Archive | August, 2011


29 Aug

August 29, 2011

The Breast Blog #15


I called the doctor’s office on Friday and they still didn’t have the Pathology report.  I called again today and someone called back.  My heart was in my throat until I heard the words, “We have good news for you.”  (They must love saying those words.)    Apparently the “margins are clear” on the right, which I believe means there are no cancer cells left following the lumpectomy.  And on the left breast, the nodule was diagnosed as a papilloma, a benign condition.

I cannot express the relief I feel.  After that call, I felt immediately so much lighter.  I had thought I was, by and large, doing okay with everything.  I really thought I was handling things.  But when I compare how I felt this afternoon to how I’ve been feeling the last three months, I can tell you, it is clear now I was carrying a huge weight for these last few months.

I gave the news to a few of the more significant people in my life.  The first several times, I spoke the words, I cried.  I cried more sharing this good news than I did sharing the scary news!  Tears of relief and joy.

How do I adequately express my joy and gratitude????  Picture me doing a HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY DANCE!  Picture me giving each of you who has prayed for me, sent me love, sent me Reiki, or given me any kind of healing session or comfort or food or money or any kind of kindness, being hugged with the most heartfelt of hugs.

You all have been my gift.  There have been many gifts, actually, but feeling your kindness and love, and getting back in communication with friends I haven’t seen or talked to in a long time, has been an enormous blessing.

I only received that short summary from one of the office people.  I don’t really know a lot of details.  I’m really curious to read the actual report.  To be honest, I’m kind of curious if the papilloma/nodule shrunk a bit from when it was first discovered.  So many prayers were sent on my behalf that I can’t help thinking SOMETHING changed as a result.

Well, I certainly have changed.   I know that I will be a significantly healthier person as a result of this.  I have already changed my diet in a good direction.  I have learned a lot – on both a medical and metaphysical level.  I have certainly processed a lot of emotions.  I hope to never take life for granted again, but I know that it’s hard to retain this level of euphoria and commitment over the long haul.  Let me just say I pray I will be very conscious of my choices from now on.  Life is indeed sacred.

I have a follow-up appointment with the surgeon on Thursday.  I’m sure I will learn more and have more to report after that.

Meanwhile, all I can say is THANK YOU.   Thank you, thank you, thank you.  And thank You, thank You, thank You, Mother/Father God.

Blessed be, one and all.

Remembering Gratitude

26 Aug

The Breast Blog #14

Reframing; Remembering Gratitude; Doing My Spiritual Work

August 26, 2011

The interesting thing about writing a blog (or an email or a book) is that sometimes you send thoughts out into the world that maybe later you wish you hadn’t.  Actually I am glad that I documented how I was feeling.  It was important, at the time, for me to be authentic.  However, this morning I am remembering over and over again the importance of doing my spiritual work.  I had allowed my worries and fears and physical discomfort to derail me.  I had become spiritually lazy.  I had allowed myself to wallow a bit too much in pity-party energy.

Well, I’m getting back on track.  At least for now.

So let me reframe my “truths.”  The truth is: I am exceedingly blessed.  I live in a place of extraordinary natural beauty.  I have oodles of friends scattered around the country. I have a family who loves me.  I have a foundation of good health and a body that is physically able to move, walk, sing, dance, eat, breathe.  My goodness!  I have so much!

I am faced with some challenges at the moment, but, my goodness, everyone is!  I have friends with worse health challenges.  I have friends who are grieving the loss of beloved members of their families.  I have friends who are facing foreclosure on their homes.  I have friends who are battling debilitating depression.  And then, of course, there are people all around the globe who are facing starvation, who have suffered from tsunamis or earthquakes or nuclear meltdowns.  I am so freaking blessed.  I can’t believe I forgot how blessed I truly am.

How can I help sustain this level of gratitude?  How can I help keep my fear at bay?  Here are some tips that help me:

  • Greet the sun each day with a spirit of gratitude.
  • Give thanks for the beauty of the trees, the birds, the air, the water.
  • Remember and offer prayers for others who are struggling.
  • Begin the day by reading from spiritually uplifting books.  We all benefit from spiritual sustenance.
  • Find beautiful music to soothe your soul and lift your spirit and make your heart sing.  Play it often.
  • Move!  Dance, walk, skip, run, swim, stretch.
  • Make noise.  Sometimes silence is good and necessary, however when we are in our fear, making noise helps release the energy.  It can mean crying or screaming or wailing.  It can mean simply talking with friends and giving voice to the fears so they don’t fester in the inner recesses of our being.  It could mean singing or chanting sacred songs.  Or belting out rock songs!  Or try howling at the moon. (It’s fun.)
  • Take time to be with people who love you.  Spend time with people who make you smile.  Sit in the company of people whom you spiritually admire.  Let yourself be lifted up by their energy and their love.  Remember that we are One.
  • Do something fun.  Whatever that means for you.  Let yourself be glad.

Okay, that’s my sermonette for the day.  You may think I’m writing this for you, but I’m writing it for me.  I need to remind myself often to lighten up and be freakin’ grateful for all I have!  Life is a gift.

Thank you.

Blessed be.

The Lumpectomy

26 Aug

The Breast Blog #13

August 24 and 25, 2011

Truth time.

So the truth is, in spite of all my loving and supportive friends, I am feeling a bit lonely.  The truth is that even though I “need” to worry about income, I don’t have a lot of energy for anything that “mundane” at the moment.  The truth is I feel a bit sad when I look at the scars on my breasts.  I know I’m lucky that I still have them.  And I still feel a bit sad.

The truth is I’m sleeping a lot.  The truth is I’m watching more movies than usual.  The truth is I’m “tuning out” a lot.  I find I don’t want to talk very much and I’m finding it increasingly hard to listen.  I’m sure all this will pass, but it’s where I am at this time.

The truth is I hate wearing a sports bra 24 hours a day.  I know I need the support while I’m healing (and yes, I caught the double meaning of those words as I wrote them) but I don’t like feeling continuously smushed.  (I am rebelling right now.  I’m giving my breasts a literal breather for a few minutes.)

The truth is I’ve been eating a vegetarian diet since my diagnosis, and generally I’ve been feeling better as a result of that change.  And boy, some ice cream would taste good about now!!! (Maybe I’ll get some Tofutti.  I need to do another shopping trip.)

The truth is I’m worried that my left nipple area is warm to the touch.  It could mean it’s “only” an infection or that it’s healing from the surgery.  But I thought I noticed warmth there before the surgery.  (My lover confirmed it.)  What does this mean?  I must remember to mention it to the doctor.  (Oh dear.  I just looked it up and found this: “A breast that always feels warm, sometimes hot to the touch is a symptom of inflammatory breast cancer, a dangerous and rare type of the disease.”)

The bad news is that inflammatory breast cancer is aggressive.  The good news is that I don’t seem to have any of the other symptoms.  I think I will choose not to do too much more research on it at the moment as it will just cause worry.  Tomorrow the results from the biopsy should be in and I can find out what’s going on for real.

Okay.  I am going to change gears now.  I want to tell you about the surgery so that I can document the process.  If I don’t write this stuff down, I’ll forget it.  And you won’t learn anything.   (I want to warn you that this may be a more boring entry than usual.  My heart’s not really into it, but I’m doing it anyway.)

Monday was the day I had bilateral surgery.  For those who are late to the party: a lumpectomy was performed on my right breast and an excisional biopsy of a dilated milk duct and small nodule was performed on my left breast.

A dear friend drove me to the hospital and sat with me as I got my first ever IV.  The nurses and technicians I met before the surgery were all great.  My surgeon came in to give me a hug and answer a few questions.  (Where would the incision be?  How long would it be?  Would I have a drain?  Will they know anything right then and if so, will they do any more aggressive removing of tissue while I’m under anesthesia?)  (Answers: Right breast – incision curved and kind of near the armpit – two to three inches long.  Left breast – incision along the edge of the areola.  No drain.  No, they won’t know anything until pathology examines the tissue samples.  We’ll have results in about four days.  And no, I had already signed a form saying I was not agreeing to a mastectomy at this time.)

As I was being wheeled on a stretcher to the OR, my doctor came to help guide us down the hall.  She introduced me to the OR nurses.  When I was in place, she guided me in a visualization of somewhere I wanted to be (I chose St. John’s) and then did some Reiki on me.  (Wish all doctors did this.)  Then the anesthesia was administered.

The next thing I remember is being extremely disoriented.  I was waking up and I couldn’t figure out where I was.  It felt surreal.  (It was very much like coming to after the first and only time I ever fainted, after a small motorcycle spill.)  The nurse who came to me at that point was very nice and attentive.  After a few short minutes, I was taken from the recovery room to the room I had been in originally.

Apparently I’d been in the OR for about two hours and in the recovery room for about two hours.

To be honest, from this point on, I felt disappointed in the care.  I felt like they were rushing to get me out of there.  I didn’t feel ready.  I was still feeling very groggy and tired.  The nurse assigned to me at this point was definitely not as compassionate or attentive as the others had been.  She gave me discharge instructions while I was not yet very alert.  I was brought something to drink and some crackers.  I had NO interest in eating.

Because the anesthesiologist had told me prior to surgery that I could get pain meds afterwards and that I shouldn’t hesitate if I felt the need, I did realize I was in discomfort and I asked.  (I had not been asked about my level of pain by the nurse.)  The surgeon had prescribed Dilaudid, and so I was given my first ever heavy-duty drug.  (I don’t take any prescription medicines.  I usually stay away from them.)

The nurse removed my IV and I was told to get dressed.  My friend returned to sit with me.  Shortly thereafter he was instructed to go get the car.  Right about when they brought me a wheelchair so I could be discharged, I developed extreme shivering and chattering of the teeth.  I asked if this was normal and was told it was probably a side effect of the anesthesia.  It was alarming to me, but no one else seemed concerned.

Before being wheeled to the car I said I better go to the restroom, as it was at least a 45-minute drive to my house.  The nurse pointed the restroom out to me but did not accompany me.  I thought that was unwise on their part.  I did not feel that steady on my feet.  They needed to wheel me out but could not take the time to be sure I could walk safely before sending me off to the bathroom?  I thought they were nuts.  I was disappointed in them.

I returned to the wheelchair.  My teeth continued to chatter all the way down to the car and for the next several minutes.  On the drive home, my friend was alarmed by how cold I felt.  It sure would have been nice to have someone be a bit more reassuring.  It sure would have been nice to have someone say, ‘This is perfectly normal.  It will pass.  You don’t have to worry.’  It would have been nice to have someone say, ‘If you have any questions or concerns, please call.  Don’t forget to take it easy and rest well.  Best wishes to you.’

I slept in the car.  We stopped at a drug store to get more pain meds, an expense I neglected to anticipate.  Fortunately there is a generic substitute – hydromorphone.  By 4:00 I was home and went immediately to bed and fell immediately to sleep.  By about 6pm, I was awake enough to very briefly and groggily call my parents and one other friend.  I took another dose of the medication, applied ice packs and fell back asleep for another three hours or so.  I realized my sister had called and I briefly called her to tell her my status.  Then I slept for the rest of the night – zonked out, only waking to go to the bathroom and take my third dose of pain medicine.

I was wearing a surgical bra, which they’d apparently placed on me after the surgery.  It’s a bit like a combo sports bra/corset/straight jacket.  It provides support, but it also like being constantly smushed in multiple directions – not as bad as a mammogram, but definitely not pleasant.  It was NOT comfortable to wear while lying in bed.  If I hadn’t had the hydromorphone, I would have been much more uncomfortable.  But that drug basically knocked me out.  As soon as I would lie back on the bed, I would be in another zone.

By 9:00 the next morning, I felt really good.  I was surprised how good I felt.  It is miraculous how much rest can help!  I’m sure the ice packs helped as well.  I was still uncomfortable, but I wasn’t in serious pain.   It also really helped to have a companion with me, to have someone caring in such a tangible physical way. It was also a good distraction.

I spent the next day sitting outside on a rocker, drinking fluids (including pineapple juice, which has bromelain and works to reduce swelling), making a couple calls when I felt like it, napping (taking one more dose of medication), icing my breasts, and – because it was such a stunning day, lying outside on a blanket under the trees.  It was a wonderful day, actually.  By 4:00, I was ready for my first meal.  We made a wonderful salad – with lots of veggies, hard-boiled free range eggs, and toasted almonds, and I had some leftover fried zucchini sticks.  (Yeah, I know that wasn’t the healthiest of choices, but at least it was vegetarian.)

I do feel better each day, physically, and I am also definitely feeling a bit withdrawn and lackluster.  I could probably use some more distraction.  Does anyone want to take me out to a movie or for lunch or something???

And there you have it.  You are now officially updated.  Tomorrow hopefully I will hear from the doctor.  I will keep you posted.

May you be blessed.

The D Word

19 Aug

Navigating the Bumpy Spots – especially the D word

August 15, 17, 19 2011

I have been noticing long blocks of time during which I feel calm, serene, even joyful.  I am grateful for these times.  They are such a gift.  I am aware that sometimes they come unbidden, like a breeze or a ray of sunshine, but other times I have to work a little harder to get there.  Once in a while, anxiety gets the better of me and I have to pull out several spiritual, emotional, and physical tools to shift the energy.  As I remember (or am reminded, as the case may be!) of these tools – ie, walking or other exercise, meditation, lying on the earth or under the trees, talking with friends, a good meal, emotional releasing via sound or sobs, and use one or several of them, the length of time I stew in my worries and fears diminishes.

In the last week I have had two episodes of anxiety.  The first lasted longer and took more effort (grace?) to resolve.  The more recent incidence – yesterday morning, was only indirectly related to the cancer, and shifted after several hours.

I share this simply so that if you ever find yourself in a situation similar to mine – facing an illness that is potentially life-threatening, you will realize you are not alone in feeling fear, worry, anxiety, or a lack of clarity.  Please realize that getting stuck in the morass is optional.  There is hope for climbing out of the stuckness, if we have the will to emerge.

I want to share the root cause of last week’s anxiety.

As I have reviewed my dreams of the past year, I have noticed: 1) several dreams which seemed to indicate multiple sites of cancer, 2) several “attack” dreams – dreams of an animal biting me or someone else, or one animal attacking another animal, and 3) multiple “death dreams” – dreams of my own death, or of people I know, or of people I don’t consciously know in waking life, or the death of animals.

One friend – a spiritual friend with whom I have often shared dreams in the past – upon hearing about all these dreams, encouraged me to “think positive.”  She may not have used those exact words, but that’s the message I got.  That was not helpful.  I truly believe dreams come to us for a reason.  Dream teacher and author Jeremy Taylor teaches that ALL dreams come for the purpose of health and healing.  Furthermore, he teaches that death dreams are ALWAYS about transformation and rebirth.  What concerned me was that I wasn’t just dreaming of my own death (twice) but also the death of several other relatives, friends, and people I didn’t consciously know.  What did it all mean?

Some dreams do not need a lot of deciphering.  They are gifts and their meaning is quite clear.  There is a beautiful book called Healing Dreams, by Mark Barash.  It is filled to the brim with extraordinary dreams of beauty and healing.  (I once checked out the book from the local library and had so many post-its marking the pages that I ended up buying a new copy of the book and donating it to the library so I could keep the one I had already earmarked over and over and over again.)

For other dreams, however, we may need the support of other dreamers or therapists to explore the many layers of meaning.  Robert Moss is someone who does this.  He is a prolific author on the subject of dreams and leads workshops around the world during which dreamers can share their significant dreams and work with them in a sacred context.

We are so afraid of death in this culture.  Even if we are spiritual beings, when death or the possibility of death arrives, the fear in us arises.  It seems to be a rather inescapable phenomenon.  Death is obviously something we all have to face at some point.

Likewise, we are afraid to talk about death.   It is as if we are afraid that if we talk about it, it will stalk us sooner or faster.  I have worked in the hospice field for five years.  I know the reticence people have in talking about death.  Even me!  And I was supposed to be the one initiating the conversation!

I was determined to work through these dreams.  I had eventually realized that keeping these fears to myself was not serving me.  It was only escalating my anxiety.  I needed to share some of these dreams with others.  Since my first friend wasn’t particularly helpful (I think she was afraid for me,) I chose to talk with my friend Betsy.

Betsy and I exchange Unergi body/mind psychotherapy sessions. (Unergi is a powerful form of body/mind therapy beautifully taught by psychotherapist Ute Arnold.)  Betsy and I both find the sessions extraordinarily helpful.  This past Saturday, I came to Betsy with the express purpose of working on these “death dreams.”  I’d like to share with you the essence of that session.  It was a powerful one.

The two dreams that were scariest for me, not surprisingly, were about my own death.  The first happened exactly one month ago today – July 19, 2011.

I am at a workplace of some kind.  There is a message board on the wall.  The first message says “Uptown proposals.”  The second message says “Cindy Greb is…” (I can’t quite see the next part.  I have to move so I can see around some obstacle to read it.) “…deceased.”  I can’t believe it, but that’s what the message says.

That was not a fun message to read.

The other dream was slightly more symbolic, but certainly seemed to be about me.  This one occurred on April 10, 2011 – one and a half months prior to the mammogram and ultrasound that showed “suspicious abnormalities.”

There are two brothers and two sisters and they are waiting for the one sibling to die.  She hears something outside and opens the door to investigate.  She is “immediately attacked by a wolf.  The death is quick and immediate.”

I have two brothers and two sisters.

This is the dream I chose to focus on during the session with Betsy.  It is especially interesting because just a couple weeks later I end up having another dream in which a father introduces his daughter as a “wolf survivor.”

I decide to have a dialogue with the wolf.

Me: Wolf, that was so unfair of you.  You didn’t give me a chance to fight or defend myself.  You just attacked immediately before I even knew what was going on.

Wolf: Well, I was hungry and you were there.  It wasn’t anything personal.  And besides, that’s not exactly true.  You heard a noise and then you just opened the door and walked outside.  You could have looked out the window first.  You could have cracked the door and peeked before stepping out into the open.

Me: (surprised) You’re right, Wolf!  You’re absolutely right.  I wasn’t cautious enough.

There then ensued a period of time during which I sat with my feelings about the word “caution” – which I don’t particularly like because it feels mousy and unadventurous.  But then when I used the word “careful” – ie, “full of care,” the energy was completely different.  I needed to be more “full of care.”  I needed to be more aware.  It didn’t serve me to walk through life glibly with no awareness.

I remembered reading several stories of people being trained by shamans or gurus or elders.  They were taught to be more aware of their surroundings.  In one of these stories, an apprentice was told to sit in a field and look only straight ahead.  He was not to move, he was not to turn his head.  At the end of the day he was to report on what was going on around him.  The exercise taught him to rely on all his senses – his ears, his peripheral vision, his instincts, the sense of smell, that sixth sense that we tend to disregard in our scientific, “prove it to me,” “I-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it”  world.

This kind of awareness about what is going on around me is important.  For instance, it’s important to notice if the fields have been sprayed with Roundup, so I can make choices about my drinking water or do something to help detoxify my body.  Or I can be aware of dreams that seem to caution me about my health (and perhaps choose to schedule a mammogram, for instance!)  Or I need to be aware of what is going on around me as I drive so that I can protect myself or my passengers from possible harm coming  from the sides or from behind.

Eventually, as the therapy session continued, I remembered one significant thing:  Wolf  is one of my allies.  Wolf, sometimes in the form of three black wolves, has appeared to me many times over the years in my dreams.  Several of these dreams were very powerful.  Clearly wolf is one of my animal spirit guides.  So if he attacked me and killed me, perhaps it wasn’t a malicious thing.  Maybe there was a reason.

Then I remembered another thing.  In shamanic traditions, there is a ritual in which a death of the apprentice occurs  in a non-physical realm.  There is also another ritual in which there is a symbolic death/burial (ie, lying for one night in an open grave – that often the initiate himself digs.)  Perhaps this was one of those times.  Perhaps I had been attacked/killed/eaten so that I could be reborn into a new being.  Often indigenous cultures use this ritual death so that the initiate can surrender an old way of being which no longer serves.  Perhaps this symbolic death, this dream death, is the beginning of a transformation for me.

Then I had my “Aha!” moment.  I realized that not only is Wolf my ally, but so is Cancer!  And for that matter, so is Death.  Cancer forces us to WAKE UP!!!   Cancer forces us to look at our life from a larger perspective.  Cancer is our opportunity to ask, “What can I be doing differently?  What changes can I make in my life to be more fully alive?  What can I do, not only to live longer, but to live more happily, more joyfully?  What is left undone that I want to get done?  Am I living my purpose?  Am I being authentic?”  NOW is the time!  NOW is the time!!!!

I realized also that Death is an ally because it limits our time on the planet.  If we lived forever in this human form, we would have no incentive to change or grow because time would be infinite.  Death, when it comes knocking, teaches that time is short and there is no time to waste.  We must love, learn, grow, be kind, and be true to ourselves NOW.

Needless to say, after this session, I felt much more peaceful about my dreams and my situation.  Onward!!!

Thank you for reading these thoughts.

May you be richly blessed.


The Results (so far)

14 Aug

The Breast Blog #11

The Results.

August 10, 2011 and August 14, 2011

The long wait is over and the results are now in.  And the winner is….

Just kidding.   I don’t like to categorize things as “winning” or “losing.”  There is a glass half-full and a glass half-empty way of looking at everything.  The pathology results are: they did find ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) in my right breast.  The good news is this is the earliest stage of breast cancer and is highly treatable.

My gut reaction upon hearing the news was, surprisingly, that I was not surprised.  I actually found myself  a little calm and definitely relieved to finally have a diagnosis.  The surgeon herself called me.  I suspect she’s used to people being a little more teary.

Of course we don’t yet know about the left breast.  But now that I have a cancer diagnosis, apparently there is a program that will pay for me to have an MRI so that we can have a better idea of what we’re dealing with.  And I am happy to report that my doctor went out of her way to squeeze me in for an appointment the next day (during her lunchtime!) so that I could ask the myriad questions I have about the diagnosis and we could decide what to do.

The day I got the news was an exquisitely beautiful day weather-wise, and I found myself feeling quite happy.  And the following day, the day of my doctor appointment, was also really beautiful.  I truly enjoyed my appointment with her.  After she used an ultrasound to check the placement of the titanium marker placed within my breast during the stereotactic biopsy, we went into her office to talk about the diagnosis and the upcoming surgery next Monday (August 22nd) for the second biopsy (on the left breast) and a lumpectomy (on the right.)  She has a beautiful peaceful office and we sat side by side at a round table.  I had the opportunity to ask the 25 questions I had (yes, literally 25) and we went through them pretty quickly.  (However, even though I wrote my questions down, I still forgot one or two.  A friend had suggested bringing a tape recorder and I do concur that that is a very good idea.)  Then she gave me one of her books that she authored (The Healing Consciousness: A Doctor’s Journey to Healing,) a rose crystal heart with a pouch, and a big hug.  I really do like this woman.  How many doctors give their patients hugs, I ask you.  My kind of doctor.  (And she’s a top notch, well-known surgeon as well.  Dr. Beth DuPree’s skin-sparing mastectomies with plastic surgeon Robert Skalicky, D.O. were featured live on the Internet in October 1999.)

Those of you who were waiting to hear the news of my biopsy, are no doubt aware that I waited several days to post this news.  I allowed myself time to sit with it and digest it.

When I got the news, at first I did a flurry of research on DCIS.  But then I realized I needed to get off the laptop and sit outside and “be” a bit.  I also was feeling called to review my dreams again, because they give me a lot of guidance and information.  I cancelled two appointments I had later that day and truly gave myself some space.  I did not answer most calls or text messages.  I sat out on my porch and enjoyed the breezes, the wind chimes, the sun and the puffy clouds.  In the evening, I laid out on my massage table, played healing music, and invited angels and guides to be with me. I think all this helped me to retain a feeling of calmness.

Later the next day, after the doctor appointment, I swam for the first time since the biopsy.  I returned the calls of a few very dear friends.  But then I began to once again do research, and the news about the lumpectomy began to sink in.  My breasts as I had come to know them, were about to change.  My body was going to be operated on.  I was going to get an MRI.  I was going to be lying down in a tunnel while loud noises whirred around me.  I was going to get my first ever chest x-ray (and I am nervous about radiation.)  I was going to get anesthesia for the first time.  I was going to have scalpels cut into my tender breast tissue.  I was going to get more information about whether or not there were other spots of cancer.  I had to decide whether or not I was going to get radiation therapy along with the lumpectomy.  My calmness began to evaporate as all this began to sink in and I began to stress about the details.  An email from a friend (a cancer survivor) said, “I do get the sense to remind you to ‘breathe’. With so much going on during your days and nights I can imagine a contraction building in your chest…(no surprise..:)…and your gut… (no surprise..;)”

Thank you, Joyce.  Somehow I was unaware that I’d forgotten to breathe and that I was indeed getting stressed and anxious.  I know all these spiritual and healing tools and techniques – breathing, prayer, meditation, toning, tai chi, walking, journeying, art, etc. – and yet when I am in the midst of my fear, I can’t seem to focus on any of these tools!  Apparently I needed a friend to remind me to breathe.  So I breathed, and the next day I asked a friend to go to the shore with me.  Being in the water, bobbing in the gentle ocean, feeling the support and love of all that healing salty water, feeling the sweet sun upon me, lying on the sand… it was JUST what I needed.

The day after that was filled with good stuff.  Another good friend had very, very generously offered me a few acupuncture sessions, gratis.  (Bless you, Andie.)[1]  And while lying on the table with lots of very fine needles tucked gently into my skin, touching just the right areas to help adjust the flow of energy in my body, I had my first big emotional release since the diagnosis.  I didn’t indulge in full-blown wailing since my friend was right outside the door.  (Interesting how I still have this “protective” habit.  I did not want to distress her, but actually I didn’t want her coming in to offer comfort either.)  My body was wracked with silent sobs and one little keen escaped my lips.  I needed that emotional release, I know I did.  And I seemed to be experiencing other releases as well as my legs continued to “jump” while I was lying there resting.  (Oftentimes these “jumps” and jolts and mini-spasms happen when I am lying on my back receiving any kind of healing ministrations.)

After that I bought a couple sports bras.  I was told I would need them for support post-surgery.  Then I headed over to my friend Mel’s.  She’s another cancer survivor and a long-time dear friend.  Her path through cancer was a spiritual adventure and she emerged not only physically healthier, but more confident than I’ve ever seen her.  I was meeting with her so she could offer some insights to my dreams and also help coach me with regard to my diet.  (I’d already begun making big changes.  After the diagnosis, I began a vegetarian diet and I cut out all junk food.)

Then after my time with Mel, I went home to begin cooking a healthy meal for me and my friend, Cindee.  (Brown rice with chlorella, tofu sautéed with turmeric, garlic and an organic non-salt seasoning, and black beans over a bed of fresh arugula; homemade coleslaw; and local corn on the cob.)  We ate together, talked, howled at the rising full moon, and had the delicious pleasure of watching a movie outside, in the yard, moon shining brightly, with a bowl of home-popped and seasoned popcorn and the company of my housemate and his lady friend and her son.  I noticed one remaining lone firefly flickering off and on in front of the screen.

I had two full and delightful days filled with friends and Nature.  It was good for me to stop isolating and to get away from my obsessive thoughts.  I need to remember this balance.  Time alone is critically important.  And time with friends is essential, too.  Time in my home is cozy, and time “out in the world” helps shift my energy so I don’t become too despondent.  Balance, balance, balance.

Okay, now it’s time to return to the educational portion of this blog.

So… “Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)

is the most common type of non-invasive breast cancer. Ductal means that the cancer starts inside the milk ducts, carcinoma refers to any cancer that begins in the skin or other tissues (including breast tissue) that cover or line the internal organs, and in situ means “in its original place.” DCIS is called “non-invasive” because it hasn’t spread beyond the milk duct into any normal surrounding breast tissue. DCIS isn’t life-threatening, but having DCIS can increase the risk of developing an invasive breast cancer later on.

When you have had DCIS, you are at higher risk for the cancer coming back or for developing a new breast cancer than a person who has never had breast cancer before. Most recurrences happen within the 5 to 10 years after initial diagnosis. The chances of a recurrence are under 30%.

Women who have breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy) for DCIS without radiation therapy have about a 25% to 30% chance of having a recurrence at some point in the future. Including radiation therapy in the treatment plan after surgery drops the risk of recurrence to about 15%. If breast cancer does come back after earlier DCIS treatment, the recurrence is non-invasive (DCIS again) about half the time and invasive about half the time. (DCIS itself is NOT invasive.)

According to the American Cancer Society, about 60,000 cases of DCIS are diagnosed in the United States each year, accounting for about 1 out of every 5 new breast cancer cases.”

Pathology Report

  1. I discovered that I had had an “8 gauge mammotome stereotactic biopsy.”

A breast biopsy using the Mammotome® Biopsy System can help a doctor make a highly accurate breast cancer diagnosis without the need for open breast biopsy surgery. Through the use of computer imaging (x-ray, ultrasound, and MRI), a breast abnormality can be clearly identified and mapped, even in its earliest stages. Digital imaging enables a physician to guide the Mammotome probe to gently collect tissue samples through one small ¼-inch incision.

With the Mammotome Biopsy System, a breast biopsy can be performed in an outpatient setting or a doctor’s office under local anesthesia. A doctor can make a precise analysis with minimal pain, scarring and recovery time. The entire procedure generally takes less than an hour, and patients can return to their normal daily activities immediately afterward.  (Cindy’s note: There were, in fact, some restrictions.  No lifting or massaging or vacuuming for 2-3 days and no swimming for a week.)

  1. They discovered “Ductal carcinoma in-situ with lobular extension.”

Well, I’m trying to figure out what that “lobular extension” part means, but so far all sites are too technical for this layperson.  It sounds to me like it is starting to extend out into surrounding tissue, but then it wouldn’t be in-situ.  So I’m confused.  I will have to add this to the list of questions to ask my doctor.

  1. The “architectural pattern” is “comedo, solid.”

“Comedo type DCIS (also referred to as Comedocarcinoma) tends to be more aggressive than the non-comedo types of DCIS.  Pathologists are able to easily distinguish between comedo type DCIS and other non-comedo types when examining the cells under a microscope because comedo type DCIS tends to plug the center of the breast ducts with necrosis (dead cells).  When necrosis is associated with cancer, it often means that the cancer is able to grow quickly.  Necrosis is often seen with microcalcifications (tiny calcium deposits that can indicate cancer).”

  1. “Nuclear grade II-III”

Nuclear grade refers to the size and shape of the nucleus in tumor cells and the percentage of tumor cells that are dividing….  Based on the microscopic appearance of cancer cells, pathologists commonly describe tumor grade by four degrees of severity: Grades 1, 2, 3, and 4. The cells of Grade 1 tumors resemble normal cells, and tend to grow and multiply slowly. Grade 1 tumors are generally considered the least aggressive in behavior.  Conversely, the cells of Grade 3 or Grade 4 tumors do not look like normal cells of the same type. Grade 3 and 4 tumors tend to grow rapidly and spread faster than tumors with a lower grade.”

  1. “Necrosis: present, central”

See #3 above.

  1. “Tumor size (aggregate): 0.55 cm”

This is considered relatively small.

  1. “Tumor is present in four out of sixteen submitted tissue cores.”

I assume this is not bad.

  1. At the time of my doctor appointment, they had not yet determined “hormone receptor” status.

“Estrogen and Progesterone receptor status tests will show whether or not one or both of those hormones fuel your tumor. Cancer that is hormone-sensitive is slightly slower growing and has a better chance of responding to hormone-suppression treatment, than cancer that is hormone receptor negative. Hormone-negative cancer will respond to other kinds of treatment, and hormone-suppression may not be needed.”

  1. The pathology report also did not reveal HER2 status.

“HER2, which is also called HER2/neu, and HER-2, is the acronym for human epidermal growth factor receptor 2. Knowing your HER2 status is an important part of your diagnosis.  HER2 is a gene that sends control signals to your cells, telling them to grow, divide, and make repairs. A healthy breast cell has 2 copies of the HER2 gene. Some kinds of breast cancer get started when a breast cell has more than 2 copies of that gene, and those copies start over-producing the HER2 protein. As a result, the affected cells grow and divide much too quickly.”

If HR2 status is positive, there is a better overall outcome as the cancer may respond well to hormonal therapy.

So folks, the upshot as I understand it is that I have Stage 0 cancer, which means it is highly treatable, and if treated properly, the five-year survival rate is 100%.  According to my surgeon, the information received from Pathology thus far (using the Van Nays Prognostic Index) shows that I have 6.5 – 8 (based on a 1-12 scale) which reflects a medium chance of a faster-growing, slightly more aggressive DCIS and that the recommendation is generally a lumpectomy plus radiation therapy, as opposed to only a lumpectomy (lower on the index) or a complete mastectomy (9-12 on the index.)

On Tuesday I receive my first MRI, a chest x-ray (unfortunately, mandatory so that they can be sure ahead of time there are no serious heart or lung problems,) and pre-testing (blood draws/testing) for the surgery.

“What is a Breast MRI?
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a noninvasive imaging technique that uses no compression, x-rays, or radiation. An MRI creates a detailed picture of the internal architecture of your breast tissue. Most MRI machines produce a digital image, which a radiologist can examine on a computer, or print out for study. This type of image can be done with or without the use of contrast agent.

Why Are Breast MRIs Used As Part of a Diagnostic Workup?
You’ve already had a mammogram, and perhaps an ultrasound and a biopsy. A breast MRI might also be done for some patients, to get more information about your cancer, or to see if tumors are responding to treatment. Mammograms are much less expensive than MRIs, and are good at detecting DCIS as well as calcifications. Breast MRI can image both breasts at once, and works well even with dense breast tissue. It is good at finding invasive breast cancer, imaging around breast implants, and detecting possible spread of cancer beyond the primary tumor. A breast MRI is also effective at finding unsuspected cancer in the other breast, which would allow for early treatment of both tumor sites at once. For women at high risk of breast cancer, an MRI would be a good way to fully screen the breasts and axilla.”

I am hoping and praying for a clear MRI and a benign condition in my left breast.   I am praying that the HER2 and hormone receptor statuses are optimal.   If such is not the case, I’m sure I will be strongly encouraged to get radiation therapy, and/or drugs (to address the hormone receptor issue), and/or a mastectomy.

I desperately want to avoid a mastectomy, if at all possible.  What I am realizing is that IF there is more going on than is currently indicated, I probably need to ask the hospital to postpone the surgery a week or so, so that I have the time to come to a place of peace about my treatment options and make the right decisions for me.

I did read somewhere the following:

“Note: Though DCIS is a serious condition requiring careful attention, it is not an emergency medical situation. Women have a sufficient period of time to educate themselves and weigh all possible treatment and reconstructive options before any decisions need to be made. Women should maintain an open dialogue with their physicians to best understand the disease and the variety of treatment options.”  (I’m sorry but I forgot to write down the website.)

I have to remember that I HAVE THE RIGHT to make my own choices.  And this takes time.  I will, of course, educate myself as much as possible, ask questions of doctors and former breast cancer patients, and look at my dreams.  I will sit in silence and take walks and play music and give myself a bit of time to receive some divine guidance.  These are important decisions and not to be rushed into.

If you feel inclined, I’d be grateful for a “blessing of my breasts.”  And feel free to send some loving, healing energy my way.  And, of course, to all the dear people on this planet struggling with whatever are their particular issues.

I am aware that this is a growth opportunity for me.  I hope to change and grow and evolve throughout this process.   I hope to become more healthy – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  If I succeed in that, then “it’s all good.”

May you be well!

Peace be with you.


[1] Andrea Deardorff, Inner Garden Acupuncture.  (I recommend her highly.  And please don’t ask for any free sessions!!!)

Mini Update

9 Aug

The Breast Blog #10

August 9, 2011

Mini update.

This is a follow-up regarding the recent biopsy.  No, I still don’t have word.  It’s been six days, or three-and-a-half business days.

What I am aware of is continuing discomfort in the right breast.  I am feeling the after-effects of the procedure.  I am realizing that my poor little breast suffered trauma and it may take some time to heal from that.

It’s interesting that I wasn’t feeling much physical pain for the last two months.  But now I do – from the finding-out  part, as opposed to the symptoms themselves.  I  ask myself, ‘Was the procedure really necessary?’  And my reluctant answer is, ‘Yes.  I think I needed it so I can know once and for all if anything is going on that needs to be taken care of.’  To not have had this procedure would have left me wondering and worrying for a long time.  But to wonder and worry for a short time but then find out what’s going on and deal with it, that makes sense.

My friend Julia was so right.  This is the worst part.  This freaking waiting.  Once I know, I can deal with it.  I know I can.

If I feel discomfort now, I find myself rather scared thinking about recovering from the trauma of actual surgery.  And I also realize how very little I know about the upcoming procedure.  And once again I will have to summon up the courage to be more assertive and ASK.  Because for some reason, the doctor did not schedule time to meet with me after this first biopsy and before the surgery.  And as I am basically a hospital novice (with regard to personal experience,) and certainly a novice with any kind of surgery, and most certainly a novice with this particular kind of surgery, I need to ask more questions.  What exactly will you be doing with/to my left breast?  What instruments will you be using?  Are you extracting the entire milk duct?  How long is a milk duct?  How wide?  Will you remove any tissue from around the milk duct?  And is the nodule in fact within the duct?  What will be the repercussions?  Will I have scarring – internally or externally?  Will we somehow “fill in” the space that will open as a result of removing the duct?  How will the body heal?  How can we accelerate and support the healing?  Will I lose any sensation in my breast or nipple?

I don’t know any of these answers!  From my online research, it sounds like there will not be an external scar, but there may be a depression in the breast.  It sounds like it is possible to lose sensation in the nipple, which may or may not be temporary.

I am sad to think that my body will look and feel different after this surgery.  It helps somewhat to do what my social worker friend says, “Think of it as a battle scar.”  One author – I forget who – says that if Americans went around without shirts on, we would see that the most common scars among men are from open-heart surgery.  And the most common scars among women are from mastectomies.

I am one of many, many, many women engaged in a battle to save my breasts (or life, as the case may be.)  Hopefully this blog will help you all to save yours as well.

Stereotactic Biopsy

4 Aug

The Breast Blog #9

Stereotactic Biopsy

August 4,  2011

by Cynthia Greb

So, friends, today is the day after the first biopsy.

Fortunately, thank goodness, I woke up relatively free of the pain I felt yesterday.  I didn’t expect it to hurt so much!  Is it strange that I didn’t expect it to hurt?  I guess I really am naïve in ways.

“What to Expect During a Stereotactic Biopsy:

Your breast will be given a local anesthetic, so you should not feel anything other than some pressure.

Your breast is numbed, and you are positioned for stereotactic mammography. Some compression is used to keep your breast still. Several pairs of images are taken. A small cut is made in your breast skin, so the needle can enter your breast. Your doctor or radiologist uses the image-guided needle to target the breast abnormality. More images are taken to confirm that the needle is in the right place. Using suction or special blades, fluid or tissue is collected for examination. If you’re having a surgical biopsy, a wire will be placed at the location and depth of the tumor to guide your surgeon.”

Hmmm.  Apparently it wasn’t supposed to hurt.  I was given a shot of lidocaine (or something to that effect,) but maybe they didn’t wait long enough afterwards, or maybe it wasn’t enough, or maybe it wasn’t in the right place.

It hurt like a son of a gun.  If I had been allowed to move, I know I would have jumped and called out, “That hurt!”  It’s certainly what I was thinking.  I didn’t say anything because 1) I knew it was really important not to move, and 2) I figured the thing was already in and that was probably the worst part.

The table I was on was not designed terribly well, in my humble opinion.  I thought it might have been more like a massage table, with a cradle for your head.  Instead I had to turn my head to the side, and turning to the left was more comfortable for me.  The doctor and two technicians were on my right,  so they were unable to see my facial expressions.  If they had, I’m sure they would have been asking more “Are you all right?” types of questions.  (They did ask a couple times, but I just kind of muttered “yeah.”  It seemed better than bursting into tears.)

After the procedure was over and I got up off the table, my emotions kind of caught up with me.  There were two technicians/staff members there.  They were extremely kind and concerned.  I explained through my tears, “I didn’t expect it to hurt.”  They seemed kind of upset.  They said it wasn’t supposed to hurt; that they know this is hard enough and they want it to be as painless as possible.

By the way, if you ever get this procedure done and you are the squeamish type, I would strongly suggest you ask beforehand that they throw away all bloodied gauze pads, etc. and hide the specimen before they ask you to sit up.  It was rather disconcerting to see evidence of my blood scattered around.  Besides the gauze pads, there was something on the counter that looked like a round disk container.  It had inside what I can only assume was the bloodied tissue removed from my breast.  Those who don’t do well with the sight of blood could easily have fainted about then, is my guess.

Here is another description of the procedure:

“The breast is compressed and held in position throughout the procedure.  A local anesthetic will be injected into the breast to numb it.  Several stereotactic pairs of x-ray images are taken.  A very small nick is made in the skin at the site where the biopsy needle is to be inserted.  The radiologist then inserts the needle and advances it to the location of the abnormality using the x-ray and computer generated coordinates. X-ray images are again obtained to confirm that the needle tip is actually within the lesion.

Tissue samples are then removed using one of two methods.

  • In a core needle biopsy, the automated mechanism is activated, moving the needle forward and filling the needle trough, or shallow receptacle, with ‘cores’ of breast tissue. The outer sheath instantly moves forward to cut the tissue and keep it in the trough. This process is repeated three to six times.
  • With a vacuum-assisted device (VAD), vacuum pressure is used to pull tissue from the breast through the needle into the sampling chamber. Without withdrawing and reinserting the needle, it rotates positions and collects additional samples. Typically, eight to 10 samples of tissue are collected from around the lesion.

After the sampling, the needle will be removed.  A final set of images will be taken.  A small marker may be placed at the site so that it can be located in the future if necessary.

Once the biopsy is complete, pressure will be applied to stop any bleeding and the opening in the skin is covered with a dressing. No sutures are needed. A mammogram may be performed to confirm that the marker is in the proper position. This procedure is usually completed within an hour.”

The weird thing is, I don’t even know for sure which procedure was used.  The thing, whether needle or VAD, was only inserted once.  I did find that out from the technicians beforehand.  Once again, communication could have been better.  Here I am an educated, somewhat intelligent, not-terribly-shy woman, and apparently once again either I didn’t ask the right questions or the clinicians didn’t give me enough (in my opinion) information.  This is looking to be a pattern.  What is this about?  I guess I need to learn how to communicate more clearly myself.  I need to start telling these people that the more information I have, the better.  I am not liking this finding-things-out-after-the-fact stuff.

Oh, and by the way, “inserting the needle” is quite a euphemistic way of describing it.  It felt rather like a machine punched something through the skin.  That’s why it hurt.  It didn’t feel like a fine needle; it felt more like the thing that punches holes in your ears when you get them pierced, but much bigger and scarier and in a very tender place.

Here is one more site:

“Vacuum-assisted core biopsy

The Mammotome® is one type of vacuum-assisted core biopsy (VACB). For this procedure the skin is numbed and a small cut (about ¼ inch) is made. A hollow probe is put in through the cut and into the abnormal area of breast tissue. A cylinder of tissue is then pulled into the probe through a hole in its side, and a rotating knife inside the probe cuts the tissue sample from the rest of the breast.”

I confess that when I read this a day or so prior to the biopsy, I couldn’t quite deal with it.  Instead I quickly focused on the other method thinking surely it’s THIS one, not the scary rotating knife.  Ugh.  Just thinking about it is scary.  (Huh.  I wonder if these procedures explain why I’ve had several knife dreams in recent years.)

Now you may be thinking, ‘Cindy, if it’s too scary, maybe you really don’t want more information beforehand.’  But I do.  If I had known more exactly what was going to happen, I could have prepared my body and mind for it better.  And I could possibly have asked more questions about the lidocaine – or whatever it was they used to supposedly (but unsuccessfully) numb me.

I’m beginning to understand why my one friend who had this procedure took a heavy dose of Xanax beforehand.

Unlike with my primary care physician, Dr. William Kracht (he’s excellent), I haven’t been invited to call in if I have questions or concerns.  I mean, yes, if I’m bleeding or in acute pain today, I’m supposed to call.  But I guess it’s my job to communicate that 1) I want as much information as possible, and 2) the procedure freakin’ hurt!  I could wait until the doctor calls with my results in 3-5 days, or I could send an e-mail to the office.  I think I’ll do the latter, because depending on what the results are, I may forget all about addressing this matter.

So, friends, that’s how I feel about the procedure.  How am I feeling otherwise?  I confess, this normally optimistic person is not feeling so optimistic today.  Why?

  1. The technicians didn’t know I was scheduled for yet a second biopsy.  I thought I caught a glimpse of surprise/concern.  I guess that’s more unusual – to have two biopsies, one on each breast.  Double cause for concern, I guess.
  2. I was able to obtain the x-rays from my 2006 mammograms and I now have them in my possession.  Somehow or other, just because of the crazy timing of my getting these films (they arrived at the doctor’s office only a couple days ago) and the fact that I’ve changed doctors twice, etc., I didn’t really get to talk to my doctor about how these films compared to the mammograms taken in June.  But now I have a CD of the June mammos and ultrasound as well.  So this morn I looked at everything. Granted, I’m a complete novice at this, but I could see a big change between the picture of my right breast five years ago, and the picture of it two months ago.  Sigh….

Now is a good time to say my affirmations I guess, eh?  I don’t especially feel like it, I confess, but I did just reread something I’d written recently.

Each day I look at ways I can change and grow.  I ask myself, “How can I be a better person?  What do I need to do differently to be the most vibrantly healthy and alive person I can be?”  Each day I take more steps in the direction of greater good, greater vitality, greater physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.  Each day I embody that which I wish to become.  Each day I live in such a way that, when the time comes, I can let go knowing I have done my best to be and do all that I am meant to be and do.

Okay.  It was important for me to reread that.  And I just read it out loud, too.  (I’m realizing I think I need a shorter version that I can say, like a mantra, all day long.  I’ll work on that.)

So what steps can I take today?  I could:

  1. Go outside and meditate for a while.
  2. Make myself a good, healthy meal.
  3. Write an email and send it to the doctor’s office.
  4. Give some TLC to my breasts.  One friend advised aloe as a safeguard against the radiation I received yesterday.  Another advised frankincense and lavender essential oils – both very healing essences. (Thank you, Pam, for gifting them to me.)
  5. Take a bath.  Bunn’s health food store shared that a customer fighting cancer takes  baths using ½ cup sea salt and ½ cup baking soda.  I KNOW salt water/the ocean is very healing and I’m sure Epsom salts would work well, too.  I’ve been getting messages to detoxify my body, and this is one way I can do that.
  6. Take my just-acquired Chlorella tablets, again, recommended at the health food store to help the body detoxify.* (Thank you, Mike, for buying them for me.  And WOW, I just read up a bit about chlorella and am eager to try it.  See below.)
  7. Drink some nettle tea.**  My friend, Basta, harvested her stinging nettles for me a couple months ago and I have dried them.  (To make a tea, fill a jar half full of nettles then add some boiled water to fill the jar.  Let steep, then drink.)  See below for the traditional medicinal benefits of nettles.

* Chlorella.

  • Did you know that a phytochemical found in chlorella can actually rebuild nerve damage in the brain and nervous system? That’s why chlorella is being used in the recovery of patients with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Were you aware that both chlorella and spirulina can actually reverse cancer in the human body? Both of these superfoods have been clinically shown to demonstrate stunning preventive and curative properties when it comes to all sorts of cancers.
  • And finally, did you know that these superfoods also contain a high content of essential fatty acids such as GLA that are routinely missing from the diets of most Americans and yet are critical for healthy brain function?
  • One group of patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation actually quadrupled their two-year survival rates by taking a single dose of chlorella!
  • One ingredient found in spirulina protects against arthritis, multiple sclerosis, asthma, and cardiovascular disease — all at the same time!
  • These two superfoods (chlorella and spirulina) can protect you from pesticides, PCBs, and other environmental toxins that are simply unavoidable in today’s food supply.

** Nettles.

  • For over two centuries, nettles have been used for medicinal purposes. They have beneficial influence on various body systems, including the lungs, kidneys, skin, and blood. The herb has been recognized for its ability to stop bleeding, relieve mucous congestion and water retention, and improve skin irritations. It is considered to be an excellent blood purifier.
  • Nettle tea has been used to help increase the milk flow of nursing mothers. As a gargle, it is useful for mouth and throat infections. Applied externally, the tea is said to help relieve acne and eczema.
  • Dried nettles make a useful poultice to encourage scab formation on a small sore. The dried leaves, burnt and inhaled, are said to relieve bronchial and asthmatic problems.
  • Nettles are rich in iron, silicon, and potassium. They are very high in vitamins A and C. When dried, nettles are 40% protein. The dried plant makes a nutritious addition to soups, stews, or casseroles.

(Hmmm.  If it increases milk flow, maybe I should just double check with my doctor(s) to make sure.  I’m assuming it would be a good thing, but I guess I should double check.)

For those of you new to “health food” and herbs, I truly believe that there are plants on this planet for every ailment known to humankind.  Our diet in this country has become so pathetic.  So many of us eat stuff that can barely be called “food,” it is so processed.  In addition, the way grains and produce is now grown in this country is a sin.  The land and the crops are heavily dosed with toxins aimed to inhibit “pests” and “weeds” but which are also building up alarmingly in our bodies – bodies which haven’t had the evolutionary time to learn how to combat them.  In addition, meats are fed these toxified grains and then also given hormones, etc. to boot (which are NOT good for breasts!)  So the upshot is, eating healthier (ie, organic and non-GMO) foods and taking herbs, which are nature’s medicine, can counterbalance the discomfort (aches and pains) and disease (more serious imbalance) that may be affecting our bodies.

I do plan on listening to the messages I’m getting (from multiple sources) to detoxify.  I suspect this will be very, very important for me.

Okay, friends, thanks for listening to me again.  Writing this has helped me;  I now have a plan of action.  Hopefully some of this will help you, too.

Blessings galore,


Asking the Hard Questions

2 Aug

The Breast Blog #8

Asking the Hard Questions

By Cynthia Greb

August 2, 2011

Tomorrow is my first biopsy.

Now that the shock of “something seems to be wrong with my breasts” has begun to fade a bit, and now that the worry of getting these biopsies scheduled has passed, and now that the reality of a diagnosis is getting closer, I find I am finally ready to look at the harder questions.

  1. Why has this happened?  I’m not talking about possible exposure to radiation after the Three Mile Island incident. I’m not referring to too many years on birth control pills or too much bacon or possible contamination of my drinking water by pesticides and herbicides.  (All of which I believe could have contributed to possible dis-ease or imbalance in my body.)  I’m talking about metaphysical reasons.  Do I have any thought patterns or beliefs or ways of being in the world which may be creating a disturbance in my physical body?
  2. What can I do to get myself better???   Or what can I do to bring myself to a greater state of health and well-being?

And before I address either of these questions, I know I need to address something you probably have been thinking.  Is my focus on the possibility of cancer ill-advised?  Are my thoughts creating my reality?  Am I jumping to conclusions?

These are extremely valid questions.  And believe me, I have been asking them myself.  To be honest, I find myself thinking that nothing is “wrong” with my right breast, which is the one being biopsied tomorrow.  In spite of a dream possibly symbolizing a right-sided mastectomy, I find that I am not worried about the right breast.  If the pathologists report a cancerous condition, I will be a bit shocked.

The left breast is a different matter.  There seem to be very real indicators that something is amiss.  There IS a discharge that does not feel normal or healthy.  In addition, ultrasound technology reveals both a small nodule and a dilated milk duct.  There are certainly benign possibilities for both of these symptoms, but clearly there are signs that I am not in radiant health at this moment.

I truly do believe that we create our reality with our thoughts, our words, and our beliefs.  At the very least, we co-create it.  Not always consciously, of course.  Consciously, would anyone ever ever EVER choose cancer?  Of course not!  However, as one example, I will confess right now that in the past I remember having had the thought – on more than one occasion, that when I die I would prefer it to be something like cancer, so that I would have time to wrap up my affairs and say goodbye to the people I love.  I never wanted to die quickly before the really important details of my life were taken care of.

I hasten to add that I have since cancelled this thought.  Cancel cancel CANCEL!  I am making a new agreement!!!  I want to be a vibrantly healthy person who strives each day to have all her affairs in order and to live in such a beautiful way that when the time comes (way in the future), I can let go of this earthly body knowing that I have done and been all I am meant to do and be in this lifetime.

For almost fifty years I have said and felt “I am a healthy person.”  I have felt it and believed it and felt very blessed by it.  Then in recent years I have noticed (with chagrin) my creeping weight gain.   I had noticed occasional times when I’d become out of breath.  There were a few times earlier this year (at work) that my normally stellar blood pressure had crept up to slightly higher than low-average numbers.  And I’m very aware of a strong history of diabetes and cardiac problems on my mother’s side of the family.  So I finally made an appointment with a doctor (a new doctor – I’ve had so few health problems in my life, I didn’t even have a primary doctor) to try to nip things in the bud and get control of my health before it got too out of control.  I had only one appointment with him before all this “breast stuff” happened.

So now let me return to the question, “Is thinking about the possibility of cancer actually creating it?”  I do believe that what we focus on becomes our reality.  If we focus on “being fat” we will be fat.  If we focus on “being poor,” we will never become wealthy.  If we focus on being sick, we will never be well.  At the same time, I believe there has to be an accurate assessment of where we are before we can shift our thinking into where we want to be.  ie, If we want to be slim and trim, there may need to be an acknowledgement that we aren’t so in the moment.  For instance, I can say to myself, “Cindy, you’re carrying a few extra pounds right now.  What are you going to do about it?”  Then I can focus on eating a lot more vegetables and taking more walks and swimming more.  What I should NOT focus on, however, is “fat thoughts!”  (ie,  “I don’t want anyone to see  me today because I feel too fat.”)  This is a hard one for me, I confess.  I have to be extremely vigilant.  I may not be able to look in a mirror and say, “Cindy, you are skinny!”   But maybe I can look in the mirror and try something like, “Cindy, you  are looking voluptuous today.”  I can focus on beauty instead of flaws.  I can look at my smile instead of my cellulite, my curves instead of my wrinkles.

Okay, so how does this relate to the cancer question?  Clearly it is not wise to continue to think or say, “I might have CANCER!!!”  (Picture that famous painting called “The Scream.”)  This is, of course, a thought that will occur to one faced with “suspicious abnormalities” and two biopsies.  However, it CANNOT be my focus. Instead, as of right now, I am shifting my focus.  Cindy, you have beautiful breasts and a wonderful, functional body.  How can you take exquisite care of them?

One of the ways to “take care” is to do some soul searching and ask the “hard questions” I listed up in the second paragraph.  What are the metaphysical reasons I may have created a less-than-healthy situation in my breasts?


If breasts are about nurturing, I do believe I have been quite a nurturer in my life.  But have I been out of balance in my nurturing?  Have I forgot to nurture myself?

I like to think the answer is no.  Generally speaking, I think I take more time for myself than the average person.  However, if I look a little deeper, I realize that I have not cared about myself enough to, for instance, take more time to prepare good foods.  There are certainly days I prepare incredibly healthy and wonderful foods.  But on days that I work, or days when I’m tired, or days when I’m down, I don’t.  I don’t make my self-care a priority.

I find the timing of this possible cancer scare  interesting.    Two and half years ago, I had moved back to Pennsylvania from my beloved New Mexico (I’d only lived there three years) in order to help out with my parents.  My Mom had had a heart attack and a small stroke.  I was very concerned she wouldn’t last the rest of the year, and I wanted to be with her to help with her care.  In addition, in my absence, Dad had begun to show signs of early Alzheimer’s.  I hadn’t picked up on it during my phone calls, but as I spent larger portions of time with him, it became rather obvious.

So, being the daughter who did not have kids or a husband (at that time,)  I moved in to:  prepare the meals (Mom had diabetes and the neuropathy in her hands had made cooking almost impossible for her,) make sure they were taking their meds, monitor blood sugar levels, take to doctor appointments,  help Mom with  trips to the bathroom, do the laundry, etc., etc.

Suffice it to say, I pretty much gave up my life.  The more I did, the more dependent they became on me – physically and emotionally.  I felt like I was on call 24/7.  Even if I tried to get away for a weekend and go to a friend’s house, they would often call.  I loved my parents, but I was so exhausted, so miserable, so burned out.

I lasted sixteen months.  And then a really bad weekend caused me to collapse in tears upon my sister-in-law.  I wept that I just couldn’t do it any more.  Fortunately she supported me in staying with friends.  The rest of my siblings (who had done more than their fair share while I lived out of state) stepped in to do what needed to be done until we got a reverse mortgage and hired caregivers.

I know cancer supposedly takes decades to grow, but I can’t help noticing that all this is happening only a little over a year after moving out.  I think I became too out of balance.  And whatever is going on now is giving me an opportunity to look at this.

So, that’s my theory on the metaphysical reason why this is going on right now.

Thanks for listening.

(And I’m going to save Question #2 for another day.  Although clearly one answer is:  Find better balance in my life!!!)

Blessings to you.