Missing Her Already

Mom enjoying the beauty in Ouray about a month ago

Mom enjoys the beauty in Ouray from her new wheelchair, jus a month ago

Adam arrived on Tuesday night. It’s good news:  he sleeps irregularly, so he’s often up in the middle of the night — just like Mom. He makes her coffee and breakfast and keeps her company before I’m even up.

On Wednesday morning there is an email from Julio, one of our companions on the Camino de Santiago. He must have read the blog post in the email he is responding to, but he cannot bring himself to mention it. He writes:

Inge , you look nice in the pic, i think last time i saw you, you were looking with less weight …
You still my heroine, my amazon, always struggling to survive and always nice smile. Olé …

She takes Ativan, otherwise known as Lorazepam. The label says it’s for anxiety, but the main benefit is to prevent nausea. The downside? It makes her very sleepy. She is usually sleeping, and when she is awake she is nearly still asleep. Her speech is slower, her cognition slower, her laugh also slowed-down. She is no longer alert. She makes a few jokes, but she isn’t talking about food and cooking, not watching TV, not making much conversation – even the kind that used to annoy me. Our shopping together, even with her in an electric cart, has stopped.

I judge myself for thoughts of missing my mother: am I being sentimental? Maudlin? But the thoughts continue: I miss my mom. She’s still here, but I miss her.

Mom groans and stirs on the couch.

“What is it?” I ask.

“I need something for my lung,” she says, reaching a hand around her right flank.

“It hurts?”

She nods.

Later, she begins hiccuping again. She has done this for a few months now.

“Something you ate?” Adam asks, tenderly.

“No,” she says.

No, I think, something that’s eating her.

And then she sleeps, and sleeps, head back, mouth partially open. Her face has lost its fat, and her skin hangs in some places and is taut in others.

My heart is breaking. My mother is still alive, and yet my heart is already breaking.

In the evening I heat up some drunken noodles, but before eating anything I stop in the doorway of her bedroom and watch her sleep. Her head is back, her mouth open. She reminds me of Oma, at the end. I go into her room and see her eyes open slightly. “Do you want the light off?” I ask. She nods or murmurs and I turn off the light. I bend down and kiss her on the head and hug her and put my head and face against hers. She says something I can’t hear. I tell her goodnight and she repeats herself so I can make it out: she wants me to lie in the bed for a while.

I go around the bed and crawl in. I had wanted to do something like this, but she was usually on her couch when she was awake. Now it doesn’t seem to make any difference if she is sleeping. She turns on her side and I lie next to her with my arm draped lightly over her side. My face is pressed up against the cloth of her pajamas at the neck and her hair. Every now and then, our breathing follows the same rhythm. I smell the scent of her hair and pajamas. She is so frail. My eyes leak water. I feel tears from my right eye drip across the bridge of my nose, down the other side, and around the left side of my mouth. I feel them wet her short, grey hair. I lie there, thinking of stopping time. Of making this moment go on forever.

Will my mother be here in a week?

After perhaps 20 minutes, maybe 30, I am hungry and want to return to my now-cold drunken noodles. I begin to extricate myself but she turns and puts her right arm across my chest and around the right side of my head. The fingers of my right hand clasp her upper arm. “You my sonny boy?” she murmurs. “My sonny boy.”

“Always,” I say, in a fierce whisper.

I try to be present, try to soak it up. Will I remember this? Let me build a memory. I feel her breathing. I feel her hand, lightly clasping mine on her stomach. I see the light coming through her open door from the living room. I can’t believe I am even here. I am so sad, so afraid.

I love her so very much.

Starting the Camino de Santiago, September 2011

Mom and I starting the Camino de Santiago, September 2011, with Don Julio Redondo of Bilbao, left

True History of the Camino de Santiago

Mom’s new favorite book, featuring Mom and Julio

Messages to My Mother

Listening to all the letters and Facebook posts we’ve been reading to her, my mother has had a

Mom, early September 2014

Mom, left, and sister Christa, early September 2014

hard time believing how people really see her.  She seems truly bewildered that she inspires people so much with her signature combination of passion and gratitude. With her passion for cooking and teaching kids to cook, she’s inspired an extraordinary proportion of her pupils to go into the culinary business.  She inspired many people with her walk on the Camino de Santiago, and with the blog she wrote of her journey with cancer before, during, and after the Camino.  On Facebook, and especially in the Teal Warriors group of women with ovarian cancer and their caregivers, she is known as an eternally positive, encouraging presence, and readers are clearly inspired by her perspective, like her gratitude for nature’s beauty even in the midst of life’s great challenges.

Here’s what I’m talking about.  Herewith, a letter from Grace, whom I met in Washington, D.C. several years ago, and, below that, a number of Facebook posts from my mother’s Teal Warriors, a wonderful Facebook group consisting of women with ovarian cancer and their caregivers:

Dear Inge,

We have never met, and yet, you have influenced my life immensely. I write these words to you today with so much love and gratitude.

Many years ago, I decided that someday I would walk the Camino de Santiago.

Last year, when the funds were (finally) there for me and the trip became a real possibility, I began my research and planning.

Your blog, Camino not Chemo, appeared on my Google search.

I read the entire story in one evening. I remember so clearly curling up on the couch, laptop there with me, ignoring my phone as it rang, literally blocking out the world… reading long into the night. “Just one more entry…and then I’ll go to sleep…”

But I couldn’t stop reading. Hours went by. Quickly!

Reading all about your journey, the physical one and the spiritual one, was a godsend to me. I know the words were sometimes yours, sometimes Cameron’s, but what shined through always was your strength. Your infallible spirit. Your determination. Your bravery. You are, quite frankly, one of the strongest women I “know”.

I was truly overcome with emotion when I saw the pictures of you there, outside the Cathedral in Santiago. A beautiful, joyful face. Healthy in body and soul.

And then, upon your return to America, I continued to follow your journey…

This battle that you have faced with such dignity and courage.

Many months later, when I began my own pilgrimage across Spain, you were with me. I thought of you as I followed your footsteps across the Pyrenees, when I knelt at the base of the Cruz de Ferro, when I swam in the lake at Molinaseca, and when I embraced my friends when we arrived in Santiago. I thought of you as I continued on to Fisterra, when I jumped in the ocean there at the “end of the world”; for me a pagan baptism, of sorts.

And I think of you now. Everyday! With so much love and gratitude.

Thank you Inge. Thank you for sharing your journey. Thank you for sharing your life. Thank you for educating so many of us, your faithful readers, on healthy living.

Your story has inspired me. In many ways, you have changed my life. My journey would not have been the same without your words. And I will think of you as I continue to walk my life’s journey.

I am eternally grateful.

Your friend,

Grace Santarelli

The notes below are a sampling from the comments from members of Mom’s Facebook group, Teal Warriors:

‪Denise:  Please tell Inge I’m thinking of her from the UK. Her posts, her pictures helped me through my toughest times with my late ‘Little Mum’.

‪Pam: There are no words to describe my feelings and I am sure those of many others. ‪Inge Cheatham‬ – you are an amazing warrior. As Kerie said, you have set a very high bar. I too was drawn in by the beautiful pictures and inspiring comments you posted each day. I miss them but mainly because they reflect you. Even through all of what I just read about, you were posting encouraging positive comments when you could. I am pleased that you are receiving such wonderful support. We will have tea together in a beautiful flower garden someday… Praying for a miracle. Also comfort, peace, and some joy in each day. I love you my friend!

‪Susan:  Please Let dear ‪Inge Cheatham‬ how very much she is loved by us all. We are keeping you all in our thoughts and prayers. She has warmed all of our hearts at one time or another.. God Bless

‪Linda: ‬ This flower is for you Inge… Protea – the flower of strength. Love and Prayers to you sweet Inge. Thinking of you now and always.

‪Andrea:  All the beautiful words and photos you have given us Inge here is one for you [with a photo]

Colleen:  Thank-you for letting us know ,your Mom has helped so many of us please let her know we are sending her positive healing thoughts.

‪Betty: ‬ Inge, my dear teal warrior sister, never have I known a more compassionate and loving lady that understands the sad part of our illnesses yet always finds joy in everyday. I love you, Inge. Please find peace and comfort in your coming days. God bless you, my special friend.‪

Valerie:  Inge….you are an inspiration to a lot of us,,,you are very courageous and beautiful. Prayers to you my dear.

Victoria: Cameron! Thank you very much for updating us. I am thinking about your Mom every day, and she is in my prayers. Even when i am not feeling good and can not write my post, i am looking if there an update from Inge. She is Amasing. Sending my prayers, energy and healing hugs to her. God bless your family!

Karen:  When I check Facebook, I usually start by looking for Inge’s post. The beautiful pictures and encouraging words are a great start to my day. Even when she is going through a rough time, she remains optimistic and informing. I have been going through a rough patch and had not checked for Inge so this news is hitting hard. Please let her know what an inspiration she is to us and what pleasure she gives us. You, Cameron, are such a loving and caring son. I’m sorry for all you’ve gone through but you have given so much to your mom and her pride in you comes through in all her posts. My heart is breaking but thank you for keeping us informed.

‪Ruth:  Please tell Inge all the messages she is getting, she has helped so many of us. She inspired me to get on with life. Cancer does not define us, it’s a part of us. She has helped so many of us to stop and see the beauty in nature around us. She is the rock on our teal warriors. (((((((((((((((Biggest hug ever))))))))))))

Susanna:  Thank you for letting us know Cameron , I think about you Inge every day , you are my backbone , you giving all of us hope and strength , and a lot of useful advice, a kick in the butt sometimes, you made us cry, and you made us laugh, you are an absolute angel. Lots of hugs prayers for you and your loved ones.

Sharon:  Prayers for you ‪Inge Cheatham‬, you have given so many of your teal sisters inspiration to keep going. Love and hugs to you.

Beth:‬ ‪Inge Cheatham‬ has been a beacon to me. She is the light of love and caring. Always striving for just a bit more of life’s beauty.

Want to see what they all mean?  Then enjoy this!

True History of the Camino de Santiago

Mom’s new favorite book, featuring Mom and Julio

Das war die Grenze

I am on the phone, trying to listen to a coaching client. This is harder than you might think, because I can also hear, through the spare bedroom door, the sounds of my mother retching.  My Mom’s journey through 2014 has not been what we expected.  

This is how many of her days begin, but to truly understand the beginning of her days, we need to start the night before. She goes to bed at nine o’clock. Just before she retires, she or a friend pulls a spoon out of the freezer and, from the refrigerator, both an orange wedge and a container of applesauce. The spoon is glazed with flour, so that the cannabis oil placed there comes off easily once frozen. She dips the spoon in the applesauce and collects some on the tip. She bites into her orange wedge with one hand, lifts the spoon to her mouth with the other, closes her eyes, grimaces, and swallows the little lump of cannabis oil and the applesauce. She washes away the bitter taste with the rest of the orange wedge. She may take an Ibuprofen — “half an ibuprofen,” she tells people — but for months she took no medication other than cannabis and half an ibuprofen.

Mom, early 2014

Mom, early 2014

More recently, she takes with her to bed the small pump that, with the press of a button, delivers painkillers to the chest port that was installed for last year’s failed chemotherapies. The button works only every eight minutes, though my mother tries to push it only a handful of times a day. I remember when, soon after she got it, she unplugged it for just a little while, and the pain returned. “I guess I’m tied to this thing now,” she said, somewhat mournfully. She is very aware of all the things that she can no longer do, or do alone.

At times that list has included eating, one of her greatest pleasures, or cooking, which for her may rate even higher for the joy it gives to other people. She had to stop visiting me in Telluride many months ago; the altitude was too much, and she could no longer enjoy the spectacle of me singing karaoke. Walking became difficult next, and when it became too much so we got her a wheelchair. Her young friends Annika and Gregory, to whom my mother is practically a grandmother, burst into tears when they saw it.

Annika, right, at a party for Mom

Annika, right, at a party for Mom

On her bedside table you would find a glass pipe into which she will stuff marijuana from a local medical marijuana store, some shatter hash made by some friends, which she will smoke with the marijuana to help her sleep, a bottle of smartwater, her cannabis oil vaporizer pen, and a long bean bag made for her by her friend Madeline. It requires 3 minutes in the microwave and is a balm to the pain in her midsection.

Until recently, at about midnight, perhaps one o’clock, she would wake up in crippling pain. “It feels like there is an animal inside me that’s trying to chew its way out,” she has said.  She would take some more of her cannabis oil (which, as she will tell you, is really more of a paste), and perhaps, though she usually tried not to, some morphine. (Painkillers constipate, which can lead to pain worse than they solve). Some nights the pain was so bad she’d take three hot baths. Somehow the hot water helped where even drugs did not. On a few occasions she called out to me, or even came to my door to wake me up. But there are a few times I will never forget: waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of my mother sobbing, vomiting, as she collapses, exhausted, with her arms over the commode.

Two weeks ago, I was in Telluride when our friend Bonnie texted me to say that she was taking Mom to the ER in Montrose. I jumped in my car and met them at the hospital about eighty minutes later. They put her on pain and nausea medication, but a few hours later she was discharged. At around eight o’clock that night, the pain in her abdomen and kidneys was too much. She was moaning, gasping, with pain. The pain, she had once told me, was worse than childbirth, not quite as bad as kidney stones, but longer-lasting. I would watch her as she sat on the couch, hugging herself, rocking to and fro, tears in her eyes, and I would try to imagine that.  We had to go back to the ER.

We walked out through the back door of her house. I steadied her with one arm and carried her bags and medicine pump in the other hand. Every step or two, she would stop, bent over, sobbing from the pain. Soon I was crying too, quietly, as always, and we stood there together like that, on the flagstone path in the moonlight, and then we trudged on, one step at a time.

There is nothing in life that quite prepares one for this.

From the ER she was admitted to the hospital, where she stayed for three nights. Friends visited. She told one friend, Silke, “Das war die Grenze. Das war die absolut Grenze.” Which means, That was the border, the absolute boundary.  “I couldn’t ever go through that again,” she said to several people afterward. “I’d shoot a dog in that kind of pain.”  She longed for home. But home, when we returned, was a very different place: friendly and helpful hospice nurses were in it now, and Mom was connected to her pain medication pump at all times.

Lately, due to the intravenous medications from hospice, she gets up in the morning less with pain and nausea, and she may sleep without interruption until a luxurious four o’clock. But on one recent morning I was up at nine and found her still in bed, looking drawn and spent. “Are you okay?” I asked. She shook her head, looking forlorn. “Nauseous,” she said. “I’m just trying to get on top of it.” She says this a lot, about pain and nausea: “If I can just get on top of it.” I ask if she wants a joint, she says no, so I draw her a hot bath with Epsom salts. As I retreat to the spare bedroom where I sleep, I can hear her moaning in the tub.

This is how the new day begins. Yesterday she posted on Facebook that she wanted to go for a drive today, to see the colors before they depart. But she doesn’t think she can leave the house. I bring her hot tea and a baguette with butter, and then I get on my coaching call.

After my call we watch her German TV for a while, soaking in the images of the Bavarian Alps on some travel show, oohing and aahing with our desire to be among them. Like in happier times, when we spent many a magical time at her brother Horst’s hotel in the Swiss Alps. Horst, who died unexpectedly only four months ago, from cancer. When the program is over we watch one of the movies I got from a RedBox at City Market the day before, “The Bone Collector,” with Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. For lunch we eat a thick soup made by Karla, a darling 83-year-old German friend of my mother’s. Then I go to Starbucks to get in three hours of work.

Her friends visit. Berle, who once texted me, “I love your mother!”, and who for many months brought the fresh goat’s milk that was the only thing my mother could eat. Peggy, who says my mother is like a mother to her (and she like a big sister to me), and whose house I sometimes stay in when Mom’s spare bedroom is full, or I have a friend in town. Karla makes soup and conversation. Silke brings apples and footrubs and a

Silke, center, with my Aunt Christa, left, and cousin Fiona

Silke, center, with my Aunt Christa, left, and cousin Fiona

never-ending smile. Bonnie was with Mom during her first chemotherapy, in 2001.  She comes every Tuesday night. They used to go out to dinner, now they eat in.

Rob comes from across the alley to check on Mom, and to roll the joints that no one else knows how to roll. The neighbors next door mow the lawn. Monika brings kaffee sahne, Epsom salts, and flowers, and fixes Mom’s German TV. Lynn, mother of Annika and Gregory, brings groceries.

Gregory, Mom's little buddy from birth

Gregory, Mom’s little buddy

Lynn also bought my mother a new washing machine, and insisted on giving Mom money for the new Samsung Galaxy phone I recently bought her. Another German named Inge brings books about historical Germany and fresh blueberry scones. Sometimes my sister-in-law, Jannilynn, visits from Grand Junction, bringing her young son, Braxton. Jannilynn has no relation to my mother, but she has really taken Mom to her heart.

Mom hides behind Jannilynn's tresses

Mom hides behind Jannilynn’s tresses

On a weekday afternoon, I will take several more coaching calls in the spare room, pacing the cramped space as I talk. And then from about seven to nine we will watch another movie. Tonight, we watch two-thirds of “Gandhi,” which I last saw in the early 1980s, when it came out.

Some nights I draw her bath, or fetch her oil, or lie next to her on her bed and rub her back or hold her as she tries not to vomit, but holds the blue vomit bag in front of her mouth, just in case.

My mother still expresses gratitude. For a call, a visit, a meal, a strawberry, a tree turning yellow and orange.

The writer and doctor Atul Gawande, in his thoughtful new book, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, writes, “The brain gives us two ways to evaluate experiences like suffering—how we apprehend such experiences in the moment and how we look at them afterward. People seem to have two different selves—an experiencing self who endures every moment equally and a remembering self who, as the Nobel Prize–winning researcher Daniel Kahneman has shown, gives almost all the weight of judgment afterward to just two points in time: the worst moment of an ordeal and the last moment of it. The remembering self and the experiencing self can come to radically different opinions about the same experience—so which one should we listen to?”

Those who love my mother believe their job is to make her most recent memories as full of love and warmth as possible. I am eternally grateful for all of them.


My niece, Brianna, visited for two weeks in June, along with her mother, Candace

My niece, Brianna, visited for two weeks in June, along with her mother, Candace

2014-07-10 09.58.06

Mom and I accompany my nephew Dylan to court for a traffic violation



Futile questions

Yesterday, as I was walking, I reflected on the past 3 years. I was wondering, had my symptoms been recognized and not so easily dismissed, would it have made a difference? Instead of scrambling to find a treatment now and looking at so many difficult choices, not to mention extreme financial hardship, could I have had just a nice, peaceful, healthy life?

Three years ago, I had a backache. I ignored it for awhile, then it became worse. I finally went to doc. Told him my right kidney hurt. He couldn’t find anything. Went to another, who diagnosed some calcification in my “tailbone”. Still same pain.  Went to doc again and was referred to surgical center to have a series of shots into my spine. I’ve never felt such pain. But, after one ($1800) shot I did not return. Did not help. I said, my right kidney hurts. I felt I was being passed around like an old shoe.

This went on for 18 mos. Then I had additional bladder pains and frequent bathroom visits. As many as 15x a day. My doc sent me to Urologist. He did a test, inserting the scope without local anesthesia. It hurt so bad I came off the table. His diagnosis was “Interstitial Cystitis”. A chronic disease where bladder membrane is “eaten” away. Medicine cost, per month, $450.00. It was a good thing I could not afford that. Pain persisted. Made my own appointment with a urologist in Grand Junction. They said my bladder was fine and healthy and after (finally) an x-ray, it turned out I had kidney stones. Removed by Lithotripsy as an Outpatient and still $16.000.00

Next. Many different symptoms. Hair falling out, grainy eyes, swallowing difficulty, heart palpitation just to name a few. Doc said, nothing the matter except “old age”. My daughter worked for an oncologist in Alabama who diagnosed a thyroid problem just from these symptoms. I insisted on a test. The doc did agree and then called and said “It’s Normal.” I  said so was my cancer test. (Ovarian, 10 yrs ago. No one listened then either.) Base number is different than what is still used by many doctors. That’s why it shows normal; when it is not. All symptoms disappeared with a small dose.

Next: While in Seattle visiting my son for Christmas, I had a severe cough and spit blood. I thought, it was due to climate change and  harsh cough. Ignored it for the time I was there. Came home and it continued. Upon rising I had so much mucus I was afraid it would strangle me. Scared me.

Back to doc, who listened to my lungs, knocked on the back a few times and said, they sound clear, but did send me across the street, to Ear, Nose and Throat doc to check. He did put a scope down my throat and said I had an increased mucus production. I questioned that, since this had never happened before. I told them that I did not agree with this.  ( I believe this is when my lung tumor started. The cellular change.) When there’s cancer in ones background, would not a test be a good idea? We rely on the medical professionals to advice us.

Meanwhile, I was dealing with Plantars’ Fasciitis, which was hell in itself.

I was dealing with very stressful family issues. My whole body was falling apart.

Next. I was sitting on the couch, watching T.V. when I absentmindedly scratched my armpit. I noticed my lymphnodes were swollen. Well. I didn’t want to run to doc again, since I had the feeling I was thought of as hypochondriac. After a few days though, of increased swelling, I did make appointment. He looked and touched and said it was “barely” noticeable. Sent me to another doc, who said the same. Sent me home.  My CA 125 (cancer blood test) was steadily creeping up.

I FELT that something was wrong and would not be quiet. It was on one of those appointments, when I asked the doc if he ever had someone say that their blood was singing, that he paid attention. Immediate blood test which result was such that he told me to rush to the hospital for another test. Scared the beejeezus out of me, as they were saying that it could be a blood clot, which could kill me. (Thanks for the nice way of telling a patient.) It wasn’t. Then he said, “Well, we’ll just go ahead and do a P.E.T scan so we know once and for all.”  Just to appease me.

I did and that was the beginning of this present nightmare. P.E.T showed 3 tumors. One in abdomen (gone with lifestyle changes, never re-appeared.) Lung tumor, since removed with VATS, and now dealing with this last one.

Now I have Lymphoma stage IV. (is this a Roman 4?) Although I have not have had any of those symptoms. (Swelling has not re-appeared , except once or twice, since I’ve changed lifestyle.)

O.K. I got that off my chest and now I deal with whatever I must but I will have a say in my treatment of it.

Cheers and Kindness..

Yesterday, I had quite a few errands to do. First on the list, hospital billing dept. Just to finish up previous agreements. I had just finished cooking a pumpkin, potatoe soup with dry roasted pumpkin seeds and I thought, well, might as well take some to that office.  Then I packed up my pumpkin, hazelnut, cranberry and raisin cookies to drop off at Surgical Team.

I needed a bank statement, so that was first. Everyone smiled, waved and said  a friendly ‘good morning.’

As I walked to the billing office and knocked, I said “Meals on Wheels, for the shut-in’. They have such small cubicles. One has to really work at not getting claustrophobia. The receptionist wanted to know about my lifestyle diet and that took up a bit more time. (Have some good leads for cooking classes.)

That business done and it was quite pleasant, I left for my next visit. At the Black Canyon Surgical Center, I parked and took my cookies. When I came in, I said ‘Good Morning. I’m Inge’. They smiled and said ‘we know who you are. We saw you in the paper about the camino.’  Another lady said, ‘we are so proud of you. I hope I would be in this shape when I get to be that age.’ Another chimed in with ‘what a teriffic accomplishment’.

I told them that I was absolutely thrilled and touched by their card. It was better than a shot of Vitamins. They said that Dr. Jay was the one who suggested it. I told them, I’d be by visiting but didn’t want to come for an appoinment. (Did anything like that ever happened in a big city?)

Next, Natrual Grocers and more people coming up to shake my hand and congratulate me. Then I saw Steffi  (daughter in law of my good friend, Carla ) and she was just filled with praise. She said everything would be alright, she just ‘knew’ it.  In the check out line, one lady whispered she would pray for me upon hearing about P.E.T scan appointment.

As I left the store, I reflected what a very nice and friendly place I’m living in. I think, that in all those years, there’ve only a couple of unfriendly or rude people. From the Post Office to Grocery stores and other businesses, everyone is nice and welcoming. I especially notice the difference when I go to another city or country. We live in a very nice place and people come together to help when needed.

I’d send my good friend, Shirley, an e-mail asking if I could stay with her, if Holistic clinic in Scottsdale accepts Outpatients. Shirley was my boss back in the days of Judicial employment. We’ve been very good friends since.

She replied with love and kindness that she would absolutely be there for me, take me there, etc. If she couldn’t, then her daughter (and my special friend) Garci, would. So, if things have to go that way, there are movements in place. It’s being pro-active that helps. Not just standing still and bemoaning ones circumstances.

I’ve had a few shaky moments this morning, wondering about the result. Wishing with all my might that I do not have to utilize all these plan ‘B’ preparations. ( a.k.a Let this cup pass.) But, I know I can’t change the outcome. Only my reactions and how I’ll deal with it. I only have 30 min left on my allowed time to eat. So I will make some oatmeal with grated apple.

Originally, my friend Monika would’ve been coming with me this mornig but she had an emergency operation. So it’s just Inge and Inge. (Yes. There are two of us in this town.)

I will let everyone know what the result is as soon as I get them. Either way.

Two days to go..

As I am waiting on P.E.T scan appointment I’ve been very busy researching my options.

Time is  somewhat of essence now and no more playing with it, nor running away. There’s a wealth of information to wade through.  Family and friends have been helping to find possible solutions. So many different approaches and everyone claiming theirs is best. Cancer, especially Lymphoma stage 4 as they claim,  does not leave a lot of room for erroneous trials. I still do not have any of those symptoms.

I have had an offer for a holistic treatment, handed down by many generations from Shaman’s. Even for free. A most touching and generous offer. This person would even come to my home., or have me at theirs, or even go to Shaman.

In the end I must decide. That is a very scary thing to do. What if it’s the wrong decision? Should I have done anything different?  I feel very much alone in this. Uncharted waters. So far, I’ve not had a strong feeling that I would be on the wrong track. So far, I’ve not freaked out. I am not trembling with fear as I have at previous times when results had increased. I am peaceful. Maybe this is what I brought back from the camino?

I have started on a new supplement, recommended by a trusted friend as well as the others I’m taking.

In yesterday’s mail, arrived an envelope from the Surgical Team. At first glance, I thought it was another bill and so it was with delight and joyful laughter that I read the card, which showed 3  letters on front -‘WOW’. Opening it, there was congratulatory sentiments over my accomplished camino miles and bravo’s to keep it up. ( I will bring them my wonderful Pumpkin- raisin- hazelnut-cranberry, low fat/low sugar, cookies.)  Also, a lovely card from Julio and Marianne.

Going back to my research this morning, I’ve found a place in Scottsdale, AZ., called New Hope Unlimited. A different approach. A holistic approach under controlled circumstances with a huge medical team at one’s disposal. Combining traditional medicine with holistic but one is give a choice. This feels like a good decision. Tailor made for what I would like to have happen while my body is still ‘pristine’ without chemo/radiation and thus can respond readily. I am already on lifestyle ‘diet’. Now, we just have to find out if Medicare will pay?




Just moving along

My days are spent walking, cleaning and getting everything ready. Went to Doc’s office yesterday to set appointment for P.E.T scan and bloodwork, etc. when I return. Asked him about his Cyberknife input and he says it’s the same problem, either way.

We had wonderful rain, two nights and everything smells wonderful. While walking, the scent of pungent sagebrush and sweet Russian elm is all around.

I finally had enough courage to research Lymphoma. Symptoms, treatments, etc.  There are many different types of lymphoma but I want to state, right away that I have none of these symptoms!!!! I need to find someone, who will explain everything and all the options. Maybe I’ll go to a Cancer Center of America?

I don’t want to think any further about this C thingy right now. Let’s change the subject.

Oh, I made a very good Vegan potato salad, yesterday. Here’s the recipe.

Vegan Potato Salad

Ingredients: 10 Yukon Gold potatoes, 1 red pepper (other colors will work as well) 2 green onion, 1 Tbsp chives,  1 Avocado, sliced, 4-6 cherry tomatoes, 2/3 cups vegetable broth (heated) 4 Tbsp apple cider, 4 Tbsp olive oil, S&P, a dash of paprika.

Cook, peel and slice potatoes. Dice pepper and chop chive, cut tomatoes in half. Heat vegetable broth, add pepper and chives. Place potatoes in a large bowl, add broth and vinaigrette. Mix well and allow to marinate for 30 min. Garnish with tomatoes and Avocado slices.

Running away from chemo

After I was re-diagnosed, spring time, a year ago and it was suggested to have surgery and chemo, I put a GOAL into my mind. Something to plan and to look forward to. A more pleasant distraction. I wanted to make my cells happy. Visiting my family (what’s left ot it) was on top of my list. I had not seen my brother, sister-in-law in over 7 years and, of course, we all got older. I worked extra, sold a few things  and made plans.

I thought I’d share the places I went and how my endorphins just went nuts with joy. I felt such a sense of well being, of wonderful peace that I was in tears half the time. I said prayers of gratefulness and thanks for my eyes that could see the beauty. For my senses that could take it all in and amazement at the miracle that is our planet.


This is Nuernberg. The Fortress on top, middle, is over 1000 years old.



This is Wuerzburg. I went to see a prominent lung specialist and had a CT scan and bloodwork done. (This is the castle).

This is the stunning view out of my brothers’ living room window, in Switzerland.


Forgot the name of this town. 🙂


Sunday Outing. Breathtaking mountain splendor.


A different ‘Camino’. It’s called “Jakobsweg’. All stations of the cross on a steep mountain side, each a hundred meters or so away going up, up. I managed up to the fourth. (Had no water or proper boots.)


Frauenkirche Dresden  

My sister, niece and I spent some quality time together and drove to Dresden, former East Germany. This church was totally destroyed and only rebuilt by 2004. The dark spots, are original bricks. The cupola (top part) was a present from the British as a gesture of healing forgiveness, on both sides.

It’s an absolute gorgeous, baroque architecture. We spend four days looking at all these treasures, rebuilt.



Famous Semper Opera House where I got to go and see a Mozart production. Happy cells.

Venice. My cousin and I spend 5 days there. Oh, how I loved Venice.


These are Carneval

masks. Beautiful art.






I went to Holland and Tulip-Blossom Time, all by myself. Very inexpensive bus ride. When I saw this profusion of color, of beauty, I thought ‘You can see paradise and don’t even have to die.’


Sorry, this would not let me rotate.

God’s present to us. Color.

Long, long ago…

 I was the fourth and youngest child. The line-up went boy, girl, boy, girl. I was also a “Furlough Baby”. I wouldn’t know my Father until I was 3+ years old. He was a Prisoner of war, in those last few years. When he came home, he was 35 yrs old and looked like an old man.
I remember that my mom had gone somewhere for a few minutes. The chain was attached to the door and when the doorbell rang, I openend it to its allowed space. There stood a man, in uniform. He would later tell the story that he said to open the door, that he was my father, but I was admonished by mom not to open the door for strangers, many times, and so I didn’t, Left him standing there. Tired and hungry.
These pictures were sent to me by my  friend, Heidi, who went to Kindergarten and school with me. She also lived next door. As you can see, it was run by nuns. Stern, scary beings! But, I suppose we learned a lot and there was not much other choice.
When I went to Germany a couple of years ago with my best, lifelong friend, Irene, we went to this place and it still exists. It’s still a Kindergarten but beautifully restored. With light and color we couldn’t even imagine, back then. Children were singing  and we recognized the song, sung in wobbly, high, little voices and for a moment we were transported back in time. We looked at each other, moved to tears by this poignant moment.
(I’m the third one on the left.) I had the lead role as a Gardener. I was carrying a watering can and sang a song as I ‘watered’ the flowers. At some point, in the middle of things, my hat fell off and I bend down so fast, in one fell swoop to pick up, without missing a beat nor step, that people laughed at the comedy of it. I thought, that they were laughing at me. I cried, embarrassed and  heart broken and refused to continue.
I still see most of these ‘kids’ when I go back. They wait with reunions until they know I’m coming.
On the right was last year’s meeting. I am so very lucky to still have these friends in my life. They found me, a few years ago, after searching for years. I remember the letter starting with:  “Dear Inge. Finally, finally we have found you.” And I cried.

Multiple arms like ‘Kali’

This is what I thought about, yesterday, as I tried to get so many things done. Kali, the Indian Goddess with multiple arms. Took my old friend to the airport and just ‘threw’ her out so I wouldn’t weep. No long good bye’s. I came home to a silent, empty house and started a flurry of acitvities to fill the silence.  With some people you can’t wait until they leave and others, it gets really tough when they do. Cleaned the guestroom, washed laundry, vaccumed, prepped veggie food. Cooked some black bean burgers. In between I researched for options and read all these opinions on cancer cures, that some people swear by. I’d like to meet them. I almost started the Hydrogen Peroxide (oxygenating cells) until a Doctor told me that even though it did help with cancer, later on in most cases, these people developed bone cancer. So, it seems, you swap one for the other.

The Gerson method, which makes the most sense, is also very, very diffilcult to do alone and very expensive.

My mail box is filled with links and suggestions. All from well meaning, good friends. The multitude of choices is staggering. How to decide which one is THE one?

To help sort it out and make an informed decision I wrote to Prof. Dr. K. in Wuerzburg. He is a renouned Lung Specialist in Germany. ( He has the same first names as my brother who died of lung cancer in 2000.) While I visited my relatives, I went there to have my bloodwork and a CT scan done. Very kind and compassionate. Very encouraging, knowledgable and efficient. While I had to wait here for weeks and then for days to hear about results, he answered the next day. (I am sure he’s very busy as well as he has a whole Hospital to take care of.) He’s willing to lead me through this maze of choices as I’m not at all sure whether my decisions would be fear based. His parting words to me were:

‘I wish you could stay so I could make you well’. I was in tears as no one ever said this to me before.

I’m regrouping this morning. Hope.  Can’t beat it down. There it is. A new, little sprig, green and fresh. I am also going shopping to buy a whole bushel of cruciferous vegetables… and start more juicing… and take my vitamins by the handful… go out and get vitamin D which is so plentyful in Colorado. (All the while pray short and longer versions of the same prayer: ‘ please let this pass’. I want to see the beauty of this gorgeous world just a little bit longer. I want to see my son and daughter happy and my grandchildren graduated.

I want to have my friends over to share  food and laughter. I want to get a dog although right now I travel too much but there’s neighbor’s dog ‘Cassie’ who fills that spot.