Number Seven

In Spain along the Camino Frances.

Number seven is Radically Changing Your Diet and that was the first one of my personal factors that I categorized. In this world of endless diet claims it is easy to fall into a place where we think we are doing poorly at this. Man, according to some people we should be eating cardboard and chisels, you know what I mean?

Then on top of that there are always studies coming out telling us to do one thing and then the next week to do the opposite. And all that very scientific sounding. Am I making excuses?

Then there is the fact that my parents and ancestors never had that much trouble with diet. They ate what was in season and largely what they or their neighbors grew themselves. This makes the most sense to me at the moment.

Yes, perhaps we are exposed to more toxins then they were. Maybe we need to do more than they did. Perhaps, but I am not seeing that clearly. There is plenty of hype in the diet world and it is easy to get caught up in that, being afraid.

Last night My Rebecca and I had a simple dinner after the afternoon Phil’s Camino walk and tapas. Tapas was a little cheese, crackers, olives and wine.
Our dinner was half a small flatiron steak each, corn on the cob and green beans. The corn and beans we had just picked. I’m calling that dietary good for the moment.

Well, Felipe, how can this be? One minute you say your diet needs a lot of help and the next you say that it is good for the moment? Hmmm. Yes, there does seem to be a problem or at least some confusion.

We had a wonderful walk yesterday with old friends and new friends. The Camino continues to provide. We are fortunate. Summer loves, Felipe.

Number Six

Felipe smelling the roses on the Camino, searching for the positive.

Number six is the last one that is in my second catagory of “needs some help”. I am getting a C on these, not great but not a bad grade. And number six is Increasing Positive Emotions.

My current thinking leads me to believe that working on this factor means something like working on “not taking life too seriously”. Somehow my encounter with cancer brought about something that put me working on this. I don’t know how or why but it happened. Also included in there is the resilience that resides in Catholicism. And also included is the belonging and the trust fostered by the Way of St James or the Camino de Santiago. I have no idea of how this dynamic worked but it did.

If one is to reside in the place of positive emotions one has to come to grips with negativity. Worry and fear have to be put in their place, not boiling away on the front burners of our life. It takes a certain amount of trust to unlock this, to move in this direction.

I hear watching comedy movies can be in this catagory of healing. Well OK! I can get aboard that train. Dr Turner was talking about the idea that our bodies can’t heal when they are stressed by fear and worry and an hour break to watch a funny movie is a healing time. Seems a small thing but a string of positive experiences can be hooked together I suppose to make a big change.

But ultimately I think we are talking about finding joy and and being able to dwell there as the ultimate connection to the positive. To find peace in our lives is a major component in this process. I saw peace in thousands of malades (people with a malady) who had come to Lourdes when I was there in May.
That was my major takeaway that peace is possible in the middle of sickness and suffering.

Yup, we batted it around. I have time to get some projects worked on before our walk at 4 PM. I think we will be showing the Phil’s Camino documentary afterward today. Stop by when you can. Peaceful loves, Felipe.x

Number Five

This potato chip is not an herb or supplement but it is heart shaped.

Number five is Herbs and Supplements. The author broke down this into three categories: one, Supplements to help you digest your food; two, Supplements to detoxify your body and three, Supplements to boost your immune system. These are the three main groups that showed up in her research. I suppose that there are other ways to look at it but this is how it is written this time. And throughout this chapter she emphasizes that supplements are a “bandaid” approach to the problem that will help but will not replace good diet and good habits. OK, so far so good.

As for me I take ten pills in the morning and seven of those are supplements. And truly I don’t know where they would fall in her categories except for one which is vitamin C, a boost your immune system one. But I doubt that I am taking it in the amounts that they are talking about. Mostly this collection is the same as it was four years ago for the trek in Spain. And that was pictured in the documentary. But as to the rhyme or reason for why this group is in my approach I would have to say intuition largely. That counts but it is not systematic so that is why I put this in the second group of factors that need some help.

Well OK, that seems pretty cut and dried, pretty straight forward. Notice now that this is the first physical factor. The only other is diet which is yet coming up. But think about this a minute, only two of these nine factors are physical. Dr Turner said that it surprised her to discover this and it did me as I read the table of contents of Radical Remission. The rest of the factors are in the mind or spirit area. That is what really attracted me as we have been working with this for years now in various ways. We will talk about this more in the wrap up later on but think about it.

So, off to my Saturday. Thanks for stopping by, love, Felipe.

Number Four Out Of Nine

Saint James Again and Again and Again.

Four happens to be Following Your Intuition. I am not totally sure what this means. It is sort of a shady topic living in this culture with so much emphasis on brain power. That falls short of what I what to say but I will go on. Somehow following one’s intuition takes faith. It is not the path followed generally by most. It takes faith in the overall goodness of things and in the belief that one is called to certain challenges, efforts, ways…

For instance I feel that the Camino in Spain calls people to it. That is an easy one to sell. I am so happy that it is blossoming so. It’s graduates will make a difference in the overall dynamic of the world.

One has to be at home with mystery I think to understand intuition and to put it fully to use. And mystery has to be seen as a positive thing not as an obstruction. It can and has to be seen as a font not as a wall.

So, this factor fits into my second category which I characterized as ones that I was doing pretty well on but could use improvement. I don’t know exactly what improvement would look like, I just sense that there is more to it then I realize or put to use. Again it seems shady or shadowy.

This also plays into the notion that there are no coincidences. That things happen in their own time and exactly as they should if we just have the faith to understand that and go with it.

Well, have to go and pack for my Friday visit to the hospital. Take care, love you, Felipe.

Number 3 Out Of Nine


OK, here we are all lined up for a good session. In review, we are talking about the nine factors that Dr Kelly Turner distilled from the thousand cancer survivors that she interviewed for the book Radical Remissions. For my own clarity we are tackling these nine in the order that I reshuffled them to go from my strongest to my weakest as I see it.

Having Strong Reasons For Living is number three for us. This seems like a sort of nobrainer and it is hard for me personally to come up with the other side of it. But then considering all the dear folks who suffer from depression before and as a result of their diagnosis of cancer it is clearer. It is coming into focus for me that cancer is mainly an assault against our mind and spirit. We see physical proof of it in our physical body but that is just it’s calling card. It’s main impingement is actually not physical. So we have to meet it in these arenas as well.

It is important to realize that we are one being in body, mind and spirit although culturally those are generally separated for us. We go to the hospital and we generally work on the body and the mind/spirit get placed on the back burner. There we can become fixated on our time left, our numbers, our scan results, our percentages. These all seem of maximum importance while our minds and spirits are dulled.

Getting back to a whole person is an important goal, body/mind/spirit, even though we are tragically wounded. When we establish this maybe we can see outside ourselves and come to a point of helping others for instance. That to me seems a strong reason for living. It provides a Way.

The best to you, love, Felipe.

Number Two Out Of Nine

Dana and Catherine sent this pic in of fresh Raven Ranch corn on their dinner table.

Next we have Embracing Social Support. I put this one in my strong suit category. This blog is one aspect of this factor for instance. My basic stance was to report as much as possible about my journey with cancer because just maybe something is to be learned from the ordeal. Somehow learning seemed a better response to my challenge than battling.

The blog came out of conversations with some of my nurses back in early 2014 when it became apparent that I could possibly go to Spain to walk the Camino. They saw the posting of my whereabouts and impressions would be a good way to communication without having to answer individual emails. Made sense, right? But the deal was that I just kept on doing it after I got back and then for the last four years now.

And the whole world of being involved with the documentary Phil’s Camino has brought so many people into my world and me into theirs. So many know of my journey and struggles. Not only know of my story but many participate actively by commenting, emailing, texting and praying. I do know that there are hundreds of kind people that pray for my wellbeing. There may even be thousands by now for all I know.

This is all social support with capital S’s really. And it all started because I opened myself up in the beginning. This wasn’t my natural inclination but it was a result of the change in thinking that my cancer diagnosis brought.

I have heard of cancer patients trying to keep their disease a secret. This is the worst form of isolation that I can think of. Isolation is what one doesn’t want, it is the opposite of support. And even at the hospital all the privacy rules and regs serves to keep patients isolated from one another and leaves them to largely navigate alone.

Then my four hours of walking every week here at the ranch is an opportunity to connect with others. I never know who will show up and sometimes no one but great getting together does take place here in this venue. I learn a lot in the give and take of it all and so do others hopefully.

So, there are a lot of facets to this factor for me and you can see that it is very strong. It is one of my biggest assets. It is community as medicine as Erica De America would say.

OK, I think that you get the picture on that one. Next we will do Having Strong Reasons For Living. The best to you ever and always, love, Felipe.

Number One Out Of Nine

The lighthouse on Point Robinson, Vashon Island, WA. Stormy sky and flag at half mast. By Kevin O’Rorke.

As promised we are embarking on a journey through the common factors that were used by a thousand people who found a way out of the imbalance of cancer. Not everyone used all of these but everyone used numerous factors. Seems that we are not going to find a silver bullet here as we so often phantasize about. The garden of our health needs numerous components to thrive and we have to pay attention to a broad field of notions.

I being Felipe have to tackle this in my own Felipe way. I can only speak for myself on this really. Please read the book if you are hot on this topic but know that the book speaks of these notions in a general way and they may have slightly different meanings to the individual.

I am choosing to tackle this project by starting with the factors that I am most at home with or that maybe I rely on the most. So let’s get started. Number one on my list is “Deepening Your Spiritual Connection”. Right away after my diagnosis I knew that I had to do this. I already had a church connection and my Bible class connection but converting to Catholicism placed me in a much richer environment and was a good move.

When I am really in the groove with my spirituality things happen to place me outside my former self and outside the norm. Having my feet on a good foundation gives me the position to shed large quantities of fear for one thing. Fear is rampant in normal life but for a person with a diagnosis it can quickly go out of control with the fear of the unknown and of death. Deepening my spiritual connection was a way to get this under control and even to be able to use the energy that I would have wasted for positive purposes.

Energy that is saved can be “plowed back” into our health instead of having it wasted. This is a must. Having a strong spiritual connection means having a trust that whatever happens I will be upheld. This is a must for me and I can’t see anyway for me to continue without it. So, this is where I choose to start and as we move through my reorganized list of the factors we will get to ones that I am weaker and weaker on. And that far end of the list is where I have to concentrate my energy as there is so much room for improvement.

It is paradoxical really to realize that having Faith and having less fear of death and dying gives one more of a chance to live. I can be much less concerned with that topic and turn my attention elsewhere. Does that make sense?

I thought that this was one of the weakest chapters in the book. Bless the author for the effort but put up against my strongest suit I saw lots of holes in it. But that’s OK for we are springboardimg off what she compiled and it will work nicely.

Next we will tackle “Embracing Social Support”. OK, a good start. Off I go. Strong Connection Loves, Felipe.

Off On A New Tack In Our Boat

Felipe lighting candles at Lourdes.

I am excited about the book that I just finished reading, Radical Remission by Kelly A. Turner, PH.D. She put together a smashing collection of good solid knowledge about healing and health. It was a ten year Camino for her completing this. Thank you Dr Turner and friends!

Haven’t been this excited about reading material since receiving the Pilgrim Beatitudes back in 2014. They both are an awakening, a springboard and an organizing structure. We tackled the ten Beatitudes one at a time back then to squeeze every last drop out of them and I intend to write about the “common factors” in a similar fashion.

The “common factors” are factors that kept coming up in interviews with a thousand cancer patients that beat the odds and somehow were cured of their cancer. It is a very precious list, a distillation. What did these precious few people do to place them in this position.

It may take a few days of introduction before we actually tackle the list but we will get started. This information, these ideas or notions are valuable to people with disease and to healthy folks. It just seems like a good way to tackle life in general. If we can look at cancer as imbalance, this is balance.

Oh, another half hour just appeared in my schedule here so I will keep going. Last night I took the time to triage the list for my own clarity. In other words I broke the nine factors down into three groups. The first group were the ones that I thought I was doing a great job at and in someways better than the book described. OK, that was easy to find those three. Then I grouped three that I was doing but that could use improvement. And lastly was a group that I really needed help on to get sorted out and going.

I have to put all this in my own words as it occurs and applies to me. This is how I see it and how I wrestle with it. You and yours are different people with different backgrounds and different needs but the factors are common factors. The topics are important to all of us. People that got this particular Darwin Award by surviving and possibly thriving in spite of cancer used these notions to help them get there. So listen up!

Oh, this is going to be fun, not easy but fun. We are going to squeeze juice out of these notions but also out of me as we go. And you might ask why am I doing this? Why be so vulnerable in front of the world? Well, that is because one of the factors that I rated myself highly on is “Embracing Social Support”.
You dear readers and friends are a large part of my social support and we have been doing a great job so far and this is furthering that. So, off we go…

Walking in a few moments on this beautiful morn. The light has a reddish cast from the wildfire smoke that has settled into the Puget Sound basin. It is not oppressive but there. Embracing social support loves, Felipe.

How About A Walk Schedule Felipe? 9/12/18

The blackberries so freely given to us.

The blackberries along the trail are ripe and the rain has settled the dust. Come walk Phil’s Camino and we will talk things over.

Monday 0900-1000
Tuesday 1600-1700
Thursday 0900-1000
Sunday 1600-1700

We have tapas and wine after the afternoon walks. Bring a baguette or a jar of olives to share if you can. Alperfect all the time, Felipe.

From Father David

Floor plan of the Cathedral at Santiago. Look at that museum. I’ve never heard anyone speak of that.

Good homily from Father David this morning. It’s sticking with me too which is important. I would entitle it, “Striving to cultivate a grateful heart.” A grateful heart meaning one that learns to accept what God sends their way. I think that we can become ungrateful very quickly waiting for some big golden goose to land in our laps while a thousands subtle good things go by. Sometimes a good thing is hard to recognize without some work. We need to participate in this process.

He was talking about his recent airline trip. He was going to a wedding of a family member in Indiana and it had been nine years since he had flown last. So he wound up running through the airport and even with that he missed his plane. But with some participation on his part he finally realized that he was just happy that he could still run. He had lost a lot of weight in the last few years, a process that he had been working hard at and viola there he was running through the airport.

This notion fits with what I was seeing in the Navajo prayer in the post a few days ago. There I was seeing that it is the viewer of beauty that had to see it to create it. It is then valuable because it melts our heart. We are participating in the process. We have to be open and aware. We can’t be lazy or sleep late or we may miss something valuable.

Off on a walk this afternoon at 4. A person is coming that will be going to the Camino next month, how delicious. So, we will be talking Camino hot and heavy, my favorite.

Seeing the beauty in you loves, Felipe.