Category Archives: Complementary Therapies

Nutrition, Body Care, Emotional, Mental, Social, Spiritual, Guides

Heidi Bright awarded Champion in Cancer Care

Amy Ostigny nominated Heidi Bright for the Champion in Cancer Care award.

Heidi Bright, MDiv, Milford, Ohio, has been named 2017 Champion in Cancer Care by Cancer Support Community in Cincinnati.

The CSC gala on Saturday, Oct. 14, honored inspirational individuals working in cancer care.

Bright, in radical remission from highly aggressive end-stage sarcoma for six years, embodies the words Champion in Cancer Care—she champions genuine hope and hundreds of healing solutions for cancer patients, according to her nominator, Amy Ostigny, Executive Managing Director of eWomenNetwork Cincinnati.

As a national speaker and traditionally published author of Thriver Soup: A Feast for Living Consciously During the Cancer Journey, Bright emphasizes healing one’s life to open space for the body’s natural healing abilities to arise, said Ostigny.

“Her compassion shines through when speaking and writing because she knows the devastation of being told there are no more medical options and to get one’s affairs in order,” said Ostigny.

All proceeds from CSC’s signature fundraising event are channeled into free programs and services for anyone impacted by cancer. http://www.cancersupportcincinnati.org/Default.aspx

How to Quiet the Peanut Gallery

Be not thoughtless, watch your thoughts! Draw yourself out of the evil way, like an elephant sunk in mud.

The Dhammapada, v.327

Watch your thoughts! warns the Buddha. Negative self-talk and storytelling arise from an area in the left hemisphere of our brains that takes up about as much space as a peanut. Jill Bolte Taylor, author of My Stroke of Insight, calls it the “peanut gallery.”

Do you have a peanut gallery in your mind that runs negative thinking loops over and over again, like a broken record? Do you obsess over an event in the past or an upcoming situation, like a cancer treatment you have to endure? Do you whine and complain about the same things, like cancer treatment side-effects?

Perhaps you can steer your brain cells in a more pleasant direction.

Taylor says, “I have learned that I can own my power and stop thinking about events that have occurred in the past by consciously realigning myself with the present.”

Nothing is more empowering than realizing you don’t have to think thoughts that bring pain, she adds. “It is freeing to know that I have the conscious power to stop thinking those thoughts when I am satiated.”

How do you stop the negative thinking? Use that peanut in your brain to entice the elephant of negative thinking up out of the mud so you can wash the dirt of negativity away.

First notice that it’s going on. Try to simply observe, not judge, any looping thoughts. Watch your mind as an external witness so you can notice your habitual patterns.

Next, when you notice the negativity, try switching your attention to your body. Feel the four corners of your feet. Focus on your in-and-out breathing. This will slow down the self-talk and help you reconnect your mind with your body, returning yourself to wholeness and the present moment.

Then initiate some conscious self-talk. Some of my friends encourage me to say, “Cancel, cancel, cancel” when I express negative thinking. I also find it helpful to recite a ritual prayer or affirmation. Another method is to talk directly to the negative thinker inside our brains, saying, “Stop. I don’t need that anymore.” Or maybe imagine that clean elephant wagging its trunk in front of the peanut gallery, threatening it to shut up—or else.

Thriver Soup Ingredient:

Watching your thoughts takes vigilance, because the peanut gallery is persistent. It can chatter incessantly, especially when you are tired. You have to be more persistent with redirecting your attention. Have your own plan in place to first notice, then deal with the negativity so you can return to the present moment where there is more peace.

Sources:

Sacred Books of the East, Vol. 10: The Dhammapada and Sutta Nipata, by Max Müller and Max Fausböll, [1881], at http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/sbe10/sbe1025.htm 10/8/2017

Jill Bolte Taylor, My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey (Viking, New York: 2008), 147, 148, 152.

“Life is but a Dream”

“Row, row, row your boat / gently down the stream; / merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, / life is but a dream.”

On one level, this nursery rhyme is just a fun song to sing, especially in multi-part harmony. Yet it contains what might be a profound truth: life as we know it could be but a dream.

In the 2010 movie Inception, the main character and his wife spent fifty years within a dream constructing a world of their own choosing. What if this human life we are living also is a dream that has been constructed? What if, when we pass away, we wake up from this human dream and realize this drama does not encompass our true nature, who we really are?

This idea has been around for millennia. The Hindu scripture, The Bhagavad Gita, explains that our ability to dream demonstrates that all of creation itself is a dream, an illusion.

How can this be? British philosopher Alan Watts explained it beautifully in a lecture. He posed the idea that if we could stuff 75 years of life into one night of dreaming, and we could control what happened, and we could do this every night, we would spend the first few months fulfilling all our wishes while in the dream state.

After a few months we’d get bored and start adding adventures to our dreams. Then we’d get tired of that and we’d add a new dimension—forgetting that we actually are dreaming while in the dream. We would enter into the dream state and believe the experiences were real, which would give rise to fear. Yet it would be safe to try this, because when we woke up we would know it was all “only a dream.”

And with all the possibilities the universe could offer, we would eventually end up dreaming the kind of life we humans live now, playing with infinite possibilities and forgetting, while in the dream, that we are only dreaming. Watts says, “the whole nature of the Godhead, according to this idea, is to play that He’s not…. What you are, basically, deep deep down, far far in, is simply the fabric and structure of existence itself. And when you find that out, you laugh yourself silly. You yourself are the eternal energy which appears as this universe.”

Indian yogi and guru Paramahansa Yogananda said much the same thing in “Awake from this Dream into Your Oneness with God.” “If in a dream you feel your leg crushed under a car, your suffering seems just as real as if your limb were actually injured. But when you wake up, you laugh and say, ‘Oh, how silly. It was only a nightmare.’ This is exactly what will happen when you wake up in God.

“God’s dream creation was not meant to frighten you, but to prod you to realize finally that it has no reality. So why be afraid of anything?”

The implication is that this life is only a dream, and it is only real while we are living it out as humans in three dimensions.

Great spiritual masters tell us that eventually we will wake up and truly know this life is but a dream. They teach that one way to wake up from this nightmare is to meditate. Yogananda, however, warned, “To state that the world is a dream, without trying to attain in meditation actual realization of this truth, may lead one to fanaticism. The wise man understands that even though mortal life is a dream, it contains dream pains. He adopts scientific methods to awaken from the dream….”

Thriver Soup Ingredient:

While we are in pain, meditation is pretty much impossible, even for those who practice regularly. Pain consumes the mind.

If you are struggling, perhaps you can find a small amount of comfort from maybe playing a little bit with the idea that while we are living a nightmare now, at some point we might wake up from this agony and feel far better.

Sources:

Alan Watts lecture at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G79EHVjLgwU

Excerpts from a talk by Paramahansa Yogananda titled “A New Look at the Origin and Nature of Cosmic Creation” printed in “Awake from this Dream into Your Oneness with God”

Bhagavad Gita V:18, “The Universe—God’s Magic Drama,” Volume I, No.22

How to Reduce the Pleading of Your Bone Marrow

“whisper of blood, and the pleading of bone marrow”

Knut Hamsun (1859–1952)

Knut Hamsun, awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1920, urged writers to describe the “whisper of blood, and the pleading of bone marrow.”

I’m a writer, and I understand the pleading of bone marrow at the physical level. And I worked to reduce that pleading during 42 days of chemotherapy spread over two years.

Some cancer patients live on maintenance chemotherapy, which involves receiving bone marrow stimulants like Neupogen or Neulasta after each infusion to keep white blood cell counts up.

One patient who had Neulasta for dozens of cycles was told she had widespread bone metastases. Upon further investigation, those studying her situation agreed that what appeared to be metastasis in the bones was actually not cancer, but the long-term effects of the marrow stimulant.

The shots cause bone pain and are extremely expensive. When long-term use of these shots causes serious damage, why not try adding some safe integrative therapies that strengthen the body to avoid the shots?

I was offered the shots after each cycle, yet I turned them down because I wanted to try natural means for keeping my white cell counts up. It’s necessary to have white blood cells to prevent infection. If levels drop too low then chemotherapy is postponed, which can create its own set of problems.

I did not want the bone pain and the enormous additional stress it would add to my body on top of the chemo. Rather, I wanted to strengthen and support my body.

I used diet (lots of carrots, cooked mushrooms, and bone broth), acupressure, visualization, and Emotional Freedom Technique.

I ended up needing only one shot one time to raise my white cell counts.

No one has studied whether what I did could work or not, and no one will because there’s no money to be had. Alternatively, no one will ever try to prove they don’t work, again because there is no money to be gained. I don’t think any of the things I did worked on its own. I think it was a healthy dose of each process done faithfully that made it possible for my body to produce enough white blood cells to get me through two years of aggressive chemotherapy with only one shot.

Did my processes work to keep my white cell counts up? It appears, based on the fact patients are routinely given the shots because they are not expected to keep their white cell counts up, that it probably did. I don’t know anyone else who has been able to avoid those shots (I’d love to hear from anyone who has!).

As always, discuss with your oncologist before passing up the shots. My blood counts were closely monitored. It took a big commitment on my part to work at these processes every day. For me, it was worth it.

What is your life worth? What is your health worth? Are you willing to try safe integrative therapies to give your body every single fighting chance you can? There are so many things that can be done that have not been scientifically proven, but if they are safe and you discuss them with your doctor, they just might give your body the edge it needs. Sometimes it takes it all to turn the corner. It did for me. And that doesn’t mean it will happen for everyone, because we are all different.

But I was not going to sit back and let the doctors and only scientific studies determine what I would and would not do. If I had done that, I know I would have died at least six years ago.

I chose to do everything medical and everything safe that I could.

And it worked for me. Maybe it will work for others. That is my hope, because often with this disease, we are without real hope. I want the suffering to stop. I want the pleading of bone marrow to stop. And so I share what I did.

Thriver Soup Ingredient:

Vince Lasorso at Whatever Works Wellness Center in Cincinnati created the “Bone Marrow Healing” CD I used during treatment, and occasionally now when I feel a cold coming on. The visualization involves feeling—not seeing—one’s bones lighting up. I highly recommend it.

More information on what I did to support my body during chemotherapy can be found in Thriver Soup.

Sources:

Knut Hamsun, “Fra det ubevidste Sjæleliv,” Samtiden, September 1890

New Videos: ABCs of Creating Conditions for Healing

Create conditions for radical Healing in your life. Find simple solutions by updating your attitudes, behaviors, and making major life choices to influence cancer and other dis-ease outcomes. If you have cancer, ALS, Parkinson’s, or other “incurable” dis-eases, find relief and personal healing by using these concepts.

I was told to get my affairs in order after two years of conventional treatment for highly aggressive end-stage sarcoma. Yet against all odds, I have enjoyed radical remission since 2011, free of evidence of cancer and free of cancer treatment. Find out what I discovered about changing attitudes, behaviors, and making major life choices that can assist you with turning the corner and thriving.

This short series comes in 4 brief parts and is posted on youtube.

Part 1: How I healed from highly aggressive end-stage cancer.

Part 2: How you can change attitudes to stop being a victim, stop worrying, and let go of resentments.

Part 3: How you can change behaviors such as knowing your nutritional stats and improving it; a sample spiritual practice that gets you out of your head; and how to manage difficult emotions.

Part 4: Putting it together with making major life choices to heal your life, which can help your body rebalance and heal itself.

Please enjoy and share, and let me know about speaking engagements where I can share this important message.

Many thanks to Jim Gray, with Gray Solutions, for creating this new video for Thriver Soup!

How Nutritious are Your Eggs?

  1. You should not wantonly climb in trees to look for nests and destroy eggs. 98. You should not use cages to trap birds and [other] animals.

One Hundred and Eighty Precepts

These Daoist sayings are hard. I can understand not wantonly destroying eggs, but not using cages to trap birds and other animals? We wouldn’t have farms without them. Some would argue that would be a good practice, but for people who believe they need eggs and meat, the way to follow this with limited land resources would be to pasture-raise our farm animals. This is expensive and uses a lot of land, raising the price of eggs and meat.

I used to buy my eggs from a discount store at a discount price. The poor hens, most likely trapped in battery cages, probably never saw sunlight or moved outside of their tiny cells. (In a 2014 report, 95% of U.S. eggs came from hens trapped in battery cages.) What a miserable existence. I found the shells overly easy to crack open. They reminded me of the egg breakage I’d read about among wild birds. These fowl are experiencing losses in breeding success due to contamination by post-1945 “residues of synthetic organic chemicals used as pesticides and in industry.”

As I learned, I moved to slightly costlier eggs.

One day my son cut his finger and bled profusely. I remembered reading that eggshell membranes can be used to temporarily stop excessive bleeding. I grabbed an egg and struggled to get a little bit of the membrane out of the bottom of the shell. I got only a small crumpled piece out, and put it on his little cut.

The cut immediately stopped bleeding. We were both stunned.

I then looked up more information on those membranes. They can be used to

  • treat wounds to prevent scar tissue;
  • reduce the effects of osteoarthritis;
  • improve health of skin, hair, and nails.

That was the end of cheap eggs for me. I began buying my eggs from local farmers, and when they weren’t available, got organic eggs from the supermarket. I immediately noticed a difference when cracking the eggs—the shells were tougher to break open.

But how to separate the membrane from the shell? I tried a few methods, none of which worked very well. The membranes were slick, tore easily, and took forever to separate from the shells.

Okay, so maybe the problem, again, was with the eggs themselves. So I moved to the most expensive eggs—organic, free-range, certified humane (raised and handled), and no synthetic pesticides, hormones, or antibiotics.

Viola! The membrane, tough and gauzy, pulled right off in large pieces. So easy! And to me it meant the membrane must be full of nutrients, especially collagen. I wanted those nutrients.

 

[Watch the 1-minute video here.]

I clean the membranes and drop them into my Vitamix to blend with greens for my smoothies.

To me, it’s worth the extra expense to get high-quality eggs, not only because I am prone to osteoarthritis, but also because as a survivor of highly aggressive end-stage sarcoma, nutrition is extremely important to me. I want to maintain my cancer remission! Healthy eating can only help, in my opinion.

Plus I’d rather get the membrane from eggs I cracked, so I know the source, than something that has been put through a chemical or other process, and then who knows the quality of the membrane anyway. Probably not from the healthiest eggs.

And another benefit. I clean and dehydrate the shells, crush them with a mortar and pestle, then add lemon or lime juice and have my own calcium supplement.

I am happy to follow the Daoist precept to avoid at least the battery cages and go with free-range, organically fed, humanely treated hens. Happy hens make good eggs, which please me.

Thriver Soup Ingredient:

For the healthiest eggs, look for free-range or pasture-raised organic eggs that are not treated with hormones or antibiotics.

Sources:

One Hundred and Eighty Precepts, http://fore.yale.edu/religion/daoism/texts/

“An estimated 95% of all eggs in the United States are produced in conventional cage systems, sometimes called battery cages.… According to UEP, conventional cage systems typically provide each laying hen an average of 67 square inches of floor space. In some egg operations, hens have less space.” https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/47ce/d140eac346b2b8d59781291411dd60148bfe.pdf

Contamination, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/273074182_Changes_Attributable_to_Pesticides_in_Egg_Breakage_Frequency_and_Eggshell_Thickness_in_Some_British_Birds

What’s in eggshell membrane: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eggshell_membrane, http://eggmem.org/en/about/

Treating wounds: http://eggmem.org/en/about/page1.php

Treating arthritis: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2697588/

Improving health of skin, hair, and nails: http://eggmem.org/en/about/page3.php

Using Time as a Tool

Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.

Martin Luther King Jr., in a letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

 

Martin Luther King Jr. recognized, in the heat of the American civil rights movement, the long view that time could be an ally.

In our modern society, we typically don’t see time as an ally, but rather more as an enemy, an obstacle, a problem. We tend to view time in terms of something we lack, not something we can use.

Hundreds of years ago, even though people lived much shorter lifespans, time was viewed as a tool and was used to create beauty for future generations.

When I was in Norway recently, I was given the gift of a visit to an enormous wooden stave church. When the structure was built, the men looked for trees to use as tall interior pillars to hold up the heavy roof. When they had selected a tree, they topped it off. Then they let the tree stand for about 20 years, during which the trunk would fill itself up with resin.

When the process had completed, the tree was cut down and used as a fire- and water-resistant column that would last for hundreds of years without drying out, splitting, or cracking.

A few decades ago, the original pillars finally had to be replaced. Trees were cut down and turned into columns without the 20-year resin-absorbing process. Now the trunks are cracked and drying out. Time had not been used to create pillars that would withstand water and fire, heat and moisture. Instead, the columns will have to be replaced again in a much shorter time frame.

Using time as a tool became personally important to me when I was diagnosed with highly aggressive end-stage cancer. I knew if I did not do chemotherapy, the sarcoma cells would quickly fill my body and I would no longer have any time.

Chemotherapy became my tool to buy time. Time, in turn, became my primary tool for healing my life and doing numerous integrative therapies. It took two years for me to change my attitudes, behaviors, and make some major life choices. Those alterations, along with surgery, eliminated the cancer. For six years now, I have been free of evidence of disease and free of cancer treatment.

Time, as an ally, was a tool that helped save my life. My integrative therapies helped me rebuild my mind, body, and spirit so I could become more strong and resilient, like the resin-soaked tree trunks. It could not have happened overnight. It took two years, and I continue daily with rebuilding my life so I can be more resistant to dis-ease.

How do you use time as a tool in your life?

Thriver Soup Ingredient:

Time can seem excruciatingly short for those with end-stage cancer. Perhaps find ways to use the time you have as a tool to reach a goal. Allow time for nutrition to produce positive effects on your body. Time for treatments to take effect. Time for healing attitudes and behaviors that might have an impact on your body’s abilities to heal.

Readers Respond: Dairy in Europe vs US

The light circled his head and shot into the sky, rising toward the fat full moon that hung over the chimney of Caspar’s little house. The light rose higher, and the voice called, “Come with us … there’s plenty of cheese.”

Caspar’s mouth began to water. “What have I to lose?” he asked, so he began to follow that light…

“The Boy Who Loved Cheese,” as told by Amy Friedman

 

In this Dutch folktale, a boy can’t stop eating cheese… until fairies force him to eat more than he can stomach.

I understand his love for cheese. I indulged in dairy for a month in Europe without any of my usual digestive issues. Last week’s Thriver Soup blog about dairy evoked several thoughtful responses, which I would like to share.

One reader in Norway wrote, “I don’t know why you can eat European dairy products, but not American ones.

“But I know that Norwegian cows are not ‘happier’ than American ones. Norwegian cows get power fodder, they rarely leave their stable, they are bred to give as much milk as possible. They would die without their special fodder, because so many nutrients go into the milk that the cow would be depleted and even die without it.

“I am quite sure that the same is the case for most European cows, except the few that are explicitly kept organically.

“Sheep and goats get to run around more freely in Norway because they are not milked. The downside: they are in danger for being eaten by wolves. And many of them are slaughtered in fall.

“So, sorry, but Europe is not quite as romantic as your blog suggests…”

So what is different about European dairy and United States dairy that enables me to eat it?

A reader from Ecuador offered some ideas about the differences. “The dairy thing in the U.S. is really toxic, I think. As you know, growth hormones, antibiotics, bleaching agents…who the heck knows? Here in Ecuador we buy milk and creme which are an ivory color. No stuffy noses anymore! All of the agricultural products are grown on small family farms. I feel so nutriented! We can even buy some organic products!”

Whatever the difference is, for cancer patients, dairy is still a product perhaps best limited or even eliminated from the diet. Robert Cohen, the NotMilkMan, writes, “Eighty percent of milk protein is casein and most people react negatively to casein, but there is a type of casein some cows produce which does not cause the traditional problem. Those other 20% of milk proteins include a protein hormone (insulin-like growth factor-1) which has been identified as the KEY factor in the growth and proliferation of every type of human cancer. As a human cancer begins its growth it is silent and painless. When the tumor becomes large enough, it becomes its own endocrine gland, secreting internally an abundance of IGF-1 which promotes its growth as it metastasizes.”

Perhaps it’s a good thing Caspar decided to limit his cheese intake.

Thriver Soup Ingredient:

If you want to limit or eliminate dairy, there are lots of great substitutes on the market. My current favorite is organic coconut butter diluted with water when I want something with a milky or creamy consistency. What is your favorite non-dairy substitute?

Source:

http://www.uexpress.com/tell-me-a-story/2009/4/26/the-boy-who-loved-cheese-a

Dairy in Europe vs US

“Straightway after the rime dripped, there sprang from it the cow called Auðumla; four streams of milk ran from her udders, and she nourished Ymir.”

The Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson

 

The giant Ymir, the first creature to come into being according to Norse creation mythology, was nourished by milk from the primeval cow called Auðumbla.

A dozen years ago I stopped receiving nourishment from milk, cheese, cream, and yogurt. When I tried them, I was rewarded with a belly ache, hot flashes, and constipation.

I had heard that people who experienced difficulty with dairy in the United States didn’t have issues in Europe.

When I went to Norway recently, I decided to give dairy another try.

No issues. No belly ache, no hot flashes, no constipation.

So I gorged on dairy for weeks—cheese, yogurt, cream, skyr… but I easily resisted the codfish-flavored ice cream.

I asked around. How come I can digest dairy in northern Europe but can’t in the United States?

Some people said the livestock graze on the mountainsides, eating the herbs and flowers while basking in sunlight.

I did see goats traipsing on mountains and sheep dashing across roads.

My son is sure it’s all in my head. Maybe so. But if I were a cow given the choice of being locked up all my life in a tiny space indoors, or being allowed to roam the countryside, I’d be far happier roaming. Which would make my body chemistry healthier, and my milk sweeter and more nourishing.

Thriver Soup Ingredient:

If you have trouble digesting dairy in the United States, perhaps seek out dairy imported from Europe. There also might be something to the idea that dairy with the A2 protein works for some people who have a history of difficulty digesting dairy.

http://www.nbcnews.com/better/diet-fitness/can-new-milk-brand-buoy-dairy-industry-n339586

Sources

Brodeur, Arthur Gilchrist (tr.) (1916). The Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson. New York: The American-Scandinavian Foundation.

Misleading Labels—The Skinny on Sugar

Note: I am largely off the internet at the moment. Guests have graciously offered blog posts that I believe will be of interest. Today’s post is by Chef Lori Pierce (Lula) of Cincinnati, OH. Sugar causes inflammation, so reducing sugar intake can potentially reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation has been directly linked to several types of cancer. Here Lula helps with understanding sugar on food labels. Lula has contributed to recipe development for companies such as Kraft, Nestle, Unilever and McCormick. Check out her blog here: http://lulasforlunch.com/blog/

By Chef Lori Pierce (Lula)

Reduced Sugar, Low Sugar, No Sugar Added … Which of these terms is regulated by the FDA? Only “Reduced Sugar.” This means the product has to contain 25% less sugar than its original form.

The other two are basically meaningless. For example, “no sugar added” could be on a honey label and be legal. What’s important to know is how many grams of sugar (which comes in these myriad names: anything ending in “ose” such as sucrose, dextrose, fructose, maltose, as well as honey, syrup, molasses, evaporated cane juice, nectar, corn sweetener, etc.) are in a portion. Recommended daily intake of added sugar runs around 6 teaspoons, or 24 grams. So… 4 grams = 1 teaspoon.

Sugar in all its forms will be on the food label in grams. So now that you know the math, look for those grams and calculate just how sweet you’re gonna be.

Image source: https://tinyurl.com/yca2oo8f