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A Day in the Life: A visit to the Oncologist by Debbie Young

Today we're going to give the WLIR stage to one of our favorite bloggers, Mrs. Debbie Young.

Debbie is a 49 year old work-at-home mom to 3 kids, a freelance journalist, and a full time online community organizer. In April 2007 Debbie was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphoctytic Leukemia, a chronic form of Leukemia tracked by the rise in the white blood cell count.

When Debbie first got sent to the oncologist, her count was 14,000 (normal is less than 10K) then the count quickly went to 17,000 and hit a high of 29,000 just seven months ago. Four months ago, after the successful implementation of a raw food diet, it fell to 16,000.

Debbie blogs regularly at debbiedoesraw.blogspot.com and today she's joining us here on WLIR to 1) talk about what a day in the life of a visit to an oncologist looks like and 2) share some more great news about her white blood cell count.

A Day in the Life: A Visit to the Oncologist

Today was my check up with my oncologist, routine but really, is there anything routine about going to the oncologist? I always try and prepare myself, sort of make a plan of how it will go, how I will act with the Dr and the nurse, trying all the while to stop staring at the enormous elephant in the living room that is my white blood cell count. I have CLL, also known as chronic lymphoctytic leukemia. In an attempt to heal myself and achieve optimum health, for the last 8 months I have been a raw vegan, cutting out all dairy, meat, processed food and refined sugars out of my diet.

When I was diagnosed, I had no symptoms other than a white blood count of 14,000 (normal is 4-10K), that rose to a height of 29,000 7 months ago. Four months ago, it fell to 16,000, less then when I had my harrowing encounter with a giant needle to get a bone marrow biopsy on April 4th 2007. I drink green juice daily, love my green smoothies, eat tons of veggies, some fruit, lots of almonds, hemp seed, spirulina and a few food based supplements. So the litmus test of my lifestyle is the onc visit and blood test.

Here is how I roll:

I woke up at 5:45am, decided that is as good a time as any to get up, I don't use an alarm. Dry Brush my bod and face all over, brush my teeth, do the morning ritual. Wanted to meditate with Rodney Yee, but Sam is sleeping on the couch in the room I use,so I head downstairs and outside. A cool breeze is moving around and the swing beckons.


Make a quick cupa pomegranate green tea , consult with Dali Lama's entry for July 2nd:


'....there is an Indian saying: if you are struck by a poisonous arrow,it is important first to pull it out. There is no time to ask who shot it, what sort of poison it is and so on....similarly, when we encounter human suffering, it is important to respond with compassion rather than question the politics of those we help.' Or question ourselves too much, I am tempted to add.


Malcolm the Wonder Dog

Get boy wonder Malcolm and cross the wet grass to sit zazen on the swinging bench, apropos no? Once there, make the intention to slow down my breath, work on gratitude a bit, then move on to forgiveness, which gets easier and easier every day. Take a minute to think of all the blessing that I have in my life and how I want this appointment to go. I also think that for a moment my Mom might actually have come back as my dog but cross that off as not really probable.

My Life Line aka my email inbox
Time to check email, update my Crazy Sexy Life folks, thank everyone for pulling and praying for me, I can actually feel the love coming out of my computer! Go to my favorite raw food blogs, check out WLIR, GI2MR,  leave some comments, spread some love around the joint.

Morning crazies ensue, then the doorbell rings, postman brings a special delivery from Leenda, filled with love and laughter, incense, a bike horn, a beautiful necklace that I don immediately, it says "Live Light" perfect, just what I needed.


The Box of Love from Lovely Leenda:)

Time to juice green, get that plant blood in the old bloodstream.


The Magic Maker: My Omega Juicer


My Daily Prescription

I gather my ammo: aka reading Material, currently loving David Sedaris 'When You Are Engulfed in Flames." Makes me laugh every page, love him and his crazy life.

Double your pleasure, double your fun bike


Get my helmet, get Sam on the double bike for the ride to summer school and we are off, flying on 3 wheels.Ride home, park that one, take a quick shower cause I don't want the Dr. to think I smell bad (what is that all about, very third grade of me isn't it?)


Choose Your Wardrobe Carefully When Discussing Cancer


Ready to Face the Music ie: Get my Butt on the Bike and see the Dr.

I hop on my bike and get my butt over to the office. I feel free when I ride, like a teenager again, jumping curbs, cutting corners, just plain having fun.


I sign in, sit and ................ wait............................ and then have an insurance issue, clear it up, pay copay and ......................... wait some more .............. trying to read, aware that I look like a crazy bag lady with my backpack, helmet, bike bag, camera, all fumbling all over ........... and I read David Sedaris, he is trying to quit smoking in Japan ........... can't focus............. waiting.............. wait impatiently, consider taking a picture of the waiting room but honor the privacy of the innocent bystanders ............. and finally my name is called. I joke with the nurse that my blood pressure might be high after this, waiting 45 minutes to get to see her. Weight: 126 (same as when I was 16), BP 110/70, pulse 72, temp. 96, mind: calming down and getting ready to ..................... wait....................... this time in the room.

My Dr arrives, asks if there are changes. I say I feel great, I rode my bike over here, like perhaps he thinks that my helmet is just a rouse, a cunning way to fool him into declaring me healthy.


The Paper Covered Poking Table: Not as Fun as it Sounds....

He pokes my lymph nodes, lays me down and checks my liver and spleen, then asks if my watch is a heart monitor... and he is smiling.. I like when he does that because he usually simply does not have time for such frivolity. I say no but he insists that it looks like one and leaves me there to stare at the walls where I find this comforting poster:


All You Never Wanted to Know About Breast Cancer

Yes, it is a detailed poster all about what breast cancer looks like, how it grows and look, you can even 'ask your doctor for the DVD." Now that would really change movie night at our house.

Veronica The Professional Vampire


Veronica shows up to suck, I mean, take my blood and we have a lively conversation about the nurses, leading to a discussion on why nurses wear white, turning to a explanation of why I wore all white in beauty school, because you can bleach the stains out and remain clean and pristine looking. The entire time she is sticking a needle in my arm and my blood is flowing into a small vial and I cannot help but picture nurses bleaching bloodstains out of their uniforms. Veronica is very good today and I don't pass out, I am such a wuss when it comes to blood. She looks like we are going to have a sleep-over huh, maybe on the paper covered table, but no, that pillow is for my arm with the microscopic veins. She leaves, I ............. wait............. then she glides by and sticks my chart in the door. It's like Christmas, I know I should not look, not open the package and what if I hate it? Can I return it, like a lumpy sweater that doesn't fit? I decide that I should wait for the Dr to read it to me, delay the inevitable result a bit longer.. I don't do patient very well but this is where meditation really pays off.


The Ancient Chinese Secret

I try staring at this but remain in the dark as to just what the fuck it says. I hope it says" Come here for a few visits and your Canser will be gone, No Lie!" But I suppose it says something like "Doctors are People too" Or "Hang in There" sans the clinging by its claws kitten.. I sit, I wait...............


My Arm with a Tiny Hole in It


Me Pretending to Wait Patiently


My Chart Patiently Waiting for the Dr to Read it...

And then he is there, and he is grabbing my chart oh so cleverly says "Your white blood count is 14,000..." and I do a really asinine move, throw my fist in the air and say "Yes!" like some pro bowler who just threw a strike. I ask him some dumb question which he dismisses. He once again reminds me that my prognosis is good, (this is the same guy who told me I had 7 -10 years isn't it?) Then in a very nontraditional move he says "Keep biking, see you in four months." and he's gone. I am elated, ready to email and text everyone I know, so very excited that the ride home seems to take place in zero gravity somehow.

[Note: Dhrumil here]

Just to put things in context, I wanted to paste a email Deb sent her friends and family a week ago:

I want to share my excellent blood test result today! the illness I have,  CLL, is a chronic form of leukemia, tracked by the rise in the white blood cell count.

When I first got sent to the oncologist, it was 14K (normal is less than 10K), then quickly went to 17k and hit a high of 29K just seven months ago. 4 months ago it fell to 16k.

Today it was 14K once again, I am so very excited by this and my oncologist even smiled too.. that does not always happen with him! My commitment to a raw food diet and healing lifestyle seems to be working. I will continue on this path.

Fantastic news Debbie! You are a true inspiration to so many.

Want to see how Debbie spent the rest of her day? Check out the continuation of this post here.