Tuesday, September 16, 2008

say goodbye to sweet laura

it is with profound sadness and a broken heart that i am writing to tell you that my mom died yesterday afternoon. she went peacefully, without pain or discomfort. she ate some lunch, drank some tea, gave me a huge smile. i had arranged for a massage. when i went into my room for my massage and bill was in the office, she decided it was time to leave. she took a final breath and left her body.

even as i write this i am in shock and disbelief that my sweet mamma could actually have moved on.

we will be having a memorial service celebrating my mom's life on sunday, september 28. more details to follow.

i know that i will make it through and eventually be ok, but right now i feel as though i might break in two, or that my life chord is being torn out from inside of me.

i am so thankful her passing was so peaceful. she did it like she did everything else these past several months, with complete grace and ease.

bill, laurie, and i washed her and anointed each of her chakras with rose and frankincense. then we dressed her in a beautiful outfit. a few of us got together last night and said goodbye to her. we read some poems, sang some songs, and sat with her. this morning we lay pink rose petals on her sweet body and she was taken away.

here's one of the songs we sang last night that has such beautiful words that mean so much right now:

I'll catch your smile on someone's face
Your whisper in the wind's embrace
Through diamond stars and songs and dreams
I find your love in everything

The sun, the sky, the rolling sea
All conspire to comfort me
From sorrow's edge life's beauty seems
To find your love in everything

I've come to trust the hope it brings
To find your love in everything
Even as I fall apart,
Even through my shattered heart

I'll catch your smile on someone's face
.....amazing grace

you know so much more than we do now, mom, and you are free....

may your journey to a better place be easy
may your sweet spirit find joy and peace
may you continue to know how much you are loved and cherished here
may you always feel our love all around you just as we will always feel your love around us
may you rest now in a beautiful place
and may you know that we will never ever forget your beautiful soul

i love you forever

Friday, August 15, 2008

Home from the Hospital

i apologize for the lack of communication. it has taken all the energy i have to be present for my family now, so postings have been few and far between. we came home from the hospital on tuesday after a few days. the doctors did blood work and took lots of tests. everything turned up fine other than dehydration and hydrocephalus, again.

once she was hydrated and the shunt was adjusted to allow the flow of cerebral spinal fluid, she perked up and was much better.

the past few days my mom has been doing pretty well. she is communicative, aware, and interactive. as always, she continues to eat three good-sized meals per day.she has a sparkle in her eyes and a beautiful smile.

because of all the various issues we have had, my mom is unable to walk now, and is having issues with her speech. we are hoping these will resolve with the change in pressure in her brain, but we are uncertain. there are so many unknowns. and, there is a likelihood that many of the symptoms she has are due to disease progression, and not shunt issues. the neurosurgeon and oncologist are concerned that disease has spread to the meninges (lining) of the brain, which is very hard to cure. they believe we have had so many problems with hydrocephalus because of disease and not because of the shunt. malignant cells can take on a viscous quality, becoming sticky and clogging the valve of the shunt.

all of these physical changes and new information from the doctors are very hard for me and bill, and particularly for my mom. she is normally such a healthy, vibrant, eloquent woman. as always, she continues to progress with dignity, equanimity and grace. it is truly remarkable to witness.

we are now at a point of transition. my mom is clearly working hard on making a decision about whether to stay here with us or to move on.

i am open to the possibility that she needs to make the decision to leave now and i am trying so hard to be ok with that. i also know that i want her to stay here with us with every cell in my being. i vacillate between acceptance of all the potentialities of what may be and a sadness of such profundity that it shakes me to my core.

please continue to send us your healing thoughts and prayers. and, today, i ask something else from you. join me in honoring my mom and her choice, whatever it may be. send her
love and light. give her the strength she needs to decide where she needs to be now, knowing that anything is possible. let her know how much you love her and how much her presence means to you. invite her to stay here with us. because this, too, is an option, and a choice she has.


may you continue to move with grace and ease.

may you be enrobed by all the many arms that are surrounding you with love and acceptance.

may you feel the love and healing light that emanates from us all and embraces you.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

in the hospital

just a quick note to tell you all that my mom is in the hospital here in santa fe. she was very dehydrated and the doctors discovered she had hydrocephalus again, as her ventricles aren't draining enough fluid. they changed the settings on the shunt yesterday and she is remarkably better today. she is in a very weakened state, sleeping a lot, just started eating again, and not really able to speak more than a word or two at a time. some of the doctors are concerned that there is disease in the meninges (lining) of her brain, which is not a good sign. we are hoping to go home tomorrow.

bill and i continue to hold hope and faith and an enormous amount of love. we are teetering on a precipice here. please send out as much love and healing energy towards my mom today and in the coming days as you can. she can feel it and it will help us get through this time.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Thursday, July 17, 2008

living in the moment

it feels as though my mom is making major progress and sometimes, the truth is, it feels like those changes aren't coming fast enough. all the practitioners who have worked with her have said they are seeing pretty significant changes in her vitality, cognition and life force. i think that when you're in it, it's hard to see those changes. i see glimpses of change. i know she wants to be here. she gets everything that is going on. i see the laura we all know and love. and those moments are so very precious to me.

i just got back to san francisco after being in santa fe for 4 weeks. it's both good and bad to be home. it's so hard to be away from my mom, because i feel like i am valuable to her now. but i am trying to keep my own life going, as well. we continue to do lots of work every day on healing. my mom does acupuncture 3x week, she is seeing an osteopath, bodyworkers, energy workers, she's drinking herbs, eating nutritious foods, doing physical therapy, trying to drink enough fluids each day. she has many visits from friends. her brain is working so hard. she is working so hard. and, she continues to do it all with grace and acceptance. we continue to work hard, as well. bill loves her so much and it is evident in his total commitment and devotion.

we'll plan to get another mri of the brain and spine in august and evaluate where we are at that time and whether there are any western treatments that make sense. i continue to do research on therapies and clinical trials, hoping that the right one will come along.

i'm learning so much in this experience. i'm learning that it's so important and so difficult not to have expectations of my mom. she is here. she's still my mom. she has wonderful moments. all of that is a gift. i'm learning that it is so difficult and so important to live in the present moment. i'm learning that it is hard and important to appreciate everything that our sweet lives have to offer each moment instead of always living in the future and the past and dwelling on what we don't have instead of what we do.

i know some of you have expressed concern that i am in denial or perhaps too optimistic. i am very much aware of all the possibilities we are facing here. i choose to hold hope and positivity as my guide. my friend carolyn said it well when speaking of her daughter, rosalie, who is going through a similar situation:

Just a note to those of us who see Rosalie and those of us who pray for Rosalie from a distance. Remember that Rosalie does not need our worries, our anxiety, our sadness about the situation. Rosalie needs encouragement, she needs optimism, she needs to feel like a normal child, she needs our inner belief that everything is going to be okay. Mark was listening to this segment on NPR about Jill bolte taylor who had a severe stroke. She made the most amazing recovery and she attributed it in part to a rule her mother made from the first day – if someone approached her hospital room in a slump, with a mopey expression, she turned them away at the door. She made a differentiation between energy givers and energy takers. Let us all be a community of energy givers to sweet Rosalie. She can do it, we can do it, and this cancer CAN be overcome.

my truth is that i'm hopeful and positive and i'm also terrified and sad. i know that if my mom is meant to be here, she will be healed. i hope and believe with every part of my being that this will be so. i also know that i can't make it be so. i can only do everything in my power and pray and hope and hold my mom in kindness, light and love at all times.

bill, my mom, and i started a virtual altar, of sorts over dinner one evening -- a place for our hopes and dreams of a possible outcome. if anyone has things to add, please do so in the comments section, or send them to me via email. here's what we've started:

Laura's list of lovely life likelihoods

- 982-8004 - that's my mom's work number. apparently they hold a business phone number for one year. so we're holding onto that number for july '09, in hopes of setting it up again.

- frida kahlo exhibit - there's a frida exhibit in san francisco that just opened and will be here until september 28. our goal is to see this exhibit together here in san francisco by the end of september.

- trips - oh the trips my mom and bill have taken and want to continue to take - animals in africa, food, wine and art in europe, camping, aspens and wildflowers
in colorado, grandkids in portland, beaches and yoga in the caribbean, moose in the mountains.

- and this last one, perhaps is more selfishly for me. i long for my mother to one day hold my own child and experience that with me. i hold that visual in my heart and in my soul.

we continue to work on climbing out of the ditch we've fallen in. and we're working hard to do so. i continue to pray and hope for healing, kindness, peace, and joy for my mom. please join me in hopes and prayers for healing and recovery.

i'll leave you with a beautiful quote that kass atkinson gave me last week from a very profound writer and teacher i have learned so much from.

Our true home is in the present moment. To live in the present moment is a miracle. The miracle is not to walk on water. Th miracle is to walk on the green Earth in the present moment, to appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now. Peace is all around us - in the world and in nature - and within us - in our bodies and in our spirits. Once we learn to touch this peace, we will be healed and transformed. It is not a matter of faith; it is a matter of practice.

- Thich Nhat Hanh

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

NOTHING is incurable

Hello everyone – Well, I finally decided to break down and create a blog. I think that on some level I hoped this journey would be so quick and painless that a few emails would suffice. Alas, seven months into the process and we still have miles to go.

I wanted to give everyone an update since I’ve been back in Santa Fe and we’ve been focusing on a new path to healing.

My company has been very understanding and agreed to let me come home and work remotely the past couple of weeks so I could help get things going here with my mom.

Since I’ve been here things have been moving in a good direction, although we seem to be moving with baby steps. My mom is eating a lot, her mentation is getting better, her face and eyes look clearer, and she is much stronger. Additionally her mind/body connection seems to be improving and we’re noticing that in various ways. Our goal right now is to build up her strength and vitality and get her synapses firing so that her body can rid itself of the cancer and her mind can heal.

Here’s what we’ve been doing:

we found an amazing acupuncturist through an old friend of our family who has had miraculous results in clearing supposedly untreatable cancer from his body since he started seeing her. Cissy is based in Ashville, NC, but has a house here so she spends time here every 5 weeks or so. She also has an apprentice here in santa fe who is quite a good acupuncturist in his own right. Bill and I have both felt extremely hopeful since we’ve started seeing Cissy. She actually treats cancer through Chinese medicine and herbs and feels strongly that this IS treatable.

Bodywork /Healers/ Energy Work
My mom’s neck and shoulders have been very sore due to bad posture and probably lack of regular movement. After all, she’s used to yoga 4x week and now she’s relatively sedentary. We do try to take walks almost every day. We’ve been seeing a few different bodyworkers , massage, cranio-sacral, osteopathy. We’ve also been working with a couple of different healers and energy workers.

But truly there’s nothing like the love and support from me and Bill, as well as from all my mom’s friends and family to help keep her going. The outpouring of love and support continues to be amazing. My email list is up to almost 300 people.

This time for me has been a blessing and also very hard. It’s very difficult to see my mom in a debilitated state. It’s also hard to see a smart intellectual woman whose brain isn’t functioning as she’d like it to be. And, it’s wonderful for me to spend so much one-on-one time with my mom. I know how much my being here helps her. That cord between a mother and daughter is so incredibly strong.

We continue to have small gifts and miracles each day. And I believe that none of them are coincidences. My mother’s biological mother died when she was only 3 years old from polio. My mom has always wanted to know more about that family. Yesterday, we received an email from someone we had never met, nor heard of before who introduced herself as a member of our extended family. She sent us a family tree with close to 40 names on it, including our own. She sent us the marriage certificate of my grandfather and grandmother, as well as the WWI draft papers of my great grandfather. My mom was interested to hear all about the various people on the family tree and any info I had received. . It’s linking the family and coming full circle at an important time.

My parents’ rabbi came over to visit last week and brought us a book by a rabbi from LA named Harld M. Schulweis. . After she left, I opened the book of poems randomly to a page. The poem on the page I opened to is entitled “On the Miracle of Recovery”. Here is the second half of that poem:

When illness threatens song and laughter,
Casting its shadow over our promise;
When inner turbulence, bleak and painful
Murders all hope;
When fear, gray, foreboding,
Contracts the surge of human spirit,
I pray:
Give me spine, heart, and wisdom.
Open my eyes to see wonder
Open my ears to hear sounds.
Inhale through my nostrils new fragrance.
Walk with my own feet.
Open my mouth with thanksgiving.
Witness to every natural moment
That raises me from melancholy to transcendence.
Blessed the godliness present in all things and ways
Blessed the fortune that has enabled me to live in the midst of family,
To reach this day in the presence of friends,
With the benedictions of community.
Blessed the hidden miracles I daily uncover,
The renewal that helps me lift the stone from frightened heart.
Blessed the remembrance of yesterday’s remission
and tomorrow’s promise.
Blessed the gifts we exchange with each other
Morning, noon, and night.

And so with that I pray…..

I pray for the miracle of recovery
I pray that we all gain wisdom from this time
I pray that my mom’s healing is gentle and kind
I pray that each day becomes a little easier
I pray that my mom may let go of what no longer serves her
I pray that the cancer cells fall away as easily and delicately as spring blossoms from the trees
I know that my mom’s brain and body know exactly what to do to heal.
And I also know
that NOTHING is incurable.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

with hope

after much time, i'm finally sending another update regarding my mom's condition. unfortunately, i'm not writing with the greatest news. this past wednesday we received some news we weren't expecting nor hoping for. in a recent test done, there were malignant cells found in my mom's cerebral spinal fluid. several ct scans have been done and there is no mass, only cells from what we can tell. here are some of the details:

the shunt
two weeks ago, after noticing a significant downturn in my mom's cognition and functioning, we saw a neuro-surgeon who discovered that she had hydrocephalus. essentially this means that her ventricles weren't draining cerebral spinal fluid properly. when cs fluid is always circulating and keeps the brain "floating". when it builds up and doesn't drain properly it causes pressure to build up in the brain, resulting in swelling. this is not uncommon after brain surgery and radiation. after discovering this news, which actually, we were glad to hear, because it gave us some possible explanation for the change in her function, the neuro-surgeon inserted a shunt. a shunt is basically a tube that acts as a drain through the ventricles. the hope was that this would relieve the pressure and relieve the symptoms.

our hope is that the recent downturn in my mom's functioning is due to the hydrocephalus, which is being relieved by the shunt, but the benefits may not have yet been realized. Sometimes the shunt does not relieve the symptoms. the alternative is that the cancer cells may be affecting the meninges, the lining of the brain, which can cause decline in function also. it's impossible to know which it is currently, and This can not be detected by scanning.

treatment options
we have a few treatment options but are waiting to see how the coming week unfolds. the choices are iv chemo, intrathecal (administering directly into the ventricles) chemo, clinical trials (although we haven't found any yet), doing nothing and letting things take their course, or alternative forms of medicine. none of these options preclude us from doing any others. unfortunately, it's not clear how much good chemo would do at this point. what is difficult for the doctors is that my mom's case is very rare. there are very few cases like hers and there is no documentation of treatment plans in medical journals to follow. so a lot of this is a guessing game. her oncologist, dr. ampuero, is talking with docs at md anderson and johns hopkins to see if they have any thoughts. i've been doing lots of research on many different kinds of alternative medicine and healers.

the ups
the past several days my mom has been doing MUCH better. she's up and about, she's much more present, and she's eating like a horse, perhaps due to my cooking :). and each day we've noticed a small positive change in her cognition on some level. and dr. ampuero reminded us - "hey, this is laura glicken we're talking about. she lived 12 years after metastatic advanced stage 3 ovarian cancer. this is no regular woman. she surprised us once and she can do it again."

all of this is heartbreaking for me. my mother is my lifeline and i can't imagine my world without her in it. although i know that everything the doctors are saying right now isn't great, i also know that my mom isn't a statistic. she's an amazing woman with an incredible life force and a light that surrounds her. here's what else i know. miracles happen. i don't know how or why or when they happen, but they do. we've all heard of them and some of us, perhaps, have witnessed them. they are sometimes spontaneous. they are sometimes created by the power of love and prayer. they are sometimes created by the power of healers that work on levels we don't really understand.

i know that my mom is a powerful, amazing woman. i know that prayer and positive thought can do incredible things for healing.

instead of asking you to join me in my prayer today, i'll just ask that you reach inside of your core. whether you pray or not, please focus your deepest positive healing energies towards my mom. surround her with healing light, love and positive energy.

my prayer is simple. may my mother be healed and may her journey towards healing be graceful and kind.