The Other Side of That Shiny Coin

The other side of the story that I started is super shiny!  So please do not feel sorry for me in any way.  Seriously, it has been an incredible journey and I am so proud of my self.  It’s my turn to share what has worked and you may be surprised at how far I will go to try something new…

Yes, last year when I couldn’t stop writing during my fugue state and then slowly waking up to the fact that I just could not tolerate any more medication was a defining time in my life.  All of this started almost a year ago and today I am seeing life like a shiny coin, because I am now looking at from the other side.

Last year the Glass Chapel closed and the Byzantine Frescoes had to go home.  I was devastated.  But on the last day the Chapel was open, I showed up to say a rosary of prayers while staring at the frescoes intent to burn the image into my brain.  It worked.  From then on, every day I would sit facing the sun from inside the house and with my hands in the same mudra as the frescoes depicted, I would continue to pray.

God was answering my prayers.  He had always been answering my prayers, but I just wasn’t saying enough at the time.  Now I was finally feeling more comfortable in my skin and in my new home, with a new schedule.  Writing was my addiction and I just couldn’t stop.  Chapter after chapter it just flowed out of my head.  I even made a spreadsheet of all the characters in my book that seemed more like a teaching journal.  It was my experience changing roads.  Coming to an end and then trying to find a new road hurt.  At the time it seemed so odd to me and just plain strange, but it allowed me to feel every little thing as if it were the first time.  In essence, I was reborn but to the same parents.  But then in Yogic Humanology, it is standard to rebirth in your 44th year on the planet.  And in 2013, I am going to be forty-four.  So, technically, I am ahead of schedule!

Deciding to go back to school was the culmination of a short-list of scholarships that I had decided to apply for when I desperately wanted to attend a conference or meeting but just couldn’t afford it.  I remember the first scholarship I applied for I thought to myself, Sandy you are so blessed. What about the people who don’t have parents like I do?  But I really need some help! I may have the right thing to wear but I can’t afford the ticket.  The information is exactly what I want to hear, and I have the time to attend.  They should send me because I am an excellent candidate.  And with that, I rode an amazing wave of scholarships throughout the rest of 2012.  I went to Santa Barbara to go surfing with First Descents, to Project LEAD (Leadership Education And Development) for a week in La Jolla to become an educated advocate, and even to Indianapolis for the YSC (Young Survival Coalition) Affiliate Summit.  My year was ramping up nicely and when I applied to Rice, I noticed that I had a very hard time focusing on anything.  I noticed when I was trying to read an article and my eyes kept focusing on a single character as my eyes kept moving all around the article and at the words and I was so frustrated that I couldn’t just read like I used to!  Dang it Sandy!  If you are planning to go back to school, you better be able to focus on reading.  And with that, a survivor showed up in my life for me to advocate for, and at the same time, she started advocating for me.

She’d say, “I’m not getting the answers that I want.  What is wrong with everybody!”  I don’t know when the shift happened, but she went to see a doctor that treated her like a super human and helped her over her fear of recurrence.  This is my friend who is stage zero and because of pathology, she found her path led her to receiving a double mastectomy and implants.  She had seen a doctor that had been around to witness the first lumpectomy.  And I wanted to ask him about my cancer.  He was amazing.  I learned so much in the process.  And why couldn’t I get a second opinion even now?  I still have my original Oncologist, but now I had a second opinion.  It was perfect.

“The best thing you could have done was chemo”, he said.  Yep, I know.  But now all the medication is becoming so toxic to me.  Can’t I try something new?  After rattling off the side-effects and referring to my spreadsheet of timing on each medication, he finally said, “You know your body better than anyone.  Since the medications are affecting your cognitive functions and your ability to balance, then I’d continue keeping track of how you feel.” before giving me a big reassuring hug.  I will, I said.  Thank you.

It was officially October of 2012 that I finally quit looking for another option and stopped taking any more medication.  Survivors like me have a five-year window to get back to normal mortality rates and I have one more year to go!  I’ve done everything possible that I was supposed to do for my cancer.  But now, it was time to get back to normal.  That’s when I was awarded a scholarship to attend the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium and I was thrilled.  With more than eight-thousand doctors, clinicians, researchers and just 53 other patient advocates like me, where more than 103 countries represented.  Listening to the latest research was mesmerizing.  It was all making sense.  And I could finally focus, and reading was becoming a happy hobby.

It was at the Symposium that I was introduced to Dr. Wong.  He has spent more than thirty years working with breast cancer patients who had also come to find out that all of the medications were so toxic and he prescribed a tea for me to drink twice a day.  I figured that I’d try it along with Young Living supplements, enzymes and oils.  Dr. Wong sat with me and described my adrenals as that of a sixty-year old lady because they just weren’t working very well.  He said, “You’re to young to be like this.”  Nodding in agreement,  I said, “I know!  Help Me.”  I also learned that he had spoken at the Symposium before and cited research on the tea that helped other survivors like me.  And you know what?  After trying it for a month, I was happily amazed at the results.  As my body was getting stronger and healthier, the tea affected me by helping me stay grounded which helped my balance and gave me the ability to focus!  (I want to add photos and links for everyone reading this so you can also understand what I am talking about.)

I know it will take some time, because it’s taken me three-years to get where I am and I don’t expect anything to work over night.  But having the ability to enjoy going to school and focus on reading and writing just makes me happy to be alive.  Did you know that survivors have a higher rate of finding Cancer again because of many things including all the therapies we’ve received to fight Cancer in the first place?  Yes, it’s that crazy.  So I am happy to share my journey as a survivor because there are more and more of us out there.  This is just my story.  I want to share my journey with you.  From adding Maca root powder to my breakfast drink to drinking tea sent to me from NYC twice a day, and taking Hot Hatha Yoga to rebuild my core, it’s happening.  I’m getting stronger every day!

Hello world! I’m back…

I wanted to get back online after taking a siesta for two years.  Can you believe it’s been that long?  Neither can I.  I’ve missed you all.  So much has happened that I don’t know where to start.  I want this blog to be an outlet of miracles.  My hope is that you will all start to notice synchronicities going on around you all the time.  Manifesting your dreams starts with paying attention to what you are doing and how your thoughts are attached.  For instance, today I woke up thinking – Sandy, today you need to get your web site up and online again.  I was surprised to feel this thought and even winced at the idea since I am password deficient.  I have to reset my passwords all the time; it’s that bad.  I don’t even want to go near anything with a password, because I know it will just frustrate me to no end. But today it happened.  I really don’t know how.  But it did.

Plus, I figured it would cost me a bunch of money and I had no plan on what to say, but here I am.  As it turned out, I launched this site on June 12th of last year and left it hanging.  Doors wide open.  I totally picked it up after having to reset my password again, and found it ready to go.  No exchange of money needed.  All paid up until June of 2013.  Seriously?  You’ve GOT to be kidding me!

No Ma’am.  That’s what happens when you’re mind is so frustrated with three years of anti-cancer medication.  The first year was spent on Tamoxifen, before moving to Femara.  At the time it was ok, but then my body changed again coming out of menopause.  Back on Tamoxifen I went and I hated it.  Or at least I had no idea how much I was missing.  My story changes but I have a massive spreadsheet with all the details.  As a breast cancer survivor, if you are still ovulating, then you get to take Tamoxifen.  If you are menopausal, then there are aromatase inhibitors like Femara, Letrazole, and Anastrazole.  I tried them all.  Everyone of them had worse side effects the farther I was away from my initial diagnosis which was February 12, 2009.  Until, I was becoming so frustrated with each one documenting side effects that I was on the last option and that was Anastrazole.  I could barely sleep on my side, which is my favorite position to sleep in, because my organs felt like they were on fire.  My entire body ached and I couldn’t get anything done.  Actually, all I did was write.  They call it a fugue state but I didn’t know what to call it.  All of my plans with friends kept dissipating until I was happy to be left alone in my hello kitty pajamas left to write on my IMAC.  That would have been ok, but it went on for about 6 weeks and before I knew it, I had lice.  Yep, that bad.  You can call it being in the flow and I was completely inspired to write.  The words just flowed out of me.  About 300K words and that’s just half of it.  I guess it just had to be written.

My oncologist suggested that I try taking the medication once every day or once every three days he begged.  “Just take it as much as you possibly can!” he’d say.  That made it worse because the more time that passed without the prescription, the better I started to feel.  So much so that when I did take it once every few days it made me ill.  I could feel the effects immediately.  So, then I took it even less.  One day I stopped taking it all together.  I just could not tolerate any of them any more.  Like a line drawn in the sand.  I was done.

Left hanging out in the open, like the door to this web site, I was wandering lost.  Not sure what to do.  I’d already talked to my doctor and he wanted me to take anything any time, but I wouldn’t dare any more.  Then, every single day that I was off of the medication, I started to remember things.  More and more information started to come back to me.  I would wake up thinking to myself, Where have you been Sandy?  OMG!  Random memories would show up at the darndest times.  And my dreams were getting more and more vivid and surreal.  I remembered what day it was.  I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t have to go to work.  Who pays the bills around here?  And the scariest one was when I realized that I actually did live at home, yet again.  Dude, what haaappened?

At the same time, my body was feeling better and better and then I felt as if I was wearing a huge crown on my head.  The pressure and the weight would go back and forth from one side of my brain to the other, yet I felt totally awake after being asleep for so long.  I didn’t know what was happening and wasn’t sure who to tell until I was getting a reflexology session with a dear friend who understands me.  She said, it sounds like your temple chakras are opening up and the two hemispheres of your brain on becoming more and more active.  Yes!  That made perfect sense to me.  This happened on and off for about a month until I felt like I was an active participant in our community again with all of my bearings back into place.

If you’ve never had brain fog or just felt like you didn’t know what was going on and didn’t have enough information to think about something, then you can start to understand this feeling.  Seriously, I woke up and couldn’t figure out why I was living at home again and where had the time gone for the past two years?  But at the same time I’d wake up and know what to do and where to go and how I thought about it.  It was amazing.  Every single day was a life altering epiphany.  I was like a child remembering my past.  Everything was new and shiny all over again.  That’s when I decided that I wanted to go back to school.  It was time.  I’d made the bold move unwillingly to step out of corporate madness and into the generosity and happiness from being a communitarian.  Breast Cancer kick started my path onto a new road.  But now, I wanted financial independence that came along with following your dreams, at least now that I could remember my dreams.  And that’s how I got into the Leadership Institute for Nonprofit Executives and love every minute of it.

Follow me as I continue the conversation.