Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Angels Among Us

Since I had only been back in California a brief time since the holidays, I had nothing to eat in the house. My mom and I decided to go to the grocery store after the surgeon. I knew my mom needed her coffee if she was going to survive this but she has always had a way of making sure that the house was stocked with groceries in a time of crisis. Smart lady. I wouldn't have thought of that. The first section of the market that we attempted to tackle was produce. We were in a fog and it's hard to concentrate on anything, let alone groceries, when your world is spinning out of control. It was right there in the produce section that my angels began to ascend. My phone rang and it was my friends calling from a salon that I sold my jewelry to and that I had worked at a few years prior. They were calling to check up on me and to see what the surgeon had said. I told them that the surgeon said she was 99.8% sure that I had Hodgkins Disease. This was obviously very bad news but what made the sting even worse was the fact that I did not have health insurance. I had stopped paying my insurance sometime in that last year because I had been running out of money. I hadn't been able to work very much because I had been feeling so sick. I was screwed in more than one way.

While I'm telling my friends at the salon my situation, there was a woman standing at the counter in front of them listening to our phone conversation. Her name was Reva. Reva asked my friends if she could talk to my mom. Reva was a client at the salon, a doctor who worked in research and had purchased my jewelry from time to time. I didn't remember her but she remembered me. Reva got on the phone with my mom and told her not to worry and that she would make a few phone calls and make sure I was treated. She also gave my mom her phone number and said that we should call her if we needed anything at all. This was exciting news but I really didn't know what she could do to help my situation. I wasn't giving up hope though.

Within the next couple of days, Dr. Almost Killed Me called to say that I did have Hodgkins for sure.  He gave me a number to an Oncologist, which I had no intention of calling. I was done with him. I didn't want to have anything to do with him or anyone he recommended. I figured that he had done enough for me already. Ha! He knew that I didn't have insurance because I had been paying him out of pocket so I did ask if he knew of any hospitals that would treat an uninsured cancer patient. He said, "No. Can't you ask your parents for money?" Ask my parents for money? It's not like asking to borrow $100 or even $10,000.00. He knew that. Again, complete asshole. I had never been to a county hospital but I knew they had to exist. I mean, right? I called Reva. She said that she would get an appointment for me at UCLA. Besides the initial appointment, I had no idea how I was going to pay for anything. I had already paid out of pocket for several visits to Dr. Almost Killed Me, for the CAT scans, and for the surgeon. After many phone calls to many people, trying to figure out if I could get treated anywhere, all roads led to the social services in West LA. Reva arranged an appointment for me at UCLA so my mom, my sister, and I decided to stop at the social service office first. 

As far as I was concerned, I was ready to administer the chemo to myself! Every minute that passed was an opportunity for that beast to continue to grow inside of me. I wanted chemo NOW. We went to the social services building off of Pico Blvd. and it was a cold place. There were bullet proof windows that the workers sat behind inside a big room. There were lots of people there. The wait was very long. I sat in that room wondering what everyone else was doing there. Were they there for food stamps? Were they dying too? After hours of waiting, we finally got called upstairs. When we got up there and they told me that I could only bring one person in with me and the other person would have to wait outside. My sister went into the interview with me and my mom waited. We sat in front of the the social workers desk and I told her why I was there. I have cancer. I don't have any money. I don't have any insurance. I need to be treated. I need your help. She began to ask me questions..."How old are you?"..."Are you an American citizen?"..."Do you have AIDS?"..."Do you have breast cancer?"..."Are you pregnant?" And so on, and so on, and so on. At the end of the questions she said, "I can't help you. There's nothing I can do for you." WHAT?????!!!!! What do you mean you can't help me? I've worked for almost 20 years. I always paid my taxes. I've never asked for any help EVER and I have CANCER!!!!!! The social worker said, "Well, you aren't under 21 years of age. You aren't a foreigner. You don't have AIDS. You don't have breast cancer, and you aren't pregnant." Did I just hear this lady right? These are the qualifications???!!! I said, you do realize that I WILL DIE if I'm not treated? She said, "Yes, I understand. But your cancer is treatable." I said that doesn't help me. If my treatable cancer isn't treated, I'M GOING TO DIE. This is when my sister jumped in and said, "She's going to die if you don't help her." The social worker said,"Well, MY sister had cancer. It was a very rare cancer and she didn't make it. She died. It happens." At this point tears start streaming down my sisters cheeks. I didn't feel like crying. I was pissed off. I thought the woman sitting across the desk was as helpful as a dragon and I wanted to punch her in the face for making my sister cry by basically telling her that, "My sisters dead, and now? Yours is too." Instead of punching her in the face, I asked her if there was any chance at all that I could try a hospital like USC that I could just try walking into their emergency room and MAYBE they would treat me? The dragon lady said, "No. No one will take you. Plus there is a waiting list EVERYWHERE. You will NEVER get in."

The three of us got in the car and started heading towards UCLA for the appointment that Angel Reva had made for me. I sat in the back seat and listened to my mom and my sister go crazy. They were scared, upset, and angry. In my head, I didn't go there. I didn't care what the dragon lady said. I wasn't going to go home and die. I was going to be treated. I knew it. I didn't know how or where, but some how I knew that I would be treated. As we walked into UCLA's cancer unit, the first thing we passed was a wig store. I was thinking...and so it begins. My tests and biopsy was being read by a world renowned Pathologist named Dr. Saad which was pronounced "said." I don't know why I thought this was funny but I kept saying Dr. Saad said. Maybe I took it as a sign. Whatever Dr. Saad said was the truth. They called us in to meet with two oncologist for the pathology reading. I was nervous because this is when they give you the stage number you are at. I was hoping for stage 1 but deep down I knew better. They told me that I was borderline stage 3 - 4. The tumor was so large that it was completely smashing my right lung and pushing my trachea over so far that they were afraid I was going to choke to death. The tumor went from the right side of my chest all the way over to the left, almost touching my heart. Because of this, they decided to stage me at 4 and treat me accordingly. This meant that I was going to be receiving the highest and most potent doses of chemotherapy that are possible. They had arranged for me to check into a county hospital the next morning which was an annex of UCLA. It was run by UCLA. They said that I would be in there over the weekend getting tests done. They would check my heart, my lungs, blood work, more scans, and a bone marrow test. I had heard about bone marrow tests and I knew I didn't want any part of it.

We left UCLA feeling better and terrified at the same time. Ever since the biopsy, I had been getting worse fast. It seemed like messing with the tumor had pissed it off. I was relieved to know that I was checking into a hospital, and that I had had a great pathologist review my case, but how was this all happening? What had the Reva done for me? How was this going to get paid for? I had no idea but I had faith and I knew that Reva was an angel here on Earth for me. I knew it, I believed, and I prayed...

The wings of angels are often found on the backs of the least likely people. ~ Unknown

I believe with all my heart that we all have guardian angels. Most we cannot see, but some walk among us. Honor your angels. They're here to love and protect you.

Mama Love XO

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Believe In Your Outcome

Just to reiterate, I do not re-read what I write. It comes from my heart and lands here. There will be typo's etc... Hope you don't mind.

After I left Dr. Almost Killed Me's office, I walked across the street to the parking lot with a lot of paperwork in my hands. He had given me papers with a place to get a CAT scan, a surgeons name and number, and I don't even know what else. After the words cancer came out of his mouth, all I heard was blah blah blah blah. So you know, I don't use a capital "c" when I write the word cancer. It doesn't deserve a capital letter.

I got into my car and started to cry. I felt lost, scared, and helpless. I called my mom and told her. I had seen her over the holidays, she lives in the Midwest, and her mama intuition had whispered to her while I was visiting, "Your girl has cancer." I was really thin and she just knew. In fact, she secretly made a doctors appointment for me with her doctor while I was there, but I said, "What's the point? I have my own doctors appointment scheduled for when I get back to LA?" I made her cancel the appointment. My mom never told me that she feared I had cancer. So, when I called her from the car, she broke down. She couldn't speak. She was sobbing. It was a sort of primal cry. The kind of cry a mother should never have to experience. Thank God my step father walked in from work and took the phone from her. He not only did that, he TOOK OVER. He got me home. He talked me through it. I had to drive all the way across town from Santa Monica to the Hollywood Hills. Pretty far of a drive when you're in shock.

The next day my sister ditched work, picked me up and drove me to the CAT scan facility. It was there that I tried to gain my footing. Being a Libra, I'm all about balance and this had kicked me way off of my feet. While I was drinking the gunk that you have to drink in order to get a CAT scan, it was all sinking in. I knew I had cancer even though it hadn't been made official yet and suddenly I knew I had just stepped into an episode of "Party of Five," and I was Charlie. Remember when Charlie got cancer? This was real. Shit just got REAL.

When I walked into the dressing room to change into a gown is when I decided I needed to take some of my power back. I've done this thing since I was a little girl where I will only accept certain outcomes in certain situations. No one taught me this. It's a natural instinct. Maybe it's the stubborn part of me, I don't know, but if something is very important to me, I don't allow any other possibilities to be on the table. I put all of my energy into the outcome that I want, and leave no room in my head for other possibilities. There is only one outcome that I will accept, the outcome that I want.

I was laying on the table inside the machine with the technicians coming in and out of the room. They had been viewing the scan and me through a window in an adjacent room. A female technician came in to adjust my position at one point and through small talk asked me if I had been feeling sick at all lately. Then a male technician came in at one point to do the same thing, again with the small talk and trying to be nonchalant asked me if I had been having any fevers recently. I am well aware of the fact that technicians aren't supposed to ask you questions like this. They have nonchalantly showed their hand to me and I know they see something major. Inside my head I didn't go there. By "there" I mean that ugly,horrifying, dark place. That place where you panic and feel like your brain is melting. I chose to remain calm. I turned on my automatic pilot.

The next thing I knew, I was picking my mom up from LAX. She came with a suitcase full of clothes for a week. Everything was moving pretty quickly. I had an appointment with a surgeon for a biopsy and my mom wanted to be there. She landed kind of late at night so when we got to my house, we went to bed. We fell asleep crying and she spooned me the whole night. The next morning we walk into the surgeons examining room and I see what looks like a sword (to me) laid out on the table. I said, "HO-LY SHIT," and my mom says, "Don't look at that, it's not for you." I said of course it's for me! Have I mentioned that I have a fear of needles? And doctors? And hospitals? And SWORDS? Turned out I was right and my mom was wrong. She, of course, knew all along that the sword was for me, too. After the surgeon was finished impaling my neck with her sword, she said "I am 99.8% sure that you have Hodgkins Disease, which is a form of Lymphoma." This was the first time I heard these words. I didn't know anything about Hodgkins. I knew that Charlie on "Party of Five" had it, but that's about it. When the surgeon told me that, I did feel myself start to slip into the dark place, but I made myself quickly snap back from it. I did what I always do and told myself there is only one outcome here that is acceptable and that is that I survive this beast. I WILL LIVE.

The thing is negative thoughts are exactly like cancer. If you give them an inch, they will keep growing. The mind is so powerful, you have to be very careful what you fill it with. If you want something really bad, don't let any thoughts other than the outcome that you want, enter your mind. Eat it, breathe it, live it. Believe!

Next post on angels:-)

Mama Love XO

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Someone once told me, "You see life through rose colored glasses." This wasn't meant to be nice. But this person was right. I do! The person who said that to me happened to be a Negaholic. I already knew they were a Negaholic so I took it as a compliment. A Negaholic is someone who is addicted to negativity and more common than not, feels they are a victim and that the world has wronged them in some way. This same person also didn't happen to be around years earlier when I was told, "YOU HAVE CANCER." I used all caps because that's what it sounds like when you're told that.

I've decided to share some of my life with you because for years and years, people have been telling me to write a book. I could never figure out how to end the book, so I didn't. Maybe blogging is a better idea? We'll see.  I already tweet on a daily basis, trying to get tweeps to see things in a positive light. Why bother? Because being positive is EVERYTHING and I feel the pull in a huge way to share this. I do get the sense  sometimes though that some people believe positive people have had a perfect life, free of tragedy, illness, heartbreak, financial hardship, loss, divorce, loneliness, addiction, you name it. Some people feel that those who choose happiness have had a lifetime of nothing but rainbows, ice cream, and butterflies. So not true. In case you missed the word "choose" that I snuck in there a second ago, here it is. Happiness is a choice. We choose to be happy. Period.

I'll being getting into the whole happiness thing in my next post, or the one after that, but for this post, I want to talk about intuition. Intuition is also very important. It's that little whisper inside of your head that is telling you something when sometimes, outside forces are telling you something else. Listen to the whisper. It may save your life someday.

I ignored the whisper once...for three years. Three whole years I listened to outside forces. I really didn't know any better at the time. I was taught, like most of us were, to trust authority no matter what. In this case it was my doctor. I'll refer to him as Dr. Almost Killed Me. For three long years I visited Dr. Almost Killed Me on countless visits. I didn't feel good and throughout those years I had many strange symptoms happening. None of which, in my mind, seemed to be linked because they seemed so random. I brought all of these symptoms to Dr. Almost Killed Me until one day when he brought me into his office. Not his examining room, his office. He sat on the other side of his desk and read off a long list of symptoms to me. He was using a mocking and arrogant tone as I shrank smaller and smaller in the chair with each symptom. I was letting him shame me and I was totally embarrassed. When he finished the list of symptoms, he put his file down, looked me in the eye and said, "You're depressed." I was stunned. That was the last thing I expected. I said that I didn't understand because I didn't feel depressed and he said, "What do you think depression feels like?" All I could think of were those commercials where people didn't want to get out of bed. I told him that I didn't NOT want to get out of bed. Dr. Almost Killed Me shook his head and repeated, "You're depressed. You have anxiety and here's a prescription for an anti depressants and tranquilizers." I left his office shamed and stunned and drove straight to the pharmacy to fix my depression???

The anti depressants didn't "work" because I kept getting more symptoms. A weird rash on my leg, my arm tingled, my skin stung when I put perfume on, I couldn't stop coughing, I had some new veins appear on my chest, night sweats, dropping weight, etc... Halfway through the third year of not listening to my whisper, I started thinking about suicide. This terrified me so I told one of my best friends, Matt. I told him that I was having these thoughts, not that I wanted to die, but that I didn't want to live like this. I felt horrible every single day. I asked him to be aware of my behavior in case I decided to do something stupid. These weren't thoughts that I'd ever had before so the very fact that I was having them was scaring me. I didn't trust myself.   That was during the summer time. By January, I had been to see Dr. Almost Killed Me several times. On January 9, my last visit, he's feeling my neck and starts panicking and YELLING, "What's THIS?! What in the hell is THIS?!! How longs THIS been going on?!!! Have you felt THIS?!!!" I have no idea what "THIS" is or what he's talking about, of course, but you know those tranquilizers I'm there to get? I need that whole bottle right NOW because he's FREAKING ME OUT!!!!!!!!! Why is he yelling? What doctor acts like this? I said, "What?! What is it?! What is THIS?!" I can't imagine what he must be talking about because I had just seen him three weeks ago and two weeks before that. He has me feel my neck on the right side. It is swollen. In my panic, I ask him what it could be. He yells, "CANCER!"

At that moment I felt like I was going to pass out. Dr. Almost Killed me asked for my hand, I have no idea why. I don't even know what he was doing with my hand but all of the sudden, while my hand was in his, I felt a pull of darkness coming from him. I don't know how to explain it and I know this will sound crazy but I felt like he was pulling my energy out. It felt like he was pulling me into darkness and I just remember saying in my head, "FUCK YOOOOU," and I ripped my hand back. I wan't going to get pulled into the darkness, whatever that may be.

I wasn't depressed after all. I was dying. I hadn't listened to my intuition and I was dying because of that. Instead of trusting myself, I trusted Dr. Almost Killed Me and now I had stage 4 Hodgkins Disease (Lymphoma). There's a reason God gave you that whisper. Never doubt it when you hear it.

That's all for today. Will share again tomorrow. Just a warning: None of my writing will be perfect. Grammer might be wrong, the story may jump around, you may see curse words here and there, I may make up words all together! So just hang in there, if you will:-)


Mama Love

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

House by the Side of the Road

There are hermit souls that live withdrawn
In the space of their self-content;
There are souls like stars, that dwell apart,
In a fellowless firmament;
There are pioneer souls that blaze the paths
Where highways never ran-
But let me live by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

Let me live in a house by the side of the road
Where the race of men go by-
The men who are good, and the men who are bad,
As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner's seat
Nor hurl the cynic's ban-
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

I see from my house by the side of the road
By the side of the highway of life,
The men who press with their ardor of hope, 
The men who are faint with the strife,
But I turn not away from their smiles and tears,
Both parts of an infinite plan-
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

I know there are brook-gladdened meadows ahead,
And mountains of wearisome height;
That the road passes on through the long afternoon
And stretches away to the night.
And still I rejoice when the travelers rejoice
And weep with the strangers that moan, 
Nor live in my house by the side of the road
Like a man who dwells alone.

Let me live in my house by the side of the road, 
Where the race of men go by-
They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong,
Wise, foolish - so am I.
Then why should I sit in the scorner's seat,
Or hurl the cynic's ban?
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

~Sam Walter Foss

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer Zen

I must be a mermaid. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living. ~Anais Nin

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Love Day!

It is a mystery why we fall in love. It is a mystery how it happens. It is a mystery when it comes. It is a mystery why some loves grow, and it is a mystery why some loves fail. You can analyze this mystery and look for reasons and causes, but you will never do any more than take the life out of the experience.

Love is more than the sum of the interests and attractions and commonalities that two people share. And just as life itself is a gift that comes and goes in its time, the coming of love must be taken as an unfathomable gift that cannot be questioned in its ways.

You need to treat what love brings you with kindness. If you find yourself in love with someone who does not love you, be gentle with yourself. There is nothing wrong with you. Love just didn’t choose to rest in the other person’s heart.

If you find someone else in love with you toward whom you feel no love, feel honored that love came and called at your door, but gently refuse the gift you cannot return. Do not take advantage; do not cause pain. How you deal with love is how love will deal with you, and all our hearts feel the same pains and joys, even if our lives and ways are very different.

If you fall in love with another who falls in love with you, and then love chooses to leave, do not try to reclaim it or to assess blame. Let it go. There is a reason and there is a meaning. You will know it in time, but time itself will choose the moment.

Remember this and keep it in your heart. You don’t choose love. Love chooses you. All you can really do is accept it for all its mystery when it comes into your life. Feel the way it fills you to overflowing, then reach out and give it away. Give it back to the person who brought it to you. Give it to others who seem poor in spirit. Give it to the world around you in any way you can.

Love has its own time, its own season, and its own reasons for coming and going. You cannot bribe it or coerce it or reason it into staying. If it chooses to leave your heart or the heart of your lover, there is nothing you can do and nothing you should do. Be glad that it came to live for a moment in your life. If you keep your heart open, it will surely come again.

Kent Nerbern

Happy Valentines Day to our beautiful tribe of peace and lovers! XOXO