Freedom from…

paulinelomas

Instantánea 1 (26-10-2017 13-39)…Take your pick these days : Freedom from opression, freedom from harassment, freedom from this, freedom from that – the list is endless.

In my case it’s freedom from too much thinking, as I contemplate what indeed I am going to write in this post.  As always, the muse is never far away – “Freedom from hesitation?”, comes the whimsical whispering of my sub-conscious, and we are off….the pen and I that is….

In my last post I indicated that future postings would be focussing on the ‘everyday living’, as opposed to the ‘everyday living with cancer.’  But since it’s October 25th, and the 16th anniversary of my diagnosis – a quick update on my current state of wellbeing.

The best news is that the enlarged tumour on my neck which I never seem to get around to mentioning, is in fact shrinking by the day.  A few months ago I…

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Freedom from…

Instantánea 1 (26-10-2017 13-39)…Take your pick these days : Freedom from opression, freedom from harassment, freedom from this, freedom from that – the list is endless.

In my case it’s freedom from too much thinking, as I contemplate what indeed I am going to write in this post.  As always, the muse is never far away – “Freedom from hesitation?”, comes the whimsical whispering of my sub-conscious, and we are off….the pen and I that is….

In my last post I indicated that future postings would be focussing on the ‘everyday living’, as opposed to the ‘everyday living with cancer.’  But since it’s October 25th, and the 16th anniversary of my diagnosis – a quick update on my current state of wellbeing.

The best news is that the enlarged tumour on my neck which I never seem to get around to mentioning, is in fact shrinking by the day.  A few months ago I decided that every time I touched it, I would make an affirmation that it is getting smaller-et voila! – so it is!  I’m more lax with my regime on account of the monthly injections of fulvestrant and the twice weekly laetrile shots.  Added to that now is a return to eating a leaf of Kalanchoe diagremontiana plant everyday (see my post  ‘Catching up and Kalanchoe medicinal plants for cancer’ – https;//andsoweheal.wordpress.com)….IMG_0978

and 30mg of melatonin every night which takes me deep into slumberland…(No prophetic dreams to report that I can remember.)  I’m still on the daily coffee enemas and ultra healthy diet, a handful of the usual supplements, and a good dose of  ‘alittlebitofwhatIfancy’, now and again, and there we have it…..a reminder that there is no ‘one way’ to cure cancer.  We each must bravely ride on through the many peaks and valleys of our own destiny – calling down the gods with the battlecry of ‘FREEDOM FROM CANCER’……(I can hear the voice of my dear departed mother now saying….’don’t get too carried away Pauline’)….but you know what – these are the times when doors are opening and truth is spilling out all over the planet….So claim yours I say….scream out with the wonder of it all…..the wonder of nature and faith and all things beautiful….Life is too short, and all around us bodies are being crushed……BUT – spirits live on, so let your voice be heard and tell your story!!!

Speaking of riding…a few weeks ago I fulfilled a promise to myself to gallop along the seafront on a horse, and voila – I did!  What an unbelievable achievement that was – a giant white horse at that – Molly!  It’s been a good 10 years since I’ve ridden, and my body was stiff for days, but that feeling of flying through the air, and holding on for dear life, sceaming ‘go Molly go!’ filled my spirit with the stuff of magic, miracles, and possibilities….I was taken back to my 11 year old self who went every Saturday to take care of a giant white horse called Lady, and you know what – I never got to actually ride her, so shy I was to ask.  I meekly mucked out her stable in exchange for a few coppers to pay for future riding lessons elsewhere….FINALLY – 55 years later I was riding a beautiful white horse through the winds of all my past fears and failings!!!

 

I am the heroine of my own story…

…And like magic my story takes me back as always to Javier.

 Barcelona,                                                                                                                           Catalonia, Spain,                                                                                                               September 2017                                                                                                      

Just as I was thinking I had escaped the heat of the summer, returning to Barcelona in September, proved not to be the case.  Here in Catalonia, heat is the order of the day….both that from the sun, and dare I speak about it – that of the accelerating political crisis.  I missed out on the immediate aftermath of the vote on Brexit, having just left for Italy last year, and thankfully was absent for the recent terrorist attack at Las Ramblas.   I´m not able to vote in Spain,  but I have a deep attachment to the country, obviously with my relationship to Javier, spanning some 47 years.  I can still recall arriving in Plaza Catalunya in the 1970’s during Franco’s regime;  and at 18 years of age heading for the island of Ibiza.  Life was an adventure…that much I knew.

Having travelled all my life – living in 6 different countries, it has become clear to me that I am in fact – in my heart – a citizen of the world – as indeed are we all in reality – borders and walls apart.  With so much unrest in the world, I consider myself lucky to be alive, and with that, determined to fulfil whatever it is that destiny has in store.  It´s healing that my heart has been praying for these past 16 years, but more than ever, I feel that these prayers are not just for my mind, body, and spirit but for that of mother earth with all of our minds, bodies, and spirits living on it!

I’ve been reluctant to write, since my return to Spain, electing instead to enjoy the being in that ‘liminal’ world of ‘betwixt and between’.  As always I’m grateful  to find Javier in good spirits especially after his summer in Asturias.  Talk of the ‘crisis’, is everywhere, and the ‘noise’ around me is something I learn to adapt too, after so much silence.  What soothes my soul though is watching the elderly in the shadows of the ever-expanding  temple of Sagrada Familia –  a reminder of so much of my ‘Spanish life’.  Seeking out the greener areas, it’s the birdsong, and familiar flapping of wings, that keeps me connected to nature, and before long we are on the road again.

Another trip to the Delta del Ebro, where, nestled amidst the renowned bird sanctuary, Shumei’s Natural Agriculture rice project, partnered with Rietvell Organics, is in it’s second year.IMG_0912
Together with Hiro Yamazoe from London’s Shumei center we could document the harvest, on a beautiful sunny day, and momentarily forget the troubles in the world.Instantánea 1 (19-10-2017 16-26)IMG_0966Shumei Rice 2017 - copia

Returning to Barcelona, roads were being closed and manifestations continued……Amidst the furor I managed to meet with my good friend, the writer Valerie Collins.  Having  been born English, and Jewish, at that, then marrying into Catalan society at an early age I value her experience and we spend hours discussing the political situation.  I’m certainly in no position to take sides on the debate, but the conversation inevitably weaves in and out through the personal experiences that impact our lives, and how that inevitably influences our writing. In this way, we are able to glean gems of who we are now and what indeed is our role here on planet earth.

For myself then, I told her that I was unsure of what I should be disclosing in my writing.  I had hinted at this in my last post, feeling less and less inclined to talk about cancer, which was the whole reason I had started blogging in the first place – to invite dialogue and share knowledge on the subject.  As we now have the wonderful forum ‘CANCERUCAN’ on Facebook, I feel confident that there is indeed a wealth of information and true emotional support for anyone seeking help.  More and more I want to concentrate on the plethora of visual images I have been video-taping over the years…and on that note I wish us all well xxx 

Let us have the vision to see, the faith to believe, and the courage to do!

Where there’s Hope there’s Healing.

Having gotten so used to typing directly on to the computer,  I become pleasantly amused when a pen magically materialises in my hand mere moments after I had voiced this thought  “I really must start writing!”  It comes as an order almost.

And so I do………

The muse has been summoned – albeit briefly!  Truth is I have so many creative aspirations floating through my mind.  So many different mediums calling out to me.  They always have done, and I’ve always managed to multi-task my way through them…….However, it’s become increasingly apparent to me as of late that keeping up with this blog is perhaps not serving the purpose it once aspired to.  It’s been 5 years since I started it – as a follow up to the book – a way of being available to anyone that needed help through the world of cancer.  I always maintained that if I could help only one person, then that was the mission accomplished…..Well – it’s been ‘one’ many times over and long may that continue in whatever form.  Thing is – it all takes time and effort to actually pull a blog together – a positive one that is – one posted in the spirit of positivity which is my aim.  When I’m not feeling good physically, words do not want to make it on the page.  Fortunately, I recognise that I have been in that ‘transitional state of being’, wherein a new regime is germinating, and with that a need to reflect rather than express.

So here’s a quick catch-up.     It’s been over a month since I left the ‘Oasis of Hope‘ in Mexico  http://www.oasisofhope.com. following  a 10 day stay to receive the Dendritic cell – immunotherapy treatment that I first had 2 years ago.  As always it’s a blessing to be taken care of by the doctors, nurses and staff.  Finding Dr. Contreras on site was an added bonus since he travels so much in an effort to keep current with the latest advances. He is about to embark on a trip to Russia to investigate the groundbreaking options of ‘nanotechnology’  which would also drastically reduce the need to use so many supplements.  Talking of which, after the dendritic cell treatment I came off all supplements and the 2 medications (metformin and letrozole) for a 3 week period.  It was so good to not have to swallow any pills for once, and trust that I wasn’t going to keel over.  Staying at the clinic was indeed a welcome break – a magical oasis really where HOPE comes on tap.  I took a collection of my glass angels that I’ve painted over a 20 year period now, and was able to show them as part of sharing my own story to hopefully inspire others.

Before Mexico, it was the mountains of Crestone Colorado:

…having organised an art exhibition for my sister Deborah’s  ‘Children of the world’.  The highlight being together with the amazing peace activist Satish Kumar, who was keynote speaker at the Shumei International Institute’s anniversary

Following that we went to Santa Fe and Taos, retracing a journey we took after my father´s death over twenty five years ago…..Again- another trip down memory lane with time to appreciate the fabulous art in the South West.

After Mexico, an impromptu visit to Los Angeles where dear friends understood my need to lie low and continue resting…

So….needless to say after so much travelling, I am still in the ‘rest’ mode and because of the heat, have opted not to join Javier in Spain.  His health is so much better and even though I miss him, we are used to time apart so c’est la vie………. And since I am awaiting a consultation for the lympocintigraphy test for lymphoedema, it all makes sense for me to clip my wings temporarily, and appreciate the here and now.

Luckily for me, my windows onto the world of seabirds brings an impressive collection of wings – a daily reminder of their tremendous ability to navigate through the elements.  Just like the angels that insist on my attention, they help me to appreciate these ‘chapters of being’, and in these quiet reflective moments I hear whispers on the wind…………….

………………………………..Where there’s hope, there’s healing!

 

 

Time to be who you really are.

February 27th 2017

Well – here we go again…..the first blog of 2017!

It was good to wake up this morning and feel that a fog had lifted.  After remembering a surprising dream, I hurried along with the usual morning ritual before hitting the streets to spend time in the local cafe where I tend to be able to summon the muse.  Perhaps today I could actually get on with another blog post.

It’s a sunny day here in Barcelona, and after several weeks of low energy and albeit hibernation from social activity, perhaps the extra ‘floradix‘ iron supplement has finally kicked in and is boosting my creative juices.

The plan is to jump on a bike and cycle to my destination, but since the local Humana, charity shop is having a 2 Euro sale – a quick detour and I’m in!  Just a hurried look- see as I don’t want to lose the memory of last night’s dream.  My focus is soon diverted however when a beautiful little African child, knee high to me catches my attention.  With an enormous bright smile, she motions at me to ‘shhhhhhh’, as she takes cover under a rack of clothes.  It doesn’t take long to locate the mother, laden down with another baby straddling her hips, one eye on the clothes and the other on her little daughter’s whereabouts.  Spotting a tentative bargain I lift it from the rail, TIME TO BE WHO YOU REALLY ARE ‘ states the message boldly imprinted on the front.  Since I’m not one to wear slogans I take it then as a personal message from the gods óf humana……That’s just how my mind works as we well know!

Mmmmmmmmm…..Just who am I then?

We’ll hold that thought for a deeper excavation as by this time the little girl has found someone to play hide and seek with – Me.  And that’s a big part of who I am….the child at heart!  I play the ‘hide and seek’ game for a while wishing I had a camera to record the delight on her face, but I really do need to get on and write.   Giving her the usual ‘bye bye’, accompanied by the universal hand gesture,  I make for the door.  But no….she’s intent on following her new found friend and before I know it she is running towards me, having taken a half-sucked sweetie out of her mouth,  reaching out to give it to me….no doubt in a bid to make me stay. ´Oh my God´, – in an instant my heart is so touched by this innocent gesture, and the willingness to part with her precious candy,  I fight to keep back the tears.  Hopefully she can understand my refusal, and with another universal gesture of blowing kisses,  we part.  Our paths will probably never ever cross again, but meeting this little stranger has lifted me way high!

The truth is my attention has been on so many causes this year since the ‘unmentionable’ took power in America.  But waking up this morning I feel a new me arising, determined to take some of that power back!  God knows what that little girl’s story is but she is a human with obvious joy in her heart, and more than ever I feel just how fleeting this life is – and YES it is time to be who we really are loving humans without hatred and walls.  That in itself is enough for any lifespan on our precious earth.   But since I’ve always aspired to the impossible, deep inside I know there is more to contribute…..more to share.

“On yer bike then!”, and that little inner voice spurs me on to remember last night’s dream!

Well OK…..but I have to set the scene first.

It’s February 27th, the day after the Academy Awards, always an emotional time for me – long story – but I gate-crashed the Academy Awards governor’s ball the year ‘Rocky’ won best picture -1977.  As a budding actress at that time, studying at the Lee Strasberg theatre institute with fellow thespians, we were all inspired by that film and it´s hero.  Who knows what I was expecting to achieve crashing the oscars like that, except I had my sights set on meeting Warren Beatty.  It seems like a million years ago now but at the time I had been captivated by his image playing Clyde Barrow in ´Bonnie and Clyde´….well alright I had a mad crush on the guy, and heard he was to make the film Heaven Can Wait.  Julie Christie got that part  (I was too young at the time to even be considered – go figure!)  but bottom line is I did achieve the goal of meeting him that night and a few years later I was to work with him on Bugsy.  Thinking back now to my time in Hollywood….everything seemed possible, and for a while at least I lived and breathed in the real La La Land, never thinking for one minute that my dream would not come true !

But here’s what’s interesting – the dream I had in the early hours of February 27th, found me back at the ‘Governor’s ball’, this year 2017, that’s 40 years later – and with no other than Emma Stone, the young actress who won an Oscar for her role in ‘La La Land’.  In the dream, for some odd reason the barman was refusing to serve her and so I shared my glass of water with her, whilst rattling on about ‘once upon a time in the long ago ‘La LaLand’ of my reality before she was even born.

It was a short dream, but given my history, it left me once again pondering  its significance.  Possibly none at all!  But then the plot thickens – I was awake around 5 am that morning unable to sleep so I tuned my computer in to the ‘Oscars’ live feed in the guardiannews.online.  Emma Stone had just won the best actress award, no big surprise there although I was kind of hoping to see what Meryl had to say were she the winner.  Every few minutes there was a written update on the next award, so it was exciting to think that even though I could not see it live, it was all happening at that very moment.  I hadn’t been expecting to see Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announcing the winner for the best film, and since the live feed took a while to actually load the video of what happened next, I was kind of lost in the reality of how the years had chiselled Mr. Beatty, now in his 80’s, and me a senior citizen.

Since I had given so much of my youth’s energy to that time in Hollywood it should be no surprise that I continue to have these kind of dreams.  The deeper excavation tells me that they come to remind me of my ability to BELIEVE.  That I can use that same power of my mind to stop the growth of tumours in my body, and ‘switch off the cancer’.    A few days later I had two dreams back to back wherein ash appeared to me. It didn’t dawn on me until last week that we are in the season of Lent, symbolised by ash and signifying the need to give something up.  No guesses then as to what I’m choosing to let go of!

Well, that´s something.  I was almost to the end of the blog and hadn´t mentioned the ´c’ word once!

Since we’re on the subject then let me fast forward here now, almost 2 weeks later and I am back in the UK.  And yes….the amazing sunsets from my window, and constant activity of birds in flight.  There’s lots of time for silent reflection on ‘who am I now….and what indeed is my next mission – should I choose to accept.

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Let me use the example of what happened to Anita Moorjani, author of Dying to be me.  I had known of her story for years but it wasn’t until recently with so many of my own circle of friends talking about the possibility of death, that I found myself ordering the book and watching her many talks on YouTube.  In  2006, Anita’s prognosis was very grave, and with a body full of tumours, some as big as lemons, she slipped into a coma and was given days to live.  During this time she was aware of everything happening around and beyond the physical.  Four days later she was to come out of the coma and the doctors could find no trace of cancer.  Anita’s life was completely changed and she has gone on to inspire others in telling of her experiences.Over the years  I have heard of many such experiences, and in the early years of my diagnosis I was so determined to find that complete cure.  With the passing of time and circumstances, I allowed myself to be content with the fact that I was ‘living with cancer’, after sixteen years of dealing with it, when so many I know have died with it. One only has to read my book, and subsequentially these posts to see that I have actually been doing a whole lot of living, despite the prognosis.  Perhaps it was time now to fly a little higher with my expectations.

Taking time to read Anita’s inspiring story has re-awakened something in me.  Reading the introduction by the wonderful Wayne Dwyer, triggered a memory I had of meeting him on a sandy beach in Florida, shortly after his first book ‘Your Erroneous Zones’, hit the best seller list over 40years ago.  I say ‘meeting him’, but in actual fact, our beach towels were less than a stone’s throw away, but I was too shy to introduce myself that day.  His death in 2015 was a sad loss as his work has inspired so many – but reading the account of how he came across Anita’s story is a testament to the fact that we are all indeed connected, and I can only believe that his work continues with others in the realms beyond.

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.  Wayne Dyer

And so………………having had this time of hibernation I feel a new sense of possibility arising.   My iron levels have improved drastically – from 74 to 126 so I am harnessing new energy.  Last night’s dream brought a little yellow bird that flew around only to land in a vase of water. It’s little head was submerged, and when I managed to rescue it, seemed completely lifeless.  Holding it in the palms of my hands I refused to believe it had died, and kept stroking it gently until a puff sound echoed from it’s tiny chest and life lifted it up again, to fly around the room.  Tiny multi-coloured feathers were hailing down around me. I ran to get some sunflower seeds and water to keep it nurtured, but then I awoke.  Some dreams really do inspire and I am so happy that lately I am back in that realm again – the realm where even the impossible is possible!

On that note – I shall turn my mind to projects on the near horizon.  The little African girl’s smile comes back to remind me that in May in Crestone Colorado, I am helping my sister to exhibit her amazing art – a collection of indigenous children – whose time has come to shine forth.

And for me another short visit back to the Oasis of Hope hospital in Mexico to get the dendritic cell vaccine .  More on all that later.

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With so much uncertainty in the world, these are trying times for all of us.  No matter what our circumstances, it is so important to nurture new life that we can believe in! We are all connected after all, and there’s so much living and loving yet to be done!                                                                            As above, So below………..xxx

The Holly and the Starfish:

PROTECTION, REGENERATION AND RENEWAL

Yes I know we usually think of the ´holly and the ivy´ at this time of year, but having had two dreams pretty much back to back this week, I feel the need to delve deeper into the meaning.
Before I do however – a quick ‘catch-up’.
When last I wrote in September, I was heading back to Barcelona. With Javier being such a big part of my life, this ‘to-ing and fro-ing’, is what I do….Travel, it seems is destined to be on my agenda and as long as I am able, long may it continue. Following his operation this summer he too is facing the usual challenges when it comes to accepting that our bodies are not quite what they used to be, but the good news is that we can grow the brain! We have known each other since we were eighteen years old, when life was full of exciting expectations. Our destinies took us far away from each other, and perhaps that is why now, in our silver years we can look back and appreciate God’s wisdom. It wasn’t always that way, at least not for me, having spent great periods of my life yearning for what I once thought lost. Being the actress, albeit once upon a time, life’s dramas were all part of the grand plan……..(Okay – I’ll stop here as I’ve detailed those times quite sufficiently in And So We Heal.)
Bottom line…..I am no longer yearning for lost love, and am grateful beyond measure…..How´s that for a positive theme to this blog!img_0178
Time for a new chapter!
Back in Barcelona, I was indeed determined to keep the outlook positive. Following on from my Italian journey, I was eager to continue enjoying the ‘living’ as opposed to feeding the ‘worrying.’ Barcelona is such a popular destination with tourists that avoiding them takes effort, so too learning how to defy the callings from the endless bakeries. We are on the doorstep of the amazing SAGRADA FAMILIA, and on any given day one can witness pretty much representatives from all around the globe, so I feel more of a connection to humanity here. It´s a big shift from my more reflective life in the UK with a window on the powerful Irish sea.img_0149

In Barcelona, luckily I have a membership for the local ‘Bicing’ which includes use of electric bikes as well as pedal bikes, so navigating this busy city is made that much more pleasant. In the UK my daily routine includes riding my bike along the promenade. (It’s pretty much overtaken my obsession with the re-bounder, and all beneficial for the lymphedema.) Yes – I still continue with the compression stockings, and no word regarding the possible microsurgery I talked about in the last blog. To tell you the truth, my focus has been on other things, and since I am ‘managing’, I assume that when the time is right a better solution will appear. Needless to say the shock of the USA elections took precedence for a while, just as Brexit did. I am still holding hope that both results are a temporary bleep on the world´s political stage and that common sense and goodness will win in the end! There is only so much suffering that one can bear witness too, and my heart these days is holding so much empathy for the people of Aleppo. Humanities attrocities are endless…I can but pray!

And so……Soon after arriving back in Spain, up came the prospect of driving to the Delta D’Elebro, to document the Shumei EU Natural Agriculture rice project being harvested. Javier and I had been instrumental in finding the perfect place and partnership in Rietvell – http://www.rietvell.com. Fortunately we were feeling well enough to spend a few days in this beautiful area which is much prized for it’s nature reserves and bird life. Meeting the director, Juan Carlos Riera and hearing a little of the history of the land, and the fact that Rietvell is partners with the worldwide organisation of SEO/Birdlife (www.seo.org/catalunya/reserva-natural-de-riet-vell-tarragona/), made them the perfect match for Shumei’s first Natural Agriculture project in Spain.img_0095
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Ironically, having been on a carbohydrate restricted diet since Mexico, one of my favourite foods ‘brown rice’, had become a luxury where once it had been an almost daily addition. Little by little I have been enjoying anew a steaming hot bowl of brown rice, chewing it with gusto and gratitude. Indeed there is an effective macrobiotic cancer diet that uses this world-wide staple, and even though the world seems to be on an anti-grain kick at the moment, I personally am welcoming it back to my table. Rietvell’s organic rice has a wonderful nutty flavour, and I can only hope that Shumei’s crop which did not use any form of fertilizer will prove to be as tasty. (Watch this space)
As fate would have it I found a great deal on a small camcorder to replace the others that have bitten the dust, and my passion for documenting life’s happenings was re-newed.img_4267img_4258img_4159

Returning back to the UK, I forgot to mark October 25th as a landmark 15 years since my cancer diagnosis and that’s a positive thing, signalling that I have other things on my mind and cancer is not the main focus.
Indeed, my creativity has enjoyed a revival and I find myself painting again, including the much loved ‘touchstones’, and angels. DCIM101MEDIA

So too my ability to document a growing fascination with the bird population that bring a daily entertainment to my room with a view. It’s not just the birds. All manner of things pass by ….Dogs especially delight in their walks and runs along the sand; horses from the nearby stables gallup by, and at least once every few days the sound of a flying machine has me running to grab my camera to capture the unbelievable sight of a man high up in the skies, sail billowing and engine propelling him along the shore. All these wonders nurture a continual gratitude for each new day that I am given. And Javier is just the ‘touch of a button’ away with Skype or Google Hangout , so time away from each other is manageable, proving that absense makes the heart grow fonder.
Even the usual three month visit to see my oncologist no longer fills me with dread as I can appreciate the journey and all the people I meet along the way. Since changing oncologists – I am now assigned to Clatterbridge cancer centre which entails a beautiful ride into the countryside. Ironically, it is here that I was diagnosed all those years ago. There were choices to be made then, and I don’t regret choosing not to go the orthodox route, to follow the signs along a road less travelled. Let’s face it, I am a free spirit at heart, and it is my spirit not my physical body that brings me a peace that passeth all understanding. My regime is much the same as before with the addition of laetrile B17, once again,thanks to a friend shipping it from the USA, – with a hefty duty to pay to HMS customs I might add. I have however stopped the Low dose naltrexone – LDN as the liquid version was hurting my teeth and come to find out it has sweetener in it. I still continue with a good sized leaf of kalanchoe which I have written about in past blogs. I have been cultivating little babies of this amazing plant for 2 years now, and am just starting to make poultices with it.img_0091
My latest blood tests show that my hemoglobin is low, with my iron at 3….where the norm is 4.5- 6.5……………I was a little suspicious at first since on asking for a copy of my bloods I was sent home with someone else’s results, which had I not been scouring intently I may have not realised. A reminder to keep vigilant on these things………..The medical profession are not Gods, and are highly overstressed with patient overflow….Appologies were sent and investigations did reveal that YES my iron is low and a supplement is forthcoming – meanwhile I am upping the spinach and beets and all the other dietary alternatives to red meat. Folic acid is back on the menu……And that’s about it!
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Well not quite – The Holly and the Starfish?
Oh yes…..almost forgot. Having dreamt that whilst I was holding two long stalks of holly, I was suddenly aware of a large crowd approaching. In one moment they passed me by almost pinning me to a wall. The next image was of the holly lying on the floor with the stalks crushed, but the holly leaves still intact. So…..as is my inquisitive nature I googled about and found the following :
Dreaming of Holly means you should be mindful of what is troubling you, and picking holly in your dreams means you will have a long life.
Celtic Holly Meaning: Just as the oak attracts lightning, holly repels lightning. It was often planted around homes for protection from lightning, and for this reason it is viewed as a symbol for protection. The ancient Celts would bring holly into their homes for their bright, cheerful disposition. They were also considered a symbol of good luck. Interestingly, science has actually discovered the distinct leaf-shape of the holly acts as a natural repellent for lightning energy, making the holly’s protective significance more than just lore. Holly leaves are very prickly, and deemed another metaphor for protection, vigilance, and stubborn victories won. When you are feeling the walls cave in on you, call upon the holly. Invoke its protective qualities and you will soon find you no longer need be on the defensive. The holly will protect and bolster you to victory.
Let your beauty shine within even in times of dormancy. Rule the day, and let your generosity be your legacy The energy of life is ever-present!
Others believe holly leaves to represent the thorns of Jesus’s crown and the berries to represent his blood.
Tree Magick
by Gillian Kemp
Like the Evergreen Holly tree, or “holy tree” you have divine talents at the root and heart of your being. Your whole world can grow “evergreen” from it. Like the berries or the smooth or prickly leaves on a male of female tree, your life will take shape around its essential nature. The thorny leaves and red berries represent suffering. When the fruits are discovered by patience, what is possibly a test now will prove a credit to you. This is a fresh start, a second chance, or time of renewal and permanence, promising a fortified heart and a happier life.

Phew………a lot to take in but Hallelujah to all that and so much for a short blog…….And more….
A few days later I am awakened with the image of a starfish….Just that a single image jolting me awake as if to say – TAKE NOTE!……
And so I did : In cultural myth and legend, starfish meaning ranges from symbolism of love to superior strength. These creatures have been mesmerizing sea farers and beach combers for as long as they’ve graced the oceans. It’s no wonder. How cool to witness a star in the sea, reminding us of that awesome phrase by alchemist and philosopher, Hermes Trismegistus. He said: “As above, so below.” This is a metaphysical concept. He’s saying that what happens on an energetic, cosmic level – that action is mimicked on a mundane/earthy level. The concept of “law of attraction” illustrates this. What happens in the mind (‘above’ or energetic realm) is manifested in the physical (‘below’ or earthly realm).
So, in my way of thinking, the starfish is a great representative for this concept. They are the stars below, mimicking the stars above. Their remarkable ability to sense, move, regenerate – all that good stuff is available to us humans on earth. The starfish’s ability to re-grow their bits and pieces is also symbolic of healing and renewal. This also ties in with water symbolism. Water is symbolic of healing, purification, cleansing. Water is also symbolic of emotion and intuition which ties in with the starfish meaning of sensory perception.
In terms of healing, the starfish can be a grand ally in your journey of renewal. If you’re struggling with emotional or health challenges… If the starfish can heal and re-grow…so can we as humans. Our regeneration might look a little different. But, through neuro-network patterns (retraining pathways in the brain) we can certainly regenerate new avenues thought that facilitate healing.
Am I saying we can re-grow an arm if we lose one like the starfish can? Well..that’s a stretch. But I will say we can regenerate our attitudes, our beliefs, our mind-sets. We can grow knew limbs of thought that take us to higher levels of experience. We can lop off parts of our belief systems that no longer serve us. We can replace these phantom limbs with higher-minded ideals. We can cut off our bad habits, and regenerate good ones. You get my point.

Starfish Meaning in Myth and Legend
Christianity:
In Christian symbolism the starfish represents the Virgin Mary (Stella Maris which means Star of the Sea) who lovingly creates safe travel over troubled waters and is also seen as an emblem of salvation during trying times. The star as well as the starfish are seen as celestial symbols and as such, they represent infinite divine love. In addition to love, the starfish also holds characteristics such as guidance, vigilance, inspiration, brilliance and intuition.
Roman:
In Roman mythology, the starfish is a symbol of the love goddess Venus. She was born from the foaming tides of the Adriatic sea. Some paintings depict her with a shell in her hand – others with a starfish. Venus shares a connection with the starfish because she is a sensory goddess, and so too is the starfish. Like the waters she is born from, Venus is a goddess of feeling and emotion. She is also a goddess who governs tactile, physical attributes. The five-pointed starfish is a symbol of two arms, two legs and the top limb as the head (think Vitruvian man). Venus and the starfish make a symbolic duo of love, sensitivity, emotion, and physical wholeness.
Tsimshian:
Tsimshian is an order of Native Americans who hail from the Northwest Coast of North America. This order is comprised of Tlingit and Haida, of which are divided into two factions: Ravens and Eagles, respectively. Within the Haida-Eagle faction, there is a sub-clan. The starfish clan. In fact, starfish are sometimes carved into Haida totem poles to mark the lineage of this branch. Haida picked the starfish as an emblem because they observed it to be super-strong. Its ability to crack into a mussel shell proved great strength. Haida also connected longevity with starfish meaning. They observed the starfish ability to regenerate, and deemed the starfish to be immortal.
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Many of you might be familiar with the story of an old man coming to the starfish’s rescue. He encountered countless starfish stranded on the beach. He tirelessly set to work, tossing each one back into the sea. A young man saw this guy flailing about, trying to save all the starfish, and said: “Hey, old geezer…what’s the point? You can’t possibly save them all!” To which the old man responded, “Maybe not. But I can save this one, and that makes all the difference.”

Gosh…………………..These two dreams really cracked my consciousness open.
With it being the Christmas season….nice to feel a sense of protection. Jesus and Mary, showing up is a comforting thought. I was born a christian, and embrace all manner of good faiths – knowing my life and light has been enriched in so many ways by doing so……
May we all then embrace this season with a fortified heart envisioning a happier life for all the world’s brothers and sisters. See you soon for that bright New Year!

Living Beyond Fear – Part 3

OK…..here we are with Part 3 of Living Beyond Fear – The Italian Job:

The day after the Shumei gathering in Florence, we were invited to visit the Montalbano olive oil press, with another sumptious lunch. There was to be a dinner also up at Antonella Rastrelli’s wonderful Midolla olive grove but since I had already been there previously, I had to pass.
It was time for the next leg of my journey – a long awaited visit to my American friend Michelle. Two more shortish’ train journeys through the mesmerizing landscape of Tuscany, and Umbria here we come!
And there they were waiting for me outside the station at Arezzo (Famed for the wonderful film – It’s a Beautiful Life). The whole family-Michelle and her 2 dog-buddies- Sofie and Sailor. Such a welcome sight!

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Michelle and I go way back to our time in Hollywood – and Italy has been her home for over ten years now. In less than an hour we are arriving at her wonderful abode. I always marvel at what she has done – having seen the original bare canvas of an old barn- I am astonished at the sheer accomplishment of her dreams.

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In 2009 I came here to put the finishing touches to my book ‘And So We Heal’. huawei-090
Having written many screenplays in her time Michelle’s input was a blessing. The cover of the book was an offspring of that visit, when a postcard of Boticelli’s ‘Birth of Venus’, fell onto my desk as I was ‘cutting and pasting’. Trying to decided on a cover, was haunting my every day, and ‘voila’ there it was – serendipity having landed it directly on top of the photo of my own naked self ‘ minus a few body parts.img_20160927_175501
At the end of that book I was happy to be considered ‘cancer free’ – at least that is what the ECT machine had said when the bell went off. Oh were life that simple! I was already eight years in on the journey, and true I had survived thus far where so many had not. The reality was – there was just no ‘one way’ – to chemo or not to chemo?, to believe in an alternative way or not to believe? – these were the questions and unfortunately I did not have the answers. The journey then would indeed continue, and rather than embark on another book I had started a blog designed to help others share their experiences.
So seven years later – here I was again – with a different set of circumstances – and with a renewed determination to once more overcome. The shock of ´Brexit´, was still very much on my mind, but there was no ignoring the ´leg´. I needed to follow up with my research and contact the two micro surgeons Professors Campisi and Gennaro. The reality however was that it was so darn hot and oppressive that my body cried out to just rest, and with Michelle´s guest room affording such a splendid view and the bed so very comfortable, I followed orders and let my body and mind relax. Well, as much as the mind could that is with the daily news reminder of what was happening in the UK post Brexit……and of course the comedy of errors happening in the USA.
A chest infection was a cause of worry for a few days but inhaling steamed eucalyptus took care of that. Before leaving the UK I had set up a consultation with Professor Corradino Campisi in Genoa, having found a blog by two American ladies who had done the microsurgery. I knew that the potential cost of the treatment was out of my range but I needed a proper evaluation and research showed his expert competence in the field. Between googling the latest news on the Brexit fiasco I kept googling ‘lymphoedema’ and potential treatments available to me. Serendipity lead me to a forum with ‘healthunlocked’, and with that I came came across another microsurgeon – Professor Paolo Gennaro based in Siena – http://www.lymphedema-treatments.com/en/
Siena – it came with a whisper…..and then I remembered – St. Catherine of Siena – of course, how could I have forgotten? Years ago now, Siena had been on my list of places to visit in Italy because I had been born in a hospital named after her, in Birkenhead. It was at St. Catherine’s hospital 50 years after my birth that I would return to have holistic healing for the breast cancer. Come to find out that not only was she patron saint of Italy, proclaimed for her work with the sick, but she had been proclaimed co-patron of Europe. I cancelled my appointment with Campisi and proceeded to make plans to visit Siena determined to meet Gennaro. His practice is housed in the hospital of ‘Santa Maria alle Scotte,’ and the best news is that he will see me free of consultation fees.
And this is how I always seem to make my decisions. Is it intuition or some mystical connection to the past? – I don’t have clear answers but I have feelings that go beyond earthly explanations, and when in the writing of this third part, I decide to once again refresh my memory of St. Catherine, I find a book entitled ‘Set Aside Every fear’: Love and Trust in the Spirituality of Catherine of Siena. Aha! No coincidence then that I happen to be writing about living beyond fear… Catherine resisted the accepted course of marriage and motherhood, on the one hand, or a nun’s veil, on the other. She chose to live an active and prayerful life outside a convent’s walls following the model of the Dominicans.[9]Eventually her father gave up and permitted her to live as she pleased. Catherine ranks high among the mystics and spiritual writers of the Church.[8] She remains a greatly respected figure for her spiritual writings, and political boldness to “speak truth to power”— it being exceptional for a woman, in her time period, to have had such influence in politics and on world history. In 1367 she began working tirelessly to help the sick at the hospital of Santa Maria della Scala.
I was planning to take the train to Siena but Michelle insisted on driving me so we decide to make a day of it. I had mistakenly thought that there were some works of art in the hospital but the truth was that the whole complex is so enormous that just navigating the corridors to meet up with Professor Gennaro took more time than anticipated. Having seen him interviewed on Youtube-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFTIJ29G0QE, I knew what to expect, and luckily he spoke English. I was hoping that he could perform a lymphiscintigraphy, or better still the Indocyathine green test which I believe is less invasive, which determines if microsurgery is a suitable option. But it was not going to be that easy. He suggested that I have another scan to see the condition of my veins and then we could hopefully start the necessary paperwork if he was going to be able to treat me under the EU guidelines – meantime he suggested that compression stockings would help a lot. I would take his suggestions to my oncologist and get the ball rolling before Brexit really did mean Brexit!
Before heading back to Umbria, Michelle suggested we at least get a little sight-seeing in and I am grateful we could manage a ride up into the old town. huawei-086Siena is a really beautiful city, and I envisioned myself coming back at some point and getting my leg fixed – “with the ghost of Santa Caterina to watch over me please.”huawei-024
So….I put ‘Lymphatic Venous Anastomosis‘, as it is officially called, on the wish list; and decide to prolong my stay in order to attend the Umbrian Film Festival. Michelle had been telling me about it for years but my visits never quite co-incided. And, since this time was all about trying to enjoy the ‘living’ part of ‘living with cancer’, I was excited to be able to attend an event that focussed on one of my all time favourite topics – film.
Sitting outside in the piazza of the small medieval village of Montone watching films, and getting to hear how the film makers had brought their projects into completion, was very inspiring, bringing back long ago dreams dreamt in Hollywood – a million miles away now – but still indelibly etched inside this creative mind of mine. For a few hours at least I could take my mind off what was happening to my body and instead appreciate how this art form can elevate spirit.huawei-053
Time passed all too quickly but as always, Italy proved to strengthen my resolve in so many ways. Despite the heat and the demands of making such a journey, I am blessed to have a good friend in Michelle, and don’t get me started on the unconditional love that emanates from her beloved dogs – just wish they all lived a little closer.
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Luckily I found a direct flight from Pisa to Liverpool, but still necessitating an early morning drive into Arezzo, a train into Florence and a bus to Pisa airport. And as a reward – you got it – another gelato vegano, and what the heck – a slice of pizza. I mean come on – is it really ‘living’ to come all the way to Italy and not indulge in a piece of pizza? huawei-080
Back in the UK – a bus, two more trains and another cobbledy walk from the station home, since not a taxi in sight – see what I mean about the ‘demands’of the journey? I’m not complaining, just trying to get the point across that the human resolve is as good as it’s power to imagine that all things are possible.
A few days rest with my legs up and I was good to go – time to see my oncologist and get the necessary scans done.

Luckily, the scans showed no evidence of excessive pizza on the brain or other extremeties, and all traces of gelato vegano have disappeared.

Seriously though – the scans are still showing that everything is stable – no venous blockages, so I can go ahead and try to get a green-light for the micro-surgery somehow, some day, and God only knows somewhere. In the meantime the long awaited appointment with the lymphoedema clinic came through and I am the proud wearer of support stockings. Apart from feeling like I am going into battle everytime I pull these stiff protective garments onto my legs, they are not too unbearable especially now that the weather is cooling. I am under orders to massage strategic points on my body to aid with the lymph flow, and thanks to the loan of my sister’s bike I am flying like the wind on the good days and resting sensibly on the others, having recently added LDN Low dose Naltrexone to my regime, and I am blessed with a summer of amazing sunsets from my window.img_20160829_200916

Who knows how long it will take to get this leg of mine fixed…..but in the meantime I am living as fearlessly as I can. Alongside my computer I find the smooth stone that I collected on that steep sojurn to to Villa Viviani. At the time I chose it because of it’s smoothness – something to touch, to remind me just how fortunate I am. It holds a different kind of memory now – as little more than a week after I return to the UK I am saddened to hear of yet another devastating earthquake in Italy, not too far from where Michelle lives. I had already shed my tears….

By the time this overdue part 3 hits the press I shall be long gone on yet another ‘journey beyond fear’ – time to get back to Javier and see what this summer has bestowed upon him – as all too soon the seasons change…(to be continued)

Living beyond fear – part 2

So….where was I?

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Oh yes….I had just finished that enormous serving of vegano gelato, weaving my way back through the delights of Florence, day dreaming about being here with Javier; trying to focus on the outstanding beauty and not the throngs of tourists, most of whom seemed intent on eating. Fortunately my subconscious had ruled out the pizza which seemed to call to me from every street corner!
With the forbidden sweetness of the gelato having elevated my energy levels I could have continued taking in the endless day dreaming about the last time I was here with Javier, wonders of the city; but the truth was I had been awake since 4.30 am on a complicated travel itinerary that included two trains, a plane and two buses. A full day’s activities awaited me tomorrow so time to turn in for the night.
It took a while to finally get to sleep, my mind as always continuing it’s incessant wonderings long after the physical body has called it a day. A few familiar faces appeared in my dreams, but since I no longer keep a daily journal I’m afraid the details have escaped me now. Still – always happy to receive these mysterious encounters as they remind me of the hidden forces at play in my life. (Note to self : resume recording dreams.)

No matter how early I wake, it takes me hours to get through my morning regime which includes the essential juicing, coffee enema, showering, and wound dressing. Since there was precious little room in my case for clothes these days, there would be no time for indecisive dawdling. Long gone are the days of my youth when I could rise up and be ready for the outside world in thirty minutes or so, depending on the occasion. I’ve ceased travelling with a juicer on short trips and replace the fresh juice with a powdered green drink, and can usually manage to fit two concentrated servings of coffee for the enema in a tiny plastic carryon bag allowed for liquids. However, on this journey space was limited what with assorted tincture bottles, homeopathic remedies and iscador injections, let alone the usual toiletries. So………having experienced the horror of coffee leaking all over the place on subsequent trips I had already planned to substitute home-brew with run of the mill hotel coffee – I mean this was Italy – how bad could it be! Yes indeed – after 15 years on the road with cancer, I consider myself a veteran of ‘travel survival tips’. (If you’ve read my book, you may recall that I even managed a coffee enema sitting in the sink of a cabin onboard a ship to Athens. There was just no floor space; and my legs had swelled up like tree trunks. It did the trick as always, preventing the toxic load from damaging my liver). Still – on this occasion it was no easy feat procuring, then juggling the coffee, and enough hot and cold water, with both hands full, and no spare digits to navigate the elevator. In hindsight of course, two trips would have prevented the burns I received on that manoeuvre, but hey…..logic is not my best trait at 6 am in the morning.

Hours later – mission accomplished – and out into the streets I go, map in hand and confident that I can follow the instructions to the Villa Viviani, where Shumei Italia are hosting the 19th EU anniversary and conference on Natural Agriculture. Since it is a special occasion I am wearing a dress, no problem there, but with the ‘lymphoedema’ challenge I decided to purchase some support panty hose, to alleviate and indeed camouflage the wounded appendage or ‘Peggy-leggy’ as I am now referring to it. Seemed like a good decision when I put them on, but now as I slip and slide out of the oversized (on account of bigfoot), but nevertheless sensibly flat footwear, I realise that I am seriously out of practice when it comes to wearing hose. Even at 9 am in the morning, the sun is beating down , and with me shuffling as opposed to striding along I soon realise that perhaps the journey will take a little longer than anticipated. Circling the famed ‘Duomo’, memories take me back a few years to when I succeeded in scaling it’s endless steep staircase for a breath-taking bird’s eye view of this historic city.

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No time to amble now, it’s on to the Plaza San Marco where I have been instructed to catch a bus to the Villa. Having just missed a bus I will no doubt miss the pre- conference Japanese tea tasting, but I’m still in good stead for a timely arrival and can finally relax on the bus after a full morning’s preparation.

So there I was seated successfully on the right bus heading in the right direction….phew! I knew that the journey was to take about 20 minutes, and so with one eye firmly on the electronic screen that notified passengers at each bus stop I allowed myself to observe the fascinating diversity of the experience. I love the way Italians express themselves and with it being a Saturday there was lots of comings and goings to entertain my ever inquisitive mind.

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All was well, until I noticed a young Asian family running for the bus, with the driver pulling off unawares."Arresto,arresto! – stop stop", I bellowed, along with several others, just in the nick of time. In they climbed, the father trying to juggle the bags and belongings of his two tiny daughters, one of whom was tucked under his arm with legs wriggling, and a horrified look on her tiny face as she tried to draw attention to the fact that she had lost one of her shoes in the process. I spotted it just in time and with one more " Arresto! arresto!", the shoe was retrieved and we were off again. "Just like Cinderella", I said trying to calm the little girl and make light of the averted catastrophe. Just like Cinderella indeed I mused, attempting to settle back into my seat, but in that brief encounter I had taken my eye off the ball, and glancing up at the screen I saw Via Gabriele D´annunzio. Already? That was me…."Scuse, scuse", and without a moment's hesitation I was off the bus – phew – that was a quick twenty minutes – now, "where was the Villa Viviani?" After asking a fair amount of passers – by, resorting to speaking in Spanish with an Italian accent, I discovered that I had inadvertently gotten off the bus prematurely. Via Gabriele D'annunzio was indeed a very very long road and apparently I still had three more stops to go. Oh well, shouldn't take me long, and so I continued on. On and on, it seemed forever, and to make matters worse the road was now on the incline – Yep – that's right Uphill. The good news (ha!) was by this point both feet had sufficiently swollen in the heat, enough to prevent my shoes falling off. It wasn't until I had reached the third bus stop with no sign of the Villa Viviani, that the truth set in – there were four more stops to go. Mama Mia! Why, oh why was this happening? No sense in wasting time waiting for another bus that may not come and with no taxi in sight, there was little choice but to continue on foot. I was well outside the city by this point; I could actually see the golden 'duomo', far below.P6250283

Eventually, a bus did come whizzing by, and I made a desperate effort to flag it down, flailing my arms for it to stop. But when the driver apparently failed to see my desperate being, I felt my spirit waiver and tears sprang up through my eyes. Gosh – it had been a long time since I’d had a good cry, I thought, when the tears finally stopped, and I had pulled myself together. Looking up into the far horizon I could see the turrets of a castle, but never did it dawn on me that this indeed was where my feet must carry me. Oblivious to how much further I had to go, the realisation dawned that it was my legs that had carried me thus far….My sad swollen legs that I had been complaining about had indeed carried me up a mountain. And my body, my wonderful body that despite the years of dealing with cancer, had never given up. There was to be no quitting now. People all over the world were in desperate circumstances, and I was but a speck in the scheme of things. The reality was that there was to be no coach and snow white horses to deliver this Cinderella to the ball today, but guess what? I was one of the fortunate ones because I had long ago discovered the resilience of the human spirit.
And so it was that I actually made it to the majestic Villa Viviani with just enough time to drink almost two bottles of San Pelligrino mineral water, splashing the remainder on the ‘boiled lobster’ that had become my face. Moments after taking my seat, heart still beating beyond it’s usual rhythm; the ominous sound of the Japanese Taiko heralded the beginning of a very special gathering.

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Glancing down at the program on my lap I beheld the theme of the event :
Nature’s future has roots in it’s past: Our wish for you to take from this day is a message of hope, to be remembered in each moment of your life. To give us all the courage and strength to build a better future.
Well, I for one would not be forgetting this day. As we began with a silent meditation and ´Jyorei´, the healing light that Shumei is renowned for, I was able to breathe deep with gratitude to be once again in the presence of such like-minded beings. My story takes me back over thirty years now to the time I spent on top of the Japanese mountain, ‘Misono’; such a big part of my life is intertwined with this noble philosophy. Here we all were, from far and wide; friends who have become family, and strangers alike, all intent on sustaining a more natural way of growing and developing food. This was something I had been pioneering, even before cancer had arrived in my body; and now I was more passionate than ever to continue the mission.
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Since it is not my intent here to write in detail about the day’s event, but rather record my ‘body and spirit’s’ movement through it; I must hasten us through, lest it necessitate a ‘part 3.’
With it being the day after the dreaded ‘Brexit’, a lot of the afternoon’s conversation was centered around the continued European unity that Shumei had fostered over the last 19 years. From Japan to America, and then over to the UK and out into the EU, there was a determination to continue dedicating energy to the cultivation of growing crops without chemicals. Lunch then was a fine fayre of produce including ‘natural agriculture’ olive oil, wine, and spelt pasta. Having worked up quite an appetite on the uphill journey I required double helpings, although one glass of the award-winning wine from the Sacrafamila, and a prudent mouthful of dessert was quite sufficient. Sharing a table with both Italian and American friends gave me a chance to relax and debate the unbelievable state of affairs in the political world. Moving on to greet some lovely kimono-clad ladies brought a different sensibility, with lots of laughter at my attempt in remembering long lost Japanese vocabulary, and times long gone by.

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With so many people to meet and greet I could not truly appreciate the beauty of this 13th century villa and it´s surroundings – apparently Mark Twain had lived here for a while.IMG_2961
Later that evening, before exhaustion demanded sleep, I would lie awake re-visiting it all again, the things and the people that inspire me – reflecting on my ‘role’ in it all, my purpose in life; and the things that move me to action. ‘Action’ – that was key – It had all happened so quickly, this decision to come to Italy. But as experience proved to me over and over again – somehow one needed to heed the call of that still small voice when it whispered, “do it….just do it”! Sure, I was still paying off my treatment for last year at the Oasis of Hope, but if I had not taken that action, perhaps I would not be here today, able to keep on moving through it. So – yes, overcoming fear was a constant – and living beyond it…..well that brought in the magic…..and where there was magic, there was the possibility of miracles.P1140872
And so…time to load up my trusty suitcase for yet another train journey to Umbria where my dear old friend Michelle and her faithful dogs are waiting to welcome me back to their very special home; and with the anticipation of meeting the microsurgeon, Dr.Paolo Gennaro I foresee a part three on the horizon. Arrividerci Firenze.
To be continued…..

Living Beyond the Fear – part one

Given that my last personal update was December 2015; there is as usual much to say. However these past months have been more about reflection and rest, and a need to be ‘under the radar’. True – I have been focussing energies on my dear Javier’s health and glad to say that after months of excruciating pain he finally was able to have his prostate removed and is healing well. Fortunately there was no cancer involved; but certainly a fearful situation in anybody’s life. With us both being in our mid-sixties now, we are perhaps brought closer than ever through these experiences and how they affect our life together. Indeed, ours is no ordinary relationship, and given that we met when we were a mere 18 years old, I am grateful now that through these ups, downs and distances, a deeper understanding and respect continues to cultivate love.

When I published my book AND SO WE HEAL in 2009, it very much dealt with the emotional journey of a cancer diagnosis, as I was called upon to unravel the toxic mass inside my being. At the last minute I had changed the title from AND WE SHALL HEAL, as I felt that it implied healing was something to aspire to in the future, whereas the ‘And So We Heal’, refers to something in the ´now´. Since I was in the process of writing a love story when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001; the book continued to be exactly that, and so much more. Indeed – it is that ‘so much more’, that continues to capture my interest. Nothing’s changed there then….so let us press on with fingers tap tapping away to see what my subconscious hauls to the surface to share as we move into August.
It is exactly one year ago now that I made the monumental journey to THE OASIS OF HOPE hospital in Tijuana Mexico (www.oasisofhope.com). I’ve written extensively about that in past posts; and am delighted to say that just as promised the doctors have continued to monitor my progress by continually keeping in touch. I would dearly love to be able to hop back over there for a tune-up but as always finances have to be considered. However, I was able to attend the TOGETHER AGAINST CANCER conference in Leicester in June where as usual the dedicated Dr. Contreras from Oasis was speaking,

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amongst other caring professionals who are bridging the gap with integrative oncology. The always passionate Dr. Dana Flavin, springs to mind.
Part of the reason I have not been writing too much lately is also due to the fact that I have been using my time to research; especially since the ladies and gentlemen of my favourite cancer forum – CANCERUCAN (Face book)- seem to have most subjects covered when it comes to caring and sharing the latest groundbreaking knowledge.
As per usual my research usually springs from a desire to rectify a situation in my own personal body, and this is where Divine intervention comes into play. Our minds are perhaps the crown jewel in this cancer equation – ‘ask and ye shall find’. So when one of my legs suddenly started to swell it was time to do some investigating. I had recently changed oncologists and what with this past year’s addition of letrozole and metmorfin to my regime I was anxious to rule out possible side effects. I seem to be doing quite well on these two pharmaceuticals, especially given the fact that I’ve survived years without them; but as I said before I am happy to be on the integrative road.
Almost immediately the first ‘bell of intuitivism'(I like the sound of that!) went off with the word ‘LYMPHOEDEMA’ ringing in my ear. It’s usually the ladies who have mastectomies and lymph node removal that can be afflicted with this condition, usually in the arms. Apparently it can happen many years later. In my case however, I had not had lymph nodes removed but they had become compromised over the years especially on my upper right side, and my right groin which of course could be the reason. My oncologist didn’t seem too concerned but sent me off for an ultrasound DOPPLA investigation to rule out blood clots. Heaven forbid I would have to stop flying, now that Javier and I are very much dependent on being part of our native health systems. But no….there seemed to be a normal flow of blood through the veins in the leg and since the latest CT scan showed no further spread to bones, lungs or other vital organs I was considered stable. Of course I am still with chest wall progression; but STABLE is a word I can live with………….It’s not exactly the kind of stable I had had in mind as a young girl dreaming of her own horse; but a sacrifice I can now live with given the tremendous upkeep of such an animal.
And so……whilst I was put on a long waiting list to attend a lymphoedema clinic where the only treatment would be a lifetime of wrapping the affected limb in compression garments; I began to research the condition. With my leg continuing to swell up for most of the day then almost back to normal by morning, and with relief if the limb was elevated, I was, according to the statistics at stage 2. Once you got to stage 4 you were considered to have elephantitis and believe me looking at some of the photos available about this condition, and hearing some of the heart-wrenching stories I was filled with compassion. The lymph system is very much overlooked in the grand scheme of things – Up to 10 million Americans and hundreds of millions worldwide suffer from lymphoedema. It will occur in up to 50% of breast cancer survivors, and 100% of those with head and neck cancer. Lymphoedema is caused when your lymph nodes are taken out or damaged, usually when treating someone for cancer. This leads to the blockage of lymph fluid, which causes swelling in the arms, chest or legs. Lymph is the fluid responsible for discarding bacteria and bodily waste from tissues. I have always had a sluggish circulation especially with my lower limbs, and being diagnosed with cancer actually helped me to address my whole body and take measures to move the lymph fluid with dry skin brushing, excercise and herbs. There was no pain yet, but the danger came if I wounded the site in any way leading to cellulites and infection – I’d seen that with my mother’s leg when she was in her 80’s.
I was determined to continue living with or without the cancer, but suddenly my mind had to allow for unforeseen events. Looking at some of the lymphoedema sites I realised I was ahead of the game at least with my health regime. Not only were these people being told there was no cure but also that diet had very little to do with their condition and so it was evident that there was a lot of comfort eating going on. Much the same as in the old days when the establishment told us that diet had no bearing on cancer! Some people were house bound and so it was a perpetual cycle that fed their circumstances. And to add to the confusion, the word LIPOEDEMA sprang up which is an hereditary condition affecting millions worldwide – one may have actually been born with a faulty lymphatic system! The plot thickened as I recalled my teenage years with legs swollen blue and red in the winter months but the GP not addressing the situation. I had grown out of that phase but was always prone to leg swelling especially in hot weather, and if truth be told – for years I hated my legs. Being diagnosed with breast cancer was a shock yes, but it taught me to love myself, legs and all, and the years have brought me a life of miraculous wonder, despite what it has done to my physical body….
…And so the good news was, that by putting my foot down (no pun intended) by refusing to believe that there was no hope; I was allowed entry into the wonderful world of scientific advancement. One only has to google that –scientific advancement for lymphoedema to discover that for years now scientists have been proving that there are indeed solutions. Microsurgery and lymph node transfers are being done around the world, and were up until a few years ago available on the NHS. Not any more however, except in Wales apparently, where one has a chance to receive microsurgery with the NHS because of a grant. Almost worth moving to Wales, and don’t think I haven’t thought about it. If one has the money to pay privately there are a handful of good doctors at our disposal. Somewhere along the line the world of ‘lymph’ has been downgraded as not that important apparently but read further and one can find an uprising of the people….the Lymphies as they are lovingly known. There is lots of information at the Lymphoedema Support Network…
People are marching in the USA to draw awareness to this condition and a march coming up this September in London. The actress Kathy Bates is the poster child for the Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN) in the USA.
Still, with all this information I was uncovering, the fact remained that despite all the work I was doing to help my leg; unless I had a pot of gold, the condition would only worsen over time. One of the ladies at Cancerucan, Jane McLelland who also runs another forum (Off-label drugs for cancer ) had recently paid privately for a lymph node transfer, and admitted that it was a long journey even then to see results. The searching continued, finding blogs and forums of folk who were in varying degrees members of the ‘Lymphies’, and I became more determined than ever.
In the meantime, another example of how Divine providence works –
I was due to attend a conference in Florence on Natural Agriculture run by my long standing connection with the spiritual fellowship of ‘Shumei’, but due to the complications with my leg Ihad doubts as to whether such a journey was wise. Europe was in the midst of a heatwave after all. I booked a very cheap flight anyway with the added temptation of visiting a dear American friend living in Umbria, whom I hadn’t seen in years; leaving it up to fate and my general welbeing on the actual day. Continuing with my research, bells went off as I came across the names of two Italian doctors working with microsurgery and other treatments for lymphoedema, and before I knew it fate had me on that flight to Italy, arriving hours after the Brexit vote to leave the EU. Mama mia…..What on earth was happening in the world? To say I was in a state of shock is putting it mildly.

The good news was that my leg did not blow up en route, and despite the unbearable heat I managed to hobble my way through the cobbled streets of Florence, clickety click clicking my poor battered suitcase behind me. It was crammed full of vitamins, dressings, pills, potions,and healthy snacks but alas nothing could tempt my mind away from the ever-present gelato ice-cream which called to me from every corner. I had certainly packed enough healthy food alternatives as per usual so as not to be seduced by the local off limit delicacies. I had even baked a large ‘brick’ of ‘life-changing bread’ so that my cravings for local baking would be met head on; but ice-cream was an all time favourite which at least at home I could make dairy free, or binge occassionally on Booja Booja. And what about the cheese? – dear God – at least I had the vegan alternative at home but how long could I resist a slice of pizza for God’s sake? Luckily I had eaten well along the way with homemade fayre, hummus, veggie delights and nuts etc; even an avocado had made it intact, but alas the brocolli sprouts I had started a few days earlier to see me through, met a premature death in the heat. I knew at least that the following day’s conference being all about healthy eating would feed body and soul.

So….never mind eh…..this too would pass, and by the time I reached the hotel, my body just wanted a lie down. Drawing back the curtains I was inspired by the view of the top of the familiar ‘Duomo’ in the distance, and across the way a beautiful stained glass window depicting a madonna in the throws of exctasy….perhaps she too had been fantascising on forbidden fruit or gelato. As if on cue the bells began to sound a timeless welcome, and with that I made a choice to let my guard down and trust that all the food presented to me during my stay in Italy would serve to feed my soul. If all that stood before me and my demise was the enjoyment of a divine gelato, then so be it. After resting my bones and zipping my legs into portable compression boots to help the lymph flow, out I went to check on my surroundings. Surprise surprise, there below my hotel was a gelato shop with GELATO VEGANO…..You got it – vegan gelato…..mama mia!!! OK so the high sweet content was another issue, but what the heck – I’m sure the ‘when in Rome do as the Romans do’works just as well in Firenze! And so it was I indulged in the divine rapture of gelato vegano wishing it would never end; but when it did I continued counting my blessings and enjoyed a stroll as the sun set finding myself at the Ponte Vecchio remembering being there with Javier………He was never far from my thoughts as always…..

DCIM101MEDIA

The journey continues in part 2

THE CANCER REVOLUTION

Book high res
The title alone is such a welcome sight for any ‘wounded soldier’, and by that I mean those of us involved in the war against cancer – pretty much all of us in one way or another.
I’ve been saying it for years – “We need a revolution!……patient power, people power, carer power.” Well here it is, THE CANCER REVOLUTION, all bound and with colourful easy to navigate design. Good news indeed to herald the fact that we are finally on the verge of a revolution – and a firm reminder in the face of this dreaded word ‘cancer’, to say – YES TO LIFE!
A quick leaf through, and I feel a surge of great hope…..it is chock full of the choices I wish had been available to me when I was first diagnosed fifteen years ago. As Robin Daly, the founder of ‘Yes to Life’ puts it – “…..the fruition of a long held dream pulling together the best information on the broadest ranges of approaches to cancer.” On that it certainly delivers.
Since it is predicted that by 2020 half of us will get cancer at some point in our lives; there is indeed something for everyone within its pages. As the very knowledgeable author, Patricia Peat continually reminds us throughout –
‘Cancer is a disease that is probably multi-factorial and therefore needs a multidimensional approach to maximise our chances of returning to good health.’

On a personal note – since I am already included in those statistics, having been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001, I am well aware of the complexity of continuing to live with the disease, despite doing everything in my power to eradicate it. Oh would that the revolution was underway in those early days when there was very little choice for treatment within the NHS. One did as one was told- but not me! Having lived in California for many years, I was a bit of a rebel, and well aware that there were alternative paths to take, and the necessity of detoxification was a no-brainer. At that time ‘Alternative therapy’, was largely being ‘poo-hoo’d in the UK, and the phrase ‘ Integrative Medicine’, had not yet been coined. I was lucky enough to live on the Wirral where Dorothy Crowther had set up the Wirral Holistic Cancer Care Services (p.73 ) Having such a centre on my doorstep with resources such as acupuncture, reflexology, homeopathy etc; gave me the confidence to believe that I could defeat my diagnosis, and indeed I began to feel better than before I had the cancer. In those days the orthodox treatment was largely one size fits all; and I watched too many fellow patients fall by the wayside with the all too-heavy dosage of chemotherapy and radiation. It was so frustrating to research treatments outside of the UK that I could indeed feel positive about, but could not afford to use. I filled my doctors case notes with reports on all manner of less invasive options but no matter how much evidence I brought to the table; I was thought of as a rebel because I continued to refuse their orthodox methods. Hell yes I was part of a revolution! And guess what – it was charities like YTL, that began to spring up and echo my own thoughts….and indeed offer me hope where the NHS could not.
So….fast forwarding 15 years and here I am scouring the contents of ‘The Cancer Revolution’. It’s certainly inspiring to find such a gathering of professionals giving their varied opinions. It is quite evident that there is no ‘one way’ to cure cancer, but everyone is in agreement that boosting the immune system gives us the best chance of survival. We are reminded that the evidence base for treatments once thought of as alternative or irrelevant is now undeniable and that makes my heart sing. I am especially happy for those folk just joining the revolution as it means that they can more easily access healthier options to gain empowerment over their situations. No longer do they have to be held captive as ‘passive patients’, but can join forces with their doctors and have their say! “It is YOU not your medical team that is in overall charge of your situation.”
So – yes, through the efforts of dedicated individuals and informative books such as this, we now have more awareness of a growing list of practitioners around the country (albeit oft times under threat) that offer us services ‘outside the box’. But at the same time I am conscious of the fact that we still have a ways to go. Whilst simple vitamin infusions, hyperthermia, ozone treatments etc; are more easily available privately, as is a stay at a UK clinic such as ‘The Vision of Hope’ in Brighton- they are still being ignored by the NHS?
With my own case of a re-occurrence, with chest wall progression, I, like many women are falling into a less-researched category. Perhaps in the early days I was naive to think that I could heal myself without the use of any kind of pharmaceuticals. I did my best and managed to live a full life whilst doing so – even becoming an artist in the process. Indeed – creating ourselves anew is an important element in our healing. But when once again the cancer reared it’s head I was informed enough to see that this ‘Integrative Medicine’ approach had it’s merits and I chose to journey forth on faith, and accept that I could benefit from it. I saw it as a positive step forward, not just for myself by the way, but for what I may discover that helps others. I have never allowed myself to lose hope, and have always been open to the next ‘step’ which I intuitively learned to expect – and by golly it comes like a whisper sometimes.
We are remarkable beings us humans – It is true – Knowing that one is the most crucial element in one’s recovery; spiritually, psychologically, and emotionally, gives us a powerful gift of light to empower even the darkest of nights.
When my whisper came I was able to put my faith in a visit to THE OASIS OF HOPE, hospital in Mexico, and trust in Dr. Contreras whom I had coincidentally met 27 years ago, and who I am delighted to find here in this book (page 190) Using a small inheritance and many credit cards that had never been available before – I risked everything; and the journey indeed brought fresh hope for my condition.
Indeed, with so many of us learning to live with cancer now, we can surely diminish the ‘fear factor’ attached to it by learning to look at cancer with eyes and ears as fresh as we can imagine to see what is whispering to us….or better yet SHOUTING to us…..
Right now I hear the words to the familiar Beatles song Revolution echoing through my being…..

You say you want a revolution…..
…..Don’t you know it’s gonna be alright!

I know I will re-visit this revolutionary book at leisure; this was just a quick visit and at the end I am impressed to find this :

Recovery should not be left to chance; there are many factors that contribute to
developing cancer and careful investigation of these and of underlying imbalances
is vital
• If anybody says that he or she has a ‘cure’, the ‘answer’ and that cancer is a
‘simple disease’, then that person is without doubt a charlatan. Cancer is an
individual disease. Integrative Medicine does not have all the answers; in fact,
nobody does. Viva La revolucion!

Moving forward with renewed Health, Hope, and Harmony for 2016

When last I wrote I was still in Los Angeles reflecting on a life once lived there. Fast forward to the ‘here and now’, and presto I am in Barcelona, having just celebrated turning 64, with my dear Javier.javier_and_pauline_sag_fam[1]

Fourteen years have passed since I was first diagnosed, and a lot of living in between dare I say despite the prognosis. One only has to leaf back to 2001 to see that.

“Did you think you’d still be here all these years later?” Asked a well-meaning nurse whom I have grown quite fond of, as much for her ‘out of the box’ attitude, and her interest in my story, as for her absolute ability to navigate my rather delicate veins, procuring blood painlessly where others have failed miserably. “Of course”. My answer was immediate, there was no doubt about it – my mind had decided to survive the prognosis come what may! It was such a joy to find another positive ‘sparkle’ of a nurse – treasures they are! If I remember correctly, we met around 2009, soon after I had reached the ‘cancer-free’ mark – very short-lived as it were. A bell had gone off and technically I had been declared ‘cancer-free’. I finally finished the book I was writing, thinking that was an end to my cancer journey. The nurse had read about me in the ICON magazine, (www.canceractive.com)…I was the featured ‘survivor’, and felt proud that such a wonderful magazine was available in my local hospitals and libraries. There was no such thing when I was in need – big change there!

So – bear with, as here I am attempting to bring this blog up to date before the new year 2016 begins. However, having just navigated the Christmas holidays with all its usual temptations my brain is a little foggy, having indulged in a few forbidden treats. What with that and the continuous popping of pills it´s hard to determine the exact cause, but I move forward courageously despite the challenges.
Case in point – The other day I awoke from a nightmare wherein a woman clothed in black stepped out of the wardrobe with a large knife in hand heading straight for me. It was all so very real as I confronted the apparition with a “Who the he– are you?”, holding out my arms as if I too brandished a secret weapon – I may have even made the sign of the cross – it all happened so quickly. Whatever I did worked, as the figure dissolved in front of my eyes, like a scene from a horror movie, and although I was shaken to the core for a while – I slowly began to laugh about it and accept that I had indeed not given in to fear but had fought the inner demon if you will. Since then I have been much more relaxed and positive about things.

Returning to the Oasis of Hope, back then in October for a week to check on my status was once again an uplifting experience, but the time went by fast and one really does not have time to relax into it.

The change is within you

The change is within you

Nevertheless I enjoyed meeting and helping new people to settle in, as it were. There’s always a surprise to find, and Gaynor and I grew up in the same neighbourhood.

I got a booster shot for the Dendritic cell vaccine, amongst the usual top-ups, and the good news was that my circulating cancer cells had halved. Once again the reality of the enormous expense hung over me despite my determination to remain positive but with the help of credit cards I made it, and had a week or so more back in L.A. with friends before leaving for the UK.

One sad note was that another dear heart whom I had met on the first visit had sadly passed away – Noray Moradkhan, a sweet Armenian man in his 80’s. His devoted wife and daughter had made quite an impression on me whilst we were all together at the hospital, and since they lived in L.A. I had planned to visit. I couldn’t make the funeral but went to their home before leaving America. Having heard about his beautiful fruit orchard I felt blessed to eat one of his delicious pomegranates, grown from tiny seeds over many years. I have been addicted to them ever since and even saved some of the seeds with the hope of planting them and keeping a small part of his legacy alive. They are indeed one of nature’s miracles. Noray’s beautiful daughter, Klara who had left no stone unturned in trying to find the best treatment for her father was so thoughtful in giving me his unused ‘xeloda’ medicine which I mentioned in the last blog as being just too expensive to continue with. Once again, God moves in mysterious ways. Thank you Noray!

The Moradkhans

The Moradkhans

Part of the magic of spending time at OASIS is the deep connection to people one makes in such a short time, and the faith that is nurtured through making such a journey. I was lucky to have some friends from ‘Shumei’ come to visit me also,
friends_from_shumei_at_the_mexican_border[1] and I got to visit the new center cultural center in Tijuana opened by the amazing Makeda ‘Dread’ Cheato from the ‘www.worldbeatcenter.org in San Diego.

As always in leaving Mexico my mind was filled with so many ideas on how I was going to be able to afford to continue with the treatment. Arriving back in L.A. I uncovered more of my old projects, some dating back 25 years, such as my animation story ‘Rosie Quartz and the Gemstones. I had entrusted it to Barbra Streisand’s manager, Marty Erlichman at the time since we had worked together on the Richard Gere movie, Breathless. (Here I go name dropping again!) Oh go on then…..here’s Richard as i remember him -once upon a time !
Breathless-richard gere
Marty was impressed enough to send it over to Universal, for consideration. The last I heard, they had conveniently lost it – this all happening even before ‘The little Mermaid, and the onset of the new wave of animation. So – Yes – I was examining my life once lived in L.A., but so much had changed in my life, and I did not have the energy I once had to follow-up on things. Hopefully that will change with the new year. I did however, leave America feeling much better than when I arrived, in so many ways; and that is the key to America – one can be inspired – and I for one was so grateful to be able to spend time in yet another ‘home away from home’.from the film 'Hysterical'

And so – back to the present – and how am I doing?
All in all, I have continued very well on the designated regime, making a few changes here and there. I am now taking ‘Letrozole’, the estrogen blocker, replacing ‘xeloda’. I had been opposed to taking any pharmaceuticals as I keep repeating, but since I am taking so many alternative supplements to protect my immune system, I feel more confident with this ‘integrative’, approach. However – I was distraught to read the ingredients on the calcium tablet prescribed by the NHS to accompany the Letrozole – It contains ‘aspartame of all things….that’s right – rat poison! here i draw the line and THIS I WILL BE SURE TO PUBLICIZE. The good news is that the chest wall seems to be ‘behaving’ in that, the appearance is a lot less aggressive and manageable. Compared to this time last year I feel that I am winning the war.
Of course, life is not a bowl of cherries by any means, but I am accustomed to my condition, and will so far spare the reader any graphic photos. One thing I am finding is that I am not reacting to circumstances in over-emotional ways now – perhaps that is due to the medication. I tend to detach myself more easily from stress, for the most part – Choosing instead to post smiles and HOPE for the new year ahead! home away from homeAnd gratitude for all the wonderful organisations that are dedicated to bringing about the sea-change for cancer treatment in the UK – New Approaches to Cancer, Yes to Life, Together Against Cancer, and Cancer Active. Now…..if I can find my way through the maze of passwords for this and that, I hope to get lucky and post this well ahead of New Years Eve!
MAY WE ALL FIND THE FAITH WITHIN TO MOVE FORWARD TO FIND THAT EVERLASTING PEACE AND LOVE.shine your light