Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Work in Progress

When you get a diagnosis of breast cancer, regardless of stage, statistics, survival rates, or whatever else, you are pretty willing to try things you never thought you would. At this point, I will have needles stuck in me, meditate and even place a rock from sacred ground known to heal in the Philippians upon my breast. I’ll do whatever it takes to stay alive for Christian and Camilla.

Friday, Feb. 3: Acupuncture 

I completed two hours of paperwork prior to meeting with Dr. Carlos Durana. The paperwork was emotional. By this, I mean that I not only gave him my medical history, but also shared my marital and family life history. In that section lie several events that I had not worked through, buried emotions that were preventing me from continuing a happy life. This was going to be more difficult than I originally thought.

Right about now you are probably thinking that I’m crazy for not believing or thinking that this guy is crazy. But you know me and before even meeting Dr. Durana, I had done my homework. Carlos Durana, Ph.D., M.Ac., Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM) is licensed as an acupuncturist. According to Washingtonian Magazine, he is one of the most highly regarded practitioners in his field. He is a body worker and writer/researcher with many years of experience in Chinese herbology, medical Qigong, life and wellness coaching, meditation, stress management, exercise and nutrition. Dr. Durana is also a clinical psychologist and professional counselor. This guy, when you meet him, you just know he’s a good soul.

He looked at my paperwork for only three minutes and then insisted on looking at my tongue outside in the sun. I know, I know a bit strange to say the least. It wasn’t until my second session that I had the nerve to ask what he saw by looking at my tongue.

We had a conversation about my life. He knew about my divorce and asked why I wasn’t married now. I explained that we had grown in different directions. Why would I ever want to put myself in a situation like that again if I couldn’t make things work with my best friend? It was traumatizing. He indicated that I had seeded emotions I haven’t come to terms with. We continued and discussed my miscarriage, Camilla being a surprise pregnancy and then my recent diagnosis of breast cancer.

Out of nowhere he indicated that I have pain in my joints. I explained that this comes from dancing. He asked when I stopped dancing and I said when I was 12 years old, continuing that quitting was the biggest mistake of my life. He knew my parents were divorced and asked me how old I was at the time of the split. I said 12 years old. He then told me that I was holding all of these repressed feelings from both the divorce and the regret of quitting dancing in my joints. We talked about dance and when I get better I need to dance again. I need to feel passion in life.

He started acupuncture and I immediately felt a surge of emotion. It was the weirdest feeling. It was almost like a burning sensation in my left foot. He said he had tapped into my hope.  

What the hell!?!? Did he read about the bears Hope and Faith

He then moved to my right hand. He said there were two points that showed I have sinus issues and that I currently had a bad cold. He then hit a new point in my right arm—nausea and anxiety. I haven’t been nauseated at all and that is one thing I’ve feared. Acupuncture is supposed to release these senses which might be why I haven’t been sick.

Next, I felt like my heart was pounding out of the front of my chest from the pain of the lung biopsy. I had never felt anything like it. He asked what I was feeling and when I told him, he sat me up. He pressed on a couple of places on my back and the heart pounding and pain subsided. I felt like a broken little toy that he made several adjustments to and then I was back on the assembly line.

I left with him telling me that I am very high strung. (Psh. Tell me something I don’t already know.) He told me that it would be difficult, but that I needed to work on my breathing and tapping into my emotions. He said, “You’re a work in progress.”

It wasn’t until I got home that I realized that I had forgotten to give him the first page of my paperwork which explained the reason for my appointment and my primary aliments. OMG, he knew me even without all this paperwork. Then something came to mind that he had said, “Make the root come out of your feet and touch the ground.”

Sunday, Feb. 5: Yoga/Meditation 

My friend Kelli came to my home to do some yoga and meditation with me. I met her through Kwiatek and she is one of the most amazing people I know. First, she is gorgeous—statuesque like a goddess with long red hair, but she is also incredibly enchanting on a spiritual level. She visited India last year with a group of yoga teachers on a spiritual trek. She’s fascinating.

She worked with me for an hour and a half. We started at the hips because that’s where women keep their problems. That explains a lot. I hadn’t realized how tight my hips were. I am a very flexible person with my dancing background and noticed how limited my range of motion was. What the hell!? 

We then did some stretching and I could actually feel the tumor attached to my chest wall. It was the strangest feeling—it had never happened before. And then I felt it pop.

I learned that cancer is an attack on my body and in order to combat it, I need to practice loving my body. She opened her meditation book and it fell open to self love. It was exactly what I needed—mantras of love and kindness directed at my body. Just like the affirmation from The Help.

She gave me sesame oil which she said would rid my body of all toxins. I use it every night before I go to bed.

She will continue to do yoga and meditation with me through this process in the comfort of my home. I’m so humbled and feel amazingly blessed.

Tuesday, Feb. 7: Acupuncture

Dr. Durana: “What are your emotions? How are you feeling? What are your thoughts about your first chemo tomorrow?”
Me: “What did you see on my tongue?
Dr. Durana: "Under your tongue there are big blue veins sticking out, this can indicate several things but one is slow or no circulation in the blood – meaning a tumor. Your tongue is very pale and the tip of the tongue is bright red which indicates digestive issues and anxiety.”

OK, how did he know about my IBS back when I was in school? 

I started laying face down on my belly. Dr. Durana began sticking needles in my back. He was surprised that I had no toxic energy whatsoever (Thanks sesame oil!), because the spots where he was inserting the needles were not turning red. He said this meant that I am hopeful and optimistic. I told him, “I do have hope.”

We then worked on my breathing. I’m not a good breather, never have been, so I gave this my full focus. I started breathing and could feel the energy of my breath from my pelvis to my head. Dr. Durana told me to focus on different emotions while I was breathing. I let them move through me like passing clouds and allowed myself to feel each one intently and then let it move by. When I would inhale I would think of peace and healing and when I exhaled I would think of releasing and relaxing.

My mind wondered to my friend Kerri. Why had I read her blog before I came? It was so stupid. I needed to realize my situation is not like everyone elses. I can’t compare. 

Dr. Durana started tapping fast all over my head. He must have known my thoughts had focused.

Dr. Durana: “What are you thinking about?”
Me: “My friend Kerri. She had breast cancer. I was praying.” (Kerri passed away not long ago from breast cancer that had spread.)
Dr. Durana: “Thinking about death is OK. Just because you think about it doesn’t mean you are going to die.”

My throat caught. How did he know Kerri had died? I never said that. 

Dr. Durana: “You need to move through these emotions to heal. It’s OK to think about not seeing your daughter grow up. These fears are true emotions.”

I could feel the surge of emotion start at my feet and went all the way up to my head. I started bawling. I don’t even know why I was crying—it was everything coming out at once. 

Me: “What’s happening to me?”
Dr. Durana: “Are you typically unable to cry?”
Me: “Yes, I hardly ever cry and especially not in front of someone I’ve only seen twice.”
Dr. Durana: “This is a safe place. You can cry here. You can’t be happy all the time or sad all the time—you have to face every emotion and allow yourself to stay there in order to heal.”

It took me 10 minutes to stop crying and Dr. Durana allowed the emotion to run its course. He then put a pin in my left hand and I practically jumped off the table.

Me: “What was that!?!?!?”
Dr. Durana laughed and said, “That’s your heart.” He then continued, “You have a lot of anxiety today.”

He moved to the tightness at the base of my skull that runs down my neck.

Dr. Durana: "Sometimes these types of things hold one memory or thought. I am going to work on this and tell me your first thought."
Me: "My grandmother"
Dr. Durana: "Is she ill?"
Me: "Yes. She and I have a very special connection. We call it a special “power” that we share.”

It was another amazing experience, to say the least. Without a doubt I believe this man has a sixth sense. Just by looking at me and feeling me, he was completely in tune with my thoughts and feelings.

Now, I don’t leave feeling like I’ve had a massage. I’m not relaxed. But I leave with my head clearer and relieved. And because of that, I believe. I am OK with being a work in progress, just as long as there is progress.


  1. I am so touched with your blog. I wish I could be with you each step of the way, but as long as you share, I feel as if I am with you in spirit and mind.
    Your going to beat this. I have so much faith and confidence in you and your doctors, family and friends. XOXO

  2. Jen,
    This was a very interesting post to read. I think its amazing you were able to meet someone like this man. What an incerdible experience. It already sounds like you are coming into contact with so many amazing people.

    I know you don't know me (I'm an old friend/sister to Jen K) but you are on my mind all the time. I pray for you every day. Being a mother myself, I am especially sensative to what you are going through. No mstter what you may feel, you are not alone in this. I will cont. to keep you my thoughts and prayers as well as your family!

  3. One word desribes you and this journey you are taking all of us on: Amazing! Thanks for opening up your world to us and in return you will get love, support, and unending commitment. Love you!

  4. this post was awesome. thanks Jenn!

  5. I've had very similar experiences with acupuncture and healing - it's a wonderful thing and I am very glad you are doing it. It will serve you well!

  6. Just plain WOW...thank you for sharing!