China, longed for immortality. He ordered expeditions to follow up on legends of immortals. He probably swallowed mercury, believing it was the elixir of life.

Yet he also had been preparing for his death since he was thirteen years old. He ordered the creation of a massive terracotta army built for his huge mausoleum. When he did die, at age 49, his preparations probably were in order.

The emperor’s eternal army was rediscovered in 1974, and a small portion is on display at the Cincinnati Art Museum until Aug. 12, 2018.

Qin Shi Huang didn’t make his death preparations easy on his subjects. Are you making yours easier for yourself and your loved ones? It only takes four documents, not a huge clay army. Mine are ready, and I intend to live another fifty years. I hope I have to update them many, many times.

It is best for all concerned if you have an advance health care directive, a power of attorney for health care, a general financial power of attorney, and a final will and testament.

Instructions for how to create these are in Thriver Soup, p. 101-103, written by a top-tier lawyer. You probably can pick up some simplified versions of a couple of these documents at the front desk of a hospital.

Better to be prepared, like an emperor, because you can’t predict when the grim reaper’s chariot is going to run you over.

Thriver Soup Ingredient:

As you prepare your living will and health care power of attorney, it might be a good idea to consult with a hospice nurse about the advisability of some procedures.

Source:

Sima Qian, Records of the Grand Historian, translated by Burton Watson (1993). http://www.vision.org/visionmedia/history-shi-huang-emperor-china/5818.aspx

Be Like Royalty: Add Cress

Roast fowl to him that’s sated will seem less
Upon the board than leaves of garden cress.

— Saadi Shirazi, Persian poet

 

Garden cress might not be filling, but it adds a peppery spiciness and lots of nutrients to your meal. It’s been cultivated for thousands of years and enjoyed by royalty.

I got my first-ever taste a few weeks ago through my community-supported agriculture program, Earth-Shares CSA. I had heard of watercress sandwiches, so I rooted around and found a simple solution: toast with butter and cress.

I tried it. What a fun new taste—and even my college-aged son loved it. We have a new summer fave. Especially because garden cress has as much anti-cancer potential as cabbage, kohlrabi, and Chinese broccoli. And apparently it even has more vitamin C than oranges.

If you know someone with cataracts or age-related macular degeneration, maybe gift them some potted cress.

Other goodies in these greens include Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper, and Manganese.

Another benefit is this annual is supposedly easy to grow in the house, so you can get a fresh dose anytime, and enjoy it like royalty.

Thriver Soup Ingredient:

Here are some cress recipes to try: https://cressinfo.com/recipes/

Sources:

http://www.fao.org/docrep/t0646e/T0646E0t.htm

http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2437/2

https://www.healwithfood.org/health-benefits/garden-cress-nutritional-benefits.php

How Safe are Your Medications from Thieves?

A woman with stage 4 lung cancer was found dead in a wooded area in Kentucky, and investigators believe the motive for the murder—by her cousin with two accomplices—was to obtain her narcotic painkillers.

The suspect knew where she kept them, and she had just received another shipment of 120 pain pills on June 8. She disappeared from her home June 9, and her body was found six days later.

Storing opioids

If you have pain killers, where do you store them? I tried locking things in a footlocker with a padlock. My teenager could crack into it within minutes.

I have talked with others who have had cancer treatment. Do they lock up their painkillers? Usually not. Like me, some don’t realize many painkillers are basically heroin pills and addictive.

Here is a list of opioid medications:

Do you have any of these? If so, are they effectively locked up?

“My child wouldn’t take these.”

That’s what I thought. My child did take them. And became an addict. And if he hadn’t, a friend of his might have found and taken them.

I found a digital lock box is the best solution for controlled substances in my home. It costs more, but I know only I can access the contents.

Other addictive prescription drugs to lock up:
— Tranquilizers and depressants, including barbiturates and benzodiazepines, like Xanax, Klonopin, and Valium.
— Stimulants, including Ritalin and amphetamines such as Adderall.

Thriver Soup Ingredient:
According to 2015 government estimates, more than two million people are addicted to opioids. Protect yourself. Protect your loved ones. Please put your medications in a digital lockbox.

Sources:

https://www.kentucky.com/news/local/crime/article213429614.html

http://local12.com/news/local/new-allegations-about-cancers-patients-robbery-murder-revealed

https://patch.com/kentucky/across-ky/terminal-cancer-patient-murdered-her-painkillers-report

https://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/prescription/opioids-and-morphine-derivatives.html

https://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content/SMA17-5053-12/SMA17-5053-12.pdf

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/03/22/most-addictive-prescription-drugs-on-market.html

http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/health/ct-opioid-prescriptions-dropped-20170707-story.html

3 Spiders Descending

The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces.

Proverbs 30:28, Christian Bible

Small spiders where I live have taken hold of their webbing and descended, appearing right in front of my face.

It’s never happened before, that I recall. Yet it’s happened three times within eleven days, starting on June 5, the three-year anniversary of my son’s passing. It occurred once while I walked under a tree in my yard. Once while I sat in front of my computer on my deck. And once while I sat indoors at my regular desk.

I felt there had to be some significance to this, especially because the first little spider was white. Many years ago a Jungian psychoanalyst gave a presentation about a white spider that appeared in one of her dreams. Once awake, she went to the local bookstore and saw a book called The White Spider. She got an intuitive vibe that this was important for her. The book was about climbers’ first attempts to ascend the north face of the Swiss mountain Eiger. Success entailed crossing a steep, funnel-like, spider-shaped ice field called The White Spider.

Hmmm. I have had my nose to the computer screen for weeks now, working on Grieving an Addict’s section about the opioid epidemic. I was attempting to funnel hundreds of pages of information and 20 interviews into about 25 pages. It included the story about a woman who had severely painful surgeries for cancer treatment, and was on opioids for eight years—not as an addict, but simply to manage the consequences of her surgeries. And she lost her son to opioid addiction. Sometimes I have been overcome with grief, and have shared my sobbing with my sturdy backyard oak tree. It accepts my tears as they pour out, yet continues to stand tall and strong, like a ladder from heaven. Afterward I stare at the calm green foliage, breathe deeply, and try to restabilize my emotions. The terrible agony so many people have endured is beyond comprehension.

Then I go back to my computer. Slowly, paragraph by painful paragraph, the first draft of this section is nearing completion. When the middle spider descended, it attempted to weave a web on the side of my laptop as I typed. Like the spider, I have taken hold of the strands of stories and integrated them into the fabric of understanding.

Weaving is the work of arachnids. And writers. I find it especially interesting that all three spiders used their webbing to descend right in front of my face. According to one website, the ancient Chinese people thought that when a spider dropped down, it was like gifts were dropping down from heaven. I hope they are gifts for writing this book.

Ironically, my deceased son was terrified of spiders. Perhaps he was letting me know, too, that he has been healed of this phobia on the Other Side. That all of us can heal on the Other Side, when we enter into kings’ palaces in paradise. Maybe there can be a good ending to this story for all of us, after all.

Sources:

https://goodlucksymbols.com/spider-symbolism/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_White_Spider

Fathers Can’t Always Fix It

My father didn’t tell me how to live. He lived and let me watch him do it.

–Clarence Budington Kelland

Fathers in our culture are given the role of Mr. Fixit, like the repair fox in Richard Scarry’s children’s books. They are expected to be the family adviser, problem-solver, protector and provider. They are expected to keep their children safe. If their children get sick, they are expected to help fix it.

These expectations are enormous and completely unrealistic. Some things simply can’t be fixed. Even Mr. Fixit repeatedly fails in his role of repairing.

When we lose a child, we agonize. “What did I do wrong? Why couldn’t I have fixed it?”

This spring, the cardinal nest next to my porch provided an example for me of some things that simply can’t be fixed–even by devoted fathers.

Sometimes, I caught glimpses of the father cardinal standing next to the nestlings, probably feeding them.

I later learned male cardinals typically protect their territory and provide food for the little family. They even feed the mothers, calling them away from their nests for dinner.

This father clearly was doing his job, because his ugly nestlings grew rapidly.

About ten days after hatching, one of the fledglings perched on the edge of the nest. It had no tail feathers, and simply sat there awhile. Frankly, Fledgling 1 reminded me of a human teenager daring to take off on its own with no parental control.

Mother and Father chirped madly nearby.

As I continued with my day, Fledgling 1 disappeared. My son and I looked around for it a few times, but never saw it again. What became of the bird? Did one of the feral neighborhood cats catch it? It’s quite possible—only 15 to 37 percent of cardinal nests produce fledglings, and Fledgling 1 was quite vulnerable. The dangers were real and close. The parents had no say in what their offspring chose to do or not do.

The next day Fledgling 2 perched on the edge of the nest for a while. Later in the day I saw it hop from branch to branch around the shrub.

As I approached, both father and mother took turns flying at the bush and creating a ruckus, flapping madly and chirping with piercing volume. Both did their absolute best to lure me away from their remaining baby. Neither succeeded.

The next day, cardinal chirping slit the air from high in a nearby pine. And then it ceased. Fledgling 2 most likely made it into adulthood.

The parents provided a home, nourishment, and every attempt at a safe environment. Yet perhaps one of the two didn’t make it into adulthood. It is not the parents’ fault. We must accept that we are not in charge, ultimately. We do not control the choices of our children, nor any diseases they might endure. We can provide and influence and plead, but in the end, some things can’t be fixed. All we can do is our best.

May you find peace in the example you set for your loved ones.

Thriver Soup Ingredient:
Hear a cardinal chirp on this page https://birdsna.org/Species-Account/bna/species/norcar/introduction and watch a father cardinal feed his young here: https://americanexpedition.us/learn-about-wildlife/northern-cardinal-facts-information/

Source:
https://www.wild-bird-watching.com/Cardinal.html

Going ’Round the Mulberry

Here we go ’round the mulberry bush, The mulberry bush, The mulberry bush. Here we go ’round the mulberry bush so early in the morning.

English nursery rhyme

I grew up hearing this song and assumed mulberries grew on bushes, like raspberries and blueberries.

Nope. They grow on trees. My sister and I discovered this two summers ago on Long Island, where we saw a man picking what looked like long raspberries off a tree. A tree? What was he eating?

Mulberries.

Oh, we crammed our mouths with their luscious juiciness until we couldn’t reach any more. So sweet, so ripe, and no exterior seeds.

This past week my friend Laura and I took a walk and she identified a mulberry tree. I didn’t know they grew in the Cincinnati area. We filled a bag with what we could reach.

When we met again, she arrived holding a bag filled with fresh, ripe mulberries she had picked. What a treat! And then we found more. I’m in mulberry heaven.

Fortunately, mulberries have great nutritional value. According to https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/mulberries.html, they can improve digestion, reduce cholesterol, aid in weight loss, increase circulation, build bone tissues, boost the immune system, prevent certain cancers, slow down the aging process, decrease blood pressure, protect eyes, and improve metabolism.

That’s a pretty nice list of benefits. Makes me want to go ‘round a mulberry tree and pick more. Just need a ladder to catch those ones up high…

Thriver Soup Ingredient:
To find mulberries, check your local farmers’ markets or look for dried varieties in stores.
https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/mulberries.html includes nutrition facts.
Research on “Composition of anthocyanins in mulberry and their antioxidant activity
Look up effects of mulberry extracts before considering using them.

Jacqui Roell, 2018 Unsung Hero

Heidi Bright, 2017 Unsung Hero, with Jacqui Roell, 2018 Unsung Hero.

Jacqui Roell, RN, BSN, who believes Thriver Soup saved her life, earned a 2018 Unsung Hero Award from Cancer Family Care.

A registered nurse for more than 25 years, Jacqui became the patient during 2017 with a breast cancer diagnosis. During her chemotherapy and radiation treatments, she used many alternative therapies, which she said allowed her to recover quickly.

She calls herself a living testament to how complementary therapies can benefit cancer patients before, during, and after medical treatments. “They can actually decrease, and in some cases remove, the need for many medications by allowing your body to heal itself and maintain its healthy balance naturally.”

Jacqui is an aromatherapist, a reflexologist, and a Reiki practitioner. She is adding healing touch, crystal therapy, and herbal supplementation to her business. She also is active in several cancer care and advocacy groups, including Pink Ribbon Girls and Cancer Family Care.

Jacqui was nominated for the award by her mother, Marilyn Seilkop, a fellow cancer survivor. Marilyn wrote, “She is a passionate advocate for patients and their families. In addition to interviews on local TV stations, Jackie is a frequent speaker at cancer care events she is a mentor for cancer patients and a hero to all who meet her.”

Jacqui’s Holistic Soul Wellness website is https://holisticsoulwellness.com/

What is your favorite complementary form of treatment?

A Mother, a Brother, and a Hard Holiday

I don’t know what it is about food your mother makes for you, especially when it’s something that anyone can make – pancakes, meat loaf, tuna salad – but it carries a certain taste of memory. 

–Mitch Albom

In 1972, my mother was diagnosed with end-stage breast cancer. She surprised everyone by going into radical remission for seven years.

When the cancer came back, we didn’t know for awhile, but I felt a sickness in my belly on the morning I watched my mom and dad drive off for a trip south. About three hours later I got a call… she had stumbled and fallen—the result of a growing numbness in her spine, which turned out to be the return of the cancer. At the time, I was a teenaged college student. None of us had much of an idea what to do, think, or expect—especially my younger brother, who had just become a teenager.

This time the doctors predicted she would live six months. She got Prevention magazine (the only health magazine she probably could get back then), ate better food, and saw a hypnotherapist. Her goal was to live long enough for my younger brother to remember her.

Remarkably, she lived another three years.

She unknowingly taught me to explore options. Perhaps she helped save my life with her example.

All of us came to see her days before she passed. After a short visit I had to get back to Kansas if I wanted to keep my job. There was no hospice. After all us out-of-towners left, she crossed over, alone, in a hospital bed.

I remember the terrible phone call, the endless drive back to Iowa, and the torturous days that followed, like it was yesterday. This was my first real exposure to death.

Of course, I have lost many more people during the intervening 34 years, including my firstborn son.

This spring I listened to some old copies of cassette recordings from my childhood Christmases. With a heavy heart, I realized I had forgotten the sound of my own mother’s voice. I knew by the spoken words it was her, yet the timbre of her voice had faded from my memories.

The taste of her cooking had not. My younger brother was able to visit me this Mother’s Day. His memories of her were far more hazy, yet he remembered certain dishes that gave a feeling of comfort and belonging.

Together we made corn fritters, hamburger pie, Barb-b-cups, cheesecake, springerle cookies, and peanut brittle—unfit food we normally never eat. It brought a feast of memories and even some laughter. My younger son enjoyed the eats.

And I was able to glide busily and deliciously past my third mother’s day without my firstborn son. I appreciate this gift.

What did you do to mark Mother’s Day this year?

Source:
https://soyummy.co/mothers-day-quotes-food-moms-best-cooks/

Shannon Villalba an Unsung Hero

Shannon Villalba earned a 2018 Unsung Hero Award from Cancer Family Care. She founded HIME Wellness in Cincinnati, Ohio, to connect complementary health practitioners with those seeking care. With Heidi Bright, 2017 Unsung Hero.

Shannon Villalba was sick for six months before she heard the words, “You have cancer.” As a result of those three words, she resolved that she would hear the words, “You have no evidence of disease.” And she did. Five months later.

Shannon promised herself she would do what it took to help heal her body, so she used a variety of complementary and holistic medicine therapies in addition to traditional chemotherapy and radiation. She says she is grateful this strategy worked for her, and she realized that there are many other patients who could benefit from these strategies as well. She took a look around and noticed that many of these types of practitioners were hard to find. That’s when she decided to create HIME Wellness – Healing through Inspiration, Motivation, and Education.

HIME Wellness is a company that educates the community about holistic and integrative medicine by showcasing the expertise of its practitioner members. Shannon wholly believes it is her purpose in life to assist others with their wellness journeys and to inspire them to help others as well. Together we can make a difference in the way we approach our healthcare today.

She enjoys learning about what types of therapies are available, and connecting the practitioners with those who are seeking their services. Each month she hosts a big event with speakers such as integrative doctors, chiropractors, holistic nurses, physical therapists, and energy therapists. HIME also features demonstrations of various types of therapies.

She says it feels great to see so many people who are open to these types of therapies, and then hearing them say, “This is exactly what I am looking for to help me heal!”

Additionally, at every event, HIME Wellness gives back to various charities such as the Pink Ribbon Girls and the Women’s Health Initiatives Foundation.

HIME also offers classes and resources for those searching for answers.

Shannon clearly loves being able to pay it forward by helping others in any way she can. With the blessing of a second chance at life, she is choosing to live it by serving others. She expresses gratitude because she will never know if something she does makes a difference to someone she’s never met, because the end result is all that matters to her. If someone is inspired and motivated to take charge of his or her own life and health, that’s what she wants.

She says she fully believes that inspiration through motivation and education is the key to eliciting change. The more people know about healthcare therapies, and the more people are motivated or inspired by stories about health journeys, the better we are as a society.

Shannon’s mission is to inspire others through teaching them to take charge of their lives and change them for the betterment of the human race. She does this one step and one day at a time, whether it’s inspiring someone by telling about her own cancer journey, or by connecting someone with a class, a blog post, or a bit of knowledge.

Each day Shannon knows she can accomplish this mission through those she is meant to help, who in turn will help others, and that makes all the difference. Shannon lives the unsung hero honor each day.