Fundraising Countdown

The support and fundraising that has happened on my behalf has touched my heart and has made alternative cancer treatment a possibility for me. Donations continue to be my primary funding for healthy food, supplements, living expenses and medical bills. If you feel moved to give to my Health and Wellness Fund, please follow the Paypal "Donate" button below. To avoid Paypal's 3% fee, checks or cash can be sent to Zachariah Walker, 1003 Chipeta Ave, Grand Junction, CO 81501. Blessings!


Donate to Zachariah's Health & Wellness Fund

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Talk Radio: Cosmic Voices 9/26/12

As a prelude to our upcoming radio show on Wednesday, Nov 28th (5:30pm), here is my radio interview on Sept 26th with hosts Ramona Winkeller and Dulce Bell-Bulley discussing my leukemia diagnosis in relation to bigger cosmic questions such as, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" The talk explores healing as a path to self-discovery and delves into subjects such as soul contracts and past lives, archetypes, astrological significance, examinations of death and the path of spiritual evolution.  Be sure to tune in to our follow up discussion on KAFM radio this Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Talk Radio: Vibrant Wellness 09/26/12

Yes!  I have finally figured out how to share my radio shows on my blog.  Here is my radio interview on Sept 26th with host Joseph Rolley and special guest Anthony Bogart discussing the latest on my holistic approach to leukemia recovery. This follows my second trip to Angeles Hospital in Tijuana for Bio-immune Cell Therapy. Discussion revolves around mind-body connection and the journey from fear to self-empowerment.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Fundraiser: Poetry with Rosemerry

Holiday Poetry Jam & Silent Auction

I am soooo excited to announce this upcoming FUNdraising event to further assist my successful and ongoing alternative cancer treatment.  This will be a joyous don’t miss occasion!

Thursday, December 6th at KAFM’s Radio Room
1310 Ute Ave

Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

I am humbled to share the stage with special guest and award winning poet laureate, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer.  Rosemerry has authored numerous books, works as a writing instructor and workshop leader, and strives “to help people find the poetry in their lives.”  She will be joining us from Telluride for this special event.

Many of you know me as a local writer, teacher and healer, currently exploring non-conventional and self-empowering ways to treat a life-threatening cancer diagnosis. 

The night will include a synthesis of poetry and music with artists Kevin Mahoney and Tony Babbitt.  Holiday shopping will be made easy during an ongoing silent auction with goods from various local merchants, and food and spirits will be provided by local donors as well.  Minimum donation to attend is $10/person at the door and all proceeds benefit “Z’s Cure” including 20% of Rosemerry’s book sales.  This evening promises to be a highlight of the holiday season.  Look forward to seeing you there! 

There are too many vendors and volunteers to thank, but look forward to these highlighted sponsors:  Fraps & Wraps, Mesa Park Vineyards, Palisade Brewing CompanyMain Street Mineral & Beads, Orr's Trading Company, Laughing Dog Coffee House...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me!

Both my birthday and birthday celebration were a huge shift and lift for me.  After two and a half weeks of miserable symptoms related to my treatment my mood had gotten very negative.  As I described below, on my birthday hike I made a nice shift for myself.  The next day at my Pizza & Pumpkins Party all of the shared love and celebration was a huge lift for me.  Here's a video that the awesome Nicole took of me sharing the journal entry that I had written below.  Enjoy! 

Today I celebrate my birthday, though the actual occasion was yesterday.  In addition to the new Pyrex baking pans I bought myself, I gave myself a more valuable gift.  I took a hike with my dog through the local desert canyon landscapes to rest alongside the easily flowing Colorado River.  In a return to nature I often find a return to self.  It was much needed (from my journal with toes dangling above the water):

Oct 20th, 2012, My 37th BD: Cottonwoods and River off Rustler’s…
            There are so many ways I could start this BD edition journal entry.  I’ve quickly reminded myself to avoid negativity, referring to the realization on this hike that I need to burn the word “negative” in tomorrow’s fire.  So I’ll say: It is and epic October day on the Colorado River.  My most excellent dog is chillin’ in the tall luscious grass and I am starfishin’ in the presence of Godly red rock walls and glorious golden cottonwoods.  It’s also remarkable that I hiked here and got to hear the sound of my sandals on sand, and now my beautiful bare feet, when they told me 7 months ago that I could be dead in 4.  And what a blessing chemo didn’t work cause look, I don’t look like a cancer patient.  In fact, I am alive and strong!  I have so much gratitude for those who love and that I have so many friends where there is no line between them and family (tribe).  And, I know how to feel, and I know how to heal, and I feel good when I rhyme, so I think I’ll make that healthy this time.  And, I have the ability to build energy and let it flow, so join me my friends and let it go.  Happy Birthday to me!  I am loved, I love, I AM LOVE.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Viva la Mexico!

It is no typical Saturday night in Tijuana.  The loud partiers and sirens might be typical, but the fireworks and shut down streets full of vendors and live music aren't.  It just so happens that our one weekend here is Mexican Independence Day.  This is a more significant celebration that Cinco de Mayo, as the link explains.  Cars are honking outside our fourth floor hotel window at this moment and the fireworks have been over for well over an hour.  Mom and I decided to celebrate by battling with Kings and Queens of our own in a few fervent games of Gin Rummy.

This trip to Hospital Angeles has certainly been different than the last.  Instead of frequent trips to the ozone sauna we are taking frequent trips from our hotel to the hospital for meals.  We've opted for two organic meals a day at the hospital cafeteria and we walk the lengthy four city blocks back to the hotel afterwards.  We've made numerous trips to the grocery across the street and spent this morning roaming the Mercado Hidalgo.  It's highlighted in this interesting NPR story!  I will say I've grown a bit tired of our routine and if there's a next time with similar treatment plan I'll do it differently by staying in San Diego (where it's easier to hang out on the beach) and make the occasional trip across the border for treatment.

When we arrived on Tuesday my blood was quickly drawn and we were told the first treatment would be Friday.  That treatment consisted of a five minute IV of NK cells and a shot of interleukin.  The interleukin stimulates a fever response in the body, thus stimulating malignant cells in a way that "red flags" them for attack from the Natural Killer cells.  I will have my second and final treatment on Tuesday in the same fashion.  This protocol was part of my original treatment here, but I'll be taking something different home.  Apparently my blood chemistry had markers making me a candidate for an Autologous cell factor treatment.  I will get further explanation of this on Tuesday, but the gist is a series of subcutaneous shots for the two months following this download of NKs that will stimulate the growth and production of these cells in my immune system.

This is really far out stuff and the skeptic in me raises an eyebrow at a price tag of $8000 for two five minute IVs and $3000 for some shots to take at home.  As mom and I discussed, we've come to expect some sort of drama with spendy hospital stays.  It's like that way we feel like we're getting our money's worth.  I remind myself that there is so much going on behind the scenes in the lab with equipment that far exceeds my understanding, even with an owner's manual.  And the big truth is the proof in the pudding.  The fact that my last biopsy showed only a 19% cancer blast count when my oncologist in Junction expected it to be in the 80% range says a lot.  If I only had 20% properly functioning cells in my bone marrow the exclamation I'd get from people when they see me would not be, "Wow, you look good!"  I like hearing that I love living it.

The biggest piece of missing info that I'm itching to know is my whit blood cell count.  As I've explained in past blogs, counting my WBC has become a weekly past time of mine.  My last CBC before departing Colorado showed a whopping 2.5 (parameters for healthy WBC is 4.0-10.0).  This was the second highest it's been since February and the 0.8 jump was double any increase or decrease I'd experienced.  A snafu temporarily sunk my spirits Friday when the results I requested from my blood draw showed a WBC of 1.1.  The half hour of distress quickly dissipated once I realize I was looking at records from my original arrival.  Keep in mind it's all in Spanish and takes a while to decipher!

So, as Mexico celebrates its independence, this date that signifies the start of the revolution against the Spanish, I too am caught up in a bit of internal revolution.  This blood and marrow of mine that was once peacefully settled by happy and healthy red and white blood cells faced a critical invasion by malignant cells.  Now, inspired by the words of NK Hidalgo, they've taken up arms to reclaim what is rightfully theirs.  I can hear them now... "Viva Zachariah!"

Here's the scene outside our hotel window this eve:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Return to Angeles

Last night as I was drifting off to sleep my phone reminder chimed at 9 o'clock.  I dismally turned to silence it.  Before long it was chirping again, our 7am wake-up.  After ten hours of sleep mom and I are both feeling in about the same condition, out of sorts and groggy.  There's that phenomenon of finally getting that solid restful night of sleep.  That trigger in the body requesting MORE!  So, needless to say I stare at my computer somewhat glassy-eyed knowing I need to let it go for the time being.  However, I did want to put out a quick update.

Our US Air flight from GJ to San Diego via Phoenix was smooth and after a short wait curbside we were shuttled seamlessly across the border.  It amazes me how different things can be in the distance of a few short miles and a line marked by barbed-wire; cell phone signal, store fronts and driving customs to name a few.  As we entered the familiar lobby of Hospital Angeles I reflected on my moments of frustration the days prior to departure while attempting to navigate the details of this trip.  Clarity and follow-through are not strengths of this facility while patients are abroad, but I knew we'd be taken care of upon arrival.  I was right.  We weren't a dozen steps in before we were met my our striking (in my biased opinion) International Patient Coordinator.  We worked out details and payment and were escorted to Dr. Perez's office.  Along the way we bumped into Dr. Perez, in his soaked gym clothes carrying a small office table.  Not the first impression he wanted to make, he later explained to my mother, but I think we both appreciated the glimpse of the real person behind the usual lab coat.  At the office seventy mL of blood were extracted from my Hickman port and we were told the next appointment would be Friday for the first dose of NK cells (see past blog for details).  At that point other possible treatment options would be discussed as well, depending on breakdown of my current blood chemistry.

This visit down is being done on an outpatient basis because of the less strenuous treatment regime and to keep me out of the hospital as much as possible due to my still low WBC.  It is saving a bit of money as well.  We are staying on the 4th floor of the Camino Real, about a fifteen minute walk away from Angeles.  We bought some basics at the grocery across the street, but are having most of our meals at the hospital to keep me on the proper balanced diet of organic fruits and veggies and appropriate proteins.  Our game plan until Friday is pretty much to hangout, rest, read, write, and walk.  I think we'll throw in some games of cribbage and gin rummy as well.  Truly, it's mom and son time.  Here we are after breakfast this morning:  

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Fundraising: Aspen Insight

Thanks to everyone who attended my Poetry Jam on Sept 6th (details below), it was a very inspiring event for me.  I have a limited number of framed poems still available from the event available at Orr's Trading Company downtown and they will be offered at my upcoming Poetry Jam & Silent Auction.  In addition, I will have signed unframed poems available for donation.  Though the aspen leaf season has passed I wanted to post this poem which is one of my favorites.  Inspired during my first autumn in Colorado!

Aspen Insight

Following flight, a leaf’s delight, the wind is their cue,
together they dive, they are alive, remorseful are but few.
Like a winter storm, though reflecting warm,
all sharing a golden personality,
but differing hues, in the paths they choose,
each expressing an individuality.

One may drop, as if to stop, under an invisible chute,
another may glide, never changing stride,
with a landing completely mute.
Too many will band, in a rush to land,
forgetting to gaze as they dash,
but a favorite few, following a spiral corkscrew,
 “kerplunk” with a shiraz splash.
There are those that stumble, in a dizzy tumble,
wishing they knew how to flap,
and there are even two, who must have knew,
their target was my lap.
With a glance between, they must have seen,
my curiosity in their end,
and as if they sought, to share their thoughts,
they beckoned my ear to them:

“It is not the end, my friend, if you speak of dying,
for that is something we do not know.
We live to grow, and we love to show,
our brilliance in the flying.
There is a way we live, and a way we give,
that brings balance to our soul,
we nourish the tree, that lifts us to see,
just how far we’ll get to go.
And when the time is right, we take our flight,
dancing our way to the ground,
we have many reasons, to give-in to seasons,
for next spring is where we’re bound.
We’ll be born anew, reach a higher view,
a new flight will be given,
we grow and we share, we give and we dare,
to call heaven the place that we’re livin’.”

And suddenly they hopped, with life they dropped,
to find their place of rest.
I sat back to think, and let it sink,
all that they’d expressed. 
In my humble mind, all I could find,
that I was heaven’s guest,
and how we love when we live, and the ways that we give,
are the ways in which we’re blessed.

WHAT! :  An evening of poetry with Zachariah
WHEN! :  Thursday, September 6th, 8:00pm
WHERE! :  Yoga West Collective, 1025 Main Street, Grand Junction
WHY! :  I'm raising money to go back to Mexico for cancer treatment
DETAILS:  I'm a bit of a closet poet and a shy performer when it comes to reading my own work.  I've decided to share a number of poems I've written over the years and will include readings/performances from other favorite authors, poets, musicians.  This will not be stuffy intellectual bantering but more of a flowing, energetic and entertaining exhibit.  In addition I will have 40 framed copies of one of my favorite poems, Aspen Insight, that is appropriate to this time of year.  Here's a sneak peak: 

I have a variety of frames and am asking for a minimum donation of $50 for the basic frames and $75 for the fancy ones.  After the poetry reading they will be available at Orr's Trading Company and Main Street Mineral and Beads downtown.  If you are outside of Grand Junction and would like a framed copy of this poem please contact me.  I will update this blog page with further details after Thursday night's gathering.  Thanks for your support!

Navigating Paradigms

I’ve been thinking a lot about death lately.  At least I was.  Nothing like a trip to the doctor to instill dread and fear into one’s depths.  Who looks forward to a trip to the doctor?  I assume not many.  Why is that?  If we aren’t feeling well or are experiencing grave illness, shouldn’t we be excited about going to see someone who will make us better?  I would say the answer is yes, right?!  So I repeat, why do the majority of us dread going to the doctor?  Perhaps you can sense the foreshadowing in a loaded question…

Those that have been following my story know that after my trip to Tijuana in June for Bio-immune cell therapy I have had a relatively energetic and enjoyable summer.  A strict diet, supplement protocol, and arthritic symptoms in my joints and tendons have made leaving the house a much more tedious endeavor than usual, but it has been worth it.  I put off a pending bone marrow biopsy to prolong summer bliss in Montana, but upon returning it’s been time to face the music.  Larkin is back at work enlightening 7th graders to their mathematic capabilities and I am again facing the problem of malignant cells crowding out my healthy ones in an apparent effort to push up daisies. 

In returning I faced the drill and a fifth hole in my iliac crest to obtain the most crucial information in this process, the leukemia blast count in my bone marrow.  Following my second round of chemotherapy in early May my blast count was at 17%, dismal results in the eyes of my oncologist.  I was the second patient in her 25 years to not experience a remission after two rounds of chemo.  “You are quite a unique individual,” she commented at my last appointment.  We had been discussing my latest biopsy and its 19% blast count reading.  She explained that she’d expected my counts to be in the 80% range due the acute nature of my diagnosis.  “I’ve never seen a case like yours and want to refer you to the specialist at University Hospital.”  I know I didn’t need to, but I reminded her about my trip to Mexico and the treatment there.  Giving it very little credit she suggested, “Whatever they’re doing seems to at least be keeping you steady.”  I agreed to a trip to Denver desiring another opinion with hope that the science-based institution might have experimental procedures for a case as “unique” as mine.

The question of my blast count is an interesting one.  Has it remained relatively steady or did it drop after my Mexico treatment and is again on the rise?  A rising count would deem more immediate attention, nevertheless, there is no question, more treatment is necessary.  According to a number of opinions it seems reasonable to assume that the semi-debilitating issues with my joints are not cancer related.  However, I have felt more recent bone pain and tingling.  It is not severe, but it is a sign of the cancer process and warrants personal concerns.  It is time to make another move. 

With resistance and concern whether the trip would be worth the cost and time, I packed up and drove to Denver last week.  This was my second visit to University Hospital, though time on the road is unfriendly to my body, I was happy to be driving as opposed to the last time when I was delivered.  I had requested a phone consultation but was rejected due to the “impossibility” of it.  So, I found the appropriate check in, deposited ten vials of blood and was soon seen by the doctor.  Five minutes into the discussion I literally felt the weight of dread sink into my body.  I breathed deeply and reminded myself that I was only gathering information and asking questions.  No need to get emotionally involved.  Easier said than done…  Like a tape recorder he repeated the same treatment plan that I was already aware of and relinquished any hope of experimental treatments.  He listed the five major potential complications related to an allogeneic bone marrow transplant, the arsenal of medications involved, and the glaring reality that if I could not achieve remission via chemotherapy there would be no point in moving forward with a transplant.  He repeated the statistics precisely as my local oncologist had.  At this point, I was looking at a 20-30% chance of remission after a “salvage” round of chemo followed by a 50% chance of a successful transplant.  And, the interpretation of “successful” is certainly open for discussion.

So, as a past middle-school math teacher I quickly figured it out in my mind.  If I have ten marbles and three of them are green (30%), and out of those green marble only half would survive a transplant, and the suffering and lasting damage that would come from those treatments… (can you see where this is going?).  To go that route I would have to lose my marbles!  At the point of our conversation where he inquired about my “alternative” treatment in Mexico I divulged what I had experienced.  And, like a well-trained product of the AMA he retorted the same canned response every other allopathic doctor has.  “The problem with these alternative treatments is the lack of scientific basis and I’m concerned they’re just trying to take your money.”  Problem is, like the rest, he had no interest in looking at the scientific-based treatment procedures I had copies of in my folder.  And yes, it is expensive.  But, if you consider a two-week hospital stay inclusive of all treatments with organic meals at Angeles Hospital was less expensive than just room and board for my first two weeks at St. Mary’s Hospital, it leaves one wondering who the real money grabbers are.

I wallowed in fear and dismay for the next two days planning my funeral.  What words I would write so my loved ones would take the occasion to celebrate me and not mourn throughout the depressing occasion.  What music would I want played, I keep putting off making that playlist.  There is that favorite Ben Harper song that always makes me cry and Soulshine by Franti ‘cause that’s my song…  Fortunately, I was rescued by Dr. Perez, the head oncologist at Angeles, during our scheduled phone consultation while on my way back from Denver.  Intelligent, optimistic, enthusiastic and personal; talking with him about my blood counts and biopsy and their treatment plan brought hope and energy back into my being.  Seriously, beyond business, he inquired about personal concerns, shared success stories of other leukemia patients he’s treated, and shared tangents on being a husband and father.  In my own mind I’ve questioned how real the optimism is that the doctors at Angeles always offer.  I’ve realized, it doesn’t matter.  They understand what a potent remedy a positive attitude is and they instill it in their patients.  They realize all aspects of curing disease and are not policed by a pharmaceutically-based governing agency.  And, they are not trying to take my money.  Dr. Perez suggested an outpatient approach to my next visit.  First, he wants to keep me out of the hospital as much as possible due to my low white blood cell count.  And, second, you can imagine the price difference between staying at an affiliated hotel as opposed to a hospital room.    

Needless to say, I am in a position where my choices are clear.  I can let my insurance pay for a debilitating treatment, filled with pain and suffering, with slim odds of success.  I can continue to navigate my own treatment with diet and supplements and slowly add songs to my before-mentioned playlist.  Or, I can figure out how to pay to go where there are doctors who are using cutting-edge science, who understand how true healing works and who truly care for the wellbeing of their patients.  That’s where I am going, and I am going next week.  My parents are onboard and my mom will be joining me on the trip to Mexico.  They have offered to take out a loan on their house to make it happen; it hurts to think about them going to that extreme.  I am asking for help.  If you can donate I express my gratitude in advance.  I am also attempting to orchestrate fundraisers with the help of friends and family.  And, as I state on the heading of my blog, I spend time writing and sharing my process as a way to educate and give back.  Please read the top of my blog and check out the fundraising links.  With humility and love I thank you for reading what I offer.  

PS- I am holding a fundraiser this Thursday night.

Fundraising: Mom's Aprons

My sweet mother has labored intensely making aprons in order to raise money for my cause.  They have gone quick amongst her friends in Missoula.  Now's your chance to get them in Grand Junction!  The asked donation is $40 for these one of a kind, hand-made, in the family, practical and stylish gifts.  Call me to see the selection, first come, first serve.  Whatever is left will be available at December 6th's Poetry Jam and Silent Auction.  I can be reached at 970-901-0150.

What a way to dress your favorite chef!
Here are some ideas of what's available:

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Cancer Card

Last weekend I finally connected with my organic peach supplier in Palisade.  Nothing like this time of year in the Grand Valley, peaches galore!  Oh, so juicy and sweet.  I typically like to process at least a few boxes to use throughout the year.  I pulled into the backyard operation and, as I do every year, fell into quick and easy conversation with the bright and eccentric grower/picker/seller.  As the discussion moved from common connections to certain woes of the world “the question” circulated around my brain.  Do I tell her I am dealing with a cancer diagnosis?

This question is paramount for everyone dealing with such news.  Who do you tell, who don’t you tell, how public or private do you make it?  Certainly everyone has their own nature and concerns.  The more people that know, the more times you hear yourself telling the same story.  You have to be careful not to live it too fully and have it become too life-centric, though that’s unavoidable in the beginning.  How do you carry yourself once you are part of the cancer culture, once you are living that unique lifestyle?  How do you deal with how other people deal with it?  It’s heavy news and sometimes if feels best to jut keep it secret.  We are, after all, a culture that likes to hide things.  Maybe it’s best to just keep that information under the mattress or behind a fence.  There are certainly legitimate reasons to do so.  And there are reasons we do that we might not even realize.

I recently got qualified as an indigent.  What a creepy and demeaning word.  That’s what can happen when you get a disease, can’t work, and don’t have tens of thousands in the bank.  Now, some law or state agency has cut my hospital-specific bill by 85%.  I feel kind of ashamed I can’t pull my own weight and need assistance (I think that’s the secondary definition of indigent).  Speaking of creepy words, who likes disease?  Well, I guess that’s not as bad as infectious disease.  Disease can often be defined by the subconscious as, “something gross that I got and nobody else has, how embarrassing…”  Almost as embarrassing as the 12-year-old prepubescent who got busted masturbating with a Penthouse in (the other) hand.  Now that is definitely something to be ashamed of that I’d never do and I sure as hell wouldn’t admit it if I did.

I digress, to peaches, ‘cause I really love your peaches and want to shake your tree.  Especially because they’re organic and I’ve got a big freezer and a dehydrator.  And, I’ve been diagnosed with leukemia, which is another creepy and scary word, and it seems pertinent to share because we are talking about real life stuff…  But I know how the energy will shift, like when someone drops a glass on tile in a busy restaurant.  Or, like when some big truck accelerates very quickly and loudly and fills the whole intersection with black smoke (thanks for the cancer, asshole!).  OK, maybe it won’t be that bad, but there will be a shift towards sympathy, or empathy.  And with empathy comes another sad story and now we’re all depressed.  If I wouldn’t have ever said anything we could have gone along with our happy cheerful days as if life was as golden as the sun.

Well, I did say something, it felt appropriate, and life isn’t perfect.  Yes, I pulled the cancer card.  First, I got over shame a long time ago.  Should I be ashamed of my human nature or things that happen to me that are out of my control?  There are certain teachings that have passed shame from generation to generation.  Fortunately, I’ve learned from other schools of thought.  Second, I prefer a heart-to-heart connection exponentially to superficial bantering.  It’s pretty easy to tell when you’re in the same company.  Boom!  Here’s what’s happening in my reality.  Bam!  Here, have some Love!  Now we're both elevated.  Third, “Do you know Dr. Soandso who is doing stem-cell therapy?”  “Right here in Grand Junction?!...”  Fourth (but not final), I got a free box of peaches.  Yes, pulling the cancer card often gets you free shit.  I guess being likable is part of the equation, but this particular aspect has been one of my biggest teachers.

People who are givers, who find joy in helping others, often are the worst at receiving.  Conversely, those who are really good at taking don’t seem to be so psyched with sharing what they’ve got.  There’s a strange irony in that.  When my diagnosis first hit friends immediately urged me to set up a way for people to give.  “Oh, no, I don’t need that.”  Once the reality of my circumstances truly settled I consented.  The gifts poured in and I had to work my reluctance away.  It’s taken a number of friends’ kind words to help me not only accept the gifts, but to believe I deserve them.  There is a truth in our human nature, giving feels good.  It feels really good when you give to someone who you know will pay it forward.  But, none of that works if there is not a willingness to receive.  So, I have become willing and in doing so have opened up to the beauty of humility, grace and acceptance.  I received my free box of peaches with no more than an, “are you sure?” and a grateful smile.  We departed the scenario feeling touched, inspired and connected.  What a grander exchange than: Hi, how ya doin’, good, here’s the money, here’s the peaches, have a good day.

On my way out of Palisade I stumbled upon a pesticide-free “U-pick-it” garden stand.  Amongst the eggplant and tomatoes I bumped into two friendly older women who must have sensed the quizzical energy I was putting towards my freshly picked kohlrabi.  Conversation quickly escalated to the point of “the question” and, yes, I pulled the card.  I quickly explained why I was gathering my sustenance from a garden rather than a drive-thru, I divulged the “alternative” treatment I had undergone and my distrust of conventional means.  In turn, they suggested ideas for my squid-looking tuber and with admiration offered the smiling sentiment, “You are our future.”  I was taken a little aback as they resumed their picking.  I’d often spoken such text to inspiring teenagers I’d worked with, but never in reference to myself.  I paid for my flat of produce and drove home with those words echoing in my mind.  It’s true, I realized, I am the future.  I determine it with my actions and I determine it with my words.  What better reason to keep sharing?  What better reason to keep living?  And, what better reason to keep living, unabashed.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Fundraising: Cozies for "Z" Cure

Some time ago my sweet sister sent a box of knitted delights to use for fundraising.  They are currently on display at Orr's Trading Company in downtown Grand Junction (thanks Debora!).  The proceeds of all of these items goes to help me with my medical expenses.  All items are tagged with an asked "minimum donation" and I am happy to ship to you good people outside of GJ (if you can help me with postage!).  Please check out these love-filled handmade items.  They are high quality and can not be found at Walmart.  My sister has won most recent awards "1st Place" and "Best of Class" for her work.  Inspiring!  A huge thank you to my sister and her friends that helped.  I love you Loralei! 

If you have a kitchen, go shopping, like to stay hydrated with tasty beverages, have or know people with children there is something here for you!  The assortment includes jar cozies, hot pads, dish rags and scouring pads, children's hats and socks, and really super cool market bags.
Minimum Donation: pints- $12, quarts- $15 

My sister gave me my first jar cozie a few years ago.  It was the envy of many a friend witnessing me enjoy a hot or cold beverage out of a plastic-free and completely sealable Mason jar.  Seriously, my stainless steel mug has become obsolete.  Be envious no more!  The stock at Orr's is already dwindling, but my sister can be sweet talked into making special orders.  That's how awesome she is.  Did I mention she's beautiful too?!

Speaking of beautiful, this fashion diva can be found roaming the aisles of City Market or the Vitamin Cottage with her eco-friendly market bag.  Whether you're cruising the Farmer's Market or just supplying up at your local grocer, do it in style.  These totes are colorful and sturdy and will hold $10-$50 worth of groceries (depending on where you shop and how organic it is).  Hip, happenin', practical, and provocative.  Years from now you'll brag that you once owned an original!  There are currently 3 left...

(I think these are Min D of $50, I'll have to double check)

Everyone loves babies, especially babies in cute hats and cute socks.  Get some!  I'm willing to negotiate on the bear too.  (Min D: $12-15)

I've been using my mom's knitted dish rags for years.  I wouldn't use anything else.  For one, they remind me of my mom and for two, nothing works better.  Seriously, microfiber is a joke.  These double as pot holders, whether your pot is cold, hot, or dank.  There is an variety of sizes and colors and even a few scrubbies that are really cool because they reming me of ninja throwing stars.  (Min D: $8-12)

If you are interested stroll on down to Orr's Trading Company at 411 Main Street or
call or email me: 970-901-0150  /
Blessings and thanks for your support!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Calling out for a Medicine Man

I sat last Wednesday in the quiet morning silence of a smoky forest just east of town.  The feeling was a bit surreal, to see and feel how thick the air was.  It was the first morning of two needed nights of decompression the best way I know how, sleeping on Earth and sitting in her stillness.  The sky was an adequate expression of my feelings.  The pain and stiffness in my joints had gotten bad enough to affect my sleep and the longevity of these symptoms had become quite frustrating.  My energy was clouded and overall I felt dazed.  I knew I was at another juncture in my healing process.

Previous to departing I had a conversation with a new friend that was a bit of a reawakening.  He shared the story of a significant healing process that he had gone through years ago.  It was self-guided and ethereal, and resulted in a complete cure.  We swapped more stories of healing experiences, the essence of energy to the flow of life, and of gurus and medicine men.  Ignited again was a knowing I’ve had since my leukemia diagnosis in March.  I was being asked to step up and step fully into my power as a healer.

Click here for Turkey Medicine 

So I sat in the haze of far off forest fires and internal flames.  My teakettle neared boiling as I opened my notebook to retrieve a list that had been on my mind for some time.  As my mixture of respiratory soothing herbs sat steeping I studied my list of givers.  My gratitude and awe deepened exponentially with each name I highlighted on my spreadsheet.  I’d been feeling a need to give back, at least energetically, to all those who have gifted me.  The notion of how to do that was a bit overwhelming.  I rose and walked with my tea to the rise above camp and quietly caught movement.  I focused in on a rafter of wild turkeys and watched them scour the ground and erratically devour arthropods.  I lightened with silent laughter while pondering animal medicine and the magic of nature.  It was clear that I would share this experience and this “medicine” with all of you who have given so much to me.

I walked for much of the rest of the day pushing through the stiffness in my body.  I sat often breathing deeply and playing my aspen flute to its leafy kin.  I sat in meditation and prayer, moving energy the best way I know how.  The knowing deepened that I require more than conventions for my healing.  How is it I bounced back from chemo quicker than any patient my oncologist had ever seen, and, in turn had some of the poorest results?  My trip to Mexico was a huge boost, but I can feel unfinished business in my body.  There is more I need; it is multi-dimensional.  I need to step into the deepest and most quintessential aspect of my Being.  I know this, yet I am not sure how.  I have spent much of my life doing things differently.  I have unlearned many of the woes and wrongs of my cultural paradigm.  But now I sit a bit in the mist, in the unknown.  To proceed I need a teacher, so I call out for a medicine man.

I returned to camp and began to prepare dinner.  I gazed across the clearing I was camped in and perceived a noticeable clarity.  The air was cleaner; the haze had lifted.  This seemed improbable after the day’s northern views of endless smoke.  I descended into the comfort of my tent with relief for my sinuses and lungs, yet I felt uneasy in my guts.  The symptoms were not the semi-panic filled twisting I am too familiar with.  This felt heavy and gaseous, a purging.  I slept through the night and woke at first light.  Things were different.  I felt clear and light in my body.  My joints ached, but not with the same intensity I’d been experiencing.  I felt centered, focused and motivated.  A purging had taken place.  Through my ceremony and communion I experienced relief.  I know this reality and I know this feeling.  I also sit here with what feels like an immense burden to shed.  I am ready to let it go.  I am ready for complete healing on all levels.  I call out for a medicine man.  Please hear my prayers and smell the smoke of my sage.     

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Montana Treatment Plan

We are on the home stretch, cruise controlling over the vast barren desert of Eastern Utah on the way back to Grand Junction.  Beacon, the wonder dog, is resting her head between Larkin and I counting the stripes of this newly paved I-70 corridor.  Our escape from the hundred-degree heat almost two weeks ago was an escape from many things.  For one, the relentless allergens of the Grand Valley were irritating my eyes and sinuses and hindering my sleep.  When you feel crappy and can’t sleep you get grumpy.  When you get grumpy your loved one gets grumpy.  When your loved one gets grumpy and you pack a car together and drive to Utah you end up camping at a crazy hot spring in Honeyville where thunder and lightening move in right over your head just after you’ve fallen asleep, trains whistle by your tent all night, helicopters buzz overhead, vehicles shine their high beams in your tent, your closest neighbors fornicate and fight, and the wind shifts direction between the human honey buckets and cattle rendering facility… all night long.  When these things happen you wonder if you should just turn around and go home.
L on the "M" above Missoula

Well, we didn’t.  We knew we needed an escape.  We needed a vacation from trips to the hospital, blood tests, doctor bills, so on and so forth etc etc…  A trip to Montana, and specifically Missoula, had been in the works for months.  The likelihood of it had wavered for obvious reasons.  In addition to getting hang time with my parents I wanted to show off my hometown to Larkin.  There’s nothing like “the Zoo” in summer.  Summer is many things in Missoula.  I’ve often quantified it as “beer, babies, dogs and ice cream” post afternoon walks through downtown.  Because of the evolution of my really boring diet and residual effects of chemo the only way we could blend was with Beacon on leash.  Tubing down the Blackfoot or Clark Fork River is also a trademark way to experience the “hub of five valleys.”  However, my Hickman port’s direct access to my bloodstream was reason enough not to lay emerged in water downstream from America’s #1 Super-fund sight in the company of a bunch of college-aged kids and their alcohol influenced pee.  Leaves one wondering just what we did.

Kids of all ages at Missoula's carousel
Larkin and I are not much for watching TV.  In fact, thanks to pirated Netflix we just got into “The Office” (embarrassing I know).  Every time there’s an exciting sporting event and I want to checkout I whine about not having one.  Of course, I wouldn’t dream of buying a new one and we don’t want the burden of those big heavy out of date relics of the past.  This prelude is to punctuate how enthused we were to realize we arrived at my parents’ house the night of the opening ceremonies for the Olympics.  They set a great backdrop for downtime, meals and Mexican Train Dominos.  Turns out my dad is quite the domino-dominator!  He also makes a great Crocket to my Tubbs.  I say this because commanding a powerboat across open waters makes me feel like a vice detective.  Thanks for that opportunity Shawn!  I continued the fantasy with a rumble on the back of Michael’s Harley and a daring escaped from ravenous rapids on John’s raft (see the heroic photo shoot here!).  Rural and urban hikes, visits with great friends and mama’s good home cookin’ rounded out the adventures.
With the Gashwilers on the Gorge

The “Montana Treatment Plan” is how Larkin dubbed our trip.  And, she’s right.  Despite the achy and even painful joint and tendon pain I’ve continued to experience, I rallied with movement.  I managed to keep up with my supplement protocol, aside from the cod liver oil that conveniently camouflaged with the contents of the fridge.  The cool nights and clean air allowed us both to make up sleep deficiencies and the simple reality that each day was as relaxed or active as we deemed it to be was therapeutic.  The hardest part was enduring the miles between destinations, the stillness a medium for throbbing joint pain.  Overall, the most important feeling is that sense of what a true vacation should be, a break.  Upon returning to “reality” we are refreshed and have renewed motivation for what lies ahead.  For Beacon, continued confidence building in her recently discovered doggie-paddle.  For Larkin, the return to work and another school year starts Monday.  For me, a bone marrow biopsy kicks off my return to work tomorrow.  I’ve decided however, that despite the results a week from now not much will change.  The Montana treatment plan will merge right into the at-home treatment plan.  And, perhaps another trip to Tijuana is in the forecast.

Larkin getting a Walker sandwich!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Living Life

For weeks now I have been intending to write a blog entry, but I guess I’ve just been too busy living life.  Feeling good has prompted me to catch up with need to-dos and venture off on some want to-dos.  I left Mexico almost six weeks ago, I keep track by the number of CBCs I’ve had since.  These blood draws break down what’s happening in my blood, white cells, red cells, platelets, H&H, and so forth.  At center stage is my overall white blood cell count.  I wait in anticipation for the weekly results as it is the biggest immune system indicator.  Upon leaving Tijuana after the Bio-immune cell therapy it was at a 2.8, the highest it’s been since this whole ordeal started.  A week later it had dropped to 2.4 then 2.1.  I waited out my concern to see the next few weeks level things out, another 2.1 then a 2.2.  Meanwhile, all of my other numbers remained steady, near or within “normal” parameters.  Last Friday’s WBC had climbed to 2.4.  Optimism!  My day of celebration will be when my WBC hits 4.0.  Neutropenic no more!

Raw Veggie Juice!
My at home treatment following the trip to Angeles Hospital has become somewhat of a normal day-to-day activity.  Getting on board with the supplement regime took hours of online shopping and upon arrival, hours of organizing, almost to the extent of an Excel spreadsheet.  As with most things though, I’m going off my rough draft and memory.  Once, twice, or three times a day?  With food?  On an empty stomach?  Alpha-Lipoic, Nutri-A, D3 drops, Mega GLA, Resvertrol, Shark oil, Complete B, DHEA, Ginseng, VSL-3, high-dose Melatonin…  It’s a full time job.  Adjusting the diet was another challenge.  I’ve spent a lifetime improving my diet and making modifications.  What at one time seemed impossible happens naturally when you know it’s time.  In this case the shift was with dairy and sugar.  The two weeks at Angeles broke my cravings.  After meals I’d pace to the tune of my sweet tooth, arghhhh, a piece of ginger had to suffice.  Now, at home, the freezer is sans ice cream and label reading at the grocery has gone to a ridiculous new level.  There is sugar in everything!  The rice milk I made a healthy switch to years ago has now been dropped because of its sugar content.  I’ve found that a blend of unsweetened almond and coconut milk are way better anyway.  The veggie consumption has increased so much I’ve already broke one juicer.  Luckily, Craigslist procured a second for a low low price.  My last batch of carrot, celery, ginger, lime and apple I have to say was quite delightful.  I’ve also given up on red meat and pork, sigh, that means bacon, or as we fondly refer to it, Manfruit.  That means more fish!  The kind that’s not farm-raised with color added to make it look real.  And, as I found out, you even have to be careful with wild caught.  That, like so many other things, comes from China. 

Thanks for the visit!
In the midst of all dietary planning and implementation I’ve been psyched to take advantage of improved energy.  Larkin and I joined our local tribe to celebrate the solstice at iLumifest.  I even taught a yoga workshop!  I was thrilled with a visit from my Missoula boyz that same weekend.  John, Shawn and Kris ventured down for a whirlwind visit that included grilling, a festival appearance, and following tradition, a game of Texas Hold ‘em.  The mounting tasks of bills, paperwork and organizing held my attention for the entirety of the next week.  Nearly 100 envelopes requesting my funds were sorted and mostly recycled.  I also managed to fill out an application for CICP and a follow up with Social Security.  I was officially accepted by the state as an indigent and am awaiting the word on supplemental security income.  Since I am learning to deal with putting my pride aside, I’ll apply for food stamps next.  I have for years been plotting an early retirement, I guess you never know how things will manifest.  That aside, the past weeks have also been filled with a mildly complex vehicle rearrangement.  Larkin had been shopping for a 4Runner after deciding to part with her maintenance-ridden Audi.  I opted in by contributing the sale of my Ford Ranger, which never really fit me anyway.  After a month of shopping and a trip to Salt Lake City, Larkin now owns a beautiful black 2000 4Runner that she lets me drive when I’m extra nice.  We christened it with a voyage over the Rockies.  A stop in Vail to visit Beth (post hip surgery) and her folks, a reunion with my Youth Rally family in Boulder, and a visit with family from my mom’s side in Longmont.  It was a great trip that felt very reuniting for me in many ways.  It also provided Larkin a big glimpse into my world that I believe brought us closer.  She’s hooked on camp anyway.  Perhaps we’ll tag team Youth Rally 2013 in Seattle!
Crazy Camp Counselors!

I have been psyched to have the energy and enthusiasm to be as active as I have.  There is certainly an elevated level of planning and patience to merge the dietary needs with getting out.  I’ve also been working through troubling joint and tendon pain.  The overall consensus from docs and Queen Google are that it is a chemo side effect.  I’ve also wondered if it’s related to one of the pharmaceuticals I’m taking due to my neutropenia.  The page long dictation of potential side effects includes tendon pain and possibility of rupture, no bueno!  There is also concern of arthritis, which can be associated with auto-immune diseases such as Chron’s and Colitis.  I continue to assume that it is not cancer related as it feels different than bone pain and I’m not experiencing fatigue or dizziness.  All of this said, I am truly feeling optimistic about my last treatment and am fully on board with what I have been asked to do dietarily.  I am also doing my best to access deeper aspects of healing.  The biggest part of that, I believe, is simply being present and positive.  But just “being” is such a challenge.  That’s why gurus and sages for centuries have had no shortage of work.  For me, it’s living life with a heightened awareness of the precarious balance required to be healthy.  It’s being engaged and actively participating with “reality” while making the time to truly practice self-care.  It is a practice of falling off and getting back on.  What lies ahead will be determined as it unfolds.  I have put off a bone marrow biopsy until Larkin and I return from a trip to Montana.  For now, it is vacation time!  And, taking a break from it all, I’ve decided, is the best medicine.