King of the Jungle of the Mind

March 10, 1997 – King of the Jungle of the Mind

This morning, I had to go back to Radiation Oncology department to have a dry run of my radiation treatments. This went rather smoothly, but I noticed that the waiting room was filled with older people! I thought, “I’m too young to have cancer!” This thought doesn’t seem to do me any good!

While I was waiting, I continued reading in Practical Intuition. One of the experiments was to open yourself to your sense impressions according to the instructions,

“To begin, simply start reporting what you’re sensing in the moment. If you hear a car beeping outside, say so. If your nose itches, say so (feel free to scratch it). If you’re hungry, say so. The trick is to report everything you notice-out loud. Don’t forget to report any thoughts, feelings, or memories that you become aware of.” – From Practical Intuition, by Laura Day, page 54.


I wrote down my impressions and then I was called in for the dry run. After that, I decided to take a walk along the beautiful stream that flows into the bay across from Marin General Hospital. I had chosen to walk at least two miles. As I walked, I noticed the birds, flowers and other plants, and especially Mount Tamalpais. Before I reached the mile mark to turn around, I noticed that I was behind 919 Sir Francis Drake, where I had my company in 1982. I decided to continue on to Willie’s Caffe and have breakfast, but I didn’t have any money. I only brought my car key, the stone from Anna Halprin, and the ammonite fossil that Barbara Rose Billings had given me. So I asked the manager if I could give her a credit card number. She said no, but would feed me anyway on an “IOU!” Well, I really enjoyed my pancakes, poached eggs, and bacon, with a large glass of fresh orange juice!

As I was leaving the restaurant, I spotted two angels across the street: J. D. and her friend, M. J. J. D. is the mother of my daughter’s best friend. I asked J. if she had some money, and her friend had $14.00 that she had discovered after she got out of the car. Normally, neither one of them would have money with them, but on this occasion, she had just the amount I needed! So I borrowed the money from M. and paid my bill. Not only that, but J. and M. were walking back to Marin General Hospital to get their car with their dogs, so I joined them and we enjoyed a marvelous hike back to the cars!

One of the plans for today was to prepare for the chemo and radiation therapy tomorrow. In accordance with this plan, Dr. Gullion had given me a list of suggestions. One of them corresponds to exactly what the Shipley protocol demands: patient hydration of 3 to 4 quarts of fluids. So that’s what I spent the afternoon doing!
Since it was Monday night, I went to Anna Halprin’s class. Again, it was absolutely healing. The themes for the night were deep breathing and choosing an animal to represent our condition or needs. The deep breathing was inspired by Andy Weil. For my animal, I chose a lion, an image I had had about a year ago. In fact, the wallpaper for my computer at work is a picture of a lion, and of all the animals at P. G.’s house, I was most attracted to the lions. We drew pictures of our animals and then danced the pictures. The picture I drew reminded me of a Sphinx. It looked like a self-portrait of a monkey-lion. The major theme was the courage I need to endure the next eight weeks, and the significance of the Sphinx was the guardian of the temple so that only those with a pure heart could enter. The spirit of the lion I chose was one of a contented cat who was rolled over on his back and relaxing.
The class ended with a healing circle. Anna placed me in the center so that I could receive the energy of the group for my treatments tomorrow. It was very powerful!

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Practical Intuition

“Humor Comes a Year Later”

March 4, 1997 – “Humor Comes a Year Later”

The above quote was Dr. Halberg’s comment as we left the radiation therapy simulation session. “You will laugh about everything that happened today in about a year!” she said. Everything that could have gone wrong did! In the first place I had to walk to Dr. Neuwirth’s office to have a catheter put in, since Dr. Halberg had difficulties on two attempts. I’m sure that my bladder was sensitive due to having the catheter in six days earlier, and she didn’t want to injure me. But, Harry had no problem! It must be his great experience at putting in catheters! However, he was willing to hurt me, but just a little. Secondly, the catheter tube did not match the syringe, so they had to send someone out to find a compatible syringe.

The rest of the procedure went fairly smoothly including the Barium enema, setting up the x-ray device according to the Shipley protocol, tagging my body for future radiation sessions, taking the necessary x-rays, and finally removing the tubing.

I was exhausted from this hour and one half procedure that lasted almost four hours! I have nothing else to say at this time!

Oh, by the way, the treatment begins on Monday, March 10 with a dry run on the radiation equipment. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy begins on March 11.

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Healing the Body – Healing the Mind

March 3, 1997 – Healing the Body – Healing the Mind

The morning started out with a Feldenkrais class incorporating arm movements. I couldn’t believe how exhausted I was when returned home! I found it necessary to settle into another guided imagery tape after lunch to even have a chance of making my day.

Next came a very revealing guided imagery session with Leslie Davenport at Marin General. I began talking about my fears of the upcoming chemotherapy and radiation and traced the fears down many, many levels to my fears of abandonment and treatment with indifference that experienced as a child. While there wasn’t time for a complete resolution of the situation, I think that there is much more work to do in this area. I feel rather pressured to perform because I have expectations of completing the Shipley protocol with a complete response and not have remaining cancer at the end of April or the beginning of May when my next TURBT will be.

After this session, I took a thirty minute walk on the pathway near the hospital to absorb what I had learned from my meditation and to allow the images to integrate into my life. As I was walking back to my car, I had this wonderful feeling of making myself lovable, not only to myself, but to everyone I saw and came in contact with. I took this feeling into Anna Halprin’s group and it turned into one of the most healing events of my life. I was open to receiving and giving love and there was plenty to go around! We had a large discussion on alternative healing prior to our movement program.

The movement program focused on prayer, and I don’t know if Anna picked up this idea from me, or I got it several minutes before she said anything, but it was the exact word I would have chosen! This intuitive flash led to an immensely moving dance, which brought the whole group together in one circle, filled with healing energy and love.

I drew a picture of myself kneeling in the prayer position with my hands drawn together in the traditional prayer position. The hands were way out of proportion, but as the drawing developed, I began to realize that I was also drawing the healing space around my hand and the healing energy radiating from them. I wrote,

all hands
healing hands
kneeling hands
a Buddha is a rose is a giver of qi
a 1000 petal lotus

Something remarkable is taking place as I focus on healing my cancer. I find that I can’t but help heal my whole self. Without healing my whole self, there can be no healing of my cancer. They are strongly interconnected as all phenomena of the universe are. And, I believe, this is the essence of holistic health – healing the body and healing the mind. This is what I’m striving for and what I want to achieve.

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Down with the Tube!

February 26, 19997 – Down with the Tube!

My catheter was finally removed this morning with such great relief. The only bad thing about the meeting with Dr. Neuwirth was that the pathology report showed that more cancer had been resected, but this doesn’t change the treatment plan. We finally got the feeling the Dr. Neuwirth was behind us all the way with using the Shipley method.

We stopped by the Pine Street Clinic to pick up a powered form of the Traditional Chinese Medicinal herbs that Michael Broffman had prepared for me. Luckily, Michael was available for a brief conversation about the latest pathology report and Dr. Neuwirth’s attitude. He felt strongly that it was still in my best interest to proceed with the Shipley protocol.

Pine Street Clinic

Later in the afternoon, I received a call from Dr. Keith Block, an internist who has put together a staff of oncologists, herbal chemists, dietitians and others who offer a combined program of chemotherapy, herbs, diet, psychological support, exercise and stress management. He is a friend of Dr. Rossman and I had placed a call to him as far back as February 9. Dr. Rossman and I had several email messages going back and forth, and finally he called back.

Dr. Block told me that he had a holistic program that attacked the cancer cells at the molecular level. He uses intervenes nutrients combined with oral agents and a detoxification program to reduce the side effects of the chemotherapy. He uses fractional dosages for optimum effectiveness combined with patient comfort. The rest of his life-affirming program consists of nutrition, exercise, supplements and stress management techniques.

I really felt confused after speaking with him, as he likes to treat patients in his facility in Evanston, IL. While it is not out of the question for me to travel to Evanston (after all, I spent three years of my life in Chicago and three years of my life in Evanston!), I would be giving up all my support systems back in the Bay Area. So after an excellent guided imagery session with Leslie Davenport, a very supportive conversation with Dr. Rossman, and a good night’s sleep, I felt better about staying with the plan I already had in place.

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Home Again!

February 20, 1997 – Home Again!

The morning in the hospital was fairly uneventful. I continued to read and listen to tapes until Dr. Neuwirth showed up. When he did, he explained that he took more tissue out of the bladder wall and left me with a very thin membrane. To help the healing, he wanted me to keep the catheter in until Tuesday. However, he didn’t seem to find any more gross cancer during the TURBT. Although the catheter is rather uncomfortable, I was very excited that there was no more visible tumor in my bladder! He was even telling me to “fatten up” for the chemotherapy that was going to happen in three weeks. I got the impression that he was satisfied with my decision to go with the Shipley method.

I spent the afternoon completing the “mind story” on the practice pages and submitting my URL to the various search engines. Somehow, time seems to flow so much faster now. My guess is that once you are confronted with a life-threatening illness, you value each minute a lot more. For example, when I played tennis on Monday, I thought it was very precious time, as I don’t know when the next time I’ll be able to play. Another example: Mala’s cooking today seemed to be extra special.

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More Resection?

February 13, 1997 – More Resection?

I called Dr. Hoffman this morning and spoke with him about the treatment of bladder cancer with cesium chloride and/or aloe vera concentrate, and he basically said that these were not to replace chemotherapy and radiation. This was confirmed by a later conversation with Michael Broffman, who knew of Dr. Hoffman, and told us that Dr. Hoffman’s protocol was something to consider at the end of the Shipley treatments.

Then we received a call from Dr. Neuwirth. He said that Dr. Gullion had called him about the Shipley method, which requires an additional transurethral resection of the bladder tumor (TURBT), which he wanted to schedule for next week. We spoke to Michael Broffman about this and he recommended that we talk to Dr. Carroll. After further discussions with Dr. Huang, Dr. Gullion, we finally received a call back from Dr. Carroll. He said that he was out of time next week and the week after, so he wouldn’t be able to do anything until the week of February 24. He suggested that I go with Dr. Neuwirth, whom he said was a competent surgeon and could do this job effectively.

The last time I had a TURBT, there was no plan to do anything other than a radical cystectomy. Now Dr. Neuwirth would go in with the idea of doing bladder saving therapy. This could account for Dr. Neuwirth’s apparent reticence to do the second round of resection.

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Decision Day

February 11, 1997 – Decision Day

In the morning, I spoke with Dr. Gullion over the phone and told him that I wanted to follow the Shipley treatment precisely. He said it would be no problem. I also spoke with him about Michael Broffman’s protocol. While he cautioned me about taking antioxidants during the first several days of chemotherapy, he was willing to cooperate. I explained to him that Michael had broken the protocol down into three parts, as described above, and he seemed to feel better about that.

In the afternoon, I had a guided imagery session with Dr. Martin Rossman. The session followed a discussion about my treatment options and the one I selected. Marty had been following my choices since day one, so he was familiar with what I was going through. He thought that I made the right decision, and that I had a lot of additional things going for me.

The guided imagery session was extremely relaxing. It encouraged me to experience reality based anchoring in my body, which I did in a big way. I contacted my “inner advisor” and got in touch with a sense of deep spirituality. From the vantage point of a grove of trees in Point Lobos State Reserve, I was able to feel my connection with the earth and really felt good. My illness seemed thousands of miles away, as I was able to ground myself in what I was experiencing in the moment. I felt that for me, a strong sense of integrity is directly connected with listening to my body and acting accordingly.

As deep as the session with Marty had taken me, I became confused after taking a long walk and picking up the kids from school. After speaking with my wife about the events of the day, I was experiencing a lot of pressure to begin the therapy as soon as possible – like February 17, when I had it in my mind to begin February 24. I decided to take the evening off and watch public television which portrayed the magnificent engineering accomplishments at Stonehenge and of the Incas.

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I Don’t Want Abominable Surgery!

February 7, 1997 – I Don’t Want Abominable Surgery!

Friday morning, I had to have a sonogram for my gall stone. Aside from the long wait, it went fairly smoothly. When I finished, my friend, T. R. was waiting for me. We had breakfast together and talked about my options.

After T. left for work, I joined a cancer support group at Marin General led by Leslie Davenport. She had worked with my wife the previous year doing guided imagery for her hip problem that was caused by an automobile accident in 1992. I was the only man, but this didn’t stop me from trying to find out what was the best course of action. One of the women said that she had no side effects from the chemotherapy whatever!

In the early afternoon, I had another session with Yokey Kim. Once again, I had a wonderful treatment.

Then came the long-awaited appointment with Michael Broffman, a Chinese herbalist and acupuncturist, who runs the Pine Street Clinic. He has a fabulous reputation for knowing a lot about cancer, and my wife and I were blown away by his knowledge of bladder cancer. We talked at great length about alternatives to radical cystectomy. One surprising note was something that no other physician mentioned. Michael said that after seven or more years, they may have to go in for another operation for the urinary diversion. After this statement, decision was really moving rapidly towards the Shipley approach! Michael proceeded to tell us that there is a lot of bladder cancer in China and that a combination of traditional Chinese medicine and chemotherapy, with or without radiation, is the primary means of dealing with the disease.

By the time we left Michael’s office, we felt comfortable that the Shipley method combined with the protocol Michael was going to send us would offer me a better chance than just the Shipley method alone.

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The Big Surprise!

February 6, 1997 – The Big Surprise!

The next morning, my wife and I had another helpful conversation with Sara Huang. Once again, she was emphasizing the possibility of saving my bladder, but we were predisposed to think about surgery.

Then came our consultation with Dr. Gullion who had the tumor board results from early in the morning. To our shock, amazement and surprise, the tumor board came to the decision that I could take my choice between radical cystectomy and the Shipley treatment! They felt that the entire visible tumor had been removed by Dr. Neuwirth and my chances were the same with either treatment. We were stunned! We had no idea that this would be the result of the tumor board! Now what was I going to do?

One thing was clear: I didn’t want abominable surgery! After speaking with Dr. Belknap about the results of the tumor board, I received a call from J. W., a close friend of mine from my enneagram centers group. She had gone through surgery and chemotherapy for ovarian cancer and was finally beginning to feel more like herself. I asked her what she thought of my two options, and she said that abdominal surgery was horrible. She would vote for the chemo and radiation. I liked her reasoning and knew that she was speaking personal experience.

Joan also gave me advice in the following areas. She suggested that I check with my insurance company to see if I was covered for a social worker to come in the house and help out when I was going through the worse part of chemotherapy. She also said the cisplatin was very hard on the kidneys and that I should allow for eight hours of rehydration. She prepared me for short-term memory loss during chemotherapy, and wanted to make sure that I had a cocktail of drugs. The typical Shipley treatment is to apply cisplatin with methyltrexate and vinblastine together, so I may not have to worry about this. However, she was careful to emphasize that I should carefully check what is being fed into me because there have been many cases of chemotherapy overdoses! She cautioned me to stay away from anti-nausea drugs and use sea-bands instead. She recommended getting a hold of the National Cancer Institute (1-800-4-CANCER) for specific information about the drugs I’ll be taking and how to best deal with the side effects. She recommended taking caraloe and aloe vera combination with vitamin E and suggested that I read, “The Chemotherapy Survival Guide.

By the time I finished my conversation with Joan, I was on my way to my decision not to have radical cystectomy.

The Chemotherapy Survival Guide: Everything You Need to Know to Get Through Treatment

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