Our Unplanned Journey Includes Polishing Rocks

Happy moments coexist with sad moments. Happy and sad moments are Great Moments. I am coming around to an understanding, truly understanding this, and learning to give equal amount of respect to the opposites. While listening to a podcast this morning on healing and thriving with cancer, a speaker/patient/survivor said, “Those who suffer have the wisdom. Whatever it is we are given, the friction of life will erode us to our beauty by living through it.”

Howard and I are getting a fair amount of time in the cosmic rock polishing tumbler. On the other hand, we also spend a fair amount of time living and shining. Like we did on our 4,000-mile road trip. A good friend said cancer didn’t exist on the road. And, it’s true. We continued to seek out natural food stores and restaurants. It was fun, because high quality, alive, humanely raised, organic ingredients are now our chosen lifestyle. I will not ever go back to my old ways.

Cancer didn’t exist on the road for a couple of reasons. Howard felt wonderful and full of energy. My caretaker’s calendar was empty. We had no driving to appointments for diagnostics or treatments. Instead of driving to clinics and cancer centers, our driving was from one, it can’t get more beautiful than this, place to another. Each night, I thought that if I didn’t see one more thing, it would be all right, because today’s beauty was the most beautiful. And then we went to Banff and Lake Louise. Again, I couldn’t imagine anything more beautiful. Then came Glacier National Park. Howard and I were living and shining in our tumbled, polished selves.

As you can imagine, returning from the free flow of our road trip to a calendar-driven flow was not something I looked forward to. And, truthfully, it has been one struggle after another now that we are back on the cancer climbing path.

Also in the podcast, the speaker mentioned, “To be broken doesn’t mean one should look at all things as broken”. Broken and whole coexist. Sickness and health coexist. I admit, I have been known to want to repair broken. I have been known to want to heal sickness. I think that is something I want and need to do as a caregiver. The shift for me, today, is to love the harmonious existence of these opposites. Can I get there? With the help of the rock tumbler, I believe I can and will.

Since returning from our trip, HP has been experiencing persistent colitis symptoms. He has lost some weight he didn’t have to lose. Although, I believe wholeheartedly that weight isn’t a great metric for health, it is something we pay attention to each morning. More importantly, though, are nutrients. Is his body actually absorbing the good nutrients that we so carefully shop for and prepare? We have been on a reconnaissance mission for 5 weeks with no conclusion. At first, we thought it was likely something he picked up on the road, something viral or bacterial or a parasite. We are awaiting test results.

Last week, we met with oncology to prepare for his routine OPDIVO and Zometa treatments. As we were letting her know about HP’s colitis symptoms and weight loss, she suggested that he is not ill due to viral or bacterial exposure on the road trip, but rather it is likely the OPDIVO.

You could have pushed me over with a feather. Why? Because the obvious had not occurred to me before. How did I not think of this as a possibility? My knowledge (mind) and intuition (heart) didn’t go there. That possibility was routine for them, but I processed it as awful news. And, you know me, I’m super in tune to the belief that it isn’t typically the cancer that leads to death, it is complications from the “therapies”. Back into the rock tumbler I went.

Crying.

Realizing what is out of my control.

Anger.

Helplessly crying.

Validation of my beliefs.

Speeding ticket (38 in a 25) right outside Rocky Mountain Cancer Center while my mind was in total despair.

Fear.

Now, I gladly crawl back into the tumbler. I’m still tumbling and not ready to come out yet. I suspect this one may take a little more polishing.

In the meantime, HP will receive his OPDIVO and Zometa tomorrow. Our integrative medical team (oncology, naturopathic) will be on speed dial. Oncology expects more colitis and recommends double doses of Imodium (which is fine for now), but we know that doesn’t heal his body, allowing him to absorb maximum nutrients.

Between HP, our naturopathic doctor and me, additional weight loss is not an option. It is simply not a sustainable course.

Can chemical-induced persistent colitis and high nutrient intake coexist? Only time and tumbling will tell.

To be continued.

From Mount Everest to Space Mountain

As you have lovingly experienced with us, we migrated north from Costa Rica one year ago. It took almost the entire year for mental and physical conditioning, but we made it to the top, symbolically, of Mount Everest. 12,029 feet to be symbolically accurate. I don’t mean to take away from every single step of the 12,029-foot journey, where physical, mental and emotional muscle was built, but it was at 282 feet above seal level where the magic happened… Space Mountain and Magic Kingdom.

This was the trip of a lifetime for Bhaki and Chevy.

Sidestep… We are not sure how to spell Bhaki. It is a name given to HP from Chevy. We googled it. Should we be spelling it Bhakti? Bhakti is mentioned in the Shvetashvatara Upanishad where it simply means participation, devotion and love for any endeavor. HP participates in life fully; is a devoted son, brother, father, husband and friend; he loves each endeavor the universe gives him, even when it is unplanned. So, maybe Chevy had this inner knowing about his Grandpa and the best name for him.

Going back to, this was the trip of a lifetime for the 2 of them. Bhaki is a natural-born teacher. It is in his Purdy genes. HP loves to plan, especially trips. Chevy’s Mom, Martine, has an insatiable appetite for research and knowledge. Along with Bhaki and Martine, Chevy planned his first trip. He researched all the options at Disney World. Bhaki gave him the parameters. Martine gave him access to the tools. It was an amazing team effort. And, presto, an itinerary was born.

Chevy and Bhaki were off and running on July 17. It was on the plane and at Disney World where the itinerary made the leap from paper and came to life. And as life goes, the experiences of each moment of each day adds up to being our most precious memories. Disney World, Bhaki and Chevy-style, was an amazing relationship builder/enhancer/sustainer. It was an act of Love that now goes into eternity.

Continuing to live life to its fullest and with lots of heart… and then a little more. ❤️

Feeding the Soul

The unplanned journey continues.  HP is feeling quite well, overall.  His energy levels have been great since his last chemo treatment (January).  May his outside health be a reflection of how well he is doing on the inside.

Recent PET scan results show a decrease of bone disease in some areas, an increase in others, and some new spots.  There are 2 areas of pain that are constant reminders.  This week, we have started down the radiation rabbit hole, again.  He will have his right shoulder area radiated next week, 5 treatments.  The second area is his left hip, the one that was replaced and radiated within days of his replacement surgery.  Because of the radiation occurring soon after the surgery, the orthopedic doctor thinks the pain is a result of the surgery not healing properly.  His approach will also include pain control… a steroid shot.

HP remains on his regimen of traditional treatments, prescription drugs and supplements.  The regimen, as a whole, is designed to slow the growth of his lung cancer tumor, the spreading of cancer stem cells, and manage side effects.  From our vantage point, it seems the regimen has worked very well.  He also receives a Zometa IV once every 6 weeks for bone strengthening purposes.

There will be changes to his regimen very soon.  In addition to the upcoming radiation, steroid shot, prescription drugs, supplements and Zometa, he will likely receive IVC therapy.  You’ve probably heard about this kind of treatment, high doses of Vitamin C via IV.  We receive more information about this path tomorrow.  Also, the oncologist gave us 30 days to consider using an immunotherapy drug called OPDIVO.  We are seriously considering this as another piece of the puzzle of warding off growth and spreading of the disease.  We hope oncology will allow us to add OPDIVO without compromising the regimen that has had so many promising results.

Nutritionally, we remain 80/20 Keto and some vegetarian meals.  HP goes to the gym and is rebuilding muscle and strength.  He often comments about how well he is doing today compared to the time (October 2016) when he had his first hip injury while playing tennis.

In the “feeding the soul” department, we are both doing very well.  We go about this 2 entirely different ways.  For HP, he feeds his soul through planning travel.  HP has planned a fun trip with Chevy – just Bhaki and Chevy time – at Disney World.  Then, we will head out on a birthday road trip.  It will begin with Yellowstone, then a family wedding in Boise, and off we go, exploring.  No reservations.  No agenda.  After that trip, it is very likely he will go to Peru for a 10-day wellness retreat (it may end up being a 31-day healing retreat).  Travel planning is well underway for a big, bucket list kind of trip in 2019.  Thailand and Vietnam.  Our travel-planner-friend, Isa, is helping HP put it all together for us, and what a joy it is for him to do what he loves… Design-plan-execute.

In the last article, I wrote about accepting what is.  I’m still working on it.  HP is there.  I have yet to arrive, but I feel closer to acceptance.  If I fly up 100,000 feet and look back to observe, it seems quite simple…  our lives are a series of Now moments… learn to let go of attachments, surrender… and, finally, accept what is.

We still have a ton of Now moments to live, love, learn and serve.

Together.

Thank you, friends who are family and family who are friends, for being with us every step on this path.

Accepting What Is

It seems that everything I’ve read, watched, studied – every speck of knowledge from the past – has led me to today. I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise, having the sense of understanding that what we focus on today becomes our reality tomorrow. With each a-ha moment, download during times of meditation and silence, pure divine intervention, prayer and answered prayer, cumulatively, they have equipped me to process and handle the most challenging situations.

The most recent challenging situation has put us on a new path, the path that you all are walking with us. We are all spread out, around the world, but I don’t feel the physical distance. I feel your heart energy.

Today’s journey is about accepting what is. HP and I will continue to make healthy choices, balanced with living-life-our-way choices. We have had deep, heartfelt discussions about bucket lists, desires, needs, approaches and strategies. Looking back, I am very happy we have navigated these waters with a sense of ease, knowing, trusting. Best of all, there has been great comfort in knowing that we share an undying love for each other and life. Forever.

With each conversation, we get closer to turning the corner, and around that corner I think we will find acceptance. I said to HP today that we will never look back and regret living each day to the fullest. Being able to do this, wholeheartedly, I believe is dependent on learning to allow certain thoughts to visit, and being able to sit together with those thoughts in peace. With acceptance comes peace and from peace comes living life to the fullest.

The saddest times for me is when I allow my mind to think of the way we thought our futures would be. For as long as I can remember, HP and I have been totally in love with the thought of retirement, traveling around the country in an RV, traveling the world and growing very, very old together. The attachment came when we repeatedly thought and talked about our futuristic dreams and, with each time, it became a belief, an expectation. The loss of that belief creates a reason to grieve. It seems to me that the loss of thoughts that turned into a belief can lead to the most intense of grieving times.

Being a perpetual student of life, my inner voice tells me today’s teacher is telling me the importance of letting go of attachment to old thoughts and beliefs, things and people and learning to transform the energy reserved for attachments into the energy needed for accepting what is.

Living life to the fullest…. Judi & Howard

The Faslodex Scavenger Hunt

There has been a rest from writing, mainly because there has been a reprieve in HP’s health issues. Howard started on the NED-170 therapy about one month ago. It consists of three prescription drugs, one being a low dose chemo pill, plus four supplements. Thankfully, he has been on one of the prescription drugs for years, and 3 of the supplements since he returned home in August. He has felt great. He has said he feels normal. Wow!

It is mainstream knowledge that estrogen feeds breast cancers. What is not widely known at this point is that it probably feeds at least two other types of cancer, lung and prostate. Our NED contact was fairly certain that HP’s estrogen hormone was high and feeding his lung cancer. Based on her suspicion, we tested his estrogen levels. Confirmed. High. Our naturopath has started him on a supplement to manage high estrogen levels, called Indolplex. Indolplex offers zero toxicity. It may be more cost effective to eat lots of broccoli and Brussel sprouts, but one can’t realistically eat all day long, so popping the supplement has been easier.

But, it isn’t that easy. Another NED-170 patient has been receiving a combination of Zometa (bone strengthening) and Faslodex (estrogen management) infusions for her end stage breast cancer (metastases in her spine, ribs, shoulders). Her cancer was so advanced, the same cancer center that we go to in Colorado Springs didn’t offer traditional treatments and gave her months to live. She was diagnosed in July 2017, the same month Howard was diagnosed. By October, her PET scan showed No Evidence of Disease (NED). She continues to enjoy a high quality of life. Her story gives us a great deal of optimism.

But, as I said earlier, it isn’t that easy. Our unplanned journey has been easy at times, but as we get farther down the road, a different road, it becomes more challenging. Our NED contact, wants Howard to have the identical regimen as her breast cancer patient. We thought, piece of cake. Rocky Mountain Cancer Center was our common denominator. So we called our oncologist doctor to tell her the story of NED, the breast cancer patient, and the hopeful results. Our doctor walked across the hall and talked to her doctor. By the time they called and talked to us, the discussion was fairly demeaning. Such as, “you do realize there is a difference between breast cancer and lung cancer, right? You do know that estrogen is a female hormone, right?”

Ummmmm, YES. I say, “You do realize we are in a clinical study, right? A study that helps further the advancement of treatments.” “You do realize, right, that the protocol you all are married to right now is a result of tests and trials so, if you refuse treatment because it isn’t the norm, how do we continue to help the advancement?” Silence. Breaking the silence, she said, well, you can pay for it yourselves. Or, go to another country to get it. Or, relocate, because it is a once a month infusion for who knows how long.

As we collect more clues for how to get our hands on Faslodex, we feel relieved knowing we are using a natural and zero toxicity supplement to manage his estrogen. We will retest his estrogen levels soon to measure the success of Indolplex. Faslodex is not a zero toxicity drug, and has plenty of side effects, some that could be very problematic for Howard, but we want to hear the words, no evidence of disease.

Maybe, someday, mainstream medicine will embrace the possibility and knowledge that estrogen also feeds other types of cancers, too. We now know that our oncologist and RMCC may not be able to go outside of the box to help, because the pricing model for drugs is prohibitive, and insurance companies are the judge and jury.

We are currently mining the answers on how to be successful outside of the box, a box that offers no solution for longevity or quality of life. The scavenger hunt is on. Of course, we want to replicate the results of the other cancer patient. Who doesn’t want to hear, “your most recent PET scan shows no evidence of disease (NED)”?

Day 3 with NED-170

This morning, we remain optimistic. We are hopeful and confident at the same time.

In my last blog post, I mentioned that we were meeting with a doctor who would support us on our journey and prescribe the drugs needed for NED-170. We did, and she did. We love this doctor. At one time, she was an integrative oncology doctor, but has moved into another specialty. So when we asked her to be on our team, the decision was easy for her.

When she said yes, I cheered inwardly and outwardly. Team Howard hit a home run, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have this doctor on our team. Another bonus is that our new integrative doctor was referred to us by our naturopathic doctor, whom we adore. We have an entire team with us now, speaking the same language.

It does not escape me how truly blessed we are to have friends and family walking this path with us, shining light on the dark corners. Miraculously (with Howard’s courage), we have not had many dark corners over the last 7 months, but we have had enough to know it is easier to hold hands in the dark with loved ones. I also include our awesome medical professionals when I say “loved ones.”

Next week, we go on a vacation, to Mexico City. Howard loves to plan, and he has planned a week of celebration. And celebrate, we will do. We will celebrate his courage, his health, my health, our good fortune, my birthday, NED, our friends, our family, our medical team.

And, true confessions, you will see pictures of food and cheer that are not part of our Gersen Institute nutritional protocol. And nothing screams CELEBRATE like the 2 restaurants that HP picked out for us – Pehua and Pujol Restaurants. I guess you could say we are in search of “work/life balance” on this trip. Mexico City, for us at this time, is all about LIFE.

We forever love you all… our friends who are family and family who are friends. Xoxoxox. Judi

Flow, Timing and Friends

“Where are we at?” “Let me know where you’re at.” These sentences were perfect grammar where I grew up. One of my first career jobs in 1970 was being a stenographer. Shorthand, dictographs. Words that are so old they don’t come up in auto spell when typed. I was trained to compose and edit memos for the utility in Michigan. All communication was scrubbed for accuracy and consistency by the stenographers’ pool. For instance, it was ALWAYS kWh. Not KWh. Not KwH. kWh was the one and only way to abbreviate kilowatt hour. It wasn’t until I met my match in 1987 when I had 2 bosses that called me on my “where you at?” grammar. A bad habit broken. Thank you, Emily and Don. 😘.

Throwing good grammar aside… so, where are we at? Today, HP has decided on a therapy for his cancer. It is a patent pending protocol of prescription drugs and natural supplements. This protocol is in the testing phase, leading up to an FDA approval. Hopefully. Eventually.

Getting to a decision has not been easy. Let’s backtrack for a minute. On January 18, we met with our oncologist to discuss a maintenance plan and the results of his latest lung tumor biopsy. You already know that the biopsy didn’t produce more markers. We were hoping for another level of markers to determine new drugs, hopefully more targeted drugs for maintenance. Without additional markers, the oncologist was left with one conclusion. More chemo. Indefinitely. That news didn’t set well in our guts and hearts.

All of this motivated us to open our minds and hearts to other options. These alternative options were like learning a foreign language in 2 weeks. We became immersed. The more immersed we became, the more doors that opened. You may have heard in the corporate world, there are no dumb answers while brainstorming. One never knows when the golden nugget may appear. It usually appears as an idea that piggy-backed off a random idea. I think the same principle applies when praying for guidance… remain open, don’t rule anything out. And, no doesn’t mean no. Timing is so important.

And, that is exactly how we arrived at our decision. An idea, presented to us by a good friend in our little, local village, took hold during our open-heart, research phase. This was an idea that was presented to us earlier when we began our journey back in August 2017. It didn’t take hold back then, because our hearts and minds were embracing chemo. That’s where we focused our sights. Until, the end of the 6 cycles that turned, eventually, into 7. We postponed number 8 to buy some time for more research, more cues. Now, I sit back and enjoy the benefits of hindsight. Hindsight shows me a vision of a perfectly choreographed dance, of divine unfoldment, between family, friends and my invisible team of guides.

It wasn’t until we looked 3,562 miles outside of our little bubble in Manitou Springs that we became open to NED-170. Howard leaned hard toward going to Peru to have shaman support, eat plants and drink bark water. Was it the 2nd time we heard about NED, or 3rd? I truly don’t remember. At times, the journey travelled so far is a blur. Thankfully, our friend didn’t take our silence as a no. And, even if it had been a clear no back then, no didn’t mean no. Silence meant not now. The timing doesn’t feel right. And, I’m not sure it was all about the timing. It was because, maybe, our brains were full. We had taken on as much as we could take on at that time.

The more we read about NED, the more people we talked with, HP’s decision to go in this direction started taking hold. It feels right. He doesn’t need to travel 3,562 miles to participate. Everything has fallen into place. Tomorrow, we meet with a doctor who may be the one to prescribe the prescription drugs. We have a good handle on the supplements. In fact, we have already been doing much of the protocol thanks to our awesome naturopathic doctor, and thanks to our children who set us on a good path early on. I am convinced that is the reason HP did so well during chemo and radiation. We have over 6 months of therapies in his system.

Optimism and Hope have returned. Welcome home, dear friends. We had to experience your absence to fully appreciate your Presence. We are open to and appreciate your prayers, your positive thoughts and light. We pray that we find a prescribing doctor on Monday and I envision HP beginning the full regimen of NED ASAP. We are learning through experience to Flow while being focused on the importance of expediency. Flow and expediency seem like opposites, but I now know flow can embrace its counterpart and work for us with maximum benefits.

Thank you for your unconditional love, light, prayers and support. My heart overflows with love and gratitude for you in our lives. May I support others on their path as you have supported us on ours.

And, who knows, HP may still travel 3,562 miles to commune with the rainforest gods. Flow and timing will prevail. What I do know for sure… I love you and am grateful for you. ❤️