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My Cancer Story

By Jeannine Walston


Jeannine dunes 2003 copy_3On March 18, 1998 at the age of 24, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. My journey since then has taken me to places far and wide. My own process creating an integrative cancer care program continues. I’ve used my health challenge for learning, personal transformation, and supporting other people affected by cancer. As adversity contains seeds of opportunity, that remains central to my personal and professional work. Snapshots here include some of my experiences toward greater health, healing, and service.

Brain Surgery


After consulting with several cancer institutions, I chose to have awake brain surgery at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Few neurosurgeons in 1998 performed awake brain surgery in people with brain tumors. Although I knew nothing about cancer, I recognized that a left temporal lobe brain tumor—the center of speech, memory, and hearing—needed the most careful, gentle, and successful procedure possible. I understood that awake brain surgery would help guide my neurosurgeons to remove as much tumor as possible without parts of my brain required for critical cognitive functions.

On April 22, 1998, I had twelve hours of surgery with several hours of awake speech and memory testing. While the brain tumor rested against a large vein, my neurosurgeons amazingly removed the entire visible tumor along with some surrounding brain tissues.

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After my surgery 1998

Waking up several times after surgery in the ICU, my brain diligently generated healing pathways while other parts of me took steps to repair and recover. My brain rerouted, bone mended, skin reconnected, jaw loosened, heart trembled, body acclimated to a new environment, soul sung tunes through gateways, spirit held me.

As I rested in my hospital bed several days later, I received NIH pathology results for my tumor type—grade II oligodendroglioma. I didn’t know how to say it, and I didn’t know what it meant. Feeling frozen and scared, I saw glimpses into the new landscape I entered; the new world I’d learn to talk, walk, navigate, and find myself anew. To explore specifics from surgery before, during, and after, go to Insights from a 19-Year Brain Tumor Survivor: 1st Awake Brain Surgery & Quest into my Calling.

Self-Advocacy


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About one month after my surgery 1998

Visiting NIH for a meeting with my neurosurgeons several weeks after my brain surgery, Dr. Rosenbaum told me I was one of the most well adjusted patients he ever met. He also said that I needed to serve as my own best advocate. While he explained that NIH might inform me of new brain tumor research findings for my tumor type, Dr. Rosenbaum emphasized that I needed to track scientific studies and even care for myself. I had no concept for doing any of that.

Necessity is a great teacher.

Even with successful brain surgery removing the visible brain tumor, I needed much more care for my optimal health and healing. I began researching, exploring, receiving therapies, discovering, and taking actions toward change. My life was already in transformation.

Multiple Pathology Opinions


Based on their pathology report of a grade II oligodendroglioma, NIH did not recommend radiation or chemotherapy. But, they told me to get another opinion, and especially since they treated me in a surgical clinical trial. I needed to find another medical institution for ongoing care. NIH recommended Johns Hopkins. At the consultation, Hopkins said they had not performed my pathology reading. While that was the most important piece of information for discussion, I was told they’d contact me with the results.

A few months past when I realized I hadn’t heard from Hopkins. I called to learn that the neuro-oncologist from my consult was on vacation. Then, I spoke with the pathologist who apologized that he had not read my tumor slides. A few days later, he called me to explain his concern that my tumor was not a Grade II oligodendroglioma as reported by NIH, and instead a Grade III mixed oligodendroglioma astrocytoma with more activity from the astro. He suggested that I needed more conventional treatments.

I felt overwhelmed and couldn’t digest the news. Discovering I needed more treatments from a delayed pathology report several months after my brain tumor diagnosis and surgery shocked me. Although without knowledge about cancer, in some ways I knew how to assess information intellectually, and use my intuition and instincts. Since I had two conflicting pathology reports, I needed to gather more opinions.

The third pathology report came from the Mayo Clinic reporting a Grade II oligodendroglioma and the fourth from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) as a Grade II mixed oligodendroglioma astrocytoma with more emphasis on the oligo, recommending no additional conventional cancer treatments. As MSKCC claims to have the best cancer care anywhere, and with my connection to New York City, I chose to have them monitor my tumor status with MRI scans and appointments with my new neuro-oncologist.

Creating an Integrative Cancer Care Plan

In the months after my brain surgery, I worked to recover physically, build my health, and incorporate strategies to help prevent a brain tumor recurrence. Creating a map for my own health and healing, I built a team of providers and incorporated strategies for self-care. Engaging questions about myself, life, the world, and other dimensions, I also entered a healing journey. Feeling somewhat broken and confused, I searched for modalities to support my body, mind, and spirit. With open curiosity, I explored and used many approaches and therapies—acupuncture, herbs, craniosacral therapy, exercise, dietary changes, holistic medical care, Shamanic work, homeopathy, energy healing, dental work, psychotherapy, brain tumor support groups, young adult support groups, incorporating clean and green products in my home, and more. Needing whole person integrative support, and working full-time in the U.S. government with a low income, I did the best I could with my schedule and finances.

Personal & Professional Connection

When returning to my job in the U.S. Congress one month after my surgery where I previously considered law school, everything felt different. As my hair grew, and scar healed, my inner life conveyed insights about my work in the world. Beginning to see in new directions, clarity slowly emerged.

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Speech in front of the U.S. Congress about increasing brain tumor research

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Speech inside the U.S. Congress advocating for brain tumor research

Six months after my diagnosis and surgery, I became involved with brain tumor non-profit organizations. One year after my diagnosis and surgery, I participated in a brain tumor 5K in Washington, DC to raise money for brain tumor research. Also supporting the North American Brain Tumor Coalition, I lobbied Congress advocating for increased funds for brain tumor research and awareness. I delivered a speech in front of the U.S. Capitol, another speech at the Brain Tumor Action Week Congressional luncheon, and also wrote a brain tumor speech that my boss Congressman Steve Rothman delivered in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Over a year after my brain surgery, I explored new professional opportunities and felt passionate about cancer advocacy. The cancer community felt familiar, and I wanted help other people affected by cancer. For two years, I worked at the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship and The Children’s Cause for Cancer Advocacy as a patient advocate, lobbyist, and with many other roles. In the late 1990s and early 2000, patient advocates were also included in cancer meetings with government agencies and pharmaceutical companies. I was invited to serve as a consultant with the National Cancer Institute and Food and Drug Administration. Providing the patient’s perspective about clinical trials, I learned about cancer treatment development and cancer care systems.

Yet, I arrived at a point where I felt that my work was not comprehensively addressing the needs of people with cancer and fully consistent with my own work in the world. Collectively, I saw professionally and personally that I needed to move beyond the diagnosis and instead address the whole person. Immediately, I changed my work. For two yeas at the National Institutes of Health National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) Clearinghouse, I supported the government’s role in educating about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and funding research. Learning how NCCAM advanced CAM, I saw gaps between educational support and what people affected by cancer desperately need.

Surprises & Shifts


The summer of 2003 contained both celebration for my five-year brain tumor survivorship and emergence of new health problems. Virtually overnight, I suddenly felt exhausted, fatigued, and could hardly work. Resting, seeing doctors, and trying to understand what was happening, health challenges persisted. I was diagnosed with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). While EBV only lasts a few weeks in teenagers, the experience in adults occurs much longer. My only option was short-term disability since my body needed absolute rest. I spent over three months with EBV in bed and my body demanded it. Staring at my ceiling, I saw a vision to start my own business with writing and research services with the name Healing Focus. Although part of me planned on returning to my job at the NCCAM Clearinghouse, I simply could not. The EBV exhaustion and fatigue persisted turning into chronic fatigue syndrome, and I could only work a few hours daily if that. Supported by the universe, instead I quickly acquired clients through my new business Healing Focus working when I had the energy.

Brain Tumor Recurrence


In February of 2004, one month after I started my own business and with severe fatigue, I had my six-year MRI scan. This was the first time that I was told to wait an entire year in between my MRI scans moving from every three months, every four months, every six months, and my graduation to wait 12 months. An entire year without a MRI scan felt like my own triumph and success. But not only was I told of my brain tumor recurrence in 2004, my new neuro-oncologist at the same hospital said the tumor actually and clearly recurred in 2000. My former neuro-oncologist in the same hospital that followed me from 1998 until 2003 consistently said I had no signs of recurrence. The reports from the radiologist at the same hospital state that the tumor became visible in 2000 and was slowing growing since then. My medical records document these details. I felt absolutely overwhelmed with double shock about the news of a brain tumor recurrence and not being told for over four years.

Healing 4 In my world turned upside down once again, life demanded me to shift my focus. My brain tumor recurrence demonstrated that I needed to go much deeper and find more effective strategies for my health and healing.

Confronting a brain tumor recurrence, and dealing with severe fatigue post-EBV, I wanted to restore my energy and find providers with therapies that I needed. Crisis serves as a powerful teacher and catalyst for change. I moved toward thinking and creating anew.

Reactivating my healing journey with supportive therapies such as acupuncture, detoxification, supplements, energy work, and other forms of health care, I then incorporated new health and healing modalities. For three weeks, I attended the Hippocrates Health Institute Life Change Program eating a raw foods diet, detoxing, and healing. Eating raw for 21 days released massive amounts of toxins and gave my body, mind, and spirit recovered strength. I went through darkness and into light leaving Hippocrates feeling amazing vitality. That included clarity to leave my eight-year stint in Washington, DC and move to California.

Settling in California three months later, I continued with some of the old even as I wanted to engage the new. With ongoing fatigue, old patterns, and little money, I struggled to create change and optimally support my health. Some of my healing involved transformation brewing in distant horizons.

For over one year, I continued working, trying to find better clarity about myself and life, as well as frequent MRI scans. Dealing with a slow growing tumor, one doctor recommended another brain surgery while several others did not. Since I experienced a brain tumor recurrence less than two years after my brain surgery, my concern was for a second brain surgery followed by a second brain tumor recurrence. Instead, I felt in the core of my being that medicine must transform the entire environment in my body and any other imbalances in my life. Since cancer care is much more than conventional cancer treatments, my research explored other options.

Hindsight is 20/20, and I now wish I engaged my research much better as I embarked into a new chapter. Doing the best I could at the time with investigating cancer treatments and fundraising, I researched therapies in Germany and Switzerland.

I chose a small clinic called the Medical Center of Cologne in Germany with Robert Gorter, MD. In June of 2006, I moved to Cologne for six months of hyperthermia with Oncotherm, dendritic cell vaccine therapy, NewcasIMG_Jeannine July 06_2tle disease virus, and intravenous infusions. While some of those cancer therapies are available at other clinics in Germany, the Medical Center of Cologne offers poor quality care. My experience taught me about integrity because the Medical Center of Cologne has none of it. Mistakes are profound teachers. I learned volumes and continue to share that wisdom through helping cancer patients. To discover more in my story with Robert Gorter, MD and his Medical Center of Cologne, read my article In the Across the World Search for Cancer Treatments, No Guarantees.

Outside of the Medical Center of Cologne and pain I felt from my experience, somehow I loved aspect of my life in Cologne and stayed for another six months after my treatments. When I wasn’t doing freelance work, I loved my life with more freedom, connection, and joy moving in my own rhythms and deeper embodiment.

However, toward the end of my Cologne treatments and afterwards, some old physical problems continued and newIMG_1718_2 ones emerged. I needed therapies to cleanse my body, build my system, and components against the brain tumor. After more research, I chose treatments at the Paracelsus Clinic in Switzerland with Dr. Rau. In the spring of 2007 during my three week stay, I received intravenous infusions, homeopathics, herbs, neural therapy, oxygen therapy, removal of heavy metals, energy therapies, saunas, Indiba, nervous system support, liver support, dental work including the removal of a root canal, and other therapies. Staying in the Swiss mountains surrounded by white light also created an incredible healing environment. While I felt fatigued during my first two weeks, at the end of my third week my vitality thrived. Along with physical strength, my enlivened spirit connected me to aspects of myself that I had not experienced since before the brain tumor diagnosis.

After Paracelsus I returned to Cologne for one month before moving back to the San Francisco Bay area. Less than two months later back in California, I returned to Paracelsus for two weeks of follow-up care as part of my treatment schedule. With many factors involved, including overwhelm between my moves and time zones, Paracelsus running behind from 2 to 4 hours daily to see Dr. Rau as they adjusted to their new electronic medical records system, Dr. Rau getting ready for his four week holiday, Dr. Rau’s across the board approach to give cancer patients with advanced disease much more time compared to cancer patients with low grade disease, another doctor managing my care during my second week without adequate experience, one treatment with whole body hyperthermia, and perhaps other issues, I left Paracelsus extremely exhausted on every level.

The next several months became the hardest of my life. Arriving home after Paracelsus still feeling physically challenged and then exposed to mold in my apartment created absolute chaos. Even after moving into yet another new apartment, physical problems continued and then escalated. I had never felt so sick in my life. The fall of 2007 felt like the darkest night of my soul. With a range of major physical ailments that I had never experienced before, I wondered if I’d ever recover. While a MRI scan revealed growth, the symptoms did not appear associated with the tumor. But I could barely function and went deep into myself reevaluating everything.

Once again searching in new directions for cancer therapies, during October into November of 2007 I investigated the Gonzalez Protocol by Nicholas Gonzalez, MD in New York City. A friend of mine, who was a medical doctor himself and with advanced lung cancer, had been on the Gonzalez Protocol for over four years. After his cancer diagnosis, conventional cancer treatments failed him. Although without a worldview for alternative therapies, he opened his perspectives and chose the Gonzalez Protocol. My friend with advanced lung cancer responded to the Gonzalez treatments very quickly with tumor shrinkage and necrosis.

Through my research, I learned that the average time to respond on the Gonzalez Protocol is 18 to 24 months and his therapies do not work for everyone. I also felt hope and inspiration with his treatments. As components of the Gonzalez protocol such as diet, supplements, detoxification, and balancing the nervous system felt appealing, I applied to his program. Accepted as a patient several weeks later, I went to New York City to meet with Dr. Gonzalez in appointments over two days. Learning more about his protocol, I recognized the necessity of surrendering myself to the demanding routines of the therapies.

My supplements included pancreatic enzymes, other animal glandulars, vitamins, minerals, trace elements, and antioxidants. On the Gonzalez protocol, the pancreatic enzymes are the main anti-cancer supplement. I took about 200 pills daily and throughout the day, including in the middle of the night. As for all cancer patients on the Gonzalez protocol, my pill schedule was carefully timed, especially since the pancreatic enzymes must be consumed on an empty stomach. My supplements were common for patients with solid tumors and somewhat modified through my biochemistry determined through Gonzalez’s hair analysis.

For detoxification, I performed four coffee enemas daily with two in the morning and afternoon. Every twenty days, I stopped all of my supplements and either did a liver/gallbladder cleanse or an intestinal cleanse for five days.

Based on my constitution, Dr. Gonzalez recommended that I eat a moderate vegetarian diet with some fish. Due to my food allergies, my food choices narrowed even more. Each day, I also juiced green vegetables in the morning and afternoon.

Both demanding and challenging, the routines on the Gonzalez began to help me feel stronger. My energy improved, my nervous system more balanced, my brain with better vitality, and other improvements emerged. My investment in the 3 to 4 hours required daily resulted in some returns.

However, the requirements to surrender to the rhythms of the Gonzalez protocol felt hard. The pills, coffee enemas, and other routines often defined my schedule. I spent many hours on the bathroom floor, missed social activities, internal confusion, and sometimes could not travel. Although stronger, parts of me also felt fatigued and imbalanced. Gonzalez attributed detoxification to the fatigue, but that did not seem to be the case for me after the protocol.

Healing, Work, & Movement

Navigating the healing equation and traveling toward better health is not a linear process. While some components improve, others can wane and even falter. Sometimes with two steps forward, one step moves backward. Other times it is no steps forward and what seems like five steps background. Yet, deeper levels of healing can occur without any visible progress. I continue to discover the great complexity and even mystery of healing.

With some improvements on the Gonzalez protocol, the strength that emerged gave me more energy to work. With a new professional opportunity, I was asked to a non-profit organization to help cancer patients using my professional cancer expertise and personal knowledge. Leaving other consulting projects when the non-profit started and evolving into a full-time position, I began serving as co-founder and Executive Director of the non-profit EmbodiWorks about integrative cancer care. I did that for several years putting my work as my priority.

Along with tons of work and treatments, my healing expanded in other ways. Over the last several years, I began to rediscover, reincorporate, and renew a connection with my body. In 2008 after a movement practice called Biodanza, in July of 2009 I began the 5Rhythms movement practice founded by Gabrielle Roth. Through 5Rhythms classes and workshops, I began accessing and activating deeper levels of healing. A brilliant, transformative movement practice, the 5Rhythms provides a vehicle to wholeness. Also receiving massage with bodywork more frequently for the first time, I was further supported in reconnecting with my body and other parts of myself.

New Treatments Again

My MRI scans continued during the Gonzalez protocol about every six months. Although my first scan appeared about the same size, other scans during the protocol seemed to have minor tumor growth even with some stable reports. I’ve been through that many times. The radiologist’s report might say stable, but measurements have been bigger. Slow growing gliomas can also be labeled as “stable” between three or six month scans, but with visible growth after one to one and a half years later.

What did my scans really show during the Gonzalez protocol? Gonzalez explained that inflammation could be a side effect from the pancreatic enzymes. However, my c-reactive protein that measures inflammation was always very low. As part of his practice, Gonzalez performs hair analysis to develop supplements for each patient and track their program. One of the measurements in the hair analysis is a cancer marker. Scores run from 0 to 50. On average, new patients are at 36. My cancer marker started at 24. After two years in the protocol, the marker decreased to the safe zone associated with no tumor growth.

I continued to feel confused by my MRI scans. Understanding that success on the Gonzalez protocol often required time, I was willing to maintain my commitment to the investment. But, as I moved through the 18 to 24 months on the protocol still with tumor growth, I wasn’t convinced that it was inflammation.

After two years on his protocol, I also began to feel really unwell. The supplements seemed to overwhelm my body and it became hard to take them. The coffee enemas began to often deplete me. I maintained the Gonzalez protocol for over two and a half years, and then had another MRI scan. Once again, I had tumor growth. Clearly, I could no longer continue on the Gonzalez protocol and immediately stopped it. Devastated after investing so much time, energy, and money into another cancer protocol, grief overwhelmed me.

IMG_1634Resiliently redefining my direction to optimally support my health and healing, my next steps became clear. I chose the BioMed Clinic in Germany with success in treating brain tumor patients and other types of cancer founded by the intelligent physician E. Dieter Hager, MD, PhD. Traveling to the BioMed Clinic in Germany to begin their cancer treatments with Friedrich Migeod, MD, my therapies included hyperthermia with Synchotherm, boswellia carteri, Thalidomide, mistletoe, thymus, other supplements, and intravenous infusions with Vitamin C, glutathione, and selenium. The therapies also allowed me to work from my computer in Germany. Offering a competent and compassionate form of cancer care, Dr. Migeod and his staff also extended integrity. That was a very refreshing experience for me.

After receiving BioMed treatments during four visits and continuing therapies when I was home, the tumor appeared the same size for six months. However, undesired changes were forthcoming once again ten months into the BioMed protocol.

A new chapter in my brain tumor journey emerged with my MRI scan the end of July 2011 showing the brain tumor recurrence size required a second brain surgery. Since 1998, I worked extremely hard trying to support my health and healing with integrative cancer care while trying to avoid another surgery cutting my brain again. Yet to stay alive, that was necessary. In the chaos when I pushed myself too hard, I had major challenges in August 2001 with changes in my brain and losses of significant brain functions. Drugs reduced enough of my symptoms allowing me to wait for the best neurosurgeon at UCSF for his next available date. That also allowed them to reform mapping tests essential for the preparation of my awake brain surgery.

On September 1, 2011, I had awake brain surgery at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) with Mitchel Berger, MD. My second brain surgery was extremely successful. Awake brain surgery by Dr. Berger removed the tumor. The surgery saved my life and I’m beyond grateful. Through the UCSF Brain Tumor Board with my neuro-oncologist Susan Chang, MD, no additional conventional treatments were recommended.

Hours after surgery

Hours after surgery 2011

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3 days after surgery 2011

11 days after surgery

11 days after surgery 2011

 

MRIs continued. During the remainder of 2011, my post-surgery recovery included some integrative cancer providers and therapies. My treatments in that chapter included acupuncture, osteopathy, foods, supplements, infusions, meditation, stretching, movement, exercise, massage, and more depending upon what I was able to give to myself.

But, the four months after my surgery were overwhelming with intense stress before my own health care. I failed at my own self-care. I felt so stressed the end of September and October that I could not fall asleep at night, urinated every five minutes, and was completely dehydrated. The stress in my body day to day into the end of October appeared in body shakes with increased exhaustion. From phone calls to UCSF after hours when I could not reach my neuro-oncologist, another doctor elevated my anti-seizure medication. That was a mistake. The next week I was drugged staring at my floor or ceiling. As I adjusted, I still felt extremely off. Finally, the beginning of December I told UCSF my need to reduce my anti-seizure medication to the previous dose. With that change, I felt better in one week and began driving. Without the capacity to drive for almost five months at age thirty-eight created my experience from childhood. Dependence gave me some beautiful support while returning to my independence with a car manifested winds of freedom.

As with all other aspects in my cancer journey, I share specifics to illuminate the absolute necessity for self-care and self-advocacy. Without it, some of life can be lost, including related to quality of life and possibly survival.

Into 2012, I finally recognized that since surgery I extended myself without adequate support. Research shows that stress may increase mental health challenges and illnesses, including tumor growth.

IMG_2134The stress during the four months after my brain surgery and lack of rest highlighted the need for my attention to my brain healing. After research, I took dives into Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) with Paul Harch, MD. I chose Dr. Harch for individualized care with titratIMG_2057ed HBOT. My entire body told me that personalized HBOT treatments would provide benefits, and Dr. Harch is one of the few HBOT doctors in the United States with the knowledge. On a hiatus, my two month with Dr. Harch at his clinic outside of New Orleans, Louisiana extended to three months for forty HBOT treatments. Graduating from 40 HBOT treatments and integrating all of the benefits over a few months thereafter, I felt an improved well-being and other benefits. I also absolutely loved New Orleans with boosts to my joy, social connections, spirit, deeper self, and the never-ending beat.

My healing path continued. I had learned a few months after my September 2011 brain surgery in an MRI that small parts of the brain tumor remained. I added new integrative providers on my team, and after HBOT, I started my new brain tumor protocol. I used new integrative cancer treatments through integrative oncologists and other providers, including drugs selected from limited tumor profiling, many off-label drugs, and natural therapies. Some of those treatments even gave me major side effects. While certain aspects have worked for some cancer patients, unfortunately the protocols did not work for me.

Jeannine Walston post-surgery 2013

10 days after surgery 2013

Due to necessity, I needed a third awake brain surgery and conducted research, including information from Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure (ABC2). For my situation, I chose UCLA featuring Linda Liau, MD, PhD as my neurosurgeon and Tim Cloughesy, MD as my neuro-oncologist. On November 19, 2013, Dr. Liau applied precision, depth, sensitivity, brilliance, and countless other skills in preparing and conducting my third awake brain surgery. I share more specifics about my surgery and recovery in my first blog post-surgery called With Gratitude and Progress in My Healing.

I was told by UCLA that since the entire tumor was not removed by my third awake brain surgery and test results, their recommendation featured next treatments with radiation and chemotherapy through Temodar. I began those therapies on Tuesday, February 11, 2014. I share information about the decision-making as well as my journey at Healing Journey Continues: Next Treatments with Radiation and Chemotherapy.

The amazing experience with radiation and Temodar ended toward the end of March 2014. Thankfully, my MRIs the end of April 2014 show improvements! My UCLA oncologists were very pleased and me too! During May and June 2014, I participated in a clinical trial with dendritic cell-based vaccine for immunotherapy. I provided updates regarding those cancer treatments, integrative cancer cancer for the whole person strategies, and success in Healing thru my Brain Tumor Journey: Progress Forward.

Since then, my world has expanded with my purpose, personal transformation, and service. In those quests, the dimensions of living life more fully have various constructs. Parts of my vision with clarity has become more fierce.

2014 Visionary AwardsIn October 2014, I attended the Visionary Ball 2014 to raise money for UCLA’s Neurosurgery department. At the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, over 800 people attended the event giving significant donations to support further UCLA neurosurgery innovation. Each year, four awards are given to highly accomplished individuals in their chosen field. Additionally, three survivors share their cancer story. I delivered my speech to the audience with strong messages about my brain tumor journey since 1998, my experiences at UCLA with my neurosurgeon Dr. Liau, the Functional MRI, immunotherapy with dendritic cell vaccines, and other specifics from a top-notch hospital. The entire room gave me a standing ovation. Dozens of people came up to me conveying awe and appreciation for my speech, including Kelsey Grammar and Joan Dangerfield. The event was wild and wonderful. Many thanks to UCLA for their ongoing pioneering work for quality of life and survival towards cures. Learn more at My UCLA Cancer Story Video Speech about Innovative Brain Tumor Treatments and UCLA Neurosurgery Visionary Ball.

The never-ending road brought me to more levels of gratitude. On March 18, 2015, I arrived at my 17-year anniversary from being diagnosed with a brain tumor. With profound reflections as I looked at my internal mirror during my life, including since 1998, I connected with memories that sometimes became shelved, others shifted, and at times disappeared into the mystery. In the process, I created Brain Tumor Diagnosis 17-Year Anniversary with Photo Exhibit – Brain, Body, Body.

Golden Portal Awards 2015As I know and witnessed in others, people dealing with cancer go through an intense journey. For many, tenacity and bravery are required toward striving to find the best solutions possible. On June 14, 2015, I received a Tenacious Bravery Award from the UCLA Brain Tumor Program at Golden Portal Awards in Beverly Hills. Linda Liau, MD, PhD, my neurosurgeon and immunotherapy pioneer, gave me the award. Ted Gagliano and Loic Bailly created the annual Golden Portal Awards four years ago to fundraise for immunotherapy research and treatments at UCLA. The event was extremely wonderful in all ways. Learn more at Tenacious Bravery Award from UCLA Brain Tumor Program at Golden Portal Awards, and further information at Golden Portal Awards and UCLA Brain Tumor Program.

The Healing Center

When my cancer journey began in 1998, fear of my own mortality rattled me to my bones. Now many years later, I’ve navigated through three awake brain surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, over 100 MRI scans, hundreds of integrative cancer therapies, other modalities, introspection, study, and resources to improve my quality of life and cancer survival. Through my course, I’ve learned to find quality information and a commitment to personal transformation. Along with tremendous knowledge, my mosaic of wisdom includes how I embrace adversity as opportunity, life as a spiritual journey, and illness with or without cancer as a vehicle for the soul’s evolution.

With great passion and commitment, my healing journey fuels me to help others affected by cancer. Central to my purpose, serving people with cancer transforms my suffering by melting my pain into a force much larger than myself. Both interconnected and inspired, I continue my work in the world through my Services to educate and empower others through integrative cancer care resources for the whole person of body, mind, and spirit, including social and environmental health.

Recognizing and respecting everyone’s situation as unique, I aspire to give you the most reliable integrative cancer resources I’ve found and continue to discover. Take at least a few minutes to explore cancer information on my website. As you learn about integrative cancer care for the whole person, know that I am with you.

You can also learn more about my services in Cancer Coach, Writer & Consult, and Speaker.

Wishing you optimal health and healing.

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