For the past few months, I have been faithfully taking a concoction of Ayurvedic medications (in addition to my treatments) from Dr. Kharatilal from Clovis. Although he is up in age, he has studied from one of the premier Ayurvedic colleges, when education was more pure, and where allopathic (western) medicine was also taught. So he is very verse with the drug interactions. So every month, I take a few hours trip from LA to Clovis (and stay with my cousin) so that he can assess the parlor of my eyes and skin, and check my pulse, in order to know what meds he needs to tweak.
I would say although these trips have not been always convenient (as it takes a lot of time to travel to and fro), it has been really worthwhile. My energy & stamina are up and I can take a full day of work, my hair is starting to grow…woot! woot!, I feel balanced, etc. I am keeping up with my spiritual practices (although I may not be the most disciplined) but I have set myself a beautiful meditation corner where my dogs love to hand out too! I feel like I have made a lot of progress in not holding stress or taking any stressors to heart.
My oncologist is really amazed at my progress as well but I have a confession to make…..I haven’t shared fully my Ayurvedic treatment with him…. It’s not that I am keeping things from him or trying to jeopardize my treatment plan, rather, I learnt early-on that the doctor’s medical education does not entail teaching them any aspects of holistic medicine or they have knowledge of them. So as Ayurvedic medicine does not interfere in conventional medicine treatment, I am okay it being my little secret!
On the advise of my eyebrow threader, I have been using castor oil on my brows for about a week. She swears that it helps the brows grow thicker including helping the sparse hair grow! So I am giving it a try and although its too soon to tell the difference, the positive that I found it is when I applied it to my entire eyelid (hoping to get longer lashes), my eyes no longer feel dry. They feel rested! Also when you do an internet search on the benefits to eyes, it amazing what you find, i.e., blepharitis cure, dry eye cure, relieves inflammation, etc. Now it makes sense why my ancestors put desi ghee in their eyes. That reminds me, I was going to make ‘eye kohl’ from desi ghee, which I will post another time.
My oncologist was elated with my progress. He was amazed at my bodies positive response to Letrozole therapy, how the cancer spots in my ribs and in adjoining lymph node were clear, and he he was confident in calling it resolved (in my chest area). However, he was unable to discern if the spots in my spine were cancerous or scar tissue! Taking no chances, he decided to add two additional therapies – 1) Zometa infusion every three months (to rebuild my bone so that future problems or breaks can be mitigated), and 2) start Ibrance oral chemo to augment Letrozole therapy as studies have shown that women with advanced breast cancer who take both Ibrance and Letrozole lived about 20 months without their cancer getting worse, compared to about 10 months for the women who received letrozole alone! He did, however, warn of the drop in blood counts (both red and white) seen with Ibrance and asked for greater vigilance around infection, fever, anemia, fatigue, weakness, nausea, etc.
My appointment for Zometa came first. I was given Zoledronic Acid 4 mg in Sodium Chloride 0.9% 100 mL IV at the infusion center. It was a short session and the nurse upon my discharge went over the potential side effects but mainly that I will experience flu-like symptoms, fevers and chills. That night and the next morning were was pretty uneventful, however, that was short lived! I started spiking a fever of 102.8F, then the chills came and my joints very achy. I piled couple of blankets despite being a hot summer day (with no air conditioning given the proximity of my place to the beach). It totally felt like I was having a bout with flu! Also, internally, I was feeling that I was burning up. I drank a lot of fluids (a lot!) but my month and my body felt parched. Tylenol (like the nurse suggested) did break the fever to 100.3 but the low grade fever continued. By the second day, my teeth were chattering as it does in winter time and despite being under layers of blankets. However, on the third day, I was back to normal with no fever, chills, or weakness, go figure!
Last night’s launch of Falcon 9 not only lit up the Southern California skies but also gave a spectacular treat! It appeared like a sign from heavens and looked more like a celestial phenomenon. I think I may have made a wish…lol!
In my treatment journey, one of the things that I am very proud is that I have remained diligent about has been my exercise regimen (thru good and bad days). Before this relapse, I was not consistent with any exercise and most times found excuses to not do them. The term ‘Coach Potato’ fit me to a T! Now with a weakened spine, I knew having a weakened core would not work. Also, many exercises would not work especially the upright ones (treadmill, cycling, Zumba, etc.). In came ‘reformer Pilates’ as I knew it would support my back and not put pressure on it. So as soon as my neurosurgeon okayed it for me (which was March), I found a wonderful trainer Sara who worked on me 1:1 and we set course to strengthen my core three days a week. We worked a lot on legs, arms, abs…everything! There were days I dragged myself out of her studio and was done for the whole day! Now 6 months later, I feel stronger, in shape, and getting my energy is back! Thanks to Sara.
Also, in March I returned to work. It was hard! I didn’t have the energy, got tired and drained fast, and office setting especially the chairs didn’t work me (my doctors didn’t want me sitting but standing or lying instead but with weak legs sitting was the only option in the work setting). There were days (which were most days), my boss would send me home or allowed me to telecommute from home, which I was so grateful for. Interesting part is that my 1.5 commute didn’t bother me, and I attribute that to the car chair which enveloped my back and I could change its angle. Initially, I had to ensure that my exhaustion didn’t cause me to fall asleep on the wheel! However, as time passed, my energy got better and now I am at work full-time and fully functional 😊
Lastly in July (over July 4th holiday) and last week (over the Labor Day holiday), I took two trips to see how I would handle long distance travel. The first trip I took was to Seattle and Vancouver BC. I flew into Seattle where my Uncle and Aunt came to pick me up, and then they drove me to their house in South Surrey. It was a great getaway and my body could only handle small treks. We also drove to Victoria Island and went to Butchart gardens (which was the fastest trek I took as my back bothered me) but overall it went well. Over this past weekend, I took a road trip where I drove to Oakland. This trip was part business and part pleasure. I went for an interview and then visited family and friends in Orinda, Hayward, and then drove to Clovis (Fresno) to visit family with a stopover at Bakersfield to visit more family.
I am thrilled, happy and excited to report that I am starting to feel the old me again. Although the treatments are aiding in fighting the disease and continuing to heal me, I feel that being diligent with core strengthening is also allowing me to function as normally as possible. I am so looking forward to other adventures…. Yeeha!!!
The news of his passing hit me like a ton of bricks! I don’t know why but I feel a deep gut-wrencing loss even though the news is not a surprise, Is it because the finality of death? Loss of a noble soul (which these days we don’t see many good examples of)? or is it disease itself (cancer and it hit home)?
Regardless, the biggest loss is loosing such a honorable man; a man of principles, integrity, resiliance, humility, and grace. I consider him my hero and role-model, and one what I will honor him is to stand for what’s right even when its unpopular or when you may be the lone wolf!