Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Day in the Life: A Visit to the Oncologist

The Waiting is the hardest part..........

'Our Birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting, and cometh from afar;
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come."

Today was my check up with my oncologist, routine but really, is there anything routine about going to the oncologist? I always try and prepare myself, sort of make a plan of how it will go, how I will act with the Dr and the nurse, trying all the while to stop staring at the enormous elephant in the living room that is my white blood cell count. I have CLL, also known as chronic lymphoctytic leukemia.In an attempt to heal myself and achieve optimum health, for the last 8 months I have been a raw vegan, cutting out all dairy, meat, processed food and refined sugars out of my diet.
When I was diagnosed, I had no symptoms other than a white blood count of 14,000 (normal is 4-10K), that rose to a height of 29,000 7 months ago. Four months ago, it fell to 16,000, less then when I had my harrowing encounter with a giant needle to get a bone marrow biopsy on April 4th 2007. I drink green juice daily, love my green smoothies, eat tons of veggies, some fruit, lots of almonds, hemp seed, spirulina and a few food based supplements. So the litmus test of my lifestyle is the onc visit and blood test.

Here is how I roll:

I woke up at 5:45am, decided that is as good a time as any to get up, I don't use an alarm. Dry Brush my bod and face all over, brush my teeth, do the morning ritual. Wanted to meditate with Rodney Yee, but Sam is sleeping on the couch in the room I use,so I head downstairs and outside. A cool breeze is moving around and the swing beckons.

Make a quick cupa pomegranate green tea , consult with Dali Lama's entry for July 2nd:
'....there is an Indian saying: if you are struck by a poisonous arrow,it is important first to pull it out. There is no time to ask who shot it, what sort of poison it is and so on....similarly, when we encounter human suffering, it is important to respond with compassion rather than question the politics of those we help.' Or question ourselves too much, I am tempted to add.
Malcolm the Wonder Dog

Get boy wonder Malcolm and cross the wet grass to sit zazen on the swinging bench, apropos no? Once there, make the intention to slow down my breath, work on gratitude a bit, then move on to forgiveness, which gets easier and easier every day. Take a minute to think of all the blessing that I have in my life and how I want this appointment to go. I also think that for a moment my Mom might actually have come back as my dog but cross that off as not really probable.

My Life Line aka my email inbox
Time to check email, update my crazysexylife folks, thank everyone for pulling and praying for me, I can actually feel the love coming out of my computer! Go to my favorite raw food blogs, check out we like it raw, give it to me raw, leave some comments, spread some love around the joint.
Morning crazies ensue, then the doorbell rings, postman brings a special delivery from Leenda, filled with love and laughter, incense, a bike horn, a beautiful necklace that I don immediately, it says "Live Light" perfect, just what I needed.

The Box of Love from Lovely Leenda:)

Time to juice green, get that plant blood in the old bloodstream.
The Magic Maker: My Omega Juicer

My Daily Prescription

I gather my ammo: aka reading Material, currently loving David Sedaris 'When You Are Engulfed in Flames." Makes me laugh every page, love him and his crazy life.

The Double your Pleasure, Double your Fun Bike
Get my helmet, get Sam on the double bike for the ride to summer school and we are off, flying on 3 wheels.
Ride home, park that one, take a quick shower cause I don't want the Dr. to think I smell bad (what is that all about, very third grade of me isn't it?)

Choose Your Wardrobe Carefully When Discussing Canser

Ready to Face the Music ie: Get my Butt on the Bike and see the Dr.

I hop on my bike and get my butt over to the office. I feel free when I ride, like a teenager again, jumping curbs, cutting corners, just plain having fun.

Only the BEST Bike ever, My Gary Fisher Wingra

Lock the bike, haul all the stuff up to the office and Enter "The Door" I really don't like that door, no, not at all.
The Door

I sign in, sit and ................wait............................and then have an insurance issue, clear it up, pay copay and .........................wait some more..............trying to read, aware that I look like a crazy bag lady with my backback, helmet, bike bag, camera, all fumbling all over...........and I read David Sedaris, he is trying to quit smoking in Japan...........can't focus.............waiting..............wait impaitently,consider taking a picture of the waiting room but honor the privacy of the innocent bystanders.............and finally my name is called. I joke with the nurse that my blood pressure might be high after this, waiting 45 minutes to get to see her. Weight: 126 (same as when I was 16), BP 110/70, pulse 72, temp. 96, mind: calming down and getting ready to .....................wait.......................this time in the room.
My Dr arrives, asks if there are changes. I say I feel great, I rode my bike over here, like perhaps he thinks that my helmet is just a rouse, a cunning way to fool him into declaring me healthy.

The Paper Covered Poking Table: Not as Fun as it Sounds....

He pokes my lymph nodes, lays me down and checks my liver and spleen, then asks if my watch is a heart monitor... and he is smiling.. I like when he does that because he usually simply does not have time for such frivolity. I say no but he insists that it looks like one and leaves me there to stare at the walls where I find this comforting poster:

All You Never Wanted to Know About Breast Cancer
Yes, it is a detailed poster all about what breast cancer looks like, how it grows and look, you can even 'ask your doctor for the DVD." Now that would really change movie night at our house.
Veronica The Professional Vampire
Veronica shows up to suck, I mean, take my blood and we have a lively conversation about the nurses, leading to a discussion on why nurses wear white, turning to a explanation of why I wore all white in beauty school, because you can bleach the stains out and remain clean and pristine looking. The entire time she is sticking a needle in my arm and my blood is flowing into a small vial and I cannot help but picture nurses bleaching bloodstains out of their uniforms. Veronica is very good today and I don't pass out, I am such a wuss when it comes to blood. She looks like we are going to have a sleep-over huh, maybe on the paper covered table, but no, that pillow is for my arm with the microscopic veins. She leaves, I .............wait.............then she glides by and sticks my chart in the door. It's like Christmas, I know I should not look, not open the package and what if I hate it? Can I return it, like a lumpy sweater that doesn't fit? I decide that I should wait for the Dr to read it to me, delay the invitable result a bit longer.. I don't do patient very well but this is where meditation really pays off.

The Ancient Chinese Secret
I try staring at this but remain in the dark as to just what the fuck it says. I hope it says" Come here for a few visits and your Canser will be gone, No Lie!" But I suppose it says something like "Doctors are People too" Or "Hang in There" sans the clinging by its claws kitten.. I sit, I wait...............
My Arm with a Tiny Hole in It
Me Pretending to Wait Patiently
My Chart Patiently Waiting for the Dr to Read it... And then he is there, and he is grabbing my chart oh so cavilerly says "your white blood count is 14, 000..." and I do a really assanine move, throw my fist in the air and say "Yes!" like some pro bowler who just threw a strike. I ask him some dumb question which he dismisses. He once again reminds me that my prognosis is good, (this is the same guy who told me I had 7 -10 years isn't it?) Then in a very untraditional move he says "Keep biking, see you in four months." and he's gone. I am elated, ready to email and text everyone I know, so very excited that the ride home seems to take place in zero gravity somehow.
Here's the rest of the day real quick:

Picking up Sam from Summer School

Texting Everyone From Control Central: My Sierra Club Backpack
Then it's to the Summer Rec program where Sam makes a lanyard (remember those things? What becomes of abadonded Lanyards? ) whilst I text everyone I can to tell them the test was good. Home to pick up Jaz and take the girls to the library for a class on watercolor painting, the subject: Bugs. I sit and read on the grass, a nice way to spend an hour.

Art on the Library Lawn

Sam's Happy Butterfly Trio
I made Samosas with chutney, Garlic Nann, Dal Makahani, and Lentil Briyani for the family.

Indian Food for The Family
Green Smoothie love for me. Want to try it?

Cacao Acai Green Smoothie
3 collard leaves
1/4 cup cacao/ maca powder
3 tbls raw agave nectar
3 dates
1 cup coconut water
some coconut meat
1 tbls spirulina
1 Frozen banana
1/2 frozen Acai bar (Whole Foods freezer section)
Blend and enjoy!

I keep a food log, write down every single thing I eat, it can get tedious but I am doing it for the China Study people and Kris Carr. It's the least I can do as Kris basically saved my life with her docu, book, blog and forum, and her friendship most of all.

It's Simple: a Cacao Acai Green Smoothie for my Dinner
I will never go back to the SAD food ... I will remain a raw vegan the rest of my life. I am planning my 100th Birthday Party, you are all invited, just make sure to wear your running shoes cause we are going on a hike!

If you are still reading this you either have nothing else to do or you really care about what this kind of day is like.
I hope that this helps someone you love or you if you end up at the onc office.
Leave your fear behind, go with love and good humor. Let go of the results, be at peace with it all, even the shitty parts.
Yours in Raw Love

33 amazing comments:

loulou said...

Hi Debbie. Thank you for sharing your day. You're a brave woman and I salute your commitment to dealing with your illness in such a positive way.

I also think it's astounding that you find the time and energy to cook such a fabulous meal for your family. Does it get to you that they eat cooked? Do you want them to eat raw vegan to avoid the health issues you're now facing? How do you deal with that?

OK, enough questions. Great news on the cell count. You go, girl! xxx

Cravin' Veggies said...

Woooo Hoooooo!!! Fan-freakin-tastic!!!

Miss you... love you... glad everything went well...


LittleGirl l BIG VOICE said...

YAY! YAY! YAY! You just keep kicking that cancer's butt crazy sexy lady!!! Sooner or later it will be down for the count and the referee (herr doctor) will declare you the heavyweight champ! PS that smoothie sounds mighty good...might end up being my lunch :-)

Dragon Slayer said...

Just read yr update. Congratulations fellow CLL'er!! I'm patiently waiting for my Dr to call me at 8:30 this morning to see if I need more chemo to mop up my Bone Marrow-if not, then I'm flying all over the country in joy and love!!
Keep giving us hope

Treice Backs said...

Thanks for this. I really enjoyed the creative element in a day that offers little comfort and much anxiety. This is good prep for my "scan" day tomorrow.
Treice Backs

Teresa Antoinette said...

Stumbled upon this blog as I am a member of the rocking Crazy Sexy Life forum. So happy I read your beautiful words...great way to start my day! :)
What a ray of hope. xxxoxoxo

Lisa said...

That is SUCH GREAT news! Congratulations and here's to GREEN JUICE!! Yummy.

I too find it amazing that you can cook for your family and then have juice for yourself. I have been eating a raw diet for the past month, and have basically told my family they are on their own. I am doing it to lose weight and am still not sure I have the willpower to make them meals and NOT eat them.

You are awesome!

Lauren said...

Yeahl!!! I am so so excited for you! Happy 4th of July!
You're amazing :)
I with my family right now and my brother and his wife think I'm crazy for drinking green juice and smoothies!
I think I will have to tell them your amazing news!!!
I'm so proud of you!!

goony said...

Deb, you rock sista! Riding your bike to the doc's and all! Where is you pretty pink bike? Is this a new one? I'm so happy for you love! You are incredible!


debbiedoesraw said...

to LouLou, Cravin vegg,
littlegirl/big,dragonslayer, treice, Theresa Antoinette, Lisa and my lovely Lauren:
your love has been injected right into my heart.. I am rich in my friends.. keep hope foremost in your in the moment, leave the past behind and LIVE like you mean it!
love to you all

Teddy said...

Woo hoo!
Debbie I love your blog. I was going to ask you how you "just do it" when it comes to raw. But, then I see that you have a food log and I'm going to take a page out of your book and get with it:) Thanks for sharing.

RawBin said...

Awesome blog today, Debbie! Thanks for posting about this. I'm just wiping up my eyes, sniffling, and enjoying this warm fuzzy feeling of joy for you.

I'm so glad that you've found raw and it sounds like you've found an amazing way to turn it back around.

*Big hugs*

Liz R said...

YAY, Debbie! Great news. I love reading your blog. You are an inspiration. Peace and many more great visits... Liz

Sandra Joseph said...

Sat with my big fat green juice and devoured your words this morning. Thank you for taking all of us with you to the doc yesterday. We are celebrating with you. (And I'm hatin' just a bit...same weight as when you were sixteen? That's unfair!) XOXO, SJ

Michelle J said...

Fuckin A!!! What else can i say Debs??? Keep it up whatever your doing OK???

Alissa said...


i was just writing a similarly good news post. cosmic! there really IS something to this raw thing, i believe.


Whole_Body_Healer said...

Congrats Deb on your GREAT news! Now how is it that you get YOUR blood test results SO quick?! I always have to wait a day or 2. With one of my docs, I'm lucky the nurse practitioner sends me the results in the mail when there's a big gap between appointments. That's nice that you don't have a huge wait!
xoxo Michalene

Kristen's Raw said...

Hi Beauty,
Your post was amazing, I loved sharing your day with brought tears of joy to my eyes when I got to the good news. Love the Plant Blood ;)

You're an amazing woman!!! You Go Girl!!!!

Jill said...

Great results, Debbie! I'm so happy for you! It almost makes the wait in the office worth it.
I can totally relate to that anxiety especially since we associate the Oncologist's office with the past bad news and therefore derive bad vibes from it. Which makes hearing such great news even better, because from now on you'll have that to associate it with.
Next trip won't be nearly as stressful!
Congrats, Girl! All your diligent work is paying off in spades!

Austin said...

Debbie dahling, this is wonderful! :) I kept reading because I care and I care about you. :)

Gosh, you must live awful close to everything!!

Anyway, I'm so happy for you. The green army marches on! Finally a war I can support.


Austin from CSL.

Sunshine1128 said...

Hi Debbie,
That is soooo great!!!! I know you have really hard to achieve this goal. You had inspired me to start jucing. I always like reading you blog. I thank you very much for sharing your story. I want to r.s.v.p. for the 100th bithday party.
Live life

Lovingraw said...

Did I tell you that you are freaking awesome today? Because you are. I love you girl, keep shedding off those layers of the past and slip sliding into the future. I can just picture you hoping over curbs with your bike. : ) Cutie

debbiedoesraw said...

all of you bring me so much Joy,
thanks for being here, being with me, joining this crazy life on this sexy planet!
love to you all!
PS thanks Philip, love you too !

Malynda Twitchell said...

Love your gorgeous blog!!!

you're awesome!!!

Stay in touch :))


debbiedoesraw said...

because I like to go in circles, go here to read this post about THIS post! uh, what?
just go see.........

Natanya said...

Oh Debbie, you are so beautiful. Thank you for the gift of your blog. I'm copying your last line and I'm going to quote you on my facebook profile! because it perfectly sums up everything. ;) congrats on the great results. You go girl!

Obsessedwithlife said...

Congrats on your awesome news! I liked reading about your day with the pictures :).


jessica said...

You are amazing. Good news on the results.
Love the acai smoothie. We have a similar recipe too and love it.

LolaBloom said...

Love you Deb... you're an amazing inspiration to us all. Congratulations to you!!!

Aurora said...

Wow, just wow.

I am new to raw foods. They are changing my life!

My dad died of CLL. I wish I knew then what I know now.

I am in awe of you. YOU ROCK. I so want to come to your 100th.

I'll hike ; )

PerfectMomentProject said...

You are so brave.. thanks for sharing that... I just saw an example of fighting cancer through Pure Joy every day. Here's a lesson I took from a survivor this week. Love to have you check out my Perfect Moment Project.

Heather said...

Hi, Debbie. Thank you for writing this blog. I am 25 years old with a very rare form of lung cancer. The kind of tumors I have are called giant cell tumors. Mine started in my tibia and metastasized to my lungs. I have about 35 or so tumors in my lungs at last count.

The tumors are very slow growing. Because of this, I don't currently require treatment. We are waiting to see if they grow, and then we will decide on treatment. There is a treatment called Interferon-Alpha that is showing some promise, but unfortunately, they can't make me any guarantees.

I am not a healthy person. I'm overweight and don't take care of myself. I don't want to wait and see what happens with my tumors. My doctors seem to think that they will inevitably grow someday. So what then? Interferon only works some of the time, and even then it doesn't usually get rid of tumors completely.

I'm looking for something else. I've read a lot about raw foods on your site and Kris Carr's site. I want to try it. I have no other options. My question is, how did you start? Did you just buy a big basket of veggies and start eating, or was there a particular book that gave you detailed directions? Also, have you heard of the Budwig Protocol? My husband read about it and wants me to try that. It includes a lot of dairy though, so that would be counter to the raw food idea. Any help you can offer would be much appreciated. Thanks for reading.

Alissa said...

guess what!

i got a clean bill of health!! normal blood tests...