In Eight Steps to Happiness Geshe-la says "'Self' and 'other' are relative terms, rather like 'this mountain' and 'that mountain ... 'This' and 'that' therefore depend upon our point of reference. This is also true of self and other. By climbing down the mountain of self, it is possible to ascend the mountain of other, and thereby cherish others as much as we presently cherish ourself."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Very Good News: I'm Normal!

... that is my CA-125 tumor-marker is!
Normal range for this lab is under 34, and my score last week was 18.
My onocologist wants me to keep up this chemo regimen for March and April, then do scans (to see if there are any visible masses) and another CA125. Dr K says that a CA-125 under 10 makes for the longest remission.

This means the chemo is working against my cancer.
Not every chemo drug works for every patient, so they try a different drug. Sometimes that doesn't work either, and sometimes a patient finds that none of the chemos work for them. Can you imagine how discouraging that must be? You'd still have a lot of side effects.

Another reason to keep on this path is that we have to wait for another month to get an accurate scan.

I believe if my CA-125 is low and my scans are clear at the end of April / early May, I will be done with chemo, at least for a while.

You may recall that when I was first diagnosed, in 4/2009, my CA-125 was almost 1,000; this January, the previous time it was measured, it was 76.
I was very - happily - suprised that it had dropped that far in 2 months.

Again, I have to thank you for all your prayers and support. You can clearly tell that they help.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dharma on the Couch or in Bed

One of the great things about Buddhist practice, is that you can do it anywhere, under any circumstances.
Here are a few initial thoughts about what I do when my mental and physical energy is so low I can only lie in bed, or with a bit more energy, rest on the couch.
I'd love to hear any suggestions you have.

* Carol F told me she sometimes looks at the line drawings in the books, because their simplicity is easier to take in - even easier than color prints. I'd love to hear more tips like this, because it never occurred to me.
* Rejoicing - we're taught this practice, which overcomes our jealousy, can even be done lying in bed.
* I used be be able to read a few pages of Dharma text, and often take notes; there days sometimes I can only read 1 paragraph at a time. When I close the book, I just repeat that 1 paragraph to myself for as long as I can. It may be a better way to study that my usual approach!
* Mantras - I love these "portable prayers" that we can say anywhere. I say a lot of mantras.
* Favorite practices - one of my go-to practices is Taking; I must have some kind of affinity with it. It comes easily to me, and I love the practice. I do it at home but also at the various medical facilities I find myself in - where there seems to be a lot of fear and pain, without refuge.

I can list more some other time, but those are some of the main ones now.

Jayne "ShoppingKharma" Armstrong Passed Away

I wrote about Jayne in a blog post titled "Not for the Fainthearted" back in Dec, because I was so impressed by her bravery, honesty and love in facing end-stage cancer. I learned a lot from her.
If you want to make your death awareness stronger, I'd recommend reading parts of her blog and imaging yourself in her position.
In words and photos, she showed the stages her body went through, as she lost weight but gained implanted medical devices.
She described her love for her husband, who gave her reason to try to stick around.
She talked frankly about her pain medicine - including medical marijuana, even naming the particular strains that really helped.
Jayne didn't shrink from detailing the difficulties of cancer - of her ovarian cancer - but also found joy wherever she could; here's one example:

"...well we've been getting the most amazing rain storm and the temperature has been very cold; perfect I would say if only I had the strength and meat on my bones to sustain me enough to go snowboarding;  OMG! would that be so freaking awesome!  so yes all this beautiful wonderful rain has been killing me; I've been dreaming of snowboarding quite a bit of course. I hope all the people out there are having a blast!" [but she has to get her pain-pump refilled, and her body probably isn't up for 'boarding].

On March 7th, her husband wrote on her blog that she had died. I cried to hear it.
Medical experts weren't expecting her to make it to the New Year, but she just kept going. Even though the last time I'd read her blog, several days ago, she was down to 78 pounds, I didn't really expect her to die yet.

Here's a photo of her in better days; her blog has lots of graphic photos of her in worse days.

I will request our Buddhist Center in Seattle makes prayers for her when we do our "powa" this month.
Please dedicate for her.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Photos from Florida

Last week R & I were in St. Pete, on the Gulf side of Florida, visiting his brother, sister-in-law, and niece ... as well as checking on the Orioles, who are in Spring Training in Sarasota (I always hesitate before saying or writing that city, because what always comes first is "Saratoga," where my Grandfather lived).
Even though FL was sunny and warm, I'd rather live in Seattle, believe it or not.
Scene from J&V's dock 

Bird of Paradise in J&V's driveway

R. at Madeira Beach

Pelicans are common in FL. Now I notice all the birds in Seattle, including one of my favorites, the great blue heron, which I just saw at Green Lake while walking the dog.

More photos at