Archive for October, 2011

Finding Deep Joy In Life’s Toughest Challenges

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

In August, I attended a cancer support group to better be there for my Mom as she works on recovering from brain cancer.  The group was led by Bernie Siegel (author of Love, Medicine, and Miracles) .   At that meeting, Bernie read a passage from the book “Patience – A Little Book of Inner Strength” by Eknath Easwaran.   The story he read was about the Joy of St. Francis.   In the story, St. Francis shares that when you can be happy no matter what other people are doing or what is going on in your life, then you have found deep joy.   I downloaded that book that night and learned the joy in patience.   I also learned that any goal was attainable if one was patient enough.   I was sharing this book with a friend a few weeks later who told me about the book “Buddha’s Brain – The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom.”   This is a book written by Rick Hanson, PhD – a neuropsychologist and Richard Mendius, MD – a neurologist.   The book is an amazing treasure at how to use your mind to develop your brain to create enduring happiness.   I mind mapped the book for my own later review.   I wanted to share it with others through this blog.

Use Your Mind To Develop Your Brain for Enduring Happiness

Use Your Mind To Develop Your Brain for Enduring Happiness

More Brain Cancer “Cures” – what we’ve tried

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

Over the past six months, we have been helping my mom work towards curing her brain cancer.   We’ve tried many of the conventional and alternative therapies out there.  Numerous friends and family have had suggestions of things we must try if we wanted our mom to recover.    Here are our experiences:

Alternative Approaches We Have Tried

1. High PH water – supposedly cancer cells cannot live in an alkaline environment.  The standard american diet creates a highly acidic environment.     A plant based diet creates a more alkaline environment.  Supposedly high PH water does the same.   We got my mom a Kangen water filter to make her water high PH.   Studying organic apple cider vinegar, a little bit of this in filtered water can do the same thing.   A bottle of Brag’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar that can last for months costs under $10.   The portable Kangen water filter we got that takes up a lot of real estate on the kitchen counter cost over $1300.   Plus it’s not that portable.    The only plus, you don’t have to tolerate the taste of the apple cider vinegar in your water.   I’ve tried many of these things with my mom as overall they are just a healthy way to live.   I found a little apple cider vinegar in my water to be a nice addition.   You can read more about the impact of an alkaline producing diet on cancer at this link –

2. Quark – this is a mixture of flax seed oil, crushed flax seed and organic cottage cheese.   It produces compounds that supposedly kill brain cancer cells.   We did quark for a little bit in June.   She didn’t’ tolerate the quark well because she is lactose intolerant.   We tried to make quark with lactose free yogurt but she still did not like it that well.   You can read more about quark at

3. Macrobiotic Diet – we did this for several weeks in June.   No one in the family liked this food so this was not a sustainable approach.   We had a well known Macrobiotic consultant visit the family and he made these outrageous statements that did not seem correct regarding conventional blood tests – I don’t really remember what he said but do recall that upon later research, his statements were discredited.  My family then tended to ascribe the term “quack” to anything macrobiotic.   Without family support of this diet, there was no way it was going to work.   This guy did more harm then good because he was too extreme and the family thought he was a nut job.   If the environment is conducive, the patient has good support, and their is strong personal motivation to do this diet, it is good to follow a macrobiotic diet to cure cancer.   It does work for many people.

4. Turmeric supplements – I am not sure these work for brain cancer if this form of turmeric cannot cross the blood brain barrier.  It may work for inflammation in your body.   See the post just below this one. Based on experience of my mom getting better when she drinks this tea and some of the research on curcumin, I do think that curcumin root (from which Turmeric is derived) when it is sliced, boiled and drank right away works very well to kill cancer cells.   I want to figure out a way to grow this myself indoors in non-tropical climates.

5. Ketogenic Diet – this means no carbohydrates at all.  It is high protein and high plant based fats.   This diet is very hard to maintain when you have a family that loves it’s carbs and desserts.    Even with showing every single family member the impact of sugar on feeding cancer cells, some family members still thought it was acceptable and even desired to give my mother dessert and sweets throughout the day.   The ONLY way even a minimal attempt at this diet worked was to remove my mother from interacting with these “well meaning” family members by honoring her request to move to Florida (something that caused HUGE divisivness in the family).  My daughter found a supplement called the Maitake Mushroom that lowers blood sugar so it counters the impact of ingesting foods that increase your blood sugar.  We monitor her blood sugar as well and it’s at the normal levels.  We give her one of these in the morning and do our best to limit the carbs by making her eggs, organic meats, and lots of low glycemic vegetables   Here is a website to learn more about what you can eat on a ketogenic diet –

6. Melatonin – we spoke with this medical intuitive who was adamant we give her 5 mg of melatonin several times a day.   Upon further research we found that it would cause problems with her anti-seizure medication.   He claimed to have cured thousands with brain cancer with this approach.   Maybe this is why so many people from brain cancer die as most people with brain cancer end up at some point in time taking anti-seizure medication.  And if his claims of treating thousands are correct,  this might be why they are all croaking.   Needless to say, his claims seemed preposterous.   Plus brain cancer is extremely rare – thousands?   Considering brain cancer is a 5 out of 100,000 occurrence, treating 1000 people is a very large sample size.   The BS Meter was pegged on this guy.

7. Cancell – This we heard about this in a book called “out smart your cancer.”   She actually appeared to get worse while taking this.   We stopped it immediately.

8. Qigong – while my mom enjoyed going to her shiatsu qigong weekly sessions in June and we had a good time with the Grand Master Foo healing, this seemed too out there for my mother.   She was also given a “sacred” blanket she was supposed to lean against on her chair.   It had magnets in it and she claimed that every time she fell asleep against it she had nightmares.   I think this is in the category if you think it helps, it does.   She did not feel it helped, so we stopped doing it.

11.  Yoga – this was fantastic,  First we created a private yoga class that friends and family did with my Mom. Then we hired a private yoga teacher to work with her as well.   She was doing very well regaining functionality and stopping the increasing of “deficits.”   We were able to do the yoga until she had the brain biopsy.

12. Tennis – my mom is an avid tennis player and she was playing tennis until her first seizure in September.  She now is motivated to get out of her wheel chair so that she can play tennis by Christmas.

13. Removing environmental toxins – the greater exposure to environmental toxins, the harder it is for the human body to fight off cancer.  Conventional thinking now says we all have cancer in our systems.   It becomes a problem when we have lower resistance to countering it.  Lower resistance can come when natural anti-cancer gene’s mutate (as what happens when some people take a prescription drug too long like cholesterol medication or are exposed to environmental toxins in excess of what our body can handle like that in cigarette smoke).  Lower resistance can also come from having a less effective immune system (which can happen just from aging as 60 to 90 percent of our immune system is in our digestive track and digestive systems do become less effective as we age.)   Environmental toxins can both cause naturally occurring anti-cancer genes to mutate and reduce the strength of our immune systems as our bodies have to work harder to counter the effects of the toxicity.   Properly functioning genes and a healthy immune system are both needed to keep cancer at bay in our bodies.   Some toxins are worse than others and when you already have cancer, it’s even more important to remove as many environmental toxins as possible.   Some of the environmental toxins we removed from what my mom was doing was to stop drinking out of plastic water bottles,  to not hold the cell phone up to her head anymore, to replace scratched teflon pans with pans that did not have teflon, to only drink filtered water,  to only purchase organic produce and meats, and to replace her cosmetics and skin care products with ones approved by the cosmetic database as very low to no carcinogens.  What has amazed me is the arguments I’ve gotten from family members and other people visiting who offer an opinion regarding the impact of environmental toxins.   The two biggest arguments I’ve heard is that these environmental toxins help make your body stronger and since they haven’t caused me to get cancer, this whole thing is a bunch of bunk to there are toxins in the air we breathe so why bother doing anything about this anyhow.   One of my friends says these folks live on Planet Ignoramus.   Regardless, these people are as toxic as the environmental toxins they dismiss as relevant.   My approach has been to ignore these folks and do my best to keep the toxins away from my Mom.   Being a cancer patient’s advocate is not a job for the weak that is for sure.

Conventional Practices

1. Brain Biopsy – we cancelled her first brain biopsy because it didn’t make sense nor did the neurosurgeon in Hartford, Connecticut give us a warm and fuzzy he knew what he was doing.   We then went to a hospital in NY at the recommendation of one of my brother’s neighbors.   The neurooncologist there was a fantastic sales person and brought in her aggressive neurosurgeon for the close to convince my family to let them do a resection on her brain.  The Neurosurgeon’s argument was that he was one of the guys who certified all the neurosurgeons in the state of New York and he would never certify someone in neurosurgery who would not do a brain biopsy on someone with brain cancer.   Well with that level of influence, of course every neurosurgeon in NY certified under his watch would agree with him.   The brain biopsy made my mother incontinent (physically and emotionally),  caused her to have seizures and fall and injure herself and started her downward slide.  We were never told of these potential side effects when being pitched on doing the biopsy.    No one even reviewed the results of the biopsy to realize that the pathology report did not correlate to the MRI diagnosis.  Had we known then what we know now, we would NOT do the brain biopsy again.    We would do the curcumin root tea, the ketogenic diet with the Maitake Mushroom capsules, and get her into the burzynski clinic stat.

2. MRI scans.   My mom has had about seven of these.  NOT ONE radiologist has ever looked at all of them.   The last MRI scan she had, the neurologist who ordered it said it looked like the tumor had grown from what he “remembered” seeing back in April – yet he never compared them side by side.   After seeing hundreds of patients over a six month period, how he could “remember” what her scan looked like in April is hard to believe.   Additionally, the Connecticut neurologist made a pronouncement that she had a Gliomastosis Cerebri (for which she had NO symptoms) and told one of my brothers that she had less than six months to live if we were lucky.   Well we were lucky, because of this diagnosis, the neurooncologist in Hartford advised against doing chemo or radiation with this diagnosis as it would not help.  The pathology report showed that she has an anaplastic astrocytoma – for which her symptoms did correlate.  The prognosis for an anaplastic astrocytoma is also measured in years, not months.    Yet the neurooncologist said the pathology report confirmed the MRI diagnosis – it did not.   Thank god for small favors.   As the chemo and radiation would have at best ruined the quality of her life and at worst killed any reasonable chance for a full recovery and significantly shortened her life.

What has worked for my Mom is her continued belief that she could and would recover.  She is living proof of the concepts in Bruce Lipton’s book “The Biology of Beliefs.”   She has tried everything that we have asked her to do to recover.   She is finally starting on the road to recovery.  She has now outlived the prognosis given by her doctor in Connecticut and everything, both good and bad, has lead to the successes we are having today.

What We Now Do Because It WORKS

1. Steroids to reduce her brain swelling.   Her family doctor in Florida recommended that in April.  After her second seizure (Oct. 2011), the tending physician at the Florida hospital was emphatic we give her steroids since the seizure caused even more brain swelling.   Her family doctor agreed with us to continue using them to help reduce the brain swelling.    Her tumor is in the supportive tissues of her brain and causes tremendous brain swelling which causes most of the physical deficits.  She never was given steroids in Hartford after her first seizure (Sept. 2011) and ended up with left side paralysis and in a wheel chair five days later.   Coincidence – I think not. She is quickly regaining functionality since being on the steroids.

2. The Ketogenic Diet – sugar feeds brain cancer cells.   High protein and high plant based fats feed the healthy cells in the brain.  The ketogenic diet starves the cancer cells.  The biggest challenge here is getting the rest of the family to NOT feed her sugar or high glycemic foods.   This has been unbelievably hard to gain compliance.   Like I said above, if you want your family member who has cancer to live and you have family members who insist on feeding them sugar, the best course of action is to move them far away from those family members.

3. High PH water – we have the filter and it does appear to work well overall.   We have the Kangen filter so we use it.   However if people can’t afford this filter, the apple cider vinegar in filtered water will do the same thing.

4. Curcumin root tea – twice a day.   See the blog post below. This is a miracle cure for brain cancer.

5. Probiotic pills twice a day to build up her immune system.  My mom has been very healthy even with the increasing deficits accelerated in part by the medical “care” she received.

6. Daily physical therapy – absolutely required to keep and regain lost physical functioning and muscle strength.  We now have a physical therapist working with her who believes she can and will recover (this is crucial).   Her physical therapist  in Connecticut believed my mom was going to die within weeks and freely expressed that idea to me and other family members.   We solved the problem of the dangerous “debbie downer” physical therapist by bringing my mom to Florida where she is now working with people much more positive and encouraging for her recovery.

7. Feldenkrais – an amazing physical therapy approach that helps regenerate neural networks and regain physical functioning.

8. Intense laughter about everything.  Whatever my mom enjoys doing and makes her laugh, we do it.   For Halloween we have her dressed as “Chair” – this crazy character with a long blonde platinum wig.   She has worn this wig everywhere the past several days.   It keeps her laughing.

9.   Finding clinics like the Burzynski Clinic that have ongoing FDA clinical trials and great success with brain cancer recovery.

10. Continue the removal of environmental toxins from my mom’s environment – in her foods, from the use of her phone, in her water,  with the tools used to prepare her food, and with her cosmetic/skin care products.  This is an ongoing challenge which continues to amaze me.   We now have full time nursing care for my mom and just last week I was told by one of her nurses that since we didn’t have air filters in the house, it was a waste of time to work on reducing the amount of environmental toxins in my mom’s environment.   I called the senior care service that provided that one nurse and asked them not to send that nurse around again.  The message to anyone reading this – if there are people who are not willing or interested in becoming more educated on how to help someone recover from cancer reduce their influence on the cancer patient.  You are not being rude.  You are being kind and caring to the person who matters – the one with cancer who needs your help and advocacy the most.

11.  Continuing to study the relationship between the gut and the brain to reduce the chance of my mom having seizures.   There is an medicine for Crohn’s disease that has shown to reduce seizures caused by glioma’s.   This is still in the animal trial stage according to the researchers we contacted who did the study. Building up the digestive system though does tend to help the brain function.

12.  Prayer – my mom has hundreds of people praying for her recovery.  We are from a large catholic family and she has numerous friends from her varied interests – all praying for her.   She gets several well wishing cards wherever she is every day.   They all believe in her ability to recover from this.   For those of you reading this who have been praying for her recovery – THANK YOU.   For those of you reading this who do not know my mom – your prayers for her recovery are welcome.

Recommendations to Others

Please realize that what we have done has worked for my Mom with her unique condition and her unique lifestyle.  She is in extremely good shape, and has a very strong will to live.   I recommend if you or someone you love has brain cancer, that you try whatever you are most comfortable trying to help you achieve your own personal goals.   Do not accept anyone’s prognosis of your condition and live your life the way that best suits YOU – whether that is one day, one week, one year or one decade.   Surround yourself with happy, upbeat, and positive people who believe in your abilities to cure the condition and who act in accordance with that belief.   This is your life, live it well.

Curcumin Root – the miracle cure for brain cancer

Friday, October 28th, 2011

A while back I mentioned my Mom has brain cancer.  It’s been a very tough journey for our family.   Her doctor in Connecticut put her on hospice in September and told one of my brothers she might only have a few more weeks to live.   It’s now almost November and Mom is alive and actually recovering with us in Florida.   Why?   I was able to find curcumin root at the Whole Foods in Sarasota.   Back in June I had found curcumin root at the Whole Foods in Glastonbury, Connecticut.   I had her drinking a tea from the root a couple times a day.   Over a three week period back in June she regained some of the capabilities she had lost then and appeared to be on her way to recovery.   But then I did not know how important this root was for her recovery.  We had to switch to a pill form of turmeric because Whole Foods and other local health food grocers could no longer get the roots.   She suffered a dramatic down hill slide the doctor in Connecticut thought was inevitable anyhow.   (talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy).   The Connecticut medical team was acting as if my Mom only had a couple weeks left  so another brother, my father, and I figured there was nothing to lose and everything to gain by taking her to Florida.  (Our family members who lived in the Northeast full time were very upset with us for taking our Mom away from them.  It was not easy to get her out of this downward slide of a situation).

Soon after we got to Florida, I found a Whole Foods store twenty miles from their Florida home.   I found the curcumin root there and started her on the tea again.   When we got to Florida, my mom wasn’t talking much and her voice was very weak.   She has ended up in a wheel chair from a seizure and a fall she had in Connecticut in September.   Two weeks now after drinking the curcumin root tea twice a day,  her voice is strong and she can engage in conversation, even has become quite the comedian.   She can once again feed herself and is now working on getting her capabilities back to get out of the wheel chair – does an hour of physical therapy every day, goes to Feldenkrais twice a week to regenerate the lost neural networks that caused her left side paralysis and rallies the whole family before dinner every day to take her swimming.

And we were able to get her an appointment at the Burzynski Clinic to evaluate if that therapy could help her more.   We are also even entertaining the idea with her of entering into an independence immersion program in San Francisco to help people with brain injuries learn how to live independently again.

It all started with this little root.   What I learned by studying this root over the past several weeks, was that what I had been doing – slicing up a root, and boiling it in water and using it to make a tea was actually releasing the very substances that were able to cross the blood brain barrier to kill her brain cancer cells.   My Mom likes black tea so we just steep a decaffeinated black tea bag in the curcumin water and mix in a little stevia.   Soluble curcumin crosses the blood brain barrier to kill the type of cancer cells my mom has –   The water soluble form though is very unstable so we use the water right away.   Another report I read said that steeping this root in oil releases the same compound that crosses the blood brain barrier and the compounds stay stable a lot longer in a lipid solution.   But since we don’t normally cook with this spice – I don’t have the recipes yet to use this oil that my mom would enjoy.   It is mentioned in many of the articles I’ve read on curcumin on why people in cultures that use turmeric have a much lower incidence of cancer.

I would normally say check this out with your doctor if you have concerns.  But what I’ve learned about the medical profession is if you want to stay alive, stay away from your doctor and do your own research. Remember this is the same group of professionals that took a hundred years to start hand washing as a practice to protect their patients (still typically 15% of doctors fail at this very simple practice).   Many doctors are very averse to changing their practices no matter what evidence there is to the contrary.   If you don’t like what your doctor is telling you – go find a new one.   We may have finally found medical professionals focused on doing what is right to help my Mom recover from her brain cancer.   We think they are at the Burzynski Clinic – I will report back when we get there.

A Winning PMP Story

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Yesterday, we asked Project Managers to give us their thoughts on the benefits of obtaining their PMP® certification. The feedback was so motivational and inspiring that we had to share. See the story that won our PMP Story Contest below, and check out all the stories submitted about how PMP certification helped people reach their goals faster than ever on our Cheetah Blog.

Obtaining my PMP caused my marketability to sky rocket. For several years prior to obtaining my PMP, I
supported projects as a Documentation Specialist or a Project Coordinator. Although I started to pursue my bachelor’s degree, I decided to postpone that goal as my various employers were not offering any type of tuition reimbursement. During an assignment where I was a project coordinator, a Senior Management Executive counseled me on my career aspirations and strongly suggested that I consider obtaining my PMP. My years of project support enabled me to qualify for the exam. I obtained a position with a company that offered tuition reimbursement and also offered reimbursement of certifications. There was one catch… the company’s product was insurance and the language in the employee handbook did not take into account that the market offered certifications for more than just insurance agents. Because of that “loophole”, I was able to fight for the right to take the Cheetah PMP course and exam – at the company’s expense. Immediately after I became certified, the human resources department amended the handbook and included the stipulation that reimbursement for certifications and licensure was limited to the insurance industry and specifically excluded project management.

After earning my PMP, I was able to secure a Vendor Relations Manager position that increased my salary to $105,000 per year.
My salary ranged from $30,000 to $42,000 per year. After earning my PMP, I was able to secure a Vendor Relations Manager position that increased my salary to $105,000 per year. Due to the economy, my salary has dropped to as low as $63,500. After transitioning from the automotive industry to the healthcare industry, my salary is once again, a six-figure income. Maintaining my PMP and continuing to learn various project management and SDLC methodologies established by various companies has been extremely valuable to me. The foundation that PMBOK offers, equips a flexible project manager to adapt to the various methodologies and processes across industries. The only downside that most people find in this industry is that most positions are contract and do not offer the stability that is assumed with a permanent position. Having had the opportunity to fill this role as a contractor and as a permanent employee has been quite an experience for me. The stability that I thought I had with the permanent position was non-existent when the company decided to downsize its workforce by 24,600 employees (most of which were Project Managers). I was able to quickly adjust to the role of contractor again because of my previous experience.

The one piece of advice that I would offer to anyone interested in obtaining their PMP is very simple. Go for it. If you don’t go after what you want, you won’t get it. It certainly won’t be easy, if it were, everyone would have those 3 important letters behind their name. If you feel that you know how to effectively manage projects, you owe it to yourself to command the respect and the income that comes along with mastering that skill set.

As a certified Project Manager, the security of the position depends largely on the approved funding of the project and the skills and abilities brought to the project by the Project Manager. The longest amount of time off between assignments for me has been three months. The toughest time for me was when the automotive economy hit its lowest point in Michigan. With the headquarters for each of the three major automotive manufacturers located in Michigan, the need for project managers is very great when funds are available for development and enhancement work to information systems. Conversely, when the economy is suffering, typically, information technology is the first budget item that is cut.

As a result of my experience in various industries, I am now able to quickly reject any inquiries from recruiters that are not able to support the salary expectations that come with the level of experience that I am able to bring to a company. There are many positions that I do not qualify for simply because I do not possess a college degree. But many times, the door remains open because of my PMP and my background. Having my PMP is invaluable.