All about my circuitous navigation, after being diagnosed with breast cancer, through conventional Western medicine, alternatives to conventional Western medicine, and the ensuing mind/body/spirit explorations and epiphanies (plus numerous digressions).
A friend of mine, a brilliant and accomplished academic in her 70s who once specialized in history and literature, recently phoned to ask for medical advice after being discharged from the hospital for what sounded like a mini-stroke. Ever eager to learn something new, she pressed me on “the latest research” and asked what doctors around the country were doing for her condition.
I'm taking this from my friend Mary Ann's recent blog post. Useful info: There are other symptoms of an heart attack besides the pain on the left arm. One must also be aware of an intense pain on the chin, as well as nausea and lots of sweating, however these symptoms may also occur less frequently. Note: There may be NO pain in the chest during a heart attack.. The majority of people (about 60%) who had a heart attack during their sleep, did not wake up. However, if it occurs, the chest pain may wake you up from your deep sleep. If that happens, immediately dissolve two aspirins in your mouth and swallow them with a bit of water. Afterward:
say "heart attack!"
- say that you have taken 2 aspirins
- phone a neighbor or a family member who lives very close by
- take a seat on a chair or sofa near the front door, and wait for their arrival and...
~ DO NOT lie down
A Cardiologist has stated that, if each person, after receiving this e-mail,sends it to 10 people, probably one life can be saved!
Cheap and tasty facial: Smear good raw honey on your face. Pat it in until it's nice and sticky. Leave on for 20 minutes (15 to 30). If some of it drips near your mouth, lick and swallow. Rinse off with warm water, then an astringent made of half fresh squeezed lemon juice and half filtered water.
It measures 36 x 36, fits into the corner of a bedroom, plugs into a regular outlet. And it took me only about an hour to watch Jack put it together.
It soothes, calms, and relaxes. Eases muscle/joint aches and pains. Stimulates your cardiovascular system. Boosts your immune system. Good for your skin. Causes you to sweat out nasty toxins. Even helps you lose weight.
After a year and half of thinking about it, I went for it, and now, only a week later, I must admit that I'm totally addicted to the thing. I even love the cedar smell.
Finally I've got a habit that isn't bad and doesn't need to be broken. Wahoo!
Here's some basic info:
The Sun and How it Applies to Infrared Heat
you ever been outside on a partly cloudy spring day of about 50
degrees, and felt quite comfortable, when suddenly the sun was obscured
by a cloud? Although the air temperature had no time to drop, the
clouds do not let the warming infrared rays through to reach you. The
infrared heat in your FIR Heat Sauna
is just like the heat from the Sun. The source of infrared heat in your
infrared sauna is actually a ceramic tube or cube, warmed by an
electrical wire embedded within it.
Far Infrared energy emitted from FIR Saunas
will induce two or three times the sweat volume of conventional saunas,
yet they operate at a much cooler air temperature range of about 110° to 130°F.
Compare this to 180° to 235°F in a conventional sauna. Individuals who
cannot tolerate a conventional sauna, steam room, or sweat lodge will
find infrared saunas pleasant. The lower heat range is also safer for
those with cardiovascular risk factors or fragile health, since lower
temperatures won't dramatically elevate heart rate and blood pressure.
point out that methods to induce sweating have been used for centuries
to bring about improved health and relief from disease. Over 2,000
years ago, the famous Greek physician, Parmenides, stated "give me a
chance to create fever, and I will cure any disease."
Known benefits of using Far Infrared Saunas regularly:
Improves Skin- An antidote for sunburn.
Burns Calories-Once heat conditioned, burns as much as 600 calories in 30 minutes.
Removes Toxins- Even promotes mercury detoxification!
I'm currently reading a back-to-basics healthcare book, Food is Your Best Medicine, written forty-two years ago by a doctor named Henry G. Bieler. I feel the delight of having "discovered" Bieler and his maverick ideas about food and health (more maverick during his lifetime than now, but they're still fairly maverick, considering how the mainstream medical establishment continues to place most of the emphasis on pills and drugs rather than on prevention, good nutrition, fresh air, exercise, care of the soul, etc).
My delight is akin to that of a beginner poet who has just discovered William Carlos Williams, or to an amateur rock musician who has just discovered Buddy Holly.
This morning I went to see Efrem at Chinese Medicine Works and when he asked me if I had "anything new" to report, I mentioned this book to him. He knew who Henry Bieler was, of course, and asked me if I'd tried his famous "Bieler Broth." Believe it or not, I was able to say, "Yes, I just made some on Monday!"
The reason I recently made Bieler's Broth was because I had noticed the recipe for it in my now favorite Bible cookbook, Nourishing Traditions, and I made the connection between it and the author of the book I'm reading. So I asked Jack to pick up the ingredients when he was out walking Olivia on Sunday. (I would have been out walking her too, but I was holed up at home doing Writing Salon taxes).
Jack came back with parsley, celery, zucchini, string beans and a few sprigs of tarragon. I dutifully followed the cookbook recipe, which is designed to be high in potassium; this helps restore alkalinity to the body (more desirable than acidity):
1 pound string beans, ends snipped
6 medium zucchini (green), ends cut off
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 bunches parsley (cut stems, optional)
Several sprigs of tarragon or thyme, tied together
1 quart filtered water
Put all ingredients in a large pot, add water, don't freak out that it doesn't seem like anywhere near enough water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about half an hour. Take out the tarragon/thyme, pour into a blender, and puree everything into a thick soup (it will be the thickness of split pea soup). Or use a hand-held blender if you have one of those.
This is the "medicinal" recipe. Plain and bland. But Nourishing Traditions also has an "epicurean's" version of Bieler Broth, which I'm sure is tastier. I just wanted to try the basic recipe, first.
When I told Efrem how I made it, he said he'd heard that you should also add potato peels (not the whole potato, though, because you're supposed to be using only non-starchy vegetables). Today I went online looking for recipes for Bieler's Broth (just curious), and several variations popped up. None included potato peels, however, so I'm going to ask Efrem for his recipe.
In the meantime, I'm spiking my daily cup of basic Bieler's broth with homemade chicken stock and a pinch of Celtic sea salt. The recipe above made a little over two quarts, so I figure I'm gonna be Ms. Alkalinity soon... or if not that, at least I'll be neutralizing the acidity caused by my cup of morning coffee, which I'm not ready to abandon (although I recently switched to a much smaller cup, and am pleased to announce that this is a good trick to play on yourself. I feel satisfied as long as I have my "cup" of coffee, even if the cup is only half the size of my old one).
Anyway, I recommend Food is Your Best Medicine. I like Bieler's lively style of writing, his stories about great physicians of the past, and his way of explaining all the reasons he eschewed conventional medicine. Some of it is dated, but so what? It's a cheap little paperback ($6.99) that is packed with information for people like me (new explorers in the world of health and medicine and nutrition), plus I see it as a Fascinating Ode to Common Sense.
"Today...the physician is inclined to discount the natural wisdom of the body itself; to forget that the body has two small bean-shaped master chemists of its own: the kidneys, whose task is more complex than any electronic computer conceived by man. Instead, a growing number of physicians are more likely to get writer's cramp making out prescriptions for patients who are demanding them, the while forgetting the story of the physician who handed a prescription to a patient saying, "Here, have this filled quickly while it is still a remedy."
"Away back in the year 1855 (drugs were even then the chief remedy for disease) the following notice was posted by the Massachusetts Medical Society:
The Treasurer announced that he had received the sum of one hundred dollars from a member of the Society. . . .for a prize on the following theme: We would regard every approach toward the rational and successful prevention and management of disease, without the necessity of drugs, to be an advance in favor of humanity and scientific medicine."
"What I hope to do in this book is show you that both "prevention and management" of disease may be obtained without drugs. I have done it more times than I am able to count." — Henry G. Bieler
All my jeans are too tight again. The second I sit down at home, I unbutton and unzip. Yesterday I vowed to cut my food consumption, but this morning I read an article that pretty much persuaded me that what would be better than eating less would be to start Pilates again.
The reason I quit Pilates was that I didn't have the money to continue with the lessons. But I spent the last few months rearranging my life so that I'd have less rent to pay, and now I can start Pilates again IF I choose to make that a higher priority than, say, regularly dying my gray hair at a salon, or eating out, or buying new clothes and furniture rather than opting for used thriftstore and flea market stuff.
I came across the above article after I went to the News Target website to read a different article about mammograms. That, too, was interesting, and my gut instincts tell me it's not off base.
I've never been a good vegetable and fruit eater. Not really. Too lazy to learn how to cook good vegetable dishes. I've become better at it in the past year, but I still struggle. It's so much easier (and more appealing) to grab some yummy, sugary carb than to take the time to create a tasty salad or a vegetable dish that requires more than quick steaming (and even that takes time...i.e. cutting and cleaning the veggies first...I've never had the patience!). So one thing I'm trying to do is add more sprouts. I try adding them into things I really like, like cheesy quesidillas, omelets, or even soup.
The American Cancer Society believes that 30% of all cancer is due to
inadequate consumption of vegetables and fruits. About 91% of Americans
fail to achieve target recommendations, that is, 5 vegetable servings a
day or 2-3 pounds a week. Asians who consume from 15-20 servings of
fruits and vegetables a day have a much lower incidence of some cancers.
Vegetables of the cruciferous family isolate the anticarcinogenic
constituents of Brassica plants. Glucosinolates (appearing in
cruciferous vegetables) can inhibit, retard, or even reverse
experimental multistage carcinogenesis (Fimognari et al. 2002). As
enzymatic processes hydrolyze glucosinolates, isothiocyanates are
released, including sulphoraphane. Sulphoraphane wields a strong arm
against cancer, promoting apoptosis, inducing Phase II detoxification
enzymes, increasing p53 and participating in the regulatory mechanisms
of the cell's growth cycle. Necrosis (localized death of diseased
tissues) is typically observed after prolonged exposure to elevated
doses of sulphoraphane.
For the past several years, researchers at Johns Hopkins University have
urged the inclusion of broccoli sprouts in the diet. According to Dr.
Paul Talalay, broccoli sprouts have 20-50 times more anticancer
sulphoraphanes than grown vegetables (Fahey et al. 1997). Eating a few
tablespoons of sprouts daily can supply the same amount of
chemoprotection as 1-2 pounds of broccoli eaten weekly (Talalay 1997).
—from the LEF (Life Extension Foundation) newsletter
Sunflower seed sprouts are another really good one - highly nutritious!
I've been expressing my opinion about the benefits of including raw milk/raw cream/raw cheese in your diet, as opposed to pasteurized, for some time now. Most of my friends (and probably most of my tiny band of blog readers) pretty much ignore the posts, either because they don't drink milk anymore anyway, or because they never see raw milk or cream in the store even if they WERE open to to trying it, or because they think it's kinda nutty (as in: breast cancer has turned Jane into a health food nut!), unnecessary and maybe even dangerous (E coli, E coli!).
I never have time to go into any long explanations re: what I've learned about this topic over the past few months. So imagine my delight when I came across today's story in Salon.com: The Udder Truth.
My delight turned to dismay when I read the subtitle: Raw milk really is a wonder tonic, say devotees, who meet secretly to
buy it and swear it reverses chronic diseases. But is it safe to drink?
The official word: No.
Dreading what I thought I was about to read (a diatribe against raw milk) I was pleased to find that the article wasn't that at all - it's just that the editors at Salon.com blew it with the subtitle; they should have at least italicized the word "official."
Anyway, the article is actually quite well written — informative, fair, and not dumbed down — and there are a large number of both pro and con response letters from readers.
Go to this page for more info about the wonders of liver. I especially liked the sections on "The Anti-Fatigue Factor" and "The How-to-Do-It part of Eating Raw Liver" (from among the numerous choices, I opt for the delicious frozen pellets).
What fascinates me about the anti-fatigue factor is the fact that after over 50 years, it's still a mystery. No one knows what it is in liver that creates this "factor," and this fact — the fact that conventional western medical science does NOT have all the answers and is continually steeped in mysteries that are far from being solved — helps me to remember why I chose not to accept all the conventional treatments for breast cancer, but rather to do some exploring and thinking and questioning on my own. . . .because when it comes to The Mysteries, our playing field gets leveled; doctors and patients become peers.
1. Soak berries in water for 4 hours or more, overnight is fine
2. Blend in blender until well blended
1/4 cup fresh blackberries, raspberries or blueberries (low in carbohydrates and high in antioxidants) can be added to
the puree. You can also add other fresh fruit such as apple, mango
and/or banana, but these are higher in carbs and lower in antioxidants). If you use just the goji berries you''ll have a nice
nutritious goji berry juice. If you add additional fruit you will have
a delicious smoothie.
this isn't sweet enough for you, you may want to add a
little natural, raw honey or agave nectar. (I'm not used to the taste of goji berries, so I definitely need to add sweetener; I usually add mostly Stevia, from the little packets, plus maybe a little raw honey.)
If I want to make a REALLY healthy smoothie, I add some kefir or yogurt to the goji juice — until it's much thicker, half a banana, a quarter cup organic blueberries, a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil, and two raw — yes, raw — egg yolks (from pasture-fed, organic chickens).
Every time I go to see Efrem Korngold at Chinese Medicine Works, he works on my liver because my liver, which is an incredibly important organ, is weak. Like the majority of other Americans, I've led a life of excess...too many unhealthy, over-processed foods that have had all the nutrients sucked or bleached out of them, too much work and not enough play, too much worrying about money money money... all of which overtaxed me and my poor liver.
What happens when your liver isn't working optimally? Well, its job is to rid your body of numerous nasty toxins. If that doesn't happen, you end up f....cking yourself over in oh so many ways. For example, I need my liver to get rid of excess estrogens in my body - not all my estrogen, but the EXCESS estrogen. If my liver doesn't do that, I can end up with estrogen dominance, which can, for some women, be a contributing cause of breast cancer (or breast cancer recurrence).
There are many ways to work on strengthening your liver. Efrem does acupuncture focused on just that. He also gives me herbal concoctions.
But if you don't want to do acupuncture or get the herbs, here are two simple tips for strengthening your liver: 1) Drink a cup of hot water with the juice of one lime in it every day (or as often as you want), and 2) Add 1/2 to 1 tsp. a day of lecithin granules to your diet.
Efrem said that the lime drink is like "giving your liver a big hug." My lips puckered big time, the first time I tried it. Now I'm used to it, though. In fact, I like it.
Iodine is necessary and good for everyone, and especially important for people with certain health problems (i.e thyroid issues or fibrocystic breasts and/or breast cancer. . . and more). Make sure you get enough of it (not as easy as you might think - no, our salt doesn't always contain it, and even when it does, it's not enough).
Here are some facts about it, which include a video clip with Dr. David Brownstein that I found especially interesting. Or, if you have the time, check out this radio interview with Dr. George Flechas.
Three things I've already learned today (as of 2 p.m.):
1. If I'm out of raw cream, whole coconut milk is a good, healthy substitute for 1/2 & 1/2. This morning I put it in my organic, water-processed decaf coffee and it was surprisingly not bad. (In case you're wondering, pure raw cream is considered better, in my new "eat plenty of good fats and protein" diet, than 1/2 and 1/2, which I don't think I"ve ever seen raw, and which contains more carbohydrates than pure cream, which is mostly protein.)
2. If you want to find grass-fed and FINISHED beef at the Embarcadero Farmer's Market, go to the Marin Sun Farms booth, and if you are looking for a specific cut, get there a lot earlier than 11:30 a.m. because they are a small farm and sell out fast. (What I learned last Monday when I went to my acupuncture appt. with Efre, is that grass-fed and finished beef contains fat that is an entirely different kind of fat from the fat in grass-fed, GRAIN-finished beef. The fat in grain-finished beef contains cancer-causing agents; the fat in grass-finished beef contains cancer-FIGHTING agents.)
3. There's a lady from Point Reyes who has a "pickled stuff" booth there (at the EFM) too. Tasty! Pickled corn relish, pickled mushrooms, pickled garlic, pickled beets, pickled brussel sprouts. . . and of course pickled cucumblers. Three jars for $20. I tasted them all and came home with the garlic, mushrooms and brussel sprouts. The beets were yummy too, but I already have some of those at home. Bought them yesterday at Rainbow, where I also picked up a jar of pickled carrots. (Beets are known for their especially good cancer-fighting properties, as are cruciferous vegetables such as brussels sprouts. And we all know that garlic is a wonder food. When these vegetables are lacto-fermented or "pickled," they become even healthier, helping us to digest everything a LOT more completely, including essential vitamins and minerals that help to maintain our immune systems.)
4. Although I'm out of blogging time, I must say that I actually learned more than three new things between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. today. For this I have my cancer to thank. What an ironic twist of fate, to be introduced to the fascinating world of healthy cooking and eating by none other than My Deadly Enemy.