Tuesday, September 6, 2011

50 and Fabulous!

On August 29th I turned a fabulous 50 years old.  While I believe it is only a number, it was a fun one to celebrate.  I really wanted to invite 200 of my friends and family but my back yard and house would only hold 100.  The Birthday Bash took place on Saturday, August 27th.  I have to say, it was just what I wanted and it was soooo much fun. This evening was filled with the love of my friends and family, fun, and friendship.  I cooked for everyone!

The Food!  We started with an incredible antipasta table filled with Italian meats and cheeses, olives, artichokes, olive tempenada, and the yummiest fresh mozzarella balls from a cousins cheese shop.  For dinner we feasted on baked ziti, Italian sausage with sweet peppers in sauce, and a vegetable bow tie pasta dish along with fresh french rolls from the local Italian shop in Gardena.  Dessert was an incredible cake from Torrance Bakery with a rum flavored custard (not quite the rum cake I'm used to but it was truly beautiful), we had eduldge from Eagle Rock Bakery (a family favorite dessert compliment - a custard filled frosted pastry) and a liquore compliment of Limonchello (from Sorrento), Sambuca (which we called Anisette as a child) and Amaretto.  When I was a kid my mom would have made these liquores but that unfortunately is no longer an option. It was all good food and good wine for a fabulous feast with those that I love.  While most thought I was crazy to cook for this many people it was what I wanted to share with everyone.  By the way~ the cake was so good everyone ate it!  Somehow the kids got to the eduldge before they were served (which I wasn't surprised and could only laugh) and I hope everyone got at least one of these incredible Italian desserts.   This was my gift of love to all who have given me so much over the years.  I am humbled at the turn out and ever so grateful to be so loved.

My love and gratitude goes to you all.  While I couldn't invite everyone I wanted to see that day, the key was to have quality time with the people I did invite.  It was a great dinner party and I hope I got to spend time everyone. 

I couldn't have done it alone.  My incredible friend Elizabeth kept me on track before and during the party and set up the table decorations, my sister in-law did the flower arrangements both for the house and for the tables in addition to setting up a kids table with fun things for the kids to do during the party.  My fabulous brothers - Tony and John - set up the canopy with a chandiller of twinkle lights for atmosphere and the wireless speakers for the music.  John created an incredible mix of Italian music with some contemporary music (which I must get a copy of) and my dad pitched in to help out with helping to fund this grand event. And my friend Jeanine came over the two nights before to assemble the ziti's and sausage and make sure we were ready to roll on Satuday.  This is the village of people who made this party sparkle for you all.  Thank you to each and I am so blessed to have you in my daily life!

When I find a picture of the party - I'll post it but for now I wanted to start posting more regularly.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Food Glorious Food!

I thought I would write about food today.  Food is one of those things that you can't live without, but sometimes it is difficult to live with it.  I truly don't believe I am an alcoholic, or a drug addict.  I am however a food addict.  I just love food.  All kinds.

Since being diagnosed with cancer I have learned that food is medicinal as well as necessary for life.  Today I eat the rainbow in fruits and vegetables.  I try to focus on the vegetables as these seem to have the most antioxidants in them.  I do my best to stay away from processed foods and focus on organic foods when possible.  While I don't let this control my life, when the opportunity is available between regular or organic, I will always select the organic option.  I have recently planted an organic garden in my back yard.  Someone questioned if I used "organic" dirt.  To the best of my knowledge - I did.  In fact my friend Elizabeth and I mixed three kinds of soil together to make the perfect environment to plant my tomatoes, zucchini (green and yellow), cucumbers (American and Persian), green beans, eggplant, basil (of course) and a few other goodies like rasberries and blueberries.

My garden is in the "un dog yard" at my house.  This used to be the dog yard and is fenced but Miss Emily doesn't like it back there.  Princess Kate does like to eat my fresh veggies, but I set the gate lock now to keep her out.  Especially after I went to bed the other night and Katie jumped up with something in her mouth and it happened to be one of my garden treasures!  Katie then learned that we don't eat in mommy's bed!

So, you might ask why I've gone "organic?"  Well, it turns out that many of the pesticides used on our food contains estrogen based carsonigines.  My paticular cancer is over 80% estrogen and so I do my best to stay away from anything that has estrogen.  Foods that contain soy or estrogen (especially processed foods), tofu, garbonzo beans, foods that have been sprayed with pesticides (which includes most everything in the stores that are not organic), and so many vitamin products in the stores.  Yes, I am a label reader.  I'm now starting to find make up that has toxic ingredients.  I've decided to starve this cancer to death. 

This also means keeping my insulin levels consistently low or level as cancer also thrives off of sugar, which is what insulin is.  Who would have thought.  I've cut out sugar in general (although I have to admit I am weak here - LOL).  I use Agave Nectar as a sugar substitute.  No Splenda or Sweet & Low.  This also means no more potatoes, rice (except basamati rice) and refined sugars.

So, where did I receive this information.  There are a few books out there that I consider a "must read" if you are seriously concerned about cancer in your life.  The first one scared me to where I almost didn't eat for a week.  It was called The China Study.  I got it as a CD and listened to it several times in my car to and from work.  The other book was called Anti-Cancer, A new way of life by David Schreven Schriber.  Dr. Oz on TV talks about this same stuff all the time.

To me, a balance in life is key.  Physical, spiritual and emotional.  You must keep yourself physically fit.  Your body mass indes (BMI) needs to be down to 20 - 25.  I realize this is low but this is what the doctors say is one of the best preventative measures you can take.  I didn't head the warning 10 years ago when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and her surgeon told me this exact fact.  I still have about 45 more pounds to go but at last check my BMI is around 30-31. 

Faith is another important part of wellness.  You have to believe the cancer is not living in your body.  Let the doctor focus on th disease and I focus on the fire of my faith.  You see, one thing I have learned is that cancer cells cannot live under extreme heat.  I have opted to focus on my spiritual energy to let the light and the love of Christ destroy the cancer cells within my body.  You have to have faith to do this and I am a woman of strong faith.

Perhaps my next blog will be about ENERGY.  Energy is so important as can change your life if you know how to use it to your advantage.

Take care for now and I'll catch up more later.  Remember, I didn't learn this all at once and it can be overwhelming if you try.  Each and everyone of us is different and we will find what works best for ourselves.  There are however some universal things like the nutrition, energy, spirituality, and having a good social support system.

Have a blessed day!

Love, Stephanie

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Beauty and the Beast

The big question of the day is, where is the beast?

Emily - 6 years old on August 24th!   120 pounds
Katie  - 14 weeks!  28 pounds

I promise to blog more soon but I couldn't resist sharing this photo of Emily and Kate. I hope everyone is doing well.

Love you!  Stephanie

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Grounding to Mother Earth

I had the opportunity last night to spend time with my energy practioner.  Her name is Lisa Lewis and she is a certified energy practioner who practices in the Mt. Washington and Altadena areas.  We were discussing the topic of grounding and how important this is.  I have this challenge that sometimes I loose my balance and fall, which agrevates my back and knee injuries and can be an embarassing situation.  I would make a terrible waitress these days.  LOL  Anyhow I am focusing on balacing in my physical therapy as well and the two together I hope will help me with this challenge.  I never quite understand how I fall when I do and I'm learning how to be more conscious about my center of gravity and I work on strengthening the muscles in my body to be able to handle and wobbles life brings my ways.  I fortunately am having success and my PT work is measuring the successes! 

Grounding in meditation is really good to do and this is what I focus on with Lisa.  I focus on grounding to Mother Earth through my feet and up to the core of my body.  I am going to do this each morning before I fly out of bed to let the dogs out, feed them and cats and start the coffee.  This is truely a life shift in focus for me.  I've always been the one to take care of others and now I need to focus on taking care of myself first - as I wake up each morning and before my feet hit the floor.  I have to admit this is one of my biggest challenges.  One of the things we spoke about last night is how the past couple of years threw me off balance and that I need to regain the hold I have in life.  To let go would be a bad thing for me. 

For today I also have to learn to keep my handbag up off the floor as Princess Kate has discovered it as her new fishing hole.  When I call her on it she talks back to me.  I explained that this was not a conversation but an order.  You may think I'm nuts but I do have conversations with my animals.  And yes, I do believe the understand a fair amount of what I say. 

I focus each day on letting the light and love of Christ melt the cancer within my body away.  You see, cancer cells do not like heat, and I can be one hot woman when I shift my focus!

With all my love,


Saturday, June 25, 2011


Some of you may not be aware but I have been dealing with metastasized breast cancer during this past two years.  After my mastectomy in 2009 I had a tumor discovered on my S1 vertebrae within 9 months of finishing chemo and radiation for my breast cancer.  It was radiated and left a hole in the bone, but not enough to compromise the structure of the vertebrae (it was 4.4 cm big).  This happened in May of 2010.  Then in February 2011 I had emergency gallbladder surgery and the surgeon discovered a couple of tumors on my liver.  Fortunately he took a biopsy of the tumor and it was confirmed to be breast cancer cells on my liver.  This is good as breast cancer is easier to treat than liver cancer.   After another PET scan (which I now get every 3 - 4 months) there seemed to be only two tumors on my liver.  In June 2011 I had a second PET Scan and we were surprised to find that my S1 vertebrae lit up and they could see a third, but microscopic, tumor on my liver.  Below is the conversation I shared with my family this last week on what we think is going on with Boris.

My oncologist had the opportunity to sit with the radiologist and compare my last two PET scans and discuss them.  He called me last night to share with me what they observed and his opinion on the situation.   It appears that the third microscopic lesion that was discovered on my PET this month was probably in the PET Scan I took in March.  It looks as if there was swelling from my gallbladder surgery and that the microscopic lesion was not visible in March, but was probably there.  Since the other two lesions that were visible did not grow, they are assuming that nothing has changed since my last PET Scan.  This is really good news.  The tumors are not growing, but they are not shrinking either.

My S1 vertebrae did have enough contrast on my June PET Scan that showed up which appeared that there was some metabolic activity in the lesion where I had the tumor.  That said, about 7 weeks ago I had a really hard fall at home in my bedroom and my tailbone and lumbar region has been so sore that it was painful to sit on my bed or even the couch for a month.  Yes, I fell directly on my rear.  I know you are laughing.  The hardest part was telling my oncologist how this happened.  LOL Anyhow, with this knowledge, the radiologist and my oncologist agreed that the fall could have aggravated the region to cause this activity to show up on the PET Scan.  The concern was that the tumor was once again active, but because of my fall we are going to give it a chance to heal.

My oncologist wants to wait to see what the August PET Scan has to show before we consider a next move on this monster that lives within me.  BTW - I've named my cancer Boris.  Unfortunately my doctor has a cousin named Boris!  We had a good laugh over that one.  In the mean time, I am going to continue with the Zometa and the Fosladex until August.  At that time we will re-evaluate.

One of the option my doctor mentioned if the tumors do not change is to perform a Radio-Frequency Ablation of Focal Tumors.  This would be an alternative to having a surgery where they go in and remove part of my liver where Boris has taken root.  I've found an article that describes this procedure and I've cut and pasted it here so you can check it out.  Like I said, this is only a possibility if the Fosladex is working and we just need to get the tumor's removed.  Note that this article refers to liver cancer originating from that organ.  I just discovered that this procedure is also used on patients with metastasis (like me) as an alternative to performing a full surgery to remove the tumor(s).  What is left behind is scar tissue that eventfully goes away.  You can search to learn more if you like.  The big question of the day is, if I need this procedure, will my insurance pay for it.  The doctor will be checking this option out – just in case 

As for me, my spirit is in God's hands.  I have decided to let the light and love of the Christ's internal flame from within me destroy Boris.  Well, this and an organic diet will help too.


Radio-Frequency Ablation of Focal Tumors
From a University of Wisconsin web site.
Radio-frequency ablation is a minimally invasive treatment for focal cancers (cancers limited to one area of the body). Radio-frequency ablation destroys tumors with localized heat from electrical energy. After the patient has been sedated, the physician inserts a special needle through the skin. (Unlike a catheter, the instrument does not travel through a blood vessel.) Using CT or ultrasound imaging technology, he or she maneuvers this instrument into the tumor and activates an electrical circuit that generates intense but localized heat. Because the heat is generated within the tumor, surrounding healthy tissue is mostly spared.
This procedure can be performed under local anesthesia but is usually performed under general anesthesia, to eliminate the possibility of pain during treatment. Patients generally stay in the hospital overnight, but many go home the same day. They can usually return to work in one or two days. Side effects include soreness at the site of the puncture. Rarely, the puncture site can bleed. If heat is released near the diaphragm (which divides the stomach from the chest cavity), the treatment can occasionally cause hiccuping that lasts several weeks.
General anesthesia is administered during the procedure. Pain medications may be given afterward.
Patients with focal tumors who are not eligible for surgical resection (removal of the tumors) should consider this treatment. Very large tumors (those greater than 4 centimeters in diameter) can be difficult to treat fully with this technique. Determining which treatment is right for an individual patient is a complex process requiring consultation with many different specialists.
The efficacy of radio-frequency ablation varies with tumor type, size, and location. The technique has outcomes similar to those of surgical resection for appropriately selected tumors. In one study of radio-frequency ablation for liver tumors, 94 percent of primary tumors (those originating from within the cancerous organ) had not grown back 10 months after being destroyed by the treatment. Radio-frequency ablation can be used in combination with chemoembolization for liver tumors, which may further improve the outcome. (Radio-frequency ablation can penetrate to the center of tumors, while chemoembolization is most effective on the outside of tumors.) One study showed only a 2 percent recurrence of primary liver tumors one year after such a combination therapy. For background on liver cancer and the range of treatments available, see the E-Health article on chemoembolization, as well as this article about the multidisciplinary Liver Tumor Clinic at UW Medical Center. (Radio-frequency ablation is also used to treat cancers in organs other than the liver.)
V. Risks of Treatment
In addition to the rare side effects mentioned above (bleeding and hiccuping), there is a small risk in undergoing general anesthesia.
VI. Risks of No Treatment
Focal tumors that receive no treatment are likely to grow and spread. Depending upon tumor type and location, such progression can lead to significant complications or death. With treatment, the risk of progression may be reduced.
VII. Urgency
Cancer should be treated as soon as possible.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Life for Today

It's been 9 days since I've written and wanted to make a post.  I returned to the office on Wednesday.  For most people this wouldn't be a good thing, but for me it felt good and productive.  I am setting up a new morning schedule between the two dogs and two cats, me, packing lunch.  What would I do if I had children?  LOL 

It's been a busy 9 days.  Princess Kate managed to get her paw caught in the front door the other day.  She's been limping around but its getting better.  I took her to the vet and they wanted $190 to x-ray it and if something was broken another $120 to cast it, plus the follow up visits.  To x-ray her paw they wanted to anesthecise her - and I said she was only 7 weeks old - forget it.  Fortunately she is doing better.  So, she got her first round of puppy shots while we were there and I'm shopping for a more affordable vet.

My organic garden is doing well. Thank you Elizabeth for your help in setting it up.  It's only a week old but I anticipate it will be bursting with color, fruits and vegetables soon.  It gets watered every morning when I fill the dog's water bowl.  So we have an outside routine too.  Doggies like the outside and it certainly gives the cats some time off.

I was asked to be interviewed on Shift Radio Talk Show and I'm looking forward to it.  SHIFT is a program I got involved in when I was looking to create a new relationship with food.  It is a hypnosis based weight management program that I just love.  I lost 45 pounds in the first year and plan to drop my last 45 pounds this next year.  I never had a diet or a "food plan"  I simply shifted the way I thought about the food I give my body and the weight just released itself.  Usually 1/2 to 1 pound a week which was is the healthy way to do it.  Rita Black is the owner of the SHIFT program and if you are interested in her work you can find her at http://www.maketheshiftnow.com/ .  Give her a ring and she'll let you know if she can help you out.  It worked for me and I've never been able to release more than 10 pounds on any of the other weight loss programs out there.

This is it for today.  I'm off to the office!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Eagle's Wings

 A friend sent this to me today and I just had to post it on my blog.  As I have faced many challenges, this description of how the eagle deals with life transition was too precious to pass up.

And, no there is no wonder the bald eagle has such a significant symbolism to our country. What hope…!
When it rains, most birds head for shelter; the eagle is the only bird that, in order to avoid the rain, starts flying above the clouds...

An amazing tidbit about the Eagle's eyesight: The eagle can probably identify a rabbit moving almost a mile away. That means that an eagle flying at an altitude of 1000 feet over open country could spot prey over an area of almost 3 square miles from a fixed position.

No wonder God wants us to spread our wings and soar with eagles.
God Bless all who share this.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Meet Princess Kate

Hi!  Meet Princess Kate.  We call her Kate or Katie for short but she is the newest addition to our animal kingdom.  Kate came from a litter of pups born in Compton on a small farm like property with horses, chickens, dogs and cats.  Needless to  say Katie is couldn't give Abigail or Daniel the time of day.  The cats are a little freaked out but they will adapt.  Kate was born on Sunday, April 30th to a litter of 11 pups and was just 6 weeks old when she came to her new home.  The first order of business was a flea bath and then she got to meet the rest of the family.  She is not house trained yet so we take a trip to the back yard  with Emily about once an hour.  We did real good last night and only had to go out once at about 3 a.m. and then we slept until about 6:30 a.m.  Her mommy has learned that the walk from the bedroom to the grass outside is a little too far to hold the bladder after sleeping, so she gets picked up and put onto the grass.  So far things are running well.  She can eat kibble and drinks water just fine.  Emily isn't into playing too much but once in awhile its fun to see them play together on the grass.

I went to a healing mass on Friday night with some friends and spent time focusing on receiving the Holy Spirit into my body.  While I believe the Holy Spirit lives within each of us, my focus was to allow my body to receive more of this devine energy to alow my body to heal itself.  To visualize this you can imagine the light that flickers within each of us is the love of Christ and I want this flame to destroy any negative energy taking place in my body.  The breast cancer cells that live withn my body need to go away and while I participate in conventional medicine, I also do what I can with alternative medicine as well as stregthen my spiritual "terrain"  to allow my body to do the natural thing ~ which is to fight off the cancer cells that live within my body.  I think this is one of the biggest challenges I've had to face in life so far.  I continually pray that my positive attitude and perception of how to approach this monster that lives within me will make me the winner when all is said and done.

On Monday I will begin setting up my organic garden in the back yard.  We will all learn more about this as we move forward.  Eating organic food is another key part of wellness.  Food is like medication and if we all took this seriously, I might not be in my situation and some of you might be able to save or make a major change in your life.  I've NEVER been the "organic" food type until I started to learn more about the foods we put into our body.  More will be revealed.

Have a fabulous Sunday

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Shift Focusing

So many people have suggested that I start a blog, so here I am.  My blog is called Shift Focusing as I am continually having to shift my focus in life.  The realizations I've had over the past few years have been invaluable to me.  My friends and family thought others might learn something from my personal experiences.  I've chosen several books to use as guides for my transition and have reached to incredible people along the way.  I will share these resources with you should you decide you are interested in some new, or reinforced insight to my situation, or yours.  This is a personal journey of realizations and my blog is not meant to make anyone feel bad.  These shifts or realizations I have made are personal to me and and based on my perceptions.  I hope you enjoy the journey as this is about my life shifting focus to a new and healthier way of life.