Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Terry Becomes a Gerson Person!

Hethyr:  (1/25/12)  Hello, wonderful readers!  Wow, has it been a whirlwind couple of weeks for my family and me!  I know some of you personally and you may be sick of hearing from me after the past week-and-a-half, but I’ve just got to share the amazing story of what has transpired over the past ten or so days with all of our readers.  This is bound to be a pretty long post, so grab a cup of tea and a snack and settle in for an inspiring read.

My mom and dad in front of Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica,
October 2007

As you may or may not know, my dad has been battling cancer on and off for the past four-and-a-half years.  He was diagnosed in October, 2007 with Adenocarcenoma (lung cancer) and immediately began intensive rounds of chemotherapy and radiation.  After a couple of months, he was hospitalized with a double infection in the port that was installed in his chest in order to make administering the chemo a little easier.  He survived that scary episode, but the radiation left him with so much scarring that he now loses his breath very easily and wheezes a lot.  During the first rounds of treatment, he also decided to adopt a nearly vegan lifestyle and to take a ton of supplements to see if a natural approach could be the answer.  Although, we’re not sure what it was that helped at the time, he was in remission for the next three years.

The Helton family, September 2011

In 2010, we found out that the cancer has returned.   We were also rudely awakened to the fact that with this specific type of cancer comes blood clots.  Yikes.  After a year of being on several different types of blood thinners, the clots kept occurring.  Shortly before Thanksgiving, Dad ended up with fluid on his lung.  An aspiration resulted in a liter-and-a-half of fluid being removed…  amazing the man could actually breathe at all!  A day later he wound up with a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in his lung)… and survived.  On a day shortly after that, he woke my mom up at 6am saying he needed to go to the hospital.  Doctors and nurses were amazed that Dad was still alive when they found multiple pulmonary embolisms.  A filter was then installed in an effort to keep any further clots from reaching the lungs or heart, but then a very large clot appeared in the abdomen and threatened to block the entire filter.  A catheter was installed and a medicine designed to break up the clot was injected.  At the time, it was also determined that Dad was nearly completely clotted from knee to abdomen.  After a night in ICU (since there was a chance of internal bleeding), more investigation was done and it was determined that there were blockages in two places, which were leading to the extensive clotting, so balloon procedures were completed and stents were inserted to help the blood start flowing again.  Also over the past year, the cancer has spread to his spine.  He completed a round of chemo in December, which made him feel like crap and he also ended up with a cold over the past few weeks.  The poor guy is sleeping about 18-20 hours a day.

That brings you up-to-date on Dad’s health issues.

So, why am I so excited?

As he has been facing these terrible problems, my dad and family have been doing extensive research on alternative treatment options and in our searches, we found the Gerson Institute and Cancer Curing Society.  What a miracle.  Per the Gerson website…

"The Gerson Institute is a non-profit organization... dedicated to providing education and training in the Gerson Therapy, an alternative, non-toxic treatment for cancer and other chronic degenerative diseases. The Gerson Therapy is a safe, natural treatment developed by Dr. Max Gerson in the 1920s. The therapy activates the body's extraordinary ability to heal itself through an organic, vegetarian diet, raw juices, coffee enemas and natural supplements. The Gerson Therapy treats the underlying causes of disease: toxicity and nutritional deficiency. "

We’ve read countless testimonials and talked to several people who have either been to the Gerson Institute or have a relative or close friend who has completed the Gerson Therapy.  The cool thing is, each story we hear is a positive one of peace and healing.  People are not just in remission – they are actually cured through this amazing, natural approach!

The downside?
  It’s REALLY expensive and insurance doesn’t cover a dime.  BUT…  my family and some of our close friends decided to take matters into our own hands and attempt to raise this money ourselves! 

On Sunday, January 15th, I created the Helton Cancer to Wellness Facebook group page to create awareness about my dad’s situation and a fundraising page on the Give Forward website.  On Monday, January 16th we started inviting people to join the Facebook group and the response was completely overwhelming!  We had a couple of incredibly generous friends who offered to donate $1 for every person to join the group up to 1,000 people.  Little did we know that we’d hit that mark in three short days!  We had planned on linking to the Give Forward on Wednesday or Thursday of that week, but people were breaking down the gates to find out how to give, so we sent the link out on Tuesday.  For the first five days, we averaged nearly $2,000 per DAY in donations.  On day 10 – today - we’re currently at $11,330 in donations and the number continues to increase.  Today, my friend Leslie did a post about my dad on her incredibly popular blog (over 180,000 readers in the last 28 days), Crunchy Betty.  There have been anonymous donations rolling in all morning and I think we have her to thank!  It’s pretty cool how much Leslie’s own personal standards match up with the Gerson Institute’s in regards to natural, chemical free products.  I’m sure that my mom will be using her website as a reference very often in the near future.  =)

For oh, so many reasons!

In the meantime, a massive effort is in force to put on a few different benefits for my dad.  J.C.Cravers in Palm Harbor, FL is holding a chili cook-off with live music, raffle prizes, a silent auction.  Several musician friends of our family are organizing a musical benefit in Springfield,IL…  Tunes for Terry.  There will also be a silent auction with hundreds of items.  My friend Samantha and I are working on a donations-based yoga class for all levels here in Colorado Springs at Pranava Yoga Center.  There will be door-prizes, treats and lots of fun!  Another friend is doing her own fundraiser through her Pampered Chef business and yet another is representing Dad in the American Cancer Society’s Walk & Roll 2012.  I am so amazed at all of the incredible love and support we have received in such a short period of time – we never expected to be able to send Dad to the Gerson Institute so quickly!  With the donations we’ve received so far, we are able to afford the first two weeks at the Gerson.  With the additional fundraising taking place, we are hoping to raise enough for the possible third required week (we won’t know until the first two weeks of therapy are completed), the $2,500 juicer required and to help with the continued cost of fresh, organic produce – nearly 20 pounds a day and $600 per week – for the next two years minimum.

Florida benefit flyer

Illinois benefit flyer

Colorado SEVA yoga class flyer

I am more than ecstatic to say that my parents arrived at the Gerson Institute and Cancer Curing Society this morning and that Dad begins treatment today.
  But, as I mentioned, we still have a long way to go to raise all of the necessary funds.

So, I have a challenge for you, dear reader…

I challenge you to take your lunch to work for one day or one week and then donate the money you would have spent eating out to my dad’s cause at
http://www.giveforward.com/heltoncancertowellness .  Will you take this easy challenge in order to help my dad on his amazing path from Cancer to Wellness?

~ ~ ~

Update 1/30/12…  Well, it has been five days since I wrote the first part of this post, but I couldn't resist throwing in an update before posting because there have been major improvements in my dad’s health in just the five short days that he and my mom have been at the Gerson Institute!  On day three, Dad went to pull on his compression socks and realized that his ankle, which has been swollen for the past year due to the blood clots, was no longer swollen!  My mom also realized the same day that he slept on his right side the previous night and he hasn’t done that in quite some time since he has been in a great deal of pain due to the small amount of fluid around his right lung.  He has been walking a minimum of four blocks each day…  two blocks to the beach and two blocks back (more than he's been able to do in a year).  Not a bad place to start healing!  =)  Today when I spoke to my mom, she informed me that the most exciting thing about today was finding out that Dad’s blood pressure is down and they are weaning him off of his blood pressure medication.  I honestly don’t remember a time in my life when my dad has not had high blood pressure and been on medication for it.  Wow.  The are also working on weaning him off of his other medications slowly but surely.  I am so impressed by the rapid progression of things so far!  Mom and Dad still have a lot to learn and will begin a totally new lifestyle once they return home, but it will all be so worth it!!!

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 I have Terry to thank for a helluva lot of things.  He's been a constant source of love, support, and... of course... entertainment for many, many years.  But he has officially earned a new high point of admiration from me.  I don't say this simply because he has cancer.  I say this because he has dared to break the mold, reject the conventional medical "treatments" of contaminating and defiling the body, and instead pursue a course of treatment that strengthens rather than weakens, heals rather than poisons, and promotes healthy nutrients rather than toxic chemicals.

Two Gerson patients (Terry is second from right) and
three companions walking along the beach

For many years, I have considered myself a strong proponent of natural healing over manufactured medicines.  But I will readily admit to thinking that Terry was bat-shit crazy a few years ago when he started talking about replacing chemotherapy and radiation with mass-nutrient ingestion.  I remember talking to Hethyr about how I just couldn't understand why you wouldn't battle cancer with all the twenty-first century medical technology available, no matter how much life the treatment sucked from your mind and body.  I thought he was downright suicidal.

Oh, I guess he's BIRD-shit crazy.

But Terry, despite the conflicting opinions of nearly everyone around him, continued to believe with all his heart that there was a better path to wellness.  His natural remedies were rather eccentric for a while, including a period of time when he was vegan and taking about fifty supplements a day.  Did I mention I used to think the man was bat-shit crazy?  But he pressed on, always searching for a way to self-heal.  And then, after a long road full of some highs and many more lows, Terry discovered the Gerson Institute.

Picture from Gerson Institute's Facebook photo albums
After learning about the philosophy, the history, the treatment plan, and the successes of Gerson Therapy, and after hearing about Terry's improvements after less than a week at the clinic, I am a true believer.  Despite my "earthy" principles and ideals, I doubt that I would've had the guts to take the steps that Terry has with his life on the line.  But now that he ventured down that road, and only because he had the audacity to do so, I know that I could as well.  Thanks for your courage, Terry.  You are an amazing guy.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

On the Road Again

“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money."  ~Unknown

Hethyr:  That is some great advice.  I only wish I'd had it prior to our last vacation!  Jon and I are suckers for a good road trip, as evidenced by our latest adventure.  We drove from Colorado Springs, Colorado to Tarpon Springs, Florida and back (with a short stop in New Orleans on the way home) over the holidays.  That is why you, dear readers, haven’t heard from us in a while! 

My family (minus a few!) on Xmas - Happy Holidaze!

The one part of preparing for a long trip like this that I abhor is planning what we’re going to eat.  We refuse to eat fast food and we don’t eat at chain restaurants, so there are very few options for food along the way.  Which means that I get to plan all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners – woo hoo!  Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook, but eating on the road is much more difficult than eating at home.  First, there isn’t a microwave or oven in our car, which is where we end up eating most of our meals.  Why the hell hasn’t someone addressed this obvious omission from automobile designs?!  Second, refrigerator (and by refrigerator, I mean a cooler with ice) space is limited, so most of our food has to be shelf-stable.  What a pain in the arse. 

Jon has actually apologized to me (!) for planning certain surprise vacations because he knows how much time it takes me to get the food planned and made.  Ha!  Although I may complain a little, I’ll always gladly take the vacation in trade for making the food.  I will say that I was absolutely thrilled that I didn’t have to do much cooking while we were gone – I guess it all balanced out.  Thanks for feeding me while I was home, family!  =)

Jaymen & Tayvn making everyone
banana pancakes for breakfast.
They did all of the work - I just
instructed and tended the griddle!

Enjoying their culinary masterpiece...
with homemade whipped cream
& strawberries, of course!

Uncle Mike sneaking turkey.  =)

One thing that I’ve struggled with is finding enough variety to keep us satisfied...  there are only so many things you can eat in the car.  After countless Google searches for things like ‘road trip food,’ ‘healthy eating on the road,’ ‘easy dinners for the car,’ etc. and not coming up with much of anything helpful, we’ve decided to do our own post.  I feel like there have to be others out there like us who have a tough time deciding what food to take on the road and hopefully this will help.

BREAKFAST - This one is probably one of the easiest things for most people to plan, including me.  Here is a list of some ideas…
Muffins / breads (regular or gluten-free) - See some of our favorite muffin recipes here and here.  And check out a couple of good quick bread recipes here and here.
Bagels with Cream Cheese (store cream cheese in the cooler)
Fruit that travels well… apples, oranges, grapes, bananas (stay away from soft fruits like peaches, apricots, plums, etc. – you’ll end up with a sticky mess)
Hard-boiled eggs (cooler)
Cooked bacon – Bacon is just as good cold as it is hot (store in the cooler)!
Yogurt and granola – Store yogurt in the cooler in individual small jars or containers, then just add the granola.  I made this yummy Gingerbread Granola from Neo-Homesteading.  I used cashews instead of peanuts, nutmeg in place of the cinnamon and dried chunks of apple instead of raisins.  I left most of it with my sister Fayre’s family (her kids love granola!) and some with my parents since I can always make more at home.  =)

Scones (regular or gluten-free)
Cinnamon Rolls – Keep the icing in a small jar and just dip chunks of the roll into the jar.  I kept both in the cooler.  Check out these Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls from The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking.  Although mine were cinnamonLESS rolls due to my allergy (I used nutmeg, cardamom and cloves) and although they weren’t as pretty as Kate’s (they didn’t rise at all – I’m pretty sure my water wasn’t warm enough to activate the yeast properly), they sure tasted good.  I also used a packaged GF flour mix + xanthan gum in place of her GF flour mixture.  Here is a not-so-pretty picture of my unrisen cinnamonless roll… sounds appetizing, doesn't it?!

SNACKS – A pretty easy thing to plan, but we often get bored with the same old things.  Here is a list of our staples plus a few new (to us) yummies…
Beef Jerky - we buy ours from Ranch Foods Direct (no antibiotics, hormones or preservatives, vegetarian fed, humanely raised and harvested)
Natural Chips – potato or other veggies like beets or sweet potatoes
Cooked and shelled edamame (cooler)
Individual applesauce containers
Granola bars or Lärabars – I love this blog post from Enlightened Cooking for homemade Lärabars.  This time we tried one of my creations - Mango-Cardamom.
Popcorn – Jon always pops a big batch before a road trip!
Fruit - See Breakfast.
Hummus with veggies or pita crisps (hummus & veggies in the cooler)
Crackers and cheese – For those of you with food sensitivities like me, check out these great grain-free Sesame Crackers and gluten-free/grain-free Multi "Grain" Crackers from Elana’s Pantry.  Store cheese in the cooler.
String Cheese (cooler)
Trail mix or nuts and dried fruit – I made a couple of different nut recipes for this road trip and both were quickly devoured.  See these posts for Vanilla Roasted Walnuts and Candied Macadamia Nuts from Elana’s Pantry.  Careful – they’re addictive!

LUNCH/DINNER – This is probably the toughest thing for me to plan, but I’ve come up with a couple of good ideas that always work for us.  This time I wanted to add something new to the repertoire, so I tried the spring rolls and they worked perfectly!  I store all of these things in the cooler.
Sandwiches – PB & J, lunchmeat with cheese, chicken or tuna salad, egg salad, etc, etc, etc.  Endless options.
* Wraps – See below for one of my favorite wrap recipes (this one isn’t gluten-free).  Also infinite possibilities.
Pasta Salad – Think outside the box.  Of course, a standard Italian-style pasta salad is always good, but how about Mexican or Asian?  Get creative!
Grain Salad – For this trip, I made a Greek-style brown rice salad which included roasted red peppers, Kalamata olives, red onion, feta cheese, cooked and cubed chicken, oregano, parsley and a Greek vinaigrette made with red wine vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil.  The possibilities are endless with this one… try different grains, vegetables, cheeses, beans and/or meats and vinaigrettes.  Another of my favorites included barley, asparagus, toasted walnuts and Gorgonzola cheese with a honey-lime dressing.

Greek grain salad

* Spring Rolls – This was my most recent stroke of genius.  No one thinks to make these ahead of time since they can easily dry out, but I stored them in an airtight container with damp paper towels and they were great for about 3 or 4 days.  See below for my awesome recipe.
Coleslaw – Here’s a recipe for Pretty Chopped Slaw from The Sensitive Pantry that’s really good.
* Tomatoes and Mozzarella with Balsamic-Pistachio Dressing – my sister Fayre’s awesome creation that I just had to include.  This will be with us on our next road trip!  See below for the recipe.

Turkey, Bacon and Avocado Wraps
Makes 4

~4 large whole wheat tortillas
~4 ounces cream cheese
~2 cups fresh baby spinach
~1 to 1 ½ cups cooked, shredded turkey
~4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
~1 or 2 avocados, pitted and sliced
~¼ to ½ cup Annie’s Natural’s Papaya Poppy Seed Dressing (or a sweet vinaigrette of your choice)

1.  Assembly line-style, spread cream cheese evenly on one side of tortillas, then top with equal amounts of baby spinach, shredded turkey, bacon, avocado slices and dressing.  Fold in sides of tortilla, then roll from the bottom up.

2.  To store, wrap in plastic wrap, then place in a reusable container or storage bag.  Keep cold until ready to eat.

Spring Rolls with Cashew Dipping Sauce
Makes 16 (enough for about 3 meals for the two of us)

~2 large carrots, peeled and julienned
~2 large celery stalks, julienned
~½ cup scallions, julienned
~½ large red bell pepper, julienned
~1 small kohlrabi, peeled and julienned
~2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
~1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
~2-inch knob of ginger, peeled and minced
~2 thin slices turkey, julienned
~4 ounces brown rice noodles, cooked (see
  package for instructions) and drained
~16 rice paper wrappers
~¼ cup cashew butter (you can use peanut
  butter if you prefer)
~¼ cup coconut milk
~1 tablespoon fish sauce
~1 ½ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)

1.  Mix carrots, celery, scallions, bell pepper, kohlrabi, cilantro, mint, ginger, turkey and brown rice noodles in a large bowl.

2.  Soak one rice paper wrapper in warm water for about 15 seconds (or until soft and pliable), then remove.

3.  Lay rice paper wrapper on a flat surface (I used a cutting board) and fill with one-sixteenth of the veggie mixture.  Fold in sides of wrapper, then roll from the bottom up.

4.  Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.

5.  Store in the refrigerator (or cooler) in layers in an airtight container, separating each layer with very damp towels or paper towels.

6.  In a small bowl, mix together the cashew butter, coconut milk, fish sauce and crushed red pepper flakes.  Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container with a lid.  Use as a dipping sauce for the spring rolls.

Fayre's Tomato and Mozzarella Salad with Balsamic Pistachio Dressing
Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

~3 or 4 large tomatoes, cut into chunks
~4 ounces fresh mozzarella or bocconcini, cut
  into chunks
~1/2 cup shelled pistachios
~3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
~1/4 to 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
~Salt and pepper, to taste

1.  Place pistachios and balsamic vinegar in a food processor and pulse a few times.

2.  While motor is running, drizzle in olive oil through the food chute until you reach your desired consistency.  Season with salt and pepper.

3.  Gently, toss all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley to garnish (optional).
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Jon:  Life on the road sure was a helluva lot easier back in the days when we willingly ate disgusting, deadly, non-food products from places like McDonald's and Taco Bell.  Cheap, fast, easy meals were available everywhere we went.  But now that we have committed ourselves to a life of eating food that won't send us to an early and extra-large grave, it has become a real pain in the ass to eat away from home.  Even when we arrived in Florida and our family was trying to accommodate our snobbish eating standards, it was tough for them to manage due to the lack of healthy, natural options.  Regardless, with no small amount of effort, we were able to eat loads of delicious food on our voyage.

Hethyr's traveling food was excellent.  Thanks to her, we were able to eat well for 3891 miles.  Impressive.  But we always prefer it when someone else can feed us good food, so we searched far and wide for quality eateries with a decent amount of success.  We found an awesome burrito lounge in Montgomery that met our natural/local/sustainable requirements.  Yep, you heard me... a burrito lounge.  It was some sort of Mexican hipster joint - like Sancho Panza meets Frank Sinatra... in Alabama.  The place was so awesomely bizarre that I wasted about 20 bucks on a hideous powder-blue burrito lounge shirt that I'll probably only wear while painting.  We also found a vegetarian cafe in Amarillo, Texas, where we had a pretty lame lunch.  But if you ask me - which you didn't, but I'll tell you anyway - everything is lame in Texas.  The very best food that others made for us, however, undoubtedly came out of New Orleans.

The shirts are as confusing as the ambiance
We spent a whirlwind 36 hours in NOLA, including oysters and Bloody Mary's at Dickie Brennan's on Bourbon Street, a creepy cemetery tour, a visit to Trent Reznor's old mansion in the garden district, beignets at Cafe du Monde, a foggy stroll down the Riverwalk, streetcar rides, flounder muniere and a seafood platter at Brigtsen's, French Market shopping, New Year's Eve midnight fireworks, pizza and squash ravioli at Marigny Brasserie, sidewalk jazz jams, navigation through masses of drunken idiots, a New Orleans Saints-related traffic jam, and at least a dozen miles of walking.  We left town fat, happy, tired, and totally broke.  And much like going to Vegas, 36 hours was enough.

G-Rated version of Bourbon St.

So for all of you fellow food snobs, I hope that you put Hethyr's ideas to good use on your next road trip.  I also hope that when you feel the overwhelming desire for food cooked and served by someone else that there is a hipster burrito lounge nearby.  Happy travels...