It has been a long time since I posted an update/hello. This may be long as I have a lot to say and feel chatty.
I suppose I will start with the here and now. I am here again in the infusion chair admiring Mount Tamalpais. I will be here for three hours. A massage therapist from down stairs offered me a foot massage and not really thinking I said no thanks. Then, thinking, I called her back when I heard another not thinking person decline. “I changed my mind, ” I told her. I should never turn down a foot massage! It was a great way to kick off my infusion.
I am too young to have cancer. Heck, everyone is too young to have cancer, but it makes a bit more sense if someone is much older. Yet, there are other young people here too. What is up with that?
I will tell you a bit about the past few days and that may give you a glimpse of how I am feeling, which is fantastic! Lucky me.
I spent some time last week at the Bay Club Marin participating through Sunflower Wellness….which offers a program of ”Living Through Cancer With Exercise”. I took an awesome spin class/strength conditioning class with a woman named Amy, and another strength conditioning class with Regan Fedric who is the program director/co-founder/exercise counselor. It was great to meet some of the participants after class, one of whom has been following my blog since the beginning which I always am flattered to hear. There was a lot of camaraderie and fun as we did a unique/whirlwind class inspired that day by the olympics. It felt great to get such a good work out, on an infusion day to boot!
Thursday good friends from Somes Bar , Chris and Tera and two Kids (3 and 1.5) came to town and I had so much energy I cooked up a bunch of veggies and seared tuna steaks on the grill for their arrival. The visit Thursday through Sunday afternoon included swimming, a trip to Shell Beach on Tomales Bay where the four kids made a giant cake out of sea weed on the beach, and we hiked over the hill to the adjoining beach, ate oysters in Inverness, among a few other fun stops.
Sunday dear old (gold) friends, EB, Gray, Cassidy, and Stephanie from my days as a raft/cross-country ski guide days joined us for juicing and breakfast. EB blew my mind by driving down from Davis (I thought she still lived in Berkeley when I invited her!). So many memories flooding back of my early to mid-twenties. A very magical time in my life and although it has been many years (why did it take me getting cancer to make this happen??) bonds with these people will never be broken.
Monday the kids and I took the ferry to San Francisco from Larkspur, lunched at the Ferry Building, caught a cable car, rode the muni and a bus, and walked to the California Academy of Science and the Japanese Tea Garden. We saw the penguins (including Pierre whom we adore–we have the book about him and his neoprene wetsuit), butterflies, and the aquarium. The tea garden included some green tea drinking (me) and cookie eating (kids) and wandering over bridges and stone pathways. It always feels good in there. Then we did the same transportation back to Larkspur. The goal of the day was something Taylor and I dreamed up….to take as many modes of transportation possible…..we walked, drove in a car, rode a ferry, a muni (that was our train), a bus, and walked. We wanted to rent bikes in Golden Gate Park or ride the double-decker sight-seeing bus, but we ran out of day light. The day was a blast. Both kids loved it, but Asher missed much of the cable car and all of the muni because he fell asleep in my arms on the cable car.
Tuesday we spent the day body surfing (yes, body surfing….Taylor really took to it!) and boogy boarding at Stinson Beach, my childhood beach. We ate dinner a the Parkside Cafe in the town of Stinson. I have many memories of that town and beach. More than I knew I held and they all came flooding back the moment I pulled into the parking lot. Actually it started on the drive over Bolinas/Fairfax Road. Like the time I had a College of Marin field trip to Point Reyes and I had the driver drop me off at the Olema Ridge trailhead and declared I was going to run back to Fairfax on the trails. I remember it so well. Splashing water from a cow trough on my hot head, wearing my t-shirt on my head since I had no hat, some hikers loaning me a water bottle to drink from, walking up Cataract Falls, arriving in Fairfax after dark. It was one of those things that at the time I was realizing I had planned poorly, but now looking back I am so glad I did it. I love telling my kids those crazy stories.
Taylor and Mom pose at Stinson between sets
There are many childhood through college age memories here which is one of the reasons I love that I am healing in this place. But, with that said, after being away from Arcata my home near Humboldt Bay and those gorgeous redwoods…..I am still missing things like my husband, garden, and dog as I have mentioned in previous posts, but a few nights back I got emotional over my dining table. When I miss my dining table (and my family whole and around it) I suppose it is time to go home!
We leave tomorrow morning after my qigong appointment at Pine Street Clinic with Lindsey of Marin Acupuncture Clinic (Lindsey was a student of Suzanne Friedman as is my hometown qigong practitioner/healer Zena of Misty Mountain Healing Arts). Lindsey has been great. I have gotten so much out of our sessions and continue to be fascinated with the healing powers of qigong and the practitioners I have included on my healing team, Zena, Lindsey, Phil Madden (at Marin Cancer Institute), and Jessica Baker of Jade Dragon Medical Spa.
It has been a full week. Which brings us to today,Wednesday. This morning we did some back to school shopping for Taylor, stopped by the hospital for my lab work and now here I am in the chemotherapy infusion room. Post-foot massage I am just typing away as I am sadly not in the middle of a good book. I need a new one and the Danielle Steel (etc.) books available on the shelf in the infusion room are not looking so promising. I just finished an excellent story, Molokai. It is about a woman who was exiled there as a young girl (eight years old–so sad I could barely read it in the beginning!) with leprosy and is an incredible work of historical fiction. What I loved most about the book besides just learning of that time and place in our history is the ability of the protagonist, as she ages, to embrace her life exiled with leprosy on Molokai without her family. She really makes the most out of it by surfing, her relationships with the other girls and the sisters who care for them, among an uncle and his girlfriend, her dad who visits when he can, and others. There is a lot I could talk about, but I will leave it at that. I feel chatty today (the steroids?)…..At any rate, if you are looking for a good read I recommend it.
Tonight after my infusion I pick up Taylor for a date…..we are heading to the Berkeley Playhouse for their production of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I am super excited about this as Taylor and I both love live theatre. Signing off….time to get out of here in order to swoop by my sister’s, give Asher a big fat kiss, pick up Taylor and drive (in traffic, likely) to Berkeley for this musical performance.
Hello again. It is now Thursday evening. Willy Wonka was fabulous. Taylor was a super star staying awake until the end at ten o’clock! It was a really great production in the adorable Berkeley Playhouse.
I went on and on about all the great energy I possess. I mostly am posting about it in order to explain my dilemma and a bit of what I understand about chinese medicine which is not a lot. So I have all this energy and I am using it up! Apparently my lung pulses are awesome and this is the energy I am feeding off, but when I see Lindsey she tells me my kidney pulse is weak and that I could take better care of myself by heeding this and for instance “maybe make a two course meal, instead of five”. It is a good reminder to CONSERVE some of my energy and do quiet things like take a luxurious long and quiet bath. Zena often tells me this too. It is my nature to DO an it is not such a bad thing, but I want to learn to strike a better balance and do more quiet and nurturing activities as well. Those are the activities that are more difficult with kids, BUT I also want to model for them for their own futures, and I think I can make some more quiet time work in our daily routines. Once we are back into routines that is. It has been a fun, pretty routine-less, summer. Cooking, gardening, visiting with friends, going to the beach, hiking in the woods…these things all feed my soul so I justify it that way, but there must be a way to balance it all out. Lindsey reminds me to check in with my kidneys each day and see what they want to do. I know it may sound funny to some, but I find it wise counsel and plan to slow things down a bit. One of the reasons it has been a busy few weeks is that the end of out month and a half vacation just snuck up on me. We have been doing so much just hanging out and I realized we had not even had our “city day” or our Stinson days….then I had to pack it all in. I never did my hike all day on Tam day either, but I will soon….and my kidneys will love it because I will be quiet and near water which are both good for the kidneys!
As far as my cancer goes…..a few days back I had a sore rib cage so of course was convinced for a short while that my cancer had spread to my liver. This is the difficult part of my cancer being Stage III. It is so close to the very scary Stage IV. All I can do is keep on keeping on. My diet is the best thing I have going–lots of brassica family veggies, leeks, onions, garlic. When I cook I really see and feel it as my medicine and is such a beautiful thing to be cooking up my colorful, and delicious medicine. I normally do not eat after seven, but on my chemotherapy day I did not eat as I had intended because after back to school shopping I found myself at a restaurant with my kids that there was nothing on the menu I could live with (they had grilled cheese and clam chowder in a bread bowl at Boudin). So after Willy Wonka at eleven o’clock at night I whipped up a fabulous shallots, garlic, eggplant, green bean, red pepper, scrambled egg (protein important on chemo day) dish. Topped off with hot sauce from Sol Food (my favorite Marin restaurant…Puerto Rican and all local, organic goods) and ate it at nearly midnight. My guess is that late night healthy food is better than no food after having been pumped full of chemotherapy meds. My diet is great, but my chemotherapy drugs are insurance as well and radiation will follow that up nicely. I do need to get some fresh turmeric. I love the Good Earth my store down here, but I have not found it there. I hear they have it at Whole Foods, but I don’t like to shop at Whole Foods. The Coop at home has it frequently. It is over by the ginger. Grab some if you are local. It is so good for you….super cancer fighting. And it is delicious.
In addition to chemo, my veggie/fruit/protein diet I still take my Brian La Forgia/KW Botanicals herbs, although not as often as I should…some days I just forget. I still take my mushroom tincture from Jade Dragon, a few New Chapter immune support pills, and a great new herb concoction my sister got me in Nevada City. All of these things seem to be helping to give me all of this incredible energy I posses! I feel so great!! Life is good! May it be good and long!! I had my doc look at my liver and the thinks it is just superficial/muscle pull or something……maybe from the body surfing???
Lastly, I got my breast prostheses. I think the funniest thing that has happened surrounding that is Asher saying “Mommy, show them your fake boob!” Fortunately it has only been to close relatives so far. He had us all laughing pretty good. My kids call it my fake boob, but for some reason when I am looking for it I call it my $300 boob (even though hopefully insurance is paying for it). (Writing this, I am realizing what a silly word boob is. I wonder where it came from?) So, now when I want to use it I just slide it into a pocket in my new mastectomy bras. The best part of this whole deal? That I get up to four bras per year paid for by my insurance company. Can you believe it? (Always looking for the silver lining). Although this will likely be the only year I will ever meet my crazy deductible.
If you are in Marin and want one, A Lady’s Touch is the place. It is on D Street in San Rafael by appointment. A super nice lady owns the shop and she happens to have a daughter living in Arcata that supports the Arcata Scoop. It is nice to support a family that supports my family so I happily pay for my $300 fake boob (if insurance does not, TBD).
I want to mention my Pedaling Each Day venture…I could not pull it off in Marin. In the beginning I had no trailer, no night lights, no time or ability really with the kids. I kept thinking it would work it’s way back into my life, but even after getting the trailer down here it never did. It may resume once I am back in Arcata. Part of what struck me was the fact that I want to do more and I want to do different. I want to go for a few long rides per week rather than at least one mile per day every single day. Some days I want my free time for a hike, to walk the dogs I am sitting for, to attend a yoga class. So things have shifted and I am good with that as long as I am getting exercise. I will continue to follow my heart and do what feels right on this journey. I have a few people donating their miles to me which I think is really cool. And I have been on a few long rides that have likely made up the mile per day this past month and a half too.
Heading to Chico to visit friends tomorrow after qigong. Then home to Arcata on Sunday! Looking forward to traveling the winding Trinity River home to Arcata. I have missed home!
Many blessings to all of you reading this. Thanks for following my story and for all of the support.
A new article written by Renee Goddard just came out in the Marin County Bicycle Coalition’s summer edition of their e newsletter Pedal Press. Click here to check it out. Under Table of Contents….Nicole Nada’s Journey. There are a lot of other interesting articles in the newsletter too. By the way, the author of this piece, along with my twin sister, met me about half way down my final descent, White’s Hill into Fairfax with a giant hand painted cardboard sign that said “You are Our Hero”. I have it hanging in my bedroom it meant so much to me.