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

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!