Thursday, March 31, 2011


Yesterday Bella and I visited our lovely vet, Sharon Klintworth. Bella is a scaredy cat, and she is beyond terrified at the vet. She drools, she pants, she trembles from head to toe. A needle going in doesn't phase her, but she's petrified just being in the office. I found a gross looking lump on her back leg two days ago. Sharon aspirated it and looked at the cells under a microscope, but there was blood in the sample and she couldn't really be sure what it is. It doesn't hurt Bella and it's not stiff and unmoving, which she says is good. may be melanoma. Melanoma? Dogs can get skin cancer? Isn't thick fur like Bella's enough sun protection? So, they have to remove it surgically and biopsy it, and while she's under I asked them to clean her teeth. She is afraid of the tooth brush. Breath bones help some, but her breath is not like springtime!! I hate thinking of how afraid she will be when something big actually does happen to her in that office. Something in her life before us was not right. She is scared of so many things. The first time I took her to the beach she cowered against my leg because the water scared her. She doesn't know she's as big as a small pony and as strong as one, too!

My dog had better not have cancer. That will make me pissed off at the universe.

After her traumatic experience, I took her on a walk around the Atascadero Lake. First we saw three does munching someone's lawn as we drove there. As we were walking we saw 8 turtles, all lined up in a row on a downed tree branch, catching some rays. We saw a red winged blackbird whose red spots looked like shoulder pads. We saw a beautiful white swan, dipping her head into the water to catch her lunch. We saw flowers blooming, parents walking with their babies, lots of dogs, lots of was so pretty! We both felt better afterward.

Casey is having a hard time right now. He has been dealing with our flooding basement 4 times a day for over a week. He has been working 7 days a week for a very long time. He has the stress of dealing with me and my cancer. He is too housebound. He needs a break in a big way. So, I found a hotel in San Francisco that is big enough for the three of us and I think I have convinced him to leave his computer behind and come with. The hotel is going to be amazing, I think. It has a full kitchen, so we can take food and not spend so much eating in restaurants. Each room is like an apartment and has a garage underneath, just for one car, and it's free! Most hotels in the City charge between $30 and $60 a day for parking, so that adds a lot to your bill. Right now Casey and I both need a break from the stress of dealing with our leaky house and a break from cancer.

So, once again, big BIG love to the women of Yoga Flirt. This is our Kicking Cancer Carnival get away that you women worked so hard to provide us with. I can tell how much I need it by how excited I am, and Casey needs it much more than I do. You can probably tell how much we needed it by how fast I started planning after the carnival!

Suddenly there are not enough hours in the day to do everything I need to do. I run out of time, every day. It's a good thing...

I miss my classroom:



Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Great Cookbook and a Trip

Yesterday a cookbook I ordered arrived. It's called The Fighting-CancerKitchen. It's the one I've been looking for! Many vegetarian and vegan cookbooks rely heavily on soy products for protein. I can't eat soy because my cancer is estrogen reactive, plus soybeans are a GMO crop. I am not interested in meat substitutes, I just want veggies, fruits, grains, beans, no processed sugar...this one is perfect. Maybe because it does have recipes with chicken and fish it doesn't rely on soy. Any recipe that uses sugar calls for blue agave syrup. I'm going to be using this one a lot. I don't know why everyone doesn't use one of the many alternatives to sugar there are out there. Yesterday at the Wellness Kitchen I asked Nancy what she uses for sugar and she showed me palm sugar, made from coconut. It's grainy like sugar and tastes like brown sugar - delicious. There are several sugar alternatives that are natural, unprocessed, and some, like stevia, are calorie free. We all know that the chemical sugar substitutes like aspartame are cancer causing. Why do they exist? Why does New Frontiers use processed, white sugar instead of a healthy alternative? Robin commented on yesterday's post that she has a vegan cake recipe. Send it to me, Robin!! Ellalina commented that Natural Harvest in Templeton has vegan cake mixes. I love that.

Sydney's spring break starts next week and she has two weeks off. She's had a difficult couple of years and she has spent every free weekend she could manage with me since September. I've been housebound for close to seven months, with the exception of the one night in Ventura. So, we are going to go to San Francisco together for a few days. I discovered last night, when insomnia was plaguing me until 2 am, that with the economy in a shambles there are lots of hotel deals. We are going to eat at vegan restaurants, go to museums, go to a Giant's game with Dani (Sydney's sister) and her family and sit in their private box! Cool. I should probably not be traveling between rounds of chemo, but I am getting cabin fever. This idea came to me when my friend Carla posted a picture of the view out of her hotel room in SF last week, and it was a gorgeous, sunny morning. I love the City. When you're from north of it, it's never San Francisco, it's simply "The City." Sydney and I have been lots of places together - Paris, Madrid - but we've never had a vacation in the City before. It wasn't insomnia last night, it was excitement. The flirts wanted Casey and I to take a vacation with some of the carnival proceeds. Well, I invited Casey but he declined. The two of us will go somewhere this summer, but for now Sydney and I need a getaway.

Carla and Susan, my friends from Eureka, want to meet in San Francisco when I'm finished with treatment. The plan is to meet at the Top of the Mark. This is still on, girls!! We'll plan when I know when I'm finished.

Delicious, yummy yoga with Cathy later this morning. Taking Bella to the vet about the weird looking growth on her back paw. Our vet is Dr. Sharon Klintworth, and she's wonderful. All of my dogs have loved her. She's another busy doctor who took the time to send me a personal note. I am just so impressed by people and their kindness.

This is me and my wonderful nurse Catherine,a day or two after my surgery in September. Catherine was my favorite of the nurses, who were all angels:



Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Vegan Experiments!

Eventually, I want to be able to "cook" raw, vegan food so well that Casey will enjoy it. There will be a learning curve. I look forward to taking some classes, but for now I am experimenting with recipes. I have a hard time giving up the sweets, but I know I can't eat processed sugar very often. White death, as my big brother calls it. Yesterday I made vegan ice cream and a vegan chocolate cake. Casey didn't like either of them. The cake was not a success. The batter stayed exactly like I left it with my rubber spatula, so it vaguely resembled a large pile of dog poop. It didn't taste too great, either. I really like the ice cream, myself. I made it in my blender and froze it in my Kitchen Aid ice cream attachment. The ingredients are simple: cashews, blue agave maple syrup, water, vanilla and unsweetened cocoa. Mix it all together, put it in the freezer and it actually looks like chocolate ice cream! I think it's pretty good. It's possible Casey might have liked it better if he hadn't seen the ingredients. He kept saying "where's the milk? How is this ice cream?"

I have learned to never say never in this life. I'm sure I will have real cake and ice cream on my birthday. I'm sure that once in awhile I'll have a glass of wine or a cocktail. I know I won't be able to eat 100% raw, and 80% may be difficult. I hear there's a vegan restaurant in Los Osos, and Colby Jack's does well with vegans, but restaurants could be tricky. I often wish there was a hippie enclave in the north county. Sydney is so lucky to live in Ventura with Mary's Secret Garden!! I know that, in order to keep this cancer away for good, I must change my habits.

It's a beautiful, sunny morning here in A-town. Yesterday it was gray most of the day so it's a welcome sight. Debbie brought me her students' entries in the AJHS writing contest, so today I get to read student writing and feel like a teacher for awhile! Grading is usually a chore, but it's all a part of missing the kids and I actually miss it. English teachers, by reading their students' papers, get a glimpse into their minds, lives and creative processes. Sometimes it's painful - we become experts at atrocious handwriting, for example - but often it is lovely. I love sharing our writing together. I write what they write, show them my messy process, and we all become closer. My favorite thing to teach, after Shakespeare, is poetry. I love reading and explicating poems with them, and I love when we write together. I love the boys whose mom's call me to say their son just can't write a poem. I don't grade poetry A,B,C,D,F - who wants to stifle their creativity? So, if your poem has what the assignment asked for, full credit. Sooner or later all of them write poetry, even the most reluctant boy. Many of them even share it in class. I have gobs of poetry I've written in class with my kids. Some of it's pretty good!

So, Tuesday. Maria is coming to clean our grubby house, I'm going to Cathy's noon yoga class where she's going to start teaching me how to do a tripod headstand, I'll take a walk in the sun with Casey and the dogs, and I have a lot of thank you notes to write. Hopefully I'll get my CA125 results today - 7!!! I feel happy.

My favorite dish from Tahiti, poisson cru, which is definitely NOT vegan:

I will always have to eat sushi and sashimi from time to time!!



Monday, March 28, 2011

Basking in the Glow

I woke up this morning, checked in with myself to see how I'm feeling today, and realized that I am basking in the glow of the Kicking Cancer Carnival. I have this warm, fuzzy feeling wrapped around my heart. Being the recipient of so much love and good will feels wonderful. It also feels good to be able to receive the love and the help. It makes my heart feel open and it makes me feel good about my friends and my community. It's a beautiful thing.

This afternoon I'll call to get my CA125 results. Cathy asked everyone to put me in their intention Saturday morning and to ask for that 7. I had a visual of 7's floating all around in the air in the studio. I have been visualizing it myself, all the time. Lucky number 7 and cancer gone forever.

On the Ovarian Cancer List Serve I'm a part of, one topic everyone tends to avoid is diet. Too controversial. People don't want to hear that changing their habits can make a difference. One of the women wrote last week about collapsing and having an ambulance come. She was at McDonald's when it happened. Another woman wrote "No one thing I eat gave me cancer and giving things up won't keep it from coming back." Many of the women say things like "My cancer is gone...for now."

I will never know why I got cancer. My diet was cleaner than most, but it was far from perfect. I do know that something in my body's environment let the cancer in and allowed it to return. If I want to be cured, I must change my environment. For me, that means becoming an 80% raw vegan. There are many studies that indicate that in order to keep from getting cancer or surviving, your body needs to be more alkaline than acidic, and you need to avoid foods that cause inflammation. Organic, raw, vegan food,'d be astonished how many people have survived cancer by eating this way. I feel like a new purpose for my life has been revealed to me, and it involves spreading the word about how to cope with and survive from cancer. I don't know exactly what form this will take, but the feeling that it's inevitable is growing. The wise woman who pointed this path out to me three years ago was, of course, Cathy Weiss. I would not be surprised to discover that she is more than just my yoga angel, that she is, in fact, a real one. She is so wise and seems to be capable of doing anything she sets her mind to.

Another detoxing health tip is dry brushing. You use a natural bristle brush designed for this purpose, and every day you brush your skin prior to bathing. You start at the soles of your feet, and brush upward in a circular motion. It removes dead skin and detoxes. I've only been doing it for a few days and my skin is noticeably softer. I also have some REN bath oil that Sydney gave me for the bath. It's very yummy - the water gets all soft and fragrant but it doesn't leave the tub slippery. REN is a British company that makes natural, toxin free beauty products. Just like organic foods taste better and have more nutrients, natural beauty products smell better, feel better, and do more for you.

Writing this blog is one of the high points of my day. I crave the routine and it nourishes my soul. Next year my students will be writing a blog as a class assignment. I am brimming with ideas for my class next year, and I am missing my students and my classroom, so much. I feel like I'm homesick for room 18. PLEASE let the number be a 7. I need to finish treatment, get started on a major detox, and prepare to return to my classroom, Yoga Flirt, evenings out...sounds like heaven to me.

I love this picture of David getting ready to go fishing and mom watching! This is from our trip to Moorea with Cate in August of 2009:



Sunday, March 27, 2011

Kicking Cancer Carnival!

The Kicking Cancer Carnival was amazing. The Yoga Flirt girls really put together something fun and wonderful. After chemo Wednesday and Thursday and Friday in bed, I wasn't sure how long I'd be able to stay. I was expecting to do fine with the yoga, do as much as the intro to YF class as I could manage, come home for a few hours and return for the end. It was so fun and inspiring that I did both classes - 3 hours of exercise...not too bad for a chemo girl! - and stayed until the end. The best part was watching the Queen and her princesses perform, and I wasn't going to miss that!

It started at 9:15 with Cathy's yoga class. Casey had an "ah ha moment" when Cathy helped him to position his arm in one pose. He loved her class and I'm hoping I can get him to the studio on Tuesdays now! It was great to see me YF buddy, Sonja. Jana and Irene from AJHS (You will always be from AJHS, retired or not, Irene), Rob and Gabriella were there and several people I don't know. The yoga felt so good and made me feel better. I was a bit nauseous going into it, but yoga never fails to make me feel better. I probably would have had trouble making it through the day if we hadn't started with yoga. Next came the Into to Yoga Flirt class taught by Becca and Angela. Doing the warm up, which is awesome, and relearning the uturn and sugar spin made me long to get back into a Yoga Flirt class. I miss the fun, the excitement, the challenge, the camaraderie and the feeling of euphoria I have at the end of every class. I can't wait to get back into Yoga Flirt next fall!! The class was full and everyone had fun.

Next came the carnival. People were coming and going throughout this part of the day, but there were always women there, having fun. The games were awesome. I especially loved when someone would ring the gong, which cost 4 tickets, Angela would count down and all of the flirts, in unison, would say "cancer sucks!" and do a sexy YF move together, reminiscent of the bend and snap in Legally Blond. Love it! I got to wear a pink crown and a tutu! The silent auction and the raffle were awesome and people left with some cool items. The Wellness Kitchen did the food, so there was delicious soup and potato salad, plus cookies shaped like high heels. Oh, and a popcorn machine, too! Cathy's wonderful husband, Michael, sat outside all day and sold tickets and signed people in. He was under a sun shade in the rain, all day. What a great guy! Love you, Michael.

There were four of my former students there. Autumn, the flirt who did a fantastic job doing the PR and getting the word out to the media, was in my class in 7th grade. Love her - thanks, Autumn! Brook came with her mom, Debbie, who is a level 7 flirt and a professional photographer. She was photographing all afternoon! Courtney came with her mom, and they both attended the intro class. Betian, who volunteered in my very first AVID class, came and she brought Destiny, another former student. Even though they are all over 18 and haven't been my students in awhile, I have been really missing my daily interactions with kids so seeing 4 of them yesterday made me very happy. Awesome to see you, Autumn, Brook, Courtney and Destiny!!

I think that every woman at the event who didn't know me introduced herself and wished me well. One woman brought me a picture her daughter colored for me when she told her where she was going. She even framed it! Another shared that she came because her mom died of cancer. Jean, who was briefly my sub this year, came and it was great to see her. Meghan was there, and we hadn't seen each other since the early days at Yoga in the Vines when she was pregnant. We both look different! Linda had to work but she took the time to stop by, give me a hug and buy some tickets, which she gave me. Marcie, my wonderful massage therapist and Becca's mom, came and got to see Becca do pole moves and dance for the first time! I think I may be able to convince Marcie to join me in level one!

I hope I'm not forgetting anything or was a crazy, sexy, fun-filled day. The queen and her princesses all danced to a different Michael Franti songs, which was awesome and made me very happy. Michael's music is perfect for YF, with his sexy voice and lyrics. Angela did a great job shaking it!! I can't even express how much fun it is to watch these women dance. They do jaw dropping pole moves, and they just look so strong and sexy. Cathy has given us all something precious and wonderful, and we all love her for it, so much.

So, I was able to be at the carnival all day long and I took both classes. Not bad for someone who had had 8 rounds of chemo, and one just 3 days prior. I would not be this strong and able to do this were it not for Cathy, Jean, yoga, and Yoga Flirt. Jana said to me that I need to be a spokesperson for what yoga can do for you, and I agree. Everyone should practice yoga, in my opinion, but especially cancer patients. I wish every female cancer patient in the world could enroll in Yoga Flirt level one. They all can't, but if you are fortunate enough to live on the fabulous Central Coast, you can!!!!! I'll be starting over in level one in the fall. Who's up for joining me?

Gratitude, love, respect and hugs to everyone who planned, worked, donated, attended,
etc. I am, as usual, feeling blessed and very, very grateful.

Here I am this morning, still wearing my heart on my cheek and my Yoga Flirt tattoo on my chest:



Friday, March 25, 2011

More Blessings

The cancer blessings continue. The mom of a former student saw the article in the A-News and bought tickets to the fund raiser. I thanked her via email and she responded, saying I made an impression on her son and she's happy to contribute so I can continue my work. This morning I received an email from a former student who saw the article online. She lives in Denver, has 3 daughters and twin sons they adopted from Ethiopa. She told me she is inspired by my story and that I was one of her favorite teachers. I remember her clearly and was moved by her email. My cousin Becca called me yesterday and she and her husband went vegan after she read 20 pages of the Anti-Cancer book, and she went looking for a yoga studio. She says my blog changed her life. I never expected to be an inspiration to anyone, but it's very gratifying. I feel a bit like Tom Sawyer up in the tree, listening to his funeral. I have tangible evidence of how the people in my life love me. This touches me deeply and makes me feel very grateful.

Connections, gratitude, blessings. In addition to the pain, nausea, needles, chemo, ER visits...cancer has brought these blessings to my life. It has made me a better person. It has deepened my relationships. It has brought Casey and I even closer. It has deepened my yoga practice and my connection to my wonderful yoga teachers. It has even brought me closer to Bella, my beautiful dog. In spite of this awful disease, I feel happy. This may be the biggest weapon in my arsenal. Everyone out there who has helped us, and so many have...whether it's by sending me a card, mailing me books, bringing a meal, giving me private yoga classes, putting on a huge fund raiser, donating to or attending one of the fund raisers...each and every one of you has helped me to stay strong, to stay positive, and to stay happy through all of this.

I don't think I'll ever take any aspect of my life for granted again. Cancer teaches you what it really means to appreciate every day, every person in your life, every moment, and to count your blessings. It's better to focus on the things that are right in your life and to dwell on the things that are wrong. Chalk them up to lessons, learn from them, and be happy. Most of all, be happy. Tell the people who matter to you how you feel about them, all the time. In the words of JT: "Shower the people you love with love, tell them the way that you feel..." It feels good to do it and it feels good to be told!

Casey: My rock, my best friend, my love:



Thursday, March 24, 2011

Feeling Famous :)

I have been feeling like a celebrity lately. Not that there's paparazzi at my door, but the Yoga Flirt Kicking Cancer Carnival is getting some attention. It started with the interview for the Santa Maria TV station. If you missed it, they gave us a pretty long segment, complete with Cathy teaching me a pole move, Cathy and I doing a bit of the YF warm up, and interviews with both of us...voiced over en Espanol!! Then Cathy and I were interviewed on KJUG Tuesday morning - it was fun to see the radio station and the people there were wonderful. Last Friday the Atascadero News contacted me with a few questions, and this Tuesday the writer, Aaron, came over to shoot pictures for the article. Bella and I ended up on the front page, with three more pictures on the second page. He did a great job, I think. I hope that lots of women come to the fund raiser and take the Yoga Flirt into class, see the demonstrations and fall in love with Yoga Flirt like I did. I want every woman to feel this sense of power, confidence and community. If you can't make it Saturday, sign up for the next Into class!

Chemo took 7 hours yesterday and wasn't too bad. I was grateful to have some delicious coconut soup from the Wellness Kitchen at home since I was so full of fluid it's hard to eat much. Last time I felt like I swallowed a basketball, this time I felt like I ate a full Thanksgiving dinner and about 5 pieces of pie!!

Speaking of the Wellness Kitchen, Marcie Lukasik is now giving massages there exclusively. Her massage room looks like a gorgeous bedroom in a Victorian home. I wanted to move into the bathroom and make it my home! Such a lovely setting. Marcie's massages are deeply relaxing and her knowledge of acupressure points is amazing. The hot stones are the best thing that ever happened to my neck and shoulders! I highly recommend a massage with Marcie. I came home feeling very relaxed and happy. Thanks, Marcie!

I have had some intense practices lately, with Lauren at the studio Sunday, with Jean and Rachel Monday, at Cathy's studio Tuesday. I know this is a big part of why my treatment is going so well. I am not really supposed to go to classes at a studio - I still need to avoid germs - but I figure the benefits outweigh the risks! My body feels sore and that feels great! Cathy is coming today for a class, and Jean is coming tomorrow. Saturday I am going to attempt both the yoga class and the intro to Yoga Flirt class at the fund raiser. That's 2 hours and 45 minutes, so we'll see how I do! I handled a two hour yoga workshop Sunday, so I'm hopeful! I'm so excited. It's going to be major fun!! Humbling and fun. Have to mentioned how grateful I feel, every day?

Have a wonderful Thursday and come to Yoga Flirt in SLO this Saturday!! 9:15 yoga for men and women, 11:00 Intro to Yoga Flirt, 12:30-5:30 carnival, silent auction, and instructor demos!!Everything after the yoga is women over 18 only. If you have been curious about Yoga Flirt but feel shy, this is the time to check it out!! The intro class is very fun and not at all threatening. The Queen and her Princess Flirts are amazing to watch - Cirque Du Soleil quality with awesome music and cheering flirts - very entertaining and inspiring. Local friends, please come!!

My beautiful Mommy and my gorgeous Niece in Tahiti August 2009:

Namaste and big love,


Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday Morning!

Last night I glanced at the clock and realized it was 9:30 and I was still up, doing things around the house. Maybe it was Super Moon Energy!! I am usually in bed by 7 pm. I watch Jeopardy M-S, and then I read or watch TV. When I'm tired, my surgery site starts to hurt. If I ignore it, it gets worse. If I climb into my bed for the evening, I feel fine. Our bed is enormous and extremely comfy, which has been a huge blessing since I have spent so much time there. I was a bit sore from yesterday's yoga, but I did not feel overtired.

Yesterday I went to a Spring Solstice yoga workshop at Yoga in the Vines, taught by Lauren. The yoga was fun and challenging and I loved it. Lauren is an herbalist, so after we practiced she shows us examples of local herbs and explained how to use them. It was interesting and fun! My friend Devon was there and it was so good to see her. I'm not really supposed to be out in public, but I can't resist a yoga workshop and I figure the benefits of the practice outweigh the risk. Besides, sick people don't tend to go to yoga classes...right?

Jean will be here soon for my private yoga session. Tomorrow I'll go to Cathy's yoga class. Wednesday I'll be at French hospital all day having IP chemo #2. Shannon will draw blood and I'll know probably by Friday what my CA125 is after round 1. Say it with me: "Seven, seven, seven..." Thursday Cathy is coming over for a private. I think it will be good to practice the day after - hopefully it will help to fluid to absorb quicker. They put two bags of saline and two bags of chemo into my belly. Last time I came home 6 lbs heavier than when I left and I felt like I was pregnant with a basketball. Talk about bloated!!

The rain has stopped, for now, and the sun is shining. Our red couch is soaked from the leaky roof in the TV room and we woke up to ankle deep water in the basement. Sigh. The joys of being a homeowner!! Casey is not amused.

I'll think about that tomorrow, because "after all, tomorrow is another day!"

I don't think I've shared a picture of our dog Ben before:


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ventura Trip

My trip to Ventura with Susan was great. We took Stella Blue, and at Casey's request Susan drove. I decided that if it made him worry less it was a good idea, and I also realized he was right - it would make me tired. Even though I was a passenger and the most strenuous thing I did was walk around downtown Ventura...I was asleep by 7:30 last night and I slept for 12 solid hours. Even though I feel strong, it doesn't take a whole lot to tire me out. It is common for people undergoing cancer treatment to suffer from chronic fatigue, so getting tired after a big adventure is no big deal. I give yoga the credit for keeping the fatigue at bay. Once again, big love and gratitude to Cathy, Jean and Rachel...and to yoga!!

Mary's Secret Garden, the organic, vegan & raw restaurant in Ventura, is sooooo awesome. Susan and I had lunch there, and then returned with Sydney for dinner. Everything we ordered was beyond delicious. Sydney and Susan agreed that if they could eat like that all the time they could be vegan. After dinner we had dessert - peanut butter & chocolate mousse cake with ice cream & chocolate sauce. Yes, it was vegan and made without processed sugar, and it tasted just as wonderful as any cake I've ever had. We don't need processed sugar - there are many other options - nor do we need dairy. When you eat food like this, it makes your body feel wonderful and it thanks you. If you are in Ventura or passing through, stop and check it out. Even the most dedicated meat eater will admit the food is great.

I had my make-up done at Coastal Skin Care. I researched it online and they got high ratings for their non-toxic make-up and skin care line. It all felt wonderful going on my skin, and the experience was very relaxing. I purchased all new make-up and today I will toss all of my old stuff. In 2008 I went to a "Look Good, Feel Better" session at the Hearst Cancer Center in SLO. They taught us how to put on make-up when you don't have eyebrows or lashes, then gave us all a big bag of free make-up and let us pick a hat. That is what I've been using since, and I have only purchased mascara in the last three years. I think I was due. The products in the bag were all expensive, but it's too bad the cancer center doesn't provide products that aren't toxic. It's like the food in the hospital. They feed you exactly what a cancer patient shouldn't be eating. We have a lot of work to do in terms of caring for cancer patients. Buying products without toxins is part of my changing lifestyle to keep the cancer at bay. Fallopian tube and ovarian cancer tend to recur. There are many women on the OVCA list serve who have had multiple recurrences and secondary cancers. I am determined to win this battle for good.

I believe this was the first time I've ever hung out with Sydney and Susan, just the three of us. They are my two besties. Sydney and I have been friends since 1979 and Susan and I since 1984. They are both virgos and what I call "handle it girls." People turn to them when they need something done because they are both so organized, efficient, and awesome. It was wonderful, spending time with them together. Love you, Sydney and Susan! Thanks for all the years of friendship. I'm so lucky to have you both in my life.

I'm going to the Spring Solstice yoga workshop at Yoga in the Vines from 1-3 today. I know it will make me tired again tonight, but I also know it will make me feel strong and happy. It's pouring, it poured all night, and our roof is leaking and our basement is flooding. Happy Spring Equinox!!

Susan and her beautiful kids Cassidy and Trevor at the Madonna Inn:

My beautiful friend Sydney:


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Feeling grateful

I discovered that I can do lotus, and Jean helped me to do a lotus head stand!
Pretty exciting.

I haven't been writing much lately. I find I'm a morning writer and if I get too far into my day without doing it, it doesn't happen. I really miss it when I don't write for a few days, or even one day. Today's post might ramble a bit..there's a lot on my mind!

Our water purification thing on our sink has become problematic, so I had Crystal Springs in SLO deliver water to us this week. The water is bottled from a spring in SLO, and they bottle it the day they deliver it. It is in plastic, which doesn't thrill me, but we put it into a ceramic decanter. What is huge for me right now is how delicious this water is - I'm amazed. Where I'm usually forcing myself to drink enough water every day, with this water I have to be careful not to drink too much or I'm up too much at night! This is something I should have done 12 years ago, when I moved to Atascadero.

Cathy and I were interviewed at the SLO Yoga Flirt studio on Tuesday for a Santa Maria TV station. It turned into a pretty long segment, with voice over in Spanish. He filmed Cathy teaching me a simple pole trick, which I totally spazzed on but you couldn't really tell when it aired. I never thought I'd be on TV, on a pole!!! How fun for me. I will so be needing to start over at level one! I have been away from Yoga Flirt for 9 months - way too long. Cathy, of course, gives interviews like a pro and demonstrated some of her amazing pole moves. Cathy, you are such an inspiration to me!! Autumn was there, and it was so great to see her! Autumn was my student when she was in 7th grade, and she is the flirt who is doing the PR for the Kicking Cancer Carnival. She discovered that she knew me as Mrs. Hayward when she was reading my blog and I mentioned Bob Canepa, my colleague and her 7th grade math teacher. Awesome to see you, Autumn. The Yoga Flirt women have done so much for me, and Casey and I are so grateful. Love to the flirts!

The Atascadero News is doing a story on the Kicking Cancer Carnival and Yoga Flirt. It will be in the Friday, March 25 edition, the day before the event. Cathy and I are going to KJUG for an interview next Tuesday at 8 am. Do you have a radio in your classroom, Mrs. Terry? :) I feel like a celebrity right now. Yay!

I am actually going to venture out of town for a quick girlfriend weekend tomorrow. Susan and I are going to Ventura. I'm going to Coastal Skin Care in Ventura to purchase some natural, non-toxic make up. This is part of changing my life to keep the cancer at bay for the rest of my life. We're going to the organic, raw foods bistro for dinner with Sydney and then Susan and I will spend the night with Sydney and her two kitties, Smokey and Turbo Kitty. We may attend a Nia class at the Ventura Nia Center Saturday morning. It has been much too long since I've been to a Nia class. We'll be home Saturday. I'm excited - Susan and I haven't had an adventure together in awhile. It doesn't get much better than an overnight with two of your BFFs. I love you girls!

I went to my oncologist's office yesterday and saw Tim, his PA. They will do a CA125 blood test before the next two IP rounds in the hospital. If it comes down enough, it's all good and I should be finished in April. I fit doesn't come down into single digits, I will continue with cystplatin in my belly port. I believe it is nastier than taxol and may make me sick. So, the CA125 needs to come down significantly from these three IP treatments. Prayers, intentions and mantras are much appreciated - CA125 a 7 and cancer free forever!!

Big love and big thanks to everyone out there who is supporting me in so many ways. I still can't quite believe there are two fund raisers in the works. I feel grateful, blessed, loved and very happy.



Monday, March 14, 2011

I Feel Good!

This is me, after my blissful yoga session with Jean and Rachel this morning. My curls came back! My hair tends to go straight after I color it and this time it lasted longer than usual. I assume it's because of the chemo , but it could be the natural hair color. I'm always glad to see my curls come bouncing back. I haven't written since Thursday because I've actually been kind of busy!

Friday morning I went to Target and Ross with Susan. It felt so good to be out and about in the world! We played until 11:00 and then Cathy picked me up and she and I went to the Atascadero Women in Business luncheon. Cathy spoke about Yoga Flirt and about my fund raiser. Cathy's public speaking skills are excellent, which isn't surprising with her background as a school teacher, a yoga teacher, a yoga flirt teacher and teacher trainer. Plus Cathy does everything well. Several women had something positive to say about their experience with Yoga Flirt or the experience of someone they know. My favorite was about a timid woman who found her self-confidence as a flirt. There's no doubt it makes you walk taller and feel prouder. It's a beautiful thing when your chosen profession makes you happy and it also helps people. That's what makes a happy life, I think. Thanks, Cathy. I had fun and I always love spending time with you, basking in your sparkle.

Saturday morning Casey and I went to Yoga in the Vines for Jean's class and my friend Krissy joined us. We practiced to Abbey Road and I was very happy about that and just about being there. Sydney arrived as class ended and we met her at Colby Jack's for breakfast. Yum! Later Sydney and I went to Ambrosia, an antique and second hand clothing store on El Camino near our house. There is a lot to look at there and it was fun! I had never been in there before, but Katie Scroggins told me she loves it so I knew I would. Thanks, Katie. My former student, Julia Arroyo, works there and it was great to see her.

The biggest thing that Sydney and I did was purge my closet. Sydney needs her own TV show, called "You Can Do Better." She's much prettier and more clever than the woman on "What Not to Wear." I tried on 100% of the clothing in my closet and she said "Yay" or "Nay." Actually what she said was more along the lines of "Really?" and "Please tell me you don't wear that to work!" Apparently I tend to purchase clothing in colors that wash me out and that are a size or two too big. I like baggy dresses, what can I say? She says she wants to me look fabulous all of the time, that I deserve to look fabulous all the time, and that I should never wear anything that doesn't make me look fabulous. Her final, condemning comment that sent over half of my closet packing was "You can do better." What would I do without her? I always take her with me to Macy's when I shop. She makes me try things on that I don't like, and she's almost always right. She has an eye for color, fashion, what looks good on my body type...she reads a lot of fashion magazines and she has the eye for it. She shakes her head at my hippie chick look and smiles indulgently. Susan asked if she could take the discarded clothing to a resale store in Morro Bay that donates a portion of the proceeds to Wood's Humane Society, where I adopted both Margy and Bella. I have such great friends!! Thanks, Sydney and Susan.

Which leads me to the way I'm feeling today. My heart feels tender from all of the horrific news form Japan, first of all. In addition to that, after my yoga class and all of my generous, wonderful friends doing so much for me...I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

Namaste, Jill

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cancer Blessings on a Beautiful Day!

I have been having the best day! Casey and I had a private yoga class with Jean and Rachel, and we addressed Casey's hamstrings and my core. I had a private with Cathy yesterday, and I am feeling like a spoiled and fortunate girl. All of this amazing private instruction is truly the biggest of the cancer blessings. I'm to the point where the majority of the poses feel really good to me, and I'm just so happy when I'm practicing. Having a one on one experience with an excellent yoga teacher is so amazing and wonderful...I highly recommend it. My yoga teachers often become my yoga props, and they can help me to go so much deeper and get so much more open. Today, after three days of yoga, I feel energized and strong. I'm thinking that's not a common way for a cancer patient to feel, especially a week after treatment. I'm giving the credit to yoga. I'm falling more deeply in love with yoga, every day. It makes my spirits soar and my heart sing...and boy do I sound cheesy!

After our yoga party, I had lunch at Colby Jack's with my friend and cancer sister, Krissy. We sat outside on the patio, which is beautiful, ate delicious food and I basked in the sun. I was actually too warm by the time we left, and I was wearing a sleeveless dress. yay! Krissy and I have an easy friendship - meaning that we are at ease with one another and have things to talk about. We have that similar cancer thing in common, and the same doctors. It's nice, having someone who lives close who can relate to my experience so completely. We had fun and it felt so good to actually have something to do that wasn't an errand or appointment. Krissy is also a cancer blessing for me.

This warm weather makes me want to go somewhere warm and float in a pool. Peggy and Kirk, you'll be seeing me in your pool this summer for sure! I'm off to lounge around and read my book for awhile, or maybe play my guitar. I've probably done enough for today and should relax now. Even though I'm not feeling sick from the chemo last week, I am feeling rather toxic. I'll be glad when it's over and I can do some serious detoxing.

This is how I look today. I still have hair, although no eyelashes to speak of:


Wednesday, March 9, 2011


It has been a week today since my IP chemo, and that's the day I got sick last time, every time. I still feel OK, so I guess it's going to be alright. I do believe I'm going it make it through this recurrence without one trip to the ER! I guess it's a trade off - the surgery was much worse but the treatment isn't as bad. Even though it was only 6 months ago, my surgery seems like a part of the distant past. I remember how awful it was, and how I felt like I was literally going to die when I tried to walk in the yard. I will remember much more of the experience this time, thanks to this blog. It helps me remember, it helps me process, it gives me a semblance of a schedule, and it keeps me relatively sane.

In writing it, I don't follow the advice I give my students about writing. I write it, read it over once for typos, and publish. There are still errors that I missed in most of them, and I really should let it rest and edit twice. Oh, well! I dive in without a topic most days, which is something I do tell them to do. The blank page, or screen, can be intimidating. Sometimes you just have to dive in and get started. When I write something more formal, I tend to throw away my beginning and write my introduction to match what I wrote. I love it when I'm writing and something unexpected comes out of me - it is very true that you don't always know what you know until you write about it. Writing is also very cathartic, which is a word I have to explain to my students. :)

So, my Macbook is home. They replaced the faceplate (might be the wrong word) and it's like having a new computer. I have to start over with my bookmarks etc. It came with photobooth, but it seems to be gone. This is a must for blog pictures! My picture library is too disorganized to find anything...a project I must tackle. You would think I would be doing projects like crazy...but you'd be wrong. I seem to have settled into a sort of happy laziness. I could easily spend my days in bed, watching movies and reading, but I force myself to get up. I try to accomplish something every day, even if it's just doing the dishes a few times.

Yoga with Cathy today at 11. Yesterday's yoga felt so good. It makes me so happy that I'm to the point where it just feels sort of dreamy and delicious. I love yoga!!

Namaste, Jill

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Benefits of Yogaflirt!

As the "Kick Cancer Carnival" approaches, Cathy asked me to answer a question: How has Yogaflirt been the most beneficial to me? It has been beneficial in so many ways that it's not an easy answer. I would have to say it has benefited me physically, emotionally, spiritually and socially.

The two surgeries within a month of each other in 2008 left my core muscles shattered. The hysterectomy incision goes across my stomach and the cancer debulking incision goes straight down the middle. My muscles were sliced both directions, and the core strength I had developed in my yoga practice was gone. Cathy told me that Yogaflirt would be the real core builder, but that I had to wait until I was strong enough to attempt it. I did privates with Cathy throughout my treatment and when I had built my strength up I started level one. I was able to achieve level four before I got sick again. The warm ups for the different levels are challenging and build core strength. It takes a lot of core and upper body strength to climb and spin. The physical strength I gained from Yogaflirt was unlike anything I have experienced in an aerobics or strength training class. When I had my second cancer surgery in September of 2010 I realized how strong my core really was. Once again, my muscles were cut down the middle and sitting up had to be accomplished by rolling onto my side. I barely left my bed for two months afterward, yet after three months I could already sit up without turning to my side. Yogaflirt had made me so strong that my recovery happened much more quickly that it would have otherwise. It has been six months now and I feel like my core strength is almost all the way back.

Emotionally YF has been very good for me. I left every class, in every level, feeling joyful, like a child at the end of an afternoon of play. The classes are playful, although I never challenged myself to that degree when I was a kid! The supportive atmosphere among the women is inspiring and uplifting and makes me feel good. Since my cancer was gynecological and the surgeries left me with a lumpy tummy, YF helped me to feel sexy and feminine again, and that has huge emotional benefits. I also challenged myself in ways that were new, and conquered some fears. Many of the spins are frightening at first, and It was new for me to even attempt to face one of my fears. After facing cancer, three surgeries and chemotherapy, everything else seems less scary. Still, attempting to go upside down, doing some of the spins and getting my sexy on in a room full of women was way out of my box and that's good for me!

Spiritually, YF opens up other dimensions in my heart and in my mind. Level one starts off with the yoga concept of "ahimsa" which is about not judging, yourself or others. The flirts take this to heart, and class is all about loving, supporting, and urging each other on. I never felt judged if I couldn't do something correctly, and everyone is eager to compliment and cheer for everyone else. YF strengthens the mind-body-spirit connection and takes you to that quiet place where you can get in touch with your higher self and experience heart opening spirituality.

Socially, YF has given me a network of loving, caring, supportive women. I felt close to the women in my classes. The camaraderie is present at Open Pole, where flirts from all levels mingle and play together. The first time I went I was so scared my hand was shaking as I signed in. I have always had fears involving trying something new in front of people I don't know. I remember Cathy smiling at me and saying. "Don't worry, this is fun!" She was so right. It doesn't matter if the girl next to you at Open Pole is a friend from your level or someone you just met who is three levels above you, she is going to be friendly and supportive. So many of these women are helping Cathy to organize my fund raiser, and they may or may not know me. It is characteristic of the flirt community to be so caring and to want to help.

Of course, all of these many benefits come to me because Cathy came into my life. I wonder how many people go looking for a yoga teacher and find someone who is so perfect for them at the first studio they try? I just feel like Cathy is my yoga angel and she was sent here to help me deal with my cancer. When I needed something more to strengthen my core, she started Yogalfirt. I think part of my purpose is to help people who have cancer, and Cathy was sent to me to get me started on that path. I am a better person today because I have cancer, because Cathy came into my life, and because I'm a flirt. I love Yogaflirt and I can't wait to get back to it!!

Somehow, this turned into an essay, Cathy!! Ask an English teacher a simple question...! If anyone out there reading has a question they'd like me to answer, let me know. I like having an assigned topic!!

Namaste, Jill

Monday, March 7, 2011


Last night I watched a documentary titled Food Matters. I thought it was going to be about the food industry and factory farms, but it was about food being our medicine and that old but very true addage: "You are what you eat." I like the way Kris Carr says it: "Your body is a temple and your mouth is the altar." The film talked a lot about vitamins, nutrients, and the drug industry. The gist of it is that Americans are suffering from ill health because, despite the rampant obesity, we tend to be malnourished. If we focused on nutrition and gave up the processed foods, there would be less disease. People have reversed heart disease, without drugs or surgery, by eating a plant based diet, exercising and meditating. Japanese women who eat the standard Japanese diet have a 1% chance of getting breast cancer, but if they switch to the SAD diet (standard American) their odds shoot up to the same as ours, which is 13%. As I watch these documentaries and read these books, a few things stand out. One is that these industries are policing themselves. This is true of the food industry and the pharmaceutical industry. No independent's all corrupt. Another is that what's going on in the food industry is not sustainable. We're cutting down rain forests and destroying the environment so the world can have big macs, which are toxic and are killing us. I believe people are waking up, however. I keep thinking about that organic aisle in Walmart.

For myself, it's rewarding to eat whole, healthy, organic foods, and know that it's fighting the cancer. I feel fortunate that my oncologist, Dr. Spillane, believes in an integrative approach and sent me to a naturopathic doctor in the beginning. He discusses nutrition with me, unlike many doctors. Did you know that most medical schools offer no nutrition in their curriculum? Instead it's a pill for every pain, disorder, or ailment.

When I finish my treatment, I plan to do the Crazy Sexy Diet's 21 day cleanse. I am pretty toxic after all this chemo. In June I'm going to the Dancing Deer Farm for a 6 day raw foods retreat. It's located on highway 46, close to home. After that I will eat an organic, plant based, mostly raw diet. I will do whatever it takes to make sure I am healthy for the rest of my life.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

OK, Now it's Sunday!

Yesterday...did it really happen? Casey left to go riding and returned 5 hours later to find me right where he left bed, watching movies. It's nice, knowing I can relax and there is nothing pressing to be done. The house is clean, I did all the laundry prior to treatment, there's food in the house, and there's no grading to be done. Sundays are often grading days for me. I'm starting to miss reading my students' papers now. I get sad when I read my work email. I miss going to work and having that daily connection to the kids. Their youthful energy is sometimes draining but always inspiring. I have a really great group of kids this year, and it makes me so sad to miss out on them. If you're reading, I love you guys.

That's one thing about writing a anybody really reading? How many? I know you're out there, but I really have no idea who you are, unless you joined officially, you tell me you're reading, or you comment once in awhile. If you're reading and I don't know it, send me a FB comment or an email:! I'd love to know who's out there. Are my entries too long? Jean and Casey tend not to read because "there are too many words." :)

Today is a gloomy day and it may rain. I plan to do a bit of laundry, take a walk, do some reading, take a bath, watch a movie or two...pretty much my daily thing. Add some yoga and meditation to the list and it's a pretty good day!

Big Love and Namaste,

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Sundays are for Movies...

It feels wrong, writing my blog on Casey's Dell. My Mac has been ready since Wednesday, but we left the hospital too late to pick it up. We're going to get it tomorrow. I keep starting to write and getting bogged down by this. Today I will write - I need to keep up my routine.

Yesterday I was feeling the steroid crash, but I managed to get some things done, take a walk etc. Today the steroids seem to be completely gone, and they mask the symptoms of chemo side effects. I don't feel awful today, but I feel just nauseous enough to keep me from attending Jean's class at the studio. :( I don't like missing yoga...Casey and I will practice at home later but it's not the same as Jean's fabulous class.

I have been playing the guitar so much that the fingers on my left hand feel sort of rough and numb! I'm trying to figure out how to match the music, melody and words, and I actually wrote part of a song! It's a first attempt and obviously not awesome, but it made me feel pretty good. Casey is thrilled about all of this and it's making us even closer than before. We are sharing music, yoga, and a nightly dose of Battlestar Galactica!! Daily walks with the dogs, too. The love just grows deeper as time progresses. :)

Casey is going on a mountain bike ride today, and I plan to lay low and watch movies with my dogs. I watched an interesting documentary last night called Enlighten Up. This guy sets out to discover what, exactly, yoga is. He goes to all different kinds of classes, travels to India, interviews yogis...I recommend it if you're a yogi yourself! It's on Netflix streaming.

Happy Sunday and Namaste,

Thursday, March 3, 2011

IP Chemo and Insomnia

Intraperitoneal chemotherapy is not a lot of fun. We are used to having full stomachs, but having fluid poured directly into your abdominal cavity is a strange sensation. Two bags of chemo and two bags of saline. I literally gained 6 lbs of fluid today, and it's all just sitting in there, annihilating any microscopic cancer that may be lurking. I feel bloated, overly full, and nauseous... yet hungry. I've had two oral doses of steroids and one IV. This makes me hungry, it makes food taste delicious, and it makes me chatty.

My Macbook's hard drive crashed and I get it back tomorrow. My pictures are safe on my iphone but I did lose a lot of data. Next time, I will pay attention if the "spinning ball of death" every shows up again.

It's 1:48 pm and I think I will go attempt to sleep again. I may be chatty but I have a hard time typing on the Dell...

Namaste, JIll

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dead Computer and SAD (standard American diet)

My MacBook has been acting strangely the past few days and this morning it seems to have died. I'm writing on Casey's Dell Laptop...ugh. I gave up reading posts on facebook because the way this thing scrolls is beyond slow and annoying. I'll have to do it on my Google TV later. I hope my Mac is fixable, but Casey said it looks pretty bad. is the last chemo free day, but tomorrow it will have been a month since the last one. It has been great, having a month off. I am much stronger and better prepared for tomorrow's IP chemo.

I'm currently reading Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Diet and it is confirming for me everything I already knew and that I learned in both the Anti-Cancer book and in Eating Animals. My choice is to go as vegan as I can. Yesterday I discovered there is a place close to us - 15 minutes away - that offers retreats. This summer I plan to attend one of their raw foods retreats where they will teach me to prepare raw, vegan, organic food. I will also be able to take yoga classes while there. In order to make sure the cancer never returns, I must free myself from eating animals, which includes dairy, and from alcohol. I will have a drink once in awhile, but not often.

I am never surprised when I discover that our government has lied to us. The lies about our food are evil and really bother me. The meat and dairy industries have so much clout that they call the shots and regulate themselves. It's one more example of the wealthy elite screwing the people. When the American Dietary Association changed the food pyramid so that meat and dairy were only to be eaten occasionally, they rose up, raised hell and got it changed. There is plenty of proof that eating meat and dairy on a daily basis leads to heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Add processed food to the mix and you have a nation of unhealthy, obese people. The sugar thing really makes me angry. Read your labels - there is sugar or high fructose corn syrup, in everything from your toothpaste to your cheerios. There is sugar in foods that don't need it. The reason? Sugar is addicting. Even if you don't feed your kids much sugar, they're getting it in every packaged food, ketchup...everything. The addiction factor leads to wanting more, which is why we see kids at school eating nothing but sugar all day. Then we wonder why our kids are obese, have diabetes, acne, etc. They say the current generation is the first in 100 years whose life expectancy is shorter than the previous generations'. They have added a daily dose of Starbucks or energy drinks to their unhealthy habits.

Why has this happened? Profit and corporate greed. Everything that has gone wrong for our country, from the housing crisis and the economy to our ill health, can be blamed on corporate greed. If we let our food be our medicine and ate whole, healthy foods, we would have very little in our medicine cabinets and wouldn't be spending so much on health care.

I don't know why I got cancer. There is certainly quite a bit of cancer in my old neighborhood and it could be environmental. It could also be diet related. I was a vegetarian in my 30's and 40's, but my generation grew up on processed food, white bread, white rice, meat at every meal, etc. During my cancer free year I ate meat, dairy, sugar...if I had been more concerned about these things at that point I may have avoided this recurrence.

I wish everyone would read Anti-Cancer, Eating Animals, and Crazy Sexy Diet. If you knew what I knew it would change your life. Americans are eating cows that are so sick they have to be pumped full of antibiotics (which make their way into you and contribute to antibiotic resistance)in addition to the growth hormones that cause young girls to start menstruating at 7 and 8. The younger you are when you start,the higher your cancer risk. The feces that makes its way into your hamburger and the puss that gets into your milk from the sick cows who are kept constantly lactating are major causes of food borne illnesses. Those two facts alone have put me off meat and milk.

I apologize if I sound preachy, but I know that our food is contaminated, the animals are suffering, and people are dying. These things matter to me.

No picture today, since I'm on Casey's computer!

Namaste, Jill