We Will Always Be Here For You

Since my last blog post, October 23, 2018, our Unplanned journey took a turn. I mentioned in my last post that one of Howard’s cancer “treatments” took him down a path that was simply not sustainable… life threatening colitis, and our former cancer clinic suggested he double up on Imodium. I knew taking Imodium, double dose, for the rest of his life was not a sustainable option. We learned it was not only unsustainable, it, too, was life threatening. I asked if the colitis would eventually go away after his body adjusts to OPDIVO. The answer was, “it may not”. He proceeded to receive the scheduled OPDIVO treatment. His condition worsened. He lost weight he didn’t have to lose.

I turned to a well renowned cancer hospital. Our timing couldn’t have been more divinely orchestrated. With one phone call, within 2 hours, we had an appointment. I must have called during a slow time (pre-Thanksgiving) or perhaps they had just received a cancellation. I don’t know why it was so quick, but HP and I were stunned. This took a little processing, but we enthusiastically said yes. We got our flights, lodging and began packing. We were at the Clinic the next week.

Getting the medical records transferred did not go smoothly. Not knowing if they would actually have the records prior to our first appointment, I reconstructed a chronological timeline from our calendars and numerous patient portals. There was some benefit in walking down memory lane. It was amazing where our steps on the Unplanned journey had taken us, only to be buried in our memories with each new event and path. On our drive to Denver airport, the Clinic called and said they received HP’s medical records. I was so happy, my voice screeched in her ear.

As one can imagine, the first appointment consisted of walking through the medical details and my timeline of the past. The new medical team needed to reconstruct his past before they could look to the future. Standards blood tests, MRI of the brain and PET/CT scan were ordered and completed. A follow up appointment was set. Thankfully, for the weekend, we were able to retreat to the Galveston area to stay with HP’s relatives. It was a very special 2 days. HP cooked Sunday dinner after visiting the fresh fish market. ❤️

After our special family time, we flew home, rested one day, repacked and drove to Guffey to celebrate a late Thanksgiving with family. But not before learning on thanksgiving eve, via of his patient portal, that the lung cancer had crossed the blood brain barrier. We were devastated. In shock. I left 2 voicemails with the Clinic, one before thanksgiving day and one after. I accepted the electronic results and was thankful they did not hesitate to let us know what is happening even if it was the day before Thanksgiving. Years ago, I started developing a love for transparency. As I thought about it more, I became grateful for the Clinic’s transparency. What a test that was to my belief. I still feel the same. We kept rereading the results. It was only the summaries we understood. Even though we have lots of practice acknowledging fear thoughts and shifting them to light thoughts, this time was different. Our fear, hurt, pain was deep and enduring. It was heavy.

In my last blog post, I wrote my thoughts that happy and sad coexist. Along the same lines, HP and I reminded each other that we need to experience our feelings fully. There is such a strong tendency to suppress and bury the dark. I’ve done it in the past as a coping skill. I’ll admit, this time around, it seemed like the best option. But an inner voice gave me permission to feel and experience it all with a gentle reminder from this voice, “just don’t dwell there”.

We relived the news by letting family and friends know. We relived the news in our minds. We seldom, if ever, thought about anything else. I asked HP if he had the energy to go through with our plans to visit best of friends in Atlanta. HP did not hesitate. He said, “I’m not going to stop doing fun things and making new memories.” We started the laundry and got repacked for Atlanta weather.

As it turned out, Atlanta weather was pretty much the same as Colorado weather. But it did not matter. We were with our friends who, over the years, have become family. We laughed, cried, reminisced, shopped, ate the best foods, drank the best wines, took pictures, went to the fanciest movie theatre I’ve ever seen, exercised (once 😊), and made the promise special friends make, “we will always be here for you, and we know you will be here for us, too”.

While in Atlanta, the PET/CT scan results were posted to his patient portal. The lingo we understand is in the summary, the cancer is active. Thankfully, we were still with our friends who experienced this news with us. Time with family friends has been a blessing.

Next week, we return to Houston. Our return date to Colorado is uncertain. We will consult with radiology and have our previously scheduled follow-up visit with oncology. They have hinted there will be more tests. Perhaps treatments.

This weekend, we will rest, embrace peace and love, and I will surrender to the divine flow. Come Monday, we will enter the week with renewed energy and have our Hearts, eyes and ears wide open. And today, our eyes see more special times with friends and family on the horizon. What a beautiful sight that is.

Thank you, family who are friends, and friends who are family, for your love and support on this journey. You have said, “We will always be here for you”. I feel the same about you all, “I will always be here for you”. May peace be ever present for all of us.

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