Monthly Archive: January 2016

– When tears turn to giggles…

I was still in a daze after Dr. Cheng’s proclamation of doom. After a bus ride of staring out the window at the rain and crying uncontrollably, I pulled myself together for my afternoon appointment.

The waiting rooms at MD Anderson always have several jigsaw puzzles in varying states of progress. I quite liked it… walking up to a puzzle that actually had a solution was very comforting. Plus, it took your mind off of what you were waiting for. The waiting areas were also filled with people who were fearful of what was facing them. Usually, I tried to infect them with my endless enthusiasm, but I appeared to have run out.

There was a cute, older, African-American couple holding hands. I tried to guess which one was the patient. She was stoic, but he was definitely her Rock of Gibraltar…. it must be her. I smiled at them and turned to a puzzle. It worked for a few minutes, then the memory of Dr. Cheng’s face appeared. All the ways that I could feel sorry for myself streamed in. It was a pitiful, pathetic, ‘poor-me’ party. That lady had her sweet husband to give her strength. Where was my Rock?

My eyes teared up and the puzzle in front of me was a blur. Jesus, get it together! What if they came and called me right now? What if someone sees me? I choked back the desire to sob and shake. Looking around, I saw no Kleenex. Seriously? I sat perfectly still, pretending to study the puzzle, blinking methodically to evaporate the tears before they fell. Plop! One fell on the table beneath me. Plop, plop. Damn! My nose was starting to run. I snuck a little sniffle.

A white blur appeared from the periphery in front of me… a hand holding a tissue. I looked up gratefully at the woman who had been holding hands with her husband. Her soft, brown eyes fixed mine with a look of such compassion that I smiled and a little sob escaped.

As I took the tissue, I noticed it was about 3 feet square! What the hell?

“It was all I could find. I went into an exam room to get it for you,” she offered apologetically. It must be one of those liners they put on the exam tables to keep things sanitary! I burst into laughter and, relieved, she joined me. I stood up and hugged her.

A hug and a giggle… that’s what I had needed.

Aren’t people lovely sometimes?

 
 

– Meditation, Mindfulness & Healing

When I was diagnosed in 2013 with leptomeningeal brain metastases, I was told the average survivability was 2.8 months after diagnosis. I had just lost a friend to the same rare diagnosis a month after hers. Western medicine did not have much to offer me and so I resorted to three naturopathic therapies… removal of a root canal tooth, high doses of CBD oil, and intensive meditation. 6 weeks later, four of the nine brain tumors were gone without a trace. Two previous posts, Root Canals & Cancer and Cannabis & CBDs discuss the former two methods, this post addresses the latter.

Our body is made up of physical building blocks. Our consciousness can be measured, in part, by the combination of those physical building blocks, by the chemical processes that occur within and between those building blocks, and the electrical energy that results from those chemical processes. The ‘metaphysical’ is what we don’t understand about that. As I am fond of saying, “magic is just what science hasn’t figured out how to explain yet.”

Just because we don’t have all the details mapped out, doesn’t mean the magic of the mind-body connection isn’t real. I do not, for the life of me understand how a cellphone works…. the fact that I can watch movies on this little device astounds me. But that lack of understanding does not interfere with my acceptance of the technology. If you sent me back a couple hundred years with this technology, I would probably be burned at the stake for being a witch.

Many things that I cannot explain scientifically have happened to me in my life. By accepting these gifts anyway, I am able to receive their benefits. And science is now actually making breakthroughs in understanding the healing properties of the mind-body connection. The healing properties of meditation is being studied and documented with exciting results:
• Telomeres are those little “legs” on your chromosomes. As we age they shorten and shortened telomeres are associated with the rate of aging as well as to the development of cancer (1). Basically, you want your telomeres long for as long as you can. Meditation has been shown to slow telomere shortening (2).
• A deleterious relationship between chronic stress and the initiation and development of cancer has been demonstrated (3,4). Meditation reduces stress and the presence of stress hormones (2).
• Meditation has been shown to be very effective in the modulation of pain (5).
• Meditation affects brain structure and activity related to depression, anxiety, attention, memory, and cognitive flexibility.

I’m resting my case on the benefits of meditation for cancer patients. I’ve given you a starting point to do your own research and I’ve provided lots of references at the end of this post. I’ll switch my focus to telling how I use meditation.

As a cancer patient, you actually have many opportunities to meditate… waiting in the doctors office, waiting in a metal tube while they scan you or treat you, waiting while the poison drips into your body, during yoga or exercise, writhing in pain, etc, etc. A simple one I can use anytime, anywhere is “Inhale, I heal. Exhale, I cleanse.” Waiting for a traffic light, waiting in line at the post office, getting an MRI… I fill myself with healing breath and I exhale the poisons that are standing in the way of my body healing itself… over and over… until the car behind me starts honking. : )

I try and practice mindfulness in everything I do. I look for beauty and when I find it, I inhale it deeply into my being, imagining the happy feelings it generates to be starting a chain of healing reactions, activating my cancer-killing T-cells, killing cancer, and re-energizing me. If life gets particularly shitty at some point, I frantically search my surroundings for something beautiful… if a loved one is nearby, swoosh, all that love for me gets sucked out of them and into me (I’ll return it later). Sometimes the beauty can be in the image of the cute old lady across from me asleep in her treatment chair who hasn’t realized she put two different socks on that morning. Amplify the smile that brings to your face, imagine it as healing energy that you can plug into that courses through your body. When I focus on beauty, ugliness fades away.

No matter what it is, I bless any substance, medicine or treatment therapy that I receive, and thank it for healing me, infusing it with confidence, intention, and gratitude. We are 70% water, if our thoughts and emotions (or electrochemical energy, if you prefer) can influence the molecular structure of water (6), it can surely influence the medicine coursing through our veins.

While getting treatment or during yoga, I imagine inhaling a fine mesh fishing net into my body that fills me and reaches to my farthest extremities. As I exhale, I gather the net, gathering the cancer within it, tugging gently at the stubborn areas so as not to tear a hole in it. It takes several breath cycles to gather it in from each extremity and my head. As it nears my mouth, I expel it and the cancer in one large exhale. I practice this visualization whenever cancer gets me down or whenever I remember to practice mindfulness.

I don’t take pain medication if I can help it. Whenever I have, I have regretted it. To help my body heal, I need to hear what it is telling me. I have withstood a lot of pain in my life and have learned to leave my body when it gets too intense. Or I walk right into the pain and through it as I learned in natural childbirth. Face it, breathe deeply, fortify yourself, and walk straight towards it, not stopping until you are through it and it is past you. The more you tense up and tighten and fret, the more it hurts.

I happened to be reading two books when I got the diagnosis of leptomeningeal metastases in my brain…. Remarkable Recoveries and Radical Remissions. The books were filling me with awe… everyone who had survived against all odds (not just cancer or even illness, but also horrific accidents) had at some point made the decision that they were going to live, in spite of what everyone said. They didn’t just say it… they believed it with every cell in their body. Then, I read an article by Dr. Bruce Lipton on the concept of a “nocebo”. A placebo is something that has no obvious physical mechanism for working, but does, due to the belief that it will. A nocebo is the opposite… the belief that we do not have the ability to heal ourselves. It comes from years of being convinced by the western medicine establishment that they, and only they, hold to key to our recovery. Dr. Lipton says that you can reverse this “programming”, but only on the subconscious level, by achieving an altered state through meditation.

Damn, it all made sense. And I had nothing to lose. I was so lucky to be in Hawaii, living on the beach I grew up on, when I was going through this existential hell. I was alone and everyone thought I was crazy for being alone during this time (especially since my “job” was watching and waiting for symptoms such as seizures and losing consciousness). But I felt it was best to focus all my energies on healing myself… that was my “job”. I spent hours, every day, floating in my beloved bay, reprogramming my subconscious, praying to the Kahunas to spare me so I could return to the islands, casting my internal fishing net over and over, and “scrubbing” away my brain metastases with little mindful scrub brushes.

So, by now, you are possibly shaking your head at what a nut case I am. Perhaps. But I’m a nut case who is alive! And nobody thought that I would be or that it would be possible for 4 of my tumors to disappear without a trace. And I know you actually think I’m kinda cute with all these weird ideas of mine. And I know that you are toying with the idea of practicing mindfulness and meditation yourself, if you don’t already.

But perhaps you feel sheepish and don’t know how to get started. If my visualizations don’t speak to you or if you feel you want someone speaking in your ear, check out your local library for CDs of guided visualizations. Check out YouTube for “guided visualization, cancer, healing, mediation”. Check out this book, Mindfulness-Based Cancer Recovery or this DVD by Dr. Deepak Chopra, Return to Wholeness: A Mind-body Approach to Healing Cancer.

“Scientists have proven it is aerodynamically impossible for the bumble bee to fly.
Its body is too heavy and wings too light.
Good thing the bumble bee can’t read – it just flies!”

References:
1.) Telomeres, lifestyle, cancer, and aging
2.) Can meditation slow rate of cellular aging? Cognitive stress, mindfulness, and telomeres
3.) Impact of stress on cancer metastasis
4.) Stress and breast cancer: from epidemiology to molecular biology
5.) Brain Mechanisms Supporting Modulation of Pain by Mindfulness Meditation
6.) The Hidden Messages in Water

 

Disclaimer: Nothing contained on this website should be construed as medical advice. I am not a doctor. I am a Stage IV breast cancer thriver who is currently NED/NAD and simply sharing what I did, and do, and why. Please research anything I share to determine if it is a good path for you. Bless you all on the path you choose.

All original content contained on this web site, I’m gonna live until I die, is copyrighted, 2015,2016 Kaiulani Facciani.

Gratitude Tour West – back to basics

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Beautiful oasis

 

I’ll be honest. I haven’t been posting much content lately, not just because I’ve been traveling so much, but because I have been feeling like a hypocrite. It is so hard to stick to my dietary regimen when I am traveling. IMG_3859 And after you bend a rule, it’s just a matter of time before they all go out the window. There’s a physiological reason for that… when you start feeding Candida and it takes over the microbiome in your intestines, it starts dictating your tastes and cravings to you… feed me more junk! Then there’s the holidays. I’ve gained 15 pounds… yecchh! And I feel like a walking bag of toxins. It is time to detox and cleanse again and adhere again to my regimen. I’m not going to stay NED (no evidence of disease) if I don’t follow my principles of creating a bioterrain that is hostile to cancer and supportive of my body’s own healing powers:

 

IMG_3858 • Stop putting toxins in
• Get the toxins out
• Rectify nutritional imbalances
• Boost my immune system
• Kill cancer
• Balance stress and support emotional wellness

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So my Gratitude tour heads west… to Palm Desert… to spend a week with my lovely niece making our own do-it-yourself detox spa. She’s too shy for photos but she visited so much love on me when I needed it, that I am very grateful.

 

 

 

Beautiful hikes, organ cleanses, full-body detoxes, meditation, and a strict diet. Happy New Year! I feel better already.

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– New Orders

There is no death, only a change of worlds.
Chief Seattle

The other night I was sleeping on my side and I awoke to someone gently shaking my shoulder.
“It’s time to go”, she whispered. It resembled the vague excitement of being woken up early to leave on a road trip when you were little.
“You’ve been reassigned. The universe needs you elsewhere.”

Oh, okay, then.

I was suddenly excited to go and disappointed when the dream faded and I was left with the same old mountain to climb.