(19-01-30) Looking Back

I’ve been up since 3:07. My internal clock has shifted drastically upon my arrival to this cancer clinic. Maybe it’s the sheer volume of all the treatments just wearing out my body at the end of the day. Maybe it’s the drastic reduction (not quite elimination, but I’m working on it) of sugar from my diet, or the fact that I haven’t had any alcohol in a week and a half. Maybe it’s the lack of stress from my job. Likely, it’s a combination of all of those factors, sprinkled with a smidgen of boredom, that has led me to falling asleep each night between 9 and 10 (a solid 2-3 hours earlier than what I am used to) and waking up (refreshed!) between 3 and 4.

I watched some Luke Cage.

I responded to some texts (sorry, Kyana, I am trying to limit that as much as possible).

I checked my Ring doorbell to make sure my roommate, Jenna, has been keeping up with walking the dog (ALMOST every day, still not doing it 30 minutes a day like we agreed on – ahem, ahem).

Then, I started looking through back emails trying to find a contact email for my supplemental cancer insurance. It’s a long shot, but I wonder if they will reimburse me for ANY of this treatment. My dad – my beautiful spirit of a father who has worked multiple jobs his entire life to provide for his children both during his lifetime and when he eventually passes – has loaned me the money to get this treatment so that I didn’t have to close out all my retirement accounts, and we know a teacher’s salary isn’t going to pay back $48-64k anytime soon, so anything will help.

As I was going through old emails, it triggered some memories I had temporarily forgotten about. This led to me spending the next two hours combing through both emails and blogs from over two years ago, reconnecting me with a part of my journey that I had stopped focusing on. When I look back at Cancer Treatment Round I, I think about the surgeries, the toll chemo took on my body, the battle to keep my job, the frustration with the length of the process, and the sheer amount of time I was confined to a bed or a Lazy Boy recliner or a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. If prompted, I can resurrect positive memories from the experience – particularly when it comes to amazing doctors (Dr. Matatov first and foremost, then Dr. Mansfield, Dr. Dhillon, Dr. Curley, Dr. Walsh, and Dr. Gunia) and all the love that flowed my way from friends, coworkers, and strangers all along the way. The majority of my thinking landscape, though, shows a pretty dismal view of all the whole experience.

It really shouldn’t.

I did some AMAZING things when I was battling cancer the first time – things I would not have done otherwise.

  • I ran in Phoenix’s last Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. I even publicly spoke at that event.
  • I participated in Spark Off Rose, a story-telling event in CA, where I shared my journey of intimacy while dealing with cancer.
  • I helped an ASU honors student with her (videotaped!) thesis project on mindfulness techniques for cancer patients/survivors struggling with insomnia. https://youtu.be/04kYz1kSCaU
  • I was the guest of honor at a Boo-Bees fundraising event in West Hollywood, where – with the help of a unicorn – we raised several hundred dollars to donate to a local cancer organization.
  • I donated over a foot of very well taken care of hair to Locks of Love.
  • My story was the first of several to be featured on a special edition in a hiking/wellness blog.
  • I fought a state government institution and WON. That win resulted in state agencies all across Arizona having to update their employee leave policies, and I directly saw how those changes positively impacted employees going out on medical leave just in this past year.

I had definitely lost sight of the good work that was done during my first struggle. I’ve been focusing on the mindset that this is all a big inconvenience to me just as I was starting to get my life back together … and just typing that statement right there brought on a whole snotty crying fest over here because I KNOW there is so much more to my journey than the “inconvenience.” At my core, I know what kind of person I am. I make a difference in this world. I know I do. I did it before cancer, I did it during cancer, and I did it after cancer.

This time will be no different.

(19-01-29) Pictures From My Morning Walk

Hahaha – This was the first thing I noticed by the walkway.



Either way, i'm not going down there alone before the sun is even up.

I thought this was a subway. Later, other patients told me it was a tunnel. Regardless, I am not going down there alone before the sun even comes up.




I loved the colorful
buildings and businesses…


the beautiful street art…


and all the street vendors setting up shop first thing in the morning.


BAHAHA!!!! – Look at all the options in the grocery store for hot sauce, and then look at my choices for peanut butter.

(19-01-29) Weekly Regimen

It took me an entire week to get my schedule down, but I think I have got it.

MONDAYS, WEDNESDAYS, & FRIDAYS

  • 8:00 – nebulizer
  • 8:20-8:40 – eat breakfast, with freshly squeezed orange juice
  • post-breakfast – morning meds: multivitamin, B17 vitamin, and two anti-cancer drugs (Arimidex and Talidomida)
  • 8:45-10:00 – chelation therapy
  • 10:45-1:45ish – drip bags of amino acids and electrolytes
  • 12:00-12:30 – eat lunch, with cuachalate tea
  • 1:00 – coffee/mushroom/shark cartilage enema
  • 2:00-2:30 – ozone therapy
  • 2:40-3:40 – cabbage therapy
  • post-cabbage – take a shower
  • pre-dinner – daily check-in with Dr. Rubio, Sr.
  • 5:00-6:00 – dinner, with electrolyte tea and/or ozone water
  • 6:00-12ish (Mondays and Wednesdays only) – 3 bags: stem cells, cancer vaccine, and meds (antibiotic, antihistamine, and pain med)
  • 6:00-2:00ish (Fridays only) – 2nd of 4 chemotherapy meds
  • 8:00-8:20 – nebulizer

………………………………………………………….

TUESDAYS

  • 7:45 – blood drawn, to be mixed with cancer vaccine for next week
  • 8:00 – nebulizer
  • 8:20-8:40 – breakfast with freshly squeezed orange juice
  • post-breakfast – take meds
  • 8:45-10:00 – chelation therapy
  • 9:15 – lymphatic foot bath
  • 9:45 – Rife therapy
  • 10:15-3:45ish – drip bags with amino acids, minerals, and electrolytes
  • 12-12:30 – lunch, with cuachalate tea
  • 1:14-1:45 – ozone therapy
  • 1:55-3:00 – cabbage therapy
  • post-cabbage – take a shower
  • pre-dinner – daily check-in with Dr. Rubio, Sr.
  • 5:00-5:45 – eat dinner, with ozone water and/or electrolyte tea
  • 6:00-12ish – 3 bags: stem cells, cancer vaccine, and meds (antibiotic, antihistamine, and pain med)
  • 8:00-8:20 – nebulizer

………………………………………………………..

THURSDAYS

same as Tuesdays, except I get one of my four chemo meds at night

……………………………………………………………

SATURDAYS & SUNDAYS

(basically, no cabbage, foot bath, enema, or Rife therapy treatments; no vaccines; no blood draws; and no daily check-ins with Dr. Rubio, Sr.)

  • 8:00 – nebulizer
  • 8:20-8:40 – eat breakfast, with freshly squeezed orange juice
  • post-breakfast – morning meds
  • 9:00-6:00 – drip bags of chelation therapy, amino acids, minerals, and electrolytes
  • 12:00-12:30 – eat lunch, with cuachalate tea
  • 2:00-2:30 – ozone therapy
  • 5:00-6:00 – dinner, with electrolyte tea and/or ozone water
  • 6:00-12am – chemotherapy
  • 8:00-8:20 – nebulizer

(19-01-29) Not Repeating Yesterday

Yesterday was negative. Today cannot be more of the same.

I fell asleep last night with a cancer vaccine dripping into my line, dreaming of the trip I want to will take in Peru in 2020. I woke up in the middle of the night and cried a little, then talked out loud a little (to myself? to a god[dess]? to the Universe? I’m still figuring that one out). While talking, I framed every one of my statements in a positive manner (e.g. “I want to live,” as opposed to “I don’t want to die,” which fills my eyes with tears and closes up my throat even as I sit here and type it). I watched Ellen and Chris Rock and Amanda Seales to replace the tears with laughter. Then, I fell back asleep

It is now 6:20. This is the third time I have taken up in the middle of the night. Clearly, my mind wants me awake. Normally, I’d ignore her… but I’m listening today, so i checked when the sun rises in Tijuana this morning, and I’m headed out to start my day a very different way than yesterday.

(19-01-28) Coffee Enemas

(Dad, don’t read this.)

Well, THAT was humiliating.

For the record, I see why bulimic people get down with enemas. The results are immediate. I have been bloated and stopped up all week, but after just one treatment I can (vaguely) feel my hip bones again.

Yeah, if I had an eating disorder, I could see this process being the way to go.

But I DON’T have an eating disorder, so this experience was straight up horrible.

First, I had to pull my pants down and lie facedown on my bed, on top of some pee pads. Having my pants pooled around my ankles and my shirt still on reminded me of childhood whippings, which – in hindsight – explains the wave of panic that crossed over my body as I started to lie down. Then, Nurse Becky told me to relax (‘cuz saying that ALWAYS helps) as she shoved a lubricated hose up my asshole. As she pushed the tube in farther, the pressure slowly built – in a way that suggested things should be LEAVING that space, not entering it. Then, when she started flushing the area with the liquid (which includes coffee, shiitake mushrooms, and shark cartilage!), I could feel the pressure continue to expand, this time all along my stomach. It felt like a ridiculously long time; in reality, it probably lasted 30 seconds. She then took the tube out and immediately I felt the liquid start draining out. It felt like I was peeing all over myself, from my butthole. Nurse Becky told me to continue lying there for 5-10 minutes … “but if you feel you have to go [poop], get up and go to the bathroom.”

She could not get out of my room fast enough. The second the door closed, I had those pee pads wrapped around and between my legs, and I raced to the bathroom. Enemas are efficient; I’ll give you that. Still, I’m hoping I can keep these treatments to a MINIMUM; I’ll take the fart smell of boiled cabbage all over my upper body ANY DAY to a womyn flushing out my rectum.

(19-01-28) Grumpy

I know I am supposed to be 100% positive the entire time I am here.

This morning, I am failing.

I’m grumpy because I was up a lot last night, coughing and rubbing my screaming stomach with calculated clockwise motions.

I’m grumpy because I don’t think the food here caters enough to a cancer patient, and it’s DEFINITELY not giving me enough fiber.

I’m grumpy because later today I have to do an enema, and I am REALLY not looking forward to that. In fact, Dr. Rubio Sr told me a week ago that I needed to be doing coffee enemas, and I have purposely NOT brought that up to any of the nurses because the mere thought of it grosses me out. I mean, I can handle a finger in there every once in a while (and once a glow-in-the-dark baby Jesus butt plug, but that’s a whole different story) … but a hose? Up my bum?? Fuck, man.

I’m grumpy because I have to talk about gas and feces with a cute doctor who has twinkle eyes. I would like to officially request that all my doctors going forward are ugly. Ugly and old. But especially ugly.

I’m grumpy because I miss my half dozen pets back home.

I’m grumpy because Hulu doesn’t work here in Mexico.

I’m grumpy because my treatments leave me to have to wait until 3 or 4 in the afternoon to take a shower, which means I walk around half the day with some jacked up bed head, and I didn’t think to bring a hat.

I’m grumpy because most days I am hooked up to bags of chelation, electrolytes, amino acids, and/or chemotherapy for 13 hours at a time. Wheeling around a metal pole every where I go basically means I am confined to the clinic.

I’m grumpy because I don’t have any chocolate in my room, and I know the pharmacy is just a five-minute walk outside, but I am trying to be good.

I’m grumpy because i won’t see my significant other for weeks.

I’m grumpy because I agreed to replace my deodorant with limes (yes, limes), and now I am paranoid about going outside by the pool and inducing a level of funk that could parallel some of these Mennonite lady patients.

I’m grumpy because it has now been four months of me not exercising. I can see the difference, and I can FEEL the difference. I would give a LOT to be able to play a racquetball game right now…or feel my feet start to go numb as I pass the sixth or seventh mile on the elliptical.

I’m grumpy because even though those ozone shots fixed the pain in my knee and right hip, it’s only made me more conscious of the pain in my back, left femur head, and pelvis.

I’m grumpy because every time I try to go into the common room, to use the computer or try out the massage chair, the room is filled with Mennonites who just stare at me.

… It’s only been a week, but I am missing my old life something fierce right now.

(19-01-27) Progress & Side Effects

As my first week here comes to a close, I think about whether I’ve made any progress. Obviously, it’s too soon to tell, but I have noticed some changes. For one thing, that ozone injection got rid of the pain in my right knee and hip! Seriously, why do we in the US automatically give Cortisone shots to people in pain? Why aren’t ozone shots part of the discussion?? Secondly, my energy has been plentiful even though I’m not exercising or ingesting any caffeine. I’ve also felt surprisingly tranquil this whole week. I’ve just been calm and peaceful … and unlike the past two weeks, where I had cried multiple times throughout each day, the only times i’ve cried this week was when my two visitors left.

I’m starting to develop side effects as well – presumably from the chemo. My stomach started off this morning as a “Uh-oh, please don’t let me have gas as I’m sleeping next to my boyfriend” sort of pressure to an all-out “Hell hath no fury” lady shrieking at the top of her lungs as she uses her long nails to shred open my stomach lining. I’ll definitely be bringing that up to the doctor when I see him tomorrow.

Tomorrow! Big day. Tomorrow my blood will be cultured enough, and I’ll get my first dose of a cancer vaccine. I’m excited to learn more about this process.

(19-01-26) Quimotherapy

Chemotherapy (or Quimotherapy, as it is spelled here in Mexico) is approached differently here at the Rubio Cancer Center, compared to the States. In the US, I had an oncologist look at the type and degree of cancer I had, then use that information to determine which chemo drugs he should administer. Here, Dr. Rubio takes a different approach.

He first took my blood, then ran a sensitivity test with 50 different chemo drugs to see which ones my blood reacted to. Four drugs popped up in the results: Gemzar, Cytoxin, Cisplatin, and Ifosfamida. In the states, a doctor would have had me come in 1-2 times every 2-4 weeks, and they would have flooded my whole body with large amounts of these four drugs all at once, enough to poison the good and the bad cells living within me. Dr. Rubio, on the other hand, gives me a 10% concentration of each of the drugs, one day and one drug at a time (Gemzar on Thursday, Cytoxin on Friday, etc).

“If you’re only giving me 10% of what an oncologist would give me, how is that going to be effective?”

His answer blew me away. You may remember from previous posts that cancer cells thrive in sugar. When cancer sees sugar in the body, it essentially jumps on for a ride. Sugar is kind of like a public transportation system for cancer cells…so Dr. Rubio’s approach is to put the chemo drug inside a glucose-based liquid solution. This liquid goes inside my body, cancer cells race over to hijack the glucose (sugar), and before they know it, they are getting counter-attacked by the chemo inside the glucose.

Genius.

I don’t know if that’s how we do it in the states – put the chemo inside a glucose-based solution – but not a single doctor has ever explained it to me in this way before now, so I am guessing not.

(19-01-24) Ozone Therapy

As I lay in my astronaut suit in my hospital bed, I am thinking about how much they infiltrate ozone into my treatment.

(1) ozonated water – They have a certain way of treating the water with ozone, which is said to remove parasites, bacteria, chemicals, and viruses from it.

(2) ozone cutaneous therapy – This is where the astronaut suit comes in, and a tube inserted inside the suit fills up with ozone, permeating the pores all throughout my body.

(3) ozone injections – I received this last night. Essentially, Dr. Rubio used a needle to inject ozone into my right knee and right hip. The ozone creates an enlarged space between the bones in those spots, which then allows oxygen and blood flow to improve. This, he said, would help eradicate the pain in those areas, in just a day or two.

What if increased ozone exposure was enough to prevent more people from getting cancer???

(19-01-23) More Treatments

Two treatments were added to my weekly regimen today: detox foot bath and Rife therapy.

Yo. The detox foot bath was kind of nasty; I’m not gonna lie. Here’s what the water looked like before my feet – my CLEAN feet, mind you – entered the premises:

Here it is, within the first minute of coming into contact with my feet:

Two minutes later:

Ten minutes later:

… and twenty minutes later:

Every single nerve line in our bodies ends in our feet. Our feet store a lot of stress and toxins from having to hold up the rest of the body all day (literally and figuratively), so the premise behind this treatment is to clean out the body by removing toxins stored in the feet.

Next: Rife therapy

I have no pictures for this one; I think I was still reeling from how disgusting that foot water was. I have Rife therapy every Tuesday and Wednesday, so next week I’ll take a photo of the device itself. For now, all I can say is that I held onto these two metal joystick-looking bars and allowed low doses of electromagnetic currents to enter my body through my hands for 10 minutes. I didn’t feel much, although it did bring back fond memories of being barefoot in my childhood basement, playing Pac-man on large arcade games and getting small shocks every time my wrist hit one of the metal buttons on the dashboard.

On a side note, Kyana left today. 😢

(19-01-22) Day 2: Adjusting to the Routine

First thing this morning, I get a knock on my bedroom door. It’s one of the nurses, swinging by to give me meds to take.

…except I didn’t take last night’s medication, either. And when I insistently questioned what these pills were (because anyone who has seen the movie, Girl Interrupted … or better yet, read the book [which is WAY better] can understand my fear about medical staff just handing me pills without explanation), I was then taken into a back room where two men speaking almost-exclusive Spanish injected me with what felt like a series of really awful bee stings (anesthesia) and then planted a device underneath my skin (temporary PIC line/port). After that, I didn’t ask any more questions…but I didn’t take the pills, either – at least not until later in the day, when I had my daily check-in with Dr. Rubio and listened to him explain what each of the pills were for.

7:30ish – morning meds

8-9 – breakfast

post-breakfast – chelation therapy – Here, they hook my PIC line/port up to a bag of yellow liquid. This liquid serves to go deep inside my body and eliminate traces of metals, toxins, fatty plaques, and mineral deposits – things we ingest, inhale, or consume in miniscule amounts from day to day, which then get stored in our bodies and cause damage later in life. After chelation, I get 1-2 more bags of IV fluids: saline, electrolytes, and B17.

12-1 – lunch. I can already see I will be eating a lot of salad here.

See my pills? Still haven’t taken them….

2-2:30 – ozone therapy. Now this was interesting because it involved a little costume play. I put on an astronaut-looking suit, and a long tube was inserted inside the suit. From there, one of the med staff taped the suit down at my wrists and head, flipped a switch on the machine connected to the tube, and then left me alone for 20 minutes while my bedroom filled with the smell of ozone. Did you know that ozone smells? I did not.

3-3:30 – cabbage therapy. This will likely be my least favorite therapy during my stay here. I like cabbage, to eat. I like the idea of boiled cabbage on my body, since it’s warm. Unfortunately, boiled cabbage smells like farts – really bad ones – and this treatment is done in my bedroom. I spent the whole rest of the night worrying that anyone passing by my room thought I had gastrointestinal problems.

my buddy, Nahaliel

You can’t tell here, but i am secretly singing songs from The Little Mermaid right here.

pre-dinner – daily check-in with Dr. Rubio. He wants me to change my toothpaste. And stop wearing lip-plumping lip gloss. And take my meds, now that I know what they are.

5-6 – dinner

After dinner, the day staff have left, and the rest of the evening is mine to reflect and explore. As of next week, I’ll be getting a cancer vaccine injected into me right before bed, but for now it’s just a time to read, write in my blog, and self-talk my way through this very strange (good strange) experience.

(19-01-21) Day 1 @ RCC

Kyana and I began getting ready for our trip to Tijuana before the sun had even risen. Just a little before 7, we were in the car and starting our 5-hour car ride. I’m pretty sure if Kyana had not been in that car with me, I would have cried the whole way…probably pulled over on the side of the road a few times too, just to bawl a little harder. But she was a rock and setting the example for me; that’s been her role in my life more than I care to admit.

Five hours later, we pulled up to a house in San Diego, where a womyn who had only met me once before took the key to my car and assured me repeatedly that it was no problem to leave my car in her driveway for the next six weeks. It was such a small part of the day but one that deserved a moment of recognition because it served to remind me of one very crucial point: I am not alone in this. And I KNOW I am not alone, but sometimes I do forget just how extensive an army I have fighting here with me – including cousins of ex-girlfriends who are happy to house the Truthmobile for six weeks and essentially save me $425 in parking fees at the San Diego International Airport. Thank you, Nicole. Thank you, Sacha.

We took a Lyft from Nicole’s house to a random strip mall in Bonita, CA, where we stood by a curb with a mountain of suitcases and bags and waited for our driver to take us across the border. I won’t pretend I didn’t fight back waves of anxiety-induced nausea – I was silently freaking out a little, courtesy of Hollywood movies and a Masters degree in Forensic Psychology. I had to remind myself these fears were irrational. Tarah, you checked the credentials on their website. You watched a number of videos about their business. You looked them up on the Better Business Bureau. You read every single review of them online. You talked for over an hour with someone who went there.

Thank you, psych degree. That self-talk strategy comes in handy at LEAST twice a week.

So…against every thing I learned during the Stranger Danger workshops I attended every year in elementary school, I put myself and all my belongings into a dark SUV and allowed a mostly Spanish-speaking man named Adrian drive me across the border. The fact that border patrol agents just waved us through and didn’t even bother to inspect any of us or our belongings should have freaked me out a little bit, but I was waist-deep in self talk at this point and barely noticed.

Once I arrived, I had a tour and then settled into my room. The place is nice. It’s clinical, but not sterile. There is a familiarity in the air that is clearly the work of the employees and not the patients (more on that later). Around 2:30, I had my first meeting with the head honcho himself: Dr. Rubio, Sr. The guy who started this clinic over 30 years ago was going to be my personal doctor. The guy who is credited with doing immunotherapy before other doctors around the world started hopping on that bandwagon would be treating ME.

I was starting to feel less nervous. It was here, in this moment, sitting in front of his desk, that I felt what a few other loved ones had been whispering in my ears for days:

You are in good hands here.

my first meal here

taking my blood, to be used for developing a cancer vaccine that will be injected into me on Monday

making friends 😉

(19-01-14) Prognosis & Plan

I swear: in an alternate dimension of reality, I *must* be a superhero(-ine). My cells just grow with such an alarmingly efficient ferocity that I picture my superhero self as being essentially infallible because all her organs, blood, and internal systems are in constant cell re-development and evolution.

Unfortunately, in THIS reality, those cells just mean my cancer is the number one gang on the block.

Bones.
Lymph Nodes.
Organs.

Left hip.
Right posterior hip (which is fucking BULLSHIT because I just got a right hip replacement, so that whole area should be clean as a Muthafuckin WHISTLE right now).
Liver.
Lungs.
Mid-sacrum (I had to look that one up. It’s the triangular shaped bone that forms between the top of your ass crack and your spine. Even my ass crack has cancer.).
Pelvis.
Right knee.

“Uncurable, but treatable.”
Let me break down what this essentially means, according to Western medicine.
This means that I consent to being infused with poison every couple of weeks until my body can’t take it anymore. This means that doctors pump me full of these drugs right here for a little while, and then when these drugs “stop working,” doctors start pumping me with those drugs over there. This means I spend my remaining days on this Earth, inside this body, in doctors’ offices, on the toilet, over the toilet, and in bed.

Fuck. That.

I’m going a different route.

On Monday, I will be waking up before the sun rises and driving from Phoenix, AZ to Tijuana, Mexico. There, I will enroll in Rubio Cancer Center, an immunotherapy clinic that works with Stage 4 Cancer patients. See, other countries don’t all approach cancer the same way that the United States does. In the United States, we attack cancer by flooding our entire body with poison, and then afterward, when everything inside is gasping for its very last breath, we say, “Okay, go enjoy life now! Your immune system will be fine in time.”

Except my immune system DIDN’T end up being fine in time. Have you ever sprayed Raid on a bunch of bugs on the ground? Some seize up the moment the Raid hits their bodies. Some writhe around in the liquid for a while, and you can’t tell if they’re swimming or dancing or screaming or dying, but eventually they stop moving too.
… And then there’s the ones you see moving around in that same room a few days later, and all you can think as you stare at them is, “How the fuck are you still here???”

Hey, breast cancer cells.
HOW THE FUCK ARE YOU STILL HERE???

Chemo and radiation didn’t kill them. They killed enough, for the remaining cells to hide under the PET scan radar for two – count them, TWO – years. But they didn’t kill all of them. Poisoning didn’t work. Neither did amputation.

So instead, I turn to immunotherapy. For the next 3-8 weeks, I will be injected, infused, and immersed with cancer-fighting foods, juices, supplements, and herbs. I will be replacing traditional water for water that is ionized and/or ozonated. Teas that detox my lungs, liver, and skin will be incorporated into my daily routine. I will give vials of my blood that will be used to create one of seven custom-made cancer vaccines that will then be injected into my veins every night before bed. I will participate in bathing rituals that involve removing toxins from my feet. I will essentially consent to a 10-12 hour/day regimen that no oncologist in their right mind would endorse here in the United States. And since my insurance company won’t pay for any of it, I am closing out all three of my retirement plans to pay for it.

I might lose tens of thousands of dollars.
I might die in that clinic in Tijuana.
I might help the US oncologists feel justified in their disdain for all non-Western medicine.

Or, I might invest tens of thousands of dollars into a life that survived and thrived beyond all odds, thereby giving an extra smug “In your FACE!” taunt to all those US oncologists and their disdain for all non-Western medicine.

Anyone who has spent fifteen minutes with me knows which one of these options sounds more like me.

(19-01-08) Racing Thoughts on the Car Ride Home

  • When I was a little girl, I used to blow on dandelions and make wishes that I would die by the time I was 40 so that I wouldn’t have to grow old. Thirty-something years later, it appears my wish is about to come true.
  • Mom-mom knew, somehow. The last time I went home to visit, I brought her a milkshake on my way to the airport. She cried when I leaned in to hug her. She never cries when I leave PA to head back to AZ. “I’m sorry – I’m just being sentimental,” she said. But I think it was more than that. I think she knew that moment would be the last time we would see each other alive.
  • How the hell am I going to find adequate homes for all five of my pets???
  • I never made it to Africa.
  • I never got my PhD.
  • Does this mean my diet changes now, or that I no longer have to give a fuck? I can’t decide.
  • I’m willing to try DMT now.
  • I want to tell them both in the front seat, “I’m sorry I ruined your day.” Not appropriate.
  • Why in 2019? Why not in 2017, when I would have cared much less?? Is there a reason for this extra brutal slap in the face, or is it just shitty luck?
  • Now I’m never going to have the chance to meet his kids.
  • When’s the best time to quit my job?
  • Jenna is going to have to find a new place to live. I need to sell the house … or am I still leaving it to Keaton?
  • Aunt Crystal is going to be mad when she finds out. I’ve already promised to take care of her when she gets old.
  • I need to cash out my three retirement accounts.
  • Dr. Seidel saw all that cancer when he opened me up. That’s why he didn’t bother to follow up with me after he replaced my hip. He knew I was a lost cause.
  • I failed everyone who fought so hard for me the first time.

(19-01-02) Knowing What I Want

People close to me know how much it hurt when Maya left. Obviously, no one likes a break-up, and of course it’s harder to be the one dumped than the one choosing to leave. But to hear a womyn tell me she would be there fighting with me through the whole thing, and then to experience that person walking away from me just two months later was immensely crushing. I never wanted to go through cancer treatment in the first place. Had I had my way, I would have racked up obscene debts on credit cards as I flew to various places around the world, living life like I had no cares whatsoever.

But I made a choice. For a girl. Who left. And then my friends swooped in and picked up my broken pieces, and I kept fighting. For them. Not for me.

The first time around, I was definitely not fighting for me.

And when I survived, there was a part of me that was disappointed. It was like there was all this build up to fight for my life … and when I *won,* I looked around at the fragmented pieces of me and my world, and I just couldn’t understand what I had fought so hard for. Coupled with that realization came survivor’s guilt. Why did *I* make it? I’m a single womyn, with no children, no significant other, no cataclysmic impression on the universe … just some broken down girl who was kind of already done with life by the time she hit 30 and was foolish enough to make a bunch of promises to a girl who really never intended to stick around. 2017 fucking SUCKED … because all around me, people were so happy, so impressed, so proud that I beat down everything that tried to break me in 2016 … yet all I kept thinking was, “So, I’m still here. Great. Now what the fuck am I supposed to do?”

If my cancer had come back in 2017, it would have been a no brainer. I know exactly what I would have done with the $250,000 that my house would sell for – and NONE of it involved surviving. I would have lived and experienced all I could with a quarter of a million dollars. I would have done copious amounts of drugs and put myself in high-risk situations, and I would have died that same year, without a trace of chemo drugs or radiation treatments in my system – and, if I’m being honest, without any loved ones by my side.

Now it’s 2019, the cancer is back, and I can’t help but wonder: Am I going through this same experience because I didn’t do enough of the right things before? Is this a do-over? Am I getting a second chance so that I make better choices and utilize better motives this time around?

This second time around, am I supposed to decide whether or not I am willing to fight for ME?

That’s gonna be hard. ‘Cuz I’m in love now. Like, for real – in love. The last time I was in love was eight years ago, and it was fucking awful, and I steered clear of this kind of relationship for such a long time afterward. But I’m in it. And I don’t want to leave.

And I am freaking out that in this “second chance” that cancer is giving me, I am already repeating some of the same mistakes I made the first time.

(19-01-01) CALENDAR OF EVENTS

With Cancer Round I, I let all of you know about upcoming appointments, procedures, and tests via a shared Google calendar. For some of you, that was difficult to access. This time, I will try another route. On this page, I will post all cancer-related appointments as I schedule them, which means this page will have ongoing updates.

DATEAPPOINTMENTADDITIONAL NOTES/COMMENTS
18-12-21biopsy
hip replacement
Dr. Seidel
18-12-28follow-up
w/oncologist
Dr. Curley
* confirmed: metastatic breast cancer in hip
* awaiting a 2nd pathology report, to determine if this cancer is HER2+, too
* ordered a PET scan
* PET scan and 2nd pathology report will determine prescribed treatment
19-01-07PET scan
19-01-08follow-up
w/oncologist
Stage 4 cancer in bones, organs, and lymph nodes

He wantse to start chemo right away, with some radiation for pain control.

I have refused.
19-01-21admissions into Rubio Cancer Center, in Tijuana Mexicoestimated inpatient stay: 6 weeks
19-01-28Dr. RubioCancer vaccine injections start
19-01-29Dr. RubioGo to the lab to look at my blood under a microscope, to see how it’s interacting with my blood