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Monday, January 27, 2014

"A Healing Place" by Colette Montez

Dear Readers,
My dear friend Colette Montez embodies a passion for living.  As a fellow sister in TEAL her experiences, wisdom, heart and dedication, have helped me become a better person living with ovarian cancer. 
Thank you sweet Colette for taking us to your healing place!
Find one, create one, visit one, it is important that you do so!
Quality of life. It’s a term bandied about by the medical profession. They most often refer to the physical quality of life, but this phrase can and should also encompass the emotional quality of life as we live with cancer. Part of maintaining an emotional stability while facing a threatening illness is to be able to carry on and live life as normally as we possibly can and as well as we can. Maybe we cannot carry on exactly as we’ve done prior to our diagnosis. However if we can get a break of normalcy every now and then, our attitude will be so much better and that in turn keeps our body healthier.

During Christmas break I took my retreat to a town that is close enough to be easily doable, but far enough away to feel like I’ve gotten away. It involves a drive, a Washington state ferry ride and another drive, to transport me to a place that I feel heals me.

There was the beach, desolate and solitary in the coldness of December. Sand wet from the misty rain, treasures of sea glass and shells and pebbles brought in by the tide. Herons, gulls and crows constitute the wild life that I see, my eyes scanning the water for any porpoise with purpose which on this trip I do not find. I watch a ferry in the distance coming in to the dock of the town.

I think happy thoughts, feeling well to be able to walk the beach to a lighthouse, remembering past trips, immersing myself in a fantastically interesting sky. God’s light streaming through the clouds, fat, white, shades of gray cotton balls that are scudding across the sky with the wind.

This is my getaway trip, my retreat where I sometimes go. I journey to this healing place sometimes alone, sometimes with family. There are no rules to any of it except one. I don’t think of cancer. I act like I will live until I’m 90. I go into town and shop. I buy myself something nice, never worrying or considering about whether I can use it enough before I die. There is even a bead shop there and this particular trip I pick up a strand of chocolate freshwater pearls that I will add to wire wrapped necklace I’ve already created with white pearls. The chocolate and the white will add more visual interest together then alone.

Eating good meals at the restaurants I enjoy brings to my mind how grateful I am to be so well at this time. I enjoy and savor each bite. One can really appreciate eating after having had meals through an IV drip!

After a night in my favorite hotel, I awaken to screams and indignant screeches of the seagulls. I know instantly where I am and it completes the auditory segment of the picture of a seaport town.

It’s important to have a healing place that you can go to. So much of this illness is emotional and mental in nature. We have Doctors who can address our physical discomforts and illness, but how many of us have someone or somewhere to go with the emotional turmoil that cancer creates? Find a place. Go there for a healthy distraction.

When I was first diagnosed, I'd visit this town and wonder if I’d be back the following year. Now, four and half years from diagnosis, I go to this place on the Olympic Peninsula and never worry if I will be back. I just plan on being back and so far that has worked just fine! Someday will be my last trip, but I don’t concern myself which trip that will be. I just revel how grateful I am to be able to come back here each time I need to. Create memories, see the natural world and leave my treatments and procedures for 48 or 72 hours.

My current photo is of Terry, my Norwich terrier, at our healing place. We’re at the beach where she can walk on sand and spy on the gulls that remain frustratingly out of her reach due to her leash! The first time I brought her she ran to the water, took one drink, tensed her face and never did that again! She was a rescue dog off the streets of Los Angeles and captive on death row in a kill shelter when the rescue group saved her. I can only assume Terry had never seen such a body of water, or even been on a beach before.

Now as the photo shows, Terry is sitting on the driftwood, reflective, calm, content, churning her doggie thoughts over and you come to figure that maybe even the dog needs a healing place where they can just “be” in the moment with all nature’s beauty at paw.

I fervently hope that all of you have a healing place, be it far or near, that you can get a much needed mental break from all your troubles. Renewed, refreshed and once again hopeful.
Colette Montez

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Old Time Staycation Surprise Letdown


When I was a kid we went on one vacation as a family.  One summer day at the spur of the moment it was decided that all of us hop in the Ford Pinto Wagon and take a weekend road trip to Dillon, Colorado. Wow we were jazzed!  We just did not have the resources to "travel" as a family and when this opportunity arrived, we were pretty happy.

I remember what we were wearing!  I remember pulling off to dip our toes in the lake, inhaling the fresh pine air and staring in awe up into the clear blue sky.  The trip ended abruptly the next day because dad had a toothache.  There ya go.

So instead of vacations, we had what people call nowadays "staycations".  I can think of just a handful to include Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, baseball games, maybe a summer holiday and the Bronco games.  The Bronco games provided us with many fun loving memories and laughter.  Our house was Broncos central. Aunts and uncles, grandparents, cousins and friends would come over, we would enjoy great food, and for the next three hours think of nothing else.  I loved being a kid during those times. I loved watching the adults and listening to them talk about the game, razz each other, tell jokes and laugh. I loved helping mom with the food if she wanted it.  I have written about this before I know, but it is true, the Bronco games were our primary source of family entertainment.

It was so much fun to cheer and holler.  We even had season tickets. Two seats.  Mom, myself, sister and brother would rotate games to go with dad.  We always parked at grandma's house and walked with the rest of the rowdies to Mile High Stadium.

As an adult I don't really care about football, just the Bronco games. Otherwise I don't really watch sports.  As a cancer patient I have found that watching my Broncos really makes me forget about cancer, chemo and worries for that three hours of time.  Of course it's not the same now, no big family get together, just me really, but still I love my Broncos.

So now to get to the reason why this blogger who writes about ovarian cancer is blogging about football.  Well, I am late to the game and did not know that the NFL is a non-profit organization.

For obvious reasons this is just wrong on every level but I want to talk about my teeny little gripe that does effect my quality of life.

I do not have cable TV.  I have Roku.  If I want to watch my Broncos play a regular game, I would have to pay to subscribe to the NFL to watch live streaming Bronco games.  What???  Only during the playoffs have I been able to actually watch a game on my Ipad.   The few livestream news channels on Roku aren't allowed to show the game streaming even if it is free to their local viewers.  This is a racket.  It actually upsets me.  

Funny, I live in Seattle.  The Superbowl will be very exciting this year.  I will hope to go somewhere to watch the game.  Everyone in Seattle sure is excited, so for me I can't lose.

I need my little joys, my little breaks. Everybody needs their little happys.  The family memories of cheering for the Broncos make me happy and darnit I just want to watch the game and enjoy fond memories.

So now that It has been revealed to me that the NFL is a "non-profit" I wonder if it is legal for them to charge any fees to watch their games.  

When you read the articles above you will see how much money top management gets paid and it most definitely smells like a profit to me.

I am just disappointed all around.  They pay no taxes.  That makes me pretty mad.   I wonder what kinds of needed programs could be saved if they paid their fair share?  

I want to know why the Non-profit NFL requires me to pay a fee to subscribe to their services to watch the Broncos.  I need my little staycation.  I realize this is selfish of me but I want a chance to cheer and root on my team, no matter where I live, for free.  Edit:  I am grateful for life and all God brings to me, please remember that as I vent a bit about this issue.  Peace.

Pass this around if you agree.

This is part of my "Little  Happys" series for those of us in grief, dealing with cancer or any other chronic or acute illness.

Go Broncos!


ps...when I move I will get cable as long as Comcast does not force me to keep my business services.  That was the reason for my cable issue.  A few years ago when I got my little apartment I needed internet to work part time from home.  Some Comcast rep sold me an unnecessary business package with a two year contract and I did not know I would have to buy out a two year business agreement in order to change to a residential service with cable.  Their business services won't allow customers to have basic cable.  I just work from home, gee wiz.  So for the past two or more years I have watched TV at mom's (may she rest in peace) or streaming via Roku on my Ipad.  Rarely is there any live activity.......ugh.  anyway...Peace

Sunday, January 19, 2014

I just saw it on 'He's going to be better than he was before'

One of the most traumatic nights of my life happened not long ago. Someone I love more than anyone else on earth passed away.  I am sorting through memories of those teeny tiny increments of time.  It is like trying to catch snowflakes with tweezers.  Then every once in awhile something reinforces the strangeness of that night, the intention that may or may not have been.

I wonder how I would have reacted if I had known about the information in this video at the time we found out there was no hope for mom.  I am certain I would have asked the doctors for fish oil.  I would have fought tooth and nail to at least give it another day, one more chance.

In the above article they talk about saving their son's life  and how they threw "everything but the kitchen sink" at his treatment.

This article is very inspiring. It makes me want to DO something. Sometimes I feel like I am swinging at air. Then after a bit I relax into peace. Up. Down. Up. Down.

want to turn back the clock.  I want a second chance to have that night again.  But do I?  I would not want for one thought of suffering for mom once more but what if there was a chance? 

After re-reading this post several times I am also remembering though that these events are not choices. We must go when called, and THAT cannot be doubted.  I go through this circle very day, what if and then to God.  God is where Peace lives.

I also have a thousand thoughts about this article, but I will just leave one.  In the case of this boy he had very strong-willed parents who were searching for anything so that their son could be saved.  The right information was presented at the right time, not a coincidence. It is our fortune to learn more about this treatment.

I pray for those who are alone in the hospital that have no voice, no cheerleader, no individual who can stay with them while receiving treatment.  We all need an extra pair of eyes and ears if we are in the hospital.  

I applaud this family, the writer, Dr. Gupta, and the other doctors for revealing this important information.  It adds another layer of help and hope for those with brain damage.

Peace and love,

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


I gave my undivided attention to this PBS documentary about Lipizzaner Stallions.  I had heard of these beautiful horses from my mother, and of course my adorable nieces, who loved and love horses.

 I have a funny memory of mom being followed by one of grandpa's racing horses.  She was laughing one of those panicky laughs while trying to keep away from him.  He got out from inside the fence and was running up behind her along the long driveway. I think he liked mom's hair or thought she had carrots and apples.  Anyway, it was pretty comical.  Mom loved horses.

What I found most interesting in this documentary was not just the complex history of this rare breed of horse but truly the love and care that is given to these beauties since their birth.

All I can think about is what love means and how do we show love.  Why can't all humans receive this kind of love?

The horses are well fed, pampered, groomed, bathed and spoken to with gentle care, their entire lives.  
They therefore learn to love back and trust.

It is so simple a concept, yet we humans have such a long way to go when it comes to loving one another.  

Humans have great capacity to love, yet we don't always.  

Imagine every child on the planet clean and bathed, well nourished and only treated with utmost kindness and love.  Not ever a note of anger or violence to be experienced.  Wow.

Just that alone could change the world.  Imagine every elderly person and disabled person receiving the same.  And everyone else.  Love is the foundation of our existence.

When you watch this you will see.......


Sunday, January 05, 2014

Support Her

I just found a very helpful study that confirms what we knew all along: social support, spiritual health and psychological health correlate with our quality of life, even moreso if you have ovarian cancer.

I am posting the link below, as I cannot copy it to my blog directly.  

This may be a very useful article for your own knowledge and well being.  It also may help you if you need a medical professional to have more empathy towards your overall well-being. It especially adds value in terms of communication with loved ones and caregivers.

I am really fortunate in that my gyn oncologist has always placed my quality of life as her number one priority when it comes to my care.  I currently have a counselor and my support network is open and listens to my needs.  Cancer is complex, ovarian cancer is no exception.  Adding cancer to your already complex life and to the lives of those around you brings about all kinds of opportunities for generosity, but also can bring about sadness and isolation.

If you have ovarian cancer and feel that you need more emotional support, you are not alone.

This article outlines areas of need and validates that supportive environments play a critical role in our quality of life.  Not everyone gets the support they need, but personally I think it's not always because of lack of potential. Giving help and receiving help are sensitive issues in general.  Caregivers and loved ones may not really know how to help and understanding cancer fatigue, for example, is almost impossible unless you know it yourself.

It is somewhat of a relief that this area of need is being studied as it relates to ovarian cancer. I hope to see more research and help in this area for all who are effected by ovarian cancer.  

I have believed since the beginning that psycho-spiritual-social treatment should be automatically included as needed in the overall treatment for ovarian cancer.  Insurance should cover this as well.  We have multitudes of support groups, both online and in community, available to us but the issues at hand can be so involved that a psychologist or psychiatrist may really be needed to help mend our open wounds.

Peace and blessings to you!

Roland, K. B., Rodriguez, J. L., Patterson, J. R. and Trivers, K. F. (2013), A literature review of the social and psychological needs of ovarian cancer survivors. Psycho-Oncology, 22: 2408–2418. doi: