Our Journey to Cancer Treatment Centers of America

It’s been a long time since I’ve sent out a Mesa News and brought our Mesa “tribe” up to date on what’s been happening at our center and for my wife and Mesa Co-director, Kate, as she travels on her path to healing cancer.  This has not been because she was faring poorly.  On the contrary, she has been doing fabulously well.  We have both been completely focused on her healing body, mind, and spirit, allowing all else to fall by the wayside.  We’ve been telling those who have emailed or called that we have been “hibernating”, but I recognize that it’s really more than that.  We have been pupating

Pupation is the stage that caterpillars go though after surrounding themselves with a silken cocoon.  During this phase of development, the insect’s worm-like body dissolves into liquid goo, completely losing all semblance of its former self.  Mysteriously, it eventually restructures itself into its new adult form in a miraculous act of self-transformation.  We see ourselves as engaged in this metamorphosis—our old 3rd Density (3-dimensional) selves giving way to our higher, multidimensional nature.  

For Kate this has been quite literal, as her body shape so greatly changed from the ordeal of purification from dis-ease that we both hardly recognize it.  Her energy is quite different also, and by that I don’t mean that she is fatigued, but rather that her signature frequency has been stripped of the clutter of much old trauma, self- misconception, and role playing.  This has made me more attuned to her spiritual essence, now shining more brightly than ever without the bushel basket of trying to.  I marvel at the changes and revel in getting to know her all over again.  Having lost most of her beautiful long hair to the ravages of chemotherapy, she now sports a cute, close cropped hairdo to throw me off, looking much like what she herself describes as “a kiwi”. 

Through the last five months of our lives we have witnessed the dissolution of our former selves and the people we used to be, walking this hard road side by side in stride with one another.  Through tears of fear or joy, darkest doubt, poignant moments, and peals of giddy laughter, we have seen our relationship metamorphose in the process.  It has brought us ever closer together, and I have barely left her side, not wanting to miss a minute of her.  We recognize now that we had been merely crawling along, caterpillar-like on our spiritual journey together, and by the process of fiercely focusing on our healing where we knew it already existed, are now preparing to fly

After five months of her transformation, Kate is doing simply great.  This after being told back at the beginning of October by the doctor here in Pittsburgh that the chemotherapy treatments hadn’t affected the tumors in her body and that we “shouldn’t get our hopes up”.  The oncologist was implying she was going to die.  This seemed… well, insane to us, because she was obviously getting better.  (We still don’t understand why he couldn’t see it.)  After some research we took Kate to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America Southwest Regional Medical Center hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for a different kind of healing. 

When we arrived in Tulsa that first time for her evaluation, CT imaging showed that there was no longer any tumor in Kate’s pancreas.  It had simply disappeared in the three weeks since the last scan in Pittsburgh.  The larger growths on her ovaries were still there, having shrunk only a little.  The doctors in Tulsa recommended Kate have surgery to remove cancerous tissue, which she did there at the beginning of November. 

The surgeon took out the masses on her ovaries, which proved to be benign on the inside, but had “seed” tumors on the outside.  There were more of these little bumps scattered hither and yon inside her belly.  These little tumors are consistent with the spread of pancreatic cancer, but by the surgeon’s description there were far, far fewer of them than were seen in an exploratory surgery in Pittsburgh back in August. 

The surgeon cut out or cauterized all the seed tumors he could see, and felt her pancreas with his hands.  He said it was “rubbery” but there were no tumors on or in it.  He also removed her appendix because it had tumors on it, and an 18” section of her small intestine that had a lot of little tumors on the outside. 

He also removed a small wedge of her liver that had two or three larger, benign tumors on it that had inexplicably never shown up in any of the prior imaging processes.  Pathology confirmed that the cancer cells present were indeed pancreatic in origin.  It doesn’t matter  to us what they are calling it.  We just rejoice that it’s quickly retreating. 

Kate has been recovering really well from the surgery, an 8-1/2 inch incision from pubic bone to above her navel.  (The surgeon cut neatly around her belly button, so she doesn’t look like an extra-terrestrial.)  At the beginning of December we went back to Tulsa for her to start chemotherapy to mop things up.  This stuff is far less volume and far less toxic than what she had in Pittsburgh.  For this we are very grateful. 

Kate tolerated the first dose really well and we’ll be flying back this week (and every other week for the next few months) for more.  Then she’ll get another CT scan.  The crazy thing is our new understanding from what did and didn’t show up on previous ones.  There’s no foolproof way to tell what’s going on inside of her except to make a hole and look. 

Obviously this isn’t something we want to routinely do.  All that remains is to trust, and watch for symptoms.  At this point we’d know what to look for, but feel the cancer won’t return because Kate has released what brought about the imbalance, the dis-ease.  She has learned the lessons offered by illness and has no need to repeat them. 

CTCA is a really wonderful place and a much different environment than most hospitals.  They believe in the benefits of body/mind/spirit healing with the emphasis being placed on scientific medicine.  In all areas of the hospital, MD’s and alternative practitioners work side by side in teams that regularly meet to discuss their patients’ needs.  Kate is seen by an oncologist of course, but also by a naturopath, nutritionist, acupuncturist, pain management doctor, and has nearly immediate access to even more practitioners.

They do energy healing at some of the other four CTCA hospitals, but not yet in Tulsa.  That is about to change a little with Qi-Gong classes to be offered soon by one of the acupuncturists.  There are no plans for Reiki or other hands-on healing.  It’s partly about patient beliefs (a “Bible Belt” thing) and partly a lack of skilled staff in that area, but there’s more to it.  Acupuncture’s needles make that process look more “medical” and more acceptable to some.  It’s also pretty hard to block the effects of that kind of mechanical stimulation to one’s energy system.  One can block a hands-on healing out of fear, doubt, or disbelief, making it seem ineffective.  A skilled practitioner would sense this and reassure and encourage the recipient.  That kind of skill is hard for schools to certify or administrators to recognize or assess.  

Kate’s naturopathic doctor has recommended several natural supplements and homeopathic remedies to help with her healing.  This was done with the oncologist’s blessing because they’ve seen that they work.  The doctors here in Pittsburgh were dead set against them, mostly because of system protocols, but also because they hadn’t taken the time to learn about them.  They also exhibited garden variety resentment for alternative and complementary practices. 

Kate receives acupuncture healings right in the CTCA facility.  When we questioned the administration of a drug to boost Kate’s immune system during chemotherapy that had previously made her seriously ill and wondered out loud about acupuncture as an alternative aid, the doctor agreed and wrote an order for one on the spot.  CTCA is a different world. 

CTCA Tulsa and its staff are very encouraging, friendly, generous, and attentive, from the doctors to administrators, to the kitchen help.  So are the other patients and family caregivers.  We stay in a hotel-type guest room, right in the hospital and have had many an enlightening conversation with people from all over the country in the wonderful cafeteria.  The center has its own travel agents to get us back and forth and the hospital pays for all of Kate’s plane tickets.  (My first two trips were paid for as well, but I’m on my own from now on.)  By comparison, the hospitals here in Pittsburgh charged us for parking.  

At CTCA the patient always comes first, by policy and by practice.  Any reasonable request is met almost immediately.  There is a “we’re all in this together” atmosphere at the center, and everyone is a cheerleader for everyone else’s healing.  This is infectious (no pun intended) and we found ourselves changed by it.  What we were seeing before our very eyes was a new kind of healing, not just “holistic” in nature, but unified and all encompassing—healing from any and all sources that exist.  This has minimized our stress, been a great benefit to Kate’s healing, and encouraged us to work with a new model of healing through community.

As well as traveling to CTCA Tulsa, we have also continued to do our inner work with Kinesiology and Guided Head Movement healings, unearthing and resolving many deep emotional, mental, and spiritual issues that certainly contributed to Kate’s cancer imbalance and my resentment of its intrusion on our lives. 

We are staying focused on her complete healing where see it already exists, something we renew from moment to moment.  For now our task is to keep Kate calm and happy, and her white blood cell and platelet counts up during the chemo.  We’re succeeding in the latter thanks to Maitake mushroom capsules and Sesame oil, and the former by making her journey our only priority for now. 

Also important is to help her gain back some of the weight she’s lost, now nearly 50lbs or so in total.  She looks completely different to herself in the mirror, and I have to stop myself from shaking my head when I remember what she used to look like.  We laugh at how loose her clothes are. 

I remind her that most people with “stage IV metastatic pancreatic cancer” get worse, not better, and we are well aware how very fortunate she is, and we are.  We feel she is solidly on the path to complete cure, not just “remission”.  When we voiced this to her new oncologist in Tulsa he smiled and said, “Just keep telling yourselves that and doing what you’re doing.  It’ll make me look good.”  I laughed and told him that we didn’t care who takes credit for the cancer’s retreat. 

Meanwhile, things at the Mesa have been at a standstill because of our fatigue and total time and energy focus on Kate’s healing.  Sedona Arizona, our Mesa Cat, has been holding down the fort almost single handedly.  We’ve been lounging more than a bit and had waited to schedule any classes for Winter 2012-13 until we knew what our travel to Tulsa would entail in the short run.  We’ll be flying out there every other week (Wednesday to Friday) over the next few months for appointments and chemotherapy, and will be posting some classes and events (*see below) for when we are in town.  Fortunately, we’ll be home for the holidays.  (Whew!) 

We know that people have been missing us and our beloved center.  More and more are looking for answers.  We are clearly seeing that things on Earth are changing and people who are not connected are feeling deeply lost.  Some are succumbing to fears that December 21st will bring the end of the world. 

Recent events in Newtown, Connecticut make it look like our insanity as a species may bring that about, but I assure you that it won’t happen on the Solstice.  Think of the “end” of the Mayan Calendar as more like your car’s odometer turning over.  Some have said that there will be a brief wave of spiritual energy coming from the 12/21/12 planetary alignment that will give us “millions of new ideas” on how to change the world for the better and suggested that we be ready to write them down so we can implement them later. 

Know that those ideas already exist, and have—right here on Earth.  Deep inside ourselves, we all know what they are.  The real problem is resistance to implementing them on the part of those who would cling to the status quo out of fear or greed.  We could have economic equality for all, end all fighting, and find new sources of energy tomorrow, if we’d just get over our paradigm of conflict, separation, and scarcity and be what we already are: One with each other.  This will only change by personal choice on the part of each of us. 

My odyssey with Kate has made me rethink (and re-feel) a lot of things.  I have softened my dislike for Western medicine as I have seen it humanely applied.  I have found myself letting go of old attitudes about how much loving of another is “enough”.  My limit of what is “too much trouble” to do for another has shrunk.  I have learned that I could put another person’s needs before my own to a much greater degree than I ever thought possible and remain personally intact.  I have seen that I cannot wait for everyone else to change but must move towards Unity right now because that already exists for me.  It’s already here.

We wish all of our Mesa “tribe” a wonderful and loving holiday season, whatever you choose to celebrate.  We thank all of you for your good thoughts, gifts, love, healing energy, and prayers for us.  Know that we are sending the same to you.

About Brad Silberberg

Brad Silberberg, director of The Mesa Creative Arts Center in Burgettstown, PA (Pittsburgh area) is an artist, holistic healer, spiritual leader, and change agent.
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