Surviving the Big "C" With Jody B.

SURVIVING THE BIG “C” WITH JODY B., Sunday , August 18, 2013:

I've been blessed to be in the Holy presence of the divine? Why was I so blessed? I don't truly know. I confess, like Thomas I sought hard evidence the Holy Trinity was the real deal. I sought that hard evidence for many months, praying many penitent pleas morning, noon and night. However, I believe I was so blessed, not so much due to my daily pleading for that confirmation, but due to my total surrender before my Lord Jesus. One Tuesday morning back in July of 1974 I literally said, "Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to thee, all that I am, all that I'll ever be, I surrender it all to thee."

Those aren't the specific words I prayed, but they are the gist of it. And when I did, this divine presence entered the room through a solid outside wall of my living-room, a holy light that was, in all its glory, the presence of LOVE, surrounding me, enfolding me, flowing through me. It was beyond all earthly Love I've ever known. It was everything. I've tried many times to describe it, but it truly surpasses human understanding, but I am here to attest that something else does exist beyond what we know and its name is LOVE, its presence, its dimensions, its very essence is LOVE.

This LOVE, it's head and shoulders beyond the Love we as human beings feel for each other. It's life-changing LOVE because you can't be in the presence of this divine LOVE and remain unchanged.

SURVIVING THE BIG "C" WITH JODY B., Sunday, September 1, 2013:

The first person who brought up ECCIAC TEA to me was Mary Glosser at Christ's Church. She said, "I don't know how you feel about herbal remedies, but I printed this off so you could take a look at it. There are people who believe it's a cure for cancer."

I took her printout home and read it, but I didn't do anything about it. At that point I was so scared and so overwhelmed I was barely participating in my own life.

The next person to mention ECCIAC TEA was the manager at that time of U.S. Cellular. He told Mike I wouldn't lose my hair if I would use this stuff. Again, he said, "Some people even think it's a cure for cancer." I put his card under my mouse pad, and never gave it another thought.

By August I was losing huge chunks of hair every single day. I had sores on the palms of my hands, the soles of my feet, and inside my mouth. When I drank or ate anything it felt like I had broken glass in my mouth, on my lips.

Our friend, Cindy Ellis, asked Mike how I was doing. Mike told Cindy I wasn't doing very good. Cindy said, "You take this home and give it to her, and if she doesn't take it for you, let me know. I'll see that she does," and she gave Mike a quart jar of ECCIAC TEA.

For 24 hours I ignored the jar, but I was so sick, so miserable, I finally considered, "Just what do you have to lose if you try this stuff?" So I did.

In eleven hours, I could eat something, drink something again without that broken glass feeling in my mouth. This was Wednesday and by Saturday, when my friend, Sandy Archer, brought her wigs and head coverings to my house, my hair had stopped falling out. She took hers back home with her.

I'm not saying ECCIAC TEA is a cure for cancer. I am saying it made the difference in my surviving my chemo therapy in as good a shape as I did. I asked my doctor about it. He said, "I can't recommend you take it, but use your common sense here. If it makes you feel better, I'd take whatever helped me get through this."

Halfdanerson was ever the diplomat, but he was also smart as crap! There's nothing in it that can hurt anyone, and I promise you, it helps.

Cindy said her son, Cale, didn't begin to respond to his cancer treatments until she started giving it to him. They were getting ready to put a feeding tube in his stomach. Suddenly, Cale was responding to treatment after several years of continually going downhill.

What worries me is that cancer patients, like me, just shrug this off or think it's not worth the effort, or it's a waste of time and never do it. I'm encouraging you, if you're going through cancer treatment, from two people who tried it and who believe it made all the difference, don't go through this without ECCIAC TEA. Please try it for me!


When I first suspected I had cancer back in September of 2008, I had no health care, had been looking for health care I could afford for two years, and had no prospect of coming up with a health care plan any time in the near future.

You can ask what my symptoms were. It embarrasses plenty of people to talk about it, but communicating is giving knowledge. I had diarrhea once a month, every month, uncontrollable diarrhea, splat poops diarrhea for several days, and it would take Imodium AD up to 5 days to slow it down.

In December I had blood in my stools. In February, my cousin, Darryl, told me he had applied for Iowa Care. I said I had never heard of it, and I hadn't. I had asked social workers for advice, and nobody had even mentioned it. They were happy to tell me I wouldn't qualify for Medicaid or Medicare, which I already knew and didn't need anybody to tell me.

Finally, Mike applied for my Iowa Care while my mom was at Hospice. It was approved the end of March, and I was transported to University of Iowa Hospitals in an ambulance April 26th, doubled over in a giant cramp that wouldn't let go.

Ottumwa Regional thought I was having an appendicitis attack. I was positive it wasn't, and by the time the ambulance arrived in Iowa City, Dr. Hoshi had looked at my cat scan, and he said he was pretty sure I had colon cancer. He was right, I did.

In August Obama care started paying for my Iowa Care premiums, which at the time, I was paying $68.00 a month for, while going through cancer treatment. I'm nervous about what will happen at the end of the year when Iowa Care is no more. I've been assured those of us on Iowa Care will be phased over into Medicaid, that there will still be something for us, but unless you've ever had to pace the floor at night worrying about it, you can't imagine how hard it is.

Back in March I started paying $58.00 a month for my Iowa Care again. I've had to get all my care in Iowa City to date. I will be asked to choose where I want to get medical treatment at the end of the year. It's a huge decision because I trust the Iowa City staff with my life now. I don't truly know what I will do, but I'm grateful I survived this, and I believe the Good Lord had a hand in all of these things coming together for good in my particular set of circumstances.

SURVIVING THE BIG "C" WITH JODY B., Tuesday, September 3, 2013:

Eating was the last thing I wanted to do, and it was the last thing I wanted to do for at least 17 months. However, we all know a body under attack needs nutrition.

One afternoon in October of 2009, I was huddled on the living-room sofa where I had been for the better part of a week and Mike was nagging me to eat something. The blessed women of Christ's Church had made it one of their missions to bring in a daily meal for 6 days out of 7, which is no small thing in and of itself, and one of these women of generous spirit and Christian conviction had brought a complete meal in a box to our door.

I waved Mike away, tears in my eyes, because I was humbled by their kindness while the very idea of food made me nauseous. He said, "You have to eat." I said, "Michael, you don't know what it's like to try to put a bite of food in your mouth when everything makes you sick."

There stood my 7 year old son, a four year cancer survivor, himself, in the middle of the living-room floor, saying, "But I do, Mom. You have to eat." And I knew that he did, and I knew that for Hunter, I would eat, even though I couldn't do it for myself. And I did.

I tried to eat foods that had antioxidants in them: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, for example, often in yogart, because yogurt was easy on an upset stomach, and helped my bowels. I tried to eat fresh fruit or drink juice every day. Hot tea also has antioxidants in it, but I drank it more, because it was a comfort drink than anything else.

Four years earlier, when Hunter and I were living at Ronald McDonald House in Iowa City, and he was going through radiation treatment, every afternoon we would have afternoon tea together. This wasn't just any tea. We put French Vanilla Coffee Mate in it, and Splenda or we put a scoop of vanilla ice cream in it.

When Hunter was going through treatment, many days it was the only thing he really wanted to eat or drink. Now, I was going through cancer treatment of a different kind, but still, for me too, it was the only thing I wanted to eat or drink.

I also drank a cup of Ecciac tea every day, an herbal tea, not unpleasant, that actually soothed and calmed my stomach. I know the vote is still out that Ecciac tea can make a difference, but I'm a living testimony that it made a difference for one person.

I said it was 17 months before I actually ate a bite of anything I wanted. One Tuesday in February of 2010 I realized I was starving for a pizza. I really wanted one. I craved a piece of pizza. We ordered a pizza that night, and it tasted divine. That was honestly the first time I believed I might survive this disease. It would still be many months, until the February of 2012 before I began to feel like I had some of my life back, that this disease didn't own me 24-7, but this was the beginning on that road to recovery.

SURVIVING THE BIG “C” WITH JODY B., Wednesday, September 4, 2013:

I think I might know why, after a certain time in life, we wake up at 2:00 or 3:00 A.M. in the morning. I’m guessing it’s meant to be our God time, that point in our 24 hour day when God expects to be able to have our undivided attention. We’re finally old enough to understand the levity of our situation and responsibility we’ve been given to pray for those family and friends we hold dear, and to fully appreciate the many blessings we truly do have in our lives.

Then we expect to either catch a few winks before the alarm goes off or we expect to be spectators at God’s glorious sunrise. Either thing is a miracle, the waking up or the sunrise.

To be candidly honest that June 26, four years ago when I was scheduled to have my port implanted, and have my first chemo, I was so terrified, it was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other. So I went to the internet and typed in something like, “scriptures that offer comfort when you’re afraid.”

I came up with a first search quick handful and I copied them into a three-ring notebook. On the way to Iowa City that morning, I read through them all several times and memorized the first one. Deuteronomy 31:8 The Lord will go before you, the Lord is with you, the Lord will never leave nor forsake you. Do not fear nor be dismayed.

I imagined a giant King Kong sized Jesus, literally walking barefoot down the highway in his soft white robe before my car with his hands gently folded in front of him. Four years later I still visualize this image when I get behind the wheel of the car for a trip to Iowa City. If I lose it from my line of vision, I firmly rebuild it and put it back in place.

There were other scriptures that spoke to me as well, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” the Lord’s Prayer, “Yay, though I walk through the valley of death I will fear no evil…fear not little lambs for the Father has decided to give you the kingdom.” The point is, I built a line of scriptural defense between me and what I was afraid of, and I claimed it every time I felt in desperate need of it.

That morning, when I attempted to step from my wheel chair after my surgery into that treatment chair, my knees folded under me, I was that desperately afraid. Even though I thought I was prepared treatment was much harder than even I expected it to be, but I got stronger every single day as I emotionally prepared for the next treatment and the next and the next.

Not once have I ever believed I did this alone. I do believe when you can’t carry yourself, Jesus picks you up and carries you. If you’re going through cancer treatment right this minute, I hope I’m discussing things right now that you may not have found the words to discuss with anybody yet.

Strangely enough, ministers have good intentions, but they don’t always even know where to begin. I promised myself, when my grandmother died of pancreatic cancer, I’d talk about the hard things with anybody who needed to talk about them. I’d never try to dodge that bullet, and that’s what I’m trying to do.

SURVIVING THE BIG "C" WITH JODY B., Friday, September 6, 2013:

My grandmother, Pansy Minerva Ann Stivers died in 1972 of Pancreatic Cancer. She had been feeling poorly for quite a while, when surgeons finally scheduled exploratory surgery. They opened her up, found the cancer, sewed her back up and told the family she had about 6 weeks to live.

I'm not sure who made this decision or why, but the family decided to keep it from her. Like I said, I don't know why this decision was made, but if and when I have cancer, I want to know it, I have the right to know it so I can make the appropriate decisions with the time I have left.

That being said, Grandma allowed them their illusions that she didn't know, and when I went to visit her at the hospital she told me, "I know I have cancer. I knew I had cancer before they opened me up." From one cancer patient to another, I can appreciate her clairvoyance, because I was 99.9% sure I had colon cancer before I was finally told that I had it, so as for me, I believe that she did know.

Now, about that six weeks the doctors gave her. Nobody knows the time or place you are going to meet your maker, folks, except you and the Good Lord. We don't come with an expiration date stamped on us, regardless what medical science may believe to the best of their knowledge.

And Pansy Minerva didn't die in 6 weeks, nor 6 months. She took an extended vacation in Wisconsin with her daughter's family for one thing. Then her son, George and family, planned a fishing trip to Canada, so she went with them, and it seems to me they were gone for over a month. She and I went shopping in Fairfield, and out to eat, and talked about the family tree things she had posted in her Bible. She told me she wanted me to have her family Bible when she died since I was the only person in the family who seemed interested in family history. I didn't get it, but I loved her for thinking of me. Almost two and a half years later she took a turn for the worse again.

One evening I visited her at Ottumwa Regional Health Care, and she started weeping, and said to me, "Jody, I'm so scared." We all have things in life we regret, and I'm telling you candidly right now, what I did then has haunted me for years.

I told her, "Now, Grandma, you know this is only a temporary setback, and you're going to be just fine." We both knew I was lying through my eye teeth, and I just didn't have the guts to talk about the hard things with her. We don't get do-overs in this life, so I have to be satisfied with the fact I know she knew that I loved her, but I should have let her cry it out, to talk to me about her fears, to listen to those secrets in her heart.

A few weeks later she slipped into a coma and we never got that moment again. I don't know if anybody ever let her say them, but I'm here to tell you, everybody deserves somebody who will listen, somebody to be there, and I've never walked away from another human being who wanted to spill their guts to me, in honor of the love I had for my grandmother, and this missed opportunity I was too frightened to accept. I made a promise to myself that I never would.

Now about that expiration date. Many people have proved medical science to be infallible once in a while. My nephew had a glioblastoma multiforma category 4 brain tumor. Most people don't live a year. Bill survived 13. He was the longest survivor ever in the United States. Don't let anybody tell you what your expiration date is. God may have a miracle planned in your life.

Friday, September 6, 2013:

SURVIVING THE BIG "C" WITH JODY B., Saturday, September 7, 2013:

I've always liked dogs, and have always had one since I was about 4 years old. However, Buttercup was our exception. Usually, we did the choosing, but Buttercup chose us.

It was February, and she chased our male mixed poodle and wire-haired terrier out of his dog house and wouldn't let him back in. The boys shooed her out, but she'd run to the other side of the alley fence and wait them out, and then she'd come back.

We had a cold front coming and I was worried about both dogs. If the temperatures dipped to below zero, Frosty was going to freeze to death. So Luke, Mark and I spent the afternoon building an extra dog house.

I guess I knew then she, Buttercup, would be staying, but I didn't surrender to it easily. She never let Frosty move back into his dog house. He had to take the new one.

Even when I realized I had a special relationship with this dog, this mixed golden retriever that I had never had with another dog, I gave her away twice. We had to keep her in a kennel in our small yard on Sheridan Ave., and it just didn't seem fair to her, but Buttercup preferred the cramped space of the kennel to living somewhere else. She had a radar beacon of some kind honed into that house, and even when she got lost in a thunderstorm one time, she managed to make her way back three days later. Thank God she did.

When I got sick, Buttercup was glued to me like we had Velcro connecting us. She never left my side, and slept within arms reach of me every night. She followed me to the bathroom, and she waited at the front door until I came home from my treatments in Iowa City. If I was on the computer, she was under the computer desk.

She was providing her own brand of comfort in the way she best could, and I don't remember that I even realized what she was doing in the beginning. But eventually, when I couldn't take two steps without falling over her, I realized she was taking care of me. Anyone might say, "She had just formed an attachment to you," and I might respect your logic, but I would still argue the point. Buttercup was always a woman's dog, but when Mike started running his 103 degree temperature, we noticed that Buttercup had been doing the same thing with him.

Unless you've had a dog, you may have trouble fully appreciating what a comfort one can be. I love my family and friends who have been there for me, but Buttercup was there for me in a way nobody else could be, and her comfort was beyond measure. I'm sure she knew both Mike and I were sick before even we did, and she did her best to be our best friend and comfort while we were.

SURVIVING THE BIG "C" WITH JODY B., Monday, September 9, 2013:

Cancer can be a hammer's blow to important relationships in our lives. I don't have any sage advice for why this happens. I just know it does. Neither do I know how to tell anybody not to grieve over it, because if it's important to you, it's not that far away from what it feels like to have a death in the family.

I am going to say don't beat yourself up over it. You don't have cancer on purpose. You're not sick on purpose, and some individuals are naïve enough to believe when you're sick you're supposed to pick yourself up by your boot straps and persevere as if nothing is happening, and you'll get over it. You know that old song, "Just put on a happy face?" Cancer isn't something anybody usually does this with.

I even had a fellow cancer patient tell me he was worried his treatment was going too smoothly, because he had a friend it happened to, and his friend's cancer reoccurred within a very short time and the friend didn't survive his second round of chemo. After he said it to me, I realized, I too had a dear friend who didn't seem to miss a beat with her chemo for breast cancer, and within a short period of time, she relapsed and succumbed to her second round with her illness.

For most of us though, chemo rolls over us like a freight train. So if you can't make it to that family reunion, or Christmas is overwhelming you, or you're not up for a movie with your best friend, again, I'm telling you, don't beat yourself up over it.

This phenomenon of rats deserting a sinking ship? This doesn't sound very pretty, but I think it's something like that with cancer and relationships. Some people are clueless about your illness, and they won't risk educating themselves about it, because if they did, it might seem like some sort of investment is required of them that they are not willing to give. Some people are allergic to visiting sick friends at a hospital, don't make sick calls on the phone to an ailing acquaintance. It's their problem, not yours.

I wish that it didn't hurt, but we can't control how other people respond to things. We can only deal with our own responses to life's hurts, and there will be plenty, even if you're sick. Sometimes you just have to walk away, and see if there is anything left to salvage on the beach after the tempest of your illness has worn its course. Appreciate the people who chose to weather the storm with you, and never failed you from beginning to end, and there will be many. Accept where you're at now, and know there will be better days again.

If you can, forgive those who've hurt you and pray for them, because ugly feelings in any heart, especially a sick one, are like a ball and chain dragging you down when you need positive energy flowing your way. Then just let go, and let God! Easier said than done, maybe, but when you're waging a war for your life, it's the smart thing to do. And if you're the one who's never gone through this, count your many blessings.

SURVIVING THE BIG "C" BY JODY B., Wednesday, September 11, 2013:

Sometimes life just doesn't seem fair. Ask anyone with cancer. Or ask Job. Job is a Biblical testimony to give us all a heads up that life often isn't fair. Satan really tempted Job to turn against God when Job was going through those many trials. Job never did.

The Prince of Darkness can deliver a tempest of lies on the heads of sick person and their loved ones and usually does. We're under attack because we're most vulnerable. I have this declaration I often use against the Prince of Deception. "Satan get behind me because I'm a child of the King and He's already wont the victory for me."

I wish that I could claim to have thought of this all by myself, but I have to give some credit to song writers Brown Bannister and Mike Hudson. "Satan is a liar and he wants to make us think that we are paupers when he knows himself we're children of the King; So lift up the mighty shield of faith for the battle must be won, we know that Jesus Christ is risen so the work's already done."

Most of us spend the first three quarters of our life ignoring the fact that we are born terminal, and the last one quarter of our life trying to come to terms with it. It isn't going to go away. Some of us will go sooner, and some of us will live a long and robust life, and die in our sleep when we're 115, and some of us will battle traumatic diseases like cancer in our lifetime. Some of us will overcome, and some of us will succumb.

Only God and you know the time of your departure, but God is as close as any of us will let Him be, and He's already won the victory for our eternal souls if we join his team.

I've talked about many things in the last couple of weeks: the psychological, the emotional, the physical, the metaphysical, the spiritual. The hard part of any battle (ask any good soldier who's ever been on a battle field) is coming to terms with the fact we may not survive even today's battle, and that we are fragile human beings who can succumb in a heartbeat to the overwhelming stuff.

The soldiers who can do their job to the best of their ability in the hour of crisis are the ones who aren't thinking about the fact they are infallible in the heat of battle, because they've already come to terms with it. Somewhere along the line, they've said, "Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to thee." That doesn't mean anybody wants to die. It means you finally reach the point of letting go and letting God so you can get on with the immediate fight.

SURVIVING THE BIG "C" WITH JODY B., Saturday, September 14, 2013:

Mark 5:25 And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague... And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole...

I'm not going to even pretend I hold any key to how this "faith" thing works. I have already confessed I did not believe I would survive my cancer, and I didn't believe it for months. That doesn't mean I didn't want to survive it, because most of the time, I did. That doesn't mean I wasn't praying for healing, because I was. I had a seven year old to finish raising.

I do know I had an army of prayer warriors praying for me, and there is a scripture about two or more are gathered in my name, Matth. 18:19; Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.

I always believed, if it was God's will, that I would get well, but I was never sure which side of the veil God planned for me to land on. I can only surmise this "faith" thing is a personal relationship, but the promises in the scriptures can help us find our way.

The most amazing part of all of this to me is that our bodies are a temple the Holy Spirit dwells in. James 4:12;... you think that the scripture said in vain, The spirit that dwells in us ... That why I've said several times, "God is as close to us as we want Him to be."

Forgive me for falling back on clichés at this point, but this concept absolutely blows me away. However, the Bible is a sort of how-to manual, but a little more substantial than a Boy Scout Manual. Wrap your mind around this idea for a minute. The Holy of Holies does not dwell in the Arc of the Covenant anymore. The Holy of Holies, after the veil was rent in the temple at the hour of Christ's death, the Holy of Holies, came to dwell in us.

Whoa, and to think of all the things we've done to that temple over the years, huh? But just get out your broom of repentance and sweep it out. If you want to scour a little with some spiritual bleach, be my guest, but don't forget that God's grace is sufficient unto all of us when you are done. Accept it and get on with the rest of your life. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

SURVIVING THE BIG "C" WITH JODY B., Monday, September 16, 2013:

I remember going to the farm when we were kids, my sisters and me, and the meals Mom and Aunt Ethel put on the table, and it staggers me to think we ate those things. Breakfast could be fried chicken, fried bass, fried eggs, bran cereal, fresh strawberries, and country cream to pour over them, pan gravy and homemade buttermilk biscuits, orange juice, or lemonade and coffee. I mean we ate like a construction crew that was going to put in a 16 hour day, and this was only breakfast, which was usually the biggest meal of the day.

Lunch would be smaller, but there were still always fresh vegetables and fruits on the table, muskmelon, watermelon, cherries off the cherry tree. Aunt Ethel raised leaf lettuce and cabbage, and Uncle Manford milked a dairy cow. We had REAL butter on the table. Aunt Ethel made homemade ice cream in ice cube trays. I wish I knew how she did that. I'd make some.

Well, we spent 40 years moving away from that kind of eating, and then my family ate less and became more obese. Aunt Ethel and Uncle Manford were never fat in their lives and both lived a vital life into their 80's. We weren't fat either when we lived like that.

So I asked myself what the difference was? We didn't eat pre-packaged foods and modified foods. Uncle Manford butchered angus beef and we ate it. Aunt Ethel cleaned free range chickens and we ate them. The free range chickens laid fresh eggs and we at them. Aunt Ethel churned the butter, and made fresh buttermilk. Uncle Manford harvested the honey from the honey bee's nest. We ate the fresh produce, the fresh fruits and vegetables they raised every year. We froze some of it and canned more of it and brought it back to Ottumwa to eat for the winter.

Forty years later, I'm sick, Mike's sick, and we have over weight kids. I tried to start modifying the way that we eat. It hasn't been easy, and I don't always have a clue how to do it, but I read labels at the grocery store now. If it isn't 100% juice, I don't buy it (I've been fooled). I'm buying more fresh fruits and vegetables. I only use real butter, and we drink juice 3 times a day.

If I fry chicken, I fry it in extra virgin olive oil. We eat less red meat and more poultry. I buy the whiter cuts of pork, center pork chops. It's easier than I thought it would be. Obviously, we don't get the kind of exercise now that we got when we were on the farm, so the meals aren't as big as the ones Mom and Aunt Ethel used to put on the table, but still, I've spent the last 4 years rethinking how we eat, and have returned as much to our roots as I can manage. It's a process, but we need to rethink the way we eat in the 21st century, and at my house, we've begun doing it.

SURVIVING THE BIG "C" WITH JODY B., September 17, 2013:

I'm no doctor, so nothing I say here is anything but my own opinion, but I have this very strong gut feeling that bitterness isn't healthy for anyone. Not only that, but I think there are professionals in medical fields who are of the same opinion. If anybody tries to tell me they've never had bitter feelings for anyone, I'm going to hear you out, but I will be skeptical that you're telling the complete and honest truth too.

I wish I knew what it is about the human condition that we hurt each other, or that others can hurt us, sometimes to the very depths of our souls. I suppose we can blame Satan, and many often do. I'm the first to say Satan will use every tool in his arsenal, including human bitterness to drag us down, but we all know, in the end, we are the ones making our choices. We may be tempted but we choose.

Why am I talking about this? Because I believe sickness can be rooted in bitterness. I'm not saying that everybody who gets sick has their roots in bitterness. That can't be true, because sick babies don't have the life experiences to know what bitterness even is.

I am saying, however, if you're nursing bitterness somewhere in your life, it can stand in the way of your recovery. As with all of these posts, somebody recently said something to me about this subject that prompted this post. This person had been so hurt in life by an immediate family member, she wanted to renounce him as a member of her family.

This really struck me personally, because I had some bitterness for a while between my father and I. I'm not suggesting it made me sick, but it was dragging me down when I was sick already.

When my dad walked into my room that Friday morning before my cancer surgery, though, only one thing was on my mind. I didn't want to die before I told my dad how much I loved him, and anything that had gone before, none of it mattered to me. The only thing that mattered to me was that he understood that I loved him unconditionally.

I said once, "I have been in the presence of the divine..." I have, and if I could explain it to you, I would, but I simply don't have words adequate to the task. God is love. Some others have described it with a word, AGAPE love. Now I loved my dad that morning with my whole heart, soul and mind, but it doesn't touch what was happening to me when I stood wrapped in the love of that divine Holy presence.

If I could love my dad that much, how much more are we loved by GOD, but we are, totally, beyond human comprehension. God is the cure for your bitterness, as surely as I'm standing here struggling to explain all of this to you.

What does this have to do with cancer? Believe it or not, everything! If there is bitterness, hurt, pain in your life, you need to let it go to make room for the healing love God is offering to you. It isn't hurting the person who hurt you. It's hurting you. It's as simple as that.

I'm not talking to everyone. I'm talking to someone, and you'll recognize what I'm talking about if my words are for you. Just remember, God wants to heal you, your soul and your body. In the end, I hope you celebrate God's grace, and remember there are two kinds of healing, an earthly one, and a heavenly one. Whichever side of the veil you land on, remember that in Christ you are a new creature.

SURVIVING THE BIG "C" WITH JODY B., September 18, 2013:

There is a praise and worship song by the Gaithers, "Should the harvest never come, I still will praise you, should I not bind the sheaves with my own hand, I still will praise you for the promise of the sewing, and though I never see the harvest I know the harvest will be grand." These words have made a lasting impression on me. Let me try to explain.

Oprah Winfrey changed my life. She's clueless, never met me, probably never will. One day on her talk show she said, "I was a victim until I realized why I was a victim. Once I understood why I was a victim, I no longer had an excuse for being a victim any longer. It was within my power to take charge and change that, and I did." For some reason, her words nailed me right between the eyes.

For me, what she said was, "It's not your fault that somebody in your life did something hurtful to you. It's human that it hurts. But it would be your fault, now that you realize this, if you went through the rest of your life letting it hurt you."

Those were very powerful words to me, the same way the lyrics to that song were. If you read this today your visit with me is not by accident but by divine appointment. Through some miraculous intercession of the Holy Spirit, something I've said is something you need to hear. I may never know what it was, but still I know God can perform a mighty work in you. A tiny kernel planted in your heart today may produce a "harvest that will be grand."

My prayer is if you're struggling with cancer, that you will be healed. There are two kinds of healing, a physical healing and a spiritual healing. I pray you have them both, but if you only have one, my vote would be for the spiritual one, because we are all terminal. None of us is going to make it out of here alive except in that new body Jesus has shared with us is ours in heaven.

That new body is free of illness and disease, so what I'm proposing is a win-win situation here with the first possibility being your body is healed and your spirit is healed and as long as there's breath in your body there's reason to hope, or the second possibility, your physical body gives up the good fight, but still your spirit is healed, and you're given a new heavenly body free of sickness. Either way, there is a victory. I may never see your harvest, but I know there is the possibility your harvest will be absolutely amazing!

SURVIVING THE BIG "C" WITH JODY B., Thursday, September 19, 2013:

I just finished reading this list of cancer fighting recommendations from John Hopkins sent to me by Sheryl Ask. Take special note of no. 15. Cancer is a disease of the mind, body, and spirit...anger, unforgiving and bitterness...subjects my gut instincts had already told me were critically important to bring to the table here as we look at alternative treatments for cancer.

My mother was huge on forgiveness. As a child she attended a "fire and brimstones bible belt" Baptist Church, and was baptized in the Kirksville River along with her brothers, Buster and George, her sister, Mary, and some extended family members.

My mother taught me more about forgiveness than most people ever know, and then she went on to teach it to others, the 75 or so foster children she took into her home over a 25 year period.

Mom's Biblical reference for this life's lesson was the Lord's Prayers, and she lifted one phrase from it many times, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." To my mother these were powerful words, and she believed them with her whole heart, soul, mind and strength.

She had something huge to forgive a family member for, something I'm guessing most human beings in this world would find difficult to forgive, but she did it because she believed she was placing a wall between herself and God's forgiveness if she didn't so she persevered on her own life's journey until she did.

She understood the hurts inflicted on the children she took into her home, personally, and intimately understood them, but she shared the same Biblical message with them that she shared with me. You forgive the person who has sinned against you, because God has said it's that major that you do, that major for you, because you're putting something between yourself and God if you don't. God's love is sufficient for you. God's love will heal your wounds and make you whole.

One of my foster sisters took my mom's message to her so literally to heart, she went back to care for her birth father when he was dying of cancer. My foster sister said, "Mom was right. I needed to do this for me. My birth dad hadn't changed, but I had." Now, besides my mom's personal testimony, I don't know if I've ever heard any more powerful testimony in my life.

My gut feeling is, if you're reading this, you have somebody you need to forgive because it's weighing you down. Again I'm saying, "Let go and let God." If you can't do it now, pray about it, let go of as much of it as you can and keep working on it.

Rome wasn't built in a day to borrow a cliché, and maybe tomorrow's post will be about no. 16. Cancer cells cannot thrive in an oxygenated environment...exercising when it's all you can do to put one foot in front of another one can be a challenge.

I thank Sheryl Ask for sharing this for me. It affirms to me that the leading health centers are taking a new look at the war on cancer too, a much needed one into the total health of the patient, not just the war on the disease, cancer.



1. Every person has cancer cells in the body. These cancer cells do not show up in the standard tests until they have multiplied to a few billion. When doctors tell cancer patients that there are no more cancer cells in their bodies after treatment, it just means the tests are unable to detect the cancer cells because they have not reached the detectable size.

2. Cancer cells occur between 6 to more than 10 times in a person's lifetime.

3. When the person's immune system is strong the cancer cells will be destroyed and prevented from multiplying and forming tumors.

4. When a person has cancer it indicates the person has multiple nutritional deficiencies. These could be due to genetic, environmental, food and lifestyle factors.

5. To overcome the multiple nutritional deficiencies, changing diet and including supplements will strengthen the immune system.

6. Chemotherapy involves poisoning the rapidly-growing cancer cells and also destroys rapidly-growing healthy cells in the bone marrow, gastro-intestinal tract etc, and can cause organ damage, like liver, kidneys, heart, lungs etc.

7. Radiation while destroying cancer cells also burns, scars and damages healthy cells, tissues and organs.

8. Initial treatment with chemotherapy and radiation will often reduce tumor size. However prolonged use of chemotherapy and radiation do not result in more tumor destruction.

9. When the body has too much toxic burden from chemotherapy and radiation the immune system is either compromised or destroyed, hence the person can succumb to various kinds of infections and complications.

10. Chemotherapy and radiation can cause cancer cells to mutate and become resistant and difficult to destroy. Surgery can also cause cancer cells to spread to other sites.

11. An effective way to battle cancer is to STARVE the cancer cells by not feeding it with foods it needs to multiple.

What cancer cells feed on:

a. Sugar is a cancer-feeder. By cutting off sugar it cuts off one important food supply to the cancer cells. Note: Sugar substitutes like NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, etc are made with Aspartame and it is harmful. A better natural substitute would be Manuka honey or molasses but only in very small amounts. Table salt has a chemical added to make it white in colour. Better alternative is Bragg's aminos or sea salt.

b. Milk causes the body to produce mucus, especially in the gastro-intestinal tract. Cancer feeds on mucus. By cutting off milk and substituting with unsweetened soy milk, cancer cells will starved.

c. Cancer cells thrive in an acid environment. A meat-based diet is acidic and it is best to eat fish, and a little chicken rather than beef or pork. Meat also contains livestock antibiotics, growth hormones and parasites, which are all harmful, especially to people with cancer.

d. A diet made of 80% fresh vegetables and juice, whole grains, seeds, nuts and a little fruits help put the body into an alkaline environment. About 20% can be from cooked food including beans. Fresh vegetable juices provide live enzymes that are easily absorbed and reach down to cellular levels within 15 minutes t o nourish and enhance growth of healthy cells.

To obtain live enzymes for building healthy cells try and drink fresh vegetable juice (most vegetables including bean sprouts) and eat some raw vegetables 2 or 3 times a day. Enzymes are destroyed at temperatures of 104 degrees F (40 degrees C).

e. Avoid coffee, tea, and chocolate, which have high caffeine. Green tea is a better alternative and has cancer-fighting properties. Water--best to drink purified water, or filtered, to avoid known toxins and heavy metals in tap water. Distilled water is acidic, avoid it.

12. Meat protein is difficult to digest and requires a lot of digestive enzymes. Undigested meat remaining in the intestines will become putrified and leads to more toxic buildup.

13. Cancer cell walls have a tough protein covering. By refraining from or eating less meat it frees more enzymes to attack the protein walls of cancer cells and allows the body's killer cells to destroy the cancer cells.

14. Some supplements build up the immune system (IP6, Flor-ssence, Essiac, anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, EFAs etc.) to enable the body's own killer cells to destroy cancer cells. Other supplements like vitamin E are known to cause apoptosis, or programmed cell death, the body's normal method of disposing of damaged, unwanted, or unneeded cells.

15. Cancer is a disease of the mind, body, and spirit. A proactive and positive spirit will help the cancer warrior be a survivor.

Anger, unforgiving and bitterness put the body into a stressful and acidic environment. Learn to have a loving and forgiving spirit. Learn to relax and enjoy life.

16. Cancer cells cannot thrive in an oxygenated environment. Exercising daily, and deep breathing help to get more oxygen down to the cellular level. Oxygen therapy is another means employed to destroy cancer cells.

SURVIVING THE BIG "C" WITH JODY B., Friday, September 20, 2013:

"Cancer cells cannot thrive in an oxygenated environment. Exercising daily, and deep breathing help to get more oxygen down to the cellular level. Oxygen therapy is another means employed to destroy cancer cells." according to a list of alternative medicine John Hopkins has posted to offer alternative treatments to patients with cancer.

Who would have thought it that something so simple and so obvious could make a difference? I'm going to confess, right here up front and out in the open, I didn't feel much like exercising when I was going through chemo. Most of my exercise came from trying to go through the motions, going camping with my family, going to church when I felt like staying home, going on walks with Hunter when I wanted to stay in bed, moving a household from Sheridan Avenue to West Park Avenue while I questioned whether I had a sane cell left in my toxic brain.

However, I kept putting one foot in front of the other one. I put one foot in front of another one for a very long time, at least 24 months, before I actually felt like doing anything. When I finally did, I planted tulips. Yep, tulips, something I had to look forward to the next spring.

If anybody knows how miserable you are, I think I can safely say I do. I know you can't do much, but do something. Figure out what you loved to do before this disease rolled over you like a freight train, and see if it's something you can still do, even in small increments.

I never went into University of Iowa Hospitals in a wheel chair even though a couple of times I wondered if I might have to. I always walked in. If you can't do any of the above, and there are going to be people going through treatment who simply can't, then do the deep breathing exercise talked about at the top of the page.

Oxygen is a cleansing, natural ritual that sustains life, can improve the quality of life. It's as simple and breathing fresh air in and blowing sick air out. It just might require your rethinking how you do it for a while. Good luck and God bless.

SURVIVING THE BIG "C" WITH JODY B., Saturday, September 21, 2013:

According to John Hopkins' Alternative Therapies some supplements build up the immune system (IP6, Flor-ssence, Essiac, anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, EFAs etc.) to enable the body's own killer cells to destroy cancer cells. Other supplements like vitamin E are known to cause apoptosis, or programmed cell death, the body's normal method of disposing of damaged, unwanted, or unneeded cells. When I was going through cancer treatment, I took what I referred to as the Sunshine Vitamins, although only a couple of them have much link to sunshine. My vitamin group was Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin D3 and Vitamin E.

I took Vitamins B, D, and E everyday, but the only time I took Vitamin C was when I had a bad cold, which was only a couple of times thank goodness. Vitamin C can be hard on your kidneys, and needs flushed out with plenty of fluids, and when you're already feeling sick to your stomach, it can be difficult to drink enough to do this.

Vitamin B and Vitamin D are anti-depressant vitamins, but more than that, Vitamin B is fantastic for your hair and finger nails. Research really doesn't know why, but it improves your neurological functions. That's why I lay claim to its anti-depressant qualities.

I started taking Vitamin D after I broke my wrist, not immediately after, but six months after, when my wrist wasn't healing. My surgeon said my wrist exploded like a bomb had gone off in it on impact, splintering into thousands of tiny pieces. I went through 3 casts, and I started looking for alternatives for bone density.

I stumbled across the information on Vitamin D on the internet, but immediately after I began taking it, I could notice a difference. I never stopped taking it, and I still do, 2 a day. Dr. Oz has since confirmed it has significant benefits.

Vitamin E has anti-oxidant benefits. If you want to avoid cancer, these are a little internal insurance policy if you're not eating enough fresh fruits and vegetables, especially the berries.

The last Vitamin I take is Fish Oil for the Omega 3 benefits. Fish oil reduced my cholesterol enough I don't need cholesterol meds. Those things are pricey and hard on your liver so it works for me.

There are doctors who drag their feet about Vitamin therapies, but if your body is under attack by disease (cancer) and lack of nutrition (because you're to sick to eat from the cancer treatment) Vitamin therapies are a no-brainer.

You're the person, in the end, who has to decide how you wage this war on cancer. If it makes you feel like you have some control, how can that be a bad thing? Besides, John Hopkins says there is something to it. It can't hurt, and it might help. That's just common sense.

SURVIVING THE BIG "C" WITH JODY B., Monday, September 23, 2013:

The John Hopkins report Sheryl Ask shared with me says that cancer cells occur between 6 to more than 10 times in a person's lifetime. Our body is programmed to start fighting the good fight as soon as anything invasive enters our body, and so we may never be aware of that 6 to 10 times it enters if we're not diagnosed.

I happen to know when one of mine was. I graduated in May of 1967. In October of that year, I woke up one morning ringing wet with sweat, my bed clothes soaked, staggered to the bathroom where I heaved my toenails out while I hugged a toilet bowel for support, and was finally able to yell loud enough my mother heard me and she came to my rescue.

I was hospitalized from then until February 14th, when Dr. Ebinger told my mom, "She isn't better, but I'm sending her home, because this place is filling up with influenza patients and if she caught it, I'm afraid it would finish her off."

He was getting ready to send me to University of Iowa Hospitals when towards the end of March I finally began to respond to treatments. I know I was tested for Mono, and I was tested for Leukemia on a weekly basis, and nothing ever turned up. I got a Vitamin B12 shot every day, and another shot that left knots on my backside for a couple of years after I was done with them.

Dr. Ebinger suspected I had a rare and possibly undiagnosed blood cancer, but he never got a handle on it. He never told me or my mother that until I was well on the way to recovery.

I had forgotten about this episode in my life until I read this report that says we can have enough cancer cells in our body to make us seriously sick at least 6 times and up to 10 times in a lifetime.

The majority of those times are never treated with cancer fighting drugs. Our body fights them off on its own. So our body is primed to fight ALL invasive diseases in our body, including cancer.

Romans 12:1 Make our lives a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to you. These are pretty powerful words, and it can be a challenge to wrap our minds around exactly what they mean, but if you add another scripture to it, it makes a little more sense.

I Corinthians 3:16 says, “Do you not know your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.” Our bodies are primed to fight, both physically and spiritually. We aren't the only ones living in there. The Holy Spirit lives in there as well, ready to heal us from the inside out. Wow!

Without a doubt, that's how we survive those other cancers, the ones we are never fully tuned into that we have. If you've made room in your life for God, you know this is true. Embrace it, and believe it.

SURVIVING THE BIG 'C' WITH JODY B., Wednesday, September 25, 2013:

"I'd rather live my life believing there is a God, and find out there isn't, than live my life without God, and discover He's the Real Deal!" I've already told you I've been in the presence of the Divine. I know God is the Real Deal.

But going back to this opening statement, what if I didn't know? The last time my mom was at Hospice I finally said to her, "The next time you and God have that talk about you going home with Him, you need to go." I wish she could have talked to me, because I've always wanted to know if she was mad at me or if she was agreeing with me.

She reached up and pushed away the spoon I was feeding her this fruity slush with, and refused to take another bite. I didn't want my mother to die. None of us who loved her wanted to lose her, but I went on to tell her, "There's nothing more the doctors can do for you here, Mom, except give you pain pills and try to make you comfortable. However, in heaven Jesus has gone to prepare a place for you. You can have a new body that is pain free."

This was Monday afternoon, around 3:00 PM and the previous Thursday, my niece, Kim and I spent 10 hours trying to find comfort for her while she was in the kind of agony that was painfully hard to watch. I remember her calling me over to her bedside and whispering, "Help me," and I tried. And then Kim showed up and we tried together.

We sat her up. We laid her down. We tried to help her go to the restroom. We asked for pain meds for her. We gave her back rubs. We gave her foot rubs. We just rocked her and held her and prayed for her.

Then I began to ask myself, who is mom holding on for? Is she holding on because it's what she wants, or is she holding on because it's what she thinks we want, her family who loves her so much?

Then I asked myself, what if I gave her permission to go? Would she? There was nothing easy about how our mother left this world. While other patients arrived at Hospice one day and had passed on the next, almost on a daily basis, Helen Lucille Miller lingered to Thursday night of the next week.

That last day, I took some books by Dannion Brinkley in to Hospice and Dad and I sat by Mom's bedside while I read them out loud to her, and Dad and I discussed what we thought Dannion was trying to say about dying.

For those of you who don't know Dannion Brinkley, he was struck by lightning and had a 'near death experience,' an out of body experience where he believed he was in the Divine Presence of God.

That night at Hospice, around 10:00 P.M. one of the nurses came in and said to us, "Whatever you're doing, keep doing it. It's making a difference."

By just before midnight, my mother had found the Light she was looking for and she started moving into it. I sang, "Amazing Grace" and "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" while she passed on. My sisters tried to sing them with me, but it was a very emotional few moments for all of us. The singing was something I had promised Mom and myself though, that somehow I would do that last thing for her so I did.

1 Corinthians 55; "Death, where is thy victory? Death, where is thy sting?" If you believe. If you have faith that Jesus died to save you, Death cannot defeat you, but if you don't believe in something, it sure can. What does this have to do with surviving cancer? Everything!

SURVIVING THE BIG "C" WITH JODY B., Saturday, September 28, 2013:

Maggie Smith Battled Cancer Whilst filming the last Harry Potter Movie! She carried on, not wanting to disappoint the fans. I've thought a lot about this, about the importance of a goal, or goals, when you're in the middle of something that may feel pretty hopeless.

Ashleigh and Luke discussed with Mike and I more than one time that they were thinking about having a baby, but that the Weller St. was too small. My cancer diagnosis was confirmed in April of 2009, and we all talked about the Weller St. house and house hunting in general for months.

I remember thinking in rough moments about this mythical grandchild and wondering if I would ever live to see him or her born. I encouraged them to set their plans in motion. "You won't still be in the Weller St. House by the time the baby gets here." Ashleigh sort of surprised me when she agreed with this.

Ashleigh and Luke had begun the house hunting process, but she actually found one Mike and I fell in love with before she and Luke found one of their own. So Mike and Hunter and I were in the process of moving into this house when Luke and Ashleigh made their big announcement they were expecting a baby. Then my heart was in my throat because Ashleigh had stepped on an icy step the previous week and had fallen down the Sheridan Ave. steps, fallen pretty hard on her caboose, but everything still seemed to be proceeding perfectly fine with her pregnancy.

We had 27 years of family living in that house, and I was most days dragging one foot in front of the other one so we didn't move in a day or a month. Many times in that 8 months we were moving, I secretly pondered a really big question in my soul. Would I ever see my grandchild born?

I wanted to, in the biggest way imaginable, but I often felt so low, I continued to question whether I was really getting over the cancer. I had signed on for 12 treatment schedule and I stopped after 8 because the chemo was dragging me so low and making me so sick.

Dr. Haldanarsen had reassured me that doctors in Europe were only giving their patients 6 treatments and I had made it past 6. He thought I was going to be okay. I could only hope that he knew what he was talking about.

By then, we knew our little grandchild was going to be a girl, the first girl to be born on the Bresch side of our family tree in 55 years, the last being Mike's twin sisters, Billie Jan and Bobbie Jo.

I had a goal. I wanted to live to meet my granddaughter. On those days when I was feeling mighty discouraged, that goal was tucked away inside my heart and mind. I didn't discuss it with my family, because it was a joyful time for them, and I didn't want to bring any negatives into it. When I wondered if I would live to see her grow up, in my heart and mind, I was establishing one goal, to see her born.

Goals are motivators. Goals keep us moving. Goals keep us hoping and dreaming. Don't ever doubt the power of having a goal, or having more than one. In September we were finally moved out of the Sheridan Ave. house and Luke and Ashleigh moved in, just four weeks before Amary was born on Saturday, October 2, 2010.

Once I saw her the first time, I had some new goals. See, that's the way with goals, one leads to another, and then to another. I hope whatever you're struggling with, you have one or some, that whatever they are, you've set some goals you're striving towards.

SURVIVING THE BIG "C" WITH JODY B., Monday, September 30, 2013:

Disclaimer; if you're of refined sensibilities that are easily offended by discussions in public about bodily functions, just don't read this. I'm not talking about this to gross anybody out, but because there are all kinds of gross things that go with having cancer and going through cancer treatment. I am only going to tackle the gross stuff that came with mine, but there are plenty more.

Back in September of 2008 I was subbing in a class of sophomore, juniors and seniors, when I had to make a running exit for the bathroom down the hall. I didn't make it. I snuck in the back office door, tied my sweater around my waist, and called the board office for a sub for the sub. I went on to take roll call, get the class started and went home, embarrassed beyond belief and hoping nobody had a clue what had just happened to me, but I'm guessing a few probably did.

Finally, in February of 2012 my surgeon, Dr. Hoshi came up with some medicine that improved the quality of my life somewhat, but I had suffered with diarrhea for 3 1/2 years by that time. In the beginning the diarrhea was caused by the cancer. After my cancer surgery in May of 2009, doctors thought the diarrhea would gradually improve. It didn't. I had up to 18 bowel movements a day. I was told to eat more grains like rice and oatmeal.

In the summer months of 2009 doctors blamed the diarrhea on the chemo. I've had to have Mike pull the truck over to the side of the road in broad daylight on a 4-lane highway while I bared my behind to anybody passing by, because I had approximately 60 seconds to 2 minutes to find a bathroom once my body began telling my mind it was time to go.

That's all the advance notice I would get before it was all out splat poops (a phrase I learned from a former student who had them one day at Wilson School). I never learned a better one to describe what happens when you have no control left.

Doctors kept telling me it would get better once I finished chemo. They thought I was allergic to the chemo. It didn't. I felt sick all the time, including sick to my stomach, and I was supposed to be done being sick.

Finally, in February of 2012, one day at an annual appointment I just said to Dr. Hoshi, my surgeon, "I need some kind of help for this. I have no quality of life left." Dr. Hoshi said he thought I needed to see a psychologist. I replied, "I've been to a psychologist. I'll go to another one if I think I need to, but I don't need a psychologist for something that is a medical problem. I need help."

For 20 minutes he poured over his computer screen and then he said, "There is something we could try. It's called Prevalite or Qwestran, and it provides some bulk to absorb the excess bile in your stools. We took better than half your intestines and half of your colon, which absorbs excess water out of the bowel. You're probably still producing the same amount of bile you always were, with less than half the bowel left to absorb it."

I nodded my head in agreement that I would try it, and then Dr. Hoshi added, "I still think you should see a psychologist." I ignored him. Twelve hours after I took the first dose of this powder, I knew it was going to make a difference for me.

A year later Dr. Hoshi said, "I'm sorry. I should have had you try the powder a long time before I did considering the symptoms you were having, and the radical surgery you had." All I could say is "Better later than never, Dr. Hoshi, and thank God you finally thought of it."

Things aren't perfect, but they are so much better I have some of my life back. I love Dr. Hoshi. He saved my life, and I'm just grateful I finally have something that makes a difference for me personally. There are some nasty side-effects to having cancer. Whatever yours are, keep hanging in there and looking for answers.

SURVIVING THE BIG 'C' WITH JODY B., Friday, October 11, 2013:

"Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world." I didn't say that, but somebody did.

I had just been diagnosed with cancer when our son, Luke, and his wife, Ashleigh, walked in the door asking us to go look at the house across the street with them. It had just been listed for sale. They made an offer but somebody beat them to it. However, looking at houses was the one consistent thing the four of us did together from the summer of 2009, until Mike and I made an offer and bought a house in December of 2010.

James Lyon, our real estate agent, will recall with me that we looked at dozens of houses. They were always too big, too small, too dilapidated, too much money, too high a tax bracket, wrong tax bracket, too far out in the country. And you would be shocked at how many empty houses in this town have black mold in them. I didn't do much, but I crawled out of a sick bed to search the web, to go walk thru a piece of real estate.

It was November, right before Thanksgiving when Ashleigh located this house we're living in. On first glance it didn't look like a lot but it had a handicap ramp, so I said, let's go in. Mike and I knew instantly we had found our house. It had wide doorways, spacious hallways, an open floor plan in the kitchen, a media room, a front office/computer room, three bedrooms, two baths, and a full basement under it with a two car garage. The best part was it had almost 8 acres within the city limits. Mike could have his acreage and I could have my city utilities, garbage pickup and snow removal. Best of all, it was handicap accessible, and with Mike's bad leg, we might need that.

I had lost 45 pounds by this time. My legs felt like mush beneath me. My skin was the color of wax paper. You don't even want to know what my labs looked like. My oncology team was recommending I quit the treatments, they were so low. And we bought a house.

I'm laughing here folks, because when I told my oncology team this, all of them said, "Alright, Jody, enough is enough. We can't tell you what to do. We can only tell you what we would do in your place, but we'd quit." I know what they were thinking. I already had no reserves left, and I was talking about moving.

We moved into the house the night we closed the sale. That was Dec. 7th, 2009. How, you can well ask? We blew up our air mattresses we use for camping and we put our sleeping bags on air fluff in the dryer for 15 minutes. We packed our overnight bags and our bed pillows and we moved in with some coffee cups, a gallon of milk, some breakfast cereal and some instant coffee.

What's this got to do with surviving cancer? It's about continuing to have dreams, reaching for those dreams, not giving up on your dreams. It's only cancer, and you still have a life to live. And what if the dreaming is part of the cure for cancer? Who's to say it isn't?

SURVIVING THE BIG 'C' WITH JODY B., Saturday, October 12, 2013: Grammie isn't quite as fresh as she might have been this morning, because baby Orion stayed overnight, and he had his 2 months vaccinations yesterday morning. About 6:30 P.M. he started running a hot little temperature, and despite the baby Tylenol, the fever had a tight hold on him until about midnight.

Thank goodness he kept wanting to drink his bottle so that was cooling him off some, and we took him down to a diaper for a while, until he began to cool off. He's a sweetheart though. He was simply not feeling good and seeking some human warmth and comfort while he was miserable. There's probably a life's lesson in that if we look deep enough beneath what seems to be happening on the surface.

We probably never outgrow that desire for some warmth and human comfort when we are miserable. Maybe it's a little harder to come by though when we get older, but perhaps it shouldn't be.

I wonder when we start saying to suffering humanity, "Chin up, bite the bullet, grin and bear it, shake it off and get over it, you're acting like a hypochondriac?" Maybe hypochondriacs happen because we are too stingy with that human warmth and comfort when it's needed, so the hypochondriac sinks to deeper and deeper depths looking for what we're too stingy, to wired, to self-absorbed to give.

We live in a world full of way too much of humanity operating well off center with a wealth of phobias so numerous we aren't even aware of most of them. I can't help thinking it wasn't meant to be this way.

Love is at the basic root of everything, or lack thereof. We need to receive it. We need to give it. Lots of people turn to pets when they don't get it from other human beings. Love is a healing therapy. It can bring a patient from comatose to awareness. It can bring a broken child out of that angry, defensive shell he or she crawls into. It can bring a broken heart to one of peace.

I remember a song from my childhood, "What the world needs now is love, sweet love. That's the only thing that there's just too little of." Orion's feeling much better this morning, and I'm only a little bit sleepy. It's a joy to have him for a little bit, even when he isn't feeling well. I see little pieces of Mark, Luke, Ian, all of them in him. It brings back such sweet memories of when our house was filled with babies. Happy, happy birthday, Teonia, but it feels like you were the one who gave me the present.

SURVIVING THE BIG 'C' WITH JODY B., Sunday, October 13, 2013:

I don't know if I've ever talked about this to anybody before except my husband, and some close friends at our church. It's a private and personal thing, but it was also something life changing so if I'm going to tell it all, this is something I had to share.

If you're reading this, I'm assuming you've either had, or have cancer or have a family member or loved one who has had it or has it now. You're a rare individual if cancer hasn't touched you in some way in this community.

Something that keeps laying itself at my feet, and that I approach gingerly is LAYING ON OF HANDS. You need to know about me that I'm a very private person when it comes to people touching me. Over the last 4 years that quality about me has changed quite a bit, but four and a half years ago, I was almost phobic about it.

I was admitted to University of Iowa Hospitals via an ambulance ride on Sunday, April 26, 2009. From Sunday to Thursday is a huge blur with a few lucid moments in it during which it was sinking into me that I had cancer. I didn't have my surgery until Friday, May 12, and by that time, I was literally beginning to fall apart at the seams.

Well I should say, until Wednesday, May 10. I was shaking in my bed. Some of it was probably hypoglycemia because I was starving to death, but the rest of it was stark, raving terror. I had even talked to my doctor about Prozac, wondering if I could truly cope without it.

My nurse, I wish I could remember her name, but I can't (maybe it was Ann), came in and said to me, "I wanted to let you know that a woman of the Catholic faith who practices laying on of hands comes here once a week. You have to request that she come in and pray for you. I can only tell you the service is available if you request it. I can tell you I've had patients who find some comfort in it."

I simply nodded my head 'yes,' yes, I needed some comfort and I wasn't finding it. If her laying on of hands had something to offer cancer patients, I knew I was in desperate need of it. I can't tell you her name either. She explained her mission to me, that she believed when the Holy Spirit is received by a new Christian, that there are gifts of the spirit, and that she had been blessed to be invited to be part of a team who believed they could be a conduit of the Holy Spirit by following the example of Jesus Christ, and if they were a temple of the Holy Spirit, by the laying of hands on the sick, the Holy Spirit used their gesture to give a blessing to the person who was sick. In this way she believed healing began, healing of body, mind and spirit.

She told me she would not in any way do anything that made me uncomfortable, that she would start and my feet and move up my body, praying out loud as she went, and that at any time if I was uncomfortable, I only had to ask her to stop and she would.

She was a total stranger and yet I offered her my trust in the most intimate of ways. I can tell you I never felt uncomfortable. I gave myself to her healing touch, and I prayed with her as she prayed. She started at my feet and prayed for at least a half hour, slowly moving up my body until she reached the center of my forehead. She said a closing prayer, and I reached out for her hand and told her thank you, and she started to pull away, and again I tugged on her hand, and then I looked her in the eye, and I said, "No, really, I genuinely mean thank you."

You can say nothing happened, and I will tell you something did. I don't exactly know what. I can't describe it as a bolt of lightning. Nothing that dramatic happened, but I can tell you, the stark, raving terror stopped. The shaking stopped. Some kind of peace descended on me, and the inner knowledge that whatever was coming my way, I would have the strength to endure it settled on me, in me.

If a group exists like this in Ottumwa, IA, I don't know of it. However, if somebody is comfortable with it, and something moves me to it, I pray with laying on of hands. I have absolutely no doubt there is healing in human touch. I can only assume it takes place when the Holy Spirit abiding in us descends on the ones we touch.

I've known for some time that God was calling on me to share all of this. I simply didn't know how I was going to accomplish it. SURVIVING THE BIG 'C' WITH JODY B. probably wasn't any accident. I probably stumbled right over it because God had put it right in front of my face. I don't know what might be accomplished by it, but I have some blessed assurance that God does.

One of my favorite songs is "Should the Harvest Never Come," and it goes like this: "Should the harvest never come, I still will praise you. Should I not bind the sheaves with my own hand, I still will praise you for the promise of the sowing, and though I never see the harvest, I know the harvest will be grand."

SURVIVING THE BIG 'C' WITH JODY BRESCH, Monday, October 14, 2013:

Thank you Lord, that I found the check I misplaced a week ago. I was just outside with Lexie, and though it's still the middle of the night, thank you also for what looks to be the start of a beautiful day. You know me and how antsy I get before these trips to Iowa City. I'm expecting good news from the otolaryngologist Hunter will see today (what a fancy word for an ear doctor). I give you the glory for the fact that Hunter has been able to hear out of his right ear since Saturday evening at supper time. I don't see how your timing could have been any more perfect this time.

Hunter has been frustrated and impatient that he couldn't get his ear to pop, but I told him he just had to keep trying because as long as he didn't give up, it would eventually happen. That's a tough lesson for an 11 year old to learn. Especially when it took two years for it to happen. When the ear doctor told both of us there was nothing he could do for it, that was a discouraging moment.

MORNING FRESH WITH JOBY BRESCH, Monday, October 14, 2013

Lord, sometimes it's a little confusing for us mere mortals to know how much to give to modern medicine and how much to give to God. However, when this doctor said there was nothing else he could do, there was no doubt in our minds it was time to hand the job over to the Master Physician, an easy leap! I don't know where he will think we should go from here, but I trust that you will have your hand on it. Now that I have laid this at your feet, maybe I can go back to sleep. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

MORNING FRESH WITH JOBY BRESCH, Monday, October 14, 2013:

Have you ever asked yourself what obstacles are standing in the road of my life to keep me from attaining my life's dreams? Well, I'm here to tell you I have. I've thought about it a great deal, maybe more than any other single thing I've thought about in my life. I'm guessing it has at least crossed your mind once or twice. "Ain't no mountain high enough, ain't no valley low enough, ain't to river wide enough, to keep me from..."

MORNING FRESH WITH JODY BRESCH, Tuesday, October 15, 2013:

"Shoot for the moon, (reach for the moon). Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." One of my sons has begun a conversation about climbing a mountain and how impossible it seems that you can ever reach the top. I did a Google search about the subject of climbing mountains, and I found a little tidbit about a mountain climber who had it put on his tombstone, "He died climbing..." I don't think it means he fell off a mountain. I am guessing it means he preferred to be remembered as somebody who was always reaching up for something, the next challenge, the next goal, the next mountain top.

Life isn't about the destination so much as the journey, at least not until you reach life's exit sign. Then it's all about the destination. Okay so let's try this again, "Life is all about the journey so you'll reach the right destination."

Aspiring after something is part of the human condition. If you don't have something you're striving for, then I'm concerned about you. Maybe your goal is climbing the little hill at the end of the block without huffing and puffing. Maybe your goal is creating a relationship. Maybe your goal is a financial one.

Whatever it is, the journey, how you achieve what you're striving for says as much about who you are and where you are heading, as the goal itself does. Things like integrity, compassion, generosity, empathy, sympathy, human kindness (I challenge you to keep adding to the list) are the important ingredients in the journey. It's not so much whether you ever arrive at the top, as that you lived in the moment, enjoyed the moment, appreciated the trip as you were traveling through.

SURVIVING THE BIG 'C' WITH JODY B., Sunday, October 20, 2013:

Okay, I had a van full of kids this morning or when I crossed the Market Street Bridge, I might have considered a detour, and gone to Fisherman's Church. I don't even have a fishing license so it would have had to be one of those mornings when I looked up a stone along some body of water to enjoy the cool morning, the sunshine, and joy of watching all the gorgeous dynamics of wind and sun glinting off ripples of vibrant water, soaking up these breathtaking miracles of nature until the sight of it filled me to overflowing.

So I didn't go to Fisherman's Church this morning, because I had a van full of kids, but for a few minutes, my memories of mornings spent this way did. If you're sick, I recommend that you make it a priority in your life to plan some communion with nature somewhere. Well scratch that, 'if you're sick.' Insert instead, sick, old, young, busy, overwhelmed, no time...I recommend you make time.

It's been my experience that time spent like this is priceless, and there is no other word for it. Whatever your belief system, and you all know mine, a couple of hours in the sunshine doing absolutely nothing but celebrating the miracle of it, it restores you in a way that nothing else does.

I recommend you call it praise and worship time, because that's really what it is, but if you're too stubborn to allow it's your "God" time, call it your R & R time. Not only do we all need it, we all deserve it.

I know I'm a different kind of busy than my mother was, and she was a different kind of busy than her mother was. Lots of social scientists tried to make a case for the fact that utilities like gas, water, electricity made life easier for new age families, and who can argue that it did? But then we filled up that time with other things: Den Mother, Cub Scout Leader, Bridge Club, Bible Study, Golf, Tennis, Laps at the Pool. We're still busy. We're just a different kind of busy.

But down time somewhere is a must, that time for thinking, reflection, meditating, letting the mind float and wonder on a rippling current of diamonds glinting on water. It isn't frivolous, or lazy, or a waste of time. It's as vital as eating and drinking and sleeping. Our family went to church this morning, but we also spent some time out in the sunshine, throwing a ball for the pup, contemplating mowing the lawn one more time to mulch the leaves on the lawn. Maybe in the morning, I'll finish planting those flower bulbs.

SURVIVING THE BIG 'C' WITH JODY B., Monday, October 21, 2013:

I don't usually start a post with a disclaimer, but because this is about diet, just use your common sense here. I just watched a Dr. Oz segment that covered some of the advice I've recently given about a healthy diet. The guest doctor (and everybody else too) says, "We are what we eat." That isn't new, but how we eat, that's been like a revolving door the last 60 years.

The science on most of this is still undergoing intensive research, truthfully. This doctor was talking about causes for Alzheimer's though, so it seems worth passing his thoughts along at least. He's not an advocate of whole grain diets. Well that's a detour from what we've been hearing, huh?

This doctor says our sugar intake is what is causing our Alzheimer's, and we can fix that. His rule of thumb is to avoid root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, beets (I love beets), and eat above ground vegetables.

I particularly liked what he said about meat and fat since I posted something in the last few days about learning we can't live without meat and fat (or at least protein and fat). I'm not a fan of vegetarian diets folks, but I know people who swear by it. But you have to have protein or you are going to waste away, and you need fat.

This guy said put the butter back on the table. He also was an advocate of olive oil and coconut oil. His other major recommendation was that the fruits and especially the vegetables we eat, should grow above ground. All green vegetables grow above ground, so according to this doctor's theory, they are all good for you.

Berries are awesome for you as long as you eat them in some kind of reasonable moderation. After all they are still a sugar, just a natural sugar.

So those of you who love the white enriched bread? Jody's giving her blessing. At our house, because of Hunter's gluten sensitivity, we don't buy whole grain anyway, and we definitely eat white breads in moderation.

I will carry in my mind for a while, the brain he used in his demonstration, an Alzheimer's brain that had just sort of shriveled up and died. It reminds me of what Dr. Jumpaport told us that second morning Mike was at University of Iowa Hospitals last April. Sugar diabetes is an unforgiving disease. Looking at that shriveled brain was an interesting visual image that seemed to demonstrate Dr. Jumpaport's remark.

All of this is just food for thought in a new age where we are all trying to rethink how to eat. Again, I'm going to suggest: 1) grow your own if you can, 2) think about shopping organic, 3) eat red meats in moderation, and think about nuts, eggs, fish and chicken when you shop, 4) green leafy vegetables are awesome, 5) berries are loaded with anti-oxidants, 6) cook with extra virgin olive oil, 7) switch to Butter, 8) eat root vegetables in moderation (they are loaded with sugar), 9) experiment with your milk until you find one that agrees with you, but definitely drink some of it, 10) sugar is only a temporary energy fix, and the bottom of the food chain in nutritional value (so if you can't live without it, for goodness sakes, ration it). Remember, these are just things to think about. But we have to start rethinking how we've been eating, because what we're doing now, it's just not working for most of us.

SURVIVING THE BIG 'C' WITH JODY B., Wednesday, October 23, 2013:

Since these posts have had a food theme this week, let's take a look at what the John Hopkins latest cancer information had to say about this.

1. Every person has cancer cells in the body. These cancer cells do not show up in the standard tests until they have multiplied to a few billion. When doctors tell cancer patients that there are no more cancer cells in their bodies after treatment, it just means the tests are unable to detect the cancer cells because they have not reached the detectable size.

2. Cancer cells occur between 6 to more than 10 times in a person's lifetime.

3. When the person's immune system is strong the cancer cells will be destroyed and prevented from multiplying and forming tumors.

4. When a person has cancer it indicates the person has multiple nutritional deficiencies. These could be due to genetic, environmental, food and lifestyle factors.

5. To overcome the multiple nutritional deficiencies, changing diet and including supplements will strengthen the immune system.

It turns out John Hopkins has quite a bit to say about it. The food pyramid definitely has structure intended to give us guidelines for eating. It's taught to us in school, and in the recent past went through a few changes. The truth is, if I ate everything the food pyramid suggests I'm allowed to eat according to their daily recommendations, I'd look like the Good Year Blimp. I have had feedback from others who say the same thing. It's not easy to know what to do with all the information out there, and how to best utilize that information for our own personal needs.

I keep going back to good old common sense, but it gets us through a lot of the crisis in our lives so that can't be a bad thing. 2) We need fat and protein in our diet. We get that fat and protein from meats, beans, milk products and nuts primarily. Avocados even have fat in them. So do food shortenings. Unless you've had your gall bladder out, your body is designed to digest these things. (After my gall bladder surgery I could not eat things fried in lard and vegetable shortenings. I still can't. I can eat fried foods fried in extra virgin olive oil, and guidelines suggest it's probably better for you anyway.) Think fish and poultry, nuts and eggs first when shopping for meat. You don't have to give up corn fed beef and pork. Just don't make them the mainstays of your weekly diet. If you like nuts, look for the low-salt or no-salt nuts or roasted nuts. Absolutely yes, you can have butter, should have butter, and should quit eating margarine, which has no nutritional value in it anyway.

3) Grains are the only things left. The food pyramid suggests you can have 6-11 servings a day. Grains give you a full feeling and they are packed with carbohydrates. Here is where I get into trouble with the food pyramid. I promise if I ate 6-11 servings of these every day, you would have to weigh me on a set of industrial scales. Use your judgment here. Yes, they are good for you to have a balanced daily diet and there are definitely benefits nutritionally. Most come enriched now. This isn't very scientific but I call the grains the food sedatives of the food pyramid, even more so than the sugars (which should be rationed anyway). They have vitamins that are good for our nerves (again, not very scientific, but think about what your comfort foods are - just saying).

I put fruits and vegetables at the top of the list, and especially fresh fruits and vegetables, because I have this personal theory that most people with health issues don't eat nearly enough of these. I haven't tested this theory so take it with a grain of salt, but think of our fast food restaurants. What do they come under fire for on a regular basis? They don't have enough fresh fruits and vegetables on the menu (well let's give Subway the benefit of the doubt here. They have some veggies.) I know other fast food restaurants are trying to come up to code too, but this is where I came up with my theory that most of us don't eat enough of these foods. They are pricey, and if you're living on a limited income, you may skip them in search of the more filling carbohydrates in your diet. That may not be a savings if you're spending it instead, on medical bills because your immune system isn't what it should be.

Once again, think about how people ate when farms were their daily source of food. We really do have to go back to that kind of survival mode, as hard as it may be for the majority of us, some who never have had any experience with it at all. When Spring arrives this year, I challenge you to plant one food crop of some kind. We have to start somewhere. Just plant one and see where it takes you.


Around the Holidays there are floods of posts on social networks about the grief people are experiencing because of a recent loss of a loved one. Some aren't recent losses. Some are losses from years ago. For some people the holidays are not celebratory, but a time of marking loss and embracing depression.

Why is this so prevalent? In the 15 years I worked for Protestant churches in numerous capacities: Sunday School Superintendent, Adult Sunday School Teacher, Adult Choir Director, Children's Choir Director, Church Janitor, I had plenty of reason to consider this question. I've had grieving people say to me, "If there was a God, my child wouldn't have died." I hear their pain, and even empathize with it, but neither does what they are saying make any sense to me. Rather it sounds like a knee jerk response to the reality of their pain. I've heard similar remarks from somebody who lost a spouse or a parent to cancer too soon. People even tend to blame God for letting them down when they are suffering personal financial hardship, an economic crisis in their lives, or they've lost a job and are desperate to find another one. In regard to grief though, my experience with discussing this issue with suffering people is that many of them are unresolved about several things in their personal and spiritual lives.

No. 1) They've never resolved how they feel about the concept of life after death.

No. 2) They've never resolved whether there is a God or not.

No. 3) They've never resolved whether they believe Jesus really died for our sins.

No. 4) They've never resolved whether they believe Heaven is the real deal.

No. 5) If they do believe in God, they are angry at God because from their point of view they feel betrayed by God, that God has failed them in some vitally significant detail in their lives.

No. 6) People who have lost a loved one, who are grieving can't seem to embrace the concept that there will be a heavenly family reunion.

No. 7) There are many who have had a faith, believed in something, but in their grief, because they are angry, they are rejecting it. They've turned away from the God they did believe in.

No. 8) There are some people who are just plain Drama Queens or Drama Kings and who love to wallow (I'm not saying this is everybody who is grieving because there are genuinely those individuals out there who are brought to their knees by their grief.) But we all have known somebody in our lifetimes that I just described, that individual who actually thrives on being miserable.

So is there life after death? For those of us who've ever experienced the death of somebody we know, we've been to a funeral. We've seen a dead body, and it's obvious nothing is in there. That spark that gives life is gone. However, it was there. Simply according to the Law of Physics, all things exist. They don't cease to exist. They simply transform into something else. So something has happened to that spark that brought life to that body a short time ago. For those of you who believe it just ceased to exist, I beg your pardon, but that is not possible, according to the Law of Physics.

Now let's discuss Near Death Experiences. If we want some clues about what happens when we die, we could check out the Bible: I Kings 17:17-24) Elijah raised the widow of Zarepath's son from the dead. II Kings 4:20-37) Elisha raised Shunamite's son from the dead. II Kings 13:21) When a man's dead body was thrown into Elisha's tomb, he touched Elisha's bones and he came back from the dead. Luke 7:11-16) The widow of Nain's son was raised from the dead by Jesus. Mark 5:356-43) The daughter of Jairus had died while they waited for Jesus to come and save her. Jesus said, "Little girl, get up," and she did. John 11:1-44) Lazarus had been dead in the grave for 4 days when Jesus raised him from the dead. Acts 9:36-41) Peter raised a seamstress named Tabitha from the dead. Acts 20:7-12) Eutychus fell out a third story window to his death, but Paul raised him from the dead with God's help. Matthew 27: 51-53) At the moment when Jesus died many tombs were opened and many saints were raised from the dead.

These people were dead, but then they lived. However, we don't have a lot of information about their experiences during that time span when they were gone from their bodies. However, that doesn't mean there are no anecdotal descriptions of what some people have experiences because there are. Near Death Experiences are a lot more common than most people realize, and some who have experienced them feel compelled to share what happened to them. The following list of books have recorded some of these amazing experiences. And this is the short list. There are more.

Bette J. Eadie, Embraced by the Light

Dannion Brinkley, Saved by the Light

Eben Alexander, Proof of Heaven

Pam Kircher, "Childrens NDE's " (Near Death Experiences)

Yes, even children have Near Death Experiences, and they are not remarkably different from those described by adults. Many of these people mention a tunnel of light. Some mention other people in the tunnel who appear to be lost in it. Some talk about being met by some figure in white that they recognize and feel welcomed by who leads them to a place sublime.

Many describe being in the throne room of God, of seeing men in white around the throne of God, of seeing happy, contented, healthy individuals, many of whom they recognize and are welcomed by. Most talk of being enveloped by a Light of Love too profoundly beyond their experience to even find words to describe it. This love gives them such joy, such happiness, such peace, such comfort, such love, such perfect sense of belonging and desire to commune with that they simply have no desire to come back.

While they are all told it is not their time, and that they have to return, many of them come back reluctantly, and look forward to going back at some future time. All of them report that they are no longer afraid of dying. because they've been to a wonderful place and they know with absolute certainty, they will be returning. Most report they weren't thinking about what they had left behind but instead were thinking about the joy of where they were heading.

It's too bad those of us left behind can't find that sense of joy they feel about moving on, but maybe it's because of something on that list of 8 things that we've embraced in our lives instead that we can't feel it. We can't find it. Ministers from many faiths call a funeral service a celebration of the dearly departed's life. The Catholics call it a wake and treat it almost like a party. That's a good thing, in and of itself, but what if we mire ourselves down in the sadness of it, and never embrace the glory of it?

When we grieve, we are not doing it for the person who has passed on. We are doing it for ourselves. Bette, Dannion, Eben, they said they weren't looking back. They were looking forward. Our loved ones who have moved on are not grieving their deaths. They are celebrating their resurrections, the joy of being in the presence of the Divine and Everlasting God. We are the ones left behind with the sense of emptiness and loss.

Until we let go of that, we're in a dark place that's hard to climb out of.

No. 1) They've never resolved how they feel about the concept of life after death. •• Remember the Law of Physics. Nothing in this Universe ever ceases to exist. It simply becomes something else. You have to reconcile that Law of Physics with some kind of belief system that you can embrace.

No. 2) They've never resolved whether there is a God or not. •• Each and every one of us has to find our own answer here, but going back to the Law of Physics, we live in such a perfectly ordered Universe, it's almost incomprehensible that there wasn't some kind of divine plan in the creation, the evolution of it. The idea that something that fits together with the miraculous perfection to detail that our world does, that it just haphazardly came into existence seems beyond the realm of probability.

No. 3) They've never resolved whether they believe Jesus really died for our sins. •• The Biblical Christmas story is an amazing story, and an amazing personal testimony that has survived 2,000 years, and has transformed hundreds of thousands of lives. This story is still as amazingly vital now as it was then, something that transcends the limitations of time and place, and brings the world to its knees every Christmas Eve. Good luck figuring it out.

No. 4) They've never resolved whether they believe Heaven is the real deal. •• John 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. •• We have first hand, eye witness testimony that there is such a place from people who have been there, and who have returned to describe it in awesome and amazing detail.

No. 5) If they do believe in God, they are angry at God because from their point of view they feel betrayed by God, that God has failed them in some vitally significant detail in their lives. •• We have to get over this idea that when somebody dies, it's a tragedy, and that God in some way has betrayed us. Satan betrayed us in the Garden of Eden. We are all going to die. We need to be preparing now for that transition, that journey. Our whole life needs to be a preparation for what happens next. Let go of the idea that God betrayed us somehow. God actually devised a plan for our transition. Nobody has been let down. We've actually been rather miraculously and amazingly saved by God's overflowing love and mercy and grace.

No. 6) People who have lost a loved one, who are grieving, struggle to embrace the concept that there will be a heavenly family reunion. •• If we have no hope of Heaven, we have no hope we will ever see a loved one in a heavenly reunion. We are denying ourselves the one source of hope that could give us some comfort.

No. 7) There are many who have had a faith, believed in something, but in their grief, because they are angry, they are rejecting it. They've turned away from the God they did believe in. •• If we're angry with God, if we're holding a grudge against God about something, we need to figure out exactly how we came to this convoluted point of view, because God does not fail us. Satan, the prince of darkness, of deceit, he whispers to our wounded hearts. He finds our weak and hurting places and he twists and he winds them into something that is an acceptable lie, and in our pain and suffering misery, we listen to him. He only uses it against us to tie us up in emotional knots, but we have to identify the source of our misery before we can begin to untie them.

No. 8) There are some people who are just plain Drama Queens or Drama Kings and who love to wallow (I'm not saying this is everybody who is grieving because there are genuinely those individuals out there who are brought to their knees by their grief.) But we all have known somebody in our lifetimes that I just described, that individual who actually thrives on being miserable. •• If somebody in your life is like this, or if you recognize yourself in this, there are those praying for you to find your way out of it. •• I could have easily been one of these people. But it isn't living, and it's self-defeating. Oprah Winfrey, one time, said, "I was a victim until I understood why I was a victim. Once I understood how I came to be one, I no longer had any justification for being one. It was time to take up the reins of my life and change that." Oprah changed my life that day. When a soul leaves this earth bound for heaven, if we truly understood what is going to happen for them, we'd throw a huge, celebratory party for them, and try really hard not to begrudge them the trip. If this Holiday Season is dragging you down, go beg, borrow or buy these books, and start your research. Instead of surrendering to depression, pick up the reins of your life and see if there is something you can do about it.

EVENING ZZZS WITH JODY B., Saturday, December 28, 2013:

The sounds of childish giggles are resonating through the living/media room on the other side of the room divider. Nia got this game for Christmas where you blow up a balloon, secure it in a holder, and then take turns poking these skewers into it until somebody twists one too tight and blows up the balloon. It's turned out to be a quite amusing pastime. Mike wanted pizza for supper tonight, and lucky me, I had all the ingredients. Homemade pizza stands so head and shoulders over anything that comes from a pizza hut we may only eat store bought pizza out of desperation for t6he rest of our lives. I made two large ground beef and onion pizzas with extra cheese and the 3 kids, Mike and I, ate a whole pizza and 2 pieces off of the second one, yum!

Orion and I laid down and took a power nap this afternoon, a 2 hour one. We didn't even know his mommy had come to pick him up. He woke up all smiles, raring to go. It's hard to believe tomorrow the temperature is going to plunge to double digits below zero. This afternoon was absolutely awesome with the sun pouring through the windows.

Sled tracks down the hill outside my bedroom window bring a smile to my face though, reminding me that just a couple of days ago, a lot of my children and grandchildren were flying down that snow-covered hill, having the time of their lives. Winter is just beginning really, and who knows what the rest of it will bring? I hope there will be a few more days when it's cold enough to sled, but warm enough the sledders don't freeze to death trying it.

I'll never forget that first month we lived here. We moved in the first week in December. That first snowfall, Hunter wanted me to go sledding with him. I was so wiped out from chemo and packing, I truly didn't think I could do it, but I didn't want to disappoint him. So we wrapped up and trekked out the back door. The crest of the hill begins at the end of the back patio, so we didn't have far to walk.

I put Hunter on the front of the sled, and I climbed on the back. It was exhilarating, absolutely exhilarating to go flying down that hill with the chilled wind biting our cheeks. Walking back up, though, was exhausting. We made 3 passes that afternoon before I persuaded Hunter I was too wiped out to try it again. We came in and had some hot cocoa, and I was smiling, something I hadn't done much of in the last year.

It had felt good to do an activity that made me feel vital and alive again, even if for only a few minutes. Hunter has been a blessing in our lives, a blessing that for me has been almost life-saving. When I had cancer, after my chemo, there are things I did for Hunter that I thought I couldn't do. In the end, the things I did for Hunter, turned out to be the things I did for myself that began to make a difference in my recovery.

EVENING ZZZS WITH JODY B., Sunday, December 29, 2013:


Like a 'glowing sun' moon

that cannot light the night,

a darkness like black velvet

welcomes and enfolds me

in its soft, secret places,

spinning the golden moonbeams

into a casket of change.

I curl into the arms

of this cocoon of moonrays,

dreaming of wings,

delicate as moonlight,

fragile winds scaled with steel,

wings that can soar to


This poem is the first poem in a book of poetry I wrote in 1999 based on a poem by an Albia resident, Holly Schippers titled IN THE END. The book was sparked by an idea fellow poet and teacher, Diane Franke, suggested at a poetry workshop in Des Moines that fall of 1998. Diana suggested that the lines of Holly's poem were strong enough, each line could be a spin-off for a new poem, and poems like this could create a themed essay of poems. I loved the idea, and I asked Holly if I could use her poem and try it. She graciously granted me permission.

More than once recently, I have discussed change here. While we are all in a continual state of some kind of flux or change, truthfully, change comes really hard to most of us. A children's book, THE HUNGRY CATERPILLAR, by Eric Carle, which I have always dearly loved, in the very simplest of words and images, describes the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a beautiful soaring butterfly. Is there any more eloquent statement of change in creation than this amazing, miraculous alteration from a creature who crawls on the ground to a creature who soars in the sky?

I don't believe there are any accidents, or any billion year evolutions, or anything that just came to be. Everything I learn about the science of our planet, our solar system, our galaxy, our expanding universe, convinces me, it is too amazingly perfect in its design to have simply evolved from any plankton muck over billions of years. I believe God was trying to set in place a life's lesson for us, a visual aid, when he designed a caterpillar that would appear to die, only to live again in a different shape, a different form of life. He was trying to prepare us for our own miraculous transformation, if we would only embrace his promise, his precious sacrifice, his holy son, Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

We've been created, designed for a metamorphosis of our own. It is going to happen. The question is, what are we going to choose to become? Several weeks ago I wrote, "If we only understood where we are heading, we'd spend the rest of our lives preparing for the journey." Our destination isn't a big job as a CEO of a multi-million dollar corporation, or Head Administrator of an Ivy League College, or President of the United States of America. None of these positions are a destination. They are simply a momentary stop along our path's journey. Our destination is what happens to us after we're transformed. We're changed. The change is evident to people we meet. We're no longer crawling on our bellies. We're soaring, folks, we're soaring.

The title of that book I wrote back in the winter of 1998 and 1999, it was called 'SLICE OF LIFE' POETRY. A few people bought copies of it, but I only ever heard from one person who read it. I couldn't tell from his comments if he understood where I was going with it. I only know he was an avid fan, and bought other books of my poetry, inspired by that first one he read. Am I done changing? No, folks, I most definitely am not. Do I always behave in a fashion that would make God proud of me? I can only wish! I get mad. I throw an occasional tantrum, but I'm trying to let my destination govern my present behavior, because I understand I'm only a passer-by here. I won't be living here forever, and I most definitely want to soar like that butterfly.

MORNING ABC'S WITH JODY B., Wednesday, January 8, 2014:

Ever since the first snow, I've find myself distracted by what looks like tire tracks on the median between the roads on the four-lane heading east towards Mt. Pleasant, and then north towards Iowa City. At first, I thought I was looking at tracks of drivers who had slid into the ditch during the immediate snow storm. Then I vetoed that idea because they were way too many of them, hundreds of them really.

The snow was light enough this trip, I had a lot of time to contemplate the fluffy snow embedded in those tracks, high-lighting all of them like a graceful dance across the frozen landscape.. It finally occurred to me about 5 miles the other side of Fairfield I was looking at the imprint of every tire track that has crossed that grass- stubbled stretch of country-side since the highway was opened.

If the ground isn't frozen like a block of ice, if it's thawed, soft and giving, the ground surrenders to those skid marks, those tractor tires, those three-wheelers, those cars, trucks and vans, those dirt-bikes that cross that muddy by-way for whatever reason, leaving a curvy scar that looks like the graceful arc of an ice skate on ice. Then every once in a while tiny delicate snow flakes, billions of them, dance like fairies across those flowing imprints, high-lighting them like an artist with a Godly paint brush touching the earth.

I think our souls are like this. From the moment our soul descends on that tiny fetus that will be us, earthly experiences begin to imprint our souls, the sounds of our family's voices lifted in love, music, joy, anger, happiness, violence begin to leave those scars on our souls. From our first look at the doctor who delivers us, the mother who weeps for joy over us, to that last look at a loved one, or a gentle caregiver who shares our last minutes on this earth with us, every single life experience we have had leaves an imprint, a scar, a graceful ballet, a frenzied tarantella, or a rock-pop musical across that soft clay that is the being we are becoming.

From the painful to the euphoric, God, if we let Him, touches our souls, turning the good, the bad, the ugly, into a masterpiece of perfection, a graceful piece of artistry that makes us something more than we are without Him. God fills those graceful scars, those glaring gashes, those chips and gouges, with His glorious gift of grace and mercy, and turns something that could be painfully unattractive into something nothing short of miraculous.

SURVIVING THE BIG 'C' WITH JODY B., Thursday, January 9, 2014:

Tommy Johnson, Sr. posted something on his FB page today that really touched me, something about how hard it was to see those little ones with cancer when he went for his cancer treatments. Nobody can argue with you, Tommy, that it is tough to watch a child go through cancer treatment.

Hunter was 4 1/2 years old when he began his radiation treatments at University of Iowa Hospitals, and I didn't know another person on the planet earth whose child had cancer until I arrived at Ronald McDonald House that evening, but I also remember the morning of that first day Hunter had his first treatment vividly, and I remember it with a smile on my face.

I had stopped at The Stuff store, a second-hand thrift store on the edge of city limits in Coralville, and I had bought him a little Fischer Price toy that played, "Hakuna Matata." I don't know who was more scared, me or Hunter, because he had thrown objects at my head from the back seat of the car for the last 25 miles. I was literally shaking in my car seat and not from the cold, even though it was Thursday, February 15, 2006, and bone-deep cold, so I could have blamed it on the cold.

The truth is I was as frightened as I've ever been in my life. Hunter was scared too. He knew where we were going. By now, he associated the hospital with doctors, and needles and pokes and pain. Things a small child struggles to adjust to. So I stopped at the Stuff Store, and I bought a little musical toy he latched on too, to distract him.

By the time we had arrived at the radiation/oncology clinic in the basement of the Pomerantz Building and checked in, I was noticing in all of the negative energy in that room from cancer patients and families of cancer patients. I was literally soaking it up like a sponge. I remember thinking, "It's going to be tough walking in here every day and facing this."

But Hunter took out his little radio, wound it up, and began twitching his little caboose down the hallway to the beat of that cute little tune, and I saw people sitting up watching him, and lips began to twitch, and smiles started spreading on faces, and his oncology nurse actually laughed out loud. It wasn't a one time thing.

Every day when we walked into the oncology clinic the same thing happened. Hunter brought some kind of positive energy into the room, some kind of joy and hope to faces that had looked hopeless when we walked in the door. People smiled and laughed and were happy a few minutes everyday, and I began to realize Hunter had some kind of ministry here for those few minutes everyday. I'm guessing those patients who met Hunter, I'm guessing they never forgot him.

Today Hunter is a 9 year cancer survivor. We discovered he had cancer when he was 3 1/2 years old. We thank God every day. I believe that positive energy Hunter wore around him like a cloak had as much to do with his surviving what he went through as the treatment did. It was a time when all things came together for good, his diagnosis, his brilliant medical team, the amazing new technology and treatment for inoperable brain tumors he had, his team of prayer warriors, his happy, loving little soul, and the sum total of it all was a miracle we're ever-lastingly grateful for.

Yes, Tommy Johnson, Sr., it's tough to watch a toddler go through cancer treatment, but I also learned life lessons from Hunter Cole that got me through it when I had to do it, too.

SURVIVING THE BIG 'C' WITH JODY B., January 10, 2014:

Thursday, February 15, 2006, Hunter Cole Bresch began radiation treatments for an inoperable brain tumor at the top of his brain stem at University of Iowa Hospitals in Iowa City, IA. We got off to a very rocky start. That first day, Hunter never got out of recovery until 5:00 PM. He hadn't had anything to eat or drink since 10:00 PM the previous night. I was asking myself, "How can a toddler have a good outcome with cancer treatment on a schedule like this one? The next day, I was asking Dr. John Buatti, his radiation/oncologist just that. Dr. Buatti told me they had tried and tried to advocate for their younger patients to have the earlier anesthesiology schedules, but had met with no success. He actually encouraged me to lobby for earlier times for Hunter's treatments with anesthesia, but he wasn't optimistic it was going to make a difference.

We spent the weekend at home, but on Monday morning, February 19, 2006, we were back in Iowa City for Hunter's morning radiation treatment. Hunter was a little intimdated by these big men with funny blue pajamas on so he was crying when two of them approached him. I remember the younger one telling him, "I have a little girl of my own just about your age, Hunter."

I was stunned when I watched this anesthesiologist pick Hunter's PIC Line up without sterilizing it, and connect it to an IV bag of propoful to anesthetize him for his morning radiation treatment. My stomach clutched because I had just been trained myself to sterilize that PIC Line and flush it myself and knew the risks involved in what he had just done, but it was already too late to stop him. The deed was done.

At 2:30 PM that afternoon when Hunter and I were having our afternoon tea at Ronald McDonald House, Hunter couldn't eat his snack, and then vomited for the first time. He was running a low-grade fever. He couldn't eat his supper. At midnight he sat up and vomited in his bed clothes. He was running a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. I called the ER because that's what I had been told to do if he started running a fever, but the ER doctor's couldn't decide who was supposed to be treating him, Pediatrics, Radiation/Oncology or Neurology, believe it or not, so I didn't take him to ER. He was already miserable and I foresaw a night of hospital bureaucratic hassle ahead.

Tuesday, at noon, Hunter was running a low-grade fever again. He couldn't eat supper that night. Again at midnight, Hunter sat up in his bed and vomited. Again, I called ER. Again, I went through the same run-around with the ER staff, and I said forget it. Wednesday morning Hunter didn't have a fever, but when he was in recovery, around noon, he began running a low-grade fever again. I discussed my concerns over what had happened the last two nights, Hunter's vomiting, Hunter's fever, and the telephone conversation with the ER staff about the debate over who was Hunter's primary care doctor at the University Hospital. I said I was afraid something was seriously wrong with Hunter, and I wanted this question resolved before something worse happened. After an hour of debate in Pediatrics Recovery, it was decided to consult with the Resident on call. Unfortunately, there was an influx of pediatric flu patients all afternoon, and she didn't show up until 3:00 PM, hot-to-trot, because she already had more than a full plate on her hands, and now she was being asked to solve one more problem. When she realized I had walked back to Hunter's hospital room door and slammed it, she pulled herself together, and conducted business like a professional.

She had blood drawn and sent it to the lab and sent us back to Ronald McDonald House. Say what you will about mother ESP, but I was positive something was seriously wrong with Hunter and I was more than a little concerned that the Pediatrics Nurses, the Social Workers, the Resident Doctor had not come up with a solution as to who was supposed to be called if Hunter's condition worsened. Hunter was in his car seat, and I had pulled out of the parking ramp, and was sitting at a stop sign, waiting to pull into the exit leading to Hawkins Drive, and I started talking outloud, discussing all of this with God. I said, "I'm really worried here. What if something happens to Hunter, and I'm stuck at Ronald McDonald House with a really sick little boy while the hospital continues this debate? Help, God. What can I do to get this resolved?" A voice said to me, not out loud, the way we have conversations with each other, but more clairvoyantly, but clear as a bell, nevertheless, a voice I actually heard, "Call Dr. Heitsman." It was a male voice, a normal voice and there was no doubt what he said. "Okay," I said. "I have his office number in my cell phone. I can do that." It was 4:10 PM in the afternoon.

I reached Dr. Heitsman's nurse and explained to her our dilemma. She said that she had never had anybody they referred to University Hospitals have the kind of problem I was having, but give her a few minutes. She would discuss it with Dr. Heitsman and get back to me.

Forty-five minutes later Dr. Heitsman called me. "Take Hunter back to the hospital. We're going to admit him for observation. I've contacted a young resident who served an internship with me here in Ottumwa, and she has agreed to be Hunter's primary care doctor while he's at the hospital."

"Thank you, thank you, thank you," I gasped. "I can't tell you what this means to me right this minute, that you've taken what I've told you long distance at face value, and you're acting on it. I hope I'm wrong, but my gut tells me something is wrong with, Hunter."

"I trust your gut instinct, Mom," he simply said. So I took Hunter back to the hospital, and he was admitted. He seemed perfectly fine the first part of the evening, but like clock-work, at midnight, Hunter sat up in the bed, and heaved all over the bed. Only this time, his eyes rolled in the back of his head, and he fell back in the bed, totally unconscious. I reached out to touch him and he was burning up.

There was a thermometer on the table beside the bed and I took his temperature. It registered 107 degrees Fahrenheit. I tried buzzing a nurse. Nobody responded. I tried again. Still nothing. I took off running down the hall, looking for anybody. It was the middle of the night in pediatrics, and dark and quiet as a tomb. Finally, I came to a doorway with about 4 hospital staff members in it. I shouted, "Help," through the doorway, and turned and ran back to Hunter's room.

The next few moments are both a little fuzzy, and yet startlingly clear to me. I do remember reporting to the team that had followed me back to his room, the fever he had. I described the eye rolling incident and the flopping back in the bed, and then I grabbed a washcloth, dampened it in the sink, and began bathing Hunter's face, his neck, his hands, his arms with it. One of those 4 women ordered a suppository from pharmacy. Somebody brought it back to the room and inserted it. Hunter pooped it right back out.

The same nurse went after another one. It was the longest 5 minutes of my life, but this time, when it was inserted, he retained it, and we all stood there, the 5 of us, waiting for the suppository to perform it's miracle. Slowly his temperature began to drop, and settled at 102 degrees. It wasn't normal but it was a temperature we could live with. We started peeling clothes off of him, sheets off of the bed, bathing him, redressing him and making him comfortable for the night.

As I laid my head down in my make-shift bed, I thanked God for the words he had spoken to me in the car, for Dr. Heitsman's intervention, for the fact we were in a hospital when this happened, for the fact that I woke up when Hunter had his crisis, for the fact that I had found help quickly, and the medical team had responded promptly and professionally , and I prayed Hunter wouldn't have any brain damage from what had just happened to him.

He never opened his eyes again until 6:00 AM the next morning. I opened my eyes to a room full of residents and Hunter's primary care doctor telling them he was a very sick boy. He had stenotrophomonas and bacteremias, both life-threatening bacterias in the bloodstream.

I told Hunter's doctor I knew how his PIC Line had become infected and described what had happened Monday morning when the anesthesiologist had used his line without cleaning it first. I also explained my concerns about pediatrics patients being assigned 1:00 PM treatments schedules, that I had asked that my 4 year-old to be given the first scheduled opening of the day, and that Anesthesia was turning a deaf ear to my pleas

In short order, the hospital administrator walked in the door with her sincerest apologies about what had happened and a promise that my anesthesia concerns would be dealt with, and that I would be hearing from Dr. Campos, Head of Anesthesiology soon.

In a few minutes, Dr. Campos did arrive, and he apologized profusely about the infected PIC Line and asked me to go over again, what had happened Monday during Hunter's morning radiation treatment. I went over it again in detail, and told him, "I was horrified, because I had just had the training myself so I could flush Hunter's line myself, at home," but it was already too late to stop him.

While I had his attention, I expressed my concerns to Dr. Campos about the scheduling of pediatrics patients late in the day for anesthesia. "Hunter can't eat or drink after midnight. If he doesn't have treatment until 1:00 PM, and he gets out of recovery at 3:00 or 4:00 PM, do the math. See how long he goes without eating or drinking anything. I don't see how a toddler can have a good outcome with cancer treatment on this kind of schedule."

"I wasn't looking at it that way," Dr. Campos admitted. "Hunter will have the first appointment every morning, even if I have to call someone in early so that can happen," and he did.

When Dr. Campos left, I called Dr. Heitsman, and I thanked him again for responding to my plea for help with such immediate response and having Hunter admitted to the hospital. I explained what had happened, and the hospital's response. I also thanked him for leaning on Dr. Campos about the treatment schedule. "I'm just glad it helped," he replied.

Dr. Campos had also directed his resident anesthesiologist to call me and apologize to me for what he'd failed to do Monday. It was the lamest apology I have ever heard. We had a bad phone connection because there was a blizzard that morning, but I heard him say, "I thought the PIC Line had already been cleaned."

I said, "I had the training to clean that PIC Line last Thursday, and I know you are never supposed to assume anything like that. You told Hunter you had a little girl his age. How would you feel if it was her in this hospital instead of Hunter, because of somebody's negligence?" I don't know if he hung up or we lost our connection, but it may have been a good thing, either way. I wasn't in the mood to listen to pathetic excuses from somebody who was supposed to know better.

Two days later, Jennifer Cunningham, Maddy Cunningham's mother, and I met in one of the waiting rooms at radiation/oncology. Maddy Cunningham and Hunter were close to the same age, and had similar brain tumors. She introduced herself and said, "I think I have you to thank for Maddy's earlier treatment schedule."

I admitted, "I have been waging a war about it since the second day we arrived at the hospital. I'm glad to hear it's making a difference." "I've been told Maddy can have the time slot after Hunter's every day until she's completed this series of scheduled treatments, " Jen said, "and when Hunter's finished with his treatments, they'll move her up into Hunter's spot." We gave each other a high-five before Hunter and I walked out the door for his morning treatment.

Why do I tell this story again? Number one, I think people get into this mindset that the Bible is an interesting history of early man, but the Biblical God has long since abandoned mankind if He ever actually existed. Wrong. God hasn't retired, and He's ready to help when you're ready to ask. Number two, I fear people are intimidated by medical professionals, and often want to advocate for their loved ones, but often don't feel up to the task. Number three, our bodies are miraculous things, and even in the worst possible scenarios, when there is life, there is hope. That body desires to recover, to survive, and thrive.

AFTERNOON TEA WITH JODY B., Monday, January 13, 2014:

I've, too numerous times to mention, confessed, I am a haphazard gardener at best. That doesn't mean I don't love Mother Nature and all her many quirks and miracles. It's just that I don't understand much about them except by observation. It isn't that I'm not well read about it all, because I read a book a day, and a lot of my readings have information about nature in them, including gardening. Right this moment, I'm reading the Norah Roberts series about the Harper family, and their gardening business, and I love to play in the dirt, whether I know what I am doing or not

Still, it doesn't really seem to me that Mother Nature makes much effort to conform to the rules and guidelines scientists assign to Her. Really, I'm not kidding about this. It's supposed to be the dead of winter. We've have temperatures that have dropped to the negative double digits, not for a night, but for days. We've had snow and ice, and freezing drizzle, and wind chills that polar bears love. Yet, where the snow is melting the grass is green.

No, it's not winter brown. It's green, and while I don't know what this foliage is that I planted around my bird bath, yes, I do things like that. I think it's because I read SECRET GARDEN when I was a child and loved it. But yes, I dig abandoned things out of my yard that look like they should be in a garden and I plant them in something that resembles a flower bed to see what they do

Well, this foliage is a deep cranberry/plum color with a little forest green in it, and during the summer, it doesn't seem to require an abundance of water, provides beautiful ground cover, and keeps most of the weeds out as it's viney and it spreads out across the ground, dropping little roots as it goes. Anyway, the snow has melted off of it, and it's perking right up. Yesterday, a bee buzzed Lexie and I when I took her out to go potty. Yes, a bee. Lexie, puppy that she is, chased it around and snapped at it until it decided to meander off in the direction of the front port.

If it's the dead part of winter, the frozen tundra part, and the ground is supposed to be frozen like an ice cube, I'm just entertained by the fact that it's not. I find fun in the unpredictable, something a little bit mischievous, and gutsy in things that are supposed to be taking a winter siesta who decide to wake up and check out the sunshine anyway. I have to admit to you, it took me until 11:00 AM to wake up and check it out myself today.

I love having my grandchildren here. Nobody has to bend my elbow to get me to say, "Sure, bring them over. We'll have a blast," and we do. Saturday evening, I got such a kick out of Amary. Ashleigh things she looks like her, and I can't argue that. She most definitely does, but she, without a doubt has her father's sense of humor.

Every Saturday night when Ashleigh comes to take her home, she find two dozen things to do besides leave. Now she has every intention of going home with her mom, but she also has no intention of making it easy for her. Saturday night, for some reason, she suddenly made a game out of the basement staircase. Until she was big enough, I always kept a gate over it, and when Orion begins to start crawling, I'll have to get it out again, but Saturday night the gate was stored, and Amary was on the staircase, which she usually ignore, and her mom was telling her to come on.

Finally, Ashleigh said, "Okay, good-bye Amary. I guess I'll see you tomorrow," and she headed toward the foyer off the living-room. I could hear a belly-laugh from Amary even where I was at several feet away at the dining-room table. She chuckled all the way down the hallway as she ran after her mother. It was as if she was saying, "Well, you can't blame a girl for trying, Mom." That belly laugh is her daddy, through and through, and it's come back to me, bringing a smile to my face a half-dozen times sense.

Even in the unpredictable, in the end, there is some predictability. One of these days, Amary may actually be ready to spend the night, but right now, she isn't. She likes to pretend she is, but bottom line, she still loves the dependable comfort of her own bed, her own room, the idea that Mommy and Daddy are just a few feet away, in the room next door if she needs them. Her horizons will broaden a little bit at a time. That's part of Mother Nature too, where children start pushing the boundaries of their comfort zone, and encompassing more of what the world has for them to experience. EVENING ZZZS WITH JODY B., Wednesday, January 15, 2014:

There is a reason I type things instead of speaking to groups in a public forum about some of these events in our lives. I usually cry in the telling of them. It's embarrassing. I'm a grown woman, I lose my composure, and then I begin to wonder if I will make it to the finish line with what I'm trying to say before I complete unravel. I wish it wasn't so, but it is.

I had a really full day today; a trip to the North side ATM machine, back home, a trip to Evans, a trip to South Side Bank, a trip to the gas station, a trip to Iowa City with Hunter to see his new ear doctor at the new River Landing Clinic, a trip to University Hospitals to attempt to resolve my health care application at the hospital enrollment center (you notice I said attempt), lunch at the Village Inn with my little man, Hunter Cole, a trip back to Ottumwa, a trip to Ottumwa Regional Lab, a trip across town to pick up Orion, a trip home, and then I fed Orion an early supper.

I'm exhausted just recounting all of that. Where did the tears flow? At the enrollment center, and at the Ottumwa Regional Lab, and the latter wasn't because I had blood drawn either. The trip to the enrollment center was downright discouraging, and I'll debate over night whether I'm going to say more about it than that, but poor Hunter was patting my shoulder for moral support and to comfort, very embarrassing to be comforted in a public setting by my eleven year

I don't know how the subject that I cried over came up at the Lab. I had to have said something, but I truly can't remember what. I remember the Lab Tech saying, "I'll bet that's quite a story," and I agreed it was. I found myself trying to tell her about the oncology/radiation resident doctor I encountered that Thursday in the first week of February back in 2006, the first person who ever said Hunter's name and the word cancer in the same breath.

I told this gal at Ottumwa Regional that I started crying, and Dr. Anna (I'll just call her Dr. Anna) put her clipboard down, and with a big, aggrieved sigh, asked me what was wrong.

I said, "This is the first time I've heard the word cancer in connection with my 4 year old son, and I'm just a little bit overwhelmed. I don't know another person on the planet earth with a four year old with cancer."\

She said, "I'm sorry. I guess I get a little hardened about this because I work with it every day." I just rolled my eyes and blew my nose. Just exactly what do you say in response to a cold-blooded statement like that?

Four weeks later though, in the basement of the Pomerantz Building, I asked Dr. Anna, "How will we know if the radiation is effecting the tumor?" She watched Hunter skip around the examining room for a minute, and then she said, "We may not know for months. We have to wait until the tumor has a reproduction cycle. Some have really slow cycles. Some have quick cycles. If the tumor has been damaged, it won't be able to reproduce."

I suddenly realized we had both been watching Hunter and his childish little, playful antics instead of looking at each other, and Dr. Anna's voice had gotten unusually gravelly. I turned and looked at her and her eyes had welled up with tears. In four weeks of getting to know Hunter, Dr. Anna had become personally involved. My respect for her rose several significant notches, and I pretty much forgave her that cold-blooded attitude she had exhibited that first day right then and there.

Okay, I was trying to tell the Lab Tech all of this, and the deeper I got into the story, the more tears were welling up in my eyes, and the more my voice was cracking and breaking, and I was sniffling, and I needed a Kleenex, and I wondered if I was going to make it across the finish line with the story before I totally dissolved.

But she said, "I have goose bumps. I can imagine what it must have been like for you." We gave each other a hug, and I told her how to find my list of articles on the Yahoo site, some of them about things that happened at University of Iowa Hospitals when Hunter was a patient there. I was able to finish telling her about Hunter and Dr. Anna, but I had to stop in the women's bathroom on the way out the door to blow my nose.

So telling something in public is a far cry from typing it. If I cry in the telling when I'm typing, I can just go wash my face, blow my nose, and come back to my computer and get on with it and nobody is any the wiser. I'm not sure I have it in me to discuss those times in public, but that doesn't mean there isn't some significance in writing them.

Another mother is going through something like this right this very minute. It makes a difference to know you aren't alone, that someone else has been there and struggled through something similar to what you're going through. Just so you know, I hold no grudges against Dr. Anna. Choosing to spend your life in the treatment of cancer, that takes a special kind of person, and I respect the cancer staff at University of Iowa Hospitals more than words can say. I eventually came to realize they needed our prayers as much as other patients we encountered did.

MORNING FRESH WITH JODY BRESCH, Saturday, January 18, 2014:

I could swear I saw a post last night that Connie Post is in Hospice. Connie, if this isn't true, and you see this post this morning, forgive me. I've searched all the posts I can find, and I can't find it now. I'm asking you, however, to stop what you are doing, and pray for Connie Post.

Prayer Warriors are God's First Line Angels, as far as I'm concerned, when we as human beings need a line of defense, and Connie Post needs one. Connie has been reading my posts about SURVINGING THE BIG 'C' WITH JODY B., and I've heard from her in private messages a couple of times, bless her sweet heart, and Connie has worked at maintaining a positive attitude, believing she is going to beat this.

I am a firm believer that where there is still life, there is still hope, and God is the author of miracles, The Great Physician, and He does give those who Love Him and choose to serve Him His very best He has to give. Now this is even hard for me to understand because I too have had somebody, more than one somebody, I loved passionately, and prayed for divine healing for, somebody who passed on.

There are two kinds of healing, an earthly healing of a physical body, and a heavenly healing of a spiritual body. Most of us would choose an earthly healing of a physical body, because we've been created to be earthly warriors. That's our present design, and that's what we know, and our bodies are designed to kick into survival mode whenever we get sick.

A lot of us know a whole lot less about the spiritual side of who we are, even me, although I've made some progress in that regard in recent years. The spiritual side of us is the being that inhabits this fallible, feeble body we live in. This body is truly only a house, a house of flesh and blood, a miraculous house, that can eat and drink, and walk and talk, and jump hurdles and bleed, and run into burning buildings to save lives, but only a house just the same.

That spirit that inhabits this house is who we really, truly are. That spirit is ugly, pretty, old or young, good or mean, heroic or cowardly, giving or self-serving, based on what we feed it. It has absolutely nothing to do with the body that houses our spirit, truthfully. This spirit was created, designed, to live here for the duration of our physical house's ability to survive, but then the spirit departs our body and moves on.

Where it moves on to, well that's pretty much pre-determined by the choices we make while we're inhabiting that physical body, the house we are living in. We can choose to believe that Jesus was telling the truth when He said, "I go to prepare a place for you, if it were not so I would have told you." That's a pretty remarkable piece of evidence that there is more, a whole lot more, when we depart this physical house we inhabit now.

Luke 23:43 Jesus said to the thief on the cross, 'Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.' I started this by saying there is an earthly healing, and there is a heavenly healing. The disciples could touch Jesus after his resurrection, so it seems pretty likely we will have some sort of physical body in the next stage of our soul's existence, but this next body, it's an immortal body, not subject to decay, a strong body, without weaknesses. There are clues about it in the Bible, but no definite picture. However, what the scripture says, it doesn't bring to mind, a ghostly, spiritual existence. The Bible implies there will be some physical substance to it.

The reasons we cling to this earthly life are pretty obvious: it's what we know, we have friends and loved ones here, while we believe there's more, because we've never experienced it, we fear the unknown, and it's a terrifying prospect to take that last breath, because we've been doing it since we took the first one. It's a belly clutch moment to step out in faith, believing there's more, and hoping there's somebody there to catch us, that that figure in white is there holding out His hand for us to lead us home.

That's why it's important to start making His acquaintance now. Jesus doesn't put up barriers between us. Somehow, we do it, with all the hectic clutter of our physical lives. But you and Jesus need to start developing some kind of personal friendship, now, some kind of trust, because we are all on a one way road out of here. Some of us are departing this very minute, or in the next few minutes, or today, or tomorrow. Some of us, we have years yet, but we're still making the trip.

Okay, there is an earthly healing and there is a heavenly healing. I cannot claim to know which one God has in store for Connie Post. I'm asking anybody who reads this today to pray about it, to pray for Connie, and to pray for Connie's family and friends, her loved ones, and when you're finished praying for somebody else, take a couple of more minutes to pray for yourself. If one single, solitary life is changed in anyway today, it was worth the hour it took me to write this post.

AFTERNOON TEA WITH JODY B., Monday, January 27, 2014:

Maybe nobody has noticed I haven't said much about Hunter's surgery for tubes Friday, or maybe I even forgot to mention, but I am pretty sure I did say it was coming up. Teonia went with us. It was a cold, windy trip, and at times you could feel the wind pushing the van like a sail boat on a lake. In this kind of weather I like to leave early enough we have time to spare if we need it, so we arrived in Iowa City an hour early.

Both Teonia and I noticed Hunter just did not seem to be his normal, rambunctious self the whole trip. It's hard to describe but he was almost in a zombie-like state, not exactly asleep, but not exactly awake either. He did doze off in the car, but still, when the nurse took his blood pressure, it was 141 over 80. On a typical day he would have driven us crazy with questions, but he wasn't even doing that. He just wanted to know if one of us was going in with him for the anesthesia part

Our surgery was scheduled for 2:15, and we had arrived at 12:00, so we had already been there a long time waiting, when 2:15 came and went. About that time one of the nurses brought Hunter a DS game, and Teonia and I both figured it was going to be a while yet. Keep in mind, we hadn't eaten anything because we felt sorry for Hunter because he couldn't eat anything, and we didn't want to eat anything in front of him.

Finally at 3:20, I think it was, an anesthesiologist came in to take Hunter back. I saw him give me "the look," the one that means I'm supposed to get up and say something now, but when she persuaded him to go with her on his own steam, I ignored "the look" and just watched them walk down the hall together instead.

I'm positive it was 4:45 when they brought him back to our little alcove we were waiting in. He looked awful, but the nurse said he was ready to go. He was complaining of pain in his left ear, but the doctor had already been in and said, "There wasn't much room to work with in his right ear, but I managed to get a tube in there. Now we'll hope ventilating it helps the ear drum move back in place. And he still has an infection in his left ear.

The infection in his left ear is why the other tube was removed, but he managed to get another tube in it too. So now we are to put these pricey drops in his ear for a week and come back in about 3 weeks to see how he is doing. The nurse said his blood pressure went up to 151 over 80 during surgery, and that has me a little concerned. We wheeled him out of there in a wheel chair. Fortunately, they had given him something for pain before we left the hospital, and he seemed to feel a little better after we got some fluids in him. Hunter decided after that he was ready to try some supper at I-Hops. Food managed to eliminate the shakes he had come out of surgery with. Still, he slept all the way home. This always seems to have fluid in varying degrees, poor kid.

We're going to hope and pray these tubes do the trick. They are a long-term tube, a T-tube, compared to those that are supposed to fall out on their own eventually. He can even swim with them, and not have to worry about getting water in his ears as long as he is swimming in chlorinated water. Saturday he perked up quite a bit, and Sunday he perked up more.

He wanted to sing a special at Linger Longer at Church Sunday evening, and so I told him I'd sing it with him. He did a pretty nice job. It's the first time he's ever sung anything in public except in a choir group, but he seemed confident and self-assured. I was definitely proud of him. He went to school today, so I'm anxious to hear how things went. He says his ears have been popping. That's a good thing. We want them to pop. When they begin to pop, that tension on his ear drums is beginning to ease.

MORNING FRESH WITH JODY BRESCH, Wednesday, January 29, 2014:

A concerned mother-in-law asked me yesterday if I took Ecciac Tea when I was going through cancer treatment, and if I really thought it made a difference? I would highly, highly recommend that anybody going through cancer treatment of any kind use Ecciac Tea during and following treatment.

I began cancer treatment Wednesday, June 26, 2009. A manager at U.S. Cellular had recommended to Mike that he tell me about Ecciac Tea. He had said, "I guarantee she will not lose her hair." A friend at church, "Mary Glosser had said, "I don't know how you feel about herbal remedies, but I looked this up and copied it for you." It was a short print-out about Ecciac Tea.

I regret I did no more than glance at the message from the U.S. Cellular manager and my friend, Mary Glosser about the Ecciac Tea at that time. I did start losing hair by the fist fulls through July and August. Around the middle of September it began to feel like I was eating and drinking broken glass when I tried to put anything in my mouth.

I had to wear gloves to take hold of anything hot or cold. The bottoms of my feet hurt with every step that I took. My husband, Mike, had gone to pick our son, Hunter, up from Cindy Ellis's house Cindy asked Mike how I was doing. He told her, "Not very good," and told her I was having trouble eating or drinking anything.

Cindy said, "Wait just a minute. I have something for her." Cindy walked back in the house and brought out a quart fruit jar in a brown paper bag, and gave it to him for me. She said, "If she doesn't take this, you call me, and I'll be there to see that she does. It's Ecciac Tea. You put a shot glass of it in a cup of luke warm water, and drink it twice a day. You have to keep it in the brown paper sack or it loses some of its potency.

Mike brought it home, and told me what Cindy had said, and I laid there on the sofa waving my hand at him, yeah, yeah, yeah. He went in and put it in the refrigerator, and I forgot all about it for 2 days. But I was miserable beyond belief, and Mike and Hunter were pushing food on me 24-7, saying, "You have to eat." I knew they were right but I couldn't force myself to do it.

I don't know what made me think of that brown paper sack sitting in my fridge, but I finally considered, "What the heck. What do I have to lose?" I went in and took my first dose of Ecciac Tea. It was actually sort of soothing and pleasant. I took another dose at bedtime.

Exactly 11 hours after I took that first drink of tea, I noticed the sensation that I was drinking or eating broken glass began to fade. Within 24 hours, it was completely gone. This was a Thursday morning. By Saturday, I noticed my hair was no longer coming out by the fistfuls when I shampooed it. My girlfriend, Sandy, who had been through cancer treatment herself for breast cancer, she came over with her bag full of her wigs and scarves, and said, "I brought this over for you, but I see you don't need them," and I didn't.

I still needed gloves to hold onto hot or cold things, but it stopped getting worse. The needles in my feet and hands began to ease some. But the most important thing Ecciac Tea did for me was to enable me to keep eating and drinking. I didn't have any appetite. Food and drink had no appeal to me at all, but I knew I couldn't survive what I was going through if I didn't provide my body with nutrition of some kind, so I went through the motions.

I have many times questioned whether I would have made it through cancer treatment if Cindy hadn't sent that quart jar of Ecciac Tea home with Mike that Sunday night, and if I hadn't reached the point of desperation and tried it that Wednesday morning. I don't have any answers obviously, but I'm telling you, if you are going through cancer treatment, give yourself a fighting chance. Find some Ecciac Tea and use it.

After God and a prayer team of prayer warriors, I think it's the most important tool in you arsenal, that's how important I think it is.

AFTERNOON TEA WITH JODY B., Thursday, February 6, 2014:

After years of realizing most of the rest of the world doesn't get sick every time their kids do, I've been curious about why I always seem to. The first time I was actually aware of this empathy illness I was capable of was when our first son, Matt, was about 7 months old. Mike was working 16 days as a shoe store manager in Muscatine, and Matt got the upchuck flu, something very similar to what we've all had this week. He had only had this a short time when I started upchucking too. I called and told Mike he needed to come home, but he only had one other employee, and that gentleman couldn't cover for him. So I brought Matt into bed with me, along with a stainless steel pan and a handful of sleepers and diapers, and some baby wipes. It was a truly miserable day because I had a baby whose needs had to be met first whether I was disgustingly sick or not.

The second time it happened Matt ate a leaf from a house plant, a toxic leaf, when he had barely begun to scoot across the floor on his tummy. It so irritated his digestive system, every time he had a stool, it looked like red water. I would change his diaper, and then I would throw up. Obviously, I hadn't eaten any toxic plant myself, but it was enough that Matt had, and I was so empathetically sick for him I was sick with him.

I have 5 sons, and it's pretty much been the same thing through all of them, as crazy as it sounds. I would never have made it as a nurse, although it seemed like a nice idea a couple of times. The nurse can't be as sick as the patient is. It just doesn't work.

I've even asked myself the last couple of years if this empathy thing I have has had something to do with my developing cancer on the heels of Hunter going through cancer treatment. My common sense tells me the two are in no way related. However, still that little niggling thought is there in the back of my mind sometimes.

I even did some internet surfing about it. There's a name for it, believe it or not. People with this are called empaths. I don't know that I fit all the criteria but it just struck me as curious there are other people out there in the world who experience something like this too. Some of them have shared some of their experiences with me, actually. Anyway, there were enough similarities between my experiences and those in the article I read to convince me there probably is something to this.

I guess I think it's some sort of dormant survival skill maybe all of us have or our forefathers had, used to tap into, but it's sort of slid to the back of our social consciousness, down our list of social skills. Now that we have medical personnel making diagnosis and decisions about our loved ones' illnesses, we've kind of let it fall off of our radar screen. Yet, you still read stories about a mother trusting her gut instincts that something is wrong with her child, and it turning out to be fact.

I don't recommend anybody getting sick to your stomach when your kids have the flu. If I could cure this so I didn't I would. But I do think trusting your gut instinct is good old common sense. After all, who knows your kids better than you do? You know when things don't just seem quite right with them. A lot of medical personnel respect that.

Mike's surgery is rescheduled for Valentine's Day. It's not necessarily how I would have chosen to spend the day, but we will make it work, maybe go out to lunch that afternoon or supper that evening, and take our other Valentine with us.

Yesterday afternoon when I was so miserable, Hunter apparently, sensed just how miserable I was. Trust me, I wouldn't have won any medal for Mother of the Year. I was whining like a two year old about the miseries accompanying my nasty ailment. In between moments of misery, I was spewing moments of temper over the miserable luck and timing of it all.

Hunter, though, walked up behind me and wrapped his arms around me and started praying for me to get better. Now, I've had 4 other little boys go through this house, but none of them would have thought to do that. But Hunter did. Hunter went with his gut instincts, and it did make me feel better.

Hunter has experienced the power of prayer, and he believes in the power of prayer. He's had people come to our home, come to the hospital, to pray for him when he was so sick. Mr. David Eaton has been encouraging Hunter to develop confidence as a new Christian by praying out loud. It is gratifying to watch Hunter bloom and grow. We, he and I, wound up praying for everybody we know who has had the flu the last week or two, or who is now coming down with it.

I wonder if, even though Hunter couldn't give you a definition of empathy, I wonder if Hunter doesn't come with a generous supply of it. While it's a tough and challenging responsibility for an eleven year old boy to carry, I think it will serve him well as an adult. I just hope I have the wisdom to help him grow into it. He told me there are a couple of boys at school laughing at him, making fun of him and mocking him. He recognizes that they are being bullies. He doesn't like it, but neither does he identify with it, thank God.

MORNING FRESH WITH JODY BRESCH, Thursday, April 24, 2014:

Watching Orion bounce at the side of his crib this morning, I was thinking what a miracle it has been that I survived to see it. Life is so fragile when you really stop to think about it. It balances precariously on a multitude of things like an elephant balancing on a pin head. If all things combine in the most intricate of co-operating mechanisms, it exists with seemingly effortless ease. If anything in that co-operating system goes haywire however, watch out. Five years ago, I knew I had colon cancer. I hadn't been diagnosed, but I knew. The morning of April 26, a Sunday morning, I woke up, doubled up in a cramp that wouldn't quit. Since it was obvious we weren't going to church, Mike and Hunter went fishing and I stayed in bed. I tried curling up in the fetal position. I tried the hands and knees position. Finally I used the phone on the side of the bed, and called ER at University of Iowa Hospitals, and described my symptoms.

The ER nurse advised me to go to the local ER before attempting the trip to Iowa City to make sure I was stabilized before transporting. Mike had returned from fishing but was making afternoon plans when I told him, "Sorry, Mr. Bresch, but you're taking me to the hospital.

The local hospital concluded I was having an appendicitis attack and were calling a surgeon. I said, "No thank you. I'm going to Iowa City." There was some debate it was too dangerous for me to leave the hospital in the condition I was in. The ER doctor told me it was imperative that a trauma hospital was available on very short notice. We discussed two routes. Ordinarily the ambulance took the Williamsburg route at that time, and there was one hospital at the halfway point.

However, Mike and I suggested that Hwy. 34 and Hwy 218 had several more hospitals available than one: Fairfield, Mt. Pleasant, and Washington, all easily accessible from the interstate. The ambulance driver concluded he would try the route we had suggested for transport. I remember being doped up on pain meds, rolled out of the hospital on a gurney, and that a nurse stood beside it, checking my vitals the whole trip.

I couldn't stretch my legs out. My knees were still bent. At Fairfield, the skies opened up and it6 was like somebody pouring water out of a bucket. It pounded on the roof of the ambulance. Mike later told me that the ambulance was hitting 100 mph plus for most of the trip. Thunder and lightning pelted the earth at intermittent intervals. I could see the flashes of light through the ambulance windshield.

I wondered if I had waited too long to seek help. I wondered if I was dying. I was praying Mike would have an accident ambulance chasing, and then I was thinking, "He's probably having the time of his life playing Nascar 500." I wondered if the ambulance driver could really control the ambulance in this slashing thunderstorm at this high rate of speed.

By the time we pulled into the Iowa City ER, the staff there already had a diagnosis and it wasn't appendicitis. A cat scan had been e-mailed to the Iowa City Hospital. I probably laid in an ER room for 45 minutes before a surgeon arrived, but when he did, Dr. Hoshi said, "You made the right call about the appendectomy. I'm fairly confident you have colon cancer.

I said, "So am I. That's why I said no thank you to an appendectomy." This was Day 1, and on Day 1 Dr. Hoshi was thinking it was Stage 1 cancer, even after I had described the symptoms I had been having since September to him. I wanted to believe him so I really tried to.

From Sunday until Thursday, I was so souped up on pain meds that I only recall moments like a nurse coming in an plopping an oxygen mask on my face, telling me to breathe and breathe deep, my oxygen level was way too low. I remember drinking some noxious brew and having the first cat scan in Iowa City, and going in for chest x-rays.

And I remember Dr. Hoshi coming in after that cat scan and telling me he now figured I had Stage 2 colon cancer rather than Stage 1. That caused a sinking in my gut that is difficult to describe. I knew it wasn't good news. Finally, on Thursday, I came out of my daze long enough to realize my roommate's mind was far gone enough it was effecting my state of mind. I said to a nurse, "Sorry, but I'm sick enough, she's really bringing me down. Is there another room available?" They had me out of there in 30 minutes. I prayed for that woman every day. Still do sometimes, but I also said, "Thank you, Jesus.

It's hard to believe surgeries were scheduled so tight at University of Iowa Hospitals that I was there from April 26 until May 12 before I had my surgery. The worst of this was that I couldn't have anything but a liquid diet. I didn't have much of an appetite, but if something did look good, I couldn't have it. From September of 2008 until May of 2009 I lost 35 pounds, 20 pounds of it that last couple of months in March and April.

I think of Orion bouncing in his baby crib this morning, of Amary, crawling in bed with me Tuesday morning to warm-up, and life truly is a miracle to me, a daily miracle. It's a dismal morning in Iowa. It rained a lot through the night. There is a chill in the air, and the skies are a steel gray. Yet, I'm a 5 year cancer survivor, and in May of 2009, I wouldn't have bet money that I was going to survive. I had a 6 year old son who had just come through cancer treatment himself. I recall saying something like, "Look, God, Hunter's already been through enough. He doesn't need to deal with all of this too on top of it," but there we were, and at the time there were a lot of open-ended question marks in our lives.

I don't take any of it for granted. I count my blessings each and every day. Most days I start the morning saying, "Jesus, take the wheel." Then I just try to make it through each day doing the best that I can. I still loose my temper. I still get mad. I still raise my voice sometimes, but not like I used to, and when it happens, it's short-lived and easily over with. I try to remember to thank God for where I've been and where I'm at now in my life. It's a pretty miraculous place.

Essiac Tea Preparation Instructions:

1# sheep sorrel, 6 1/2 cups burdock, 1/4# slippery elm, 1 ounce Indian rhubarb mix together and store in glass jars, when used 1 ounce mixture in 32 ounce water and make a tea, strain and drink are the ingredients

You will need a big stainless steel pot. Never use aluminum. Another big pot, can be glass or pyrex or stainless to pour the liquid while straining. A stainless steel strainer.

32ounce amber glass bottles to store your finished product in. You will need 3 for a half batch and 6 for a full batch.

The tea is light sensitive so if you can't find amber bottles you need to cover your bottles with aluminum foil. (Storing your glass containers in a brown paper bag in the refrigerator works.)

1. To make the 2 gallon recipe- Mix the 4 herbs together. (appr. 1 cup) (you may cut the recipe in half if you wish, but it is recommended you halve each package of the herbs first, then mix them together. The reason for this is that the powdered herbs, such as the Turkey Rhubarb fall to the bottom and your recipe will not be evenly divided if you don't split them first.)

2. Full recipe- bring 2 gallons of distilled or spring water to a boil. If using half the recipe bring 1 gallon to boil. Stir in herbs replace the lid and boil for 10 minutes.

3. Turn off the stove, scrape down sides, mix well and allow pot to sit and remain closed for 12 hours. (this is the steaping and extraction process)

4.Reheat to almost boiling, anout 10 minutes. Let cool just a little and begin the straining process. Strain as many times as you like. A little herb left in the liquid will not hurt it in any way. Reheat the liquid once again for 2 to 3 minutes only. This will kill any bacteria in the tea that may have entered from the straining process and help keep it from spoiling.

5. Using funnel or glass measuring cup, put your hot liquid into preheated bottles. You can heat the bottles in the oven at 200 degrees-5 or 10 minutes. Do not put caps in the oven!

6. Cap and let cool and then put in the refrigerator. This will be good for 2 weeks. Label the day you made it and the day it expires. If you have some left over in 2 weeks, bring it back to a boil to re-sterilize it and you can use it for 2 more weeks. Then it must be discarded.

Directions for use:

Mix 2 ounces of the tea with 2 ounces of hot water. Distilled or spring. Never heat this formula or the water in a microwave! Take on an empty stomch for better absorbability. Wait 10 to 20 minutes before eating. This herbal tea is non toxic in proper doses. These herbs will stimulate the body to throw off toxins and therefore it is important that you drink plenty of clean spring water and have regular bowel movements.

Recommended supplementation 3 to 4 times daily for cancer and other serious ailments, twice a day for chronic and once a day for maintenance and gentle detoxification."

Love, Jody,

Reprinted from
Jody Bresch's Face Book Blog