Last Blog

I am just returned from my first follow-up visit to my surgeon and medical oncologist, to find that the latter is on a year’s sick leave…

It has been 9 months of sickness – or if I reframe that, 9 months of rebirth and regrowth. I am blessed with some time now to create a new life for this that I call me. I live in and host a new environment; I look like a new person, right now with a Tintin do. I have created new exercise programmes, tweaked my diet, improved my social life and generally become easier being a human being. I realise that as such I know nothing, so best just to get on with what I have and know for sure deep in my Being. As that Being, I have no need of knowing anything. Just as the trees around me on my walk, I need only to breathe to be ok in this world, and when it is autumn, the leaf will fall. There is a hum to the universe that includes that which I call me – if I can identify with That, I am doing well.

I had planned that this blog would talk about environmental toxicity and its links with hormones and the whole bag of xeno-estrogenic issues that is slowly being prised open. The prognosis is encouraging. Recently our Canadian government became the first country in the world to declare bisphenol-A (BPA) as toxic. The David Suzuki Foundation just the other day made news headlines with a list of 12 chemicals that are found in 80% of our most common cosmetic products. Two things need to happen here:
Number One is to read those labels, and number two is to vote with your purse – do not buy products containing the following ‘dirty dozen’, reproduced from the CBC website.

“1 – BHA and BHT. Used in moisturizers as preservatives, the suspected endocrine disruptors may cause cancer and are known to be harmful to fish and other wildlife
2 – Coal-tar dyes such as p-phenylenediamine and colours listed as CI followed by five digits. Used in some hair dyes, may be contaminated with heavy metals toxic to the brain.
3 – DEA, cocamide DEA and lauramide DEA. Used in some creamy and foaming moisturizers and shampoos. Can react to form nitrosamines, which may cause cancer. Harmful to fish and other wildlife.
4 – Dibuytl phthalate. Used as a plasticizer in some nail-care products. Suspected endocrine disrupter and reproductive toxicant. Harmful to fish and other wildlife.
5 – Formaldehyde releasing preservatives such as DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine, quarternium-15 and sodium hydroxymethylglycinate. Used in a variety of cosmetics. Slowly release small amounts of formaldehyde, which causes cancer.
6 – Paraben, methylparaben, butylparaben and propylparaben. Used in a variety of cosmetics as preservatives. Suspected endocrine disrupters and may interfere with male reproductive functions.
7 – Parfum. Any mixture of fragrance ingredients used in a variety of cosmetics. Some fragrance ingredients can trigger allergies and asthma. Some linked to cancer and neurotoxicity. Some harmful to fish and other wildlife.
8 – PEG Compounds such as PEG-60. Used in some cosmetic cream bases. Can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which may cause cancer.
9 – Petrolatum. Used in some hair products for shine and as a moisture barrier in some lip balms, lip sticks and moisturizers. A petroleum product that can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which may cause cancer.
10 – Siloxanes: cyclotetrasiloxane, cyclopentasiloxane, cyclohexasiloxane and cyclopethicone. Used in a variety of cosmetics to soften, smooth and moisten. Suspected endocrine disrupter and reproductive toxicant (cyclotetrasiloxane). Harmful to fish and other wildlife.
11 – Sodium laureth sulphate. Used in some foaming cosmetics, such as shampoos, cleansers and bubble bath. Can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which may cause cancer.
12 – Triclosan. Used in some antibacterial cosmetics, such as toothpastes, cleansers and deodorants. Suspected endocrine disrupter and may contribute to antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Harmful to fish and other wildlife.”

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/politics/story/2010/10/19/suzuki-dirty-dozen.html#ixzz12p3T94kD

I urge you to print this and put it in a place where your family can easily read it and check all they purchase. Add TCE (Tri-chloro-ethalyne) to the list. My radiation oncologist talks of the link between the increase in cancer and the amounts of this epoxy solvent TCE in our drinking water. The more I research the effect these silent killers are having on our bodies – people and the earth - the scarier it can become. But we can make a difference by becoming educated, and making changes to what we purchase and with what we surround ourselves. If you haven’t done so yet, read ‘Slow Death by Rubber Duck’ and get passionate about your internal and external environments. 8 years ago, when I was diagnosed with my first cancer, there was very little information or understanding out-there on chemical toxicity beyond Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring.’ Today, the information is prolific and we no longer have ignorance to blame for our situations. And that is why I am ceasing this blog. I don’t need to rant about it all anymore. I need to create my own programme, and in doing so urge you to do the same. Start eating a plant-based organic diet, move a lot, love yourself and all around you. Today could be your last. Make it good.

On a personal note, at my 3-month follow up the other day with my surgical oncologist, we began the consultation with him talking about the next step, which in his training did not mean so much Tamoxifen as an aromatase inhibitor (eg. the Armidex I took, and now there are others). I had previously practiced many internal scenarios telling my surgeon that I did not want to take Tamoxifen, so when I began with the slick phrase, “Dr. K., I appreciate all that you and your team do for my health,” he burst out laughing, knowing what was to follow.
The part that made my heart dance was after I had requested we put all those chemical bits on the proverbial back-burner, he began to talk of how this cancer thing is way bigger than anyone can figure right now, and anyway, I only have 2 breasts, so this means that challenge is behind me.
The thing is, we have no clue as to when we will breathe our last, so until then, I take enormous pleasure in considering this moment to always be my last. How beautiful now the bare trees, gathering their strength for the coming winter – preventive strategy or just plain wisdom. That is all we can do, as we constantly engage in the process of transformation. Transformation is the name of the game for a human being particularly; we have so many tools, so many clues. The challenge, if you like, is seeing where we can, and may-well get caught in the particular manifestation at any given time. I just know that as soon as I open my heart, miracles happen. The other evening I was tearing open, with my bare hands, down the middle of an orange/red very shapely fall squash that suddenly felt as though I was opening my heart and the 2 halves, my breasts, were being thrown to the space.
At that very instant in time, at that very moment, no kidding, the insistent buzzing of the backhoe working next door suddenly and decisively stopped.
What synchronicity steeped in symbolism! As soon as I open my heart, my mental chatter releases. But that line of enquiry my friends will have to be the subject of another blog.

I thank all who have been reading my entries and wish you a long and happy life. Good luck to us all, God bless us every one.

You may reach me at fyson.randall@gmail.com


Allopathy is over!

It’s been a while since I blogged – a while taken up with the second of the allopathic therapies I have chosen to eradicate this cancer from my body – radiation.

The whole month of August was spent in daily drives to the hospital where I lay on a slab, half naked, arms above my head for 10 minutes at a time. The technicians were professional and caring both; the treatment, like chemotherapy, comparable to nothing else in this life. But that is where the similarities end. Where chemo made me crazy, radiation left a fatigue so deep – bone deep – that all I wanted to do was rest. And not just the body. After treatment, there was no interest in, well anything. It was a very strange time. I had a short window every morning where I could, if I wished, be pro-active about something, anything, but after that, forget about it!

The good news today of course is that it is over. The two big allopathic treatments are now over. Mind you, the effects are still in the body and will remain so for a long time, but the actual hospital visits are over. This is a major achievement. My radiation oncologist was pleased with whatever results he saw. I’m pleased because I am still alive. The philosophy I now adhere to is to live each day as if my last. This approach, not new by any means, but now to the forefront, became clear after watching the movie – ‘A Single Man.’ It’s the dramatisation of a Christopher Isherwood novel about a guy who loses his beloved to Death. This event causes enormous sadness and grief, with pain too much to bear, so he decides to end it all, but not until the evening of the day. His last day is thus spent with great awareness. As it happens, it is so full of joy that when he comes to do the dastardly deed, he changes his mind and decides to live. Fate then plays a very bad joke and sends a heart attack to catapult him into the next world, but the point is taken. That moment of release, so called death, which Abraham says is like taking off a tight shoe, is not in my control. So I live this day as if my last, and wow, what a wonderful day it is.

Having stayed the course since the beginning of the year, having undergone surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, I now take a short vacation, some time away, to reflect and create the next step – Part Two of the Healing Process. This will be composed of complementary therapies – more effort from my side for sure, but what price life, real life, where I can live all the days of my life.
Back in a few weeks, till then, happy days, Su-An

p.s. and somewhere I really don't want to go - while my hair is slowly growing on the head, it is also reappearing on the face in the strangest places. Hormonal disruption or what!! Aye aye aye - I am taking the soft approach and giving it some time to balance out before any intervention.


External transition

These last 3 months have been a time – a time of contrasts and contradictions – a time of enormous highs and deep lows.
Following my last chemotherapy treatment on Monday, I wish to record for future reference the extreme body, mind, heart and soul effects of chemical infusion. I do this because I forget. I will never do this again. Je voudrais souvenir.

Here we go with the list of effects from the Taxol/Carboplat chemotherapy treatments. Some of the opposite effects happen at the same time – this is most disturbing.
1. Eradication of all cancer cells in the system – we hope
2. External:
Hair loss on head, in nose and other parts
Skin becomes clammy, shiny and very soft
Vision loss
Gum loss
Bone density loss
Runny nose
Wobbliness and weakness on walking – loss of balance
Inability to sleep – need to rest
Love of foetal position
Openness to infections of all kinds – in my case, shingles
3. Internal:
Constipation – diarrhoea
Abiding nausea and yawning hunger
Metallic taste in all foods with love of soft and mushy comfort kinds
Extreme nerve pain – shooting and random electric shocks
Tingling and numbness in extremities, in my case, particularly the legs
Deep abiding aches all over the body
Great bouts of energy and extreme fatigue
Shingle pain – yikes!
4. Mental:
Elation and depression
Fits of wild laughter and loud sobs
Inability to hold a thought for longer than a few minutes
Enhanced perception and clouded vision
Loss of interest in judging or interpreting
Driven to obsessive-compulsive behaviour
Need for certainty - desire for spontaneity
Altered time perception – slow and speedy simultaneously
5. Heart and soul:
Feeling like a baby and centenarian at the same time
Great sensitivity to love and its manifestations – from the beauty of a flower to the noble deeds that the human heart can offer
Enormous appreciation of That which powers the life, and wonder at its magnificence
Willingness to live forever, yet die at any moment
Great need to retreat, pull back from all human activity, yet desire for meaningful connections
Enhanced ability to perceive now

I am in deeply involved in my body, yet at the same time, feel very spacey – heavy and light together. It is this contradictory nature of chemo that is most intriguing and challenging to manage.
The treatments are over, but I am told the effects can last a very long time. Meanwhile, I have set localized radiation to begin in August. I went yesterday for the tattoos. Funny how back in the early 70’s I toyed with getting a tattoo and shaving my head. At that time, it would have been most outrageous. Now I see to be careful of my wishes…………

We take a break for healing and some plain old day-to-day living.
Till later, SuAn


'Morph: intr.slang - be transformed' (COD)

I have been asked to elaborate on this time betwixt and between: I call it ‘morphing into a new manifestation.’

This is a very interesting inquiry into the process of transformation. I have always been intrigued by that moment of change – why in just that moment does the dyke open and waters run? Patanjali Yog Darshan (the handbook for yogis) tells us that it happens when everything needed to effect that change is supplied to the original state. The caterpillar will morph into the butterfly when all necessary conditions are met.

Prior to that emergence of new life, the caterpillar spends time inside its chrysalis - a period of transition.
As I undergo these allopathic healing treatments, I recognize I am in a time of transition; by nature it is one of uncertainty.
This uncertainty, scary at times as it may be, is actually a very important and essential part of our growth and evolution. It is a temporary stage – important to recognize that point and allow that these spaces of discomfort, confusion and fear are actually setting the stage for a new clarity and wisdom to emerge.
One characteristic of this uncertainty is that we have very little clue as to what kind of butterfly we will become – what if it is a moth? We are no longer in apparent control; we rest on very shaky ground, desperately searching for something to hold on to. This is where the discipline of practice enters the picture in a very helpful and friendly way. In a recent earthquake, I instantly ran for the doorframe – that drill was in my head. Mind you, once there, I realized I could actually go outside into the open. In the same way, our daily practices of awareness, whatever they be, from a morning sun-salutation to daily meditation, from chi-gung to moment to moment loving kindness, they give us that something to rest in until we see that we can leap off the cliff and we will fly.

At heart this expansion process is mysterious; this is a good thing. We rarely can believe the wonders that lie in store upon awakening.


Three down, one to go!

The pattern is that some of my drugs on the day of treatment induce a great high and energy for the first 48 hours, giving time to do laundry, purchase ginger ale and arrowroot cookies, and generally setting up for the following week of treating the body as a baby, allowing the dance to begin. I need to create a no-stress retreat environment during that week -my only concerns to be around eating, resting, a little activity, a little elimination, and then again repeating the cycle -eating...........This way, the body's natural intelligence takes over and I can rest easy.

The good news is that my blood count was adequate for the treatment to happen. The better news is that shingles is not a side-effect of chemotherapy, which means it may not reappear. Apparently, if you are over 50, and have had chicken pox as a child, the chances of you manifesting shingles is more likely than not. A somewhat scary thought.

For me this time, the chemo depletes the immune system, which allowed for the shingles to come forth, but maybe that wasn't such a bad thing - it brought the virus out into the open. I can say this now, the best news, as miraculously the pain disappeared on Sunday morning, and I am pain-free, with just a sense of a sunburn around the blisters. How that happened, who knows, but I attribute it to the anti-virals, the homeopathy, the acupuncture, my yoga practice, the Thai Yoga Massage treatment, all that, along with a large dose of prayer and grace. I am very pleased. I have been blessed in this life with very little body pain (heart and mind is another story!). I see how it infiltrates and insinuates itself bringing the whole system down. One good side effect of this is that I now have a whole lot more understanding and compassion for others in such pain.
That's the news for today. SuAn


Life's Bounce

As we reach the end of the second cyle of chemotherapy, I see the emerging 3-week pattern. Weeks one and two are intense - only to be describe to a health care professional. To everyone else who asks, "How are you?" I have learned to respond, "Fine, thankyou and you?" Otherwise I find myself mired in sickness. It may well be that I am, and I accept that I am, but it does not follow that I have to talk about it all the time. So talk to me of orchids and gardens, composting and lawn mowing and we will have a fine chat.

My dance image continues with the chemicals and my body performing a rather passionate and elaborate tango-like spin around the floor of life, a spin filled with many sharp turns and unexpected dips during weeks one and two. My immune system bends to the force of the drugs, nimbly getting out of the way before they step on her toes, to allow their lead for cleansing and healing. As we enter week 3, she begins to reassert her strength, gradually taking the lead for her kind of healing. Passion turns into grace, and we appreciate the beauty of dance.

Cycle three is scheduled for Monday if the white blood cell count is high enough. We did have a fall during this last dance - shingles around the liver - so let's see just how much the system is comprimised. We may have to introduce some new moves from a Maori war dance into our tango.
Stay tuned......SuAn


Scientific proof that the chemotherapy is working

So I meet with the medical oncologist before the second treatment, and after the initial greetings and courtesies he asks: "What's new?" To that I take off my bamboo beanie that a dear friend knitted for my head and show him my bald pate. "Oh," he said, "Must be the chemo is working..........."