Miracle Factory

IMG_4532

12.15.12
Miracle Factory
Yesterday was Saturday here in Guangzhou.

Found out from Fe that Dr. Xu generously offered us a quest room in Fuda’s new hospital about 20 minutes away. Segundo and Chen came to help us move.

After visiting Fe and Jelly in the morning we were invited back to Fuda’s new hospital for lunch with Dr. Xu and two journalists, Wilson and Sol, visiting from the Filipinos and one of Fuda’s main doctors of cryo ablation, Dr. Niu. The journalists had come to here more about it. Seems word is spreading through word of mouth.

I learned that Fuda has done more than 7,000 cryablations, more than any other hospital in the world. I told Dr. Niu I ‘d first heard about Fuda using cryoablation for treating breast cancer when my husband Alex found a before and after picture on the web of a 75 year old woman who’s breast cancer had burst through the skin and become gangrenous. The after photo showed a normal looking breast. He knew exactly what I was talking about because that was his patient and he had treated her!! (I bowed to him!). He told me most cases are not such late stage and that was very unusual. I asked when he thought Fuda first began using cryoablation on breast cancer and he said around 2003, the same year doctor Littrup treated me. So I truly am one of the oldest surviving patients, at almost my 10 year mark.

After the lunch the journalists and Louie and I went back to Fuda 1 so they could meet and hear Fe’s story. I think they were just as impressed with her as I am.

She told them about her experience with Fuda, about her being at stage 4 and having such a good turn around. Besides her own incredible story,she told them about all the others she’s been witnessing who were even worse. In fact, she credited seeing people with stage five turn around quickly and that’s what gave her hope it would work for her.

Another case the journalists had also wanted to visit was away from the hospital, out shopping because they felt so good!!

Tomorrow Dr. Xu has arranged for us to get a tour of the city with Segundo.

Our Big Day

12.15.12- Saturday (at least it’s Saturday here in China).

Wow! It’s 5:30 am here in China but boy am I awake!

Our peaceful neighborhood is waking up. Somewhere down the street a Chinese flute is playing a wistful song.

At the risk of disturbing my roommate Louie, who seems to be able to still sleep, I want to get down some of what I’ve been processing.

Yesterday afternoon brought an opportunity to really find out more about what they’re doing here and truly get a handle on why it was worth it to come. Fe has done such a great job giving me an overview on why the Fuda program is so effective. She has carefully read all the literature so she understands the therapies and why they work. Fuda is terrific with patient education and has lots of printed materials excellently written and laid out so it’s very comprehendible.

At four in the afternoon we entered a whirlwind of activity that truly began to put the whole program together.

Mr. Li, who had picked us up from the airport, came to take us to Fuda’s second large new hospital, about twenty minutes freeway drive away. This state of the art, beautiful facility has all the latest cutting edge machines that are at the heart of Fuda’s cancer fighting arsenal. We had been invited to the exit interview where a patient is about to leave to go back home. All the doctors who’ve worked on the exiting patient gather together along with Fuda’s guiding president, Dr. Xu and his assistant and Vice President, Ester Law, along with the patients who are leaving. The doctors present an overview of the therapies used and comment on what they felt were most effect along with their opinions on future treatment follow ups. The patients participate, commenting on what they feel worked best and areas they are interested in pursuing. (At least this is what I understood from the interpreter at my side, filling me in). There seems to be a very honest look taken at exactly what was accomplished during the patients stay at Fuda, what the situation currently is, and what follow-up should be. The session we attended had two patients. One no longer had a tumor and one was being sent home to allow the implanted chemotherapies to work with plans for a return visit where new therapies would be applied, such as cryo. The director commented that the chemo treatment would kill the tumor cells but not the stem cells of the tumor and that’s why the cryo and immune building therapies were needed in the future.

I was asked to tell my story, which I did. It was later translated by the vice Pesident Ester who seemed truly moved I would come to Fuda to find out what they are doing here to be able to spread the word to other women in the west wanting to save their breast like I had done. There was a surreal quality to the situation as there was both a photographer and a videographer clicking away. Such attention!!

After this meeting we were invited into vice President’s, Ester’s, office to receive directly from her the hospital’s philosophy. She explained the Dr. Xu himself had been a cancer patient and now a survivor. The philosophy of treatment at Fuda came from that experience. She then did a beautiful job of explaining how traditional treatments of surgery, radiation and chemo can and do work on early stage cancer, which she estimated at about 20%. But that it’s the cancer that is not detected early, about 80%, that these treatments ultimately fail. (I don’t know how these statistics hold up for American women where early detection is promoted through yearly mammogram readings, but they seem to be very statistically based at Fuda). Now my true understanding of their philosophy began. Fuda has made it its mission to address the 80% cases that most likely have some metastasis. To do this they have added all the cutting edge technologies that exist in the world to day with an emphasis on boosting the immune system. (I can see why this makes sense here, as traditional Chinese medicine is a system that works by assisting and stimulating the immune system).

Besides cryo, the two main immune stimulating systems used at Fuda are: CMI- Cancer Microvascular Intervention and CIC- Combined Immunotherapy. (More on these later).

No one gets sick here when getting chemo drugs. Those drugs are applied internally, right at the cancer site. Afterwards, the patient is given vitamin IV’s to prevent reactions such as loosing the hair and getting nauseous. Ester explained that a lot of patients using traditional approaches die because the body’s best fighter, the immune system, is not functioning and gets very damaged from chemo. At Fuda if chemo is used it’s done in a way to prevent that.

Cryo ablation is the third additional tool Fuda uses to both kill the cancer and stimulate the immunity. A later power point presentation in Dr. Xu’s office showed pictures of secondary sights gone after a patient’s initial cryo in a primary area. So impressive!!

Then, as if it was scripted to happen at that moment, a beautiful woman from Manila entered Dr. Xu’s office to say good-by and offered us her story, one that would put everything I’d just learned together on a human face. Her name was Theresa and she had just finished a shopping trip with her sister before going home early to Manila after hearing she had no more cancer left to treat.

Later, at a wonderful dinner Fuda’s Filipino coordinator, Segundo, took us to at the beautiful Imperial Hotel, we learned that she had entered her treatment very depressed and was encouraged at Fuda to fight! Segundo told us her transformation was really quite remarkable. I keep thinking about her happy face and how she is going home to a loving husband who now has his beautiful wife back healthy and happy, and two her wonderful children who now have their mama ready to guide them fully to adulthood.

It’s all those heart relationships that brought Louie and I here. It was Fe’s family, calling me on her behalf, so full of fear and wanting hope. Fe’s taught me a lot about how family relationships work in this part of the world. She herself was born in the Filipinas, the baby in a family of nine children. She was given her education, becoming Chemical engineer, through the hard work of her siblings, all working to give money towards each other’s education. When a good living wage became hard to come by in the Filipinos, she took work as a domestic in wealthy Hong Kong, all so she could pay it forward to younger relative’s educations. When illness strikes, they also band together, sending relatives to wherever it takes to get the best treatment.

Fe is something of an ambassador. While she was getting her imaging and beginning her chemo implant treatments, she spent her first weeks at Fuda going around to visit the other patients to get their stories and encourage their progress. She found people from her home country as well as Manila, Indonesia, Russia and the Middle East. She got stories about their cancer and found out they are not rich people. But they are rich in their heart relations with each other, which is what ultimately brought them here,. They are cherished. They are valued. Through their loved one’s assets, including companionship, they work something like the immune system itself, pulling together everything to fight through the illness of cancer back to health again. Fe has watched miracles taking place on a day-by-day basis. Those going back home now healthy kept coming by her room to share a moment of victory over the cancer foe, and to wish her well in her fight. How utterly beautiful! This hospital that attracts cancer’s worst victims is not a place of sadness and darkness. No! It’s a place of hope and love and light! It’s a place of NOW, minute by minute. The doctors at Fuda believe each day the blood is different. Each day offers a new opportunity for health. That is certainly something I will take away with me back to the states.

It was so beautiful driving around the city last night with Segundo. Guangzhou itself is magnificent!! The shapes of the building are original, at least to my eyes. The tops of them are illuminated at night, each with it’s own personality. There is a space-age looking tower dominating the skyline off by itself. At night it is lit up with a changing pattern of moving color light, most dazzling and beautiful. We haven’t seen hardly any westerners, but the Chinese don’t seem to pay much attention to any differences we represent. It’s easy to feel at home. In fact, there are Christmas decorations everywhere. Last night at dinner the restaurant had Christmas music playing. Segundo told us that there are two Catholic churches in town that are mostly attended by Filipinos. It’s odd to have Christmas as cultural phenomena, disassociated from the good-will-towards-men sentiment I’m used to it representing. The Christmas spirit is in my heart however. What ever are the energies or motives that brought Louie and I to China right now, I have to believe that spirit of brother and sisterhood was part of it.

Finally……FE!!

12.14.12

Finally….Fe!!

We left Oregon on Wednesday 12.12.12 and landed in Guangzhou on Friday 12.14.12 Where did that day go??!! Basically we traveled over 24 hours, but honestly the 16-hour direct flight from LAX on Southern China Air was not that bad. The video playing on the seat-back monitors for the last half hour before we landed showed stewardesses demonstrating self -acupressure to recover from the flight.

After making it through customs and finding our suitcases (thank God I have big strong Louie with me!!) we exited the airport to find a driver holding a sign with my name on it. The driver whizzed along a freeway through this very modern large city, arriving at Fuda hospital before 8:00 am. The driver walked us directly to Fe’s room. She and her sister, Jelly, were awake and happy we had finally arrived. I couldn’t give Fe a hug however; because of the protective apron she was wearing to protect others from the radiation pellets that had been embedded into her a few days before.

Fe is a very intelligent, spry, bright-eyed 54 year-old woman of Filipino descent. She came to Fuda from Canada where she’s lives with her husband David in Alberta. She found out she had breast cancer last mid-June when an ultra sound and mammogram confirmed that the lump she felt one morning in her left breast was a 1.6 cm calcium calcified tumor. She had a lumpectomy a month later, August 1st. By the last week of October she noticed a mass around what seemed to be a pimple at her surgery site. Her doctor ordered a mastectomy.

She and David began immediately researching what were the best cancer cures along with David’s sister Collyne. David found Fuda. Collyne found my site and wrote to find out what I thought.

Fast forward to today, here, now at Fuda in China. Four days ago she had her operation. That day she received cryo-ablation in six different spots; five in her liver and one in her breast. One in her liver was 2 cm. (It’s interesting to note at Anderson Cancer center in California, the largest tumor size allowed for freezing is 2cm. Here at Fuda Fe has heard that a recent procedure on another patient was 11.9 cm). At the same time Fe also had 20 iodine radiation pellets implanted around her breasts and surrounding lymph nodes and 20 around her liver. They will stay there for 59 days. They kept her in the ICU for the next 24 hours, which is the hospital protocol.
By the time I found her four days late, she was up and walking around, eating, visiting, seemingly full of energy!

Louie and I checked into our hotel a few blocks away and got back in time for a delicious Chinese lunch of steamed fish in Fe’s room, although we’re told family members are allowed to cook in a communal kitchen a few floors up. Just hanging around the room with Fe and Jelly there is constant comings and goings happening as nurses come into check on the vitamin i-v’s going into Fe’s arm to assist with her recovery, take her temperature, weight her and much more that I’ve lost track of. All and all, she is getting excellent care!!

Now Fe is going to send a message to any one reading this blog:

“In this hospital, there’s love money can’t buy. If you value your health, come to Fuda. They give you hope here. You feel it in the fiber of your flesh. And in your heart and in your mind, you’ll get better!! If they can make the stage five-cancer patients better, they can make me better!! And they don’t like patients here to be sad, because it will effect your immune system. They told me, we can help you but you must help yourself, so, they only thing we ask from you is to be happy.”

Fuda Trip Day 1 Video

Louie Here!

I’m trying to figure out how to upload videos. I am hoping to post a video for each day, but I am not sure about the uploads. I’ll keep trying. I am sure Lori will post blogs.

Sitting at LAX

In Route #1
12.12.12
A most auspicious day to travel…..
We are sitting in the TBIT (Tom Bradley International Terminal) at LAX, waiting for the plane to Guangzhou China.
In seven years of keeping up a website and answering all inquiries about cryoablation to treat breast cancer, this is the first time a woman has actually decided to go to Fuda Hospital in Gaungzhou and certainly the first time I have been asked along to document the story. When I first accepted I had no idea the pioneer doctor that had treated me in Detroit ten years ago, allowing me to save my breast and most probably get an immunity to my disease, had any association with Fuda. Now I find he will be attending an international conference there at the same time . What are the odds of that???

Last night I had a dream that I was with Louie flying on a big polished cloud over darkened peaceful waters, high above the earth. Louie is sitting next to me now in the terminal, working on getting his first video blog he hopes to post before we take off. We are trying to put together a story that will give other women following in our footsteps, a very good idea as to what to expect. For someone really wanting to go this route, right now Fuda is the only good option. The reality is that western women will only be comfortable when they see through a western perspective. We hope to give them that.

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

IMG_4509

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.”