Rivers of Hope

Deb at Lindsay weddingI am posting this lighthearted, healthy photo of me, as I fully aim to be healthy and cured of cancer forever! I encourage you to think of me this way – thank you.

Unfortunately, my road to the cure for AML just became way more intense. My Stanford doctor informed me yesterday that we need to start live-in chemotherapy again, as soon as possible, as the leukemia cells in the bone marrow have now spread to the blood – it’s definitely recurrent leukemia. I am scheduled to be admitted to Kaiser Permanente in Terra Linda on December 29.

My soul keeps searching for answers as to why this is happening to me, and I’ve realized that it’s because I need to change my life completely. I still love advocacy, having and implementing visions for the future, and working with others to make the world a better place. But my spirit guides are telling me right now it needs to be a priority to change my inner world, and go deeper through meditation, breathing, visualizations and gentle yoga. I have done much of this over the past 14 months, but apparently not enough. So I humbly return to the practice. Any tips you have about maintaining a dedicated spiritual practice would be greatly appreciated.

I haven’t left my house except to go to the hospital for the past 5 weeks, because I have low blood counts, was suffering from extreme bone pain, and am now dealing with bronchitis. I was lonely at first, but I am learning how to go within, and I have been so lucky to enjoy the 1:1 company of some close friends, healers, my Mom, my deep sweet love Andy, and Christopher, my house mate, teacher and dear friend. I am on the most intense intensive I could ever imagine, and I know that how much I delve into the practice of deepening my soul will also determine my survival. So I dive deep. And while I try to stay brave, and think I am most of the time, I also cry rivers of tears for the life that I want to continue living, in health, with Andy, and with my community and family.

The promising new drug (PD-1 inhibitor) that Stanford was talking about using for me is unfortunately not available to AML patients right now, although it has had great success with lymphoma and lung cancer patients. I was crushed to learn this news, as chemo is necessary now, and I will go through all of those side effects again, including losing my hair which has grown to be a little more than an inch long.

On December 29, I will be admitted to Kaiser for 4-6 weeks having intense chemo for 5 days (and then recovering at the hospital). My Stanford doctor is contacting Be The Match to reach my donor, Mr. International, to ask him to please give me more life giving stem cells, which will be infused after the chemo (hopefully only one chemo treatment, but I may need two). I am sending positive energy to Mr. International’s cells in my body to fight the leukemia and collaborate with me to return my full health.

I need to be reminded sometimes to have faith and trust – as that is my guiding light right now, along with love, hope and dreams. Love has never felt more real.

I had thought of discontinuing treatment due to the 10-12% survival rate for recurrent leukemia, and simply passing away, but there is zero percent chance of survival if I do that, and I want to LIVE! So with a determined heart and trust in the process – I delve onward, to the CURE. Thank you for your love, prayers and support.

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11 Responses to Rivers of Hope

  1. Don Herzog says:

    Dear Deb and Andy,
    You are both in my prayers. You both are such wonderful people who have accomplished so much good. I fervently wish I had a way to ameliorate Deb’s illness and both of your suffering. I love you both.

    Don

  2. Pat Conforti Vaicaitis says:

    Hi Deb, This is Pat Conforti, a long lost cousin from RI. I have happily reconnected with our Cousin Linda and she has connected me to you. Congratulations on your wedding, I saw the beautiful pictures your Mom posted. Please know that I am praying for you and Andy and sending you my love and positive energy. I look forward to getting together with you and Linda for a girls lunch. Your a fighter, keep it up

  3. Melanie Peratis says:

    Deb, Thinking of you lots and sending love and healing wishes. I so admire your courage and ability to accept your journey and continue fighting for your life. You can be in that 10 – 12% of survivors of recurrent leukemia – YES! Wishing you comfort and joy this holiday season and may you enjoy all the love that surrounds you. Love, Mel

  4. Laura Cohen says:

    Dear Deb – Last night, Winter Solstice, I read your post… thinking of you on the longest night. From this darkness the light grows brighter each day, bringing hope & promise for the new year. I wish you the same as you continue your journey of healing.
    Blessings & love, Laura

  5. Peter Oppenheimer says:

    Hi Sweet Deb,     I am in South India.  Don’t know if I would have made the cut but would love to have been one of your one on one supports through this challenging (agonizing and aggravating) time.  I have been asked to deliver the “Felicitation Address” at the Inaugural Ceremony for this year’s annual Narayana Gurukula (the ashram where I stay) Convention.  I am preparing notes for that today, so I may be in the right frame of mind to respond to your appeal for any tips on maintaining a dedicated spiritual practice.  From all what I have been learned over the years I would reaffirm that nothing is outside of that spiritual practice.  Nothing.  Not doubt, not rage, not self-pity, not a cup of tea nor a sigh.  Heartache, heart-break, laughter, a river of tears.  Skin touching skin.  Andy’s breath on the back of your neck.  Your breath (but, of course).  It’s a practice of touch and go (like your life and destiny at the moment).  Touch each present moment with the light and grace of your own awareness, without judgement or sentimentality (though when judgement and sentimentality are present, they too become a part of your practice).  You are not the judgement.  You are the witness of the judgement.  The nature of that awareness is both light and love.  It can touch whatever it illuminates with a gentle non-grasping, non-rejecting awareness.  Familiarize yourself with that awareness itself instead of simply identifying with or alienating yourself from those objects of that awareness.  Let them be there.  You are all of that too.  But all those states and experiences are fleeting and ever-changing.  Whereas you, your Self, are neither fleeting nor changing.  Choiceless awareness.  Each moment brings you a new challenge to touch and let go of the fleeting, and stabilize your self-identity with that greater awareness, which is the light and life of all, which though assuming a thousand and one forms, has no such limiting form to define or confine it.  It’s all just touch and go in each and every moment.  I hesitate to even write these things to such a spiritually advanced flower as yourself.  You know all this and your mettle has been honed and sharpened even more through the intensity of the ordeal which you have been passing through.  Believe it if you need it.  If you don’t just pass it on.  I love you so much and ache to think I am missing your wedding and cringe at the thought of things not going the way I’m praying.  But love that’s real not fade away.  When you come through this, I expect to be getting some similar or far greater tips back from you.  Be Well and Weller Still.  Much Love, Peter

  6. Peter Oppenheimer says:

    Hi Sweet Deb,
    I am in South India. Don’t know if I would have made the cut but would love to have been one of your one on one supports through this challenging (agonizing and aggravating) time. I have been asked to deliver the “Felicitation Address” at the Inaugural Ceremony for this year’s annual Narayana Gurukula (the ashram where I stay) Convention. I am preparing notes for that today, so I may be in the right frame of mind to respond to your appeal for any tips on maintaining a dedicated spiritual practice. From all what I have learned over the years I would reaffirm that nothing is outside of that spiritual practice. Nothing. Not doubt, not rage, not self-pity, not a cup of tea nor a sigh. Heartache, heart-break, laughter, a river of tears. Skin touching skin. Andy’s breath on the back of your neck. Your breath (but, of course). It’s a practice of touch and go (like your life and destiny at the moment). Touch each present moment with the light and grace of your own awareness, without judgement or sentimentality (though when judgement and sentimentality are present, they too become a part of your practice). You are not the judgement. You are the witness of the judgement. The nature of that awareness is both light and love. It can touch whatever it illuminates with a gentle non-grasping, non-rejecting awareness. Familiarize yourself with that awareness itself instead of simply identifying with or alienating yourself from those objects of that awareness. Let them be there. You are all of that too. But all those states and experiences are fleeting and ever-changing. Whereas you, your Self, are neither fleeting nor changing. Choiceless awareness. Each moment brings you a new challenge to touch and let go of the fleeting, and stabilize your self-identity with that greater awareness, which is the light and life of all, which though assuming a thousand and one forms, has no such limiting form to define or confine it. It’s all just touch and go in each and every moment. I hesitate to even write these things to such a spiritually advanced flower as yourself. You know all this and your mettle has been honed and sharpened even more through the intensity of the ordeal which you have been passing through. Believe it if you need it. If you don’t just pass it on. I love you so much and ache to think I am missing your wedding and cringe at the thought of things not going the way I’m praying. But love that’s real not fade away. When you come through this, I expect to be getting some far greater tips back from you. Be Well and Weller Still. Much Love, Peter O

  7. Pat Pieratte says:

    Deb, many people are praying for your recovery, including me. I continue to see you as God sees you, strong, loving and vital. I encourage you to listen to the Daily Lifts at http://christianscience.com/prayer-and-health/inspirational-media/your-daily-lift and to explore the many spiritual resources at http://christianscience.com/. You can read or listen to Science and Health, a book which has been healing people for over 100 years at http://christianscience.com/member-resources. Please give these resources a try. God will help you through these coming challenges, and you will emerge stronger than ever at the end! Bless you, Deb!

  8. Dear Deb,

    I am thinking of you, holding you in my heart as you swim upstream in your “River of Hope”. I see you healed, whole and healthy. Holding onto hope is a strength now. You are courageous beyond measure. Love to you, JoAnn

  9. Cindy Winter says:

    Dear Deb, I can understand that you might feel lonely at times. You’ve always impressed me as the quintessential “people person.” But please remember that you are surrounded by loving thoughts from all who know you and recognize that you’re doing the best you can to reach out. I myself am touched beyond measure when you’re able to write one of your blogs. You will probably need to conserve your energies often during the times ahead, but all the while your host of friends will be keeping up a steady conversation with you through gentle whispers of comfort and healing. Surely, if you listen carefully, you will hear them. Cindy

  10. jward78 says:

    Sending love and prayers for inner spiritual strength and physical healing. Love from DC and our prayer networks in NJ, Florida, Texas, Missouri, DC and California! The ward-waller family

  11. pam says:

    Dear One,
    Your love, transparency, optimism and truth-telling move me to tears, to joy and to continue the dance with you until you are completely healed! Thank you for being willing to go through chemo again. You are doing that not only for yourself, but for all of us (and we are MANY!) who love you. I often do a simple ritual on Solstice and Equinox where we sit in circle and call in the directions then each person cuts off a tiny bit of hair (can’t wait to see your inch-long do!) and talks (or just thinks) about what they want to let go of from the past season or year. She then puts the hair in the fire (sometimes it’s just a candle). Then we each take a little handful of seeds and talk or think about what we want to manifest (or femifest!) in the coming season. We plant them in little pots we’ve prepared ahead of time and take them home, water them and watch them sprout. I hope your Solstice is beautiful and that you find comfort in the longest night of the year. See you very soon, Deb. Love, Pam

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