In the spring of 2001, I had finished all of my treatment and was declared disease-free. By this time I had heard of an organization called The Life Extension Foundation. Now, many folks bash them because they sell supplements.  Yes, they do sell supplements.  But they also do research and cite others’ research and that research is anything but bash-worthy.  They would cite claims about Vit D3, CoQ10 and Curcumin and their effects on breast cancer and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard any of this at my doctor’s office or on the news.  Did you get that?  Never heard any of that on the news or at my doctor’s office.  So of course it had to be false.  Off I went to my best search friend, PubMed.  I could never find that magazine with an unsubstantiated claim and, as a former USMC journalist, I was big on unsubstantiated claims. Not ever, so finally I quit trying.  Yes, their research is quite good and they do not make unsubstantiated claims.  So what they sell supplements based on the research of others?  Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.  Don’t buy their supplements if you don’t want to, but they have an entire protocol for breast cancer on their site.  You could still follow that protocol and never spend one dime with LEF.  But I learned a lot about other substances that had effects on cancer and they were one helluva lot easier to take than chemo or radiation!

I cleaned up my lifestyle in a huge way.  I figured I had spent decades living and eating the way I was and, to keep doing the same thing over, it was time to change it.  I believe that for cancer to set up camp in our bodies, and for our bodies to host it so brilliantly, there has to be an inviting “atmosphere,” so to speak … a particular ambience … for cancer.  Obviously, my body’s candles were lit and my violins were playing sweetly cuz cancer was getting all romantic up in there.  Time to change the station to some heavy metal … well not really; heavy metals could’ve been part of my problem in a literal way … but you get the point.  So I changed my diet, I changed the water I drank, I changed the way I cooked, I got air purifiers, and I took supplements.  I had figured out that I had to change everything I had formerly been doing, so that’s what I dedicated my time to.  That, and learned about other substances that helped keep our bodies from getting cancer.  Sure, I had a scare or two in that interim, but despite the dark spots on PET scans, when the follow-up CT happened, those dark spots were gone.  Dunno … can’t explain it.  But those were my salad days.  I honestly thought I was done with cancer for all time.  It was during this time that I discovered dog agility.

Jump, Tazzie!

I had found this amazing Papillon I named Tazzie cuz she was one helluva tasmanian devil!  I had originally intended to do flyball with her because she was so crazy, she had to have a job and fast!  The trainer I was interested in no longer taught flyball, but she did teach agility.  I had seen it before and figured that would be a great outlet for my girl and make us more of a team and I was absolutely right.  Agility bonded the two of us together in a way that I can’t even describe.  I know this might sound really weird … well, there’s gonna be a lot of that in this blog, so I guess I better just stop apologizing for it … but I love that dog with every fiber of my being and she does me.  She never leaves my side and has an almost human level of understanding and communication.  Anyway she is my heart dog.  Oh the fun we had doing agility!  We had such big adventures from Colorado to Idaho, and California, Utah, Montana, Wyoming … just she and I.

In Sep 2006, we went to Gillette, WY on a whim.  Throughout that year, we had earned enough points to qualify us to compete in the North American Dog Agility Championships.  It was a grueling week of getting up at 5 and not getting back to the room till 11, going to sleep, and doing the same thing again the next day.  Long days, running, and stress will wear someone out quickly and that’s the point of this competition.  The winner is the one who comes at the end of the week with the highest average number of points.  Those courses are two to three times longer/larger than the normal competition courses.  They cover the full expanse of a rodeo arena so and your dog had better be ready for some serious running.  So many of my agility friends were going to be there and, of course, my former trainer.  My sole goal for that week was to complete one run and to not embarrass my trainer too badly.

Champion Tazzie

Oh we were having so much fun, but damn was I getting tired!  There was another gal there who was in treatment for cancer at the time and I couldn’t believe she managed to hold up through that week, bald and all!  I knew that, while it was a magical, fantasy of a time, I would never do it again.  Way too stressful and way too exhausting for someone who was trying to keep cancer out of her body … at least in my case.  So I enjoyed every minute.  The last day of the competition came and they were determining who would run the last course … which two dogs had the highest averages in each height class/division.  I was sitting back in the crating area with my dog when one of my buddies walked in and told me that I was holding the number 1 or 2 dog in North America.  WTF????!!!!!!!  He had checked the score sheets and knew we were in the top two!  I just couldn’t believe it!  When I went out to walk that course (we get to walk the course to memorize it before we run it with the dog), I just had tears in my eyes the whole time.  I could not believe that here I was, at my very first Championships, only wanting to survive it and I was actually walking the championship course and, at the very least, I had the second best 12″ pre-elite dog in North America!  Well, she was always that to me, but this was amazing!
I stood nervously on the start line, with Tazzie in my arms, as I watched the other competitors run.  We were the second 12″ team to go (there was one other) but from where we were standing, we couldn’t see the time clock, so we didn’t know what time we had to beat.  So we ran the course and had a couple of bobbles, but I still came off that course beaming like the sun just to have been able to even run it with my girl!  I took her up to the bleachers, where my trainer was sitting, and sat down smiling.  My trainer, who had been watching all the runs, said almost beneath her breath, “You were faster.”  “WHAT?”  “You won.”  OMG I started crying like a little girl and couldn’t stop for the next hour!  I felt like Cinderella with my girl … here we just wanted to see the ball and we actually got the prince?  Brings tears to my eyes even as I write … one of the most special memories I have.  That little dog never ran for love of the game.  She ran her heart out because I asked her too.  She ran for love of me.  And I love her with ever fiber of my being.

  1. Martine Aerts-Niddam says:

    more more more…….. I am so hooked on your story, Melissa!! XO

    • Oh you are so funny!!! Patience, grasshoppaaaahhh …. patience! In the middle of my next vaporizer post. 🙂 Gotta try to cover all these topics at once and keep my poor head straight at the same time! LOL

  2. Amber Patton says:

    AMAZING! Keep the stories coming 🙂 I’ve learned so much about you in the past 24 hours! Love you!

  3. Danneal Whitton says:

    Dear Melissa,
    I was with you in those 70s discos and have very fond memories. I read your blog and was terribly moved. You are a courageous woman and a great writer. I am so sorry you have had to go through this ! I also went through some tough times (bad car wreck) but am on the other side of that. I am glad you are with God and He is with you. Keep writing and I’ll keep reading ! Love , Danneal

    • Daneeeealllllll!!!!! Gurl, you KNOW it! We tore it up, didn’t we? So much fun … I can still envision how you used to dance and all those rush skits! Thanks so much for stopping by and do hope you continue! Feel free to chime in whenever!

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