Health Update #15

Sat. Nov. 21.                                                                                                                                Hi, everyone!  Realizing with everything that’s happened and being gone, I’ve lost a sense of where we are in the month. Some of you are beginning to share with me where your angst is, having shielded me. Thanks for letting me have a respite and also for letting me reenter gently.  I just sent my story into Oprah but more for the story of my high school friend, Jane, who is hospitalized right now. Please direct your thoughts and prayers to her as she is dealing with internal bleeding and the long haul of a rare form of cancer(since May 2007) and hopes to be home for Thanksgiving. Two of my Alamosa High school friends (we’re all part of the bracelet gang), are cooking Thanksgiving meal and taking it over to Jane and family in Parker, Co. I’ll be spending it with James, Jeni, and my 3 grandkids at Jeni’s sister’s home, so that will be great!

Just wanted to share with you that yesterday I spent some research time on rimedex, the drug that Dr. Sangha suggested. Called my friend, Sue, who has been on it. She’s questioned why I had both breasts removed, and was very forthright in standing behind my decisions. Her side effects from the drug have been hot flashes, a bit of trouble sleeping, and joint pain. She uses other drugs to manage the side effects. I spent time on the internet reading about it and tamoxifen understanding more that rimedex reduces the amount of estrogen output and tamoxifen inhibits estrogen production. When I went into Dr. Sangha, he asked me to ask him all my questions, which I did and he methodically researched everything, asking for reports, calling up the path lab, and drawing out for me the size of the cancer tumor. He and I had a good exchange, a real dialogue, and he never at any time questioned my choice to not use the drug at this time. He said that he would be glad to see me in the future, and he or Dr. Duven should stay in touch with me every 6 months for 5 years.  The negatives he confirmed were: hot flashes, joint pain, and bone loss.  And then he added, that it’s very expensive. $350 a month and hopefully insurance would do a co-pay.  Sue hit the donut hole on hers and said something about $1300 for her. 

As we said the other night at my sharing my cancer experience in front of some of local Shaklee builders and leaders, and a colleague who has had cancer 3 times, that you pay sooner or later.  Buy the darn supplements now, bit the bullet, because the costs of drugs, surgery, and repeated Dr.’s visits will get ya later.  I truly feel at peace with my decision to not do the drugs. The percentages of possible improvement of risk of nonreoccurance of cancer is under 10% over a lifetime.  I know I have to be very dililgent and proactive with a program of treatments I can continue until I’m 121.  (I told Dr. Sangha I would come and wish him a happy 122nd birthday when I’m 121–you gotta mind your elders). I was doing research up to 10 minutes before I left for his office. I had hoped he would say something that would clearly show I needed to do what everyone else does. I feel like a pioneer without a scientific roadmap to follow. “Would he be interested in what I do?” I asked. “Have there been other studies done on doing natural alternatives?” He clearly stated there’s no drug company that would do a study if there’s no money to be made. 

So, I spent a couple of hours last night reading up, and I’m overwhelmed with the hype and claims laid out there.  Almost a hate-mongering chat on the internet.  I don’t hate drugs and Dr., I’m grateful for the advancements being made.  I don’t believe that Shaklee alone will cure me, but I lay great faith in the science of the products and the heart of the company and besides it helps my own business by my using my stuff.  But I want to live, which means I have to do a lot more than rely on just supplements.  So that’s the roadmap to chart that is doable with my life demands. Being self-employed, and single I have me to depend on for economics.  

Guess, I keep a journal of what I do, think, eat.  And from that, I can lay out a roadmap to regain total health from cancer.  Suggestions?  I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed but truly excited to pull together all the resources from friends and people that have suggested things. 

Well, off to hear my 7 students play piano before 3 very wonderful teachers, and then a facial this afternoon for a high schooler and her mom. 

Be well!

Love, Ann


Ann’s Health Update #14

Tues., 11/17/09

Hello. Hope you’re doing well. I know everyone is stretched, so appreciate your taking the time to stay updated.  Hoping something in my journey will help someone else.

Today Dr. Duven drained fluid from the front left breast area (no sensation for me) and from the left side slightly above where the elbow rests– about 20 cc. (It was pinchy, but I didn’t want to have him numb it). Had to sit up as the fluid disappeared from the screen when I was laying down.  The tape strips he had put on last Monday the 9th where the staples were,  were still on, but he removed them, saying the skin was healing beautifully, let him know if there’s anything with pain, temp and he’ll see me in 6 months. He told me to be aggressive about the scar tissue and that I have a year’s window to regain my full range of motion. I asked Niki, the nurse about some PT for the restriction of motion I’m having with my arms and she set up with an Amy who specializes in aftercare for breast surgery. I’m hoping Ann P. will come with to watch as Niki says Amy will recommend certain massage motions. I am not playing piano as well right now and that’s an impetus for me.

Yesterday while at Dr. Gelband’s in Chicago, he helped to do some protocols that strengthened a very trembly raised right arm while I was laying down.  I was thrilled that is has taken away the pinching I was feeling under the arm. I drove home being able to steer the right arm around turns over the top of the steering wheel.  What I’m most pleased about was due to yesterday’s visit, I feel more myself as he worked with the balancing of the right/left brain with what time he had left.

So, Friday is Dr. Sangha, the oncologist. I have some research left to do before I’m clear about what I plan to do. As you know, they always want to do something reminding anyone with cancer that you are never cancer free. There’s no such thing as they got it all.

Twelve of us in the Barry Shaklee Family enjoyed an all expense paid trip to Mexico.  We left on Tues. 5 am and got back Monday at 1 am. Getting ready for the trip seemed like too much work and it was Wed. am before I could honestly begin to enjoy my time there.  Today got off my phones the saved messages for orders and callbacks from before surgery which was Oct.26. So I hated leaving so much undone. But truly it was just what the doctor should have ordered. Away from cell phones, computers, warm weather, beautiful palm trees and deep blue water, delicious food (esp. vine ripened fruits and vegetables full of flavor) already prepared and you could eat anytime….no deadlines.  Monday, I reentered home for a few hours and left town again, got home late last night exhausted and today I realize how much there is to do.

Somehow, though, I feel so much lighter than the 20 cc’s of fluid gone. I talked a long time this morning with my brother, Larry, and we both are at a place we know what to do, it’s getting ourselves organized to do it. I shared with him all the suggestions about cancer (Larry’s is prostate) that I learned on the trip from such amazing gurus of health there, but he like many people knows what he wants to do and that’s it! So more power to him and all of you.

I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned and hopefully you’ll have an openness to hear it.  Jim Burke was a cancer specialist and his recommendation of 8 oz. of Shaklee Energizing Soy Protein and 9 NutriFeron comes through Marty and Lynn Fredricks whose friend went from Stage 3 pancreatic cancer in 4 1/2 months later being told there was NO SIGN OF IT!  Elena tells me the magic is taking 6 NutriFeron at night.  This, of course, is along with your other supplements, no sugar, enough sleep, good exercise to a sweat, detoxifying, getting good hydration with good water, destressing, and eating raw fruits and vegetables as a foundation of your nutrition. Dr. Bevacqua highly recommended juicing from a previous blog I left.  While in Mexico, Suzanne and I ate so regularly and healthy and I took my protein and had my additional supplements to the Vitalizer like clockwork!!

I also relearned while there thanks to Suzanne, Jessica, and Marissa, how to really laugh until you cry. I told them if laughter cures cancer, I’m cured!

So, Monday I’m back in Iowa.  It was 11 am before I ate breakfast and took my first installment of protein and vitalizer, I then ate in the car to Davenport and once there after the meeting had an apple and a protein drink and realized I had forgotten my baggie of supplements. Linda offered hers, but I just took another Vitalizer instead. The next morning we had hot oatmeal and I did more protein powder, went to visit a friend who offered me a salad, nuts, seeds, raisins for lunch, and on the way to Chicago, I drank a protein drink and cinch tea.  Grabbed a mid afternoon meal at my favorite restaurant by people from Hong Kong there in Chicago, and followed with protein powder in water.  On my way home I had my 4th protein drink and once home was able to get most of the supplements down that I had wanted to take on Monday. I was a tired puppy last night. Fresh raw was the apple, lettuce and the protein powder for both Monday or Tuesday which was about 1/2 of a meal in Mexico! It’s reality, and I gotta plan and work harder at doing better.

Today has been absolutely excellent. Full of energy. And although so much to catch up on, Dr.’s visit and much to do to get ready my studio ready for my seven students playing in Festival Saturday coming for a group lesson, I’m thrilled with the staying power of energy that I’m feeling.

In no small part due to the wonderful conversations I had with so many of you by phone and email today. The fact that Jean and Jennifer raked my yard today and saved me $50 for the city to vacuum it up is also a huge part of it. I got to see Lori and we made plans for me to resume exercising with her tutorage.  E-talking to my high school friends that I got to show off the bracelet in Mexico and tell the story to so many of my Shaklee friends. I sent the bracelet off to Jane yesterday while in Chicago and today we’re told she has been hospitalized with a blood clot before they were able to resume chemo.  I was supposed to send the bracelet to a different person, but I had a strong sense that Jane was supposed to get it out of order.

So, word for the day, follow your senses, go on vacation even if everything inside you is screaming—-ya gotta get stuff done, laugh alot,  and even though you intend to do a plan perfectly, do it—-even imperfectly as consistently as you can.

Thanks to James for posting Fun with Suzanne. Here’s a close up of so you know this Mexico trip was therapeutic.

Love, Ann

Ann’s Health Update #13 – 11.06.09

Hi, Everyone,

*So many cards, plants, helpers, healthy meals, vacuuming, laundry, washing my veggies, milkingthe drain tubes, massage, advice, taking care ofShaklee call duties, changing the water in my plants, doing dishes, taking packages for me to the post office, picking up supplies. All has brought me along well.

Thank you so much!

*Helpers: Monday 26th – Vicki, Anita, Jennifer B., Marc. Jessica, Kristi G., Jill, Ronnie

*Tuesday – Vicki, Mary, Scott, James, Marc, Midori, Jade, Jennifer B., Kathy P., Ann P., Jeni, Jax, Jace, Josie

*Wed.-Jeni, Laura, Jean, Jacinda, Marsha H, Kay C, Joan, Esther J., Ann P. James, Marc.

*Thurs. – Ann P, Diana G., James, Marc, Loren, arriet, Francy, Jessica, Linda, Bek, Anita, Jennifer B.

*Friday -Ann P., Kathy S., James, Marc, Christy, Sally, Mary, Kathleen, Harry

*Sat. – Ann P, Kay M, James, Jeni, Jax, Jace, Josie, Linda, Esther,

*Sun.- Kim, Connie, Diane O., Doug, Tony, Solveig, Paula, Loren, John, Sharon, Jean, Laura, Delores

*Mon. 11/2- Kristi G., Linda, Midori, Jade, Marc

*Tues. –Jerry, Jessica, Jennifer B

*Wed. – Suzanne, Marlo, Kristi G., James, Shirley, Jennifer VG

*Thur. – Laura, John, Paula, Loren, Alana, Bob, Mary Lou, Nicole, Ann P., Larry

*Frid. –Carole, Marc, Jean, Teresa, Penny, Crystal, Jennifer VG

Please know that if I left your name off in my haste to get this posted tonight, I do appreciate your understanding.

*Today the staples were all removed, so I won’t be setting off any alarms at the airport next Tuesday on the way to the Mayan Rivera Shaklee trip. Jessica, Marissa, Suzanne, Kristi, Aaron and their 4 kids, John and Terri, and Christy and son are all part of our Shaklee family who earned the trip. Last year in Hawaii, I think there were 800 of us. Looking forward to it!

*The drains are still in, too much fluid yet, they’d like the amount to be under 20 cc. I think the difficulty is that the compression bra doesn’t compress well due to the torque caused by my scoliosis. Now that I’m aware of it, I’ve been adjusting the fit more often as it shifts. I’ll see Dr. Duven and his amazing nurse, Kathyon Monday and that gives me about 3 more days so pretty sure they can be out. If not, then to Mexico and if it’s ready to be removed there, Kristi G. is willing to do it there. We’ll be rooming next to each other on the trip as I’ll have a couple of the Gonzalez kids in my room, too. I’m not sure what to plan for clothing…at least with the cooler Iowa weather I can wear bulky that covers up the two collection bulbs.I’m just going to pack tentatively this weekend as if the drains were out and have to figure out the flat front look with skimpier warm weather clothing.

*Saw Dr. Sangha, oncologist this morning. Kathy had said to me that I live under a lucky star (and I agree) as she was able to schedule me to see him in the same week. Basically due to checking the lymph node out (he said that many women don’t opt for that. Huh???) having both breasts removed, clear tissue around, andthe small size of the tumor, he said I reduced the risk of reoccurrence by a large percent. Taking his suggested protocol at 5 yr. would be about 2% improvement, 10 yr. about 4-6% and lifetime probably no more than 10%. The drug is a estrogen receptor inhibitor and the side effects are mainly joint pain (knees mainly and sometimes wrists), and bone loss usually at 3%. I’ll see Dr. Sangha in 2 weeks with my decision, which I’ll ponder while on warm weather beaches.

*I had asked Dr. Duven before I left his office earlier what he would recommend if given an improvement percentage, and he said if 2%,”I probably wouldn’t do it, if 30% I would.” Kathy said that the breast cancer cells like to metastasize to the brain, liver, and I think she said kidney.

*In books I read about the difficulty people have going to cancer care centers hundreds of miles away, and to coordinate records and all that. We are blessed here in the Cedar Valley area thanks to Dr. Duven starting this breast care center that everything is so easy access and local. I drove a half a block to the blood disorder center to Dr. Sangha’s office after first going home in between to get my tape recorder so I could relisten and take notes. He needed some additional records and they were faxed to him within minutes.

*Have a nasty rash only on my throat. It looks like a burn— pink, and darker places, very wrinkly and very itchy. Confirmed by my anesthesiologist and Kathy that because of the breathing tube, they were lightly cleaning the antiseptic solution area off, thorough otherwise so just the throat has reacted. That’s really been worse than any pain or recovery otherwise. Happy that today it’s beginning to heal thanks to Shaklee Calming Complex serum, and Basic H, and the Diaper Rash Cream recom. by Kristi G. for the zinc oxide.

*Learned a new technique of getting laundry baskets downstairs to the washing machine since carrying things esp. up and downstairs is ill-advised. Toboggan style works!

*Spoke tonight with the one person I mentioned in an earlier update who had opinions about my lack of faith and Shaklee vit. and eating healthy. We have to cross paths due to our circles and this time her tone of voice was reprimand-ing about not calling her back for her Shaklee order. I tried to explain her answering machine wasn’t on, but, of course, she had to be right which was fine. She’s been the only grouchy person in the last week for my being behind, there were 6 others who were forgiving. Tonight, I’m finally getting caught up. Yay! Business is brisk and I’m very happy to see it! We, self-employed really understand and appreciate those who understand the buy local concept.

*It’s a lot happening with extra appt’s., learning not to faint at the sight of my blood 3 x a day (milking the drains), and negotiating the backlog of communication, directing them to the blogsite. I feel a bit like a penguin, too, so things take longer to dress, to cook, to carry things, even walking is uncomfortable.

*I’m so grateful that my piano studio has been so willing to allow me to makeup, catchup, and teach ahead so we have Nov. covered. We are doing 4 recitals in College Square Mall for the Festival of Trees, and I have 7 students in Festivalwho will be practicing extra hard while I’m lounging. When Solveig helped me get my forms ready, she said, “Gosh, I don’t even have that many doing Festival!”

*Jennifer VG called tonight to thank me for letting her help me. She said she felt like she really made a difference, and she really felt good and praised me for asking for help. Well, the fact is it has taken an army to have this miraculous last 2 weeks even work. And we ain’t done yet…..

*I feel like I’ve landed tonight. It’s like hitting a breathing space after swimming in a black abyss. And all you can do is keep swimming believing there’s land out there because there is so much to do. It’s like a never ending tide. And then we get here, stop and look back and marvel at the teamwork, the outcome of the surgery couldn’t have been better. Now the work begins. To figure out how to be so healthy those cancer cells can’t take up shop again. I’ve already had to field “Don’t die on me”, “Don’t do chemo—it killed my sister, “Do chemo—my sister didn’t and it killed her.”

*Not to single out anyone too much, but I am so proud of my sons, Marc and James for holding their own during my trials. James got an offer on their home the night he got me back after the surgery and there’s been a lot on he and Jeni’s plate with normal birthdays, Halloween. Marc was working his two jobs with very little sleep time. Thank you, both, so much for being there for me. I love you!

*And thanks to all of you. I’ll check back in a little tanner!

Marc signing off and thanks

I’m adding a quick note to say that I’m so happy that my mom has had a very steady and speedy recovery over the last week. I spoke with her last night and besides the normal post-surgery logistics, she seems to be in good health and spirits. I’m overwhelmed by the support all of you have shown her as it’s helped in ways you’ll never know. I’ve corresponded directly with many of you and I appreciate the care, support, candidness, well-wishes and love you have for her.
I spent last Tuesday pacing in circles until I was able to talk to her. This event has launched me into a deep appreciation for the parent-child relationship and has offered context into my own relationship with my kiddos. There is no relationship like it. I’ve always been close to my mom, regardless of how many miles separate us and this latest chapter only strengthens that bond. If you can believe it, my mom was able to get a Halloween card in the mail for my girls, Midori and Jade, the day after her surgery! They opened it yesterday and we’re so happy. Midori immediately grabbed my iPhone, found Grandma Ann’s contact and called her to thank her for the card. This happened without a single prompt from me (or instructions on how to call her). I swear she knows how to use this phone better than me! 
We’re looking forward to seeing her and the whole Barry family at the end of December as Midori, Jade and I will be spending the Christmas break and New Years in Iowa. Nothing puts my current residence in context like the last week of December in Iowa, that’s for sure!

Thanks again for your care and love for my mom. She’s on the road to feeling like herself again; a path is seemingly much shorter with your thoughts and prayers!