Friday, January 4, 2013

Beating NHL: The Big Four

Whether you're chasing the race for Super Bowl XLVII, in a gripping fight for academic honors, prosperity, or just dealing with the vicissitudes of daily life, you cannot win without attitude, a game plan with a backup, and cheerleaders. And a sprinkling of luck. Wherever we land in life, we're all fighting for that Superdome victory.

My fight is cancer, my Superdome--Penn Medicine (HUP), my battleground--daily life, beating NHL one day at a time. With an stadium of followers, I am frequently asked how I rebound after being hit with a series of defeats. Like any athlete, I just get back in the game, fight harder, stay tough. And I have the luck of God's presence in my life. Here's my game plan.

People who know me, have worked with me, and my BBFs will tell you I was born with attitude. Although that has not always bespoken a compliment, I am grateful for my OCD attitude because it's a lifesaver. The mind-body connection is strong, and I believe relentless determination is pivotal to winning, whatever the endgame. Staying power--positive beyond infinity--is the key to living mindfully. No scientific evidence exists to prove that attitude can defeat cancer; what it can do is create a lifestyle change, defeating stress and myopia.

Beautiful but DEADLY NHL Cell
Yesterday I began my 5th regimen to beat my cancer, but my tumors are smarter than the drugs and keep finding escape mechanism to regrow the cancer cells after the chemo temporarily wins the battle. So, do I lose the war? Not unless it's God will. And yes, I'm not politically correct where God is concerned; you may call it fate, karma, or something else, but 12 years of Catholic school reminds me that prayer might bend God's will, but will not alter His plan. So, on this one, either way it's a win-win.

Beating NHL with the Best in the Nation
Thumbs Up for the BEST Staff & Meticulous Care
My plan is victory over cancer. To achieve that goal, I began with a serious research initiative, vetting 9 different cancer wellness providers by creating a spreadsheet with rigorous criteria. Fortunately, I did not need to consider geography. I did, however, consider ranking of institutions, clinical research trials, grants awarded, outreach via social media and conferences, access at multiple levels, staff, including support staff, facility appeal and cleanliness, physicians credentials (publications, conferences, awards, grants acquired, field trial initiatives and participation, evaluations), equipment, and overall, how much the institution of my choice was an aggressive leader in its field. And very importantly, how did my future selection support my cancer, which is not a celebrity cancer. I always and forever want the very best; my life is worth PennMedicine Health Systems. Never overlook support staff; they are the backbone of an institution, and I can attest that I have found the very best. As a backup plan, I have considered the Gerson InstituteTherapy, and continue to use alternative therapies like reiki, meditation, yoga, mindful living, and healthy eating with juicing raw foods.

When it comes to a support system, beginning with my husband and friends, I have an army of supporters, and some of the very best are my Facebook friends I haven't even met F2F. People encourage me every day with comments, cards both digital and hard copy, PMs, phone calls, texting, and emails. I've been the recipient of thoughtful creative gifts from friends and fellowship groups, and each one has a special meaning to me. Without cheerleaders, I would find it difficult to move past some of the setbacks I've encountered, but after each failed protocol, my friends encouraged me enthusiastically. Cheerleading makes a difference in my mindset and my wellness.

If I could offer any advice, it would be 4 simple things:
  1. Research and find an institution and support network that is best for you. Online and personal advice is a good way to begin, but visit your potential sites when you narrow them down and get a sense of the pulse of the facility and its people. All the people. Best for me is not necessarily best for you. If you feel that you are safely landed when you select your site, your experience will be much better.
  2. Maintain a sense of humor--it's healthy.
  3. Help others--because it helps you too.
  4. Explore alternative options for de-stressing yourself and your caregiver(s).
Although this post is geared to cancer, the concepts work for just about anything. Happy, Healthy New Year.

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