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I had a mammogram in early January, a 2nd mammogram a week later, a biopsy in early February. I got a call from the Dr. on Feb 13th with the news that I have breast cancer. Last week we did a bunch of testing to figure out what was really going on. On Friday afternoon, Feb 28th, I got a call from my Dr. at Dartmouth with the MRI results - it showed that there is cancer in my lymph nodes and it has spread to my chest bone and probably lungs. I have stage 4 breast cancer; it has metastasized, or spread beyond the breast. They want a CT-PET scan to figure out where the cancer is exactly. The Dr. told me that 10 years ago it wouldn't have been treatable, but with new medicine there is a chance. They want to start chemo within a couple of weeks and the Dr. said that I would be on some meds for the rest of my life.
The first two weeks after the initial diagnosis I spent at first in shock, grieving, etc, as you can imagine. And then with each day my brain, heart and body became better adjusted to this new reality. I began to shift my orientation to this diagnosis to one of an important transformation in my life, a time for healing, a time for learning about myself, and receiving beautiful gifts like humility, equanimity, flexibility, and expansive love. I decided to take a break from work and volunteering and have passed off all of my tasks, contracts, books, committees, etc. Everyone has been so supportive of this decision.
For the first two weeks of the diagnosis I had been doing a bunch of research and information gathering about breast cancer treatments and felt torn about whether to go a natural route or to integrate wholistic healing with western medicine. And then all of a sudden it was as clear as a bell what I needed to do. I decided to focus all of my energy on healing. I cancelled all plans. I spent all time at home, expending as little physical energy as possible, meditating/praying, focusing on an anti-cancer diet, along with anti-cancer herbs and minerals, doing things that make me happy (like watching birds and hanging out with my kids), being with the people who are closest to me, continuing to see the therapists and healers who had been so helpful for me, transforming energies of anger, fear, guilt, and grief that have built up in me, receiving all the gifts that people have for me, and receiving guidance from spirit (love, Great Spirit, God, god, Buddha, universal energy, allah, one). I decided not to do chemotherapy, unless I got a clear message to do so. I continued researching more about my options for wholistic healing. I believe in healing and by choosing this path I am aligning myself for true healing. I heard from many people who have healed themselves from cancer through alternative methods. This path is not about whether this current Angela body lives or dies, it is about healing. I choose healing.
(Updated in April) If you've read through updates that I've posted since this journey began in February, you already know that there have been many twists and turns. I found an incredible practitioner of Chinese medicine, Jason Miller, who works specifically in oncology and has a focus on integrating with western medicine. I worked with him for a few weeks, beginning herbal and supportive therapies. After a few weeks my symptoms worsened to the point that it became evident that my option for survival was to begin chemotherapy. He made this clear to me on a Monday, and by Friday I had all of the appointments in place to begin chemo treatment the following Monday in my local hospital with an incredible team of nurses and Drs. who agreed to work with Dr. Miller on our integrative therapy plan. Chemo started on April 10th and will continue through July. When able, I continue to use the therapies from Dr. Miller. It has all been very intense and beautiful and I feel so lucky to be working with such incredible practitioners. You can read through my journal updates to learn more.
I feel unable to process other people's emotions about my cancer journey - I have enough to process myself! So I ask that you turn to someone else to process your emotions and then when you are ready, reach out to me with calm, confident, loving, healing vibes. If you do need someone to process with, Abi Healey, who is supporting me through this and has a lot of the info and knows me very well, has offered to process with people. You can reach her at email@example.com Many people have already reached out to her and she is happy to play this role. It has really helped me in being able to receive people's well wishes after they have already processed some of their grief and questions.
Richard has been absolutely amazing throughout this process and I know he is the super solid support I need during this time. The kids are doing ok (they know about the breast cancer but not the stage 4 diagnosis, we've chosen to not tell them), giving me extra hugs and being extra kind to me. Our goal was to keep their lives as normal as possible during this time, but then covid-19 happened and that was all out the window. They have still managed to do amazingly well, in spite of all the intense challenges.
I need all of your support, physical, emotional, and spiritual, on this path. We've tried to include many ways to support on this site - daily support with cooking and cleaning, providing meals, and other ways to support by providing gift cards. We update the site frequently as we figure out what works and what doesn't, especially given the challenges of covid-19.
Here are 4 top ways that people anywhere can contribute to my healing:
- Pray, meditate, sending healing vibes - I've already heard that there are Baptist/Episcopal/Presbyterian/Catholic/Quaker prayer circles around the country who are praying for me... keep it coming!
- If there is something that you know you need to do for your own healing (physical, emotional, spiritual), but haven't taken the time, energy, or resources to do it, now would be the time. Your healing is an offering to my healing process. Our healing is connected. (I really appreciate when you share with me what you are doing, it makes me really happy.)
- I love feathers, shells, beads and would like to hang them from my ceiling (cause I'll likely be doing a lot of looking at the ceiling for while) - send one along so I can have your love in my space.
- Letters of support with poems, memories of times we've had, things you love/appreciate about me would make me so happy! Send to 78 Main St. Putney, VT 05346
We've also decided to make our venmo (@Angela-Berkfield) and paypal (paypal.me/berkfield (http://paypal.me/berkfield
)) accounts available for you to make a money gift to help cover all of the extra expenses during this time (alternative therapies, supplements, therapy, bodywork). A tremendous thank you to family that has offered to cover any costs that are incurred through Dr. and hospital visits and to friends who have offered to forgive our debts.
Thanks for all of your genuine offers to support me and my family through this process. It means so much! Your prayers, meditations, song, drumming, candle lighting, good vibes, letters/emails/texts of love, are all super appreciated.
With much love,