November 05, 2006

Out and About

I am typing this from a remote location in New Jersey. Ain't technology wonderful!

I received a scholarship from Living Beyond Breast Cancer to attend their one-day conference on "Moving Toward Wellness: Body, Mind and Soul." They very generously made it possible for me to cross the country to learn more about a timely topic. After all, when one has advanced cancer, trying to live in a framework of wellness can be difficult, if not (on occasion) impossible.

The keynote speaker described some great tools for seeking wellness. Validation, communication, dealing with PWACs (people without a clue -- do you know any?), crisis intervention, and of course the mind-body connection.

I also attended a worksahop on latest medical and complementary approaches for advanced breast cacner, where I learned about two new treatments. SUTENT (SU 11248) has been approved to treat advanced kidney cancer and like so many other chemotherapies, may have good effect on metastatic breast cancer. The other is Avemar, made in Hungary and marketed in the USA under the name Ave. It's made from fermented wheat germ extract and has been studied on oral and colon cancer, but again, it may be also appropriate for breast cancer. These drugs were mentioned by a medical oncologist and the director of a center of integrative medicine. The best of both worlds -- physicians who are open to all possibilities.

The keynote speaker also closed the seminar with some words on fear. Fear of recurrence (well, I guess I got over that one!), fear of dying and death, mortality, vulnerability, and spirituality.

She offered a great tool, one I had not considered before -- writing your own prayer, in words that speak to you, to read aloud every day when you wake up, before you even get out of bed to use the toilet. The sample prayer she shared was simply put, evoked great emotion, and was written by a patient who'd never done any writing before. I will give this one some thought and see what I can come up with.

While back east I am also visiting my family for a couple of days. We have been talking, eating, and generally enjoying each other's company. My dad's mobility continues to improve, and of course since he's been off chemo for several months, he now has a full head of hair again. Mom looks great and is enjoying her work every Sunday at the synagogue. In short, this has been a great trip!

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