Rebuilding after the fire

sunflowers at Notre Dame web
Sunflowers (symbol of sarcoma cancer) at Notre Dame, many facing north toward the cathedral instead of south toward the sun.

Do you feel like Notre Dame Cathedral, gutted by the fires of cancer treatments? Do you feel like a husk now, burned, weakened, and emptied?

That’s how I felt after my debulking surgery that took nine hours, followed by two years of harsh chemotherapy infusions. Those drugs burned through me and left me devastated and vulnerable.

Yet all was not lost for me, and neither is it for the cathedral. Now when I see pictures of the church’s interior, the altar and cross are still standing as if nothing had happened. The heart of the church is still intact.

My heart, my will to live, was still intact after two years of treatment. I did everything I could to survive, just as the firefighters did everything they could to salvage what they could of Our Lady of Paris.

Now this massive monument is at its most vulnerable and most in need. And so are we while dealing with cancer. Yet people are coming forward to rebuild her, as people came forward to help me rebuild my life, giving generously from their hearts and their time. I hope you are blessed with the same support. To turn down assistance is a disservice to ourselves and others, just as it would be a disservice to Notre Dame to not rebuild her.

Let her stand as a symbol of hope for you—that after the phoenix fire has burned its destructive path, we can rebuild and restore, perhaps winding up even healthier and better. This is my wish for you.

How to make a quick green smoothie

Do you feel like you lack the time and/or energy to make green smoothies? Are you having trouble meeting your quota of three to five servings of dark leafies every day?

Salad greens in a high-speed blender

Here’s a simple smoothie you can make if you have a high-speed blender. It provides dark leafy greens and green tea. One of my brothers even tried it and said it wasn’t bad… that it tasted like foam.

Dark leafies contain beta-carotene, vitamin C, folic acid, and important trace minerals.

green tea
green tea

The main advantage of green tea lies in its polyphenol, EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate). EGCG influences what DNA codes are expressed inside cells. Green tea has been shown to stimulate the immune system, inhibit metastasis, reduce inflammation, provide anti-oxidants, promote the effectiveness of radiotherapy, and detoxify the body. It can even help increase bone density (Thriver Soup, pg. 149).

Of course, talk with your health care provider first (especially if you are on blood thinners).

simple green smoothie
simple green smoothie

Simply load up your blender with salad greens, then add some freshly made green tea cooled with ice. Blend and serve. Viola! Power-packed vitality for your body.

How do you celebrate your cancerversary?

Do you throw a party? Cross something off your bucket list? Buy yourself something special?

Heather Von St. James, who had terminal malignant pleural mesothelioma, writes her fears on a ceramic plate each year and smashes it in a bonfire.

Riley Castro, diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer while pregnant, got an adult-sized T-shirt for her daughter and takes her picture in it on every cancerversary.

Lindsay Ronnau Hildebrand, with stage 3 Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, hiked a 14,000-foot peak with her friends.

Find out more about them in the Spring 2019 issue of Cancer Wellness.

And my story was featured as well on pg. 26, written by Bethany Kandel.

How do you celebrate your cancerversary?

Watch Thriver Soup on Local12 WKRC and enter to win a free copy!

“What’s Happening in Health” with anchor Liz Bonis featured Thriver Soup on Sunday. It starts around minute 16.

https://local12.com/health/whats-happening-in-health/whats-happening-in-health-november-11-2018?fbclid=IwAR26OaY-pqg55iemxeuvmD7dNjMsgRPmNRdZKc5BgwQ9s05Vbx_oMZL0H-U

Be a lucky winner! Like and share Caitlin Wells’s Facebook post about her drawing to win a free signed copy of Thriver Soup! Saturday join Caitlin Wells and me at the Healing Inspirations Center booth at Victory of Light, Sharonville Convention Center. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1123398107784978&set=p.1123398107784978&type=3&theater

Photo by James Harrison

 

How to tackle your bucket list

If you have a bucket list of things to do before passing away, how are you doing on getting through your list?

Are you stopping yourself from fulfilling your dreams because you think you can’t do them?
 
Maybe you think you don’t have the funds. Or you feel like crap because of treatment and don’t want to leave home. Or you don’t have anyone to travel with.
 
For most of us, those are just excuses.
 
They are our fears trying to frighten us back into our old patterns.
 
Patterns that keep us stuck.
 
Yet your excuses and your fears can be faced and dealt with.
 
There are work-arounds to get your bucket list accomplished.
 
You have to have the courage to press forward.
 
And you can.
 
There are organizations and websites you can access for bucket-list funding. Too proud to ask? What fear is that pride arising from? Perhaps not wanting to be seen as needing something to help you fulfill your dream?
 
Or too humble to ask? Is that maybe a fear that we aren’t good enough to reach for our dreams? When my mother passed from breast cancer, I was surprised how many people were angry because they were not called upon to help her out. I have learned when we have cancer, people want to help us. Give them that opportunity.
 
If you can sit in a wheelchair for a decent length of time, it should be possible to travel, even if it’s on a cruise ship. In 2010 I scheduled my chemotherapy treatments around a cruise and took my anti-nausea medications with me. I had a fantastic time and checked one trip off my list.
 
And you can request assistance in meeting your goal. If you want to travel, perhaps put out a call for a companion, or if you feel up to it, travel alone. I just returned from an amazing trip in France—traveling solo, driving a rental car with no GPS (I couldn’t get it to work on my phone), and only able to say “Bonjour,” “Merci,” and “Parlez-vous Anglais?”
 
Why France? I wanted to pay homage to a woman who provided a template for healing my life. Her name? Martha of Bethany. Yes, the woman repudiated by Christ in the Gospels for her anger toward her sister, and for “doing” too much.
 
Martha healed after her contact with this Master Teacher. She changed her attitude from resentment into peace, and later served alongside her sister Mary. According to “The Golden Legend,” Martha later changed her behavior by refusing to die a victim on a rudderless boat adrift on the Mediterranean Sea. And she made a major life choice of focusing on “being” more than “doing.”
 
I love this woman and what she represents for me.
 
Why pay homage to her in France? According to the legend, Martha ended up in a small village in what’s now Provence. The community was being terrorized by a “dragon.”
 
Martha faced down that monster while barefoot, using only holy water and a cross. Can you imagine?
 
That’s not the behavior of a victim.
 
She courageously subdued that dragon.
 
Then the villagers killed it.
 
Through her transformed life, Martha demonstrated that I, through my own inner transformation, also could possibly tame the cancer dragon in my body. I could use her example of changing my attitudes, reconstructing my behaviors, and making major life choices to help subdue my own cancer dragon. Then medical treatment could kill it.
 
Since this is my seventh year free of evidence of cancer and free of cancer treatment, I felt it was high time I made my pilgrimage to The Collegiate Church of Saint Martha in Tarascon, which purportedly houses Martha’s relics. It was the third most popular pilgrimage site during the Middle Ages. And it became my biblical Year of Jubilee cancer pilgrimage site.
 
I feel deeply gratified for the experience.
 
Do you want to feel gratified for having accomplished things on your bucket list? Do you still have things to do, activities that are waiting for you to take up the baton and start directing your own life?
 
Or are you making excuses?
 
Sometimes we have to face down our fears before we can take the leap into the dark.
 
Into the unknown.
 
Into joy.
 
Think about each one of your fears.
 
Write each one down.
 
Take a good, hard look at your list.
 
Are there ways to work around what scares you?
 
Are there ways to make your dreams come true?
 
Only you can change your life.
 
Make the most of it.
 
Get on your bucket list.
 
You’ll be glad you did.

Blog update, “7 Ways to Cope with Loss,” “READER’S DIGEST” feature, & cancer hotline

You now can find about 200 informative and inspirational blog posts on https://thriversoup.com/blog, in addition to more than 250 healing solutions in the book Thriver Soup.

A new weekly blog for those who have lost a loved one to addiction will begin in January in preparation for my upcoming book, Grieving an Addict. A cancer patient who became opioid-dependent will appear among the first blogs, so at times the cancer theme will still run through these new blogs.

This means your Thriver Soup blogs will now arrive on an occasional Thursday basis.

If you or someone you know would like to receive the weekly Grieving an Addict blog, please visit http://grievinganaddict.com/ and add your email address in the frame on the right side of the page.

Because of the epidemic nature and social stigma of the disease of addiction, there might be people in your life for whom this resource could prove invaluable. Please share this new blog.

As a thank-you, you will receive a checklist of “7 Ways to Cope with Loss,” which can assist with any bereavement experience.

You also will receive through the blog:

  • Reflections to assist with the grieving process,
  • Stories of those who have lost loved ones to addiction,
  • Information about addiction and the drug situation in the United States,
  • Excerpts from my son’s life story, and
  • Ideas for how to help stem the flood of this mass-casualty event.

Reader’s Digest feature includes Thriver Soup

I’m excited to share with you that Thriver Soup has been included in a Reader’s Digest feature!

Other upcoming Thriver Soup interviews will include HerStory and Brain Hackers. I will share them through this blog.

LMS Helpline: 888-264-4670

In the meantime, the new free oncology counseling support helpline in the United States is 888-264-4670, a collaborative effort by the National Leiomyosarcoma Foundation and Cancer Support Community.

Digital Vacation

From now until mid-October, as I let go of blogging weekly and take a break, I also will be taking a digital vacation, so I won’t be online much.