The Profound Impact Of Words

July 3, 2015 by Jen

 

Words have tremendous meaning. For some of us sensitive ones,words can bring us to a whole new level resulting in positive or negative consequences. Most cancer survivors are haunted by damaging words and statements spoken by their oncologists. Cancer warriors alike share a commonality of experiences while we nurture our battle wounds and heal with other survivors. As I entered the large glass atrium at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, a friendly security guard met me with a smile and sent my husband and I to registration. The woman behind the glass window stared at me then turned her attention to my insurance card, scrutinizing every detail. She asked: “Do you have a marriage certificate?” Yes,I replied but it’s not something that I normally walk around with. She explained that my name on my Driver’s license and insurance card did not match. I was annoyed as I responded: “Do you think I am dying to get into this place?” She moved her fingers quickly across her computer keypad and sent us off on our way. Upon arriving in the brain tumor waiting room area, I quickly scanned my surroundings. There, a young woman, perhaps, eighteen years of age, limped across the room in order to receive her blood test. Another survivor, a man had visible scars on both sides of his head, a clear indication of aggressive brain cancer with multiple tumor extraction sites. Finally, another survivor was in a wheelchair. Some survivors looked fair while others looked very ill. The experience was surreal for me as I did not feel sick nor did I look sick. As I further scanned the room, where large bottles of Coca Cola lined a table with a huge basket of Lorna Doone cookies. Hot beverage canisters, sugar, and artificial sweeteners were scattered throughout the table. I turned to my husband and shared my shock by the lack of healthy snacks offered in a cancer hospital. Dave, How on earth can this be a place of healing, where patients are poisoned by toxic drinks and snacks. I was a bit shocked but nothing would compare to the shocking experience that would soon follow, when I first met my neuro oncologist. My name was announced; we quickly rose to our feet as we followed the nurse, exiting the Neuro Oncology Area. We entered a large room where a tall, skinny, unfriendly looking man greeted us wearing a white medical jacket. As Dave and I entered the medical room, the doctor placed his hand out in front of Dave’s body, motioning Dave to stop. I was not pleased as my husband was and remains my partner in every aspect of my life. It was official that I was a cancer patient and I needed my husband now more than ever. While alone with my new doctor, I was grilled as I I felt like a vulnerable child lost in a gigantic mall, all alone. He asked me questions related to The President of The United States and other other third grade questions followed that related to money and memory activities. A sobriety walking the line test I completed perfectly well but his next   question sent me over the emotional cliff. As I teared up, I wished my Dave were with me. The stern looking oncologist asked: ” Do you have a suicide plan?” I was flabbergasted and shocked beyond comprehension. Seriously, I replied? He explained how he believed I was just too emotional. I was defensive as I explained how I just gave birth and have a great life. I m not allowed to be sad and cry? I said. He proceeded to explain my dismal prognosis which was awful as he told me in a monotone, cold and nonchalant way that I would only live four to six years even with treatment. He recommended high dose toxic chemo and radiation along with Prozac. I was horrified as I could see how he was manipulating me in order for me to submit to treatments. The Prozac was a perfect way to control my mind. He had thought of everything, as he even made sure that my husband was not permitted with me in the room while he examined me and abused me. I had taken enough abuse and jumped off the table. I opened the door where Dave was standing and ran info his arms, crying hysterically, I rambled about my experience regarding the oncobully. We quickly returned to the waiting room area where I sat holding my face. Dave left for a short while but not before he reassured me that this horrible experience would never happen again. Dave reported the oncologist for his poor behavior. A few minutes later, Dave explained how this oncologist would never hurt me again or be permitted near me. I breathed a deep sigh of relief as Dave always made everything better in my life. I knew I couldn’t change the fact that I was officially a cancer patient but I also knew I would always be protected by my beloved Dave. I will never forget the oncobully’s words or the negative experience of that day, almost thirteen years ago. I did not follow the doctor’s recommendations and that is why I am alive today. Sending Lhasa love from my-heart to yours…Blessings, jen

The Mommy Who Was Always Sick

June 23, 2015 by Jen

I recall visiting my daughter’s First Grade, classroom almost seven years ago during the winter holidays. Previously, I had not spent much time in the classroom as a parent volunteer even though I was determined to hang with the other mommies. I continuously fought for my life, as I battled terminal brain cancer. For those who don’t know me, I am the mommy who is always sick. I faced one medical malady after another which, most often involved brain surgery over the course of almost thirteen years of my cancer survivorship. All the mommies I meet are super nice One day, I met a pretty, friendly, mommy who smiled at me, extending her hand in order to touch mine. She introduced herself as Colin’s mom and asked me my name as I smiled back at her. I paused for a moment as I over thought the question. I have a habit of transforming the simple,into the complicated as if I were in a doctor office being interrogated by my oncology team. I was so trained to provide doctors with every detail as I answered basic questions related to my medical condition and continued survivorship. When I was first Introduced to Kathy, I realized just how much I craved normalcy. We spoke about play dates and lunch plans. I wanted to volunteer more often with the other classroom mommies and have glue stuck underneath my nails. Instead, I got blood tests, intravenous lines, MRI’s along with doctor appointments and hospital stays. Today, I beat terminal cancer but I still battle each day for my life. I survived brain cancer four times as as well as six brutal brain surgeries. I experience the shrapnel associated with cancer each day but I I do not have cancer. I count my blessings as I am so loved by my family even when I am not so lovable. With each new challenge I experience as it relates to chronic brain inflammation and brain swelling I must take steroids which on the one hand save my life but cause me to become emotionally unbalanced and difficult. I count my blessings as my family unconditionally loves me & supports me every step of the way .Our lives are tragic sometimes but do not end in tragedy as we are a team empowered by our love, dedication, commitment as we take each hard knock as it comes. My blessings are abundant even though the suffering is ongoing for all of us. I could not be where I am today, tumor free and alive without the love and support of my family, dear friends and God… Sending Lhasa love from om my heart to yours… Blessings, Jen

Embracing Life While Walking Through the Coals

June 6, 2015 by Jen

As an almost thirteen year Astrocytoma, terminal brain cancer survivor, I analyzed, scrutinized and over evaluated my life’s purpose while continuously developing a stronger bond with God. As a child, I never attended church but practiced the: Golden Rule in every aspect of my life. I never compromised my integrity or intentionally hurt others while taking into consideration the feelings of of others simply because it just felt right. I often pondered the question: “Why do bad things happen to good people?”. It is a deep rooted question with no clear explanation. Are we born to make a difference on Earth as we learn,teach and thrive? Is pain, suffering, loss compromise and tears just part of the individual and the journey? Lastly, do we chart our life course even before we are born? I believe I did as I have learned more through my personal experiences than I have from my college degrees. I have the most incredible husband, children, family & dear friends whom support me, during my journey as I know we all met for a reason as I believe there are no accidents meeting others. I was devastated when I was diagnosed with terminal cancer only two weeks after having my second beautiful baby. There I was emotionally & physically crushed feeling robbed, betrayed & brutalized. Why me I thought as I analyzed hour by hour each person I wasn’t nice to as a kid along with any mean comments spoken to others. The tragic times I faced I could not make sense of yet I knew I was no victim even though I felt targeted beyond words. I lived my life for my family with forced smiles as best as I could for eight years into the journey, post cancer, while never truly finding peace or tranquility during the struggle. I felt like a walking phony as I smiled, blanketing the darkness, pain and sadness that filled my heart on the inside. My beautiful husband, a Heaven sent angel promised he would always keep me alive and well long enough until the cure for brain cancer was found. He told me that I was his greatest and best investment which fills my heart with such love. He never wanted me to feel guilty for all the compromises or immense money spent in order for me to survive. He wanted me to know and believe that I would be okay and that I was always loved. We have a love story that is truly exceptional and beautiful. I would not change one single thing in my life in order to have an easier experience. My family has suffered with each of my six brain surgeries, three for cancer specific tumors the others the result of high endurance kick boxing training and a car accident. I have not had a solid brain tumor in five years with a life expectancy of only three for a high grade disease. Praise God! When I was at the top of my game I often fell the hardest as I faced my own mortality. On April 14, 2015, I faced death after having an adverse reaction to a synthetic iron drug resulting in a partial herniation and brain swelling. When doctors spoke of operating on me for the seventh time an inner voice, God told me to sign myself out of the ICU. With my husband’s unwavering love for me, blanketed by continuous support of my choices, I signed myself out of the hospital and never looked back. My dear friend, Dr. Fred Eichhorn, inventor of the mineral product, Cellect, told us how to correct my biochemistry that was offset and inflamed by the synthetic iron drug infusions. He has never failed me. Once again, I felt strong, living life at the top of my game. Unfortunately, it was short lived. One month later, I faced my own mortality again, the day after my forty third birthday. While at a beautiful charity event benefiting the Give A Kid A Dream Foundation which supports inner city youth of New York City, I inadvertently consumed a salad containing large levels of Mono Sodium Glutamate. For most people, this would be a non-issue but for me it brought me extremely close to death as I faced my mortality for the seventh time in almost thirteen years. Family flew in to be at my bedside as the excruciating headache did not subside even as I was hit with powerful anti-headache drugs. I refused to go to the hospital because a little voice told me that I would check in but never leave. My family and I prayed, shook our heads from side to side embracing and finding peace in personal choice, empowerment and God’s love for me. I knew HE was holding me in his hands as my husband was his vehicle of God’s healing. Dave with no time to spare declared my brain was herniating & I was in trouble. I felt myself slipping as I knew I was dying. Without a second to spare, Dave called his best friend, a brilliant Physician’s Assistant along with Dr. Fred Eichhorn. I immediately began Decadron, a powerful steroid used in anything pertaining to the brain. I stayed on my Cellect as I avoided the hospital. Now, I no longer need the steroid as I continue to take my Cellect along with Probiotics, Olive Leaf and Colostrum. If I ever go out in order to meet friends or family at a restaurant the only thing on the menu for me to order is a cup of tea. Eating is social and dining out is great fun. For me, it can be the difference between life or death. Often, I host gatherings in my home or bring food to a party that I can eat and share with others because it is the best quality, organic, non-GMO with no processed components in ingredients. Even though my family and I have walked through the hot coals for almost thirteen years, we celebrate life, love, peace, memories together as we give praise to our Amazing God and Jesus for his ultimate sacrifice on the cross. We are only victims if we allow it. I chose hope, light, truth and God. With every setback I never lost hope or allowed fear to cripple me for too long. We all get scared but I will never be consumed by fear continuously. I am consumed by God’s love for me which we all are worthy and deserving of. HE has placed everyone in my life for a reason. I am blessed to be an outlier defeating the odds throughout my journey. I know I have a purpose as I find comfort on the hot coals with the love of my life, Dave and our children, all made possible by God.

Choosing Faith Over Fear

November 28, 2014 by Jen

Choosing Faith over Fear
For many years I lived in darkness as I was helpless, crippled with fear. The joy of the holidays were robbed from my family every three years year as I found myself with cancer recurrence shortly before Christmas. This pattern continued for many years. It wasn’t until I met my God sent Angel, Angelina that the pattern was broken. She introduced me to Dr. Fred Eichhorn and his amazing nutritional product: Cellect. My life changed in many positive ways after this Divine Intervention. I regularly consumed Cellect , went for healing prayer and attended church. My life took a new turn as the Holy Spirit filled my heart. Today, five years later, I have no brain tumor, a clear indication of my personal success reflective of healthy lifestyle choices along with my  faith. The cycle of my body’s production of malignant brain tumors ceased as I am healthy as I live my life  with little concern of cancer recurrence. Fear does not dominate my life on a daily basis rather faith consumes me with love as I dedicate my time helping others. We cannot have fear and faith together. The two can never peacefully coexist. Recently, a study showed the correlation between our thoughts and DNA repair. Interestingly, our thoughts can promote healing or completely impede it. Although it is often difficult to maintain one’s faith as a person faces difficult times, clearly positive thoughts and faith are imperative in order to beat the odds and heal. This study can be found at: http://www.heartmath.org/templates/ihm/e-newsletter/publication

Sending Lhasa Love from my heart to yours… Jen

 

Core Essence & Life lessons

July 7, 2014 by Jen

It’s been a long time since I have written. On the eve of reconstructive brain surgery, the result of a car accident and brain trauma from past  surgeries from cancer,  I listened to a Ted Talk  in which a woman spoke about her most unexpected and greatest gift, her brain tumor.  I was  reminded of Lance Armstrong  as he publicly stated years earlier,  of cancer as the best thing that ever happened to him.  As I reflect back on my life as a twelve year  brain cancer  survivor,  I realize many things. First, cancer is not a blessing for everybody.  It places the individual in extraordinary circumstances in which compromise, pain and frustration are all inevitable realities.  We all know that life is only as good as we make it.  I’ve maintained my faith to the best of my ability as I  focused on my loved ones throughout   each monumental brain surgery.  Each surgery bought me  more time” in order to create more memories.   While friends planned trips to Disney purchasing essential warm weather necessities,  I purchased alternative treatments in order to stay alive.  Prior to cancer, I  enjoyed purchasing all kinds of items including, clothing jewelry, makeup and a beautiful home.  Purchasing life was not a commodity that I ever considered.  My longevity, health and my well being have been among my greatest life  purchases and investments as I am living my life as a healthy woman, without any brain tumor . The fallout from cancer is often ugly for the patient and her loved ones.  Cancer was not the greatest thing that ever happened to me as it illuminated the uncertainty and inequity found in life.  Kicking cancer’s ass has been my greatest reward and has given me a huge sense of personal  accomplishment as a woman and survivor.  cancer was an  impetus for for me to help others gain success and has brought me a tremendous sense of satisfaction of epic proportions. Today, I tell everybody about the amazing product, Cellect, the nutritional supplement that saved my life. Although I would not change a single thing in my life today the struggle continues as I am a fighter for life.  Sending Lhasa Love from my heart to yours…Blessings, Jen

 

A Speck in Time

September 4, 2013 by Jen

For many children, a new school year has begun. Some will enter a classroom for the first time while others will face new challenges and expectations as they start a brand new grade level. All of us, young and old have shared these experiences and for most of us, we continue to learn something new, long after we have graduated.  We are all students and we are all teachers, forever shaped by our experiences.  I have firsthand knowledge of just how powerful the mind can be. We have the power to heal, the ability to grow and expand our culture as we find our way to a destiny that was intended for each individual. Positivity attracts good things; a sparkle brings an abundance of light.  A smile can make the hugest difference in a person’s life for those giving as well as those receiving.  It is a blessing to learn something new each day and interact with people that for one reason or another, we were just meant to meet.  Life is so beautiful, filled with endless experiences to share.  Today my friend Susan invited me to exercise in the park with a class of ten women.  We embraced beautiful Mother Nature as we worked out in front of God’s most magnificent creations.  We Stretched, jumped and pushed ourselves while we were surrounded by bountiful beauty. It was so invigorating and the experience makes me have more gratitude today than ever before.  I hope each of you can experience the joy of outdoor exercise as you embrace life.   Today, I am taking time to rejuvenate, reflect and I will stop and smell the beautiful roses which are in full bloom today.  May you receive many blessings each and every day!  Sending Lhasa Love from my heart to yours…Jen

Living the Life YOU Deserve

August 5, 2013 by Jen

Hello Lhasa Love fans! It has been a very long time since I last posted. It is my hope that each of you are  finding your own path and that your inner voice is guiding you in the right direction.

This summer has been fantastic. I LOVE spending time with my daughters and watching them grow up. As I look back at my life, I am so proud of them. They faced many obstacles attributed to having a sick mother. Life didn’t always seem fair ten and a half years ago but somehow my family managed. As I revisit those years in my mind, it is clear that I did not make peace with the disease or with accepting and loving myself. I was unable to accept my circumstances and had numerous thoughts about events that I just could not change. It took me many years to realize that I did have the power of choice and free will that offered an  opportunity to create real change for the positive in my life.   Fear had always been the biggest, negative  obstacle in my life. Now, almost eleven years later, I no longer allow fear free reign over my thought processes. In my case, fear was more debilitating than the cancer and prevented me from living my life and reaching my  fullest potential. Fear and negativity also prevented me from completely healing.  My husband once said to me, “Jenny, you will be fine but you will look back and realize that you wasted so many years that you were not living your life”. David helped me to reconnect with that inner voice and promote life, love  and healing. I truly owe him my life and he is forever my soul mate.

Today, I continue to take my Cellect religiously, never missing  a day. I do not consume processed foods, alcohol , coffee or anything unhealthy. I limit how often I eat out  at restaurants and limit my time with overly negative individuals. I have taken a step back from doctors, who  can plant seeds of negativity and fear. I  weaned off medication and feel wonderful. I have adjusted my diet and limit carbohydrate intake. Excessive carbohydrates cause me to feel tired therefore, I choose foods that are organic, high in protein and contain  good fats. Daily walks help me to feel invigorated and my spiritual connection with God has been remarkable and a blessing. I continue to serve others facing disease in order to aid them  in the empowerment process that every newly diagnosed person needs and deserves. We have the power to change ourselves and live a fruitful life! Sending lots of Love to you and may you be blessed now and always…Jen

Total Serenity

May 9, 2013 by Jen

Today marks a step in the right direction. After I dropped my daughters off at school, I had an epiphany: God speaks to me and I am drawn to the idea of mediation and prayer. I light my white cranberry candle and focus on my breath. I thank God for all that he has done for my family and me.  I thank him for outlining a path in my life that is so clear with an undeniable  purpose;  I am a survivor, mother, wife and many tell me that I facilitate healing. As a former educator, I dedicated my life to my students. As a survivor of Stage 3 brain cancer, I dedicate my life to humanity. Helping others is my purpose. It fosters healing and wellness for all to soak up. The golden yellow light flickers and keeps me in the moment. I fill my lungs up with precious oxygen and I focus only on that which is in the moment. I do not think about my list of responsibilities because this moment is for me.I continue in the moment until Buddy’s shrieking bark which only a Lhasa Apso could master, breaks my moment of total serenity. I refocus and continue breathing deeply, extending my arms in front of me and exhaling with a calming  “shhhhh” intended  for  my boisterous, beloved Buddy, whom I adore. I am certain that he is a human trapped inside a dog. Buddy is aware of everything important in my family’s life. Somehow, he just knows everything. Throughout my war with cancer, Buddy has grown increasingly more attached to me. He cuddles with me, something he never did as a pup. He has grown accustomed to giving and receiving love.

Today is a blessing. Looking back at yesterday, it was  also special. I was able to watch my thirteen year old perform on stage at her school concert. Tonight will be another treat as I watch my ten year old perform on stage. While meditation and prayer keep me in the moment, happy memories and future events keep me smiling. Life is so beautiful and words cannot adequately convey the gratitude that I feel. Peace and love cover me like a blanket as I live my life to the fullest. I never forget that I was only given a four to six year prognosis back  in 2002 for a nasty, terminal  disease that I have truly conquered. Life is good…

Sending Lhasa Love to you,

Jen

 Get started on your own healing journey and find  serenity- http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/meditation/hq01070/nsectiongroup=2

March 19, 2013 by Jen

Mind over Matter

 

When I was first diagnosed with terminal brain cancer I felt so overwhelmed and defeated. Memorial Sloan Kettering gave me little comfort or hope. My neurosurgeon seemed speechless after my operation and the hideous cycle of negativity ensued for many years. Doctors at Sloan tossed around life expectancy numbers that were beyond grim and I was offered chemotherapy and radiation for my terminal condition which promised no pot of gold or light at the end of the tunnel. I knew as a rational and intelligent person that these two options seemed pointless and totally futile.

When I visited Sloan, one month later, I tried to be less emotional; in other words, I tried to build myself up, braving through a tumultuous storm of negativity. I couldn’t understand why anybody would do treatments for a hopeless cancer that could never be toppled into remission. I was belittled when I discussed nutrition.  The very, mention of any alternative treatments caused my doctors to scoff and dismiss me like I was downright stupid.  One never forgets the feeling of helplessness or despair when the fight for life and peace, is so strong. In 2002, I was given two choices which, if successful would provide me with a limited survival time and a poor quality of life. With the prospects of chemotherapy and radiation as my only form of options, I declined both showing little interest in any cytotoxic, DNA damaging therapies. I sought alternative treatments and intravenous nontoxic vitamin drips in order to keep hope alive in my heart.  My three year old and my newborn traveled with me to an alternative doctor in Connecticut while my husband and I searched for the holy grail of hope.  I was poked, injected, left sitting for hours while receiving various non-toxic intravenous treatments. I didn’t object because I believed I was doing the right thing for me. Three years later, I relapsed finding myself with another tumor in the same part of my brain. My brain surgery was successful and doctors once again suggested Chemotherapy. Despite my track record of failure, I decided to make my own path and refuse treatments. My husband researched constantly, often going to sleep well after midnight.  His message to me was always the same: Jenny, you will be OK”. My response was always: “At what cost?” He was my number one advocate, sideline cheerleader and he gave me hope when my doctors offered none.   Several months later, after my second relapse we traveled to Germany for dendritic cell therapy, hypothermia, and interferon treatments. Again, I heard my husband’s words: “Jenny, you will be OK.” I managed to do well for quite some time but then I relapsed for the third time. It was at this point that I agreed to another brain surgery and when the pathology report revealed a more advanced, aggressive brain tumor, decisions had to be made quickly. My husband and I agreed that chemo should be considered. I felt that I had exhausted numerous treatments along with countless dollars only to find myself sick again. Once again, my husband proclaimed: “Jenny you will be alright”. He arranged for me to receive healing prayer along with the support from a wonderful therapist to keep my faith and will to live, strong.  Hope was so close to being lost, and I was exhausted. I reluctantly took chemo for approximately nine months.  After a few months and a clean PET scan, I felt a new fire of hope within me begin to brew and hope was born!  When I became sick for the fourth time, eighteen months later,  I knew I had to try something completely different and extraordinary. I was fierce, angry and nobody wanted to take me on. I said no to chemo and started taking a natural, mineral supplement in high doses. I had nothing to lose and felt confident that I could win my war against cancer. I heard my husband’s words: “you will be alright Jenny”. As a four time survivor I was left believing that I would be okay despite so much hardship and pain. I believed I would in fact be okay and by the same token I felt great pride in my fight as well as my decision to be a renegade. With partial blindness in one eye and a huge hole in my brain my will to live; the very impetus for each breath I took was stronger then ever.  I was not interested in anybody’s opinions, especially those of my doctors. Doctors always left me with a broken heart blanketed by immense sadness.  By providing myself with proper nutrition on a cellular level, along with a positive attitude towards my illness, I caged the beast called Cancer. Today, I never consider myself: “cured or cancer-free but I am blessed to share that I am tumor-free. Had I viewed all of my relapses as diabolical failures and not found alternatives, I surmise that I would not be writing this blog today. I always listened to my inner voice and my family. They fought harder for me in the beginning and years later their passion for my life came to fruition within me. Although the fight is never over, avoiding complacency and ignorance help me remain empowered and very strong. Keep your fight alive!

Sending Lhasa Love from my heart to yours…jen

Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly…-proverb

February 11, 2013 by Jen

Hi everybody! I cannot stress the importance of second, third even fourth opinions when it comes to a diagnosis of any disease.  When treatment of any kind  is warranted it behooves  us to take the necessary steps to look at all of our choices and options. As a ten year terminal brain cancer survivor, I never accepted a terminal diagnosis even though it was constantly shoved in my face . To be frank, I was insulted when I was given a 4-6 year prognosis back in 2002. I had a lot of work to do; two small children needed me and I was only thirty years old.  I had my whole life ahead of me and the conversations that I had with doctors one, two and doctor three at institutions A, B and C  all left me feeling disenchanted, depressed and defeated.  Regardless, I kept searching with my husband, always looking for some promise and hope. I remember leaving St. Vincent’s Medical Center on a very cold, snowy, December afternoon,  just three days , after brain surgery.  I hadn’t seen my babies in such a long time and  I was surrounded by the spirit of the Christmas season everywhere, which, only heightened my levels of anxiety.  Being nursed back to health in a Catholic Hospital had me question my faith, God and religion in general.  I was completely disgusted by  crucifixes displayed everywhere which seemed to find me and track me down like  Jackals in the middle of the night .What had  I had done to deserve such a platter of despair and painful hopelessness during such a time of joy and perfection in my life?  It wasn’t just the fact that I had just given birth to the most beautiful baby in the nursery,  so pretty in fact that several nurses at Winthrop University Hospital  had stopped by my room just  to tell me so.  I felt so sad and nauseated  because  I had left my little three year old  cheerleader at home,  right at a time when  she needed me the most as she  was going through  personal  transitions with the arrival of a new baby sister.   I wasn’t there to manage anything and  I felt I had abandoned my three year old daughter,  Emily, even though both she and Lexi  were well taken care of by my family.  To add insult to injury,  Now,  mommy had cancer and  it was the mother load- terminal! Phew, that’s a lot to handle especially  during the season that is suppose to give so much. I didn’t think a terminal tumor was on my Santa’s wish list-  Sorry, I couldn’t resist the sarcasm .  Outside my hospital room  window, I could see all the Christmas trees lined up below, as families  and couples both young and old  selected their perfect tree to take home.  After painfully being told that I had an Astrocytoma, a very aggressive form of brain cancer, associated  with a poor prognosis, I peered up at Nurse Mary. I could barely speak or find the words to say. Her granddaughter was born on the same day as my baby Lexi whom I had not seen in over a week.  As I choked on words to say, I surrendered and just pointed to the IV and motioned for its’ removal.  I forced a little  smile and nodded showing a sign of thanks and gratitude for her gentle hand and kind ways. Next,  I  turned my attention to the unconscious patient sharing my room;  an  elderly man who made little sound or movement. I  placed a fishbowl filled with beautiful yellow roses, a gift from my cousin Marc and Lori.  and  whispered in his ear: “feel better, my friend”.  I quickly exited the hospital floor and said no goodbyes , not because I was wasn’t grateful for my care and all the kindness I received; rather, I could not face anybody because I felt I wore my cancer in shame and proud, I certainly was not.

As we drove back  home to the small seaside village of Atlantic Beach, on the South Shore of Long Island, Christina Aguilera’s song played on the radio: Beautiful.  “Not I, I thought, as  I felt damaged beyond repair, broken and shattered in a million pieces, with a heart that truly  hurt, terribly.  Minutes before my arrival, in preparation for seeing my precious babies and my Christmas Tree,  I placed a facade of forced, empty  smiles in an effort to show my family that I was okay and more important,  that I loved and appreciated  them. I practiced my smiles several times, with effort  as I looked at myself with total disgust in the passenger car mirror. I share this experience because, throughout all the pain, tears and immeasurable hurt, which lasted for many years, six to be exact, I allowed doctors and reports to fill me with fear that essentially allowed others to define me and control me.  I fought their words which cursed me like demons and hurt like swords and then one day I smartened up.  It really was not about them anymore. This journey was not theirs to be had, rather it was mine to celebrate with those that were important to me and with whom I embraced and loved.  On my journey, I had free will and choice.   At the end of the day, I could choose who I wanted to carpool with.    For years, I was my own worst enemy and one day, my husband suggested that I try healing prayer.  I realized there was a way to filter out the negativity of the disease as well as the messengers whom only brought negativity as well as a  doom and gloom mentality to the table. I mean brain cancer absolutely sucks but it doesn’t have to be the end. In fact, it has actually introduced a whole new beginning for me in terms of meeting many beautiful people, each day of my life. Here’s something else to consider, doctors may never tell me exactly  what I want to hear and that’s okay. I can only place the expectations on myself. I have no right to change anybody but myself.  I have moved beyond needing their approval for what I do to stay well.  As I celebrate my survivorship with my family and friends,  I leave you  with something to look at. I found it very interesting as it sheds light on the importance of multiple opinions. My cousin, Dr. Justin Garcia sent it my way. Check it out and be blessed:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/02/11/171409656/why-even-radiologists-can-miss-a-gorilla-hiding-in-plain-sight?utm_source=npr&utm_medium=facebookutm_campaign=20130211

Believe in everything that you do!! Never stop fighting… I fight everyday and will fight for the rest of my  very long life…

Sending Lhasa Love from my heart to yours…jen