The Zone; One More Time Around

A2J Garden, 3 Blocks from The Zone.
A2J Garden, 3 Blocks from The Zone.

We’ve been rolling around this country for a few years now and Phoenix is one of our original stops. It’s a place that holds so much in terms of learning about faith and humility. Which I guess makes sense, seeing as it is the desert.

The first time we showed up Phoenix we had about $50 in our pocket, which we have found isn’t that unusual. But, two years ago when we were really just getting a taste of the nomadic life it was extremely worrisome. We still drift into the anxiety that comes when we are down to the last cent but we have always made it to the next stop and remembering that gives us faith.

That shift in perspective came the first time we visited the Zone. I’ve written about the Zone before but for those who are new to our travels, it’s a place similar to Skid Row. It is a place where physical, mental and spiritual afflictions really stand out because there are no pretenses to hide behind. It is where the rawness of humanity is found and where we are confronted with the core of our being. It is in this type of environment that texts like the ones found in Matthew or Luke make so much sense to us.

“You’re blessed when you’ve lost it all. God’s kingdom is there for the finding.
You’re blessed when you’re ravenously hungry. Then you’re ready for the Messianic meal. You’re blessed when the tears flow freely. Joy comes with the morning.”

And so, here we were a few visits later, down in the Zone with Dave, Amber and a few other from the A2J community. This time around there was a warm breeze and folks were in relatively good spirits. In fact, if you didn’t know the harsh reality of where we were you might think we were at an outdoor music festival. We gathered in a circle and played all sorts of old timey tunes, hymns and later a fella named Nick showed up and lead us all in a few Motown songs. I met a homeless woman named “Little Mar” who was about my age. She was clearly mentally ill, professing to be the Princess of Persia, as well as, one of the best crime stoppers on Americas Most Wanted. She had a strength about her, and although she was skittish, she had a generous in spirit.

"Little Mar" is sitting in the blue tank and hat, to my right.
“Little Mar” is sitting in the blue tank to my right.

As we sang “Tis So Sweet,” I began to watch her more closely. I tried to imagine what her childhood was like, did she have children, how did she get here, what did she do if she had to use the bathroom, what about when she was thirsty? I didn’t find any answers but I was in awe of her resilience and stamina to face the elements and oppression of a world that was whizzing around her at a frantic pace.

IMG_7397The added bonus was having so many other kinfolk there with us, sharing in song, listening, being present and bringing peace to a people who are constantly living in survival mode. The healing nature of the arts and music provided the space for creativity, unity and understanding.

We believe it is important to care for the widow, orphan and poor, but have learned that doesn’t always mean meeting physical needs. Sometimes, we need to go deeper and offer something of our selves. When we go to the Zone it isn’t because we feel superior or desire a pat on the back for serving the homeless. We go to the Zone to find ourselves, to look in the mirror and see that we are all made of the same mud. We go to the Zone to bring and receive healing.

And so, when that spirit of anxiety or striving tries to steal our joy we remember. We remember that day we sat and sang and shared in community with the Princess of Persia and her court.

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A Perspective On Healing; Part 4

You know the old saying, “You are what you eat.” Well, it appears that it’s a semi-true statement. It’s also true that food has been used for ages to heal patients of ailments and diseases that modern science can not seem to concur.

Hippocrates, found that all foods leave an ash residue after metabolism which is either alkaline or acidic, depending on the mineral composition of the food and the way in which individuals digest them.  If your diet is largely composed of meats, fish, cheeses, breads, white flour, white sugar, greasy take-away, chocolate, coffee, wine, beer and cigarettes (all acid-forming), you may suffer from acidic complaints. Things like Acne, cold hands and feet, Constipation, Diarrhea, dizziness, excess head mucus (stuffiness), Heartburn, joint pains that travel, Hyperactivity, irregular heartbeat, lack of sex drive, low energy, metallic taste in mouth, muscular pain, and panic attacks are some of the signs of over-acidity. More bothersome things like Asthma, Bacterial and Fungal infections, Bronchitis, Cold sores, Depression, Ear aches, Flu and Colds, Gastritis, Hay Fever, Insomnia, Migraine headaches, Psoriasis and Sinusitis are also symptoms of over-acidity. And, most seriously, Cancer (all forms), Crohn’s disease, Erythematosis, Hodgkin’s disease, Leukaemia, Multiple Sclerosis, Schizophrenia, Systemic Lupus, and Rheumatoid Arthritis are all linked to an over-acidic diet. So, the more acidic your foods digest the more infections, cancer and other diseases can take up residency in your body and in the end, the food you eat will be your demise.

80-20_Diet_mediumResearchers and authors alike, find that the ratio of 80% Alkaline-forming and 20% Acid-forming foods is the key to food therapy. The basic premise that Cancer can not grow in an Alkaline environment was convincing enough for me to take a look further. I think the evidence that wheat, sugar/high-fructose corn syrup and industrial seed oils are toxic to the body and contribute to virtually all modern, degenerative diseases – from diabetes and obesity to heart and autoimmune disease is solid. And, yet I am a skeptic. I am not interested in promoting some new fad or diet that is the same old, same old crap. I want to be healed. I want healing! I can’t explain how it feels to know that something is growing in my body that doesn’t have permission. It is infuriating and confusing. However, knowledge is power and as I learn more and more about food science, there are little battles being won. My hope is by seeking education and understanding in this matter and by being diligent and disciplined that what I put into my body will help to fight the terrorists who are trying to take my body captive. My hope is that by relaying this information, you will also be inspired to look deeper into the God-given resources that are available, that you will feel empowered to fight the good fight.

But, what does that mean? How does it work?

Here is what I’m learning at the moment.

Balance is important. My daily food intake consists of 80% alkaline forming (mostly fruit and vegetables), while 20% can be acid-forming (protein and starch). They can be eaten at different meals, so if I eat meats (acid-forming) as a meal, I must have alkaline-forming foods for the rest of the day. If I have a day of too much acid-forming food, I can balance up by eating 90-100% alkaline-forming foods for a few days to restore alkalinity.

acid-alkaline-food-chart1I started by eliminating 20% unhealthiest foods in my diet including processed foods, white sugar, flour, dairy and meat. I kept a food journal for 1-2 weeks as well as making a mental note of how foods make me feel. Then, using a 80/20 food chart, I began to craft a menu that would incorporate the foods my body needed to create a non-inviting environment for the cancer. I’m still working on that, and have learnt to be patient. Changes can only happen at my body’s organic pace. I’ve also learned to be patient with others. This is new to me and my ability to communicate effectively what I can and can’t eat has been cumbersome and awkward. But, folks are generally accommodating and the more I understand the smoother the communication is becoming.

I’ve also learned that rest and sleep are alkalizers.  Emotions also play into our bodies PH levels. So, my focus is on taking pleasure in the little things, laughter, good conversations, love while eliminating fear, worry, anger, gossip, and envy.

So what foods do I eat?

In the morning I make a smoothy packed with some or all of these alkalizing foods, Mango, watermelon, lemon, kiwi, pineapple, cayenne pepper, ginger, cinnamon, raw spinach, raw kale, 1 tbs coconut oil, avocado, and almond milk.

For lunch I usually eat a salad with lots of greens, asparagus, red onion, bell pepper, beets, radish, cucumbers, etc…

This is a concoction that I made up. It’s light and refreshing and 90/10, so gives me reserve for the evening meal.

IMG_0106-525x350_thumbSweet Potato, Fennel Wraps
Serves 4
 
4 Spelt flour wraps (can also use flat bread made with cornmeal, rice or amaranth flour)
1 Tbs Coconut Oil
Sweet Potato, peeled and thinly sliced 
Fresh Fennel, washed and thinly sliced
Red Onion, thinly sliced
Avocado, cored and sliced
Red Cabbage, thinly sliced
Rocket (Arugula) 
Cayenne pepper/Pink Himalayan Salt (To taste)
 
In a small frying pan, heat oil. Add Sweet Potato and Fennel. Salt and pepper to taste, Sauté for 3-5 min until slightly soft and remove from heat. Let cool. 
Line each wrap with all of the fresh ingredients, add sautéed veggie’s and fold. 
Enjoy with a fresh fruit salad or a quinoa salad. (Or enjoy without the wrap as a salad.) 
 

If I have been mostly alkaline all day, I might include a piece of fish or glass of red wine in my evening meal.

I use a number of resources online to look up food items to see where they sit on the Ph scale. I have found that in my baking I can compromise with coconut sugar or maple syrup, and coconut oil has become my go to in all cooking or baking. Besides the benefit of being on the alkalinizing side of the Ph scale, it is also the only oil that actually helps  to lose belly fat. I am experimenting with different gluten-free flours, and really like Pamela’s artisan flour which includes a mixture of Brown Rice Flour, Tapioca Starch, White Rice Flour, Potato Starch, Sorghum Flour, Arrowroot Starch, Sweet Rice Flour, Guar Gum.

One of my favorite blogs on the subject is by The Alkaline Sisters, they have recipes and more ideas. Check them out at: http://www.alkalinesisters.com/sisters-blog/

When the motivation is to “stay alive” it changes your perspective on diet. I’m not interested in promoting some fad diet or having political debates about food, I just want to live, and live well!

So, if I’m coming to your house for dinner, don’t fret. I’m not a food fascist and won’t be judging what you put on the table. I’ll eat what I can with a grateful heart, and trust that if you are ever in a situation where something foreign tries to take your joy, you’ll already have a life line and a friend in me.

8020ChartFrontlg

To read the whole story from start to finish click here.

Perspective on Healing; Part 1 

Perspective on Healing; Part 2

Perspective on Healing; Part 3

A Perspective on Healing Part 3

Cancer In the human experience, story is of the utmost importance. It is nearly impossible to tell our stories without the intertwining of others stories within our own. That is the beauty of it all. That is the beauty of my story with cancer. It’s a story that includes conversations with God, with medical professionals, and with anyone who would listen. And, eventually lead to an introduction to Debbie, a cancer survivor and warrior. Her story is now my story.

*Please note that this entry has some graphic images. So don’t read further if you have a queasy stomach.

I am three weeks into the healing process and this is my practical experience with the Black Salve. I started with a small area near my eye. It had been flaking/itching for about three months. Based on the 5000 photos on google images and WebMD descriptions of different types of cancer, my educated guess is that this one was Squamous Cell Carcinoma. This non-melanoma skin cancer may appear as a firm red nodule, a scaly growth that bleeds or develops a crust, or a sore that doesn’t heal. It most often occurs on the nose, forehead, ears, lower lip, hands, and other sun-exposed areas of the body. Squamous cell carcinoma is curable if caught and treated early.

During my first 48 hours of treatment my body responded with aggression as the white blood cells began to fight. I was immediately exhausted and it took me about three days to be functioning at 80%. I had a slight head ache above my right eye during the whole process.

I was vigilant about my eating habits, trying to alkaline my body’s PH by eliminating meat, dairy, wheat and refined sugars. I took immune building supplements, made smoothies with mango, kale, banana, raspberry, lemon, lime, ginger and almond milk. I ate lots of greens, used an ionizer in my liquids and took chlorophyl drops. Every morning and evening I would clean my escher with peroxide and dab it with vitamin E oil before covering with a band-aid. The total process took two weeks. Based on the size of the Escher it was most likely pre-cancerous.

After my first round, I decided to attack a spot on my nose. It arrived six months prior and at first, seemed like a blemish. I tried to pop it but instead of a pimple coming out, blood appeared. It never really healed over and continued to itch and bleed.

Based on my research and educated guess this one was stage one, Basal cell carcinoma. This is the most common and easiest-to-treat skin cancer. Basal cell tumors can take on many forms, including a pearly white or waxy bump, often with visible blood vessels, on the ears, neck, or face. Tumors can also appear as a flat, scaly, flesh-colored or brown patch on the back or chest, or more rarely, a white, waxy scar. The stage is based on the size of the tumor, how deeply into the skin it has grown, and whether cancer has spread beyond the tumor to the lymph nodes. In stage one, the tumor is 2 centimeters wide or smaller. It may have spread into the dermis but has not invaded the muscle, cartilage, or bone and has not spread to lymph nodes or other organs.

I only felt tired the first day with this one. The process moved much faster, taking a week from start to finish. I did not have pain or headaches, only slight swelling at the beginning and itching near the end of the process.

Also note; there is a sore near my eye that also arrived about six months ago. During this process it began to respond to what was happening on my nose and it started to shrink. I will more than likely treat that spot next. Just going to wait until after the Holidays and all of the Christmas photos. 🙂

A Perspective on Healing Part 2

delicate_bloodroot-normalI had the pleasure of meeting a hero and a life giver two weeks ago. Debbie, a suburban mother, wife, Saint and business owner, welcomed our family into her home. After a lovely meal, Debbie began to share her journey fighting stage four melanoma near her left temple. My ears perked because I was diagnosed two years ago just before we left in our bus. Those spots have been taken care of but new spots are appearing as of six months ago.

Debbie shared how she had a biopsy that showed the severity of her situation. A feeling of panic set in as her results were read by her doctor. She was going to have to have a major surgery that would probably include a reconstruction of her face.  However, the doctor was not available for surgery for five weeks. Distraught, Debbie began to pray, research and look for other options. She said that God and her research lead her to a natural healing site where she learned about how food affects the healing process and there she also discovered “Black Salve.”

blacktopsalveBlack Salve is a herbal based product, featuring two principal herbs that are said historically to have pharmacologically demonstrated anti-cancer properties, Blood Root and Chaparral. Recent versions of Black Salve include Galangal root or Ginger root, and sometimes Graviola leaf. She dug more and found forums from around the globe with stories from folks who had success with the salve and other natural remedies. She decided to try it and over the course of five treatments and six months, she was healed. She was a cancer free and a survivor.

I wanted to hear more but I will admit that while she was telling her story there was a range of emotions going on inside of me, from excitement to skepticism. I mean, I’m a pretty open person when it comes to health care. I understand how our system is set up and am happy to use it to my advantage. However, I also have experienced the limitations  of that system and have been know to venture into homeopathic ideologies.

Hope began to fill my whole being as Debbie shared the details and my mind was being blown away by the simplicity of it all. She said that she began by alkalizing her body. Cancer can not grow in an alkaline environment. Typically our Western diet leans towards the acidic side of the PH scale. And so, Debbie removed meat, dairy, refined sugar and wheat from her diet. (You can find all sorts of information about Alkaline foods on-line)

Then Debbie researched the different formulas of Black Salve that are currently on the market. She also spoke with naturalpathic doctors and survivors from around the world on the web forums and found Alpha Omega Labs, which ultimatley lead her to the purest and most trusted formula.

Once it arrived she took a small pea size amount and placed it on the spot where the cancer had manifest. She covered it with a bandage for twenty four hours. After the time lapse she then cleaned the salve off of the spot, continuing to clean the spot twice a day with hydrogen peroxide, then vitamin E oil, keeping it covered and protected.

But, how does it work? I asked. She said that the Black Salve has been classified chemically as an “escharotic”, which literally means, it creates an “eschar” (a piece of dead tissue). In cases of skin cancer treatment using the Black Salve, the belief is that the eschar is the dead tumor. After treatment, the eschar is expelled by the body. (usually within 5 – 20 days even if the tumor is quite deep).  In layman’s terms the salve exposes the cancer and the bodies immune system kicks into high gear. The white blood cells rally and begin to move the foreign object out of the body. The body marches that cancer right up and out of the spot that the salve once sat. Eventually the escher falls off and the skin heals over beautifully.

I listened in awe as Debbie shared about her first round of treatment. It lasted about a month, she said. It was a pretty painful process as her cancer was so far along. She experienced headaches, a pulling feeling and was exhausted but had excellent resources and support from her husband and children.

Debbie’s first escher was the size of a dime.  She was then told to look for a white spot, which would signifiy that the cancer had a root and she needed to re-apply. She ended up having four rounds before she no longer saw a white root. It was 6 months of healing but in the end, she said it was worth it. With minimal scaring Debbie is now cancer free. Her story is inspiring and has had tangible, life changing effects on any who will listen.

I went home that evening with hope and a little container of Black Salve. I’m three weeks into my process of healing and plan on sharing the details of my journey in Part Three… Stay tuned. 

1185235_317813568364976_686088215_n*Debbie generously allowed me to share this with you all and when I asked her to read over it to make sure it was all kosher she responded, “I believe you got it all correct Jana! Wow… You retold my story pretty darn well! Funny to read this just now as I am leaving my store for the day & just spent an hour sharing my story with a gal who came into my shop. She was so excited to try it as her Mom died of cancer & she has concerning sun spots/pre-cancer. We ended up hugging & exchanging phone numbers and talking about how AWESOME God is when he gives us trials & survivals to share with others on ALL kinds of topics! We are one body at the end of the day~ we are called to unite in truth & share our journeys with one another! Your journey of band, bus & believing for better has touched so many- including me! All Glory to God for allowing our paths to cross!!!”

A Perspective on Healing Part 1

Healing MedicineWhen it comes to our health, there is an ebb and flow between managing and healing.

Ultimately, the day we are born we begin to die and so the idea of managing that process is appealing. However, when debilitating disease or life threatening accidents happen we begin to not just pursue managing but we fervently seek healing. We want to live!

Around the world different people groups and cultures have valued both but have not always had a balance.  Our Western Medicine culture tips heavy towards the managing side. In Western Medicine there is more of  an emphasis on expertise, counting on professionals, science labs and pharmaceutical companies to create ways to manage issues and prolong our health. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing but systemically in the United States our medical ethos is driven by the almighty dollar and doesn’t always have our best interest at hand. It is precipitated by the consumer’s demand for the healing process to move quickly; even if it is not natural, even if it may have side effects and have repercussions down the line.

For instance, if one were to experience a common inner ear infection, the prescription would most likely be suspension (synthetic) drops and possibly antibiotics. Those resources can only be had by going to a doctor to diagnose the ear infection and write the prescription out for the patient. Three things happen here, one because we have to go to an expert to get a diagnose, we enter the system and essentially say we are not qualified to take ownership of our healthcare. Two, because it is the accepted practice, if one doesn’t go to a doctor for a diagnosis there is less credibility and those around the one suffering may have less empathy. Basically, having the doctor affirm your diagnoses give it credibility. And, third, because we’ve put so much trust in the system, we don’t question the prescription. Or, if we do, it’s really only to know what to prepare for once we take it. (i.e.. dizziness, nausea, etc…)

But, what if one were to opt out? Swim upstream? What if we were to look a the relationship between natural resources that the earth has to offer and our bodies God-given ability to heal? What if we were to even go as far as to seek supernatural healing?

Chances are those who are die-hard Western Medicine supporters would view this exploration unfavorably. They would label these free thinkers as homeopathic freaks or fruit loops living off the grid, new agers, rebellious, trouble makers, leftists, outcasts but really at the heart of it they would be viewed as irresponsible. And responsibility is a big deal in a society that defines it as “following the rules, not questioning authority and duty.”

However, there is a rising up of well-rounded, intelligent, responsible, citizens who are finding the current system out of balance and seeking other resources.  I had the pleasure of meeting one of those citizens two weeks ago. Debbie, a suburban mother, wife and business owner, welcomed our family into her home. After a lovely meal, Debbie began to share her journey fighting stage four melanoma near her left temple. She shared how the Lord lead her to an alternative option. My ears perked because I was diagnosed two years ago before we left in our bus. Those spots have been removed but a few new spots showed up about six months ago.

I have had all sorts of input about what and how I should be caring for myself from reliable resource, folks who love me and are concerned for my health. 95% of the folks have a panicked and demanding tone in their advice to “Go Get It Checked Out.”  However, we have no formal insurance, so I can’t play the game exactly the way most people do. I have to find creative ways to work within the system on a limited cash basis. Because of the fact, I’m a bit more hands on and picky with my health care and the care of my family.  And needless to say, two years ago when I went to the dermatologist I wasn’t won over by his expertise or charm.

healing_1So, over the past six months I, along with my family, have been praying for supernatural healing and we’ve been sharing our need for healing and provision with anyone who will listen. Open to going the modern medical route but waiting for the right connection, for the right referral. Waiting is hard, but we have learned that God hears. I just never guessed it would come the way it did.

Here’s the thing though, as a person of faith and having experienced God’s faithfulness to the fullest, it makes total sense. At the end of the day, this meeting with Debbie was one more reminder that God went for the jugular when he sent his own son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. My body will surely die, one day. But until then any healing that happens in my life, physically, emotionally or spiritually is purely a reflection of what Jesus did when he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all.

There is much more to cover and I will write a Part 2, offering all of the details about Debbie’s story and how it is interwoven with mine. In Part 3 I will share the tangible process that I’ve been going through to fight my skin cancer. Part 4 I try to understand nutritional therapy and Part 5  I chronicle the emotional toll that the healing process takes.

Thank you for reading, and for your continued prayers and well wishes.