Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Yesterday.

I woke up yesterday morning feeling sad. I cried and attempted to soothe myself in the the typical ways that seem to work for me. Usually, I write, draw or play music and I get the ick out.

Alas, yesterday was a bit different. I, not only had a chemo treatment, I was also going to hear the results from the latest PET scan. And that always makes me feel … sick, nauseated, nervous, sad, anxious.

At around 10am, I got a call from my oncology nurse. And she said the most lovely words a cancer patient can hear. “Your scan was clean.” CLEAN! HALLELUJAH!

However…

Chemo was still on my mind. In reality, it isn’t all that bad. It’s about a week of feeling like crap and then it’s over. Nonetheless, I was feeling anxious and my psychosomatic nausea was starting to rear its nasty head.

Hospital + smells + other people getting chemo + my natural tendency towards nausea = Healey not feeling fantastic.

By the time I met with my doctor, I was ready to go home. I asked, since my scan was clean, could we just skip the chemo this week?

Why, yes! Yes, we can!

No chemo! What?? Woo hoo!

There’s more to it than that. I am getting ready for an allogeneic stem cell transplant and because of my tendency to relapse relatively quickly, the less amount of disease I have in my body, the better. So, it depends on the donor. If the donor can be ready within the next month, then I forego anymore treatments, until the actual transplant. If the donor needs more time than that, then I will have another chemo treatment to tide me over until transplant.

The transplant is not an easy treatment. It’s going to be tough and I want as much time as possible to strengthen my body and my mind before I go into this battle. The transplant is also magical. A miracle of modern science. And I am lucky to have the option in front of me.

Thank goodness, I have such a strong support system. I say what I need and I am heard. It’s especially satisfying that I have this type of relationship with my doctor. It wasn’t always that way.

It’s been a terrible and tough year and I am so grateful for my family and my friends, who took care of me when I needed it, who held me when I was sad, who smiled when I could not and who reminded me how incredibly lucky I am. I would say, “There are no words for how I feel.” But, it is not true! I have tons of word to express.

I am off to enjoy this precious week. And unlike my dear friends in the Northeast, it is sunny and beautiful over here. The perfect time of year to be out in nature. I wish I could send you all some sunshine!

love and light and whatever makes you happy.

HealeyOr

photo (2)

I love musicals. I do. Seriously.

musicalcollage

When I was 7 years old, a family member bought me the record (yes, a record) of the Little Shop of Horrors soundtrack.

That was the beginning of my love for musicals. I ran around the house singing “Feed Me” and “Dentist” like it was my job.

In high school, I was cast in every musical we put on. I loved it.

My favorite musical of all time is Hair. I dream that one day I will produce and star in a modern version of this blessed love song to the 60’s. No joke. It’s on my bucket list.

I also love Rent, Les Miserables, Annie, A Chorus Line, Sweeney Todd and many, many others.

Rent speaks to the Healey of the 90’s. Les Miserables makes me feel like a French revolutionary prostitute trying to survive. Sweeney Todd gives me a peek into the mind of a broken man who turns to violence to get relief. And Hair…oh Hair. It makes me feel like I’m a hippie, burning my draft card and my bra, taking LSD and trying to understand the nature of existence. Good stuff. It’s a glimpse into so many different settings and lives. When the story and music are written and performed well, of course.

When I’m feeling down, I put on my musical playlist and I belt in the style of Bette Midler or Bernadette Peters. I imagine I am standing in front of my audience (In my fantasy, they are usually dressed in 50 or 60’s garb) and I sing.

The other day, I was listening to Evita. It isn’t the original I have to admit, I do listen to Madonna’s version, even though it isn’t always pitch perfect. In truth, it reminds me of my Safta Aviva. We used to listen to it together all the time and those are fond memories.

In any case, I was listening and singing and I noticed on one of the last tracks, the lyrics speak of Eva Peron’s failing health. And I remembered that she died quite young. Being the curious soul that I am, I wanted to know the details. So, I looked her up on Wikipedia.

Eva Person died at the age of 33. She died from cervical cancer.

Ugh. Did I really need to know that? Thanks for the history lesson, Evita, but that information hit close to home.

I still love musicals.

One day at a time.

I write daily. Every morning, I wake up, do my morning practice and then I write. I write about my happy thoughts and about the darker thoughts that emerge from the shadows. I write about the experiences that empower me and the ones that remind me that I have lots of work to do in this realm of self-development. Writing is good. It’s therapeutic. It’s de-stressing. I don’t know what I would do without it.

Today, I wrote a speech for myself. I also recorded a video. It was a strange experience, because for the first time in my life, I didn’t feel uncomfortable watching myself in the video. I didn’t pick out all the things about myself that I don’t like. I didn’t moan about this and that. I just saw it for what it was. How far I’ve come! I made a video to explain to the public at large why I need their help to put funds together, so I can start treatment.

This whole story has been difficult and if I could hire a team of assistants, I know things would get done in a more effective manner. Sadly, that’s not the case and my mother and I are mustering up all the energy and courage we have to continue all this bureaucratic work. Talking to the doctor’s offices, then the health department, then the Canadian pharmacy that supplies the generic brand of the medication. All of these pieces need equal amounts of attention. And, believe me, it isn’t easy.

But, there’s no need to complain, because there also so many wonderful people, here in Israel and in the States, who are making things happens and spreading the word. And for this, I am grateful.

And, so, on that note, I will say Adieu. I have some more work to do today and when the energy runs out, I will relax and put my feet up.

Wishing you all beautiful, sunshine-filled days.

loveandlight,

HealeyOr

Image

I thought I would share this lovely little picture, because it’s always relevant. 

Take a moment.

IMG_1184

I saw this last Friday. It  was so beautiful. And I was moved.  In fact, I would literally call it AWESOME.

Today is a special day. Everyday is equally as special. It’s just about setting our intention in the direction of that perspective.

If you can, take a moment for yourself. Take a deep breath and think about someone or something that gives you the feeling of love. Bask in that feeling for a moment. Feel nurtured and cared for. And remember, this feeling is always there to be experienced.

These last few months have been a gift. I wake up each morning and smile as the sun rises and peeks into my room. Each morning, I feel lucky to be alive, to be able to love and to feel the love from the constantly moving life around me.

December is the month of light. There’s Hanukkah with all its light and miracles. Christmas joins in with the lovely trees and fairy lights. There’s also Kwanzaa, with its colorful decorations and candle-lighting. Let’s not forget the winter solstice or Yule that celebrates the transition from the dark to the light. During which the longest night of the year leads to the lengthening of the day.

Light is all around me and I am basking in it. And I feel the difference. I feel myself changing for the better. And I believe that we are all capable of such transformation. Our evolution comes from within us. This world is not a perfect place. I live in a country that is laden with pride and anger and prejudice, yet amongst all those things, there is love and light and kindness and joy. Sometimes we have to look a little harder and little deeper.

And I deeply believe that we have to look within ourselves first. Heal ourselves first. Love ourselves just as we are. Create the intention and change our perspectives. Because perspective is everything.

Starting small…baby steps…with one breath…one moment of patience…one random act of kindness.  And most importantly, kindness to ourselves.

Wishing you all a beautiful, special, light-filled 12.12.12

love and light.

HealeyOr

On the road again…

I tend to forget the joy and importance of travel. I love it and have done plenty of it, but in the past 3 years, I prefer my creature comforts over the possible discomfort and the probable excitement.

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” – George Harrison

I like to travel alone. It is rare that I find a traveling partner that is on my wavelength. I like to plan, but I also go with the flow. Once the journey begins, I let go of my desire to control every aspect of the situation. Letting go is any important part of enjoying the journey. If I stay stuck within my fears and my preconceived notions, I will miss out on all the fun stuff. Another reason I have problems travelling with others has to do with dealing with their fears and preconceived notions, which can make it doubly difficult.

I left Israel feeling quite despondent and nervous. Long story short, I was sad to leave my family and I also had a pretty terrible tiff with a new friend. These two events created a whole lot of emotional material with which to work. Taking that and all my actual baggage on a plane to the United Kingdom was incredibly heavy.

Once I arrived to my lovely hotel room on the outskirts of Manchester, all that heaviness evaporated.

I love England. There’s something about this country that makes me feel at ease. Is it the accents? The grey weather? The abundance of comfort food? I’m not sure. But, I do know that when I’m here, I can’t stop smiling.

People are polite. I don’t know if it’s put on or not, but I truly appreciate it. Pleases and thank-yous are quite rare in Israel. There is no pretense. Let’s just say there’s a lot less tact. In some ways, that’s a great thing. You know what you are getting from the beginning. But I do miss the manners.

Yesterday, I took the train to Manchester’s city center and wandered around. The weather was actually beautiful. Cloudy with sunshine peaking through occasionally. A slight chill in the air. 

The day turned into a tribute to my inner bibliophile. Mancurians (and I’m assuming most of the UK) love their literature. The city is replete with bookstores. It also has the John Ryland library, which is more a church where books are worshipped, rather than a proper library. The building itself is a work of art. It was quiet, calm and exactly the type of energy I was hoping for. After spending a couple hours there, I felt refreshed.

I also ate. A lot. As usual.

The food in Manchester is top notch. There are fine dining restaurants with the names of famous chefs all around. I ate at a couple more modest establishments and I was still blown away by the quality of the food. Maybe it was a good day or perhaps the food here is fantastic. I guess it doesn’t matter. I was thoroughly satiated.

Today is the day that I will reunite with my dear Carol! I don’t know what it will bring, but I’m looking forward to the adventure.

Wishing everyone the joy of changing perspective, whether it’s through a physical journey or by listening to music or reading a book.

love and light…

Healey Or

P.S. I didn’t want to write about my health, but I do know that there are people out there wondering about me. I finished my chemo at the end of August. Since then, I’ve been in the process of transitioning to a normal person’s life. Transitions are hard! But I’m doing well and I’m immensely grateful for my wonderful support system. I would be nothing without my friends and family. Love to you all.

Some pictures from the road…

IMG_0462

A bit of me at the start of the day.

IMG_0469

This was taken at the John Ryland Library. Of course, pictures do not do justice the library’s amazing architecture.

IMG_0482

I think these are dogwoods, but I’m not sure. They are lovely and there is a whole bunch of them outside of my hotel. The flora here is very different!

IMG_0483

I love this.

In and out. Through darkness and light.

We all experience moments in time that are more or less difficult. Some days are happy and full of pleasures. We never want them to end. Other days are anxiety-producing, making us want to skip to the end, where we are lying in bed, safe from the world. In both of these places, the light and the dark, there are is always a quiet voice that stays the same, that observes and reminds me of the truth.

Things are always changing.

The Summer of Blech is still in effect and I’m still receiving chemo treatments once every two weeks. I just finished my 8th treatment and my 4th cycle. It hasn’t been easy and it’s difficult to maintain a social life when you are out of commission two weeks a month. But, despite it all, I’m keeping myself busy with art and food and a choice amount of activities and play-dates.

I’ve been taking part in activities at the Cancer Foundation center in Haifa. It’s a lovely space directly across the street from the Mediterranean Sea. The views from the building are stunning and the act of getting out of my house and meeting other people has been incredibly rewarding. One of the activities I’ve been participating in is a bibliotherapy group. Bibliotherapy is therapy through the use of literature and writing. I’m really enjoying it and the group work has been very positive for me.

It helps to remind me that the world does not revolve around little ole me. Being present for others is an important step in my healing process.

Out of the darkness (the selfishness, the sadness) and into the light (the love, the openness).

Speaking of light…

Last Monday, I met with my doctor. We had some PET scan results to discuss. I find these meetings quite traumatic. I always know what he is going to say before he says it. His face is either drawn and serious, which is terrifying. Or he’s smiling.

And boy, was he smiling! He asked me if I’ve ever heard the word, “remission”.

That’s right, yours truly is living in a body that is free of cancer at this moment in time. Thank God (and chemotherapy)!

Very good news.

He also cut the number of treatments I’ll be receiving, which will take an entire month off of my chemotherapy.

Now, that I’m hopefully moving into a more “normal” life. I’m starting to think about my next step. Which is getting back to Peru and back to the important healing work I was doing there. One possible fundraising idea that was brought to my attention was the website RedBubble which allows people to upload artwork and the community can buy prints of their work or stickers or t-shirts.

Here’s the link to my RedBubble portfolio.

http://www.redbubble.com/people/healeyor

That’s it for this morning.

Wishing you all a moment of peace in the tumultuous sea of life.

Love and light.

Healey Or

And something cute to send you on your way. Simon, my fluffy little Chihuahua, likes to hide under al my pillows. So sweet, like a little fox.

IMG_0364

Wigs and Cookies.

It’s the little things.

Since I’ve started receiving medical treatment three years ago, I’ve lost my hair on several occasions. I’m officially on Occasion #3. I can’t say it gets easier every time. In fact, it gets a bit more heartbreaking. But, I deal with it. Like I deal with most things these days. I look at it with perspective, some tears and lots of jokes.

I’ve never been so attached to my hair. Growing up in Miami, I remember being quite frustrated with my long, thick and very curly hair. Miami humidity was NOT my best friend. Frizziness was around every corner. I looked at my straight-haired friends with a mix of envy and frustration. All they had to do was get out of the shower and start their day. I had to tame my locks regularly.

Things changed when I went away to college. I stopped thinking so much about my appearance. I cut my hair short, grew my body hair, thought about the environment and fell into a sort of hippie culture that left me feeling much less self-conscious about my frizzy hair.

Fast forward a few years. I was back in Miami and although I constantly had a halo of frizz above my head, I didn’t care so much. I cut my hair very short by myself in my bathroom one morning. It was very empowering. (Even though, my boyfriend at the time reacted with, “What did you do??”) I was studying yoga and exploring the ideas of non-attachment. I had friends that were shaving their heads to experience this particular brand of letting go. I later moved to Boulder, where the Buddha-esque culture continued to shape my thoughts about external appearances.

Eventually, I decided to get dreadlocks. In some ways, it was similar to shaving my head. It is different than the cultural norm. Everyone has an opinion and are very willing to share it with you. In other ways, dreads create even more of an attachment to hair. They have to be loved and maintained. You have to oil them, wash them, dry them, decorate them. That’s not true for everyone. It was for me.

While I was in India (in 2008), I cut off my dreads and offered them to the Ganga. At the time, the cancer had already made an appearance, but I wasn’t aware of it yet. It would be almost a year before I knew the full extent of my situation.

I feel lucky that I was able to let go of my long, beautiful locks because of my own personal decision, rather than as a side effect. It was MY choice.

When I started chemo, I lost my hair. It was short at the time, but there is a big difference between short hair and a shaved head. Especially for a woman. I rocked my bald head. I didn’t wear too many hats or scarfs. I made jokes and said that I was sporting the ‘medical chic’ look. (Akin to the ‘heroin chic’ look.) It was alright. I knew it was temporary, so I could handle it.

In the hospital, I met women who felt very differently. They didn’t cut their hair immediately. They bought wigs and fancy headscarves. I understood them, but I didn’t feel it was necessary for me. In fact, I almost felt like it would seem silly if I covered my baldness.

What is there to hide? Who cares what other people think? They can stare if they want, but it just makes them look silly.

Those were the thoughts that were going through my head.

It’s been 3 years and I’ve had either short hair or no hair this whole time. I’m so done with lack of hair. I understand the desire for wigs and headscarves. And, the truth is, it isn’t for anyone else. In my case,  it is purely to make me feel like the woman that I am.

So…

Yesterday, I got a wig. My first. And it’s lovely. It’s curly-ish. Not exactly my hair color, style or texture, but it makes me feel beautiful. And it almost fools me into thinking I have hair again. That’s the best part.

I don’t intend on wearing the wig regularly. It is a wig for special occasions. A wig to wear with dresses and make-up. A wonderful accessory to play with.

And here I am, in all my wig-y glory.

 

photo (1)

 

I also made some amazing healthy cookies yesterday. Healthy meaning no gluten, no processed sugar and generally nothing unnecessary. This is the recipe I used.My darling brother sent me a tin of coconut flour and I wanted to see how it worked.  I didn’t use honey or stevia. I used a bit of maple syrup instead. I also added more spices and used an almond-tea instead of chai. For more fiber, I cut the amount of coconut flour to 3/4 cup and added unsweetened coconut flakes to make up the difference. It seems like quite versatile recipe. The experiment was a success! Moist, almost cake-like cookies. Mmmm…

It’s amazing how wigs and cookies can make your day just right. (Not to mention finally watching the last two episodes of Game of Thrones Season 2. Agh! I think my mouth was open for most of the two hours. Gory much?!)

Love and light and happy summer days..

Healey Or