Monday, September 13, 2010

The Power of Love

Yoga, part two will resume after my soon as I can sit up and type! I go in for surgery tomorrow morning at 7:15, which means we have to arrive at the hospital at 5:15!! We are ready to dive in and tackle this beast and put it behind us, though, so it's a good thing.

Power to the Peaceful was amazing, as usual. There were 70,000 people this year, which is about 10,000 more than last year. It seems the band "Rebolution" brought in the teens and twenty-somethings. It got very crowded when they played, but then opened back up when Michael and Spearhead played. Things got a little dicey for awhile, but my sister-in-law Chrissy was my fierce protector and kept me in a safe, blissful bubble. Thanks, Chrissy - you rock! I was surrounded by the love of my friends and family and it was amazing. It was also a bit too much for me. I didn't make it to the show at the Fillmore Saturday night. The day wore me out and I can't believe I actually missed seeing Franti because all I wanted was my bed.

Sunday we went to the Fillmore for yoga with Sean Corn - what a beautiful, warm spirit she has. Ran into her in the ladies room and had a nice chat. She was lovely. I did as much of the yoga as I could, but I was still feeling exhausted. Listening to Michael Franti play acoustic music during the class was blissful. Afterward he was out mingling with his fans as he always does. I took my warrior goddess self right up to him (Bulldogged right past the shyer people who were waiting) and was rewarded with a big, loving hug. Then I told him about my cancer recurrence and that I delayed my surgery until after PTTP. I got a second, bigger, longer, hug out of that - oh yeah, cancer gift! Then he asked me my name and handed me his guitar pick. If anyone has major pull with the universe it's this beautiful, peace loving man who has given us all so much beautiful music. That guitar pick is going to become a necklace at some point. Michael Karma!

Sunday night I lounged on Richard and Brandon's couches, ate a meal worthy of a 5 star restaurant prepared by Brandon, then watched slides of the trip to Europe Richard and I took together in 1981. That was an awesome summer, and I was so lucky to share it with Richard. Their home is beautiful and so relaxing for me - just what I needed last night.

Today I saw my surgeon, then went to the hospital to have blood drawn. Now we are at the Best Western in Redwood City. Casey is having food for me tonight or for the next few days. Tonight I get to do the "bowel prep." I'll leave that up to your imagination...

I'll post again when I can. Going into this surrounded by love, peace, healing energy, and two hugs from Michael. Power to the Peaceful!! Namaste, Jill

Friday, September 10, 2010

Yoga, Part One

My yoga journey is all mixed in with my cancer journey. Prior to 2007, I had not had a positive experience in a yoga class. My experience was limited, but it seemed too slow, too calm. For 27 years,  I was at the gym 5 to 7 days a week, doing high impact aerobics! I loved it, it kept me healthy, and it was fun.

In 2007 I went to the Power to the Peaceful concert for the first time. The show is at Speedway Meadows in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. It begins Saturday morning with a yoga class from 9:00 - 10:00 am, followed by a second yoga class from 10:00-11:00. My first year I was very ill. I thought I was suffering from interstitial cystitis, a condition I had in my 20's. It is not unusual for it to go into remission and recur later in life, and the symptoms were the same. So, I parked Stella Blue (My VW van with a pop top) near the show and made up the downstairs bed. Yes - she has an upstairs bed, too!! I was feeling so bad I did not expect to make it through the show, which lasts all day. I took my beach chair and prepared to watch my friends practice yoga, because I wasn't into it and because I was feeling so bad. There were about 200 people there, and 199 of them were on a mat, practicing yoga. It felt wrong to sit and watch, so I grabbed an extra mat and positioned myself next to Amt but with my mat staggered behind hers so I could mimic her. I didn't know a Warrior II from a Child's Pose! I followed along with Amy and I did the complete two hours. Afterward...I felt better than I had in a really, really long time. I not only made it through the show, I danced all day long and then went to the Fillmore that night to see Michael Franti again and danced until around 1 am!!

I could not believe that two hours of Yoga could do so much for me. I came home determined to find Yoga teacher. Being the Humboldt County Hippie Chick that I am at heart, I wanted the total spiritual Yoga experience, not just Yoga in a health club. Just a few weeks after the show, I received a post card in my mailbox, announcing the opening of a Yoga Studio in Atascadero! I asked, and the universe sent me Yoga in the Vines and its fabulous owner, Cathy. I went to a class the day she opened the studio, and my real Yoga journey began. Since the studio was new, in the beginning I had many private classes with Cathy because only I came to class. I not only received lots of one on one teaching, I gained a friend who has enriched my life. I practiced with Cathy from October 2007 until December 2008 when my cancer was first diagnosed. I had been sick for two years but misdiagnosed. That year of practicing with Cathy gave me the strength, both physically and spiritually, to stay strong and positive and to fight. Cathy gave me private classes throughout my treatment, which kept me strong, centered and positive.

I find  have more to say on this subject but not enough time to write, so next post will be Yoga, Part Two. Casey and I are heading off to Power to the Peaceful this afternoon, so we have a fun and friend filled few days ahead of us, and then surgery Tuesday. I may not post again until after I get home from the hospital, which will be Sunday, September 19. Send me all of your love and positive, healing energy - especially on the 14th.

Namaste, Jill

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Bella is my great big beautiful dog. She's Border Collie and Great Pyrenees. I fell in love with her picture on the internet after my Margy died. The first time I was diagnosed with cancer, I cried exactly twice. I cried on Valentine's Day, when my hair started coming out in the shower in huge handfuls. It was much more traumatic than I expected it to be. The first time I cried was when we had to put Bella and Ben, Casey's dog, in the kennel while we went north for my surgery. I stayed home and sobbed while Casey took them. We rescued Bella from Woods, but she started out at the pound where her owner surrendered her. Although she is quite large and strong as an ox, she is easily frightened and insecure.  The kennel is, let's face it, doggie jail, no matter how often they are let out to play. All I can think while she's there is that she thinks we abandoned her, too. She can't stay home or stay with a friend because she is an escape artist. Apparently it's a characteristic of her breed - she just wants to wander and explore. She always comes home, but it's dangerous and it scares us. This time, Ben is going to stay with the Librizzi's because the last time he was a mess when we brought them home. The kennel traumatized him too much - he's old and set in his ways. This time, Bella won't even have Ben for comfort. I know she will be safe, I know she will be fine and this is just my emotional trip...but it's really the hardest part for me. I came home from the hospital two days earlier than my doctor advised in 2009 because I wanted her home so badly. This time, I am determined to stay the full five days. It's a whole lot easier to get out of a hospital bed after abdominal surgery!! When I woke up this morning, my girl was snuggled up against me. She's so big that when she does that her body is almost as long as mine! This is something she has started doing recently, and I hope she doesn't lose the habit while we're away.  I am a strange one - I am more excited about going to Power to the Peaceful than nervous about the surgery, and I'm more upset about kenneling Bella than I am about having cancer. What can I say? I love my dog.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

It's the Small Things...

The past few days I'm finding that small things that I would usually shake off are getting to me. I suppose it's easier to release those emotions from my balloon (reference my students will get) using the small stuff. Maybe the big stuff is just too big. As Casey said to me yesterday, down time is not my friend right now. I am not overtly thinking about the cancer, but I know it's lurking in there.

I'm very anxious to just DO THIS and have the surgery behind me,  but I am also beyond excited about going to Power to the Peaceful and all that it entails. I know the love of my friends and Casey, plus all that positive Michael Franti love energy will send me off to surgery on the most positive possible note.

I have one yoga class with Jean on Thursday before I go, two hours of yoga before the show Saturday, and an hour and a half of yoga Sunday with Sean Corn teaching and Michael playing acoustic music - how cool is that? The more I practice yoga, the stronger I get in every way: spiritually, physically, emotionally...the mind-body-spirit connection becomes strong. I feel so blessed to have so many opportunities to practice with such amazing teachers!

I am tired and rambling so that's it for today. Evening energy has been a bit of an issue lately.

Namaste, Jill

Monday, September 6, 2010


I started this blog when I was diagnosed with fallopian tube cancer in December of 2008. My intentions were good but the reality was I posted once, never put the URL out there so anyone could access it, and promptly forgot it existed! Imagine my surprise when I went to start my blog and discovered I already had one!

The details of the first battle are mercifully fuzzy. This time I hope to write consistently, both to share my journey and so I have more memory of it afterward. I think I have something unique to contribute. I fully intend to kick cancer's butt, but I don't hate my cancer, and I am not angry about my original diagnosis or my recurrence. Cancer is tough, but it has given me many gifts. I will try to share the gifts and growth that cancer has given me.

In March of 2010 my CA125 (cancer antigen test for Ovarian Cancer, which is treated the same as Fallopian Tube Cancer) doubled. Under 35 is normal. It was 7 after I finished treatment in May 2009. It went up to 9 and then 11 when I had my 3 month check up. March 2010 it went from 11 to 22. It's a bad sign when it doubles. I was in Tahiti in June and did my next CA125 in August, and it had jumped to 156. I had found a small lump underneath my hysterectomy incision in August, so although I was hoping it was an abscess, I knew in the back of my mind what was happening. I had a second CA125 - same result. Then I had a CT/PET scan. It showed areas that lit up, which indicates cancer. Next came an ulrtasound/biopsy. Good thing I didn't know going into it that they numb it with a shot, not the topical lotion I was envisioning. I believe the biopsy ended up being a total of three shots to numb the area, and 5 shots with the biopsy gun to remove tissue. Unfortunately I saw the needle, but it was after the procedure so it was OK! The thing is like a a gun with a four inch long needle! The doc assured me he didn't stick the needle all the way in, but I was very sore afterward. It was very difficult to do any kind of vinyasa in my yoga practice for at least a week!

End result: a phone call on Tuesday, August 24 from Kate O'Hanlan, my surgeon. She is a gynecological oncologist and she may walk on water. She radiates strength and has a powerful aura surrounding her. The first time she operated on me for cancer, she took a tumor off my colon with her hands. She is the top of her field and I am so very fortunate that she is in California so she can be my surgeon!

She will be operating to remove the cancer Tuesday September, 14. Prior to the surgery I am going to spend the weekend in SF with Casey, Susan, Linda, Amy, Alison and other friends at Michael Franti's Power to the Peaceful show all weekend. I am going to have a joyful weekend full of friends, yoga, music, Michael...bliss. We will end our weekend with our dear friends Richard and Brandon in Oakland Sunday night. What a way to go into surgery as strong and full of love as possible!!

Here's a photo from 2008, when my nurse Shannon shaved my head Because my hair was falling out:

Namaste, Jill