You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘brain cancer’ tag.
Sitting at my kitchen window again, I’m listening to birds and enjoying blossom-scented air wafting in through screens keeping an army of mosquitos at bay. It’s my favourite time of year despite the insects and I’m hoping that spraying with garlic oil will discourage them enough for us to be able to enjoy the outdoors in peace. I’ll let you know, as it’s a non-toxic product and would be a marvellous solution if it works. If so, I’m even going to take it camping!
For the April blog I wrote about the struggles of my sister Lili with her treatments for brain cancer and how hellish it was to watch her suffer. Since then we almost lost her. And then things turned around. The medications were changed and, miracle of miracles, resulted in an end to her pain and nausea. Our cousin and his partner took over my sister’s care and spirited her away to their home in Pennsylvania where they helped her eat/drink/take meds regularly. She was 103 pounds 1 1/2 weeks ago and now is 118, able to walk and enjoy life again, currently on holiday on Fire Island.
I’ve been relegated to watching from a distance as I have a stubborn infection from my breast reduction surgery that prevents travel. My stress around the situation increased to the point where my whole body tightened, breathing felt like I was in a straight-jacket and sleep became impossible. It took me a while to understand that I am being triggered by a black hole of childhood issues. With everything I have learned, I am still unable to relax. Prayers and meditation don’t penetrate the tension, I can’t make myself do what I need to do and I am just making it through each day doing what is most necessary for Felix. He is starting to act out a bit, bouncing off my tension and preoccupation.
I know I desperately need to rest and face myself most of all and find I can’t do it enough to catch my balance, recover from the infection and regain my energy. I take all kinds of supplements and remedies, make compresses, see my therapist…and it’s all a drop in the bucket if I don’t slow down.
Don’t feel sorry for me please. If you came to my home right now you would not know I was in such a state—except for the chaos everywhere as I finally get to organizing the place! It will not last very much longer. Once I became aware of what this is about, it already started to lose its hold. And most importantly, I do realize that this is how growth happens and am accepting the stress as inevitable. I am hoping that my home will become orderly as my mind does, smile…
Another side of the tension is a positive one: I have finally decided how to move forward with the centre. This creates a rush of ideas and enthusiasm and some normal anxiety. Luckily I know from painful experience that I like to bury my mind in projects to avoid emotional stress. Not this time. I am firmly dedicated to moving ahead slowly and in balance with my personal life so that I can contribute back all that I’ve been given, enjoying the process into my old age!
I look forward to planning out the future of the centre to a point where it can be shared. Then I hope to see some of you again at the exciting programs that will be offered.
Until then, let’s take care, breathe into what really is and trust that our vital energies do everything they can to heal us in this lovely spring weather. And do some rain dancing…
Sitting in the clinic kitchen and looking out over the cold, white landscape, it’s hard to tell that it will be April next week. It makes me think of our northern inhabitants and wonder how they manage their long winters every year. Maybe lots of whale blubber full of vitamin D… At least the sunlight has significantly increased, bringing in the cleansing season again. Time to cook up some kitcharee and break out the milk thistle, grin.
Life continues to be intensely focussed on loved ones struggling with illness. If you’ve been following me since summer, you might have guessed that my sister in New York has brain cancer. It happens to be the same kind to which my late husband succumbed in 2002, glioblastoma multiforme, GBM. Lili is bravely going through chemo and radiation with naturopathic assistance. It’s almost surreal because she is so strong and healthy…as was Mickey. However she has a better prognosis and expects to live for decades. All of us pull together to get through this intact, even if it means healing through loss and death.
Mickey’s eldest son is recovering from flesh-eating disease and will need to live in a long-term care facility. It is astounding to me how he keeps his spirits up. It’s like visiting an angel. Last Saturday I went to a Salvation Army store and bought a bag full of movies, books and CD’s which I will deliver to his bedside tomorrow. It’s fun to visit him, not something one usually feels in a hospital.
My daughter’s partner is still disabled with some unknown illness, which is maybe the hardest, the not knowing. We go from doctor appointments to the pharmacist to the hospital and keep getting more tests. Her doctor has been stellar, helping us feel that eventually we will figure this out. And my good friend who had the heart transplant and is staying with us is having complications that don’t allow him to move forward in his life. Utter frustration and yet he powers on. The good news on this illness front is that the family member with mini-strokes is doing fine and back to regular life.
In the middle of all this, I do my best to help and regain some sort of balance. Normal life happens in between crises and hospital visits and trips to New York. And yet I’m generally at peace. It is deeply satisfying to be of service and growing into acceptance. My own health is improving beyond my expectations and I am booked for a long-desired breast reduction tomorrow, armed with remedies and pain techniques, which will allow me to exercise more comfortably. At this point I’m looking forward to the two week recovery—my turn to rest!! My joints are slowly getting better, my eyes are stable with days of actual improvement, my hair is shiny for the first time in decades and my back is no longer keeping me up at night. My guts are still the resistant area, leading me to deeper awareness of how I hold tension and emotions. I am definitely not as enlightened as I thought, laugh!!
Yesterday I had a phone consult with my German New Medicine teacher, Ilsedora Laker, about these guts of mine, embarrassed that it’s taking me so long to figure out the trigger. She took me in the direction of looking for a “lack” and led me to see that because of my guilt around having so much, I deny myself many things, especially time to relax. In the conversation, I could clearly see the issue but couldn’t imagine not feeling guilty. Later in my meditation, I asked myself what it would take. The answer came: to accept that I DO MY BEST to share and contribute all that I have. I don’t have to be a super-human or beat myself up or drive myself to the brink of exhaustion to justify my existence as a person with wealth. A beautiful light flooded me and I realized that I’ve cracked the code. Now to continue reinforcing it gently. Eureka!
In the middle of all this intensity there have been many fun moments: taking slow walks with my sister; participating in the ice show with Felix (see photo); sleeping in the yurt with grandson Felix and our friend Jessica—until 2am when we rushed back home through the woods in the dark because I couldn’t get us warm enough with the wood stove; trying out ecstatic dance with the regulars in Ottawa; cross-country skiing at Fitzroy Park; and simply enjoying the privilege of being well enough to do my daily tasks of cooking, laundry and looking after Felix…who is trooping through all the stress around him with courage and kindness.
The best part of my own healing process is that night is no longer a time of horrific visions and terror but growing into a delicious experience of relaxing and coming home to myself thanks to the ongoing work with EMDR therapist Mary Ann Carmichael. Decreasing my constant anxiety and increasing my awareness is the central piece that allows everything else to change. The main thing I need to be careful of is that much of the energy I seem to have may be due to being in a shock state because of my sister’s illness, a long surge of adrenalin that will take me to exhaustion as it did with my late husband. This time around I need to take better care of myself.
And underneath everything there continues the dream of the centre. Every time someone is helped with a remedy or a healing technique I fantasize sharing it in a class or workshop. With the spring sun comes new visioning and soon we will be able to let you know what we will offer here. Patience all around! I do realize that I have a compulsive tendency to overdo and am committed to moving forward slowly and thoughtfully. I think that will be easier with the recent insights.
Here’s to your own visions and dreams–
Katherine Willow N.D.
Brain cancers are relatively uncommon in adults, accounting for 2% of cancers world-wide but second only to the incidence of leukemia in children with a rate of 20-25% of childhood cancers. There are a variety of types of tumours depending on the kinds of cells involved, each with its own prognosis.
In a brief summary of the approach by mainstream medicine, brain cancers are considered abnormal growths that start primarily in the brain or spread from another cancer in the body (metastases). They can be safe and left alone or fast-growing and needing treatment, usually surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Prognosis can be decades or months. Symptoms vary depending on the location of the tumour and whether it grows enough to create pressure in the brain.
Forty years ago in Germany a physician named Dr Geerd Hamer discovered marks on brain catscans that led to a radically new way of understanding brain cancers and disease in general. He eventually called his discoveries German New Medicine.
In short, he found that the brain is immediately affected when a shock occurs, resulting in a target ring, a series of concentric circles that can be seen on a catscan. Cell loss or ulceration causes these lesions.
The location of the rings is related to the nature of the shock. For instance, sudden worry for a loved one in a woman will affect her breast gland relay and stimulate growth in a gland on one side. The side is determined by the kind of relationship involved: mother and children worries affect the non-dominant side, for most of us the left; worry about anyone else will affect the dominant side, for most of us the right.
For each shock, there will be a mark on the brain and symptoms in the organ or tissues affected by that area in the brain. Often we don’t notice this; many of the organ/tissue results are asymptomatic or below our radar and we resolve the shock without any obvious physical symptoms.
Back to the brain: when the shock is resolved, the rings fill in with new cells which eventually re-integrate with the existing brain tissue, leaving a small mark. Most often this process goes unnoticed unless the shock is large, in which case the rings are bigger, affect more tissue and could cause symptoms.
It is this tissue regrowth during the healing phase of the rings that receives a diagnosis of brain cancer.
When one considers that these lesions are not a disease but a process of repair, it is understandable why treatments for brain cancers are often unsuccessful. If the person is vital, their brain cells will keep attempting to finish healing the damage from the shock; this is interpreted as a cancer recurrence, resulting in more treatment and strain to a person’s immune system.
Even if the original healing process is completed, the damage from the treatments themselves, especially the radiation, will at some point require a new healing process which will again be understood as disease and treated. It is not uncommon for brain cancer patients to undergo multiple surgeries and rounds of chemo-therapy and radiation in this frustrating cycle.
This leaves us with the question of treatment within this new paradigm.
German New Medicine is not a treatment but a revised understanding of medicine. Each patient needs to be individually assessed to determine the most intelligent treatment plan. This could be mainstream medicine and/or alternative treatments, or even taking a wait and see position to ride out the healing phase.
It’s still the dark of early morning and cricket sounds are soothing as I bring my thoughts into focus about these last few weeks.
My sister Lili, who lives in upstate New York, came to visit on a whim on July 23rd. After dinner with a friend, we sat at the kitchen table chatting as sisters do and she mentioned some funny visual symptoms. My mind went very still as she told me about a brief sensation in her head when they started 3 weeks earlier. To make sure I wasn’t blowing things out of proportion, I called Telehealth* and repeated her symptoms. We were told to go to emergency immediately.
We decided to go across the border to the Ogdensburg hospital where Lili would have insurance coverage. After the usual wait, Lili was ushered in for her first brain catscan. I was allowed into the office and watched the screen as an egg-sized, fluid-filled lesion slowly emerged on the right side of her brain.
It is incredibly fortunate that German New Medicine is the foundation of my understanding of health and disease, because brain tumours are the ultimate healing sign within this revised concept of medicine. (This doesn’t mean treatment is unnecessary, see www.newmedicine.ca for an explanation.) I was able to be calmly supportive for Lili as she descended into the inevitable diagnosis-shock of the unexpected. We were told to stay for an MRI and were then informed that she had a cystic brain tumour and needed to see a neurosurgeon.
My sister is not one for taking any challenge lying down. By the time we had driven home she had alerted family and friends and gotten appointments with two top neurosurgeons in New York City for the following week. The next day we went to emergency at the General Hospital in Ottawa to further check out the eye symptoms on the advice of a family member who is a medical doctor. Eyes were healthy, but the visual symptoms had greatly increased, probably due to the shock.
Lili had brain surgery on August 5th and flew through recovery, riding on the prayers and positive thoughts of thousands of friends and family. She weaned herself off pain medications with homeopathic remedies, discontinued the anti-convulsive drugs that were making her sick and successfully replaced the steroids, which were upsetting her sleep, with an herb that reduces swelling in the brain. By the time she left the hospital, she looked her usual gorgeous self, determined to restore her health. She has a follow-up MRI in mid-September to see how her brain is doing and to decide on treatment. Now she is radically reducing the stress in her life and focussing on calming herself with meditation and prayer. GNM teacher Ilsedora Laker has played a pivotal role in helping Lili come out of her fear and panic.
There is so much more that I could write about this, it would become a book. Maybe I’ll do that someday. In the meantime, I plan to divide my time between here and New York to support Lili until she gets through this, as I’m certain she will. How unbelievably lucky that I now have the time and attention to help this much!
During this event I am having a new experience of myself: more energy, clarity and emotional stability. I’ve been to New York three times since that July evening, with late nights, complicated logistics and high stress all around me and yet feel more positive and healthier than ever before. I suspect that working with Sheila Earl and faithfully taking her remedies, supplementing with a very specific regime to buoy up my weak areas and continuing my therapy are all key, but that there is something bigger going on here that will reveal itself as time goes on…
I look out my kitchen window and see the outlines of the spruce in the new dawn. In a few hours I’ll be travelling to Guelph in the hopes of being useful at the homebirth of Stephen’s first grandchild. His daughter Sophie sounds relaxed and confidant and ready to go into labour any time. Felix will stay here to see his mother in the Pride parade.
I feel blessed and supported.
Here’s to a peaceful ending of summer and a smooth transition into the more turbulent energy of fall. Time for an early fall cleanse if you can. I’m waiting until October to do mine and only if life has slowed down.
*Telehealth is a wonderful service for Ontario residents, a toll-free number which reaches kind nurses who will help you decide whether you should go to a hospital or not: 1-866-797-0000. A good one to put up on the fridge!
–On another note, some of you have emailed me and not gotten a response, even before this new development. It is my intention to get back to everyone, but if you want to help speed that up, please email me again and thanks for your patience. I hope to see some of you at the Creativity in Nature event on Sept 20.