Thursday, August 6, 2009

Grey, Yellow, and Red

Hello Everyone:

I wrote this little story below because I have been noticing how different people react to the news of a family member, or a friend, receiving the diagnosis of a serious illness that is life threatening. Many people become active in supporting you, some are uncomfortable and don't feel they can say the right things, others feel they may be bothering you when you are sick. Others have a hard time believing they should have hope for a good outcome because the diagnosis is so dire. I can tell you, as someone who has received a scary diagnosis that anything you can do in the way of staying in touch means the world to an ill person. A little card that just says "hi, I'm thinking of you." A little silly gift. A book of prayers. A text message saying "how's your day?"

My family and friends and I have received this type of bad news. So here is my story. It's from the heart.

We are all sitting in the living room, my family and friends, and most everyone is hurting from the news of my illness. As it settles in, everyone tries to make room for it in their lives. But everyone is having a hard time. The news involves the very real possibility of death and many people in the room are not sure they're up to dealing with this.

Let's say Death is the "elephant" in the room. We'll give him a name. His name is Grey. Of course we don't like Grey being here, but this is what happens in these types of situations. Let's say Life is the "sun" in the room. His name is Yellow. The guests at this party include my family and friends and Life and Death.

Grey is a big lazy elephant and Yellow is a big bright fiery sphere of activity. Around the room we all sit, myself included. Grey and Yellow are in the center and they are here for me. The reason Grey is here is because something has gone wrong with my body and Grey feels comfortable to show up at this party. Yellow has always been here. Yellow is an old friend. I like Yellow very much.

Grey has always been lurking around, trying to get a good seat at the party. He first showed up at my birth when he almost took my mother's life. Then four years later he showed up again when I was hit by a car. He felt welcomed then because I was in pretty bad shape. Doctors said I wouldn't make it. After that party, Grey left. He did not get a party favor to take away with him. In approximately my 32nd year, Grey showed up again. He did not want all of me. He was just looking for my reproductive capabilities. After 6 years of testing and surgeries, Death again left empty handed. In my 42nd year Grey showed up again. This time, with all due respect, we really battled. Yellow, as all good friends do, never left my side. I negotiated the loss of a breast and a year of my life under an unpleasant treatment regimen. I got my life and Grey left the party once again empty handed. Now, in my 53rd year, Grey has shown up again and this time he feels himself to be very welcome. He's got a lot of the medical community and some of my friends and family believing he has a very legitimate invitation. But, Life is still in the room. Life has always been in the room - never left once. And we like each other very much. Yellow is my best friend.

So, Grey is here again. What do I do? I'm tired of him showing up. The problem is, he can tell I'm tired. He's been here for a few months and he watched me hear doctors tell me their lousy prognoses and he watched my reaction to them. Grey's confidence grew. Let me tell you something about Grey; Grey is very respectful. He doesn't force anything. He doesn't get arrogant. He waits, very respectfully. He doesn't have to do anything. He knows I will do all the work either way. But he does hope I'll miss a beat here or there. He'd like to leave with a party favor. He and Yellow are polite, but keep their distance from each other.

Yellow is quite beautiful. Very hard to resist. Yellow usually stays for about 80 years - give or take. I'd like my 80 years. Everyone in the room would like their 80 years.

So, what do I do? I have to find a way to tip the scales in my favor. So, what have I got going for me? I've got great friends and family. I'm smart. I ask a lot of good questions. I can research like nobody's business. I'm not afraid to go out on a limb. Ok, so these things are good, but I need a powerhouse of something to tip the scales. - I know! I know who is missing from the party. He must have gotten delayed. Or maybe he's driving around the block trying to find the house. Maybe he never got his invite. His name is Red and when he shows up everything changes. His energy is so great that everyone gets happy when he comes into the party. They can't help it. He is Belief. He probably saw everyone's reactions to Grey showing up. He probably saw how scared everyone got. He probably could tell everyone was thinking Grey had a pretty solid invitation. Belief probably didn't feel welcome.

Well, as the song goes "It's my party..." So, let's make Grey feel a little uncomfortable. I cross the room and open the front door. I see Red driving around. He wants to come in. I wave to him and he smiles broadly. "Come on in" I say. He parks the car and comes bounding up the walk. Boy, does he look good. My old friend Belief. He comes through the door ... and everything changes.

God Bless you all. Please keep your belief strong for me.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Home For The Weekend

I escaped the Arizona heat last weekend and went home to California for three days. I stayed with my girlfriend Lauren who had a beautiful room fixed up for me at her house. I was very comfortable and had a great view of her lovely backyard garden. Thank you Lauren.

As many of you know, my brother Geoffrey and his wife Bernadette own a dance studio in Covina, CA, called DanceMaker. Every year in July the dancers put on a fabulous show. I caught the last show on Sunday, and as Geoffrey and Bernadette had arranged very comfortable box seats for me, I had lots of room to set up my camera and monopod. I just sat there and clicked away while enjoying the show. I've posted some of the pictures here for you to see.

DanceMaker came on strong and entertained from beginning to end. This years show, as always, was top shelf! They do many skits, lively tap and jazz numbers, beautiful ballets, and of course singing, singing, singing.

Anybody with dancing and entertaining aspirations, come on down and sign up on August 25, 26, & 27. In addition to dance, they have singing and acting classes. They're a real nice bunch and it's the best studio around! Ask them to tell you about the students they've had go on to work in the entertainment industry and on Broadway in NY. DanceMaker has been doing this for over 20 years.

After the show there is always a party to celebrate the success of the dancers. I went for a short while, but had to leave to go home to rest. Just don't have much energy these days, but as I left I could tell everyone was having a good time.

I was sorry to have to leave Monday night. It was a real boost to see my family, cousins, nephews - the whole clan. I also stopped in briefly at Home Depot, but unfortunately I was not feeling well and so couldn't stay see all the people I would have liked to have seen.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

3rd week

Hi Everybody:
My friends from Home Depot sent these flowers a couple of weeks ago. I just loved them. They added a spot of brightness to my room. Of course I had to photograph them!

Thanks Home Depot for starting a collection cup and thank you Vicki and Sue for making icecream sundaes for everyone to help raise money! Wish I could have been there. I miss you! Thank you Julie and Rhonda for thinking of me and sending your kind words. I've heard from Ernie too!

I was so saddened to hear of Anne's passing. She was just too young yet. She always had a smile whenever I spoke with her. It is hard to think she is gone.

I have not written in quite a while. I've been having problems with pain, sometimes very bad pain that goes on for days. It has been quite a tiger to tame, but I think I finally have it under control. Besides the pain, I had other discomforting issues going on like not being able to eat, nausea, etc. It's been a few days now and I think I've gotten a handle on all of this. Bad pain can play with your mind. But I am feeling pretty good now. I'm able to sleep again. And one of the first things I wanted to do was write to everyone.

Arizona Heat and Wildlife

Where to begin? Well, I think I am getting used to the heat here. I'm surprised how fast you can adjust to the change. It is 107 degrees one day, 113 degrees another day. Just unbelievable. If the humidity stays low, it is bearable. I had my first wildlife spotting. A giant beetle was climbing up a glass door and I could not believe the size of it. This thing was not a bug; it was a small animal. With legs and antenna, it was the size of my hand. I know what they mean when they say "throw a saddle on that thing." I just kept thinking, I hope nothing like that ever finds its way into my room. I'd have to wrestle it to the door.

Visits From Friends and Family

My mom came for a few days and we had a very pleasant visit. We took a drive to a place called Sedona. It was one of my first days of feeling good again and I thought, "ok, I'm feeling good, I can take a drive." Well we did. I even took some pictures - hope you enjoy them. Of course I spent the next day in bed recouperating from my little excursion. But what a beautiful place! If you ever get the opportunity, visit there. It will take your breath away.

Arizona Vegetation

I do love the landscaping here. For my gardening friends in hot climates, you must get a Mexican Bird of Paradise. Get several. They look great in groups. The ones I see here have flowers with a mix of red and orange colors. They just catch your eye. It looks like they need about 4 feet for spread and just about as much room for height. I'll try and add a picture of one next time. Talking about gardening, I saw a Hines truck making a delivery and thought of my friends in gardening at Home Depot. Hi Kris, Faye, Dustin, Lauren, Gail, Zeke and April. Miss you guys.

Complementary Medicine

I want to tell you something interesting about some testing that was done on me and the subsequent findings. The first day I was in treatment, they did something called chelation. This was a treatment given to me intervenously that removes heavy metals from your body. It was found that I had two heavy metals in great abundance. One was mercury, which didn't surprise me because we have it in the fillings in our teeth and it's found in fish (which I love). But something else was found to be in very high levels in me which did surprise me - tungsten. The only thing I know about tungsten is it's found in the filiment of light bulbs. The most common way that I have since read, to acquire high levels of tungsten, is to work in the metal industry - cutting metal - something like that. So where I got it from is anybody's guess. Now here's the interesting part. Tungsten is believed to interfere with the metabolism of molybdenum. Molybdenum is an antioxident found in the body which is said to prevent the development of cancer. Sounds like a clue to my condition! That is something that complementary medicine looks into which is not part of standard medicine's practice. I am so glad I had this done. Now I have to be detoxified for these metals.

Thank You's

I'd like to wrap up with some thank you's. There are so many people to thank. You all give me my most potent healing. The human bond is the most important piece of this whole process. It has qualities that science cannot measure, but that can definitely be felt.

My sisters Lucy and Linda made very generous donations and have given me immeasurable support over the phone and with their prayers. Don't worry so much guys. I know you're far away, but I'm strong and your love is strong and is helping me in ways you can't imagine.

My sister Lucy's mother-in-law and father-in-law, Ann and John Cates, made a very generous donation. It will make a difference. They are very nice people - a big Irish family from back in New York. God bless you both.

My beautiful niece Anna's boyfriend, Chris Nappi, raised money at his bar in New York. Thank you Chris. This will make a difference.

My Aunt Julie and Uncle Bob from New Jersey - a big Italian family (and boy can she cook!), made a very nice donation. Thank you both.

My cousin Joseph and his wife Dale from Long Island also donated generously. Joe just went through his own battle with cancer, and I am happy to say is in remission. Good health to you Joseph. Thank you.

My Aunt Regina in Florida gathered money in donation cups at various locations. Thank you Regina. You know how much I love you.

To all my close friends and family, who are there for me on the other end of the phone, what can I say. You are beautiful and I love you. You are my strong believers. Could not do it without you. God bless you for your belief in me. Aunt Julie, Aunt Reenie, Marianne & Dan, cousin Lisa, Lauren - my good, good friend, Bruce - my bio-dad who is battling his own illness right now - God bless you Bruce, Tricia in Texas, Tina, Bridget & Mallory, Jeremy - whose smile I hear over the phone before I hear his words, John in flooring who has kept in touch - he's my photography buddy, my old and good friend from NY - Mike Turner, who's been calling and fills me with hope, and Dr. Dias - my old boss and friend & a great lady. I always love to hear from you. A special thank you to my mom who is staying strong for me, and to my brother Geoff whose belief in me just blows me away. I love you Geoff - you are special. And my brother Jim - who has been my friend since we were kids together. The closest one in age to me. I don't remember life before you. I can't do this without you. Thank you for your love and support.

I will write again soon. Miss & love you all.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Hi Everybody:
I got through my first week here with a few bumps, but I'm doing well now.
My friend Lauren is here for the weekend and I've never been so happy to see someone. She's not taking to the heat so well though. We walked outside and got in the car and just sat there looking at each other. We couldn't believe the heat. It was like getting in an oven. I said that unless we got moving and put the air on, they were going to find us dead in the morning, two dried up raisins sitting in the front seat of the car. All kidding aside, it is good to see a friendly face.
Scottsdale is very pretty. I don't know what would give a person the idea to put a city in the desert, but someone did and it's beautiful. Being an East Coast girl, I didn't take to the kinds of vegetation out here in the West and Southwest, but since I've come to Scottsdale and seen what they do with native plants, I'm really impressed. For those of you back in California who are thinking of going more toward native plants, you might enjoy the pictures.
For anyone curious about integrative medicine, I've added a link to Envita. The idea at Envita is to get you as healthy as possible. They get your immune system up and running at maximum performance. This not only helps your own body fight disease, but when you have cancer, it helps your standard treatments (chemo, radiation) to work better.
One thing I would like to tell you about is something called Poly-MVA, offered by Envita, but also available on the internet (at a less expensive price). This is a liquid formula that is taken orally to effect cells on an electronic level. It comes under the field of electrogenetics. It is a patented dietary supplement with over 15 yrs of clinical research and testing. This is the first non-toxic chemotherapeutic agent. It has been shown to compromise the membranes in tumor cells thus destroying them. In addition to destroying cancer cells, it protects healthy cells from damage by enhancing their function and action. For those with cancer, you take about 16 spoonfuls a day. But (and this is why I'm mentioning it) for those without cancer, you take about 2 spoonfuls a day as a preventative. The way it was described to me by my doctor is "... this is one of the best kept secrets in medicine." He told me that doctors who know of it, take it for healthy cell maintainance. It is pricey. For those of you who perhaps have a prevalance toward cancer in your families, you may want to check it out.
I'd like to end by thanking everyone who is supporting me in this fight. My friends at Home Depot who have been texting, calling and e-mailing. I love you guys. I think about you often and like to keep up with what you're doing. Thanks for all your words of good cheer. My special friend there, Jeremy Jones, who has kept in constant contact with me since the beginning and has always told me there is hope.
My cousin Cathie in Virginia owns a dance studio and has offered to put a donation cup out. Thank you Cathie and good luck with the recital.
My Aunt Julie and Uncle Pete in Florida made a very generous donation to my treatment. I want to thank them and tell them what a difference it makes for me. They have always been generous in offering their home and hospitality to me whenever I am in Florida. I love you both.
I've had a full week and am now looking forward to another one. Thanks again dear friends and family. I couldn't do this without you.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Theresa's 1st week in Scottsdale AZ

I hope you all like this. It allows me to communicate with all my family and friends, by putting some of the main things that are happening with me here on my blog. Check in whenever you like. Don't stop calling and texting me though, because I love to hear from everybody. It's the best medicine.
I arrived in Scottsdale, AZ on Sunday, 6/14/09. It was a 5 1/2 hour drive through the desert and since I had never really seen desert before, it was something new for me. I got myself set up and started my treatments on Monday.
Many of you know that I am doing complementary plus standard treatment. They call it "integrative medicine" because they integrate the two strategies. Some people have been asking me many questions about the complementary side of it, so at times I will write about a treatment and the benefits of it. For those who don't care to know the details, you can just skip over that part. My complementary medicine is being done at a clinic called Envita. They also do some standard treatment, but mostly send you outside of the clinic for those treatments.
Anyway, I've been doing pretty well so far. Also, meeting lots of people. I'm going to be here for approximately 2 months. At that point, I'll be reassessed. I did quite a bit of research before I came here. I feel I am in good hands. I have a tough battle ahead of me, but everyday I am feeling more and more strength growing inside of me to fight this.
I want to thank everyone who has kept me in their thoughts and prayers, those who have donated, and those who have lovingly supported me. You can't do this alone. All of you who care are literally giving me strength and courage and helping me to reach my goal. I want to thank all my cheerleaders, you know who you are. I have two sisters in NY and one in NC and one in FL (well, she's really my aunt, but she's like a sister to me). They are just beyond words. They are my cheerleaders. Lucy, Linda, Marianne & Genie. Their husbands are wonderful people also, Steven, Michael and Dan. My two brothers, Jim and Geoff, have great wives, Rita and Bernadette, who I have known for the better part of my life.
There are some who have made very generous donations, my mother, Bruce (my biological father and my friend), my sisters and my brothers. My Aunt Julie in Florida keeps in touch with me always, just as she has done all of my life. She is a great strength. There are many others who have sent me cards, called, and texted me to let me know they care. I love you all.
I can't end this without mentioning someone who is a friend in the true sense of the word. She saw me through the worst times in the beginning of all of this, she always saw the light of hope and always told me it was there. She was always there for me. Her name is Lauren and I can't say enough about her. My brother Geoff calls her an angel. And that says it perfectly.
I love you all - terri