micki portrait Some Vignettes from Erik

  (written mid-April 1999)

The Simonton Workshop

Five early March days in Santa Barbara with Carl Simonton and three other experienced cancer counselors still provide Micki and me with soothing inner resources. We met there with seven other cancer patients and their significant others to explore ways to enhance healing. One pivotal focus was on sustaining a healthy attitude in the face of tough medical challenges. A blend of realism and hope, made workable and solid by the absence of absolutes, works best for each of us at the moment.

What makes the "Little Engine That Could" an exemplary model lies, of course, in what he said. You will recall it was "I think I can. I think I can." While he was climbing the mountain he was not saying, "I know I will. I know I will." The more tentative "I think I can" offers a grounded clarity that keeps you on target. The Simonton training has made each of us less emotionally fragile.

We practiced visualization. We explored secondary gains -- the good things that flow from illness. We examined the learnings that might be found in a cancer diagnosis. We listened to the tribulations of well family members. I went to California feeling overwhelmed, my heart hearing only the flutes and piccolos of shrill tension. I came home with a heart that now also hears the woodwinds, the brass, the strings, and percussion.

The New Kitchen - A God Bless America Story

Since last August Micki and I had been scheming about the possible joys of a total replacement for our twenty-five year old, dark and cramped kitchen. The remodeling, tentatively to begin in January, vanished from our plans when all energies focused on Micki's health. Some scheduled time before the Simonton workshop with a dear, generous, and marvelously outspoken California Godmother meant Micki would be away for ten days. A glimmer of possibility emerged.

Counting our current Gainesville place, Micki and I have owned five different houses. In three we had done extensive kitchen overhauls. Each time we can remember months of doing dishes in guestroom bathtubs. We were not going through months of dust and noise with the fridge and a toaster oven somewhere in the living room. You guessed it.

A designer and two committed contractors, lovingly tuning in to our needs, completely tore out and replaced our kitchen in the ten days Micki and I were in California. All the old cabinets, counters, appliances -- gone -- back to the bare walls. We returned to all new cabinets, a silent dishwasher, the linoleum replaced by elegant tile, and - TA DA - a totally new window. Micki's longtime dream, the yard high oval floods the space with light and adds a feminine touch to the whole house.

Blake stayed at home during this renovation, recording the transition on film and keeping track of crews that worked till 7:30 in the evening. Please, note: out of fairness to the contractors, anyone living within one hundred miles of Gainesville must swear never to mention that a totally new kitchen can be remodeled in ten working days.

The Power of Prayer

Jody arrived to share her spring vacation the same day Micki and I returned from Santa Barbara. You have heard about all the family singing and long talks. One evening Jody, Jeff, and I went to hear Dr. Elizabeth Targ speaking at UF on studies of intercessory prayer. This Stanford-trained MD, a stickler for research precision, made a most convincing case that prayer can indeed make a positive difference. The following week Dr. Christiane Northrup's newsletter included an interview with Dr. Larry Dossey, another respected investigator speaking to the healing power of prayer. Both researchers presented dramatic results from carefully designed double blind studies.

No question that prayer from a distance and prayer by everyday folks as well as professional healers can make a profound difference. Patients who are prayed for do significantly better. Please, keep the healing energy and prayers coming our way.


The first post radiation MRI, four weeks after ending our twice daily visits to the Cancer Center, indicated that the tumor has continued to grow. Possible medical directions from this juncture forward become complex and murky. We discussed with our oncologist various chemotherapy options. Different physicians give markedly different pictures of the side effects of various chemical protocols. At the moment Micki feels strongly that chemo is not an option.

At this point our family finds itself in the unthinkable debate about quality of life versus life extension. None of the chemotherapy agents presents much of a track record against a glioblastoma. Is an additional x weeks of living worth the tribulations of the chemotherapy regimen? Our choice has been to move forward with various types of energy balancing and Reiki healing as well as a carefully focused herbal approach.

The herbal option brought us to Dr. Maude Scott, an eighty-one year old herbalist with a huge Florida following. We learned of her when a local glioblastoma survivor mentioned that, although he was disappointed in his time in a recent 5 K road race, he credited his three year plus survival to the herbal remedies of Maude Scott. A juicer, carefully washed fresh vegetables, and a regimen that includes garlic and horseradish now grace the new kitchen. David Wilson, the GBM survivor who uses Dr. Scott's approach, came by to help us learn some of the preparations. His mention that his latest MRI shows an eighty per cent reduction in tumor size from the 1996 original inspired us all. A dash of burdock root or wormwood? You are welcome for a meal anytime.

All of us, including Jody and Jeff in New Haven, are sustained by a circle of love and caring. Micki's laugh buoys us all. The support of family, many generations from all sides, fills the house with calls, handpainted posters, and a steady stream of cards. My brother, Essy, and his wife, Ann, stopped by last weekend. Friends continue to bring by food. This afternoon Bill and Claudia Parkhurst arranged a healing circle for Micki and me at their Williston farm. Six caring healers from as far away as West Palm Beach, brought together by Bill and Claudia, gave us separate renewing sessions. There were lots of tears and hugs. Each of us feels newly grounded and open once again.

Thank you for your ongoing prayers and support.

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