Sadly, we found out last week, 3 years after her initial breast cancer treatment, that our mom’s breast cancer is back. Now diagnosed as Stage IV breast cancer metastasized to her spine, lungs and liver.
Stage IV cancer has no cure, but it is treatable. And our beautiful mother, Marianne Frost (known as Busha to her 8 grandchildren, beloved Nanny children and dozens of her cherished students), has lots of living left to do! Anyone who knows her (and the insane amount of photos she takes), knows that she lives for family time, her growing gaggle of children (by blood and by love), and knitting for said-growing-gaggle, her wicked sense of humor, the ability to laugh at herself and life’s unexpected blunders, and bringing magic to the most ordinary moments. We want and need her around for a lot, lot longer!
In 2014, Busha went through aggressive, conventional breast cancer treatments at Kaiser, including mastectomy, lymphectomy, chemotherapy, radiation, oral hormone blocking therapies (which she continues to this day) and a clinical trial of the drug Herceptin to increase her chances of remission. While these treatments slowed the disease, it did not cure her.
Her Stage III treatment was an all-out war on cancer. It was about bringing herself to the edge of death so that she wouldn’t die. Cancer treatment is hard. And painful. And exhausting. But it’s worth every second in order to save your life.
Now that we have passed the first attack on cancer and found ourselves at Stage IV, the healing work ahead of us looks very different for our mom. We are going for less attack and more arsenal...a well-rounded arsenal that supports her own innate healing and her emotional/soul well-being all at once. Her work, and ours, is about seeking supportive therapies, savoring life, and healing her heart as well as her body. It is about making the most of life and extending her ability to enjoy it. It is about wellness in body, mind and spirit. And while our mom will continue with traditional medicine, we also realize conventional medicine has its limits.
Our mom is now committed to finding alternative ways to live (hopefully for a very long time!) with cancer in her body. And, quite honestly, my mom is not counting out a radical remission because “magic” is her middle name. Her spirits are as buoyant and focused and hopeful as usual, and she is wide open to possibility. Not to mention brave. And funny. And glimmering with hope.
Have you ever seen a patient who keeps the doctor smiling as they deliver horrible news with tears in their eyes? Who makes the doctor feel better about having to deliver the news? A patient who makes jokes and shares a beaming smile with every nurse, medical assistant, lab tech and radiologist even as they face the reality of dying? That is our mom. No matter what the tests suggest, she is very much a radiant, determined, joyful cancer-fighter.
Fortunately we have many options for treatment today. “Fringe” therapies that have become more and more mainstream, therapies that are known to heal and cure and support even the most desperate situations.
Our plan is to work with the world-renowned Dr. Isaac Eliaz. An integrative medicine pioneer and alternative cancer expert who runs the Amitabha clinic in Santa Rosa. (amitabhaclinic.com)
Known for a range of treatments like Vitamin C infusions, therapeutic apheresis (blood filtering), acupuncture, nutritional counseling and mind-body healing, he has created an individualized plan for our mother’s treatment and he is confident he can help her in very dramatic ways.
As we sat in his office two days after her devastating diagnosis, he told her that he could help. Relief and gratitude flooded her face. A primal yearning for her LIFE, flashed across her eyes. But her relief was almost instantly replaced with dread. How can I afford this? Though extremely effective, these therapies are also very expensive and they are not covered by insurance.
The doctor looked her in the eye and said something like this:
Marianne, this is your life. You must reach out to your friends and family because this will literally save your life. We have a saying in Israel, a Kabbalistic saying that roughly translates to “The journey of good deeds is as far as the distance between every fiber in our bodies and the feet they must move.” It is time for friends to walk the walk.
Our mom was hesitant about the “Go Fund Me plan” her 5 kids came up with :). She didn’t want us to reach out. She is embarrassed to ask. She is afraid that crowd funding has gotten out of hand. She wishes she could do this on her own. For many reasons this is hard for her. But we told her that THIS SITUATION is exactly what grassroots fundraising is meant to do – to bring community together when there are no other options, to save a life, to make the impossible possible.
And besides, we told her, we are doing it for us. We need our mom and Busha!
And so, we are counting on you – if you can – to help in anyway you can.
HOW TO HELP “NO BACKING DOWN FOR BUSHA”
*Share this with anyone you know who might want to know about her diagnosis, or might want to help
*Funny cards, snail mail, drawings, homemade art, flowers:
PO Box 1866
Glen Ellen, CA 95442
*Donations to this GoFundMe Account – any and every amount helps! Truly.
*Consider “matching” a portion of this GoFundMe drive (certain dollar amount raised in an hour, a specific total if raised in x days, that sort of thing.) Just let us know and we will hold our own little contest!
*If you would prefer to make a tax deductible donation instead, please contact the Amitabha clinic for more information.
Thank you for holding our mom in your hearts. All of her children and grandchildren are so grateful for your loving care.
Warmly and in gratitude,
Brooke, Matt, Satchel & Temple
Shannon, Isaac, Ike, Fiona & Emil
Zak, Fati & Ezra
Alex, Laura, Sam & Mare
Camille & Collin (& Charlie LOL)