April 5, 2012

F You Cancer, I Want My Friend Back.


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Seriously, I know death comes for us all, but cancer really just blows!

Do you know anyone that hasn’t been affected by the specter of cancer?  Whether a family member or a friend or friend of a family member…this sh*t is everywhere. I’m sorry for my language but I’m freakin’ pissed off! Why? Because the truth is it doesn’t need to be like this—cancer should not be everywhere and it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Or, to quote my favorite philosopher:

Unless someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
It’s not.  (Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax)

Now I know the Lorax was talking about trees and the environment (well, specifically Truffula Trees) not cancer…but, hey, it’s all tied up together. It really, really is. Recently, cancer took a wonderful human from us, my amazing friend Jen Coy, and damn it I’m angry and hurt and I miss her.

On March 7th, Jen Posted this FB Status (Liv is her young daughter):

Jen and Olivia 2011

Liv: Mom, I’m worried about you. Me: Why honey? Liv: Because you’re so skinny and because of the cancer. Lots of people die from cancer. Me: Well I have put on three pounds this month. And yes, lots of people die from cancer but I am here now, and I’ll be here next month. No matter what, I will always live in your heart. Liv: But who will hug me and love me? Me: I promise lots of people will hug you and love you. Oh my aching heart. ~Jen Coy

I miss her because she was amazing and inspiring and one of my greatest teachers, because she just had a way of getting to the truth of things. (And sometimes I was so jealous of her…she just seemed to have this spark that I wished I could have, this intensity and purpose and drive and even when she was so incredibly sick she was still a fashion queen—and damn I just couldn’t keep up with her). She didn’t mince words, she was fierce and vibrant.

Damn it! It’s hard to type while crying…I may get this post done yet…Here’s my Jen love story…

I met Jen in school, we were both pursuing Masters degrees at University of Denver.

Our first impression of each other was always a source of humor in our relationship over the years. I arrived late for class that Saturday morning. I got lost, I had just really started my program and spent a lot of time lost those days. So I stumbled in late, wait…

Let me first paint of picture of the group of women waiting in the classroom: The teacher and many of the students knew each other and they did things like discuss shopping at Nordstrom together. They were dressed in pant suits and wore earrings and makeup and all sorts of girlie things like that and if you had known me back then you would know how unlike me this scene was…

I had ridden my motorcycle that day – I was decked out in full leathers with a bandanna on (makeup? What the heck is that?) and at that point I didn’t even know what jewelry was. Dragging behind me was the bag from my motorcycle that doubled as my book bag. It wasn’t small.

Insert the Sesame Street “one of these things is not like the other” song for dramatic effect! 

Making my grand entrance I looked around and seriously I wish I had a picture of these girls’ faces…hysterical.  A mixture of shock/awe/trepidation!  As I entered, the teacher was just wrapping up her explanation of our icebreaker exercise, some “introduce yourself, explain what you are doing here” type thing with a poster and the teacher looked at me and said “you can wait to take a turn until you get settled if you like.” But I was feeling so out of place and I get a little spiky in those situations, so I said, “Nah, I’d rather just go first and get it out of the way.” OMPH! Again I wish I could have taken another reaction photo. Needless to say, I was making an “impression!”

That first hour of class was Awkweird!!!

And then something magical happened as we got into the class…I absolutely fell in love with these women and I think the feeling was fairly mutual. I don’t remember laughing that much in school and a great friendship was born.

Later over glasses of wine Jen would confess to me that her first reaction to me was along the lines of:

“Dear lord does she have a body in that bag?” 

I “appeared” as different as could be from this group, but what we discovered was a group of warrior women destined to be forever connected. Jen was at the end of a cancer treatment nightmare when I met her and shortly thereafter went into remission and was declared cancer free. That was a great feeling (around that time is when my husband passed away). Jen and Brandy and the rest of the girls in the group were instrumental in helping me find my way back to life and…

I was devastated when that damn cancer came back.

So was Jen as you can imagine. She was tired. Tired of the chemo, tired of fighting with insurance, tired of not being able to really be there for her daughter—but she said something that struck me…“crap my hair just grew back, I don’t want to lose my hair again, I don’t know if I even want to do chemo again.” Now, I had never ever really considered losing hair as that big of a deal (easy for me to say: I was blessed with enough hair for three people) and I was struck by the simple feeling of losing, of being out of control…and I was saddened to think that this strong, passionate woman would “give up” over something so “trivial.”

Fortunately Jen had much to live for so she signed up for the next round of chemo. I felt helpless. But on the day of her first treatment I did something radical, in solidarity—to show her it wasn’t a big deal and to hopefully encourage her. I shaved my head (for the first time).

Jen and Aminda

Here we are a few months later—to say it connected us would be an understatement!

To say it changed my life would be an even bigger understatement! I loved it—the freedom of it, the perspective of it, and the practice of weekly shaving my head. Originally the plan was to shave just until Jen was cancer free again…but when that happened (YIPPPEEE) I kept shaving. Then the fun was watching Jen’s hair get longer than mine.

She may not have ever realized how much she shaped my life at that time. The lesson in Vairagya (Vairagya/Non-attachment: The essential companion is non-attachment (1.15), learning to let go of the many attachments, aversions, fears, and false identities that are clouding the true Self. ) was truly divine, she will never know how much she continues to shape my life.

Jen was not one to be kept down by anything. She proved it time and again. And even with all she dealt with she was always willing to help a friend.  After Rob passed, I took a separation package from my job and took some time off work. Deciding to go back to work wasn’t easy but Jen was there and even helped me get a job and we ended up working together (we were both training specialists)! It was great to go in for that job interview bald! Anyway, we worked together in the training department at Abacus, and that gave us ample time to compare hair growth! She continued to work like crazy and finish her degree all while still enduring treatments.

I remember so vividly when she came back to work after a particularly rough round of treatment, only she could make sick look so cool.

The well traveled trainer

Jen's 40th

Not too long ago Jen turned 40. (I mean seriously gorgeous right?) It was to be her last birthday. She was 3 years younger than me. I can’t even believe she’s gone. You know how some people just seem too strong to be taken so early from us?  I remember thinking when my husband transitioned “only the good die young” but maybe it’s just that when they have done what they needed to do, they get a free pass?

The number of lives Jen touched, the way she inspired so many people was truly incredible.

So I sat down to write an “ode to Jen Coy” in loving memory of a strong and gorgeous sister and as I wrote I received this email from a naturopathic doctor in Arizona that I adore called “Spring into Prevention with Education.” And, yes, it’s all about the chemicals in our world that are contributing to the increase in cancer and all the ways that natural medicine can change our relationship with cancer!

Great read, but…that’s what really got my ire up, and then I thought about my “Dirty Hippy” post and I got even angrier. And I was left just sitting here thinking “F*CK Cancer!”

Because rather than just an ode to Jen I realized I had to write about how absolutely absurd, unnecessary and pointless all this cancer crap is,  because we don’t need more research on medicine and cures (heavy on the sarcasm)

We need to stop this sh*t!

When are we going to start to see that what we are doing to the environment is killing us?

When will we stop blowing the tops off mountains and frackin’ the earth, even though we know it’s poisoning us?

Until health is more important than greed, something is seriously and royally F’ed Up.

I wonder where Jen would be today had her food been labeled? Had it not been full of chemicals and hormones? If the water we drank was clean? If medicinal ganja was legal? If? If? If?

What are we doing to stop cancer before it begins?
How is our government protecting us from chemicals and GMO’s? (as in – it isn’t)

So what do you think? Is the way to approach cancer to spend more time and money finding a cure (I use the term loosely!) or do we start recognizing that our lifestyle is causing it and do we start by stopping it before it starts? Are you “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” type? Do you think we can “cure” cancer by changing the very things that “cause” it?  Are you sick and tired of the sick care this world seems so focused on? (I know I really am). And do you believe that nature has the cure? Perhaps the answer lies in downsizing? If so, get active. (Or more active, or more vocal…heck just be aware if you aren’t already!)

What I really want is to have my friend back, but since that ain’t happening I want her death to herald in an age of reason; one that says EFF Cancer and says hello to healing, wellness and some common sense. 

I’m ready to kick cancer’s ass before people get sick, I’m ready to kick its ass in a natural, sustainable, healthy way!

Do you believe that someone you love would be alive today if “medicine” were different? If how we approached health and disease was different? If what we eat and what we are exposed to were different? 

Looking for causes that are linked to cancer prevention? Here’s a personal favorite, Stop The Fracking! (As a Coloradoan living on the river this one rocks my world). Click the picture to read all about it!

Kickstart Project!

Visit Change.org for a whole list of things to get involved in; like Farming, Fracking, GMO’s, Food, and the list goes on!

Please leave a comment and share your links to causes and articles that help us all understand, avoid and/or clean up the cancer causing agents in our lives!

Stop Cancer! Cure Cancer! F*ck Cancer!

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Editor: Lynn Hasselberger

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