Wednesday, August 24, 2011

No Free Lunches-dang!

Meanwhile, life is unbelievably majestic. In the garden, Morning Glory blossoms are prolific and profound each day and I am close to securing a spot to grow a lunch-service in my neighborhood for the burgeoning hospital staff and patient population. Healthy lunches served up with a life-altering and i hope, inspiring back story ! Several rounds of location scouting manifested the wisdom of staying closer to my original idea of staying closer to home- I want to walk to work- and I want to serve the hospital- A new possible local location on 17th street, (restaurant row) is ideal in that I CANNOT put in a full kitchen, but CAN work as deli-type cafe, and so I'm setting Morning Glory- as a breakfast joint up on a dust free shelf and opening a more condensed food-concept a take-out and lunch delivery aka (Lunch & Lounge at THE HAUS)—coupling the hours of operation with a kind of wine and beer lounge in the early evening hours where eventually activities like film showings and book groups might emerge amid dense flourless chocolate torte, chess games, poetry readings, frothy capps, and local wine and beer offerings. I'm excited and happy with how the whole process has been and continues to evolve, morph and manifest…hope I can invite you all for soup/salad and sandwiches soon!


a great tree envelopes the buddha 
As the infusion round of chemotherapy wanes and settles like evening embers in the western sky of my 'treatment'— a dawning blue calcification (estrogen-depletion) forms like splintered morning pock marks in every joint and bone of my otherwise happy rejuvenation … Here's the nitty-gritty health report that Chrissy enjoys most! I include for any/all who will have experiences regarding aromatase inhibitor therapy—be advised…while modern medicine marvels with its miraculous solutions- the saying holds true: There are no 'free' lunchesExcept at Lunch Haus where we'll have a drawing once a week for, yes, a free lunch! :))

Estrogen has many bio-functions in the body besides regulating sexual characteristics of females in humans and insects! or increasing tumor growth in breast cancers : for all the functions listed below reverse the function and you have the side effects for estrogen-inhibiting chemotherapy (listed in dark brown type) — the current protocol protecting me from having a breast cancer recurrence in my second breast or even a breast cancer recurrence no longer in the breast, but floating around some where ready to invade a bone structure or intestinal wall or ovary, has made way for a long list of new and fascinating biological experiences.

The list gives a shocking edification regarding how important just ONE (estrogen) hormone truly is.
Structural changes induced by estrogen in addition to other functions.
  • Structural
    • accelerate metabolism -decelerates metabolism
    • reduce muscle mass -increases muscle mass 
    • increase fat stores -decelerates fat stores
    • stimulate endometrial growth -decelerates edometrial growth
    • increase uterine growth -decelerates uterine growth
    • increase vaginal lubrication -decelerates lubrication
    • thicken the vaginal wall -decelerates thickness of vaginal wall
    • maintenance of vessel and skin -decreases the maintenance of vessel and skin
    • reduce bone resorption, increase bone formation -increases bone resorption decelerates bone formation
    • morphic change (endomorphic -> mesomorphic -> ectomorphic)
  • protein synthesis
  • coagulation
  • Lipid
    • increase HDLtriglyceride- (decreased good cholesterol) etc…
    • decrease LDLfat deposition  (increased bad cholesterol) etc…
  • Fluid balance
    • salt (sodium) and water retention  water retention imbalances…
    • increase cortisolSHBG  decreased factors contribute to central fat distribution and obesity
  • Gastrointestinal tract
    • reduce bowel motility  decreased etc…
    • increase cholesterol in bile  decreased etc…
  • Melanin
    • increase pheomelanin, reduce eumelanin  decreased pheomelanin, increases eumelanin( a small amount of eumelanin causes grey hair; more would do what? My hair has returned SILVER WHITE!
  • Cancer
  • Lung function
    • promotes lung function by supporting alveoli (in rodents but probably in humans).[15]  - -decreased lung function by lack of support for alveoli
  • Furthermore:
  • Mental health

    Estrogen is considered to play a significant role in women’s mental health. Sudden estrogen withdrawalfluctuating estrogen, and periods of sustained estrogen low levels correlates with significant mood lowering. Clinical recovery frompostpartumperimenopause, and postmenopause depression has been shown to be effective after levels of estrogen were stabilized and/or restored.

    all of which is to say: I can sometimes barely walk down the stairs and wake at night from joint pain in my hands and fingers, hips, ankles, arms, knees, jaw, toes, and pelvis, in short, I feel like a (POCK) of agedness.
    More to come soon. Be well, safe, above all let happiness be your true gauge of success! Blessings!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Forgiveness • Flowers

It is regretfully very clear that my last post was unnecessarily disturbing to many friends and family who read news of the MRI I had to have for the small numbness of my little left toe- and that the initial selfishness of wanting attention has brought me more than I could have ever hoped for but not in the way I wanted- I am very sorry for causing undue worry or stress for any one who read the blog this week- I apologize to Obie and Sharron and the Blagraves, etc. and for posting in a big public forum without personally letting loved ones know before-hand. Pretty thoughtless-
So here is a bouquet of garden flowers to help make amends!! I love you all so very much and learned a very valuable lesson- I hope you have all been relieved- and yes the MRI was done yesterday (Friday AM) and was over in a blink and didn't cause me any harm—and if it makes my doctor feel more confident that he is doing his job then okay…  Please Enjoy the FLOWERS!!!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

All in my head…?

let's have a little fun- shall we?

Preparing for doctor ordered MRI of brain tomorrow morning—
•   •   •
Be careful what you say in the doctor's office people. Unless you feel like you might actually need to "go to the doctor"- don't EVER ask about mundane symptoms like left side body weakness, left eye tearing, or left shoulder being frozen, because the first thing they'll do is cover their ass with an order for an MRI!! "Let's take a look at your brain"… he says smugly. Don't get me wrong, I like my oncologist as far as that's concerned, but really can't you put me on the table and dilate my pupils with a little pin-lite, and bonk my knee cap with a rubber hammer for God's Sake? I mean before there were MRI's, how did they look at someone and determine if they had basic neurological functioning or not- I have no problems walking and when I feed myself, my spoon hits my mouth and not my ear, and I'm using both hands to type this- STILL, once the words are out of the mouth [insert mental image of Arabian genii in a bottle] : "Let's look at your brain"- there is no going back!

One could rationally expect that if someone had had 6 pounds of flesh cut off their body that the surrounding area might be weak for a period of 6 months of even 1 or 2 years- and maybe for the rest of one's life- Let's ask the war wounded, any one out there off the dusty roads of Afghanistan with a little left or right side weakness after an amputation? 
I imagine chemotherapy could produce small strokes to the brain… it does happen, but honestly- I was just looking for a little reassurance from Dr. Menter, that time would heal and not to worry—Don't look outside yourself for confidence or comfort, trust your body to move in it's own season and rhythm, particularly when your intentions are all in the same direction toward health- 
Am I afraid of a lttle whirrling magnet around my head or being in a tunnel for 40 minutes where I can slip deeply into calm-abiding? not on your life, but it's somehow extremely weird (scary) that if there is a blot a snowflake, a blood clot, a tumor in there— well…
oh! fuck this,  worry?- it's all in my head…………………
What I've been coming to lately - is touching—through a process of being very very still,  the essence or very beginning of an emotion- 

Every feeling (emotion) seems to begin with a true (feeling)- sensation of one kind or another- a true sensation that our primal awareness picks up from phenomena, is picked up by, of course, sense organs such as hearing, seeing, thinking, smelling, tactile, or taste. But instead of remaining this pure sensation, it gets flipped around really really quickly- like in a nano-second, gets misinterpreted somehow and blends with a non-existant factor- like a memory, here translated as (aversion)- whenever we have memories we are in the past not the moment, it's a mini-escapism— a drive to label something new and un-experienced, with a familiar label- the problem being the memory may or may NOT have ANYTHING to do with the experience (sensation) so we miss living authentically- or we produce a fantasy of the future- translated as (desire) -  kind of a: what if moment… again a drive to label the authentic experience with something completely MADE UP! 

When this blending is allowed to occur viola- emotion is born out of pure experience- Emotion is a secondary experience and because of emotions not being primary or authentically produced from the MOMENT of NOW - they can be manipulated, they can be caught in a way, controlled… we can capture the fear, or anxiety, or anger, or joy, or contentment, or love just as it is created- get that " the emotion " you have is a creation- it's not something that just happens to you- you can catch them and there by control your destiny! not doing this and not exercising our rights to living authentically keeps us bound to suffering. Dragged around willy-nilly by our own lack of self-responsiveness, we step into all kinds of traps, illness, etc.  So I am preparing for the MRI of my brain, a test- this is only a test, clear the palette-Time to simply SIT with it- Eat these words- & Let it go- let it be…
Blessings and love to all-

Monday, July 4, 2011

Uncultivated—another wilderness

The white wild morning glories are currently covering much of the uncultivated fields and byways between Denver and Boulder- responsible for blankets of white as far as the eye cares to see. Our own garden's wild corner is overrun with delicate twinning black-green vines and white poppyish, sun-loving blossoms, alive for the day. The black cat so difficult to photograph is awash in their glow this morning!

I'm happy as can be for the luck of finding the breast cancer restorative yoga class here in Denver! Taught by a former San Francisco ballet member, and ballet teacher Susan Holbrook.  Susan, is another native Californian, but we are just far apart enough, in age, to have missed each others' late 70's bay area terpsichore. Still our backgrounds in body development, placement and practice couldn't be more over-lapping or simpatico. 4 or 5 times a week she gathers a small group of women with breast cancer- including herself! into her lovely and lilliputtin studio for an hour and a half of direct relating to our chests, and new selves! The Healing Chest
The class starts with floor exercises, stretching, alignment, centering, and core strengthening exercises. We move to our feet face the floor to ceiling mirrors and see ourselves.  I spent 8 solid years in a dance studio everyday before the mirror, and never had I seen myself so deeply compassionately as I did this past Thursday when I looked at the great asymmetry of my shoulders, in a way I can't see at home in my little bathroom vanity. It was very moving. To be in a room with only breast cancer survivors was perfectly comforting. Where it becomes increasingly clear- possibly what we may have 'lost' is countered with a very deep gain…a gain we will discover unfolding over the entire remainder of our lives. Something about fearlessness…


I can't wait for my next class- so, the word restaurant comes from the word 'restaurer' which means 'to restore'. Restorative Yoga—Restaurant work, last night I dreamt I was so far in the "weeds" trying to serve the geriatric assembly of coffee drinkers, that the customers where actually helping me out!  " In the Weeds", my morning glories, my integrative wholeness, restorative yoga, a spiral return to the dnace/mirrors—nothing left out. Keeping it wild, fine black hairs sprouting on the uncultivated field of my head!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Laying to Rest—Keeping Abreast

Now that the season has changed from Spring to Summer.
Darkest days of Winter, literally the coldest days on record in Denver I was "cocooned" and deeply internal, passing through surgery, the aftermath, the transisting to Spring- Spring= with it's Oncology Skyline treatment center-Chemotherapy- all of your energy poured into me as I sunk deep into the elements of my body rearranging roots, and fibers, tendrils, down to the very corm. 
Time passing…
Summer light opening toward everything potentially  experienced with a new reason of being- patience and determination prevail.
In a week, July 1- it will be exactly 5 months from the day of surgery, and I will begin taking the second prescribed medical protocol of either tamaxofin or aramatase for 5 years. I've been queasy about this part because it is such a long time, yet the stats show instead of a 24% mortality rate (or chance of recurrence and death- with the chemo only), I gain another 9% benefit so would be down to a mere 15% chance of being dead from cancer in 10 years. That's it, those are the odds. Done! 
Now it's all up to me, my choice, my attitudes, my endeavoring.

I can't express how much it has meant to me that you you have each kept abreast of this incredible experience! Suffice it to say- I know in my deepest felt sense, in my heart,  your support of this blog kept me present in this world. It has been the greatest of outlets for a simple creativity and sanity. Long days of silence and solitude deeply internal movement of the mind found expression and connection to the outside worlds of each of you. It has been like being with a true family as expansive as the sky and as solid as the earth holding me everyday in its arms. 

The blog has had over 2200 reads, from multiple countries and it is somewhat shocking to think there is so much interest and participation.  Thank you, thank you, thank you so much.

I feel it is important now to turn to new projects, return to hospice care-giving and complete the investigation and plans for Morning Glory—in other words increase my activity- Note I'm being very careful not to use the word: 'busy'- The very last thing I want to ever do is return to any kind of busyness.
Equally important, I never want to cling in any way to this blog or to any of your support by continuing to post material that does not directly relate to my experience of breast cancer. As I continue to incorporate the healing of cancer surgery deeply into the tissue of my body, my energy must naturally shift outward, like summer- heliotrophically toward new growth, new light. 

and then there is autumn ahead, and the harvest to come…


The teachings these days (Mahamudra) are all about leaving nothing out. Meditation with the eyes wide open. The question: What's to be avoided?  Nothing.
My body image changes. I watch when and where I feel self-conscious, especially these brilliant days when I forget about the new considerations I must make for a simple trip to the pool! As I return to a more normal physical state as my hair thickens and lengthens across my pate it is like I am returning from a long [5 months]- successful refuge in a cave. When the refugant returns to the mundane world of the marketplace and worldly affairs there is a danger of forgetting the hard work of deep stillness and insight  — these writings this format and platform has been my scratching on the cave wall for others who may follow may it be a source of cheer and humor, maybe a resting place from your own challenges of the day, at best a moment of encouragement!

Thank you all for caring, for your incredible, enduring care!
love, e

Thursday, June 23, 2011

to the Sea as far as I could see—then melting into space

REBIRTH that is the purpose and result of Pilgrimage
To celebrate and motivate my trek through CHEMo- F promised we would see the Pacific Ocean and all* my California family and friends— at the same time M & T (dearest friends I have had the great good-fortune to love for over 33 years) planned an historic visit to Denver. We decided we would make a 2-car caravan back through the desert and then rendezvous back in Carmel once we visited Cordelia, Chris and god-daughter Gracie, Will, Allison, dear Sussan and Richard, in Beverly hills, and Joe and Stacy with their goats and darling chickens in Redlands.
Chemo may have been monumental- but the Victory Lap was EPIC

Eating Artichokes, olives, and cherries on the cliffs with my dearest Meredith.
we traveled 11 days, over 3,000 miles, the first leg down through Glenwood Canyon where the Colorado River was lapping the high way
Biggest I've ever seen the Colorado- or the Sacramento. Green River over it's banks- horses standing in the fields up to their knees in water- Every where GREEN

Fond farewells and over the golden central valley foothills, away from M&T, Big Sur and white sand with moon milk on the beaches—  we shot up 300 miles on I-5 to Ono California to see my ailing Uncle who I adore- Two 10-hour days followed that, nearly breaking the camel's back (I do mean sweet Aubrielle)
*We sorely missed seeing and being with our dear ones: Chrissy Offutt; Mimi; Ken Malkin; Julie Cuccia; Shawna McGowen; Greg LeClair and cousin Josie—It only means second round and very soon! Wish we would have planned another week!

It has definitely been a long week recovering- but with care and joy and reflection. Now the work of renewal truly begins. The macrobiotic shift away from fats, sugars, and all processed food. The movement toward sea-vegetables (seaweed), juicing, and finally back to Yoga- [Yes, we did eat RED Vines and Beef Jerky at one point on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevadas, in Susanville]-

Today-My body is both a pale frail atrophied version of its self, and a much more vibrant and transparent one—
This morning i felt the breeze in my sprouting hair- eyebrows darkening, - I would like more energy- the heat of summer keeping me slow, and then I remember the days flat in bed and slow is just alright with me!
It feels nice to be back home and to have been away- to see the familiar rooms and walls in new light with travel dust on them. I recommend a road trip for anyone in need of pilgrimage — a journey of significance

I saw an advertisement to day of a young woman in running clothes- the print over her head said- before I buy the plane ticket to Germany, I'm going to run there 100 times and back!
It seemed so puritanical and beside the point—What ever might be in Munich or Berlin or Hamburg that has the power to change your whole world view has nothing to do with running- 900,000 miles. And if you did run 900,000 miles you wouldn't have any time for travel!
Get out and go!

Through countless births in the cycle of existence
I have run, not finding
although seeking the builder of this house;
and again and again I faced the suffering of new birth.
Oh housebuilder! Now you are seen.

You shall not build a house again for me.
All your beams are broken,
the ridgepole is shattered.
The mind has become freed from conditioning:
the end of craving has been reached.

Buddha—The Dhammapada,

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Enough to make me smile—the mouth of babes

The following is a beautiful letter/email I just received from my sister in law. My 11 year old niece has written a poem in my honor! 

As if the angels descend to tap me on the shoulder when my doubt is at it's all time highest! Ashley speaks in my ear— thank you Pauline for sharing with me!

Hi Elizabeth,
Ashley's English class has been doing a unit on poetry for the last two
weeks and so today they had to read their poems out to the class and so hers
was for her aunt who has leukemia - when she told me I asked but which aunt
has leukemia and so she said Elizabeth. Anyway, I wanted to share the poem
with you. She said her teacher really liked it and had to wipe her eyes at
the end of it.

I hope you are doing well and feeling a little better and hopefully the
Chemo is over. 

Here is the poem...

Don't Let Their Weakness Bring You Down -

for her aunt who has breast cancer...although she told the class it was for
her aunt who had leukemia...

As you walk through they try to bring you down,
But don't let their voices get in and kill your own sound,
You are strong and can make it through,
You are the one that went straight through the pouring rain,
And followed your heart through the pain,
Why quit when you've made it this far,
Why not stick around and make it through one more battle scar,
In the midst of the black night sky you are the shining star,
Don't quit and fall down on the dark and winding stair,
Just meet the hardship with a stubborn glare,
You must go beneath the burning coal,
Because further down there is a fire in your soul.

I liked it and hope that you will be okay with it. You have had a big
impression on her and we hope all is well!

Lots of love to you,