Wednesday, December 26, 2012

movin' along!

Emalia is doing very well although she has hit a couple of speed bumps on the chemo highway: she was turned away from chemo on Dec. 19th and again this morning because of a low blood count but hopes to be able to have her next round next week. She began Neupogen injections today to raise her blood count and will continue them for the next four days. She was also told that it's pretty amazing that she was able to get seven successive chemo rounds without a break. That's our Emalia!!!!!

Among things I'm most grateful for is that Emalia didn't catch anything except love last week from Kahalakea, who had pneumonia. Happily, he has recovered!

This Christmas is a time for so much gratitude, and we send all of you love and appreciation for your support. We wish you a wonderful New Year and hope that it brings healing and good health to all of us!

with aloha,

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Food as medicine!

Yesterday was chemo #7, and all is going well.

Although the following makes for a long posting, we want to share some of the dietary information the MD at Osher Center gave to Emalia for making her “garden” as inhospitable as possible for cancer cells. Our hope is that everyone can benefit from these tips!

Eat organic, plant-based, antioxidant rich, anti-inflammatory whole foods (better than juiced or powdered).  Eat organic not just to avoid herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers but because a plant grown outdoors organically needs to fight to protect itself from other plants, birds, and insects, and the sunshine and protect itself by making chemicals.  (Organic food is much more potent than conventional food.)

Eat at least 2 ½ cups of fruits and vegetables—more vegetables than fruits—daily.
The vegetables I really like are the cruciferous vegetables.(broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts: cabbage, kale, collard greens, arugula, bok choy.)  “All of these contain a chemical called indole 3 carbinol, which is so potent at reducing the risk of cancer that we’re thinking of looking at it as chemotherapy.”

Lettuce and spinach rank low among his preferences because lettuce is basically water, and spinach takes calcium out of the body (calcium protects us from colon cancer).

Fruits should be heavily pigmented. Frozen berries ok--they only lose 10% of their nutritional value—but berries really should be organic because their puffers and grooves soak up toxins like crazy.

If grapes, go red with seeds and skins. If wine, red is better than white.

Brown rice is better than white rice, but if you like white rice, jasmine and basmati are good. Millet and quinoa are also very good grains.

Bread should be whole grain (often in the refrigerator section), not whole wheat. Whole wheat is just heavily processed unbleached.

Avoid sugar.  Ok to have sugar in the nutrition facts box but not in the ingredients list. 

You don’t have to fear fruits because of their sugar if you’re eating the whole fruit.

Avoid sugary drinks. If you eat an orange, the fiber slows down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. When you squeeze the sugar away from the fiber, it’s like drinking Coca Cola. The body gets that load of sugar and releases insulin and insulin-like growth factor, both of which promote inflammation and cause cancer cells to divide.

Avoid foods with a high glycemic index. Most box and bulk cereals are all sugar. Unsweetened muesli is fine.

Avoid dairy—fat is not the problem—the sugars and the protein create a chronic stimulation to our immune system in our gut which is not good. Also creates mucus.

And, if milk is not organic, the cows get bovine growth factor/hormone, which we ingest. It becomes insulin-like growth factor, which promotes inflammation and causes cancer cells to divide.

No red meat. A little lamb maybe once in awhile, but beef, pork, no, and the recommendation is to avoid processed meats. If people bbq meat, it creates heterocyclic amines; there’s a direct correlation between colon cancer and red meat consumption.

Eat deep cold water fish for omega 3 fatty acids. (Salmon, black cod, albacore tuna, herring, mackerel, and sardines are all very rich in omega 3s.)

Poultry and eggs should be organic.  (Eggs used to have an omega 6 to omega 3 ratio of 2:1; now it’s 20:1 because of what we feed chickens.) Eat organic omega 3 eggs so that they’re not pro-inflammatory.

Drink green tea. After the cruciferous vegetables, green tea is very powerful (the 2nd most potent food). Don’t take green tea extract capsules because on an empty stomach, they cause liver damage. (Only white and green teas have the ECGC.)

All mushrooms must be cooked. Slicing white buttons and throwing them in a salad is a no: they have a cancer-causing compound that’s only partially inactivated with eating. White mushrooms, their brown cousins, criminae and their giant cousins (Portobello) all need to be cooked.  Better mushrooms for immune enhancement are: shitake, maitake, and enoki.

Whole soy is fine (soybeans, soy milk, tofu, tempe, and miso). Not soy cheese or soy turkey or soy hot dogs because those are just heavily processed foods.

Turmeric generally stays within the gastrointestinal tract, and that’s why it’s good for colon cancer. However, if you need it to be absorbed systemically black pepper increases the absorption of turmeric into the system a thousand fold. (It also increases the absorption of everything else (i.e., medication) into the system.)

GMO foods. “At first I didn’t think it was a big deal, but now I’m getting a little more concerned.”

Friday, November 30, 2012

From Beck- Em's New Normal

It was bittersweet to have the Guard/Brown crew head home. We’ll miss them, but it’s such a relief to see Em feeling better and ready to be back on Maui.

I’m writing this not as blog facilitator, but as a friend who’s watched Em go through this whole deal. 

The events have been shocking and fast and scary. So what  can I tell you about Em's cancer, and about where she is right now?

First- nobody can predict the future, not even the crazy-smart oncologists we saw in San Francisco. But what we know is that Em is getting the best medical care possible. She’s got a solid mix of traditional and alternative therapies in the works. And most importantly, she is feeling much, much better. This is a day-by-day fight.

Next- if you’re wondering how Em is doing in all this, I can tell you she is rock solid. Em has shown such incredible mental toughness, she is up for the fight, and she knows it’s going to be a marathon. As she and JB settle back in to a routine at home: one week chemo, the next week rebuilding her strength, they will have to figure out the new normal. And that’s a work in progress.   

How can we help- what Em craves from all of us is normalcy. This isn’t a state of denial around her cancer, but more that she doesn’t need to relive it all the time. And no need to worry that she’s housebound; you’ll see her at the gym, the beach, & yep, Costco!

So many of you stopped by, helped with yard work & watched Kahala. All of you, even by checking her blog, have let Em know how much you care. She says over and over how blown away she is by the outreach and kokua from so many people.

Thank you all, and I know Em, JB and Brooke will be updating the blog more in the coming weeks.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Autumn leaves!

Hanging with lovely Dorien during chemo #6 and enjoying some beautiful fall leaves I brought back from California! We continue to appreciate all of your support. I wish I could thank each of you in person, but I'm focusing my energy on healing.

with aloha,

Monday, November 5, 2012

From Brooke

From Brooke Brown:
The past two weeks have been crazy busy with meeting with doctors, commuting to San Francisco and Marin, and keeping up with Kahala, who is enthralled by Becky and Jane's incredible 4 1/2-year-old twins, Finn and Emalia!  

Finally, the meetings are behind us, and we have a bit of breathing space before the appointments begin again on Tuesday in preparation for Emalia's next round of chemo--no. 5--at Kaiser SF on Thursday. 

The good news is that Emalia's tumors have shrunk! She has responded well to the chemo.
But right now Emalia's only treatment options are chemo, rest, and diet/exercise. The regimen entails chemo off and on to shrink the tumors. Chemo regimens are every 2 weeks and can go about 6 months, and then she’d get a break. If tumors reappear and/or grow, she would start chemo again. 

More good news is that Emalia is no longer in pain, and her nausea is now mostly controlled. She still tires easily but is more and more able to get out for walks, get on Becky's elliptical, and play with Kahala. It has been so heartening to see her able to do these things--like go trick or treating in the neighborhood with JB, Kahala, and the Worley-Mitchell crew; and, it is also clear to me how much energy these fun things take from it is essential that lots of rest time is available for Emalia to use. 

We are beyond happy with Emalia's medical team here--which includes UCSF and Kaiser SF doctors as well as two Marin oncologists--and that they know each other and communicate back and forth readily makes for Emalia feeling even more supported and closely held medically.

We had a wonderful meeting with the head of the Osher Center, an MD who is also UCSF's chief of oncology. (Osher Center is UCSF's integrative medicine "arm.") This MD advised Emalia to use diet to create a "hostile terrain" for cancer cells, something she has already begun. Also exercise is key and vital for her fight.

I know it is hard for many of you to not be in direct and frequent communication with Emalia, and please know that Emalia must continue to ration carefully what energy she has, prioritizing JB, Kahalakea, and exercise--and so far simply hasn't had energy to spare. I can only say that she is SO appreciative of your support and knowing you are with her/us on this journey. We all feel your love streaming our way and know that there is absolutely no way we could do this alone. 

We will return to Maui shortly before Thanksgiving and return to California in January for another scan.

With great aloha & gratitude,

Sunday, October 7, 2012

side effect: Hayd-stache

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Chemo Elua

Emalia has just finished up round-2 of chemo. It went much better than the first time. In part because she went in to the clinic in a better state.
The past few days her nausea has really calmed down. It's not 100% better, but something has gotten more manageable. She's been up around the house a little, more active with Kahala, and even going for a swim with JB and her mom a few times to try and bump up her energy.
Typically chemo takes it out of people, and we expect the next few days to be a big rest period for Em.
Hawaiian Canoe Club women competed in the Molokai Channel race last weekend. 8-10 foot sets as the boats tried to get out of the harbor on Molokai. Despite the intimidating start "Team Emalia" got through and ended up 7th out of 71 boats. Best finish ever for HCC! I love the analogy.
photo credits Theresa Gerry & Keone Ball

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Update September 20th - How you can help

Em has one week of chemo under her belt and there have been some up days and some rough days. Her spirits are good though, and she's focused on the fight.

She loved the "Team Emalia" canoes racing the Pailolo Challenge- thank you HCC!

So many of you have asked how you can help. We wanted to have an organized plan before we got back to you with specific requests. We are using a sight called Lotsa Helping hands to manage sign-ups. You'll have to register, but it only mandates an email address.

We are hoping for small healthy meals about 3 nights a week.
We're using a web service called Lotsa Helping hands so you can become a member of Em's support team and then sign up for a date to deliver a meal.

Yard Work Party 
Jordan Jokiel has volunteered to coordinate this one, so you can sign up here and he will contact you with specific times and dates to see who's available.

Special Care and Financial Kokua

Em loves massages and they are one of the things that make her feel good right now, so if you'd like to chip in toward a massage, hiring a house cleaner, or the cost of flights to the mainland when they go for treatment, you can donate by clicking the button above. This will allow you to use a credit card or PayPal account. Please contact me directly if you prefer to send a check.

Walk Aito 

Aito is a big black lab with a heart of gold. He loves to go for runs in the cane fields or to the park at Ku'au Bayview. His ability to be on leash is not so great, but he's fabulous off leash in a non- car area with his shock collar. Any time of day is fine for his walks.
So if you know Aito or feel comfortable controlling a dog on a shock-collar, it would be great to get him out for a jaunt when JB is working a 24 hour shift or when Em has chemo days.
Sign up here.

Thank you all for your love and good thoughts. Visualize Shrinkage!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Hawaiian Canoe Club  
Pailolo Challenge- September 15th 2012

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Chemo Begins

Wednesday- Day 1 of Chemo
It was a rough one- the day began with nausea and vomiting at home that’s being caused by the pressure of the tumor on Em’s liver. 
 Getting to chemo at Kaiser actually offered a bit of a respite as she got to sleep once in the chair.
The initial treatments of chemo entail an IV for a few hours then going home with a pump for a full 48 hours of drip treatment. 
Em is doing a Folfox chemo treatment with the focus of shrinking the tumors in her liver and affecting the colon as well.
She will start more aggressive treatment attacking the blood vessels of the tumors once her primary colon tumor stabilizes.

As she woke up from the chemo at Kaiser a whole new wave of nausea hit her.  The nurses kept her there to monitor her and gave her IV nausea meds but it was a tough day as Em finally got home after 8 hours at Kaiser.  

Dorien spent the night with Em and JB to monitor Em's vitals. Z3 reported Em rallied late night and chowed some Lasagna (mahalo to Chef Christy Churchill).

Thursday- Day 2 From JB
Better than yesterday-  less nausea, but really tired from meds, etc. It’s good for Em to keep getting her rest.  Visitors popping by to say quick hellos while Em stays horizontal.  Kahalakea seems to enjoy showing off for friends and family.

From Em:
"Thank you all for the positive thoughts, emails, texts, phone calls, offers of help, Prayers and Love.  Many thanks for food drops, yard cleaners, house cleaners, errand runners who have helped our day to day lives.  It has made a big difference and really helps with our Peace of Mind, allowing for restful days and nights."

Saturday, September 8, 2012

SFO-OGG Saturday Morning 9-8-12

Dropped the crew at the airport and they are headed back to Maui. Em seems rested, and she has worked hard to figure out the right combo to get her pain and nausea under control.

Chemo begins Wednesday and while there are lots of unknowns about the side-effects, Em is just glad to start attacking the tumors in her liver ASAP.

So many of you have volunteered to help, and you will be receiving emails from me in the very near future. For now they are all set with food, house-help and support.

Once we get a sense of how the chemo affects Em's energy and daily function, we'll set systems in place to tap into the kokua so many of you have offered.

From our standpoint the twins will miss having Kahala as a willing audience for their antics, stroller laps, and (as the picture infers) their Flamenco dancing.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Scoops on Em

Aloha Friends and Family of Emalia. We're putting this blog out to help share information about what's going on with Em and to help organize help when it's needed. We'll update this page as we know more. Thank you so much for your love and support.
The Story
Em went for a colonoscopy in May, and while that came back clear, subsequent symptoms led her back for a second scan. Thanks to the amazing fast-tracking of Dorien Romanchak those tests revealed Emalia has stage IV colon cancer that has gone into her liver.

What’s Happening Now?
Em, JB, Em's mom Brooke, and Kahalakea are now staying with Becky and Jane in San Francisco and met Tuesday with a wonderful and highly recommended GI oncologist at UCSF for treatment options. She is recommending that Emalia begin chemotherapy to shrink the tumors as soon as she returns to Maui this weekend. No more tests or scans will be done for 2-3 months while this chemo is underway. The path ahead will be dictated by the results of the chemo. 

We are starting a web group for those of you who have so generously offered to help. If you want to be apprised of when and what the Brown/Guard crew needs, please email me: I'll put you on our list and when we have an idea of what JB and Em need, a sign-up email will go out. 

How’s Em?

Em is in some pain from the liver tumor which is also pressing on her stomach causing nausea. Otherwise she is feeling pretty normal. The amazing thing about Em right now is she is super positive and focused.  She and JB are so grateful for all the calls, texts, and offers of help, and while they won’t be able to answer all of them, they feel your love. Em is infinitely grateful, exhausted, and, as you can imagine, overwhelmed. She is focusing on Kahala, and he is obliging by providing comic relief, smiles, hugs, and lots of laughter.

How You Can Help?

To streamline communication we’ll be checking the comments here and passing them on to Em.  So sorry if we can’t get back directly; they so appreciate your positive thoughts and prayers.

From Em
"I look forward to seeing friends in the upcoming months because I know there will be tough times.  But because I have no idea how I'll be feeling, I'm going to take it day by day.  Check in with me on my cell phone to see if it's a good time to stop by because I don't want you to be sitting by yourself in the living room if I am sleeping!  :) Love you all!"


At this point in time if you have specific questions and need to talk to someone, please call Becky Worley 415-713-2053.