A Kindred Spirit So How Do I Help?

Kindred SpiritsJean Di Carlo-Wagner, Owner, Yoga Being Only Online Advanced Yoga Training For Cancer Survivors

“I been in a *German hospital for four days with a GI bleed,” said a rather pale man sitting next to me in the international airport to whoever was on the other end of his dying cell phone. “I thought I was better, but I’m still bleeding.”  My sandwich suspended midair, I contemplated what words to introduce myself. This is regular type of occurrence for me; since becoming a colorectal survivor and devoting my life to serving others. My prayer sent up, I began, “Excuse me, I didn’t mean to eavesdrop on your conversation, but I am an 11 year colon cancer survivor, on my way to Washington, D.C. to advocate for funding and prevention of gastrointestinal cancers. My name is Jean. “  *Dan told me that he lived abroad and had had a CT and colonoscopy in Germany; but nothing was found. A mysterious G.I. bleed can be fatal. We talked like old veterans comparing war wounds. He decided to get further testing in the States.

Believing that one’s dharma is supported by the Universe makes these encounters with people “normal” for me. Dan and I exchanged emails and I’ve been keeping up with his testing. Asking my network of “experts” what they would suggest and then writing detailed emails outlining the types of tests to request and how to be a ‘pain in the ass’ patient.  We must advocate for ourselves and educate others.  As I sat taking notes at the Digestive Diseases National Coalition advocates training the next day, I thought of Dan and the many others in his situation. It is part of what makes me keep fighting for prevention, awareness and funding.

Eleven experts in the field of digestive diseases spoke to us about the progress, problems, and the promises of research. New medication is making its way to market and networking. When you combine all the diseases of the digestive track, from mouth to anus, you have a total of cancers and diseases that outweighs any single part of the body’s cancers.  There is power in integrating the digestive track diseases into a coalition of advocates: the sum is greater than its parts. The main points that stick with me are 1) that it takes so long to become an expert in biomedical research, which effects all cancer advances. We have few young doctors choosing  to wait until 44 (the average age of the doctors getting  NIH grants) to get acknowledged in their field. This means the future is already compromised.  We should all be worried about this building gap in biomedical research. Of course in the meantime, 2) medical trials are expensive, labor intensive and burdened with government paperwork. This slow down means that new medicines are taking a very long to reach consumers. We all know how expensive new drugs are and there is legislation to expedite the process.  And, most critically, the reduction in the National Institute of Health’s budget for all medical research, in “real dollars” (those adjusted for inflation) means that the money  available is crucially important to increase this year, or we will fall further behind in all medical research.

After a full day of state-of-the-art training by the DDNC, the 50 patient advocates were pumped and primed for hitting the halls of the Senate and House of Representatives.  That’s when we heard that “due to snow” the government would be closed the following day. Our advocacy day was a bust.  Since when are snow days called the day before? Erika Hanson Brown, Mayor of COLONTOWN and I, and fifteen others, braved the snow and showed up, anyway.  I had flown across the country to speak my mind, and someone was going to hear me! I had Dan on my mind and five friends who have died from this scourge of a disease called cancer.  I was determined.

Stuffing gluten free brownies into my knapsack as rewards, I walked the Halls of Congress looking for an opened door. I found that South Dakota’s office was opened. I walked in and two of the nicest young woman listened to me rattle on about why I had come to D.C. and what we needed their Senator to support. Then I asked a question I always ask, ”Do you or anyone in your family have inflammatory bowel disease?”  I want to personalize the reason for the legislation, and in this case, one of the young ladies said she had Celiac disease.  “Yes,” I told her, “you have to have a colonoscopy at age 40.”   She looked stunned, but now she was informed. I had done one good thing.  It’s my minimum quota for the effort I put into advocating:  just help one person.

Ironically, California offices were opened, but they canceled all their meetings.  It was particularly disappointing to me that my own State would have its offices opened and still cancel all their meetings. Believe me, that’s another editorial that I will write.

I was able to advocate for integrative and alternative medical treatment.  While Dan and I were on the plane to D.C., he asked me about my work in the area of yoga and meditation for cancer patients.  I told him that he could change in his life in 20 minutes a day of a meditative practice, and gave him a magazine I had been reading encouraging all things meditative. While in New Jersey, I met with the founder of a nonprofit that offers yoga to cancer patients, at risk kids and soldiers with PTSD.  Kula for Yoga is a program in the Northeast, and serving underprivileged populations around my home town.  Their commitment to serving was just what I needed to get past the blow of not being able to advocate as I had planned in D.C.

Just today, *Dan texted me that he was on his way back to Germany with few answers. The possible answer for the bleed is that he had been using high doses of NSAID drugs for two years.  These have real risks and anyone taking them regularly should consider having blood and liver panel tests to see about their clotting time and their liver function.  For now, *Dan says that it is one BM at a time! Gotta have humor. Gotta have drive! Gotta have yoga and meditation to survive!

Jean Di Carlo-Wagner
Owner, Yoga Being
Only Online Advanced Yoga Training
For Cancer Survivors

Jean Di Carlo WagnerAbout Jean Di Carlo Wagner: Owner of Yogabeing.net
E-RYT200, E-RYT500 certified with Yoga Alliance
Yoga Therapist with International Alliance of Yoga Therapists
Atma Yoga Teacher Training, certified 500 hours Los Angeles
A Gentle Way Yoga, certified 200 hours
Silver Age Yoga, certified 200 hours

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