The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are. -- Marcus Aurelius
My Memoir on How a group of us healed me of cancer.
⚡Hiyo I'm learning how to be a writer. There is so much room for grammatical corrections (if you wanna take on commas and such holla at me, I want your help, it takes a community). Otherwise, get that I'm a flawed human being just like you. Trying to get my thoughts out, and holy shit there is so much I want to write, vlog, blog and make art about. This is for anyone willing to read it. I write like how I talk, because a lot of this typed Memoirs is talk to text. This is literally how I talk and share in Moonlodge. Welcome to my share. and because it's my genuine authentic voice—I'm not going to turn off my colorful language to satisfy a Politically (auto)Correct Community, apologies for triggering topics and mature language and ANYTHING that may offend you, my desire is complexly to share my human experience, and just like you, I'm a work in progress. I've tried in college to write traditionally and I don't want to anymore.
Thank you, please lmk your genuine thoughts, feelings, ideas and sensations— I really wanna know. Also, please share this, my prayer is that this will help someone...maybe in part i'm writing to the me that desperately looked for something like THIS when i was first diagnosed with cancer...self this is for you.
ALSO Lmk if you want to hire me, as I'm available to help YOU heal your life.
Existing in the miracle
First I'll tell you at the height of it I was diagnosed with cervical cancer stage 1B2 caused from HPV, 3mm squamous cell, this was 8/28/2019.
And on 11/18/2019 my 2nd and preferred gyn/oncologist Dr Megan called me saying, "it's so rare I get to give good news…" My heart beamed I could feel it from the sparkles in her voice, I had gotten exactly what we were all praying for— Dr Megan continued, "Tatiana you're cancer free!"
Well, for now, let me rewind to the very beginning because my hope is that in understanding, how, I got myself into having cervical cancer, the 'how' will lend to you, dear reader to why other folx may have gotten it too— maybe folx you know or you yourself have cervical cancer and perhaps this will inspire you to consider how subtle actions can compound into dis-ease.
and honoring the diwata Dalikmata
I felt great, until I didn't; it was a rocky climb balancing, rebuilding and renourishing my body after having given birth at 36 nearly 5 years ago. So when I bled for a month and a half, scurrying about to get my insurance in order since I had let it expire; I don't know why it surprised me, but I was having an epic miscarriage. Not only a miscarriage a retroverted uterus. Also, I had CIN3 cervical dysplasia; some call this stage 0 cervical cancer, some call it precancerous. Irregardless it was a warning alert that changed my life, this was January 2018.
You see I had been dealing with mom body issues like peeing a little if I sneezed or laughed too hard plus, and this was really embarrassing before I had cancer (now I see it as a potential warning sign) I occasionally had to splint when I defecated (yeah, something was in need of attention, I had to push on my taint because my colon was bulging into my vaginal canal). Not only had I been dealing with incontinence and splinting but I also dealt with pulling pain, as if my womb was trying to push down and out. It was painful. This started in 2015, the year I became a mother and increased over the 2½ years time that led to my miscarriage of January 2018. Unfortunately, because no one talks about these kinds of 'shameful' things I thought this was mom body issues.
When I found out my womb was retroverted in 1/2018 I researched who could help push it back into place because I'd been dealing with uterine pain for a while. The inspirational work from womb expert @indigiemama and a local to my area Google search provided me with Kate McCarthy, an acupuncturist and womb massage therapist based in Albany, CA. After a few months she helped shift my womb back into place, healing my dropping womb pain, what a relief! As for my cervical dysplasia I had a colposcopy in the spring of 2018 that was very traumatic, in West Oakland and I took pause from action and sought support elsewhere so I switched clinics to one nearer to my home in Berkeley. Found my midwife/gyn practitioner another, Kate McGlashan and she allowed me to slow down and take slower steps to heal myself thru lifestyle changes and herbs. Which we believed to be working as she closely monitored me up until I left to travel for a few months to my father's homeland that winter (10/2018-1/2019). I wish I could say I stayed the course while traveling in SEAsia but I contracted a parasite and ran out of my herbs and supplements...The parasites, definitely challenged my immune system, so did the lack of vital supplements.
So when I returned back to the Bay Area and home to Berkeley, CA my routine visit to my midwife/gyn came back positive for abnormal cells and after 3 more vaginal surgeries to discover what and how far along, I had been diagnosed with cervical cancer in the spring of 2019.
Choosing a good Dr
After my 4th vaginal surgery and a five minute examination, the first assigned gyn/oncologist scheduled me a radical hysterectomy; telling me that the internal imaging we were requesting was highly unlikely…
Flabbergasted my community and I looked for a second opinion and a better experience. Our friend Cara suggested UCSF, and immediately we took all the necessary steps to make an appointment and after a week we were in! My new, chosen and 2nd gyn/oncologist Dr Megan Laurel Swanson spent 2 solid hours with me discussing my entire history, what I was doing, what I wanted and together we created a plan. She was so incredibly sensitive and caring and in fact my entire experience at UCSF has thus far been outstanding.
Dr Megan finds NOTHING
The plan with UCSF/Dr Megan was to have internal imaging first! And do you know what?! The PET MRI which can only be found in (I'm very blessed and we'll aware of my privilege) UCSF, which I had 11/2019 came back with NOTHING— No growth, no tumors, nothing in lymphs...nothing.
It's important to note how intense a PET MRI is. It's an hour long confined space with loud banging noises. It takes magnetic images of the internal organs that's the MRI part (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and the PET part follows a sugared dye through the body to discover where cancer or sickness is because sickness eats sugar. My wifey-soulmate-mirror Adrienne gave me this tool— called Rapid Eye Imagining where I take 20 images and quickly flash them into my consciousness. The 20 had to adhere to these strict guidelines; as if they already happened, specific involving only myself, I could only imagine 20 things I didn't already have, no negatives. So while I was in the PET MRI scan, I imagined my 20 and prayed to my Diwata (Filipino for deity, I'm Filipino) Dalikamata, who is a Filipino deity covered in eyes, it is said that this diwata is not surprised by the past, present or future because she sees all. I imagined I was a caterpillar in a chrysalis, I gathered all my inner strength to beam health to every single cell in my entire body.
Remember 8/2019 I had specimens cut out of my body that were cancerous with cancerous lesions on my cervix. What did nothing on my PET MRI mean? —I asked myself, with excitement as I stayed in the question and prayed for complete healing.
Dr Megan pulled back, on the original oncologists plan to have a very standard to my case and findings, the radical hysterectomy. Let's be clear about what a radical hysterectomy is, it's an intense surgery where a surgeon cuts from belly button to pubic bone open, pushing past the bladder hoping not to nic any of the nerves which may cause incontinence, cutting away some lymphs, piece of bladder and colon to ultimately remove the entire womb with fallopian tubes (Woah), leaving the patient with a catheter in the hospital for 5 days and a few months of recovery where you can't pick anything up past 10 pounds. Yeah.
In pulling back we scheduled a lesser vaginal surgery called a cone. A cone is basically cutting a cone shaped piece out of my cervix, it's an in and out surgery, no catheter w/ a few weeks of recovery, still sucks but not as much. I could feel it, Dr Megan had a hunch and I wanted her hunch to be right.
My entire community, hmm. Let's clear that up.
I did not tell my entire community I had cancer. No, I told those who called me up and asked me how I was doing. It really helped that I organize, run, manage and tend to events/ceremonies/rituals regularly, like Moonlodge (an event for womb/mooners who have bled in unison with the tides). In being a community organizer, I have built a culture of community members, friends, family who frequently talk about what we are doing in our lives. It turned out to be about 27 best friends that I communicated with regularly, plus community groups like my large family (parents, Tita's, cousins, siblings) and my daughter's Netivot Shalom preschool, who need gracious mention as they were so beautifully welcoming, helpful and warm. Plus my lover and life partner who did all the unfun things like watch me weather thru and anchor me down when I felt I might float away...Dan my love, I give so much thanks to him. Plus my 4½yro daughter, Aurora, who reminds me of all that is worth living for everyday. When I say community I mean them. My entire community prayed. This is important, because I asked them to envision my cancer eradicated. Some friends like Colleen, wrote me cards. The simple act of having tangible moments to acknowledge the reality of big life challenges was so potent. I would cry at reading Colleen's well writ words and my daughter and I would expand the moment and it gave me an opportunity to let Aurora my daughter into my internal world (so if you're reading this and your friend has cancer, consider writing them a 1.tangible 2.can touch it 3.letter) it was a healthy share in grief. Then I put the cards out around my home, from Colleen and others in the community who made the time to give a potent reminder that I was not alone, and there were many.
I tried experimental things like calling up my immediate family and having a PTSD Rite of passage. Yes, you read that right. I called my father up and asked him to have a healing around all the childhood violence I experienced. I asked him to hold me, instead of hit me. It types as simple, but this was a huge healing for me and my father. He held me as I cried, being witnessed by my tight core family, it was so beautiful, I did not hurry it. It took a few hours (+40years) to get to that point, with all the upset and tears that needed to gently open up to the simplicity of my inner critical - pride mongering - controlling ego that was needing to get hugged by the original wound itself.
All the while I continued My Personal protocol--
Everyday I wake up I drink a glass of water, nothing fancy just a glass of water. I then take all of my supplements and herbs.
Especially my anxiety, because let's face it, cancer is fucking scary. And with relaxing my anxiety along relaxed my internal habit of tension. So huge, and in relaxing my tension my pain lifted, not that cannabis muted my pain, no cannabis eased my tension allowing for my body to relax out of pain. Plus, cannabis slows everything down the whole vaginal bolus was designed to slow down the cancer and work on killing the virus while I boosted my immune system.
Here I talk more in depth about
a few herbs I take orally and supplements
Poke, Phytolacca americana.
St John's wort, Hypericum perforatum.
Turkey Tail, Trametes versicolor.
Yes, I got my pussy (I embrace this word!) really high. It was a psychedelic journey. It took hours of unfocused surrender. So I say "I slept" but really I was between worlds looking for myself asking the big questions inside of myself. It was very intense and the crux of it lasted about 2 weeks of full on dream state. My lover held our family together, again thank you Dan. There were perks too, like when my body was healed between surgeries, sex was new and different, it was down right buoyant and by proxy I got my lover high too. The thing about cannabis and the vagina is that it relaxes the whole entire vaginal canal it's like being vaginally erect or aroused not that my intention was to have sex but rather to be relaxed and without tension because the tension was so painful. It made for creative energy to be in constant flow if you can imagine Kundalini energy effortlessly rising. There was a surge rising thru my energy as I allowed myself to relax into my authentic pace. I started to regulate, I no longer seemed high or altered to anyone even though I was increasing my Cannabis indica intake daily, adding oral doses, because I wanted saturation, I wanted my body to clean house with apoptosis. My goal is to reach 60 mg total of Cannabis indica, it's described on Rick Simpson's website, Phoenix tears, I recommend reading his story, work, and method as it's all free and is another cancer success story, which unfortunately there aren't many. Let's change that narrative!
My herbal regimen
Among my morning HERBS were Trametes versicolor, Hypericum perforatum, Phytolacca americana. These herbs were asked to help boost my immune system and get my metabolism working as well as brighten my mood. My self inquiry revealed how my tension and nervous habits of disingenuine overextension (chronic healer/empathy problems) led to pain and ultimately sickness. Now that I had an 'ease the tension bolus' I needed a team of immune modulators to help nourish me on a cellular level because I was looking to rebuild my nervous system, my immune system and my lymphatic system. (Please do not take these herbs lightly find an herbalist to help you. My friend and fellow colleague, Colea helped me with Phytolacca americana as she harvested it from the Appalachians herself. And herbalism is my trade and has been for over 15 years, basically what I'm saying is you need a lot of experienced people helping you with these herbs because some of them need to be experienced with care).
As for supplements
I take L-methylfolate (this is B9 and I take it because I have beta-thalassemia a genetic blood difference), vitamin D (most people are chronically deficient), liposomal vitamin C (this is uniquely fat soluble and helps everything absorb), Omega 3s (lubricating my internal wheels— cardiovascular and nervous systems), B12 (because I'm moody and a vegan) and Aloe arborescens a particular variety of Aloe Dan's mom, Shoshi was gifted a case from our family friend Lynne, this particular Aloe it's a vitamin powerhouse that helped my body detoxify and boosts my white blood cells and macrophages (these are the body's garbage trucks and health defense).
Let's talk diet.
I naturally intermittently fasted. I ate one meal a day for two months, because genuinely and authentically that's all my body wanted. Vegan, sugar-free, mostly grain-free. My partner would make quinoa, homemade tahini sauce heavy in garlic or homemade vegan garlic pesto, homemade kraut, homemade roasted almonds, homemade everything, simple. I'd bowl up with veggies a small humble bowl, because everything my body wanted to do was detox and so I ate a little, just enough. I chose alkaline foods most of the time. I veered away from anything that caused gas like beans and legumes. I took inventory of all the foods I ate— that made me feel bad, anything that made me feel swollen, nauseous, tired or anything that made me feel less than vibrant I stopped eating those things. I got really familiar with every aspect of my body, my bowel movements, color of my urination, what kind of menstruation/ovulation and general vaginal fluids, my body odor, how my breath smelt (what my different smells meant), the taste in my mouth, whether something boosted my energy, how other people's energy affected me, I paid very close attention to how my body felt and how I responded and I course corrected everywhere.
Mid September 2019, I started to need to stretch and move my body more. I'd wake up in the middle of the AM needing to stretch and move and so I did. I woke up and moved, I found the locked up places in my body and I stretched into them. I sweat. And to my tropical by nature body, living in a cool dry temperate climate, this sweating was unique. I learned everyone must sweat, not too much, just enough to help the body naturally detoxify.
During those first week AM wake ups after the cathartic body movements, sometimes I'd go back to sleep or I'd read. Unfortunately I found cervical cancer forums to read, I say unfortunately because 8 out of 10 of the stories I found are really sad... And that's kind of poisonous to somebody who's getting well, sadness. Tho, I don't believe in toxic positivity. I think being honest with a pain is more important than trying to be positive about the pain. So I felt it was important for me to see what was out there for people with cancer. So I researched, spent hours reading about real life stories. I also learned that in order for me to survive I needed to make radical Life changes, forever life changes, no going back. Some relationships changed and got updated, one relationship had to be let go, very sad moment, I kept reminding myself I had to choose myself. All those stories of us, cancer having people, some turned into vigils… I wanted to be a success story. I needed to update every aspect of my life. I wanted to live, REALLLLLLY live.
an intimate share
self massage, trauma being moved out of the body with gyration
and touch and dry brushing and massage and movement and bathing rocks
and yes sex and qoya and self gyrations
Lit up by work
Prayers on Mt Shasta
Optimysticism back in Berkeley
I came back from the mountains refreshed and optimystic about life and Dr Megan gave me a fateful call days before the scheduled radical hysterectomy that she wanted to pull back, that she had a hunch, that she felt slow was best, let's do a lesser surgery.
I was a full yes to no radical hysterectomy.
So 11/8/2019 Dr Megan cut a cone piece of my cervix out; tested it and found NOTHING.
All these things WE did, cured me.
Now I face something new.
To keep my now healthy womb or not.
There is this standard, conservative protocol, that anyone diagnosed with cancer still holds a risk of getting it again, often (thanks to reading all those cancer forums) cancer comes back, worse. Dr Megan is giving me space to choose, which next risk to take. The risk involved with a removal of an organ out of my body. Or the risk of cancer coming back...
After my 5th vaginal surgery, which btw thank you Dr Megan and her team at UCSF I had a smooth surgery and recovery with minimal pain, no memory (thank you, anesthesia) of the procedure (which I unfortunately have memory of all 4 of the other vaginal surgeries).
A week goes by, and on 11/18/2019 is the date I got THE CALL from Dr Megan. The call where she tells me I'm cancer free.
It's was a whole and complete miracle.
I spent the next few days c r y i n g in relief at my news of joy, my whole body shook.
I spread the news.
a video message to my Best Friend
where I share for the first time our CANCER FREE news
To keep or let go of my now healthy womb?
a note from Daniel my life partner
Thank you for reading, thank you for helping.
Here are Dan's words written for you to read.
Thank you to all those mentioned and those not specifically mentioned here who helped Tati on our journey. Dan appreciates you.
If you know someone with cervical cancer please feel free to share this post.
Everything we did is posted here for free.
Though if you or someone you know wants one on one support with navigating natural therapies, herbs and life changes to help heal cervical cancer and or support Western treatment, Tatiana may be available for individual sessions.
Thanks to my best friend Bettina for everyday touch ins, I feel our communalities (yes, I can also mean commonalities, but I meant to commune) helped me feel in togetherness and I have fallen even more in love with the person you are growing into. Thanks to my best friend Angie, her husband my best friend Scott and their daughter my best friend Izz for the care packages, heart to heart dream shares, articles, herbs, and plants and food and medicine and sparkles and support and playing with Aurora. Thanks to my best friend Vetiver for healing body work, laughter, solid, fierce, excellent presence and being a sister in magick. Thanks to my best friend and cousin Ja for your constant worldview and reminder that all is possible if you dare to dream bigger then was taught. Thanks to my best friend Joshy who psychically saw all of this coming and powerfully sparkled their love all over me whatever flavour I archetypically embodied. Thanks to my best friend Kawena who aligned me with beautiful cannabis care packages and for being a daring and creative sister in magick. Thanks to my best sister Candise and my best brother in law Vince, who showed up always to hold my daughter, hold my hand, listen and be grounded and supportive family members. Thanks to my best brother Jay bird for teaching my girl how to play ball and for showing up and walking into the fire, when I double dog dare 'im, and thanks to his wife my best sister in law for knowing how this feels. Thanks to our cousin Louis for your presence and check ins and support with Aurora's dance education and for being an invitation to joyful celebration. Thank you to my best friend Shannen for looking into the unknown with me and sharing wisdom and zest and trust in life. Thanks to my best friend Kasey for holding me while I whaled and showing up like heart nectar; freshly baked gfBread (Dan echo's thanks, eats most of it) on one hip brand new Noa Violet on the other and all the while showing up as the first in a long circle as a sister in magick. Thanks to Alex at Hyperbarics in Oakland for helping me heal from the final surgery and for my best friend CaseyBear for the support in being able to experience Hyperbarics treatment and the supplements he researched and sent me. Thanks to my best friend Adrienne for being a friend to my entire family and checking in with Dan, and Aurora because they needed to be held up too, for being my epic playmate, for sharing your wealth of knowledge and skills and research and love and being a go to person for anything you are my mirror-soul-wifey. Thanks to the Moonlodge womxn, my sister.in.magick, you know who you are and how greatly you've helped me by listening and showing up and being in Ritual with me. To those whom I did not name the ones we always rely on, the ones who are our blood; to our parents (this includes godparents, because really they raised us too and they haven't stopped guiding us and they feed our spirit blood) who are our lifeline— deep bow without you we would not exist, thank you for teaching us every good and bad thing you know because of it we have this miracle life before you, to our Tita the matriarchal guiding light shining star of radiance my constant, my Ninang (hopefully she remembers she's my Ninang this time, because I always call her Tita), to our cousins who know us and still love us because we've seen each other glow up and have spent our entire lives loving each other, and to our siblings the ones who get it in a way nobody else does 'cause they were there and will always be thick or thin. This Grand Life is magick, thank you for being a part of OUR success story, please help us spread the good news far and wide so that we may continue to celebrate, together. I love you all so fucking much.
your witch for hire
Written/spoken in Google docs on my pixel XL 2, with my pointer finger and talk to text
11:29pm Wednesday, December 4th, 2019 ☀️♐🌓♓
They are all my own original art, with collaboration from my best friends.
Please ask to use any images or video or words out of the whole and complete context.
Feel free to share the whole of this blog/Memoir liberally and with anyone as a link.