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.
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.
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!
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,
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 !
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’.
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! And 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.