Notes From Supergirl

My Diary from the Trenches

8 Months Post Transplant


I have been so eager to blog for the last few days and finally took a moment to try to escape the screaming children and do so. The summer has been fun, but as with most moms home with the kids, I am starting to get eager for them to go back to school. Camp is over which leaves long days for them to fight with each other and complain about not being entertained enough. I do love them dearly, but a few hours of quiet will be a welcome treat. Can you tell they are screaming right now?!?!

In any case, I have a lot of great things to report. First and foremost, I have completely finished with one of my immune suppression drugs and begun tapering down the second one. My blood counts were excellent last week – all NORMAL – and one of my t-cell counts is just shy of a level they consider normal for transplant patients. It isn’t exactly “normal” but it is high enough that I am out of a high-risk zone and will no longer have to take one of my antibiotics. The other T and B cell numbers are following closely behind and working their way up. As I continue to taper down the drugs, these counts will continue to come up. And thus far there have been no signs of GVHD. My skin has improved quite significantly as well. It’s not so much a visual change, but I have had very intense itchiness for the last few months and that has subsided which is an enormous relief.

I have also been training hard for this year’s Iron Girl race which is on Sunday. I am so excited to have the opportunity to run it again on a relay team with my nurse Roseann. And for the cherry on top, I just found out that I won the Athleta “Power to the She” award for the Columbia race. Athleta sponsors Iron Girl and they select a woman for each city’s race who inspires others. I had submitted my story past the deadline on a whim and thought nothing of it. There are some phenomenal stories of the women from other cities who have won this award. Well I got word yesterday that they selected me! I was completely stunned and honored. I will receive the award at the race and my story will be featured on their blog next week (I believe). I’ll post a link when it is live. I’m really over-joyed about it all and having the opportunity to share my story in a national forum. I hope that it might inspire some other woman going through a similar experience to keep fighting. I know that so many of the stories I have read have done that for me.

Another really awesome thing that I got to do recently was a radio show for the Ulman Fund promoting the Half Full Triathlon that I participate in in October. I went on with the race director and another survivor to talk about what the race means to us and why others should want to support this great cause. The show aired on a couple of local stations over last weekend and will air again in September. I happen to be out of town last weekend so I missed it :( I’m going to try to get a digital copy or just hold out for the next time it airs. It was a very fun experience and an honor to be asked by Ulman to talk about the race.

I’ve also been busy with work and looking forward to a lot of fun things that are coming up in the next few weeks and months. I’m feeling really energized, strong and empowered. It’s a good feeling.

Before I go I just wanted to share something I’ve been doing that has really made a difference in my life lately. I got the idea from a book and it’s changed the way I see things. The book was about someone going through an incredibly difficult time in life and not being able to see to the other side of it. Someone pointed out that there are miracles that happen every single day, all the time, and we just don’t open our eyes to see them. The idea is to find those miracles and celebrate them. In the beginning you might just see one or two things, but as the days go on, you start to see so many things that you might have missed before. Yes, going through cancer for two years makes everyday feel like a miracle to begin with. But there are days it’s easy to forget that and get wrapped up in stress and petty things. I realize this little “trick” sounds cheesy, but trust me, it works. Try it for a few days and you’ll get over a slump much faster than usual.

Summer Lovin’


I suppose it would seem that I gave up on the blog since it has been so long since I have written. It’s often on my mind, but I haven’t had a lot of time or anything that seemed particularly noteworthy to report until recently. My recovery has been very much the same – which is a very good thing. Overall I feel very strong and have a decent amount of energy. The stomach problems that I was dealing with through the beginning of June have settled quite a bit recently. I still wake up daily with a new blotch on my face though. I’ve learned to not care as much. For a period of time I didn’t even want to leave the house because of the blotches. Now I’ve figured out the right combination of skincare products and topical steroids that seems to make it easier to go out in public. But I am eager to see what happens to my skin when I am finally off of all of my medications. My hair is growing back and it’s not nearly as curly as last time. It’s wavy and very thick and sort of any ashy color. I wouldn’t call it gray but it’s not blond or brown either. If you know my brother, I would say it’s the same color as his hair. We look very much alike right now.

Day to day life has actually been pretty amazing, almost in an overwhelming way. Life seems to have calmed down a little. The summer has been easy and casual, calm and restful. I only have to go to the hospital every two weeks now and I am almost completely finished with one of my immune drugs. As soon as I am finished with that, my doctor plans to begin tapering down the other immune drug. Thus far, my body has responded well (KNOCK-ON-WOOD!!!). There do not seem to be any signs of graft versus host disease, which is very reassuring. I am continuing to run and bike and add other activities as I can. Since the beginning of June I have cut 6 minutes off of my 4-mile time! I’m working very hard on getting faster for Iron Girl in August and truly enjoying every second of it.

The overwhelming part of all of it is two-fold. One, I am just overjoyed with how blessed my life feels right now. I feel like I can see the other side in vivid technicolor. I often forget about cancer and other bodily ailments and just feel normal. I’ve had multiple incidents in the past few weeks that have served to remind me of how lucky I am to be here at all. First there was a news report on Rock Center describing the desperate need for bone marrow donors and the fact that so many people that are matches do not show up at all to actually make the donation. I may have blogged about this before. But watching this story and seeing that there were people who have died simply because their donor never showed or because they never found a match was beyond heart-wrenching. Not only did I have two perfect matches, but I had one who was more than willing to go through the process of giving me her bone marrow that truly saved my life. A day doesn’t go by that I am not grateful for that.

A second incident which really hit hard with me was that I had to return to the bone marrow transplant (BMT) unit at University of Maryland two weeks ago. My doctor has decided to see his patients on the unit rather than in the cancer center clinic because he was concerned about the exposure to germs with the growing population of the clinic. Thus, each week that I go to the hospital now, I will have to revisit BMT. Walking through there the first time was nearly paralyzing. If you came to visit me, you know that there are two locked doors that you must go through to enter the unit. You pass through one, wait for it to lock behind you, and then you pass through the second door. Being on the inside of the unit again felt frightening. As much as I loved my nurses and the care I received while there, it certainly felt like I was imprisoned, locked away from the outside world. In returning, on the one hand I was happy to see my nurses and show them that I’m alive and well. On the other hand, I felt horrible passing by patients who looked so sick. I wanted to stop by each one and say “I was just like you a few months ago, it will be okay.” And for some of them it will be, hopefully for all of them.

In the waiting area within the unit, you now must wait with other BMT patients who are sitting right next to you. In the cancer center, you retain a certain level of anonymity because you never know what any one patient is there for. You can guess on a few of them, but for the most part it is very private. In this new situation, it is clear that anyone sitting there waiting is a BMT patient at some point in the transplant process. My first day there, I sat with another couple where gentleman was using a walker and wearing a mask and appeared to be a patient recently out of transplant or perhaps waiting for a transplant to happen. As it turns out, he was 53 years old and has been battling lymphoma for years, as his wife told me. We began chatting and he asked when my transplant was and I said December. Their mouths nearly dropped to the floor. His transplant was in August and he had faced a very grim case of GVHD. He ended up being allergic to the immune suppression drugs that we need to take and he needed to be put on very high dose steroids. The steroids essentially wasted away his muscles, thus leaving him wheelchair bound. In recent months they had come to my doctor to help with his care and felt that he had saved this man’s life. He is now able to use to the walker and his body is beginning to heal. They were in awe of how healthy I looked and couldn’t believe how well I was doing in just 6 months since my transplant.

I was completely humbled by the encounter. I felt horrible about what the man had been going through. I didn’t know what to say and tried to downplay some of my success by simply saying that I had been blessed to have a perfect match. He responded that he, too, had had a perfect match! They were incredibly kind and said that it gave them hope that he would be that healthy soon. Later, as I walked out with his wife, she described how difficult these past three years have been for her husband and how he has two kids and it all felt so unfair. I completely understood.

When I was finishing up my appointment, my nurse told me that the couple had commented on how nice it was too meet me and what an inspiration I was to them. I just began to cry. All I could think about was how petty I have been to feel bad about my hair or my skin these past few months. How often I have lost sight of the big picture and focused on superficial things that I know don’t matter. I am alive and that’s all that matters. And for whatever reason, I have been given this gift and this opportunity to be here a while longer (hopefully a long, long while!) and I should never lose sight of that.

There have been a couple of other things that have come up since then that have further made it clear to me how beautiful my life is and how lucky I am. I don’t want it to sound as if I haven’t been grateful this entire time because I have. As I said, I feel like everyday I see a miracle or experience a miracle. But when the universe seems to be sending you neon, flashing signs as a reminder of my good fortune, that is where I almost have to stop and catch my breath.

True to old patterns, I often let these moments of joy become tainted with fear – the fear of when will this all go away? I think, “this can’t last forever, right?” “When will the shoe drop?” I even had a dream a week or so ago about being told I needed to go through chemo again and I woke up in a cold sweat after saying absolutely not!

It will be a long time, a few years, before I am considered “cured.” I pray I make it to that point. I feel nothing but optimism about it, but there is that occasional twinge that pops up to remind me that nothing is a guarantee. But I also recognize that it is a waste of time and energy to live with fear and that life is short regardless of cancer. But some days, I admit, I have to push myself a little harder to fight the fear. I look forward to that feeling going away at some point.

In other great news, I have been spending a lot of time working on things for Team Inspiration. I am close to launching their new website which I couldn’t be more excited about. I will be sure to share it here when it goes live. I have also been busy working on other projects when the kids are in camp. And I actually made the time to read an entire book and get myself back to book club. The book was wonderful and I highly recommend it: Shelter Me by Juliette Fay. What I’ve realized is that you can make time for the things you want to do. We often make the excuse that we don’t have enough time for things, but we can make time for things if they are important to us. Sometimes it means getting up at 5 am or going to bed at 1 and other times it just means being more efficient. For me it means all three, but I’m happier when I can fit things in and do the things I really enjoy.

I go back to the doctor this week and am curious about who I will see if the waiting room. Rather than dread it, I’m going to try to look forward to it and remind myself how happy it made me to see patients who were thriving when I was in-patient myself. The greatest gift when I was there was to meet survivors who were living normal, healthy, happy lives. They were my inspiration.

2 Years and Still Here!


It is funny that June 1, 2012 came and went and it wasn’t until today that I realized it has been 2 years since I began this journey! My oversight of the passing of the date should give you a sense of how little I think about cancer these days, which is awesome. It is obviously still very much a part of my life, but I no longer focus on or think about the days as I used to. I am in the nebulous aftermath of the transplant and there is no definitive finish line and nothing left to do but live and hope. I’ll take it.

There are so many joyous things that I feel these days mixed in with a lot of junk and negativity that are partially from normal life and partially from being a cancer survivor. When I start to hit a lull, I’ve learned to pick myself up a little faster and I’ve learned to turn more quickly to yoga or running or meditation or good friends as a way of reminding myself that nothing is worth fretting over, as long as it’s not cancer. So for this two-year post, I thought I would write one of my trademark lists as a reminder to myself about how far I’ve come and how blessed I am. It is a way of expressing enormous gratitude to the universe and my friends and family for helping me get here. And hopefully some inspiration for others on their journey to never give up hope. It does get better.

In preparing today’s list, I thought I would go back and reread my very first post on Day 1, June 1, 2010. I have to say I was surprised by what I read because I would have expected some scary, sad details, but instead this is the last part of that short post:

So rather than give you the gory details of Day 1, I’m leaving you with the top 5 positive things I can say about this experience … so far:

1. I have been overwhelmed by the amount of love and support I have received from friends and family. With this team behind me, it makes it easy to get up everyday and fight. I can honestly say that I feel like one of the luckiest people in the world – my beautiful, healthy children; my loving family and my amazing friends. These are gifts that will last forever, long after this hiccup has passed.

2. I’m facing one of my greatest fears – and surviving. I’ve always had a fear of doing things for fear of getting hurt or sick or dying. They always say fears like this are really a fear of living. It is a gift to be able to face this fear early enough that I will make everyday forward a day of living fully.

3. I’ll be the only one who doesn’t need a wax during bathing suit season (what, too graphic?)

4. I’ve gotten to see a pretty impressive side of my husband. He’s not so bad afterall.

5. A lot of people have already joined the bone marrow registry which means that my bump in the road may save one or more lives in the future. Thank you to everyone who joined!

So here’s the awesome news, guess who will need a wax this bathing suit season??? Not going there, but it made me laugh! And that bone marrow registry probably just saved MY life so big yeah to that! Overall, in rereading my initial thoughts about this whole experience, I can say I feel really good about where I am now. I have learned a lot of lessons and taken a lot of positive out of this negative experience. My world and eyes have opened to things I never saw or understood. And that has made life richer.

I beat myself up now and again when I am not feeling so enlightened. When I am irritated by the kids or in a terrible funk over my hair, I hardly feel like someone at peace with the world. I feel superficial and bitter. The good news is that I recognize it for what it is and I move on. I’ve let go of a lot over the past two years. I don’t let most things anger me and I don’t care about a lot of things if they’re really not that important. I care about my family and friends and I care about the relationships I have with people. I’m disappointed that I don’t look the way I want to or run as fast as I hope to, but I know in time I’ll get there. The greatest thing I’ve learned is that believing in yourself works. I’m not sure it will cure cancer, but it sure makes like richer. It makes the critics look like fools and it makes us feel like superheros when we set our minds to a goal and defeat the odds to reach it. There is nothing more empowering.

So here is today’s list of Top 10 Ways My Life is Better After Surviving Cancer:

1. I faced one of my greatest fears and beat it – nothing else is nearly as scary now.

2. I learned who my true friends are.

3. I have no doubt that the love I have for my children is the reason I’m here today.

4. I believe in myself in a way I never could have before. I don’t doubt my abilities – I know I can accomplish anything with the right mindset and enough hard work.

5. I understand what my mother experienced in her own battle with cancer. I always loved and admired her, but I now have a much deeper level of understanding and am grateful to have inherited her strength.

6. I see a new path for myself in life that is richer, deeper and more fulfilling than what I saw before. I will make a difference.

7. I’m not afraid to be honest anymore, with myself or anyone else.

8. I know what’s important in life. I know that I’ll look even better with a glow on my face than with an expensive pair of shoes (though the occasional splurge is ok ;) )

9. I’ve reached an entirely new spiritual understanding of the world that finally makes sense to me. It’s personal, but it’s peaceful.

10. Getting older feels really great! Each birthday is one to savor instead of look at with dread!!!

There you have it. As for the life of this blog, I plan to keep going until December 2012 – the one year anniversary of my transplant. I would like to start 2013 completely cancer-free and on with the rest of my life!

posted under Part 3 - The Allo-Transplant, The Daily Record | Comments Off

Miscellaneous Day in the Middle


So I realized as I was counting the day for this post that June 1 will be the two-year mark for me writing this blog, which means that I somehow have miscounted 10 or 11 days in the middle of all of this. Not that it matters at all, but for now, no more counting the days. I was never good at math.

I just wanted to do a quick update while I have a moment. There is not much to report, which is a good thing. I was taken off of the antibiotic that all of the doctors suspected was causing the rash, but I can’t say I have noticed a huge improvement. It’s been about 2 weeks now and the dermatologist said it takes about 30 days for your skin to heal and regenerate, so we’ll see how things look in another two weeks. In coming off of that med, I had to basically triple my immune suppression doses because the antibiotic had inflated them and going off of them means I need more of those meds to maintain the same level of immune suppression I had before. It’s not a big deal, it just means an extra 9 pills per day! I’ve gotten really good at swallowing pills and learned the right way to double them up and not choke when swallowing so that it doesn’t take me 5 minutes to get everything down. In the morning I am now taking 14 pills. So much for tapering down :( But we will get back to tapering down once everything levels out. Today is my 5-month post-transplant point and my doctor was hopeful I would be coming off of some of these things around 6 months. I’m not sure it will happen, but a few less pills would be nice.

Another fun thing that happened is that I got pink eye. I’ve never had it in my life and I got in one eye, then a few days passed and it showed up in the other one. It is most likely allergy related. It looked (one eye still looks) atrocious. But I seriously am just laughing about it now. Brian thinks I should start a list of all of the things I’ve gotten since starting this whole process. Fortunately most of them have been minor.

To follow up on my last blog post which I received quite a few wonderful emails about, first off, thank you. I really appreciate the things that a lot of you shared with me and I really appreciate your support. In a bit of irony, another friend forwarded a story to me about a college student in Boston who was diagnosed with end-stage melanoma. Her treatment had not worked and she was left with little to no options. Her mother found a hospital in Mexico City that used a treatment that included something called the Gersten Diet. The long story short is that the girl is completely cured and she continues on this diet today. Of course I went and researched the diet and it is primarily a raw, vegan, organic diet based on a lot of juicing. What was interesting is they described the cancers that have had great, well-documented success with it and those that it has not worked for. At the very top of the list of the people who should not try this diet are those with AML! I am completely intrigued now as to what their research shows regarding why this diet didn’t work for AML. Is it simply that the leukemic cells do not respond to nutritional changes or is it something about the diet that negatively impacts the cells? My guess is that it is the first concept as most of the research I have done shows that things like green tea, which has been fairly well-tested, showed no changes for patients with AML but did work for other types of leukemia. This brings up another point – when people talk about miracle cures for cancer, they often don’t understand the complexities of a disease. There are multiple forms of leukemia and what works for patients with CML is not at all what works for patients with AML. So to say that a leukemia patient was cured through a certain type of diet, one must understand what kind of leukemia they were dealing with. AML, unfortunately for me, does not seem to respond to a lot of things. It is a very stubborn cancer, thus the reason that so many patients must go through transplant to survive. The immune system must literally be erased because it does not seem to be so fixable. It is also the reason that AML is likely a result of a genetic flaw or some toxic environmental exposure. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to who gets it – yet. One day they will figure it out and I hope I’m around to see it because as much as I hate it, I find it fascinating.

The last thing I want to ask before I go is that everyone keep my good friend JP in their thoughts. She is another young adult patient who has been in remission from liver cancer for just over a year after receiving a transplant. She has been doing beautifully until about a week ago when she came down with pneumonia and is now back in the hospital dealing with possible rejection issues. Regardless of how difficult her situation is right now, she remains incredibly optimistic and cheerful and thus, one of my heroes. She is awesome and I am just keeping all fingers and toes crossed for her and hoping this is just a small blip in the road. Please include her in your prayers.

Day 704


It has been quite a while since I have posted. I have been meaning to and just haven’t been able to find the time. Everything is going well. I am in a steady state with my blood counts – the red, white and platelet cells are all in the normal zone which is just phenomenal after all this time. My t-cells are slowly coming up and the doctor is weaning me off of some medications. After a couple of months of stomach trouble, we finally discovered that the culprit was the magnesium I have been taking. Many of the immune-suppressants lower your magnesium level so you need to take extra magnesium to stay normal. However, magnesium can upset your stomach. We cut the dose in half last week and I have thoroughly enjoyed a week of less stomach cramps and time in the bathroom! A gory detail, I know, but it’s all part of the recovery process. The good news is also that the stomach problems were drug-related and not GVHD. I’m still dealing with skin problems but that won’t go away until I go off of the medication that is most likely causing it. It is debatable now whether it is worth trying a new drug (that could come with it’s own issues) or just continuing to deal with skin irritation and an itchy rash. The rash is really starting to get old, but I also fear any new medicines because I seem to react to everything.

Okay, now I’m going to take a moment to rant about something. I debated about whether or not I would do this because I know that there are people who will read this and know what I am talking about. Let me preface this by saying that it isn’t meant to offend anyone. I just felt like if I had done this in person it would have caused a great deal of unnecessary tension. Additionally, my feelings about this are so strong that I needed time to compose myself and I wanted the time and space to lay out my thoughts in an educated, level-headed way. So here goes …

As you all know I have spent an enormous amount of time researching diet, nutrition and cancer treatment and prevention. I have spent most of my adult life eating a well-balanced – some would say over-the-top – nutritionally based diet of mostly organic food and avoided anything processed, fatty, starchy, you name it. I have also exercised and lived in a toxin-free home for most of my life. My parents were very conscientious of cooking nutritionally sound foods and exercising well before it was fashionable to do so. We didn’t grow up on fast food and milkshakes, though of course we had things once in a while. When my mother, a very healthy woman, was diagnosed with breast cancer, I went even further to do everything I could to be as healthy as possible. But my mother fought as hard as she card and still couldn’t beat breast cancer. And two years later I was diagnosed with leukemia. If you would have asked anyone in my circle of friends who you thought would get cancer, I’m guessing I would have been at the bottom of the list. I’ve never smoked, hardly drank and did everything you were supposed to do to stay healthy. Did I eat red meat? Yes. Did I eat cheese? Yes. However, ironically, I gave up most dairy a couple of years ago. But I still got cancer.

There is a movement that has existed for some time that feels strongly that diet and cancer have a direct correlation. If you eat the purest diet possible, you will either completely protect yourself from cancer; or god forbid you ever get it, you can be cured by simply eating better or smarter. There is a feeling that modern medicine is simply a farce, it is driven by financial support of industries like dairy farmers and pharmaceutical companies who would go out of business if the truth ever came out that cancer would not exist if people just avoided dairy products and ate purer foods rather than take medicine for cancer. I suppose that when I was first diagnosed with leukemia in June 2010 I could have rejected the idea of chemotherapy in favor of trying a stricter, healthier diet than I already was doing except for one problem – I probably would have died. My immune system was crippled and the timing of my diagnosis was critical for saving my life. But even after going through the last two years of treatment, I continued to make modifications to my diet following extensive research and making food choices based on the best educated guesses of the scientists, doctors, researchers, patients and nutritionists that I found. I consume occasional amounts of cheese or eggs, I still eat gluten and I have a little bit of chocolate every day. But I don’t eat red meat, I don’t drink milk, I down a green smoothy (kale, green apple, avocado, hemp seeds for protein) daily, drink lots of purified water and eat almost entirely organic foods consuming easily 7-9 servings of fruit and vegetables each day. Oh, and I do tons of yoga, run and meditate and have worked very hard to decrease the stress in my life. And I truly am much more at peace with myself. Yet, in October, my biopsy results showed that all of that was not enough and my stem cells began to morph into a danger zone.

By the miracles of science, I still had a chance to cure this disease by replaced my sick stem cells with new healthy ones from someone who was a perfect genetic match to me. And here I am today. Am I cured? I have no idea but can only hope so. But I’m not willing to take any chances so I continue to do the things that I think are best for my health. But I also know life is far too short and I refuse to spend any time stressing over the food choices I make because I know I am doing what I think is right for me. And I know I’m doing better than at least 98% of the population, though I don’t mean that in a way to put me on a pedestal. I simply mean that if you looked at what the majority of leading nutritionists and doctors, even people like Dr. Oz, feel is a perfect diet, I’m pretty darn close.

But if my point isn’t clear, let me clarify. I am offended and angered by those who negate the incredible advances we have made in medicine over the last 100 years and who would argue that medicine is unnecessary if everyone just learned how to eat right. It is a direct implication that I am somehow responsible for my cancer, or it’s recurrence, because I did not make the right choices in regards to what I ate. Yet, my friends who smoke, drink, do drugs (or have done them in the past) and eat red meat, dairy, fast food, limitless amounts of sugar and don’t exercise at nearly the level I do are healthy as can be on paper. Perhaps things will catch up with them, but perhaps not. I have a morbidly obese uncle (who will not be reading this blog!) who has lived off of pastries and deli meat for over 90 years! Sure he probably has diabetes and a few other problems, but he’s still here and has never had cancer and he’s over 90 years old. My 93-year old grandmother has followed a similar diet, though the last 20 years she has stuck to mainly grilled cheese sandwiches and an english muffin. I’m not sure if she consumes any vegetables. And she’s covered her hair with Aqua Net and Lysol-ed her home for as long as I can remember, a solid 30-40 years. My own father-in-law was in Vietnam and exposed to all kinds of chemical agents, has smoked through his entire adult life and eats fried sausage sandwiches and beans cooked in bacon (no offense Ginger!!!!). But for the most part, he’s fine and nearly 70. He laughs at my hippie diet all the time!

And then there are the children who get cancer. What did they do wrong? Was it because they were vaccinated or given formula instead of breast milk? What if they were given breast milk? Was it not good enough? Was it something their mother ate and it’s her fault?

Most of the young adults I have met over these last two years who have been diagnosed with cancer look at lot like me. They were healthy, very physically fit and generally ate well and took care of themselves. I know them now because they are triathletes and take their diet and fitness extremely seriously. Yet, many of them have had their cancer recur. One of the people that I have been most inspired by is Ethan Zohn from Survivor. He was diagnosed with lymphoma and went through brutal treatment for at least a year, maybe two and then went into remission. He spoke at an Ulman Fund event last year. He was an elite soccer player before diagnosis. I have read his story and I am confident he followed every dietary change he could to assure that he stayed healthy. He has also run races and marathons and championed for young adult cancer patients. Yet this fall his cancer returned. What did he do wrong?

Do I believe that some doctors make decisions based on pharmaceutical companies and the money they can make? Sure, of course. But I invite you to come to the University of Maryland and meet my doctor and others in the cancer center who support the integration of holistic and alternative healing practices through the Healing Pathways program. I invite you to ask my doctor what he thinks about my chances if hadn’t gone through transplant. I invite you to talk to him about diet and exercise and see how crucial he thinks it is for long-term survival. He will tell you it means just as much as medicine, but you can’t take medicine out of the equation. My own son, born 5 weeks prematurely, would not be here without science and medicine. It saved his life and it is saving mine.

We all have a lot to do to live healthier lives and reduce our negative impact on the planet. But before you simplify the connection between and diet and cancer, research the other side of the story. Yes, there are people who have been miraculously cured by simply changing the way that they eat. But there are many, many more who haven’t been. There is a balance, a critical balance, between holistic practices and science. Amazing medical doctors like Dr. Andrew Weil are awesome examples of those who are bridging the gap between Eastern and Western thought, but Dr. Weil will be the first to tell you that they each have something to learn from the other.

Leukemia is a very different cancer than a solid tumor cancer. In many cancers, scientists can understand why some tumors form. They can watch their growth and see that things like insulin can affect them. But leukemia doesn’t work like that. No cancer is black and white. If the rate of leukemia diagnosis are increasing, doesn’t it make you wonder what else is happening? It isn’t as simple as diet, or even environment. It may be both and it may be much more.

As I prefaced all of this with, I am not trying to offend anyone nor am I angry with anyone. I admit I’m very uncomfortable with the idea of posting this because I know it could be misinterpreted. But after the two long, difficult years I have been through (704 days!), I felt I needed to say this.

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