Christine Lowry passed away peacefully at 5:50am on Monday September 29. Her brother John was with her when she died. John had been living with her and taking care of Christine for the last three months.
Christine fought a 3+ year battle with colon cancer. She underwent several rounds of chemo as well as radiation. She wanted to get well and she wanted to live. She started this blog to reach out to other people who also have cancer and pass along information that would help.
Although Christine made a living as a legal secretary, her true passion was music and radio. She worked in college radio in the late ’70’s – ’80’s at KALX at UC Berkeley, and KUSF at University of San Francisco. More recently she was on the air at KGGV in Guerneville as well as KOWS in Occidental. She also spent some time as a silversmith, had a keen interest in astrology and tarot.
Christine was a good friend of mine for the last 28 years and I miss her terribly.
A memorial service will be held for her at the Guerneville Community Church, Armstrong Woods Road (home of KGGV) at 4 P.M. on Tuesday, October 7th. The service will be followed by a remembrance celebration with her family and friends.
If you were a friend of or knew Christine, please feel free to post a comment and share some of your memories.
Well, it seems like the good times come and the good times go. Most of the time I stare at the walls and wonder when I’ll have the strength to move around more. So far Cathey’s hypnosis has worked best of all to stem the pain, although I only use that occasionally. Cathey only charges $75 a hour for her work which is more than fair. I’ll add in her website reference next time I get on. Yeah, I said that last time, but hey I’m pooped 85% of the time.
Well, at last I sign up with Dr. Issah Eziah’s (sp?) office in Sebastapol. I ask them if they have anything that they might offer me as treatment and they suggested Vitamin C and K infusions. This is pretty stock treatment and has some good figures behind it, however it costs $250 a treatment and they want me to have two treatments per week, on an ongoing basis too. No wonder people don’t follow alternative treatments, thats $26,000 a year! Yikes.
I asked them about Dr. Slavin and whether they had heard of him. Not only had they heard of him, but were already prepping various of their patients for treatment by the doctor. All I have to do it to get a current petscan so that he knows my condition (which hopefully is not too bulky for him to work with.) We will go from there. I live in hope.
Well, yesterday was a big day for me, the first day with NO pain whatsoever, admittedly there are those 145 whatever morphine patches I am wearing, but even with those I have been having severe abdominal pains that I blame on gas.
And how I wanted to try it out to manage the pain? Well, I got an irresistible offer of a session from Cathey Ragucci of San Rafael, I was to call Monday evening at 7 p.m. and we would see if this could help me manage the pain. Well, 7 p.m. came on Monday and found me asleep, not that I had completely forgotten the meeting, but the pain had been so intense earlier (around 5) that I asked for some of my muscle relaxants which put me to sleep. But Cathey persisted and called me, woke me and I washed myself with a cold washcloth to wake myself up, then called her back.
What Was It Like?
Well, very normal it seemed, and relaxing, I just lay on the bed with the phone aside of me and listened to Cathey speak to me about my getting into my body, finding and then describing the pain, then as the pain got less recognizing the ‘look’ of that lesser pain and it worked well to lower the pain. Well, perhaps I’m not the best at describing hypnosis, it seemed so simple there wasn’t too much to describe, I really enjoyed the experience and it was very relaxing. The session was repeated for the purpose of getting a recording that I can re-use which Cathey said she would send me. (Hopefully Cathey doesn’t mind my giving her name out here as she has her own website (which I will link in later.) Later I went sleep practically immediately and my brother said I was sawing logs all night long (good for me.)
It Surprized Me The Next Day However.
When I woke up with NO pain whatsoever. And full of energy. When I say that I mean that I walked around downtown Guerneville for about four or five blocks with no tiredness and no shakey legs (although those things are still way too boney.) After walking around downtown I also went to Pat’s for breakfast and had an omelette which was incredibly delicious; bacon and smoked cheese. So strange that for almost all my life I have been 90% vegetarian but these days I crave meat. Go figure. I had fruit too so I got my carbs and some good food in me, hopefully I haven’t lost all of my nutritional sense! Thank you Cathey, you have done me some favor!!
Simon the Spoilt
Donna from Pat’s came around this morning, bearing roses for me and sausages for dog Simon!!! Could you believe, she had to get her ‘Simon’ fix, Simon was overjoyed to see her and showed it by running directly to his bad of sausages. I love this town and thank God for leading me here, Guerneville I couldn’t have done it without you (and some outlanders too).
Just in case anyone is left out there wondering (its been such a long time since I’ve written my blogg); I seem to have arisen from those slimy slumbers of morphine and am back in the land of the living.
.Its one in the morning here in Guerneville and it seems like months now I have been struggling with pain, losing mammoth amounts of weight and not having the energy to hold a coffee cup for a few moments. Sheeesh, people shouldn’t have to go through this. And you know what I don’t think I will anymore. As of today I feel I have reached a turning point where strength is concerned and I am ready to fight again.
Where Am I Anyway
Well, now I am part of the hospice service which is a curious thing (hospice I mean). It’s, to put it simply, based on accepting your passing and allowing them to medicate you so that the pain is controlled and life can be lived. For me its more a place to go to to rest from that terror that was chemo. Its a better system. I have one nurse, one social worker and also various aides who come to wash me, there is a chaplain available also and I was able to meet with him once already. I like this guy. I didn’t want any bullshit so I told him that the truth was that I wasn’t accepting my death, that I wanted to and was planning to live and wanted some counseling on that order rather than just tidying up my affairs. To my joy he seemed very very happy to hear this and expressed that it was a joyful decision as he was hearing it. Wow that was freeing, when he left he actually asked me whether he could research some other alternative healing techniques for me, well .. . could you ask for better than that?
Well I already had better than that anyway!
Yep, I sure had, listen to this. It got really hairy with my health, like I was really on the edge, days from death, many people spoke to me about this, how weak I looked. My parents had to be told and my brother John who is now living with me (yeah!!!!!!) did the deed. It shocked them and it was the last thing I wanted them to hear but it was getting late. John told them both that I was sick and also broached the subject of my smoking medical marijuana, I just never got the guts to tell them as . . . well, you know how that goes. But while I was trying to adjust to the correct morphine dose to control my pain I used both the morphine and medical marijuana to control the pain. The marijuana worked better, faster (like immediately) and I could stand up and walk around and communicate, on morphine – no way. The MM also helped with constipation, (sorry) and anxiety. It was apparent to my parents instantly that this was the better way. But they had already accepted my smoking it before seeing the affects and this is what I really love them for. Thanks mum and dad. This was so healing it was uncanny, it was the only secret I had and was such a joy to throw off. I am so happy. My sister Mary is also visiting me from Florida, sacrificing days off she hasnt even earned yet bless her and giving me six days away from her two dogs also. Thats love. Thank you Mary.
This is the cure for Cancer
The cure for cancer is love and support in big gobs. Let them sue me for saying it. Because I know my fabulous support system from Share the Care to Radio to Church to Family are responsible for this turnaround. You gotta eat good food too, no joke, seriously get into your refrigerator and get natural food in there for your own life’s sake.
Well, thats what it feels like anyway. Getting better, today is Saturday morning and I’ve already been out to Pat’s to eat. Love going to Pat’s for breakfast, ordered the poached eggs with toast and a little fruit. This is good for me but it was hard to eat it all, Simon got most of the toast but I ate the rest. The pain seems like its gone for good now, but the nausea and body malfunctions remain so this Monday I am going to go to the Health Center and see what they think.
Share The Care
This group has been an incredible boon to me and I think the main reason I am feeling better now. Thanks to my Share the Care group my house is clean, my laundry is washed, there is cooked food in the fridge for me to eat and Simon gets walked, plus the extra time I spend with people, that alone has given me immense strength. I am incredibly lucky to be this person receiving this help, incredibly.
Chemo Off Again
Well, I went off for my weekly chemo on Friday but when I got there the nurse said that because I had requested Hospice care that I couldn’t do chemo too. Well, that threw me for a loop for a few moments until I realized that earlier this week there had been a meeting to organize my ‘final wishes’ about my care. At the meeting Hospice had been mentioned and I guess people had followed up by contacting hospice, but to do this they had to talk to my doctor, who signed off on the hospice care! Well, my wish had been granted, out of chemo for another week. We spoke to a nurse about the situation and it was decided I would out of chemo this week, speak with hospice, then maybe let hospice know its too early for me (if, indeed it is) and go back to chemo next week.
Went out to eat Kung Pao Chicken after the cancelled chemo, it tasted great. Maybe I shouldn’t have though as it came back later in the evening. Wonder why the pain has gone but the nausea remains?
Well, Monday came around and my big meeting/gathering is to happen, but I felt awful physically, taking morphine only dulled the pain, I was vomiting and just felt so weak that I called Beth early afternoon and told her I wasn’t sure I could make it to my own meeting! Beth ran to the rescue and called Pam who came around to sit with me, then Beth arrived and we shared our company for some time. Just having the company felt good, there was an opportunity to give my attention to something other than my body and its pains. It was decided that the sensible thing to do was for my to rest and allow the meeting to go on without me as I healed at home.
How Could I Do That?
So, it was the right decision, Beth said that I would probably get tired just from getting dressed and I knew just what she meant, so I made the sensible decision and Pam and Beth left to organize the meeting more as I snuggled back into bed. It was after 4 then and I lay down and relaxed, feeling so much better from just having the company. I lay and thought and wondered about this meeting that I had looked forward to for so long and so many times, and if I didn’t get to this meeting when would I get another opportunity?
Well, I convinced myself to give it a try. I got dressed, well – that wasn’t too bad, didn’t get too dizzy so I thought I would call Noel and see if she could pick me up, but the cell wouldn’t pick up. Then I thought I would just go for it. I would walk, with Simon, down to the resort. If I made it and was too tired then I could get a ride back but if I made it and wasn’t too tired then I would have my gathering!
So there it was, the Boathouse. It took some searching for; that New Dawn resort is a lot larger than I knew. But the Boathouse was found, attendees in place and me there too . . . not too tired, in fact a little hungry, in fact very hungry! But I waited for a while. I looked around the room and saw some people I knew, other people I had never seen before and wondered again about the beauty of the human spirit, I almost didn’t want to make eye contact I felt unworthy. The gathering was in process when I arrived with people speaking of how they felt, why they were there, what had led to their being there. For me it was very moving and I looked around the room at all the wonderful people who had volunteered to come and help me on this strange journey I’m on. How can you just say thank you for that? What can you do? I am going to open myself up as much as I can so we can all become the big family that I know we all need in our lives, I want to like and love to the fullest, not just politely, I want to warmly welcome all of my new family in, not politely tell them “perhaps another time” a love that they are showing deserves the best that I can give back and I am going to go for giving quality to my new gang of angels.
So Much Was Done
So, indeed much was done at the gathering, the way the system works was described, then people listed their talents and times they were available. It turns out that I have people willing to help me with: laundry, housecleaning, driving to chemo, massage, insurance, cooking, walking the dog, and keeping me company when I am getting cabin fever. We talked about my cancer situation, some of which I am completely unsure about. My friend Robert made a good point when he mentioned that we were spending a lot of time talking about my dying, and he didn’t think that I was ready for that yet. This was good to bring up, because in some ways I feel the same as Robert. However, after at least three weeks of abject pain I have had to look a little closer at my mortality and while this could end up being an infection from my uti bugs and just go away (that would be wonderful!), this also could very likely be the cancer in my torso they mentioned in the last Pet Scan. I have to admit thoughts of death came to me many times in these past few weeks – that I was at a near-death situation, the pain was just too inhumane. Now I look in the mirror and know that I better take care of my paperwork while I still am conscious enough to! And believe me, I have a smile on my face today because I have a new gang of angels who will help me through this. I am praying for remission though, that is what I want – but this darned cancer just loves me and has a hard time leaving.
Today is Thursday and I was hoping for a third day free of ‘hurling’ but today had me throwing up about three times, and I missed my eating window also. I woke up hungry but lay in bed so my appetite left. Never mind, I definitely feel stronger than yesterday, but I have a ways to go and I know I am still losing weight.
Well, last night I had great pain so I took some morphine around 2 a.m. but woke up this morning feeling wonderful, pretty healthy and ‘in my body’ and so much stronger than I had in a long time -weeks I’d say. To say I am happy about that is a super understatement. So I celebrated by going to Pat’s for breakfast, forgot to mention that an appetite came along with the new found strength. I knew what I needed, very light scrambled eggs on dry toast with a huge glass of orange juice. So I went there and got that and enjoyed it very much, thank you. Perhaps there could have been some health advantages if I had trolled on over to the wonderful Howards, but there is companionship at Pat’s that somehow misses being on the menu but is definitely there for me. Even when I go there and don’t speak a word its fun for me to listen to the banter between everyone else . They always remember Simon too.
This week has seen a couple of visits to doctors. Monday I went to the Russian River Health Center and got tested for a urinary tract infection (trying to find the cause of the pressure in my abdomen). Seems there’s ‘something’ there so I get the antibiotics for the infection and some Prilosec to help with the gas pressure. The doctor mentions possibly an ulcer, that sounds likely to me, but we will see. He prescribes then tells me to come back in two weeks and they will do more comprehensive tests to see what is going on generally with me.
Back To The Oncologists
I’m starting to hate that word oncologist, making me nauseous. Wednesday I got another appointment at the Oncologists and met with my nurse practitioner, after having my blood pulled. They weigh me and I now weigh 132 lbs, this is a bit freaky, always wanted to be slender but haven’t weighed this little since adolescence (and I mean since starting adolescence). I will enjoy the look while I may but it does send out warning signals yelling “cancer” shhhhhh.
Cheryl (my nurse practitioner) sits down and immediately says that they now think that the pain is caused by the cancer – not gas. She read me my CEA levels (readings which show how much cancer is active in your blood) and my levels had gone from 17 to 27, not encouraging, under 6 is normal. So, she insists I get back to some chemo asap, like tomorrow or the day after. I went for the day after but will be there . . . they sure know how to frighten you at these places.
Later I thought that the level change might be because I had a liver cleanse and it shook up my system and the blood pull with the high reading might be from the one after the cleanse (as it should have cleaned some cancer out of the liver) Oh well, who knows, I’m getting so I almost don’t care. I feel like grandma sometimes, always talking about this ache and that pain (not that my grandmas ever did, they were angels).
Getting Used to the Morphine
I had to take some morphine late this afternoon after all. I am trying to be more accepting of this. The pain is there and has to be taken care of and the morphine works on deadening the pain. If I am going to take morphine every day then I want to figure out how I function on it, so I started doing some housework, danced around a bit and just started to act normally rather than lying down on the bed – something I have done way too much of these past few weeks.
So, all in all I still feel great. Maybe I did end up taking the morphine but I managed to operate normally on it and now the morphine is out of my system I still don’t feel any pain. I think it might be my next assignment to figure out the pain management as I don’t want any more pain.
This is the link to a page which speaks some about oleander and its effect on patients with AIDS and Cancer. If you follow through the links and read the trial (the parts you can understand) it shows some amazing statistics. Almost too good to be true, but lets not get cynical here. These days I do have a respect for Clinical Trials.
I have only just started taking Oleander, and its suggested that I should see some effect within 60 days. I don’t immediately feel anything but, for me, thats a plus. Usually my medicine tastes pretty foul.
Well, it seems like the pain might be toning down a bit, but I’m not sure. Today I took about four droppers full of morphine, and still I felt twinges. I wanted to go to the Strawberry Festival that KGGV put on today, its a major event for us and I didn’t even volunteer to help prepare (because I’m feeling sick so much of the time these days) I got up and took a quick walk with Simon this morning. He made the walk short himself, he just turned around and pulled me back home. ‘
I lay around with the computer for a while, around noon I thought I was ready to go to the festival so I walked on down, I made it about a block, I had to lean against the library to compose myself I was in such pain. So I put it off for a while, went back home, lay down, then did some more morphine which did the trick as far as giving me the confidence that I could make it to the festival.
The Strawberry Festival
There was a live broadcast going on which sounded great, very good recordings to whomever set that up. Blues Daddys, Thugz, Peggy Day and the Gypsy Nights, Midnight Ramblers, KGGV All Stars and a trio who were incredibly good and in fact a sextet from someone’s description Greg Hessler I think. And an accordionist who played between sets and was a blast. I made it there at around 4 thirty I think. I shuffled over to the chocolate fountain looking at it lovingly but remembering the mantra “cancer loves sugar” well, that took care of most of the food, but I grabbed myself a few sticks of strawberry kabobs and ate them unadulterated which was fabulous, all organic too, the local health store Food for Humans donated all the strawberrys – thank you Food for Humans. Everyone looked to be having the greatest time, including me even though I did feel twice removed because of the morphine I expect. Got a photo from the Ranger of me holding the reins of some fleeing horses in our Wild West flashback photo stand. I will treasure that.
I spoke to Hunter while I was there. Hunter hosts a show at KGGV about dealing with aids, excellent show. Hunter and I talked about the Mr. Leather contest he attended in Chicago. He came in 23rd in the WORLD. Hunter is 63 but they had the audacity to ask him whether he had a problem communicating with the youngsters out there. What a strange question and it says a lot about the guy asking it. I’m quite sure that Hunter could have spoken to the youngest contestant there about leather alone for 40 mins no problem. Anyway YAY to you Hunter and for speaking out for all 63 y.o.s (how ancient). Spent some time with Robert also at the festival, we talked about the meeting coming up for me – the meeting will be on Monday evening and everyone that wants to be part of the organization to support me who can be there will be there. Robert was telling me that physically he can’t make it, but reassuring me that he will be part of the group. Definitely Robert has been the person in Guerneville that I have been calling when I want someone to do things with. Thanks Robert.
There it is again, thats how it is with me too . . . sometimes nothing then ouch ouch ouch, sometimes I scream what the heck, stop it stop it stop it. And then it goes away. Or I hope it does, sometimes it stays around for hours on end. It seems like weeks now that I have been dealing with this pain and I don’t like that. I doesn’t sound like gas to me but might be some digestive upset. I was going to ask my doctors about it but I slept through my chemo appointment on Friday (I lay down around ten fortyfive a.m. and woke up around five in the evening) It seems that any day after taking the morphine I am sleepy all the time. I don’t like this as its not healthy but I can’t move around with this pain anyway. I think on Monday I should go to my local general doctor and see if I can get a test for a urinary tract infection or something that might explain whats going on in my insides.
Well, another day with quite a bit of pain in it. Maybe I asked for it at first, I drove down to Monte Rio to have breakfast at a cheap breakfast place I go to sometimes. I didn’t eat too much; eggs and toast essentially, gave the rest to Simon (dog). Had an orange juice too, that was GOOD. Afterwards I walked with Simon on Monte Rio beach, that was nice – there were many ducks around and Simon behaved himself by not chasing any of them.
Well, so far no pain, just a bruised feeling left over from last night. After breakfast I dropped into Safeway and bought myself some Gas-X. It took a few hours before pain of any amount came on so at that point I took the Gas-X, I mean if this is caused by gas then I would be stupid not to try and get rid of it the easy way I took a dose of 2 capsules (their daily limit) but noticed no difference. Over the next hour I took another one but it made no difference, I ended up taking 4 but by then I had taken so much morphine and smoked more joints so who knows about any difference it might have made.
So I was at the point where I was hurting, feeling pissed off and desperate and reached for the morphine. I took two droppers full which should have been more than one dose. No effect, this is pretty frightening, when the pain killers don’t work you know you are in for a bumpy ride. I rolled another joint, that helped a little – sometimes I think its the ritual – but still I returned for more morphine and now am, while not in pain, in discomfort. I am trying not to lie down so much either, I think it makes me more nauseous. What keeps me going with this though is them telling me it wasn’t caused by my cancer (because the tumors aren’t where the pain is.) I have a feeling this pain might be connected to my belly button problem.
Plans for the Meeting
Beth called me again and we went over more about the meeting to come (where everyone who agreed to help me as my sickness progresses gathers together to meet for the first and only time.) It will be held in a room in a resort in town, the Dawn Roadhouse I think.
I am so looking forward to this meeting, I feel like I am just arriving at Guerneville for the first time and have the chance to meet all those people that I have, to date, only seen. Vidya might be able to attend telephonically (its a 90 min drive from the Bay Area!) so it looks like things will just fall into place, I hope so anyway for Beth’s sake. Beth is going through some stresses of her own too, with family moving in with her, so prayers for Beth who has been my guardian angel through this.
Well, I’m still going to the Church, and feel very comfortable there. I wish I knew the tunes to some of the hymns but thats my only complaint! It is a nice experience to go there, sing hymns, listen to the sermon, hug and introduce myself to other members and afterwards we all eat a meal which another church member brings! It’s very loving and very down to earth. Last week I took my meal and sat by the KGGV garden which Peter and Damien and others have been lovingly tending. I love gardens, don’t you?