The Story of Tom, Mindy & the Pancreatic Tumor Part VI: Energy Medicine, Cancer & My EM Practice

Eden Energy Medicine

The term energy is generally associated with two kinds of energy fields—veritable energy fields, which can be measured, and subtle energy fields, which (for the most part) cannot be measured with current technology. The human body creates and is affected by both types of energy fields. Energy Medicine (EM) is a collective term that is used to refer to a variety of approaches and techniques involving subtle energy fields as well as a measurable regulating fields of energy and information—the Human Body-Field.

The prevailing premise of energy medicine is that unrestricted flow and balance of the body’s subtle energies and an undistorted body-field are vital for mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional health and for fostering high-level well-being. EM focuses on identifying blockages and distortions in the body’s energy and information fields and on engaging specific processes and techniques to resolve them, with the goal of boosting health and vitality.

Eden Energy Medicine (EEM) is a method of working directly with the body’s energy systems to help create health and wellness. It is both a complement to more traditional medical modalities and a complete self-contained system for self-help and self-care. In Energy Medicine, energy is the medicine and also the patient. Energy interventions are used to help balance energies. EEM teaches specific techniques that can be used to activate the body’s natural healing abilities. This can help to restore vital energies that have become weak, disturbed or out of balance.

EEM can be used to ensure that your body’s energies flow in an overall balanced and harmonious manner. This creates an energetic environment within your body that supports health, vitality, and healing. Another way is to use EM techniques to assess specific body energies and how they relate to your current health. From this assessment, an individualized plan can be developed to help you address any physical or emotional issues that could be contributing to less than optimal health.

Eden Energy Medicine can empower you with healing techniques for yourself, your family, and others. It offers potent tools for addressing illnesses and emotional blocks. It can help promote high-level wellness and peak performance.

Limitations of Energy Medicine

While energy medicine appears to have promising mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional benefits, it has yet to be fully researched by the Western academic, medical, and psychological communities and, therefore, is considered experimental at this time. The field of energy medicine is, for the most part, self-regulated, and it is considered complementary or alternative to the traditional healthcare professions that are licensed in the United States and in the State of Colorado.

Energy medicine is not a substitute for the diagnosis and/or treatment of medical or mental-health conditions by a licensed healthcare professional. If you have a disorder that has been previously diagnosed, treated, or managed by a licensed medical or mental-health professional, my services should be used only in conjunction with your obtaining that care. In addition, any information shared during our sessions is not to be considered a recommendation that you stop seeing any of your healthcare professionals or using prescribed medication, if any, without consulting with your healthcare professional, even if after a session it appears and indicates that such medication or treatment is unnecessary. You should discuss any recommendations made by me with your primary-care physician, obstetrician, gynecologist, oncologist, cardiologist, pediatrician, or other board-certified physician, as applicable.

Cancer and Energy Medicine

If you are about to have surgery to remove a tumor, EEM can be very helpful in preparing your body for the energetic shock of surgery. Keeping your energy systems in balance after the surgery will accelerate your recovery. At age 76 I was the first patient under my surgeon’s care to be released only five days after surgery.

 Doing Nia in Portland

            Doing Nia in Portland

If you are about to start or are currently doing chemo, EEM will help prepare your body to receive the infusions, and it will also help your body to process the chemo drugs most effectively after an infusion. Before I started my Chemo treatments, I was able to check my body in the presence of the Chemo drugs that were to be used and balance the energies that were affected by those drugs. Last summer while I was in the midst of my chemo I was still riding my bike on 20 mile trips, doing Nia Dance 2-3 times a month, and hiking in the high country above 11,000 feet.

Other EEM techniques strengthen your immune system and give you more energy as well.

My Eden Energy Medicine Practice

This spring I began my Eden Energy Medicine (EEM) practice as an EEM certified Clinical Practitioner. That has allowed me to both trade my EEM services for some of my monthly doctor visits as well as earning an additional income.

As your practitioner, I can do all of the things described above, and I can also teach you to do a number of these things for yourself. My goal is to empower you to take charge of your body’s energy systems.

I have completed three years of rigorous, hands-on training in everything from the rhythms of Ancient Chinese Medicine to Strange Flows to earn my certification as an Eden Energy Medicine Practitioner. I have been trained to assess and balance your body’s energy systems.

To complete the 3rd year of training I had to conduct 100 sessions with clients supervised by my teacher/mentor using energy protocols designed specifically to deal with the energies of Cancer, Heart disease, pain, and hormone and Auto-immune disorders among many others. Next year I plan to complete the fourth and final year of EEM training which will certify me as an EEM Advanced Practitioner.

When using energy-medicine techniques, I am not diagnosing or treating your physical body, which is the domain of medical and allied healthcare professionals; instead, I am working with energy and information flows and structures in the body-field and with the body’s subtle energies. There is a distinction between healing using energy medicine and the practice of medicine or any other licensed healthcare profession whose mission it is to cure. The purpose of healing is to assure a state of wholeness, whereas curing means to erase symptoms of illness or disease in the physical body.

The various EEM techniques I use and teach involve touching, holding, tracing, tapping, and moving over specific areas of the body while you are standing, sitting, or lying down. I also engage elements of applied kinesiology, commonly referred to as muscle-testing, that involve a light-pressure/counter-pressure technique with specific muscles. This technique is a way of assessing the energy flow through certain areas of your body and often helps to identify the specific approach that will be most beneficial for your needs. Throughout the session, I will explain to you what I am doing and why; I will ask your permission before touching your body; and I will encourage you to ask me questions and provide feedback on how you are feeling and what you are experiencing.

EEM is truly amazing! See my Facebook page at for information about the Science behind Energy Medicine – the why and how of its workings are in a table near the bottom of the page. There is a link there to the whole article. The table on my Facebook page provides just a quick summary.

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The Story of Tom, Mindy & the Pancreatic Tumor Part V: Financial Impacts of Holistic Oncology

Unreimbursed Costs

Because Medicare and Medicare Supplement providers do not cover most Holistic or Alternative medical expenses, a cancer patient must pay for their Supplements and for all treatments prescribed by NDs or even by MDs and DOs if they have opted out of Medicare – which most Holistic practitioners have done.

Monthly Outlay Comparison

In my case Supplements cost me $900 a month, Treatments prescribed by medical practitioners not recognized by Medicare cost me a minimum of $700 a month, and costs for tests not covered by Medicare is another $300 a month. That brings the total of unreimbursed costs to $1,900 per month– Two-and-a-half times what we currently pay for food and 35% more than we pay for rent.

It almost pays for us to be traveling because while we’re away there are no treatment expenses, blood testing abroad costs less, and we’re able to sublet our apartment. That means our out-of-pocket cost for a month of travel is less than $500.

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The Story of Tom, Mindy & the Pancreatic Tumor Part IV: Staying Healthy after Chemo

Mindy: In late August we began envisioning the possibility of a trip to Chile and Argentina for late October when Tom would be finished with Chemo. Both countries were places that Tom wanted to share with me, and we looked forward to this trip as a celebration for having survived both surgery and Chemo.

Two days before we were scheduled to leave, we had our routine monthly meeting with our Holistic Oncologist. The latest blood tests did not look good, and she didn’t feel that we should risk going on the trip. We suggested that we have another set of tests the next day, and make our decision after seeing those results. We also suggested that it would be easier to come back from the trip early if it were necessary rather than to postpone the trip.

Tom: Our trip to Chile and Argentina was another Honeymoon and a real celebration of life. You can see from the picture on the left that I was looking pretty worn out at the beginning of the trip. I quickly began to regain my strength and by the end of the trip had the beginnings of a beard and Mindy and I did a 20 mile bicycle trip in the hilly country near Pucon, Chile. We had blood tests done in both Argentina and Chile, and we could see definite improvements in all of the Liver enzyme tests, so we were able to complete our trip as originally scheduled. On this trip I began to take mistletoe injections every other day.

Two Weeks after End of Chemo

Two Weeks after End of Chemo

Mindy and I share a vibrant love of life and stepping out into the world as ambassadors in the name of love and healing. This trip contributed to my recovery and let me be a powerful example of healing out in the world.

Staying Healthy After Chemo

This is the point at which Mainstream medicine usually fails. Having ‘cut out’ the tumor, and ‘poisoned’ and/or ‘burned’ the body with Chemo or radiation to kill any remaining tumor cells, the cancer patient is now left on his or her own without any real guidance on what to do except for quarterly checkups.

While I was doing Chemo, I stumbled upon an internet based set of 11 presentations called The Truth about Cancer which began my in depth study of cancer treatments. I have learned that there are two parts to staying healthy post Chemo: one is to keep my body healthy and my immune system strong, and the other is to prevent a metastasis of the cancer into other parts of my body.

Energy Medicine

My first line of defense since 2010 when I discovered Energy Medicine has always been the Daily Energy Routine DER which for me also includes Tracing my Meridians and the Radiant Circuits, Connecting Heaven and Earth, the Celtic Weave and the Hook-up.

In addition to the DER I also check the polarities of the top of my head, the bottoms of my feet, and my pulse areas to be sure that they are not frozen or reversed. Then I check my pulses to see if any meridians are out of balance with too much energy. And finally I also check the polarity of the Alarm points for my meridians and then the Alarm points themselves to see if any maeridians are under energized. All of these checks can be done in just a minute or two. I especially use this set of checks if I am feeling out of sorts in any way. Often during or after an intravenous infustion, my Liver and Kidney meridians will be over energized. When this happens I can hold the sedating points for those meridians or simply trace the meridian in its normal direction, then in reverse and finally forward again to re-establish proper balance. (Checking polarities and Alarm Points is something you can learn from an Eden Energy Medicine Certified Practitioner. You can learn how to use the Alarm points in Donna Eden’s book Energy Medicine on pp 126-130.)

Diet and Supplements

Diet and supplements are the key to a healthy body and immune system. Eating organic food and especially avoiding GMO foods and all forms of sugar are the keys to a good diet. Supplements – especially digestive and systemic enzymes – complement the diet and can even help to destroy tumor cells. Even before my surgery I began to take supplements. My Nephew, who used to play with the Pittsburg Steelers, has become a real health nut after watching his mother (my sister) die from lung cancer ten years ago. He had some very strong recommendations about what the best anti-cancer supplements were – like Vitamin D3 along with Vitamin K2. So I began taking a number of supplements ALL of which were later confirmed in June when I began working with Namaste. A list of my current supplements is at the end of this section. The Monthly cost of all of my supplements is around $900.

Preventing Metastasis

It wasn’t until my visit to the Paracelsus Clinic at Ronc in the Italian part of Switzerland this May that I began to learn about preventing metastasis. Mindy and I were already in Switzerland for a seminar on Loving for Couples and decided to take advantage of being in Switzerland to visit the clinic to get their opinion on what the best treatment plan for me would be. There I had a blood test done (which is not available in the US) that told us that I DO have both circulating tumor and tumor stem cells in my blood. It also confirmed that the Iscador Mistletoe that I have been taking since last November had increased the number of killer cells in my blood up to 2 to 3 times normal levels.

Part-IV Pix

During August I had another special blood test done through (also not available in the US. My blood was sent to Greece for testing) that identified the specific types of all of the circulating tumor and stem cells AND determined which chemo drugs and natural substances were most effective in killing them. These are the kind of tests that if routinely used by Mainstream medicine would allow cancer patients to materially reduce the likelihood of metastasis. These two tests together cost us $3000. Biofocus in Germany is another Lab which does similar tests to identify circulating tumor cells and the natural substances that will be most effective in dealing with them.

There are three parts to preventing a metastasis:

  1. Initial testing to determine if there are circulating tumor or tumor stem cells and identifying their type;
  2. treatment using the indicated agents to control the circulating cells; and
  3. periodic retesting to measure the progress and effectiveness of the treatment.

Mainstream medicine uses periodic CT and CT/PET scans to look for the presence of tumors. Blood tests provide a less expensive and more frequent way of monitoring.

Treating My Circulating Tumor and Stem cells

Now that we know what kind of circulating cells are in my blood stream, we are continuing the weekly intravenous infusions with the addition of Helixor Mistletoe and Artesunate. Intravenous High Dose Vitamin C turned out to be one of the most effective natural substances. The cost of Intravenous treatments is around $700 a month.

Monitoring my Progress

I have monthly blood tests to monitor my liver function and the level of inflammation in my system. Higher than normal liver enzymes are an indicator that something is amiss so that something might be done before a CT/PET scan detects a tumor. There are also quarterly tests to check on the number and types of circulating tumor and tumor stem cells. A number of these tests are not paid for by Medicare. The out-of-pocket cost of the monthly tests is only $35, but the quarterly tests with RGCC USA in Greece cost $675 (actually 625 Euros) plus another $120 for the local tests. The total monthly outlay for testing not covered by insurance is $300.

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List of Supplements

Take between Meals:

  1. Zinc- much research for generally enhancing immune function, but also helps lower copper levels which can promote angiogenesis and increase metastasis. 30mg twice a day
  2. Mountain Peak Nutritionals Glycemic formula contains Bitter Melon gymnema, chromium, vanadium and several other nutrients for lowering blood sugar and decreasing insulin resistance 1 cap 3 times a day
  3. Vitalzym XE- 3 caps twice a day
  4. Vascuzyme – contains Nattokinase a natural blood thinner and other enzymes 1 three times a day
  5. I3c- Regulates hormones and induces apoptosis (programmed cell-death). Pancreatic cancer cells have receptors for testosterone and aromatase enzyme which turns it into estrogen…which makes cells grow. 1 cap per day

Take before going to Bed:

  1. Magnesium Bisglycinate- 200mg once a day
  2. Vitamin D3- 10,000 iu/day
  3. Vitamin K2 (as MK-7) 90mcg- it keeps serum calcium levels lower while increasing vitamin D, and there is much research about Vit-K and many cancers
  4. Melatonin 20mg- enhances effects of gemcitabine, plus much research in many types of cancer. 1 cap before bed
  5. LDN-(Low Dose Naltrexone)- blocks opiate receptors on cancer cells, which allows the immune system to attack and destroy tumors.  Much research on use in oncology, MS and other autoimmune diseases.  Cannot be used when on opiate pain meds.  See org and for more information.  There are specific protocols for pancreatic cancer created by Dr. Burt Berkson, MD using IV ALA, oral milk thistle and LDN.
  6. EGCG- active ingredient from green tea and has anti-angiogenic properties, blocks IGF-1 receptors and enhances effect of gemcitabine.
  7. Iscador a Mistletoe extract have been used extensively in Europe to treat cancer for 30 plus years. It can dramatically improve quality of life and extend life significantly. 5mg by subcutaneious injection every two days

Take Anytime:

  1. Lipo-Spheric vitamin C- 1000mg twice a day
  1. Lipo-Spheric R-Alpha Lipoic Acid- 260mg twice a day lowers blood sugar & protects the Liver.
  2. Lipo-Spheric B-Complex (B-6 & B-12) to prevent neuropathy, which is one of the most common side effects of gemcitabine. 1 pkt a day
  3. Astragalus and milk thistle- both are synergistic with gemcitabine – in a tincture with holy basil, ashwaghanda, schizandra, opalopanax and dandelion root. Astragalus increases white blood count and milk thistle provides protection for liver and lowers liver enzymes. The other herbs support immune function.
  4. L-glutamine powder- amino acid that heals gi inflammation and decreases heartburn and loose stools. Also prevents neuropathy and supplies fuel to the immune system.  1 tsp powder in water twice a day and may take more to calm digestion.
  5. Fish Oil- 500mg twice a day

Take WITH Meals:

  1. Pancreatin is a digestive enzymes to compensate for loss of Gallbladder and common bile duct. 3 tabs with each meal.
  2. Rainbow Light Advanced Enzyme formula 2 caps with each meal.
  3. Cholacol –provides additional bile salts to digest fat. 1 with each meal.
  4. Curcuma Sorb with Meriva or Curcumin Phytosome-2 caps twice a day
  5. Ohhira’s Propolis Plus Probiotic 1 with each meal for 20 days of each month with a break for the rest of the month.

Natural Substances to Control Circulating Tumor Cells

  1. Artecin (Alternate with Quertecin) 1 twice a day
  2. Quertecin 1 twice a day
  3. Stamets7 – contains Agaricus Blazei Murill and six other medicinal mushrooms. 2 caps once a day.
  4. Genistein (Alternate with Stamet7) one twice a day
  5. Intravenous high dose Vitamin C – much research to support increased survival in any type of cancer by several proposed mechanisms. Once a month. Alternate with IV R-ALA, IV Helixor Mistletoe, and Multivitamin Nutritional IV.

Intravenous Infusions

(One IV Infusion a week cycling through all four)

  1. Intravenous R- Alpha Lipoic Acid
  2. Intravenous Helixor Mistletoe
  3. Intravenous Nutritional Multivitamin

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The Story of Tom, Mindy & the Pancreatic Tumor Part III: Chemo & Holistic Oncology Approaches

Mindy: Though Tom’s surgery was very successful, nine of the 21 lymph nodes removed for testing during surgery contained malignant cells. For this reason Tom choose a six month course of chemotherapy to prevent the possibility of metastasis from any of the lymph nodes not removed in the surgery.

Tom: Traditional allopathic treatments for cancer focus on surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, but they offer nothing to support the cancer patient’s immune system or physical body. Some 40% of cancer patients die not from cancer but from the starvation that results from a loss of appetite and the lack of proper nutrition. And because chemo and radiation attack both cancerous and healthy cells, these treatments seriously weaken the patient’s immune system, so many other patients die from opportunistic infections that a strong immune system would have prevented.

Mindy: With these things in mind, Tom went to get advice from a Naturopathic Physician at Namaste Health Center in Durango, a clinic well versed in Cancer treatment and recovery. At the end of June 2014, Tom began a very disciplined regimen changing to a ketogenic diet (high fat, adequate protein and low carbohydrates) supported by systemic and digestive enzymes, vitamins and supplements. He also began weekly intravenous infusions of high dose vitamin C, R-Alpha Lipoic Acid and B vitamins and nutritional supplements to help those medicines be most effective.

Tom: In addition to a proper diet and supplements, it is also important to do aerobic exercise because tumor cells do NOT thrive in an oxygen rich environmnet. With that in mind at the end of June two months into the six month Chemotherapy regimen, we decided to hike up to Ice Lakes just outside of Silverton. We had hoped to make the climb all the way up to Ice Lake at 12,257 feet. It is a very steep hike beginning at 9,850 feet. As we climbed the steepness became very daunting, but we pressed on. And when my body didn’t think it could go further I pushed myself up to the lower basin at 11,600. So we had a great aerobic climb of almost 1800 feet! We didn’t get to Ice Lake, but I got to feel the exhilaration of climbing and being in an incredibly beautiful place with my sweetheart. Sharing such beautiful experiences is one of the rewards of loving and being loved. And the love and care given to my body gave me physical stamina not often seen in people undergoing Chemo.Part-III Pix

“To fully thrive, we must not only eliminate the stressors but also actively seek joyful, loving, fulfilling lives that stimulate growth processes.” (Dr. Bruce H. Lipton) So love is good for your health, and fear and stress are bad for it. Fear and stress put the body into the fight, flight or freeze mode where blood flow is diverted away from digestion and your internal organs and into your body’s extremities.

Mindy: In early August, Tom began to experience such severe swelling in his left arm that he could barely bend his arm enough to touch his face. We went to the emergency room, where an ultrasound discovered that he had a clot in a vein in his left forearm and another in his left Jugular vein. He was given a shot of a liquid blood thinner and a prescription for another six syringes of the same.

A few days later we had already committed to be volunteers to help our local public radio station with a music concert in one of Durango’s public parks. We were making an effort to continue enjoying life by participating in Community events. Tom’s sister was visiting and she had also agreed to join us as a volunteer. On the day of the concert we weren’t sure if Tom would be physically able to work as a volunteer, but in his usual energetic way, he worked through his three hour shift with me and then all three of us enjoyed the remainder of the concert dancing on the grass in front of the bandstand.

Tom: This was one of the most significant problems that I experienced during my six months of Chemo. My mainstream Oncologist wanted me to take Halfway Through ChemoWarfarin (rat poison) to thin my blood to prevent further clots and perhaps to help these two clots dissolve. My Naturopath prescribed Vascuzyme, a supplement which contains nattokinase that is a natural blood thinner and does not poison the body. I chose the latter because the former requires weekly monitoring and in my view was much more dangerous. I was also able to use one of my Energy Medicine protocols to help my body absorb the clots.
It is unfortunately that the expense for most of what I have to do to stay healthy now that I have finished Chemo is NOT covered by Medicare or by my Medicare Supplement provider. This is not an uncommon experience for cancer patients in this country, because Medicare is set up to pay primarily for surgery (and an associated hospital stay), chemotherapy and radiation and anything that might happen along the way – like infections and blood clots – both of which I had to deal with. It also pays for periodic blood tests and imaging like ultrasound, CT and PET scans. Anything else – like proper nutrition and critical supplements – are considered by Mainstream medicine to be unnecessary. There is nothing in their regimen to directly support the immune system or to assure proper nutrition.

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The Story of Tom, Mindy & the Pancreatic Tumor Part II: Surgery & Who I am

Mindy: One of the things that I admire about Tom is his ability to recreate himself and pursue in great depth very diverse interests. Tom, once a vegetarian on Wall Street from 1974 to 1997 (such an oxymoron!!), had recreated himself and established a thriving Permaculture Center in Durango, Colorado. A number of years later, Tom discovered Donna Eden and her brand of Energy Medicine. He subsequently pursued a three year study and certification program with Eden Energy Medicine (EEM). He had just completed the first level of certification a month before his surgery at the end of February 2014. He was able to use this advanced medicine on his own body before and after the surgery and was released in record time (just five days) from the hospital and was hiking in a week- all this after more than five hours of surgery that essentially restructured Tom’s digestive organs.

Part-II Pix

You might be wondering how I got from Wall Street to Permaculture and EEM. I had been an organic farmer in the early 1970s while I was finishing graduate school. Later in the 1970s I became a vegetarian and became very aware of what I was eating. In 1999 when I retired in Durango, I began once again to garden. In the fall of 2000, I discovered Permaculture and decided to use Permaculture principles on my land. I became very excited about Permaculture, and I wanted to share what I was learning with as many people as I could. That desire led to Oakhaven Permaculture Center and three big summer festivals at Oakhaven where I invited my community to come and see what Permaculture looked like. I was one of five people in my community recognized as Bioneers of the Animas Valley for 2004.Tom: Yes, at age 76 no less, I was the first patient released in just five days after undergoing a modified Whipple procedure. I had requested that one of my EEM teachers work with me the day before the surgery and two days after. Her work in those two sessions plus the cumulative effects of doing my Daily Energy Routine really paid off in my rapid and unique recovery.

By 2006 I had pretty much realized my goal of using Oakhaven to demonstrate to my community what Permaculture could do, and I decided to focus on my role as one of the founders of the newly created Sustainability Alliance of SW Colorado This left a bit of a vacuum in my life, and it was not until the Spring of 2008 when I went on a 10-day vision quest that I began to connect with my inner self. Later that summer I began to study Shamanism and my inner world began to grow. Shamanic healing drew my interest because I was fascinated by how it worked. Then in 2010 I discovered Donna Eden, and I took her 5-day Basic Energy Medicine course and began doing her Daily Energy Routine every day. As an engineer and techie, I was very skeptical at first, but within the first six months, I was surprised to see the shift which occurred in my life. I felt empowered, a new ease, and a joy that permeated my life. In 2011 I took a 4-day advanced training with Donna, and in 2012, I began the two year certification program which I completed just a month before my surgery.

That same year I also began the Foundation for Shamanic Studies three year program of Advanced Initiations in Shamanism and Shamanic Healing.

During a series of Shamanic journeys in the Fall of 2012, I got the very strong message that Love is all there is. I experienced the knowing that Love (or the lack of love) motivates everything that we do. That was just two-and-a half months before Mindy and I were introduced by a mutual friend. Over the last three years, I have experienced that power of love with Mindy. I have let myself feel the vulnerability of loving someone unconditionally. It has not always been easy, but the reward to each of us has been the joyful feeling of being so loved in return.

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The Story of Tom, Mindy & the Pancreatic Tumor Part I: The Diagnosis & Pancreatic Cancer

Mindy: Tom and I were blessed to find love again, meeting each other as mature adults. And in our first year of loving and celebrating life, we got a shocking diagnosis that Tom had Stage ll Pancreatic Cancer. His Doctor was telling him ‘that he was so very sorry’ and our honeymoon period of new love crashed into the new reality of dealing with cancer. After much research and soul searching, Tom decided that he would go through the Whipple procedure surgery to remove the tumor.

Tom: When I was diagnosed with a tumor on my Pancreas in December of 2013, I knew in my heart that I would survive the ordeal physically. I did not think then that surviving it physically would become a threat to my financial health, but that is what has happened. I discovered at the end of 2014 after I had spent nearly $14,000 on holistic healthcare treatments, that NONE of those expenses would be covered by Medicare or my Medicare Supplement insurance. It is highly unlikely that I could have gone without that support and be as physically healthy as I am today.

I was very fortunate that my tumor was caught at an early stage while it was still operable. Deciding where to have the surgery was not easy. The first place we explored was the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora. When we met with the surgeons there to discuss the procedure, they were not very forthcoming with answers to our questions.

This led us to seek a second opinion. We spoke with the head of outreach at the Colangiocarcinoma Foundation (At that time the tumor appeared to be on the Common Bile duct.) She gave us the name of an oncologist at the University of Southern California (USC). We made a trip to California and spoke with him and met Dr. Yuri Genyk, the head of transplant surgery there. We were impressed with his willingness to give us in-depth answers to all of our questions, and at that first meeting we decided that he would be our surgeon.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the more deadly forms of Cancer. The five year survival rate for all patients is only 6%. I was fortunate that mine was discovered early enough that I could have surgery. A 2003 study reported in the Annals of Surgery found that pancreatic cancer patients over the age of 65 who had surgery to remove their tumors had a 3-year survival rate of 35%. And for patients who had their surgery in a teaching hospital (mine was at the Keck Hospital at USC) or had Chemotherapy that rate went up to 41%.

It is now 20 months since my surgery – the mean survival time in this study. I am by no means out of the woods. It is critical that I continue these holistic healthcare treatments to prevent metastasis and to keep my immune system strong.

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Post-Surgery SurvivalChart-AnnalsOfSurgery


Hints of Spring in this new year, yellow crocuses showing around yards, birds singing and children swinging in the park till late in the afternoon, as the evensong prevails.  Another cycle around the sun, as the expression goes!!!

How do we beings, in our processes of aging, welcome rebirth and come alive again?  Is it enough to have felt the inward, dark, introspective, cold period of winter to feel a spring in one’s step and a stirring of joyful celebration as, once again, we are given gifts of renewal in tiny buds, new growth, communities shedding their layers and greeting each other in the increasing warmth of the sun’s rays………………  This year I’ve done it a bit differently.  I was deep into my hovel, covers pulled up and w little inspiration.  I carried around me a swarth of fat carried over from lovely indulgences while traveling in South America just before the end of the year.  And of course, with that extra weight came persistent chatter from my familiar inner critic….with the “if only’s” and “why don’t you” and the old favorite, “you should _______ ” fill in the blank.

    I knew for my peace of mind, I needed to find an end of that inner cord to grab hold of in order to initiate change.  For what stirs the system more and lights the inner spark than a new ‘purpose’, ’cause’ or ‘passion’?  For me, that’s what it takes  Well, one day, thanks to a usual perusal of FACEBOOK, a seed was planted by a post from the wife of a fellow firefighter, where they announced that they were several weeks into their annual ‘cleanse’, using a program entitled WHOLE30.COM.  Something about Rosie’s writing and the wealth of information available for ‘free’ on-line got me stirred up and on that drab Sunday, I spent a number of hours reading the 4 full pages of introduction on the WHOLE30.COM Site, going on to the shopping list, the pages discussing the challenges faced throughout the 30 day program, reading participants’ experiences and, in general, getting my internal cheerleaders geared up for this new game plan, as I felt in my gut, that this plan made sense, did not involved buying into ‘anyone’s’ multi-level marketing scheme and drinking shakes made w ingredients I could not pronounce.  Rather the core of WHOLE30.COM is to eat organic, healthy, carefully raised proteins along with similar grown fruits and vegetables, nuts and a variety of suggested snacks and for 30 DAYS, eliminate, all alcohols, diary products ( I felt some panic to ‘let go’ of my cheese consumption), all grains and gluten products, legumes, all sweeteners including stevia…… yes, there was a releasing of lots of familiar and comfort foods, especially my breads, muffins and glutens, even though I had already become familiar with the inflammation that affected my body when eating such food ( as evidenced in the rapid weight gain – see GRAIN BRAIN and THE PLAN).

Today is day 30 for me!!!!!……….I feel lighter, chiseled, my skin is even softer than usually and with a very healthy glow, my clothes feel complimentary on me again and I feel alive, pleased w my body and confident of my relationship w food, not a slave to it.  Through out the program, I ate well and found a constant source of amazing recipes that thrilled my tastebuds and was fully enjoyed by my sweet and loving partner, who a year ago, was challenged by pancreatic cancer diagnosis, chemotherapy, hair loss and wacked out liver enzymes.  So we both benefitted from my month long commitment….. so much so that while I will enjoy several days of eating yogurt and kefir, some bread and cream and stevia in my coffee, next Monday I will be back on the program for another 30 day round, preparing for our departure to Europe, Turkey and Greece, where again, I will enjoy the local fare w flourish until I return home and resume this ‘LIFESTYLE OF HEALTH AND WELL-BEING’….okay, occasionally I will want to have a glass of wine!!!

Listed below is a page copied from the website,  I agree w much that she wrote……How bout you feeling like this as you age!??!?!  Gives a whole new definition, eh!!!

30 Reasons To Do a Whole30

These are the things that I’ve experienced myself and loved about the Whole30. Not everyone’s experiences are the same, and you might not enjoy all of these things during your month (and I can pretty much guarantee you won’t experience them every day of the month… some days are just hard). But I can pretty much promise you, if you tackle a Whole30 and really commit to the spirit of the whole endeavor, it will change you and your perceptions of yourself and the world for the better. That’s a tall order, I know! But it’s also drenched in truthiness.

In no particular order…

1. You’ll sleep longer and more soundly.
When sugar is out and protein/fat is in, you sleep the sleep of the righteous.

2. You’ll enjoy consistent energy.
Forget energy that peaks and drops like a roller coaster, you’ll become a bullet train.

3. You’ll wake up feeling optimistic and alert.
There is nothing, and I mean nothing, better than waking up with a smile and open heart.

4. You’ll say goodbye to digestive distress.
Forget about farts and tummy rumbling and…let’s call them “uncomfortable bathroom experiences.” You might have a little discomfort at first if you’re not used to eating lots of veggies, but after that, smooth sailing.

5. You’ll be happier.
No joke. When blood sugar is stable, life is happier. Period.

6. You’ll be more peaceful.
The swirly thoughts and anxiety that can be brought on the sugar joyride just vaporize and leave calm in their wake.

7. You’ll be more clear-headed.
Goodbye brain fog and tip-of-the-tongue syndrome; hello Mensa!

8. You’ll drink more water.
Sugary drinks are out, so you’ll naturally find yourself drinking more water — which is a brilliant thing. Might I also recommend some lovely rooibos tea?

9. You’ll eat more vegetables.
Get ready to eat like a bunny! You want 2-3 cups of veg per meal. Per. Meal. Think of all the nutrients!

10. You’ll savor your food more.
For me, shining the spotlight on quality food makes me appreciate its nutritive power and flavor more than usual. I slow down, enjoy every bite, and think about how it’s making me strong while it tastes so damn good.

11. You’ll feel the difference between emotional appetite and real hunger.
You know that mindless eating that happens when you’re stressed or distracted? That’s emotional appetite, and it’s junky. During the Whole30, as your body gets off the sugar high and settles into better insulin management, your appetite starts to diminish, but real hunger — the need for quality food that signals when it’s time to eat — kicks in and it feels So Good.

12. You’ll find new favorite foods.
Who knows which vegetables, spices, and meat preparations will become your favorites?! It’s exciting to think about, no? There’s so much room in your kitchen and on your plate for new stuff when you banish the grains, beans, and dairy.

13. You’ll have fun experimenting in the kitchen.
The Whole30 is essentially what got me into the kitchen and playing with recipes. I was inspired to see what I could do with veg+meat+fat… and I encourage you to do the same. Play with your food!

14. You’ll get more organized.
Woot! Free bonus! The Whole30 kinda requires you to do a little bit of planning to ensure your success and that organization can trickle into other areas of your life, too.

15. You’ll get out from under the burden of emotional eating.
Most of us tend to blame ourselves for “lack of willpower,” but the truth is that much of our mindless eating is driven my our hormones. When we manage our hormonal response by eating the right foods, the correct messages about hunger are delivered through our bodies. No more hoovering through the kitchen cabinets!

16. You’ll learn about yourself.
By focusing on your habits for 30 days, you’ll learn all kinds of things, including what triggers your appetite, who’s part of your support system, what you need for self care, what time of day you go to the bathroom, and more!

17. You’ll slay the sugar demon.
Vanquish that bastard! And then, later, if you dance with the sugar demon again, you’ll know that it’s within your power to take a sword to his carotid again when the time comes.

18. You’ll make new friends.
There’s a huge community of Whole30 participants online and offline, and during your Whole30, you can tap into their support, knowledge, sense of humor, successes, and challenges. A great place to start is the Whole9 Forum.

19. You’ll positively influence others.
Yes, you’ll inevitably get the “You need to eat whole grains” argument from some well-meaning acquaintances, and that will be annoying. But if you quietly stick to your program, you’ll also have a positive impact on the people around you when they see your results. I can’t tell you how many people were envious of my Whole30 packed lunches in my office, and that is the perfect way to open the door to a great conversation.

20. You’ll learn more about how your body works.
This is a two-fold win: first, by understanding the principles of the science behind the Whole30, you’ll learn a bit about how human bodies function; and second, you’ll learn how you — a special, special snowflake — work, in particular.

21. Your skin will be brighter.
Sleep + water + vegetables + fat + no sugar = clear, younger-looking skin.

22. Your hair will be shinier.
Sleep + water + vegetables + fat + no sugar = glossy hair. (And stronger nails, too.)

23. Your tummy will be flatter.
The end-of-day bloat from dairy and legumes is gone, baby, gone!

24. Your workouts will feel invigorating.
Workouts fueled by real food are the bomb. That is all.

25. You might PR.
You might. Really.

26. You’ll feel accomplished. (Or maybe even smug.)
I’ve stopped pursuing discipline for discipline’s sake, but I wholeheartedly believe that committing to a short-term program like the Whole30 helps develop mental toughness that is valuable in all aspects of our lives. And yes, I do enjoy feeling smug about that once in a while.

27. You might lose weight — or gain muscle. Or both.
If  losing body fat is your goal, a Whole30 can be a great way to start that process. Just don’t cheat yourself out of a lot of joy if you make that your only focus.

28. Your body image will improve.
There is an undeniable connection between treating ourselves well and how we feel about our bodies. If you look at the Whole30 as an act of self care, then affection, love, acceptance, and celebration of your body — how it feels, what it can do, the amazing things it carries you through every day — will surely follow.

29. Food will become both more important and less important.
I used to be really attached to food. I was sad at the end of the day when my eating was over until tomorrow, and when faced with my favorite foods, I wanted to eat them until I was stuffed, lest I never see them again. But when I got my blood sugar under control with the Whole30, that changed. Food is both more sacred — it nourishes and sustains us — and less sacred — we get to eat again in a few hours (!). The emotional triggers attached to the food on my plate are gone. Don’t get me wrong: I still feel deep affection for favorite foods, and I love to eat, but I feel now that there’s a world of abundance out there. Fear of food — and fear of not having favorite foods — is gone.

30. You’ll stop dieting and just eat.
This might be the best reason of all. When you take out the non-food food and replace it with real food, you can stop over-anaylyzing how much you eat, when you eat, where you eat. Yes, quantities still matter to some degree, but you can throw off the shackles of calorie counting and denial… and just eat. Peacefully. Healthfully. Robustly. With joy and pleasure and laughter. And cumin.



IMG_3190Feeling much gratitude for having completed a most challenging yet glorious year and being blessed to begin anew.  A year ago I thought I knew what aging well meant  – being fearless, confident and willing to step out in to the world, using all that one has learned in the years lived that has gotten one to consider aging!  In a sentence, choosing love over fear seemed to be what it took to age well.  I still believe in that.  Yet the year past has been quite a teacher and cancer has been the medium in which the lessons have been taught.  Sometimes aging well means having to sit with the fear and even serve it some tea.  It, too has a place at the table-

It was exactly this time last year that we first had the confirmation of cancer and our spirits were so very low.  But with some creative thinking, in the midst of all this, we planned a simple excursion to Baja, Mexico for some warmth and renewal while considering the options and with the help of ‘chocolate clams’ (no not milk or dark, just rich and delicious), swimming w Whale Sharks and rest in the hammocks, we determined how to proceed.Tom had a modified Whipple procedure ( a massive surgery- not for the faint of body) with a wonderful surgeon, was released in 5 days and was hiking in a week.  Tom’s self care throughout his life with Organic foods and Yoga, diligently doing ENERGY MEDICINE and infusing him with love all contributed to his healing.  And while 6 months of Chemotherapy took a toil, w hair and weight loss, choosing a naturopathic support to his immune system and nutrition allowed Tom and I, within weeks of completing the regime and w a clean PET scan, to travel to South America and travel 5,000 miles exploring Beautiful Southern Chile and Argentina, close to the Alps and affirm life, love and the beauty and richness of our glorious earth.IMG_2766

So in this new year, as I begin my 6th decade of living, loving and growing, I renew my commitments to living a quality life, aging well by embracing life and love fully, using The Four Agreements (see Tom’s new year entry) to navigate through challenges and uncharted territory and give thanks that within me is the desire to live life fully, constantly choosing love and being blessed to share that love with a unique and wonderfully conscious being, my Tom…..

So just ‘WHAT’ does “AGING WELL” mean??? part 1

     When I first envisioned this website, life was not easy, yet certainly manageable.  And what seemed an important new territory to explore and guide others, as I have been a guide for much of my career, seemed the unexplored hemisphere of  ‘AGING WELL’.  Hence, the seed for AGING WELL WITH IRIS was planted, and taken root.

From that early planting, my life education has taken me places I did not imagine.  I had been married and became a sudden widow with the traumatic death of my husband by suicide.  For 2 years, I lived in the land of grief and with important guides on that journey, committed myself to grief recovery without distraction and found pieces of myself, new and recovered that had been blown apart in the bomb of death.  

As I began to feel new life and strength in me, I challenged myself to reconnect in my faith and trust w source through stepping out into the world.  I prepared to embark on a three month journey to explore unknown parts of the world – most of it by myself.  I was so scared to step out and trust again, I had an extended period of insomnia and got extremely sick.  And if the universe didn’t think there was enough challenge on my plate, 3 weeks before I left on this journey, I was introduced to a fine gentleman by a mutual man friend, who’s intuition told him that we would enjoy knowing each other.  We enjoyed beginning to get acquainted with know each other in that brief time, found many common interests, and passions and Tom, on our first date, when told about my upcoming journey, asked what would I think “if someone would be interested to join me on some part of this journey, not get in the way or anything?” And then winked at me………and I standing up to go to the ladies room, asked “So why are you winking?” and walked off…………….!!!  I left on my journey, with no definite plans made w Tom, just possibilities.

     I began my journey in Fiji with a yoga group from Durango, Co., my home town and after a week, I was on my own and the journey began.  I listened in, did research on possible directions I could take and made choices. (see copies of earlier postings of a year ago for more detail from my journey)  Tom and I stayed in touch via Skype and e-mail and our friendship and interest in each other deepened.  By the time I flew to New Zealand, we were exploring Tom meeting me in Saigon, Vietnam for 8 days before I began a 2 week service project in Hanoi working w children and veterans affected by Agent Orange.

Yet I was tested to my core again, when, during my visit to Indonesia and a reunion with a man from the island of Sulewesi that I had met 13 years ago, we went diving together as we had dreamt of sharing for many years and during that dive, Wyn, holding my hand, died.  CPR was performed for over an hour as we raced to the city of Manado, a boat-ride away, to get him to the emergency room.  I watched life leave his body and felt shock and trauma as I faced death again so close to me.  I knew no one else in this foreign place and started to come undone.  

“Saving” for your Golden Years

Saving for your Golden Years has very little to do with money and everything to do with Saving — that is taking care of — the beautiful living vessel gifted you at your birth in which your soul lives out this current incarnation — otherwise known as your body.

I have just come out of major surgery — five hours on the table — following a modified Whipple procedure in which about a quarter of my pancreas was removed along with a tumor that sat on its head, my gall bladder, and my duodenum — the first twelve inches of my small intestine. All the loose ends — pancreas, bile duct from the liver and the remainder of the small intestine are joined just below the sphincter of the stomach to restore the integrity of my digestive system. I am 76 years old, yet I was released in record time — only five days — because of my rapid recovery. What’s going on here?

What’s going on — and is still going on — is 30 years of yoga and 40 years of aerobic activity 2-3 times a week plus 35 years of eating a strictly organic (or local when I know the farmer or rancher) diet and almost no processed foods. As Michael Pollan says, “If it’s a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don’t.” It has also been 40 years of NEVER saying to myself “I’m too old to do that.” So I continue to do my yoga — which has kept my spine and all of its intricate muscles balanced and active and allowed my breathing to be deep and even. During my short hospital recovery the medical staff were amazed at my ability to draw such a large quantity of air in a single breath — 3500 on a scale of 4000 only a few hours after my surgery. This is also a tribute to 40 years of aerobic activity — running in the 70s, biking replaced running beginning in the 80s, cross-country skiing beginning in 90s and African Dance and Nia beginning in 2010. All  of these continue today, and they are something that money cannot buy. You will only have this kind of Balance in your Body’s Saving Account if you dedicate your life to staying healthy.

You may well ask that if I was so healthy, how did I end up with a tumor on my pancreas? I cannot say exactly why I got the tumor. I can understand how and why it might have arisen, but the more important question is that If I were not so healthy, I would have had a much more difficult time dealing with and surviving it. And surviving is still and always a question. And the best way to prepare yourself is to STAY HEALTHY.

And to Stay Healthy you have to be your own advocate, and stay away from the Cornucopia of prescription meds offered by Big Pharma. I am such a rarity — imagine that I don’t take ANY prescription drugs! The Corporate Media have become so overreaching and so brimming with false information and outright lies, that you have to do your own research, ask your own questions, and experiment. Simply buying some food like substance that is advertised as “good for you” or “low fat” is not going to get you where you want to be. Neither is using Statin because your doctor says that it will reduce your high cholesterol. You must be skeptical of all claims. You might want to read “The Great Cholesterol Myth” by Bowden and Sinatra.

I began cooking my own meals when I was just 20 – from scratch. In the 80s I discovered Rudolf Ballentine’s book “Diet and Nutrition” which exposed the false claims about saturated fats and many other food issues. Then in 2003 I found Sally Fallon’s book “Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats.” I made my own bread for thirty some years, and today I make cheese from raw milk and kefir using grains. I’ve made tofu and Seitan and sauerkraut. You will need to cook most of your own food — and that means from scratch — not just warming up some food like stuff that you bought at the supermarket.

How do you know who to believe? You may not always know. You have to continually question and look for other authors or research that may support or refute someone else’s claims. YOU have to decide, and you have to always be proactive and exploring. Start with the some of the books I described above. Read Michael Pollan’s books “Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “In Defense of Food” and check out his recent book “Cooked” which explores the four different modes of preparing food.