Surgery Tomorrow

This evening was the final lecture in the IHH mini-medical series on The Brain Revealed – From Chemistry to Mystery. I knew that Dr. Molly Roberts was speaking, so in spite of surgery scheduled for tomorrow, Mala and I went to hear her talk and Carolyn met us there. It was phenomenal! She spoke on the connection between the brain, five senses, and integrative medicine. You can probably get her slides early next week from the IHH web site. I was extremely moved by her talk, as I actually am involved in many of the activities she recommended.

Another wonderful thing happened: Sandra Harner brought me a CD on Shamanic Drumming from the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, which was founded by her husband, Dr. Michael Harner. I felt really blessed that she would make such a genuine offer of generosity to me.

All of this had the effect of increasing my state of calm for the surgery tomorrow.


A Raven or a Hawk?

About a month ago, Mala and I attended a pep talk for the benefit of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies at a beautiful home in Tiburon. Dr. Michael Harner was the featured presenter. I had met him in conjunction with the Institute for Health and Healing event in 2009, where he was honored with the Pioneering Award in Integrative Medicine. He is a lovely man with a warm heart and a peaceful spirit. He is the father of shamanic studies in the whole Western world. Trained as an anthropologist, he spent time in the rain forests of South America studying indigenous cultures and was soon trained in the practices of shamanism. His many books and public talks have made shamanism an acceptable form of integrative medicine.

Susan Mokelke, the foundation director, then spoke about current activities and showed two video clips. One had to do with South American shamans and the other with shamans in Nepalese or Tibetan extract. Then she offered to conduct an evening experience in the practices of shamanism sometime in April, and tonight was the night!

After a short introduction, we did a practice drumming followed by a traditional shamanic journey. We were given the instructions to lie down and cover our eyes to make the room as dark as possible. We were then to descend to the “lower world” through some chosen mechanism and greet an animal. From there, we should just observe or experience.

Susan kept the drum beat for 15 minutes. I started at the top of the stairs leading down to China Cove in Point Lobos State Reserve near Carmel, California. There are 101 steps leading to the beach, but I seemed to float down them at a remarkable pace. Once at the bottom of the stairs, I crossed the beach and slid under the green seaweed that always accumulates there. Within an instant, I was transported to the so-called lower world, where I found myself on a deck of a cabin located about half way down into a forest valley. I lay on the deck and a large bird – either a raven or a hawk. Almost instantaneously after the bird arrived, it started pecking away at the polyps. Frequently, it would leave, possibly to feed little ones, but it continued to come back to peck away until the returning beats were sounded on the drum.

When I shared the experience with my partner in the journey I recognized the possibility that the bird, which also may have been a falcon, may have pecked away both polyps completely. This would not be the first time that I have seen masses disappear. When Micah was nine, he was rushed to the hospital with a stomach ache which turned out to appear to be a mass in his abdomen based on x-ray data. Mala and I rushed back to the hospital to be with him and the next pictures revealed no such mass. We were there to provide love and support and a whole lot more.


A Really Hot Day!

This morning, I slept until 9:00 A. M., which is very unusual for me. I needed the rest and felt all right about canceling my tennis date. Getting up so late almost made me late for Leslie Davenport‘s group. The hot weather kept the group quite small. When I shared about being free of cancer in my bladder, everyone was thrilled and inspired. This gave me the opportunity to express my feelings about integrative medicine, and I am beginning to think that I am preaching to the choir!

Leslie led us in a guided imagery experience that focused on qualities we would like to have in our beings. I focused on self-love, self-acceptance and joy. The experience was tremendously peaceful and I had many moments of joy. When Leslie asked us to focus on our little circle, I was reminded of the metta or loving kindness blessings that I use so often. While the other people drew pictures of their guided imagery experience, I wrote out the metta blessings for each of the cancer patients in the group. This is what I wrote:

May you be at peace!
May your heart remain open!
May you know the beauty and the radiance of your own true nature!
May you be healed!

In the traditional way of practicing metta, as I was taught, one starts with showering loving kindness blessings on oneself, because if your heart isn’t open, it’s awfully difficult to reach another. Next, you proceed to shower the loving kindness blessings on someone you love or someone you are close with. This is to bring them joy and heal their pain. After that, you shower the loving kindness blessings on someone you are having a little difficulty with, in order to learn forgiveness and open your heart to the person who hurt you or with whom you are not communicating very well. Finally, you imagine the earth, floating like a jewel in the vast emptiness of space, with it’s green forests and fertile lands, white mountain tops, blue ocean, and brown deserts. You beam down loving kindness vibrations to all beings, and repeat the loving kindness blessings to all occupants of the earth. You end with, “May All Beings Be Happy!” The last statement has been my traditional screen saver for many years!

My daughter just got elected to the council at school and we are going to celebrate her victory and my recovery tonight at the Buckeye!


Bubbles of Energy

Leslie Davenport’s group today was quite special. She led a guided imagery experience which was quite similar to the one I had earlier this week. We started with deep breathing, as usual, and switched to relaxing the body, starting with the eyes, working up to the forehead and to the top of the head. Then we moved to our face and then on down to the feet and toes. From there, she had us imagine bubbles of energy rising from our fully relaxed feet and legs on up through our torso and winding up at the top of our heads. The visualization was very effective for me, and I felt very relaxed during the whole process. I probably could have fallen asleep several times. I later found out that most of the people in the room felt a deep sense of relaxation also.

In response to a question from one of the members of the group, I had an opportunity to speak about managing your own health care and how to make appropriate medical decisions. I explained how I had to make a tough decision back in early February regarding radical cystectomy versus the Shipley approach with I eventually decided upon. I also spoke about integrative medicine as the approach I took. This gave rise to comments by many other people supporting what I had to say and enhancing my viewpoint. I shared that I really wanted to come to the group mostly when I was feeling good so I could share my healing experiences with other people and not be so needy. All in all, I felt really supported and that I had contributed to the healing experience of others in the room.


La Boheme

March 7, 1997 – La Boheme

Today I have a busy schedule. I see Dr. Gullion in the morning, meet with co-workers in the early afternoon, and travel to Capitola for my son’s performance in La Boheme in the evening. We have planned to spend the night in Capitola. I have prepared a list of questions for Dr. Gullion.

Once again, Dr. Gullion showed up with a heart pin on his shirt pocket. I believe that he is quite open to what Andy Weil calls integrative medicine. We spoke about all the issues on the list and the thing that struck me the most was his willingness to allow guided imagery and massage along with chemotherapy. He said that this is what they were trying to do at the Marin Cancer Institute.

As far as Keith Block is concerned, Dr. Gullion thought that with Michael Broffman and all that I was doing, it amounts to the same thing. He said that he had always had difficulty getting Dr. Block to be specific about what he is doing, and that he had proprietary supplement preparations that no one else had. I felt confident that I was on the right path because of Michael Broffman, Marty Rossman, Van Vu, Elyse, and the combination of all the other things I am doing.

As far as the chemotherapy is concerned, he was no more worried about my response than Dr. Shipley. He had given cisplatin and 5FU together before, but not combined with radiation and not in the doses that I will be getting.

After our visit with Dr.Gullion, we headed down to Network General and then to Santa Cruz. We checked in to the Apple Lane Inn and took a nap before meeting M. and G. for dinner in Capitola before the opera. M. seemed quite relaxed in spite of having one of the leading roles in the production. I was feeling quite proud of him and also felt excited to be able to be there. You may recall that on my first visit to Dr. Neuwirth’s office when he described my illness, I wanted to be able to see La Boheme.

La Bohem, SF Opera

The performance was rather good for the first performance of a new opera company. Of course my son had the best male performance as Marcello, Rudolpho’s friend! The woman who played Mussetta was also excellent. But the orchestra and chorus left something to be desired. All in all, it was very enjoyable and I recommend it to anyone living near Santa Cruz.

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Copyright © 2004-2018, Jerome Freedman, Ph. D.