Digestion

Writing is a sign of getting better. Writing makes me feel creative and alive. When I’m not writing or creating something, it means something is wrong.

Cancer sucks my will to live, whether it’s my body, mind or soul. It is an insidious enemy. Quietly and selfishly, taking what I love most about myself and my life. Sneaking around, shoving everything it can into its gaping void and growing and growing.

When people say, “your cancer” or “my cancer”, I cringe. I take no ownership of this monster, although it is made of my cells. Once upon a time, I would ask myself, “what did I do to deserve this?” or “I deserve this, because…” Today, I understand that I didn’t do anything wrong and I don’t deserve this. It just happens sometimes.

Sometimes, life just isn’t fair. And I’ve understood and digested that.

And with that knowledge, it is easier to let go of all that weight I was carrying on my shoulders. Sometimes, I just feel like shit. And it may be because of the cancer or treatments or whatever. And that is also ok. During those times, I don’t want to see people or go places. I just want to be alone.

But then there are the times when I wake up in the morning and I think to myself, “It would be lovely to have a cup of coffee right now.” Those are the days I crave. Those are the days that I feel like myself again. If my stomach can handle coffee, I can handle anything!

Since July, I have been in a dark place, fighting for my life and almost losing. I am now getting back to myself. Laughing, eating, creating, enjoying. I love to feel well. I know it sounds obvious, but when you feel crappy most of the time, feeling well is such a gift.

We all have our problems. Some struggle with physical illness, others with mental illness. There are people that seem like they have the perfect life from the outside, but who knows what they are going through? Our human minds can only comprehend what we are perceiving and experiencing. But there is the big picture. Life is an intricately woven tapestry that moves in ways we will never understand. Unless we become enlightened. But what does that even mean?

In October, I was hospitalized for 5 days. When I arrived at the hospital, I was not well at all. I was severely dehydrated with renal failure and hypokalemia (low potassium levels). During that time, I had all sorts of enlightening visions. In those moments, it was all clear. I can’t explain what I saw or how I understood it. I just remember coming out of the experience knowing that there is a big picture that I will never truly understand. I just have to remember to fight as much and as long as I can. There may even be a reason for all of this.

Several of my cancer-fighting warrior friends passed on this year. People that were such inspirations. Strong people, creative people. And it was heart-breaking. Leaving questions like, “If they couldn’t make it, how can I?”

But then, the idea of the big picture pops back in my head.

And this is the advice I give to myself (and others struggling with this or any other illness).

“Keep fighting, sister. Keep fighting as long as you can. Life isn’t simple, but all will be well if you keep focusing on the goal.”

In my case, the goal is getting cured and leading a “normal” life.

Amen.

 

IDL TIFF file

Speaking of the big picture. There something so beautiful about this nebula. It looks like an eye. Macro, micro. Amazing.

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. 

Lowered Expectations

JG14 - 2013-05-26 14.00.07

The best man/groom’s maid of honor (me), the groom and his lovely bride

Today, you find me in a dear friend’s apartment in lower Manhattan. My brother got married on Sunday and it was great fun. I still feel like I am floating on a cloud of love.

I would like to share my reasons for this stateside journey.

1) To enjoy my brother and new sister-in-law’s nuptials and to take part in the joining of two families.

2) To go see Dr. Owen O’ Connor, a specialist in malignant lymphoma. His office is here in NYC. (Yes, that means I am in the midst of a relapse. But, I’ll come back to this.)

3) To visit with loved ones.

4) To have a much-needed vacation.

Let’s start with the first reason. The wedding.

It was a truly magical event. It was also fun, exciting, joyous and many many other happy adjectives. In addition to the happiness, I also felt exhausted and overwhelmed. I think putting so many family members in one town is a recipe for being drained.

Spending time with my siblings tends to bring out my inner child. I am not in great touch with my older brother, Tom, but when I see him, I feel like I’m 5 years old and filled with awe by my big brother. It is such a warm place to rest.

Jonathan and I are in much better touch and I was not able to spend too much time with him throughout the week. He was a busy, busy groom.

Initially, I was hoping that I would be able to spend time with him when he gets back from his honeymoon. Alas, it is not meant to be.

I was planning on spending at least 6 weeks in the US. My return ticket was set for June 22nd.

These plans started to change when I received the results from my last PET scan. Dr. D, my Israeli oncologist requested that I shorten this visit considerably and come back to Israel as soon as possible to start a new chemo cocktail, which would lead to an allo transplant (a stem cell transplant from a donor), once we find a donor that matches.

My intuition was not feeling this plan. And if I’ve learned anything these past 4 years, it is to listen to my inner voice. No one can tell me what I need right now except for me. And more chemo definitely feels wrong in this moment.

The day we planned to leave for Ann Arbor (the location of the wedding), I was lucky to get an appointment with the infamous Dr. O’Connor, aka Dr. O. We arrived at his office at 8:55am. My appointment was at 9am and I do love being prompt. We sat, we waited, we twiddled our thumbs, we talked, but the time passed and nothing. I started to feel frustrated. At this point, it was 10:30am and I was starting to feel very hungry (And a hungry Healey is a cranky Healey!)

Mind you, part of the impatience came with the fact that we had a flight to catch and had planned our day accordingly. Oh, did I mention I was hungry?

Thank goodness, my friend brought us some breakfast.

Then, right when I thought I could wait no longer, Dr. Jenny Amengual walked in.

I liked Dr. Jenny immediately. She asked about my medical history and we discussed treatment options. She mentioned that doing more chemotherapy is not the best option for me considering the amount of chemo I’ve received. Apparently, cancer cells become desensitized to the chemo chemicals when they are constantly inundated with them. By having more time between chemotherapies, it allows the cells to become sensitive again, making the chemo more effective.

Also, there are treatments out there that are significantly less toxic and allow for quality of life. And honestly, that’s what is more important for me. I’ve realized while walking down this road, that what I need most is to feel the fullness of my life.  Being able to wake up in the morning and do the things I love to do. Going in and out of heavy duty treatments does not allow for that. Right when I start to feel “normal”,  I am right back in treatment. Not ideal.

Dr. Jenny’s words sat well with me. The treatment she had in mind for me at the moment is called Revlimid. It had been talked about back in late 2011 with Dr. D back when he first mentioned SGN-35, but decided against it, because it is not indicated specifically for Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The treatment is taken daily in pill form. The toxicity is low and in a nutshell, it wakes up the body’s natural killer cells to do their job and stop the cancer from spreading.

I could not have asked for a more convenient medication. I know it has side effects, but they are very different for each person.

Dr. O came in a while later and we continued to discuss my case. He went through all my previous treatments and pointed out where my primary oncologist made the wrong decision. He also counted how many chemicals I’ve been given in the form of chemo and the number was 20! I did not need convincing, but that was surely the last nail in the coffin. No more chemo!

He also recommended I go back to Israel as soon as possible and start the Revlimid. I am not sure how I will go about getting my hands on the medication or how expensive it will be or whether my insurance will cover it. I will find it all out once I get home. One step at a time.

My meeting with Dr. O and his staff was enlightening and helpful. As an empowered patient, it was refreshing to meet with a doctor that had so many options on the table for treatment. He also treats a lot of patients with refractory Hodgkin’s, so he has the data to support his theories. It’s reassuring. Hope is cheap in Dr. O’s office.

On to my third reason for visiting the U.S. Spending time with friends from my past. Until now, I have been able to see a handful of friends. If my trip had been as long as I desired, I would have been able to take a couple trips, here and there. Go to D.C., Boston and perhaps even California. I also wanted to take a trip to Woodstock, NY. I don’t have any human friends there, but the nature is stunning and Mother Earth is a dear love of mine. Unfortunately, this will not come to fruition.

In an effort to not overextend my currently limited physical resources, I’ve had to make some sacrifices. Which basically means I’ve staying in New York City and trying to see as many people as I can, while still taking care of myself. It is a fine balance.

Finally, I came to the states to have a much-needed vacation. And, I now understand that this will not happen. My expectations have been lowered accordingly. The vacation I long for will have to happen when I get back to Israel. Or perhaps, if all goes well, on a trip to Scotland to see a loved one who is about to have a baby. We shall see how it all pans out.

This is where I am today.

Sending love and light from my computer to yours.

The Book of Light

A story.

Once upon a time there lived a little girl named Ella. She was an average-looking girl with an average amount of intelligence. She was an only child and it seemed that her parents were far more interested in each other than they were in her.

Ella spent most of her childhood in the care of her grandfather. She called him Papa. He was a tall, wizened, old man with sparkly blue eyes. He was a teller of stories and a cracker of jokes. And he loved Ella dearly.

Wherever they would go, whatever they would do, he was always relating it to when he was a boy or when dragons roamed the Earth. These stories filled Ella’s mundane life with joy and fantasy.

When Ella was close to adulthood, Papa passed away peacefully in his sleep. The death of the righteous, they call it. The grief Ella felt was immense and the hole in her heart was cavernous. She had never felt more alone in her entire life.

One day, her father approached her and said that he had found something that Papa had left for her. Ella’s heart leapt with joy and at the same time, her stomach turned. The subject of Papa was still fresh for her and her longing for his company never truly dissipated.

Her father handed her a leather-bound book that had a distinct smell of age. Ella opened the book and realized that it contained all of Papa’s stories. It seemed as though every time he would tell her a story, he would jot it down in this precious journal.

Ella danced and sang. She was joyous. Her mood lifted and from within came a strong drive to create her own story, start her own adventure. She no longer understood the desire to wile away in loneliness and misery. For she was no longer alone.

She packed her few belongings and said her goodbyes. Her parents barely noticed, mumbling under their breath, “Is she still here?”

Ella was on her way.

Ella decided to go through the ancient forest. It is known that the safer route is on the paved road. But the ancient forest was magical and mysterious and she felt drawn to its power. Also, the path through the forest was much shorter.

Shorter does not mean easier, she soon learned.

As Ella walked deeper and deeper into the woods, she noticed that the light from the sun was getting dimmer and dimmer. It felt as though the darkness was closing in on her. Ella felt paralyzed with fear. Her feet were stuck, her heart was racing. As she tried to see in the dark, she was not certain if what she saw was real or figments of her imagination. The darkness was dense, thick and sinister. She could hear it whispering her name, but it was not with love. The sound was cacophonous and terrifying. The darkness wanted to feed on her. The darkness was a vampire that had a ravenous appetite.

Suddenly, quietly, she heard a voice. The voice was different from that of the darkness. This voice was melodious and although it was surrounded by the dark, it sparkled with light. It whispered in her ear:

“Breathe.”

She sat down where she stood and did just that. She started to relax. Each breath brought her deeper into herself. The world was no longer spinning. She could no longer feel the darkness’s presence.

Ella opened her bag. Her hand brushed Papa’s book and she smiled. She pulled it out and opened it. To her surprise, the pages were glowing! In fact, the light was so bright, that she could see the path ahead.

Feeling more confident, Ella stood and slowly, one step at a time, started walking down the dark path armed with her precious heirloom. The ancient forest opened up in front of her. Her path become more and more clear.

Finally, after a full day and night of walking, the path opened to a clearing. The sun was rising. The sky was filled with every color imaginable. There was a field ahead carpeted with wildflowers of every variety and the softest, greenest grass. To the east, she saw snow-capped mountains, strong and regal. To the west, she saw the ocean’s majesty in hues of green and blue.

Ella closed her eyes, held the book close to her chest and said, “Thank you.” She now understood that Papa was always with her, in the dark, in the light, she just had to ask.

After a few moments, she opened her eyes. Ella looked down and realized that she was no longer an average, little girl. She was a strong, beautiful woman filled with light and love, with the power to create her own reality. All she had to do was decide where to go next.

THE END

bookoflight

A Journey to the Inner Voice

It has been well over a season since I’ve shared by experiences through this blog. I continue to write daily, I just haven’t been able to transmit my feelings to a wider audience.

Today, I feel compelled, so I will write.

These past few months have been a rollercoaster ride of feeling well and not so well. I am currently in the midst of medical testing and am making a concerted effort to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

And next to the general anxiety that surrounds the illness that has followed me for many moons, I am also dealing with hypothyroidism, which is connected to the radiation treatments I received in 2011. And, when the dosage of thyroxin, the synthetic hormone prescribed for the condition,  isn’t perfect, it feels as though there is a fog in my brain that is very difficult to shake.

At the moment, I am still making adjustments.

So, what is this and what is that? I am not sure and I am taking everything one day at a time. One step at a time.

Which brings me to this post and why I feel compelled to write.

Today, I am in Jerusalem. Initially, I came here in an effort to de-clutter my life. I had a suitcase full of personal belongings, clothing, books, etc, sitting at a friend’s house for over 5 years.

Then, I heard a voice or my inner voice, telling me to go the Dome of the Rock.

I lived in Jerusalem for about a year back in 2005. My time here was emotionally tumultuous, for many reasons, and self-centered. I studied, worked and tried to live a normal life.

Looking back on the Healey of 2005-6 leaves me with a strange feeling of foreboding. I seriously thought that living in Jerusalem could be normal? This is a city that has seen more violence and suffering than any place in the world. Don’t quote me on that. It’s hyperbole. Thousands and thousands of years of bloodshed and war. And to this day, there is a constant struggle in this city. The Jews stay on the Western side of the city and the Arabs stay on the Eastern side of the city. There is a constant feeling of tension that is palpable.

The Old City of Jerusalem is separated in four parts: the Christian Quarter, the Muslim Quarter, the Armenian Quarter and the Jewish Quarter.

The holiest place for those that follow the Jewish religion is the Kotel or the Western Wall. This is the place that is believed to be the outermost western wall of the ancient Jewish temple. On any given day throughout the year, you can see devout Jews praying at the wall (male and female worshipers are separated), placing notes in the cracks and feeling connected to that space.

The entrance to the Dome of the Rock or the Temple Mount is directly next to the Kotel. There is a sign at the entrance that says that Jewish people are not allowed to enter. There is another sign that says non-Muslim prayer anywhere in the vicinity is strictly forbidden.

I believe in the yogic energy system which consists of energy bodies surrounding the physical body as well as seven chakras (and many thousands of nadis) that connect our physical body to the external world. These chakras are found at different parts of the body, from near the anus to the top of the head, with stops at the sexual organs, the solar plexus, the heart, the throat and the brow.

With that in mind, I was recently introduced to the idea that the Earth also has chakra centers. I spent a couple days in Glastonbury back in October and the experiences I had there were unexpectedly profound. I shared this with a friend, who told me that Glastonbury is considered the Heart Chakra of the world.

After doing some research, I found out that the Throat Chakra is located here in Jerusalem. The Throat Chakra represents our voice, self-expression and purity. Prayer and singing is an excellent way to bring energy to that part of the body.

I have struggled with finding my voice for most of my life. More specifically, it is finding the balance and purity within my expression. This has been most apparent since moving to Israel. Living in this country calls for a voice that knows when to speak up and be assertive, and when to step back and be quiet.

The illness that I have struggled with is also throat-centered. At least, that is where it started physically.

So, I find myself here, on a journey to the Dome of the Rock or the Temple Mount or the voice of the Earth. And lo and behold, we are not allowed to pray or sing or connect to the sacred space.

I wish there was some way that this special space could be open to all worshipers, to pray and sing and feel connected to this most sacred space. The place that is believed to have birthed the physical world (the Shekinah). This is the dwelling place of Mother Earth/Mother Nature/the Goddess and She is being bound and gagged, unable to let Her voice be heard. It is sad. And it has to change.

I am not religious. I was not raised within any type of religious community. I don’t feel the binds of religion on my heart or in my soul. Community is deeply important to me and I understand the need. Yet, I do not understand the pride that goes into the feeling and idea that THIS PLACE IS MINE/OURS. I do not understand it now, nor will I ever truly understand it. These types of feelings come from pride and insecurity. They do not come from the Universe and from the love and light that seeps into our world from there.

My conclusion is this. (Disclaimer : This is my feeling, my opinion. And it brings up all sorts of anxiety inside of me, because it seems nearly impossible.) Jerusalem or the Old City has to be an international city. I spoke about this last week during the Passover Seder with my very learned cousin, who has a wealth of knowledge on the history of the region and he said it could never work, because there isn’t an international organization with the ability to make that happen. I don’t know about the details or what would or could work, I just know that it is very important that something changes here. That the voice of this Earth (and all of our collective inner voices) be heard.  It will not happen in the present reality.

Writing this makes me feel like I’ve lost my mind. Maybe I have or maybe I just see things differently than I used to. I have changed a lot since I last lived in this city. I see the beauty and the sadness and a mixture of the two. And it is heavy on my heart.

This visit brought up a lot for me. This country and this city needs help. It needs support and love, not Jewish or Muslim or Christian love and support, but Conscious Human Love. I wish there was some way that I could help make that happen.

Here are some photos from today’s journey.

photo

Walking along the cobblestone streets, just as the sun was rising.

photo (1)

A view of the Kotel and the Dome of the Rock from above.

photo (2)

The number 21 has been following me around for a while now. Thought  I would document it.

photo (4)

Facing Al Aqsa mosque from the Jewish Quarter. Being behind those bars was prophetic to how I would feel when I entered the courtyard on the other side.

photo (5)

The Dome of the Rock from up close.

photo (6)

Sitting in the courtyard next to the Dome of the Rock, facing the Mount of Olives and wishing I could sing and pray and love the Mother.

With love and light. May we all find our inner voices.

HealeyOr

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