Off to China!

Off to China!

Alex and Becca are driving Louie and I to the airport to begin our trip to China. Our fundraiser has raised about half our cost for the trip and for that we are highly appreciative.
We are going to be posting both written and video blogs daily beginning today. We feel 12/12/12 is an auspicious day to begin this adventure. Our hope is that our reporting on FUDA will give other women a roadmap for saving their breasts and treating their cancer.

We will arrive in China early tomorrow morning. Alex remarked that it used to take his mother three months to travel by steamer from London to Hong Kong and that was if she took the short cut through the Suez Canal! What an amazing time we live in, to quote Sean’s movie, a time in which scientific knowledge is doubling every year.

Getting it together

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Yesterday “the troops” arrived in the afternoon to help me along in my preparations. Gail prepared some drawing papers to take along by staining them, Paula and her daughter Elizabeth did a fantastic job packaging cards of my painting images in rice paper and colored string to give as gifts. Paula even helped out with her expertise on how to manage a toiletry bag. (Thank you ladies!!).

I’ve been to AAA to get my plug adapters and homeopathic “jet-lag” pills.

Watching an old Sean Penn/Elizabeth McGovern movie called “Chasing the Moon” seemed to get my head on straight about leaving. Sean Penn does such a good job of playing a young boy about to go off to war. He keeps it cool while his face registers some heavy emotions obviously going on inside. Well I’m not a young man going off to fight, rather an old (ish) woman going to report on a “war” of sorts-if the fight against breast cancer can be called that. Watching Sean Penn prepare himself somehow got me out of the I’m-in-over-my-head feeling. Thank you Mr. Penn! It’s your face I’ll call up in my memory when whenever I need to calm myself in the upcoming days.

Christmas Clash

Just trying to keep everything in perspective.

All around me are the joys, and indulgences, of Christmas.

I’d been in the going-to-China bubble when my friend Connie called to offer a ride to the Holiday Fashion luncheon. Oh my!! (I’d forgotten).
I barely had time to get dressed before she arrived.

As it turned out, the other guests were, for the most part, way more bling-ed out than the ethnic necklace I’d quickly grabbed. Oops!!

The health/social club venue was decorated with props from the ballet’s past Nutcracker performances and the lobby was filled with a fashion/ jewelry bazzar from local artisans.
However, the quick transition from being immersed in life and death issues to this holiday indulgence left me slightly disoriented.
I watched as a friend of a friend tried on a gorgeous shiny necklace.
I couldn’t help but think, wait, what if she spent the money she was about to lay down on women’s health issues instead?
I needed to get a grip and become present.

After all….
Aren’t breasts the ultimate accessory?
(The later fashion show confirmed this importance).

A woman’s desire to embrace her femininity should be celebrated.
I realized by going to China I was going to miss dressing up and attending some of my favorite parties this year.

I couldn’t help but think about the same comment so many women I’ve worked with trying to save their breasts have told me, that mentioning the desire to save their breast to a medical professional was often treated as if a sin had been committed! After all, life saving procedures exist……..

But breast CONSERVING procedures also exist……!

After the luncheon, a woman I knew from the art world introduced me to one of the local medical school’s top oncologists. Both were interested in my project, but gave me the line I seem to always get:
“What? Freezing? How come I’ve never heard about this?”
How come indeed….
Oh Fe….
I hope we can change that!

Sent from my iPad

Overwhelmed!!

I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed today. So much to get done!!
I didn’t get off the computer until eleven last night….
Was smart enough to start the day at yoga which usually screws my head on straight. Afterwards my friend and her daughter offered to by me some tea. Noticing my condition, they offered to help in anyway I needed it. Another friend happened to arrive by chance and she also offered assistance. Their total sincerity in the offer led me to accept. So tomorrow Paula and Elizabeth and Gail will be arriving in the afternoon to do things like package up some cards I had made of my artwork to take as gifts, and even make sure my bag is properly packed.
Big sigh.
I guess it’s these kind of heart connections that is my motivation in the first place.
Luckily,”lucky” Louie, my son and partner of all things China, offered to come over for some technical assistance on the computer…..(bless him)…
So our second “ask” is off, a big “Count Down to China list has been made..

Now it’s on to getting the phone to work in China…
Note: I posted this all myself without help

Fe’s Message from Fuda

Fe wrote from Fuda today-
Here is part of what she said:

“Am excited to meet you in person.Together we could shout to all the women who have breast
Cancer around the world to save their breast from lumpectomy and masectomy. There is for sure hope and safe alternative,harmless and little side effects of the therapies here at Fuda
North hospital.So far I hav’nt had any side effects yet.
I ‘ll tell you everything when get here”.

“Since I came the hospital the hospital is always booked . Cancer patients coming here are
All critical,seeing them day by day, you could see by your own eyes their daily recovery.
I believe God sent me here for a reason to tell something to the world you and I ,it’s not
Coincidence it was planned by Him ,telling us something to do something and I could feel it in my bones and every fibre of my flesh.”

Fundraiser to go to Fuda

Hello-
You may already know that I was an early pioneer  in getting my breast cancer treated with a novel, non-morbid, breast-conserving treatment called cryo-ablation. That was 10 years ago.

Now we’re trying to spread the word. We’re hoping the efforts this fundraiser supports will go a long way towards acting as a catalyst for very positive change.

Please watch the u-tube video and donate at this site:  http://www.gofundme.com/1lpae8?utm_campaign=Emails&utm_source=sendgrid.com&utm_medium=email

Even a very small contribution helps, especially if you share this message with your friends.

Also, here’s the address of my website regarding our book about curing breast cancer using cryoablation: www.keepingthem.com

And the website regarding FUDA Hospital, our destination in China
www.fudahospital.com

Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!
Laura

Tickets Booked

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Louie and I went down to Azamano Travel to book our flights to Fuda Hospital today!!
Even though we haven’t made our fundraising goal yet, we’ve gotten enough to give us confidence it’s going to work and we didn’t want to have to pay higher fees for booking any later.
We’re going!!

Getting bag packing help!!

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My daughter, Emma, has a friend who is starting a business helping people with their packing for a trips abroad.
Whitney Hull-Benson is a confident whiz!! She kindly offered to give me a free-be consultation with what to bring in a small carry-on to China. I will be prepared for both hanging out in the hospital, and interacting with the director who has offered to give us some of his time. (She even took photos and emailed them to me with accessory instructions!).

She quickly whipped together combinations I never would have thought of and gave me a bunch of different outfits by selecting just a few basic pieces. I should have extra room in my suitcase to bring along host gifts!!

Tomorrow I’m booking our tickets to China!

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The early response to our online fundraiser has made that possible.
This is way out of my comfort zone but seems to be happening so fast I’m hardly aware I have a comfort zone!

I’ll been flying to the Guangzhou airport, south of Beijing, then on to Fuda hospital. I’m going to Fuda to assist a woman from Canada I’ve never met except through internet conversations. Her name is Fe and she’s a brave one indeed. Actually it was Fe’s sister in law who introduced us. Fe had had a reoccurrence of her breast cancer. The initial treatments of lumpectomy and chemo had been so hard on her she was unwilling to try it again. During a late night search her husband had found a hospital in China that took a different approach, freezing the tumor. It’s called cryoablation or cryosurgery. Was this a good idea?? Does anyone in the west know about it?? That’s when Fe’s sister in law did her own internet searches. That’s when she found our site,theyremineandimkeepingthe.com, named after our book, “They’re Mine and I’m Keeping Them”. I’ve maintained this site for over seven years, although it’s currently getting a much needed upgrade.

Fe’s sister in law, Collyne, wanted to know, what did I know about cryoablation? Well actually I know quite a bit. It was almost 10 years ago that my husband’s excellent internet and phone skills helped me connect with one of cryoablation’s early pioneers, Dr. Peter Littrup of the Karmanos cancer center in Detroit. Dr. Littrup and I probably made a good pair, I wanted to save my breast just as much as he wanted to try his freezing expertise out on breast cancer. He took me on as his first breast cancer patient. Years later I met someone in San Francisco who happened to know the woman who talked her doctor into doing the first lumpectomy. Her logic was the same as mine; if it didn’t work, traditional mastectomy could always be a fallback procedure. But it worked beautifully!! AND I may even have benefitted from a wonderful side effect. Many cryo patients get an” immune effect”, basically an immunity to their own cancer. As I’m finding out now, the Chinese have added additional protocols to specifically stimulate this very important effect.

But back to Fe. After a phone call from her sister in law, where I made the comment that I would love to go to Fuda to check it out, I got an email from Fe herself, inviting me along.  Fe knew I wanted to check out Fuda for myself and she was willing to offer her experience as the catalyst, so her story could be shared. What a brave woman!! That request went straight to my heart like an arrow. It resinated deeply. Why?? Because 18 months earlier the cryoablation program at Karmanos had been shut down. I wasn’t sure why. For at least five years women had been finding their way to our website. I had spent countless hours on the phone telling them exactly what my experience was like. My husband Alex, who is so much better with actual facts and figures than I am, often also spent endless hours helping these women with difficult decisions, weighing circumstances, offering advice. Many, I didn’t keep track, followed my footsteps and also became patients of Dr. Littrup, saving their breasts from mastectomy and beating their cancer. Happily two were from my home state of Oregon, Heather and Mary. I got to meet them both in person and they have been very generous, allowing me to  forward their contacts, to also share their experience with women trying to decide what they should do.

But now,” what to do” was proving most difficult. Our web site, even at its primitive, basic, early stage, must have been convincing. The women now writing me were convinced they wanted to have it done. But where?? For six months I’d been working with Jackie. Jackie wanted to be “the first black Laura”, explaining to me that african-american women would need a black face on a cryoablated breast cancer survivor before they’d buy into the procedure. It was Jackie who found out achieving that goal really wasn’t going to be possible in Detroit. The program there was not going to continue. I was faced with both the heartache of finding out Dr. Littup’s program no longer existed and having no good options for Jackie, who I was becoming very fond and attached to with each long phone call. Finally Jackie called me from the east coast. She had found another doctor who ran a clinic offering several alternative treatments. Cryo was one of them. She had talked this doctor into tying it on her. We celebrated by finally meeting in person for lunch when she got back to Portland. But when Jackie’s three month MRI happened, both our hearts broke…..where she’d been frozen she was fine, but outside of those boundaries..a reoccurrence. Perhaps this doctor was not as skilled or experienced as Dr. Littrup….but now what??

The inquiries keep coming….a woman from Cape Cod, northern California, LA, South Carolina, Australia, now Canada. I had read about Fuda. I knew the UN had sent Dr. Littrup to China in the mid nineties to teach them his techniques. I knew this was the reason the Chinese led the world in lung cancer cures as they began to use cryoablation as a very effective treatment. They had a post up on their website of an 85 year old woman’s before and after picture of her cancer erupting from her breast, becoming gangrenous, then being frozen. The after treatment photo showed it looking very normal. Wow!! But China……

Now here was a woman who was actually going. All the women I’d mentioned it to couldn’t get beyond the distance, the cultural and language barriers, let alone the potential costs. Would the treatment they got there be worth it? After Jackie’s experience, I’d already made a decision I couldn’t really recommend anything I hadn’t checked out for myself. Now I was being given an offer to do that.

But thinking and doing are different. There is a moment when thinking must turn into doing……

That moment came for me during my favorite morning yoga class. My teacher, Todd, always leads us through a guided meditation. During that meditation, just a few weeks ago, right after Fe’s offer to join her, the switch to “doing” commenced….”I should go” became…….. “I’m going”.

Right after class I I called one of my two film maker sons….Louie. Would he consider going with me…..if we could raise the money…..to help get Fe’s story in a form it could be shared? (He’s a wiz at u-tube and all stories visual). Why yes!! He’d love to!!

It’s been a short distance from that moment to getting a video ask ready. My ever supportive husband Alex has again used he’s internet skills to find the best vehicle for asking and getting the video Louie and I made posted….in only 24 hours our supportive friends have donated enough to be able to call the travel agent in the morning….now Fe’s friends are kicking in with notes such as….”you’ve restored our faith in the kindness of strangers”………I seem to be close to tears often…….this is WAY out of my normal comfort zone….but it appears, in about a week, I’m going half way around the world to help feed and bath a woman I’ve only corresponded with on the internet, at a hospital who seems to be doing amazing things. No, I’ve never met her, but I KNOW her. I know her because I’ve been in a similar place, when I only had my hopes and dreams of beating cancer in a way I wanted to work, even if it hadn’t been done before. It DID work. And now I want that SO badly for Fe…. and for Lori….. and Claudia and Karmelle and Karen and Jackie and for ALL the women who’ve contacted me in these last few months, making a heart connection as I try to help them figure out their best options. Maybe our finding out about what goes on THERE will eventually lead to it  becoming readily available HERE.

Isn’t this what women are good at? Networking? Sharing our stories? Fe wants to share her story. I want to help her do that……

It’s Christmastime. Isn’t that the time for wonderful things to happen??