My relationship to cancer is changing. I call what I am experiencing now the "un-cancering" process. My most recent scans show marked reduction in the amount of tumors and reduction in the size of the existing lesions. I'm excited to share with you I am feeling better!
As I begin working again, I come to you with a humble heart to ask for your help. Not only am I working teaching yoga and giving massage again, but I'm volunteering and giving back to the Bay Area Community while I'm continuing chemotherapy, taking care of myself, and going to regular weekly doctors visits. Its a lot to juggle but, I'm making my way back to being back on my feet financially. Within the next few months I plan to create a new website where I can build my massage and yoga business again and a new website for modeling and styling.
For the last year I have been receiving help financially from my sister, Rita, and from two wonderful and generous yoga students of mine Ravi and Ana and from the Ethos Yoga Community. Rita offered to help me pay 1/2 of my rent for 6 months and Ravi and Ana matched that for the next 6 months while I was having radiation to my brain and spine. Because of their generosity I was truly able to focus on myself and rebuilding my body. But, now I need to rebuild my ability and presence in the working world. I'm on Social Security, and with the small amount that I'm earning from my yoga classes and massages, my check book fails to meet the balance of my cost of living.
For the next few months, it is my goal to raise $800/ month to sustain myself while I focus on my health and getting back to a place of fortitude. Your help can come from your wallet, but also from making referrals to my Yoga Classes at The Mindful Body, or by referring someone for a massage. I will post my class schedule below so you will know when I'm teaching. I am grateful for any and all support provided. Thank you so much for your generosity, prayers and support.
With Loving Kindness,
The Mindful Body
2876 California St. @ Broderick
Tuesday: Hatha, All Levels, 9:30-11:00am
Wednesday: Yoga for Cancer and Immune Support, 4:30-6:00pm
Thursday: Hatha, All Levels, 9:30-11:00am
Massage by Appointment only.
Thanks for your help!
On one hand I am so grateful to be in California and on the other, not so much. Living in California, I am at one of the best cancer centers in America. I just happened to work right around the corner from UCSF Mt. Zion Cancer Center, and I would walk by it every day, taking for granted what went on inside. Now I have first hand experience with the incredible doctors there. Living in California has afforded me amazing treatments as long as they're covered under Medi-Cal, but the things they don't pay for, don't come cheap. I still have an outstanding bill at my doctor's office of about $3,000. And my living costs far surpass the $1000 I receive from Social Security. So, I'm frustrated because I don't want to leave my great health care in California, but it is very difficult for me to afford the things that I need to support myself. If only I could live off the beauty that the nature provides here I would be extremely wealthy.
I love living in San Francisco, and now that my sister is here, its even better. She has been giving me a lot of support. For the last 6 months my sister, Rita, has been paying for half of my rent. But now her situation has changed and that leaves me with some uncomfortable choices. I'm going to try to minimize my living costs and find a cheaper place to live, but for now, I need your help. Please donate if you can, even if it seems silly to send only $5. A lot of $5 donations add up fast. So skip your morning latté and send your small but mighty donation to someone who could really use your help.
Thank you so much for reading, caring, praying, supporting and loving me. Words cannot capture my gratitude for everything you have done for me.
No More Waiting for Tomorrow to Come
by Renee Heidtman on Sunday, November 6, 2011
When the world gets quiet around me and I have some time by myself, I often find myself wondering just how long I will live. I am so scared that I might die in my sleep, or while standing on an escalator, or while getting out of the bath tub. Will my obituary will be written at age 31? Two years struggling with cancer, really? Is this how I go? And what have I done with my life? I suppose because someone told me that I don't have as much time as other people do, that I obsess about these things.
When I stop to think about day to day struggles we all have, I wish there was an easier way. Most of us work some job, that perhaps we like, but not really. We work that job to pay our bills, to support the family, and do what we like on the weekends. It saddens me that I lived most of my life waiting for my turn, waiting for my opportunity to create art, or to take a trip to Europe, waiting to be married, or to have more money, or for that two week paid vacation. I felt trapped, that I had no control, endlessly frustrated and wondering when my turn would come. It wasn't really until I started practicing yoga that I got more comfortable with a sense of abandon, that I could trust that I would be provided for and that I could start letting go. Letting go of the struggle, of the doubt and fear that I wouldn't have enough. From then on I decided to only take things into my life that were pleasing to my soul. No more working for people who didn't appreciate my creativity or my work ethic. No more waiting for tomorrow to come. Today, I am an ambassador for living for now, because I might not have tomorrow. I save my energy for the things that I enjoy, even if they seem out of reach, because today may be the only day I have to live my dream.
Yesterday I got news from my doctor that I have more tumors in my brain and that the existing tumors that were inactive, are now active again and growing. The treatment that I have been taking at home hasn't been working and my doctor ordered more CT's, MRI's and a new regimen of chemotherapy every week at the hospital. It kinda makes working seem so stupid. Will I spend my precious years, the time that I have left, thinking about how Im going to pay my bills, how Im going to pay for my apartment, and worrying if I will have enough? I dream about all the traveling I wish I would have done before I was chained to having treatment. I dream about my trip to Milan, Paris, and London. I dream about a career in fashion or modeling, the art that I could produce, how my business could flourish, the fabulous home, or the car I could drive. Since Im not dead, and since I know the money will come, I suppose I will live like death is not knocking at my door, and that all of those things are attainable. I'll go to treatment, toss my cookies, and keep my chin up. Today is the day that dreams are made of. I can't give up now, I have so much to live for.
My latest scan results show that all of my tumors are dormant or much smaller than they were, and the chemotherapy I had been taking has been very effective. Last week Dr. Rugo and Tara Lacey my oncologist and nurse practitioner agreed that I could stop IV chemotherapy and continue with Herceptin (an antibody to help abate the growth of the HER2 positive disease) with an oral chemotherapy that I can take at home. I am happy about this news, but I am still suffering from the side effects of my treatment and it feels difficult to function from day to day. I am constantly reminded of the importance of a positive attitude and to take the time to get the help I need with Acupuncture, Massage, or healthy cooking, juice, or laughter to make things lighter. Luckily I have a lot of friends who help me get by. I'm so grateful for you.
It is hard at times for me to accept how much energy that I have to spend and so often I it seems I bite off more than I can chew. So after spending some time in the Emergency Room after my recent travels, I have decided to ground myself to my house until Sunday night. I had a mysterious fever that the doctors didn't understand and it was accompanied with a strong headache. So after a whole bunch of scans and a spinal tap (or lumbar puncture as the doctors like to say...calling it something different, doesnt make it easier...) I am laying flat on my back and resting up. My fever has passed finally, but I have some soreness in my lumbar spine and a headache from having less cerebral spinal fluid. Today my friends Nick Witten, Amanda Scharpf, and my sister Rita and her boyfriend Garrett are all coming at different times to visit, make food and keep me company.
Thanks so much for your love, and for sending your energy, time and donations. Even if you just share this site with your friends, its so helpful.
In gratitude and balance,
Sometimes I worry about how things will work themselves out, but then I come here and remember all of the support I am receiving and somehow, I am always held and taken care of. I'm so glad that people take time to help, care, and do what they can to help my survive from day to day. I couldn't do it with out you. Until most recently I was able to stop working because I was having disability assistance through my radiation treatments, and will continue to apply for long term disability so that I can help to offset my costs. I also decided to start giving a few massages when I can, which will help a lot. I am starting to feel a bit better.
I went to see Dr. Rugo, my breast oncologist today and talked with her about my long term treatment options. The continuation of Herceptin, and the chemo-therapies Taxol, and Carboplatin, the wonder drugs that I have a delicate dance with. Swinging, swaying, tossing, and turning is the dance, and somedays its not pretty. Im holding on to the bar and Im trying to muster up as much grace and dignity that I can.
Dr. Rugo says it looks like I will be having a few more months of chemotherapy, but Im very anxious for my scan results to come back...please oh please let them show that I am clear and healthy, and then I could opt to have surgery and continue with herceptin only, and anti-body that is targeted for my HER2 positive strain of cancer.
Here's to having our fingers crossed. Love to you all.
Thanks everyone for your donations and help. I hope you are enjoying your holiday weekend! The weather has been so beautiful in San Francisco and I have been able to go outside some and enjoy the company of friends. I will return to chemotherapy this tuesday, but for today I will focus on the celebration.
I would like to ask for your help in spreading the word about my treatment fund. I have a remaining balance of $3,142.95 at Dr. Cowan's office. Please share my fund with whom ever you feel appropriate to help me to take care of my remaining bill and to make things easier for me. Keeping my strength is easier when I don't have to worry about where the money is going to come from. Thank you so much for your generosity.
Blessings for a wonderful Independence Day!
More and more I see the beauty in our lives, the beauty of the simplicity and chaos in each day. It makes me wonder how I ever gave a single moment in my life so much meaning and in contrast, how I couldn't have possibly swallowed the juiciness those moments whole. I see the playful abandon that we live with and also feel the security, gravity, and connectedness that are our survival.
I have no doubt that I would not see the magic or illusion so clearly had it not been for experiencing a life threatening illness. For that understanding I am blessed. I am so grateful to have the life I have. Even though sometimes I feel pain, I know that our pain is what brings us back to community and the weight of it all somehow brings us together to uncover and remember our joy.
Laughter and tears are some of the best feelings that I have felt in life and even better is to have them at the same time. I hope that I can help my friends to do both. I know that being my friend has its trials because in my situation, my human drama seems extreme and some of you have been on the edge of your seats. I also know that I am not the sun and life will carry on despite how my story continues. Regardless, I surrender to our human experience and I trust that I am being led to the exact moments that will make me feel the most whole, just as you are now.
About 4 weeks ago, I received a phone call from my doctor informing me that I had metastasis in my brain. I had to stop her after she announced that I had over 50 tumor sites throughout the peripheral sections of my brain. I didn't know quite what to think since I really had no symptoms except for a slight tingling sensation in my upper lip. I was getting ready to leave for Colorado to go rock climbing for 6 days and now I had even more reason to take the reigns of life and to ask to keep going.
I went rock climbing with First Descents, a group organization that leads cancer survivors on adventures. I had one of the most enriching experiences of my life. Following, I sought treatment and endured 2 weeks of whole brain radiation. Now, I am continuing on with chemotherapy treatments. Previously, my doctors and I were elated to know that chemotherapy had resolved the tumors in my lungs and liver and had been beautifully healing my breast. We are still confident that I will pull through this and continue a healthy and happy life. I feel more alive every day.
I want to say thank you to everyone in my family, close friendships, and at The Mindful Body who have helped me through radiation and who continue to help me through the dark times. When I feel sick and fatigued it is a comfort to know that you are there. Its difficult to predict how I will feel from day to day, but I am grateful to continue through the grandness of our life process. I have approximately 2-3 months of treatments left before I continue on with maintenance care.
Please continue to pray, meditate, visit, and send your contributions when you can. Please comfort my family and pray for our strength and comfort. Please continue to take in each day like it was your first and also your last. I love you all and wish you a beautiful summer season.
Thank you for stopping by this site. In 2010 I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Breast Cancer with metastasis in my liver, lungs, and lymph, bones. With the help of my friends, family and complete strangers with compassionate hearts, last year we raised over $17,000 for my treatment.
In April of 2011 I started chemotherapy and have been making incredible progress with this treatment. My primary tumor has gone from 14cm to 3cm. I am continuing to make headway with western treatments in conjunction with integrative therapies.
Since June 2011, I learned that I had metastasis in my brain. I underwent whole brain radiation for 2 weeks and am recovering well. I plan to continue with chemotherapy and integrative treatments. With the help of the Center for Peaceful Healing Staff, volunteers, my friends and family I am feeling so much better. All of your help and donations have made a huge difference!
The money we raise on this site will go toward the supplies for my daily healing routine, to help me to keep me going, and to support me while I am in treatment and not able to work. I am in need of funds for the produce used for juicing, supplements, treatments, and living costs.
Supporters can also help by bringing fresh organic produce to the Center for Peaceful Healing, or by volunteering time to help with my daily routine. You can find out more about Center for Peaceful Healing on our website, centerforpeacefulhealing.org.
Thank you again for stopping by and for being a part of my recovery.