This past week we attended meetings with a group of people I have grown very fond of over the years. They have been my mentors, my employers, my co-workers, and mostly, my friends. It was so nice to be able to spend some time with them and think about normal work stuff. It was also nice to see that so many of them were praying for and thinking of David. Several of them have had their own trials recently (tornadoes, thefts, health issues) and while we commiserated over those, there were a few of them who shared their stories of triumph over hardships.
Those stories are always good to hear, but one stood out from the crowd. It came in the form of an email, and I’d like to share some of it with you here. It’s from my friend, John Street (emphasis added by me):
“It tears my heart out to hear about your son’s brain tumor and the
challenges you must be going through. 17 years ago this month, my baby girl
started a 5-year battle with leukemia that reshaped everything I think about
in this world.
We were very lucky that she prevailed. She went on to become valedictorian
of her high school class and she’s at UC San Diego now, majoring in
She was an inpatient at Children’s hospital for a solid year, followed by 3
yrs of chemotherapy and two years of weekly/monthly testing.It was an immensely trying time to be a parent and make the choices of how to provide the best care for her. After about six months of not knowing which end was up, here’s the approach we finally settled on.
First, we committed to be unwaveringly positive. We just pretended like
this was normal for all kids her age and we focused on having fun and being
givers to those around us. We became the “welcoming committee” to other
families who arrived in the cancer ward against their will. My daughter
became the goodwill ambassador for all the sick kids.
Second, we called on the doctors to do the best they could. We believed
that they might not know everything but that we were benefiting from the
vast body of knowledge that came from all sick kids who had walked this path
Third, we completely “gave it up” to a higher power … her Mom is very
religious, so she organized a ton of prayer circles, etc. I feel an
awareness of spirit but I’m less religious, so I made it more of a “laughter
is the best medicine” effort of creating happy times with big groups of
people, thinking that if we create enough happy times for others then that
energy works its way back to us.
It became huge — bigger than we could have imagined. The top rock ‘n roll
radio station in New York City WPLJ did a benefit softball game for Chelsea,
with Meatloaf and all the teachers from the high school where I grew up. A
local 3rd grade class made a quilt where each kid colored a square, and then
every kid took the quilt home and slept with it for a night and they were
told to dream happy thoughts about Chelsea. Then they gave her the quilt to
keep her company in the hospital.
Fourth, we enlisted the help of several experts in “alternative” therapies.
It was really tough to know who to believe. Especially when the doctors
told us we didn’t need alternative therapy, and the alternative guys told us
we didn’t need doctors. What finally did it for me, though, was we went to
a fancy clinic in Tijuana; we knew rich people and celebrities who would go there for top-notch treatment. The doctor there told me to keep giving my girl the chemo, but to bring her to
him to give her treatments that would help cleanse her body of the poisons
and help her recuperate faster. It seemed like a good middle-of-the-road
approach. This place did “chelation” which helps get heavy metals out of
the bloodstream, and something called “live cell therapy” which I don’t know
a lot about, but went towards rebuilding her body after courses of chemo.
During this time we became more in touch with nutritional supplements,
thinking that our food these days has too many toxins – even if you eat all
organic, the foot just doesn’t have the nutrients that it did 50 yrs ago. I
met an amazing man named Wayne Garland. He used to be a Madison Avenue
advertising exec, responsible for Marlboro and Crown Royal in Europe. Then
he got bone cancer. He refused chemo and traveled the world trying to find
a way to be healed. Eventually a buddhist nun on Kauai healed him of his
cancer and he devoted the rest of his life to spreading the word of natural
healing through supplementation. I gave my daughter all the
supplements he recommended and I think they went a long way towards helping
These days Wayne makes supplements himself so it’s a lot easier to get what
you need in a single place, and you can learn more about him at
One more thing I’ve come across in recent years wasn’t around when Chelsea
was sick but I definitely would have done it. One of my clients, LifeWave,
makes a non-transdermal patch that stimulates the body’s acupuncture points
to achieve various things. Over 40 clinical trials prove the effectiveness
of the patches. Athletes use the “energy patches” to have heightened
physical performance. Most recently, though, two of their products have
been creating tremendous health impacts – a patch that helps your body make
glutathione (an important antioxidant) and a patch that helps reduce the
biological effects of stress (it’s called Aeon). Check out http://www.LifeWave.com
The fifth thing we did for Chelsea was to spend a lot of time visualizing
the great things that she was going to do in her life. We talked about them
out loud with our family and friends. We imagined her gratuating high
school, getting married, etc. We spent a lot of time visualizing the gift
she was going to be for the world. And we didn’t put conditions on it, like
“if she’s around in 15 years she’s going to touch people’s lives” …
instead we just focused on her helping people and allowed that to be okay if
it was just helping the next kid who was terrified of walking into the
cancer ward, without trying to make some bargain about the future … I
believe the power of visualization is one of the most important creative
forces in the universe.
My heart goes out to you and your family — in a good way, not in a sad way
— and I send you many healthy thoughts.”
I was touched that he took the time to write down all his thoughts about the path they had traveled. One thing I learned quickly is that we each have different ideologies about how to deal with cancer. The survivors almost always have the same things in common though: positive outlook, lifestyle changes and dietary changes.
I hope that none of you will have to experience what we are going through, but the sad statistics are that many of you will. I don’t want you to be as unaware as I was when we started this. (There is no history of cancer in my immediate family.) Please eat healthy and consider organic food as much as you can. Look on the bright side – there is almost always a bright spot to focus on, even in the darkest times. And get active! We are still working on that part (unless you count chasing the dog to get whatever he is chewing on), but we are getting better!