Saturday, October 11, 2008

September 30th, 2008: Ann Peden, my land partner in Glen Ellen, has a life friend named Monica Parker. Monica has a legendary voice, especially as a blues and soul singer. Shortly after I talked with Ann about my cancer diagnosis, she called Monica to ask about the doctor who had masterminded her recovery from a sarcoma several years ago. Monica spoke the magic name: Dr. Thierry Jahan. Within a few days, Monica and I had a long conversation where she shared some of her survival tips and memories. The first advice out of her mouth: change your diet. I didn’t know anything about alkaline or acid foods, so Monica gave me a crash course. Celery, cucumbers, lentils, onions, spinach, fresh sprouting greens metabolize as alkaline and help your body build a strong immune system. Sugars, red meat, white bread and coffee metabolize as acidic in the body. Monica told me about the sequence of chemo, surgery, radiation and a final chemo course that charted her recovery. She’d had a daunting, difficult journey, and the memory of it caused her to cry at times during the narration. “But,” she passed on to me, “You can live through this.” She shared the rituals she created to bring responsibility to the strong chemotherapy drugs that she ingested. She gave me names of books that had inspired her. She talked about setting up her support group. She had Warriors who did the heavy lifting of practical support, research and advocacy work. She also had Angels who held her soul during some very dark times. “I just gave ‘em assignments,” Monica remembered. “And they were there for me.”

Prior to my hip replacement, I’d talked to people who been given new hips and knees by my surgeon and it gave me confidence and reassurance that I’d be OK as well. But since my cancer diagnosis, I hadn’t talked to any long term survivors until the phone call with Monica. I ordered the books. I went to Whole Foods and bought more vegetables than usual. But mostly, I replayed in my mind Monica’s warm, plumy words, “You can live through this.” As we were getting ready to end the call, Monica paused for a moment. “I wouldn’t have said this before. But it was a blessing.”

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