Our friend Ana is in the middle of a Health Opportunity. As you know, she's has taken one big step and is now ready for a few more. All of these steps, Western and Eastern, holistic and complementary, of course, cost more and without our help could be cost prohibitive. THE MIGHTY DOLLAR WON'T GET IN THE WAY OF HER MIGHTY SPIRIT!!! Please give freely and liberally. ALL of the money raised through the PayPal link will serve Ana's treatments. Thank you, beautiful people!
There is a restaurant, beer and wine at the site, and we're having a silent auction (everything from sex toys to photography), a dj (King Cotton!) and who knows what else? Suggested donation is $10, but it's all good. If you'd like to go, go!
All proceeds go to Ana's recovery, her fiscal well-being and a downpayment on shopping the organic aisle at Whole Foods once a week for the next fifty years of her life.
Hello loves! Some of you have been reaching out to find out what the haps are, so here's an update. I've decided to write this one myself.
Surgery: check. Radiation: check. PET scan and blood work: check. Everything came up free and clear! No sign of abnormalities with the scan, blood work all within normal range! So, what am I doing now? Is it all over, just like that? Well, it's not quite that black and white...
I have gone as far as I'm going to go with allopathic medicine. I feelveryconfident with this decision, especially considering my last tests. I had some really great doctors. They know a whole lot about what they've been taught, and their hearts are truly in the right place. I know they want the best for me and all of their other patients, and I'm grateful to them. But my belief is, and has always been, that there is more than one way to approachany illness, and they only know one approach--or three: cut, burn, kill-- and unfortunately, more often than not, this leads to many other problems, including recurrences. It's logical. You kill someone's immune system, their natural God-given ability to deal with toxins, and there are bound to be problems. Please trust that I've deliberated over and researched my decisions ad nauseam. So, I have politely asked all of my (allopathic) doctors to back off.
I am in a new chapter of this story, and of my life. My focus now is detox, strengthen and heal. Except for the residual pain and discomfort I'm feeling from radiation, I feel physically great. My energy level is a little lower than I would like, and that too is a side-effect from radiation. I don't have to tell you all that I've worked through some really heavy emotions, including fear, which have at times been paralyzing. I've been so incredibly lucky to have had all of your support, I mean,REALLY.You've lent me your ears and shoulders--Jay's shoulder must still be wet-- and have introduced me to some amazing ways to work through such heavy, psychological issues in a very short period of time. As you all know, stress is our worst enemy, so of course, I'm doing my best to manage mine with the help of exercise, yoga, meditation, good food, rest and laughter.
I have the good fortune of working with an amazing acupuncturist who happens to specialize in oncology. He's got me brewing up some concoctions, currently for detox, that even my evolved palate for herbs cringes at. But he seems to be really happy with the way my tongue is looking, so, yay! In all seriousness, his philosophy on cancer really resonates with me. He says that more doctors will start to look at cancer as a chronic illness, like diabetes. Once the acute phase has been taken care of, it's a matter of managing it, i.e. keeping your system strong so it can take care of what it needs to. Bruce Lipton, cell biologist and author of "Biology of Belief" -- a book I recommend for all of you-- states it well: " When you provide a healthy environment for your cells, they thrive. When the environment is less than optimal, they falter. When the environment is adjusted, the 'sick' cells revitalize." That's really it in a nutshell.
I am, of course, still seeing Dr. Tony, who continues to help me work through layers of physiological as well as emotional "stuff" on a molecular and subconscious level. Really, it's too hard to explain, but it works and that's all that really matters to me. He will also send me to a lab every once in awhile for blood work, so for all of you who are worried, don't be! I will continue to monitor my progress :)
A few of you have mentioned in the last few months that you fear I'm pulling a "Steve Jobs". I'm not sure exactly what Steve Jobs' journey was like, but please keep in mind that no two people or two cancers are alike. First, he was dealing with pancreatic cancer, which is much more tricky. And there are SO many other details in between, which I honestly don't know about, but I think he lived 5 years longer than doctors predicted (which is a whole other discussion--doctor's giving people death sentences-- that I won't get into). So, if you have worries or fears, I politely ask that you keep them to yourself, and not project them onto me. It's really important for me to have your continued love and support, and know that I am well.
As I've told some of you, the last few months have been an intense fucking journey, (I think I earned the permission to curse here). But somehow, as insane as it feels to say, I really don't think I'd trade it in. I've always believed the old cliche that everything happens for a reason. I think that if we take a close look at whatever happens to be going on in our lives, we'll find that, indeed, there is a reason for it. Beyond that, there is most likely a lesson (or in my case, many lessons) to be learned. I am in a better place today than I was 7 months ago. I know and understand myself in a way that I cherish. I'm able to take things less seriously and enjoy the moments of life, like this one, for example, more deeply and more often. The fact that I am breathing oxygen, that I'm still around, that I get to share with you, my most incredible friends, my journey, while the sun shines high, the weather is exactly how I love (hot), the birds sing, and I amHEALTHY, istruly magnificent.
In conclusion, I will not be dying anytime soon, and most certainly, I will not be dying from cancer. I know too much to let that happen. All of your love and support has been the foundation for my strength. As you know, my parents don't know about any of this, and I plan to keep it that way. You all have acted as my family. You all have been my entire support system, and I feel like the luckiest gal alive, having all of you in my life.
I'll end with a quote from the Dalai Lama: There is a saying in Tibetan, “Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.”
No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.
As always, Ana is weighing options. Naturally, sometimes, the options weigh on her too.
At current, she feels healthy and strong. The only time that ever wavers, even for a second, is when she feels a nagging doubt. Still, she is in good shape. The first, and biggest, hurdle she's already cleared with ease — successful surgery. The news on that part of her recovery has been nearly all good. The margins are clear, her body has recovered impressively, most of the tests she underwent came back on the positive side (things like estrogen negative, and the like) — they confirmed she had a non-aggressive kind of invasive breast cancer.
Now she is clearly on Step Two. She is going to take it without rushing into radiation and chemo, which is a difficult decision for her — but she sees radiation and chemo as poisonous, which is, in fact, what they are. The thought is that radiation 'cauterizes' the area effected by cancer and that chemo is a systemic solution that will kill more bad cells faster than it kills the more numerous good ones. But both pose difficulties and feature several long term side effects, some worse than others. SO -- she's looking into testable, but health-positive, treatments and overall regimens that will strengthen her body naturally.
Some of these things sound odd, but are they any more odd than saying that radiation is a healthy solution? Or that pumping your body full of actual poison will make you healthier?
So as treatments ranging from biomagnetics, IV solutions, Turkey Tail mushroom extracts to PET scans and blood monitoring are on the table. More than anything though, Ana has to have peace of mind. At this point, the tumor is gone, so now she needs to remove doubt. That really is the most important thing, considering how stress contributes to health breakdowns as it is.
She remains, as ever, conscious of her health and won't jeopardize it, which is why radiation remains an option down the road, but she is taking the next step without it. It's a brave step and one that requires our collective support and love. But it's not a reckless one either. It was a decision made with care and hope, sure, but also with a lot of reading, research and understanding. It is, for her, at this point in her life and her recovery, the step she feels will make her life better. Sounds healthy to me.
OK, I haven't figured out how to mirror the old URL so you could automatically get here from there -- so I hope you find us.
The change of name is result of a change of focus for Ana. As you all know, she had successful surgery, but now she owns her body. Her focus must be and is on recovery and healing. That starts by kicking the "C word" to the curb. It doesn't define her or her health.
And so here we are.
Ana is spending the week at an institute outside of San Diego focusing on her health, her mental approach and recovery from surgery. Today was better than yesterday. Tomorrow will be better than that.
So this is just the next step. There will be more and all will represent positive gains. Please continue giving if you can at all afford it, spiritually or financially -- Ana receives all of the money and all of the good vibes and spends them accordingly. The only reason that I'm serving as the middleman is so that she isn't burdened by having to say Thank You for Giving, it makes her cry each time to know how generous everyone has been throughout this chapter in her life. It's not a bad cry, but we should be encouraging laughter and lightening her load.
Look forward to bigger and better updates in the future.
NOTE: After her tumor was removed successfully via a lumpectomy by the good people at Pink Lotus Breast Center in LA (well, by a good doctor at a great facility), Ana wanted to say a few things:
""Gratitude", is the word that resonates with me the most. I'm not saying this because it's what's expected of me, or because that's what I think you want to hear. I'm saying it because, honestly, that's what I have felt more than any other emotion in the last two months.
There's SO much to be grateful for. For instance, my mom's healing, and that my doctor recommended I get a mammogram because of what was going on with my mom, and more importantly, the fact that I LISTENED. That this was discovered so early and that really, out of the worst case scenario, it seems to be the best case scenario. Grateful that I've been able to maintain a sense of humor and a lust for life. Grateful for all those senseless comedies that I love so much. So very grateful for the team of doctors I have on my side (holistic and allopathic).
But more important than anything, I'm grateful for all of YOU. Every single time any of you have sent me a text, email, phone call, or come to a doctor's appointment with me, it's given me strength, courage and faith. At first, I was uncomfortable and overwhelmed with all the attention. I couldn't believe the amount of love that I was surrounded by. But slowly, I've learned to accept the love gracefully and graciously. I've stockpiled all of the love in my heart, and I pull from it whenever I start to waiver.
I also want to give a special shout-out to Sirena, Jay, Blair and Marcus, who have been in touch with me every single day, holding my hand through this entire process, and who came up with the idea of the blog (and fundraiser). Naturally at first, the idea made me uneasy. But as they pointed out, people would have to know eventually and this was a great way to keep everyone in the loop without feeling bad if I couldn't respond right away.
And the fundraiser... well, that REALLY made me feel uncomfortable. It's strange to be center of attention and have my friends donate money to me, but again, it was pointed out to me that the last thing I need to do is stress out about money right now, and that is absolutely right. So, I've stepped aside and let my team work their magic. I've asked not to know whose contributed to the fundraiser for now, because the few times I've found out, I cried. It really is overwhelming to know so many people love me so much. Blair has been kind enough to send "thank you" notes on my behalf, assuring me that you all know how grateful I am. I want you all to know how much you have helped me. There has hardly been a moment that I've allowed myself to stress about finances because of all of your generosity.
I know that most of you are relieved that I've decided to have surgery. I appreciate your support in the choices that I've made, even if you would have wanted me to make different ones. I also want you to know that I don't regret in the least having made those choices, because now that I've had the surgery, I will never wonder if there could have been a better choice. I know I've made the right one. And as I continue along this path, I will remain open to what treatment choices my allopathic doctors recommend, but I will always use holistic practices to keep me at my healthiest, and in fact, I will be attending the Optimum Health Institute in San Diego for one week starting this Sunday.
At the risk of sounding completely cliche and corny, I'm learning to love myself better and to put myself first (at least for now) . It's always been so much easier for me (as I'm sure most of you), to give than to receive. I'm learning to use this experience as an opportunity to learn things about myself and hopefully evolve into a better me.
A very wise, handsome guy said to me recently that from catharsis comes great beauty-- or something like that, but more profound and articulate. I've paid attention though, and so far, he seems to be right.
I love you all from the immensely, with deep gratitude."
Ana wants everyone to know that their love (and donations) have made an extraordinarily difficult time a much brighter one than should ever be expected. She feels your support and is very, very grateful for it. She's fed off the positivity and has been ever stronger for it. Thank you. And she needs that continued love and support going forward.
Which brings us to the good news and medium news.
The good news is that invasive ductal carcinoma has 95 to 98 percent survival rate (over 5 years). Add to that the fact that Ana is both strong and committed to her health and you know that the end has already been written — she will live fully and freely after her cancer becomes nothing more than a bad memory. The only catch is that the middle part of the story is still being developed.
Where we once hoped that her intensive vitamin/ukrain regimen would help shrink the tumor, we know now that she needs surgery. The month and week the regimen had to work was simply not enough time. She had always maintained that if the tumor was larger, she'd have to make a decision then about her future course of treatment. It had grown from .7 cm to 1.1 cm in a month, which made her decision about surgery a little easier.
But, here too, there's better news than was originally feared, the medium news, if you will. Originally, as she was waiting for both a MRI biopsy and some genetic test results, she expected that she would have to elect to have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy to eliminate recurrence. Thankfully, her genetic tests (called a BRCA) came back with the news she didn't carry the specific gene AND her MRI biopsy (which the radiologist called the most difficult of her career) was successful, eliminating the possibility that other "troubling" spots are malignant. SO...That leaves us with the original cancer, which despite its growth is still very small ("a speck" according to the surgeon), and the opportunity to take it out with a lumpectomy with radiation.
Again, radiation isn't the first choice (nor surgery), but there may be quicker radiating options and the possibility of chemotherapy is still remote, according to what we've read.
Which brings us back to her initial approach. Regardless of its efficacy (which we still don't know -- it's entirely possible it slowed the growth more than it would have grown otherwise) on the cancer, her regimen was VERY positive for her overall health. It will continue to pay dividends as she recovers from surgery and radiation.
Her surgery is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 28 (this has been updated, originally, it was schedule for Leap Year) at 11:15 a.m. She will know more about her post-surgery regimen tomorrow, when she meets with the radiation oncologist.
Beyond that, she is getting jerked around by Social Security regarding disability, but her employer has been as supportive as it's possible for them to be -- following in the footsteps of her friends who have given her so much love.
I'm sure there are more questions and concerns everyone has, but since there are still some outstanding consultations she needs to have, some of them may be premature.
The most important thing is that we can be confident she'll be OK. We all need to make sure she'll be OK with that OK.
She's still trying to get rid of me, that rhymes-with-rich-but-not-witch-the-other-thing. She even has the gall to say that I'm on way out. What I ever did to her, I have no idea. I'm just a little invasive cancer near her nipple. Well, whatever, I'll tell you what, she's a total Anti-Cancer Fascist. What's next? Is she going to have a problem with Quakers?
I was going to post this really mean thing about Ana on Facebook, but you know what? I'm bigger than that. You know, for a 8 mm breast carcinoma. Right now, she's in her naturopath's office getting another round of her incredibly expensive European-designed high-end anti-cancer fighter. That's about eight or nine so far. The treatment, called ukrain, is all about isolating me, trying to starve me of my process of reworking the blood vessels to my advantage and all that other crap. Little does she know I'm on a diet anyway. I want to look good for my upcoming spread in Cancer is the Answer magazine. Well, the one I've been told that I might be up for. By an agent I met at a bar. Ana's such a bee-atch!
Ugh, sorry. I just had to let it off her chest.
Actually, I DO have another photo op this week, and it's for reals. On Thursday, my roommate, or rather, body host and I are going back to Encino for another MRI. She hates it because of the sterile, hostile, Kubrickian environment and disinterested medical technicians. I like it because it's all about me. I'm the star. Her hope, though, is that I'm smaller (if I'm smaller, then it's only because it's the breasts that got big). Or in some way measurably different, so she can continue on her regimen of discipline, yoga, healing, greens, tumeric, ginger, garlic and naturopathic treatment. And probably some more conversations with her parasites.
She's also seeing another Doctor in San Diego. And wants to continue her ukrain regimen past next week. I swear, she hates me!
Well, that's what I'm up to this week. TTYL. xo, IDC.
[Editor's Note: Ana's cancer has its mouth full of high-grade natural medicine at the moment, so a contributor has been given the OK to give an update on its lovely host]
No one ever said kicking cancer's ass would ever be a bag of rose petals. First you have to go through the hell of getting things probed, scraped, poked, squashed and drawn. Then you have to deal with the fear. Finally, you have to find out that there are parasites inside your body who wanted to reach out. Which makes it all the more amazing that our girl is walking strong, grateful and emboldened by the outpouring of support (moral and financial) that has enabled her to focus on healing — and given her the strength to talk back to those pesky parasites that one of her health practitioners heard. No, not found through some blood work or anything, heard. While I'm not privy to what the conversation was, I think it had something to do with evicting David Spade from her liver — even parasites have standards, after all.
Right now, Ana is in a naturopath's office in Monrovia, getting her third High C IV (I think it's fruit punch, but it might be kale). The first was a bad experience — it burned and her veins suck — but the last one went much easier. Soon, she'll probably be hitting up people on the Venice bike path for organic citric acid bags, but until then, she's well on her way to fine-tuning her body and telling that cancer to say hello to her little friend.
She's also been on an intensive cleanse, which when she told a couple of people what that entailed disabused us of our original notion that cancer is glamorous (it was named Time's Disease of the Year every year since Ebola stole the crown that one year in the 1990's). I mean she can't even have a glass of wine. I mean detoxifying might be important and all, but...wine! Soon enough, though, by this time next week, she will be off the cleanse and able to sip a single Pinot Noir every other day or so.
So a new step in the natural regiment will also be taken this week: She will start "ukrain" treatment. According to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer site (the western treatment cancer establishment) ukrain is:
"A semi-synthetic proprietary product containing alkaloids and Thio-TEPA. Patients use it to treat cancer, HIV/AIDS, and hepatitis C. Ukrain™ is promoted as a selective cytotoxic agent against cancer cells. Ukrain demonstrated antitumor effects in vitro and in animal studies(9)(10)(11). A systematic review of clinical trials suggests that Ukrain may have potential as an anticancer drug but well designed studies are needed(7)."
And it's expensive as hell. Cough. Ahem...[jerks head toward the side of the site with the link]
You should also know that upcoming Ana events include a New York City pot luck fundraiser and a second MRI, for which we are hoping that we can see some positive gains in shrinking that 8 mm tumor. Updates for each will be given as soon as possible.
Until then, we know Ana is benefiting greatly from thinking healthy, being healthy and all of your love and support. We've raised more than $1200 to date and that's helped her so much. More than that, she really feels stronger because of the spirit and help you've all shown in this trying time. It's instrumental in beating this. Please keep giving her love.
Q. Why am I interviewing you when I could be listening to All Things Considered instead?
A. I'm Ana's breast cancer.
Q.OK. Tell us a little something about yourself.
A. Well, I'm Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (low-grade at present, but I'm fickle), a malignant cancer. I'm about 8 mm in diameter. My mother was a healthy red blood cell, my dad just finished fourth in the Iowa Republican caucus.
Q. This is the one everyone is wondering: Why Ana? Why not Hitler or Stalin or Pol Pot or someone like that?
A. What part of malignant don't you get? I'm not here to provide a service to humanity. I exist to spread fear, loathing and bent, mutant cells in unwilling hosts.
Q. I get that, but why Ana anyway? Was there something in her genetic make-up or lifestyle that turned you on?
A. Not that I know of. Just seemed like a good place to crash because, for her, it was the absolute wrong place at the wrong time. I mean sure, she used to break open American Spirit cigs and smear the tobacco all over her chest (it's a Burning Man thing, don't ask), but that wasn't really the cause. For me, it was more of seeing an opportunity and going for it.
Q.How are you two getting on? Seem like a bit of an odd couple. She's into meditation, natural foods, healing and life. You are kind of a dick.
A. Well that's the kicker, isn't it? It's kind of like Real World: Ana's Chest. You just never know what crazy things will happen with a relationship like ours in a pressurized environment like this.
Q. Do you see it as a long-term relationship?
A. Well, from what I've heard, she's already planning some kind of intervention to kick me out. Right now, she's getting advice, input and guidance from Western and Eastern sources. On the positive side for me, they are sometimes conflicting and uncertain, but my concern is that she'll find what's right for her, get the money for the various treatments her insurance doesn't or only partly covers and I'll be history. But we just got started, you know how it is, everything seems unreal, you don't even know what to do next. I haven't felt like this since Patch Adams.
A. Yeah. Not only was it about pediatric cancer victims, they also had to suffer through Robin Williams hamming it through shameless Borsch Belt routines that would have made Margaret Dumont kick him in the balls, and she spent a lifetime getting hit in the face with pies. For me it was a win-win.
Q.You really are sadistic, aren't you?
A. One last time. I'm malignant. It's pretty much in the definition of who I am.