Susan WonderStone's Blog

Bloedel Reserve

I recently made my first visit to the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island. The grounds are beautiful! It’s 150 acres with different garden areas and trails throughout the property. There are many types of birds and other critters who choose to live there.

Mama duck and a pile of baby ducks

There was a baby grand piano in the house that a visitor was playing. It was fun to hear!

I was happy to see the poster in the hallway of the house. I have many more pictures, but you’d be better off going to see for yourself. It’s easy to hike the grounds and different seasons bring different views!

Love, gratitude and blessings


Thank you King County Sheriff’s Office Deputy!

I’ve been wanting to go hiking at a higher elevation, but my car doesn’t like going over the pass, or even up to it. I try to let things in my environment teach me about myself, remembering when I need to be gentle with my car, I probably also need to be gentle with myself.

One day a couple weeks ago after a meditation, I realized I’ve been feeling stupid for a solid year, angry with myself for not realizing my breast implants were causing such huge problems with my health. Regardless of the fact that none of my doctors ever mentioned it, I was more mad at myself. My vision had been getting worse over the last few years, but got even worse after surgery. I found Dr Shoemaker online. He has a protocol for the biotoxins created from the mold that women with bad implants experience, along with people who have contracted mold from other sources. There are few doctors who understand mold and how to get rid of it. I was frustrated with myself for not figuring it out and spending money that people donated to me over the years for removing the implants instead of cancer treatment, thinking that if I had, the cancer would have gone away with everything else I do. Since I’m still dealing with it, that may not have been the case, but all frustrations in my life have been great learning experiences.

I am being gentle with myself, but still pushing limits when I think I can get away with it. I called a friend who goes skiing at Steven’s Pass almost every week and asked if I could ride along. He and his girlfriend ski, but I was taking my snowshoes to get in an elevation workout. Many people have already scolded me for going snowshoeing by myself, so you don’t need to do it too. If any of them had gone with me, I wouldn’t have been by myself.  Besides, I was just taking the bridge across Highway 2 and snowshoeing up to Skyline lake.

I was wearing a fitness tracker that a friend gave me a few weeks ago. When I was huffing and puffing, needing to stop and breathe, I would check the fitness tracker to see what my heart rate was. Sometimes the heart picture ❤ just flashed. Every time I needed to stop and the heart rate did register it was over 170. One of my doctors told me to keep it below 150, to keep from getting sick from mold die off.  There were quite a few people, but few snowshoers. Most of the people going up had skins on their skis and would ski off the mountain.  Several had their dogs with them who chase them down, apparently without sinking in the snow.

Winter Wonderland

It’s March, so maybe it’s spring wonderland…and a view up my nose!

If you’ve been following me, you know that when I reach my hiking destination, I take a picture of my back without my shirt on, and a back double bicep pose.  If I’m with someone, they take the picture but if I’m by myself I use my gorilla pod to attach my camera to a tree or rock.  With so much snow at the lake, that wasn’t going to happen. As I approach the lake, there were fewer and fewer people.

I found a guy taking a picture of his wife or girlfriend, with the lake and peak in the background.  After talking to them for a couple of minutes, I asked. ” I know this is a crazy request, but would you mind taking a picture of my back without my shirt on? It’s a thing I do at the top of all my hikes.” He agreed.

It was a little awkward taking all of my upper layers off. I don’t care who I’m topless in front of, but his girl seemed uncomfortable. He took a few pictures. I thanked him and  commented again on how weird they probably thought I was.


Thank you King County Deputy for taking the picture!

He said “No, it’s not a problem. I see naked bodies at work all the time.” I asked what do you do that you see naked people? He replied “I work for the King County sheriffs office.”

It  wasn’t until I was halfway down the mountain, that I realized, maybe it’s legal to be topless in public!

A giant thank you to the deputy who took my picture! Because I don’t know if it’s legal or not, I’m leaving the date of my trip out so I don’t get him in trouble!

Love, gratitude and blessings!


Black Salve, wool socks or plain old fear?

Go back to yesterday’s post to see some of the pictures I took on my Gothic Basin hike. Now, I’ll tell you about the spaces in between the photos. About a mile away from home, I realized my headlamp was in the backpack I took to Lake 22, two weeks ago. Jack and I decided we would make sure to be back at the car before it got dark. Being 4th of July weekend, we expected a lot of people to be on the trail. When we arrived, there were a lot of cars on the side of the road and in the parking lot across the street. I’ve always seen a lot of cars there and thought it was a crowded trail. As we got our things together and changed into our hiking layers, I realized the top of my hiking boots rubbed the tumor on my leg. I only walked in them for a minute before knowing I couldn’t hike in them. I’m thankful I had worn my low hiking boots in the car.

We only saw a few people on the first mile of gravel road that starts both the Gothic Basin and the Monte Cristo trails. They were all taking the Monte Cristo trail. We discovered later that most of the cars belonged to people on the Monte Cristo trail.  The gravel road ends, because the land slide took it out and dumped it and the hillside into the river. There are knocked down trees, gravel, rocks and boulders in places they weren’t before. (I know, having a preposition at the end of a sentence is grammatically incorrect, but that ‘s how I talk and that’s how I write.) I headed up the alternate route with three other hikers, while Jack climbed down the debris and took the shorter route thru the slide.

July 7th 2007, I broke my back in a skydiving accident. It was an L-1 burst fracture. My neurosurgeon said he had never seen an accident like mine without paralysis. I’m glad he didn’t tell me that until I was already walking again, unlike the nurses in the emergency room. He installed screws in T-12 and L-2 and flexible plastic rods to go around the burst fracture and allow me full range of motion. He had only used them one other time and had no idea how long they’d last or what kind of impact could break them. Anything that looks sketchy, I try to avoid, because I know if I break the rods, I’m not walking away from it. We met up with Jack on the other side of the slide. When we got to the Weeden Creek cut off that goes to Gothic Basin, we wished the other hikers well and started up the trail. About 30 minutes in, 2 women we had seen going to the trail from the parking lot were coming down the trail. They had asked us where the Monte Cristo trail was, but they turned when they should’ve gone straight. Monte Cristo has almost no elevation gain, but Gothic Basin goes up to 5,200 feet. Just a slight difference.

There was a lot of snow this year, so there are many creeks, rivers, waterfalls and snow still on the trail. I was wearing my waterproof Gore-tex surround La Sportiva low hiking boots, so walking thru small streams is easier than trying to jump across them. The roots and rocks on the trail were similar to most of the other trails we’ve hiked. When we got to the first waterfall and water crossing, I was intimidated. There were rocks in the water that looked like they could move. Before going down to the water, I looked for the trail on the other side. I saw it, but from where I was, couldn’t figure out how we’d get to it. I was watching my steps and missed watching Jack cross the rushing water and make his way to the trail on the other side. Sometimes watching someone do what I’m afraid to do is all I need to push myself to do it. I was more cautious than most. I thought about the rods in my back and if I slipped, how they could break. Knowing that an air lift and rescue out of there would be about $100,000 more than I currently have, I always do my best to avoid getting hurt.

About 5 years ago, I took a call from a man who was with his fiance on this mountain. He was calm, but his voice was shaking and he was sniffing. It sounded like he was crying. Cell service is usually non existent there, but he kept trying and got the call to go thru. They were snowshoeing and several feet of snow completely gave away and took her off the side of the cliff with it. He knew she was dead. I wondered if she felt like where she was at was a bad idea before she went over the edge.

The water was too deep to walk thru it without getting water over the top of my boots. Hiking in wet socks and boots sucks. I made it safely across the water, then realized the trail was about 6 feet higher than I was. There was no trail to get there from where I stood. Had I been by myself, this is where I would have turned around. I was scared. Climbing was the only way up. Jack reminded me how strong I am and helped me figure out where to put my hands and feet to get up. I was excited I did it! I had no idea this was the first of about a dozen similar crossings.

The trail seemed steeper than the trail report says it is. Probably  because I was scared, the tumor on my leg started throbbing. Occasionally, when I’d step on a rock a certain way, the tumor I thought was done and came out of the bottom of my foot 2 weeks ago, would send shooting pain up my leg, body and into my shoulder. Every time it happened, I wondered if continuing was a good idea. The trail report also says there are several rock scrambles. I’ve been on rock scrambles, but usually they’re a short portions of a hike. This was a lot more! Going up is a lot easier for me than going down, because of my creaky knees. Going up though, put my feet in positions they don’t normally go. Since my left foot and leg were letting me know they were unhappy with a significant amount of pain, I was putting my right foot into more undesirable positions and most of the impacts.

By the time we got to the widest water crossing, both feet were hurting a lot! My heavier boots probably would have been worse because they don’t bend enough for the scrambles. The crossing was about 20 feet wide. On the right, was a raging waterfall coming toward us. On the left, was probably a 1000 foot drop off about 5 feet from where I stood. There were 2 large boulders mostly out of the water and smaller rocks that were barely under the water. I was concerned the smaller rocks would move. Quick visions of falling in the water, twisting my ankle, smashing my face and falling over the waterfall flashed thru my head. I heard the crying man from the phone call. I wondered if his fiance felt the way I was feeling before she fell. I stood there, trying to figure out the safest way across. Nothing felt right. I made it across to the first boulder. Jack was on the other side, trying to convince me that I could do it. He came across to me and went back and forth a few times, showing me how easy it was. It was about 4 feet to the next boulder. I was trying to figure out if pushing off with my right foot and landing on my left foot, or the opposite was going to give me positive results without hurting my feet more than they already were. A man was coming down the trail. When I said hi to him, Jack went back across to get out of the way. The man crossed, then his 2 large dogs and next, his girlfriend. When she got to the boulder I was frozen on, I asked “Why am I so fucking scared to go across the water?! I jump out of airplanes and I’m too fucking scared to move!” I was almost in tears. She jumped back to the other boulder, reached out her hand and said “Grab my hand and I’ll help you.” I grabbed her hand and jumped as she pulled me over. With tears streaming down my face, I thanked her. She skipped across the rock and down the path they went. The next section was shallow and I knew if the rock path slipped, my feet would stay dry anyway.  I think the mental and emotional stress added to the physical pain in my feet and legs. On the good side, the throbbing in my left armpit that always escalated on hikes, has been completely gone since mid April, about a month after my explant surgery. At my appointment 2 weeks ago, I didn’t specifically ask my plastic surgeon what activities were okay for me. I’m not sure what she said, but I think she said “Don’t overdo it.” What does that mean anyway? In 1997, at my 6 week post op appointment for the removal of an abdominal ectopic pregnancy that was killing me (I was bleeding out from the blood vessels that had formed among all my abdominal organs up to my diaphragm.) my doctor said the same thing. I had a c-section incision that was still healing.  I asked her for clarification regarding weight lifting. She said if I could do 20 repetitions, I should be fine. My next workout, both my husband and my training partner saw me at the same time and both yelled across the gym “What are you doing?” I was on the leg press with 4 plates on each side. They both thought 360 pounds was too much too soon, but I was easily getting 20 reps, so I decided it was okay. That might have something to do with today’s creaky knees.

The trail was really tough for me. Jack said I looked like I was walking in slow motion. He called me a sloth. I laughed, but I was giving it everything I had. I felt like the energizer bunny just before the batteries die. I had looked at the time and based on when we got there, we needed to turn around by 6 pm in order to get back to the car before dark. Around 5:30, I told Jack to go on without me. I would either make it in time or turn around at 6 and he could catch up. He was carrying my water bottle, my ASEA and my Sunflower Milk, so he was kinda like the carrot with me being the donkey. Not an ass, a donkey. At the next water crossing, I thought about my first static line skydive. I froze in the door and couldn’t or wouldn’t grab the strut. My instructor pulled me back in the airplane and told me I had one more chance. I had missed my spot and wouldn’t have been able to get to the field I was supposed to land in. He said when it was time, I would have 3 seconds to make the decision and get out. If I didn’t, I would land with the pilot in the airplane and he would get out without me. After the pilot circled around, I got out when he said to. Now, I was staring at the rushing water and thought “You’re going to miss your spot” and carefully jumped to the boulder in the water. From then on, I would tell myself, every second counts, and quickly take action.

At 5:45, a couple was coming down the path. They told me they saw Jack. They saw how defeated I felt. They encouraged me to keep going. They said I only had to cross the 3 snow fields we could see and I’d be at the basin. I kept going. The first snow field had boot tracks in 2 different places. I took the higher route, hoping if I fell, I’d at least be able to stop myself from sliding down the hill in the boot steps of the lower track. There’s water flowing under the snow field, so the edges are more melty than the rest. I made it across two of the snow fields without incident. The third one went up, not across. On my second step, I slipped. I didn’t slide far, but clawed at the snow with my hands. I stayed there for several seconds, deciding on my next move. I gently, but quickly moved back to the side. Since I had been scrambling over rocks for the previous two hours, scrambling up the side seemed a lot more safe than attempting to climb up the snow. I made it! The jagged rocks lined the bowl named Gothic Basin. It was beautiful! I was so happy I made it to the top!

I found Jack and since it was 6:15, we started back down the trail. The wind blowing off of the snow was too cold for me.  I think it was purposely pushing, telling us it was time to head back. When I calculated our turnaround time, I didn’t take into account how difficult it would be for me to scramble down. Once we got away from the wind, I quickly changed into dry clothes and stuffed the sweaty ones in my pack. I drank most of my Sunflower Milk for energy on the way down. Very few pictures were taken. We knew we’d be hiking part of the trail in the dark. The crossings were easier with my quicker decisions and for whatever reason, I wasn’t afraid like I was on the way up. Could have been that magic cookie I ate that I found in my pack from last season.


On the way down, I was brave enough to climb up for the picture


Jack always seems to sneak in a butt picture I find once I get home.

Jack had a headlamp, but since I didn’t, he didn’t use his. It was quite dark for the last hour. I also forgot to calculate that we were walking under 100 foot trees and it would be darker than the same time at home. We made it to the gravel road at about 10:20pm. I was exhausted.

There were times on the way up that I was hard on myself, calling myself a wimp, a pussy and when the tears showed up, a fucking crybaby. I was frustrated that I thought everything would be perfect after my explant surgery. I thought my health would be perfect immediately after. It wasn’t. My lungs were having a hard time, my joints hurt, my back never went into spasm, but was more painful than it’s been in a long time and of course the tumor pain in my leg and foot and the pain in the right foot from the added work. With my eyes on the amazing sights, I realized the only way to get there was on foot. I wasn’t any of the names I had called myself. I was 3 1/2 months after a surgery with two – 7 inch scars. I was told 9 years ago I would never walk again after I broke my back. I was told I probably wouldn’t make it thru the summer when the melanoma spread to my liver and lymphatic system in 2004. I had an open active tumor on my leg and several that have come out of my skin and are healing since my surgery. There are so many people who will never attempt a hike like Gothic Basin. I definitely overdid it, but everything turned out okay. I’m taking care of myself, still doing my treatments and praising my accomplishments.

I don’t regret being hard on myself. It makes it easier to see the contrast.



The aftermath of Gothic Basin


More “stuff” came out of the hole during the hike. The gauze was saturated with sweat and ooze, leaving a cleaner hole than Jan 1 picture. There still appears to be more in there.



July 4. Swelling from the rash was worse. Hike day, I had gauze and tegaderm covering the owie. The line about an inch above the current bandage is where the bandage stopped and the rash began on the top. Around the owie itself, which was under the bandage, is more rash. There was no rash on my right leg, so it doesn’t make sense that it was the wool socks like someone suggested.



4th of July evening after work, while the masses watched and set off explosions, I sat on the couch. I was blaring music in an attempt to calm 2 big dogs and 2 cuddly cats (who are never all in the same room together), while cooking my left leg and right foot under the far infrared heat lamp.

Where are you? Where do you want to be? What are you willing to sacrifice to get there? What are you waiting for? Take your first step today. You’ll be glad you did!

Love, gratitude and blessings




Gothic Basin – 2 weeks and 2 days after black salve. I wouldn’t recommend it!

After I posted “Black Salve Results at 2 weeks” on July 1, a friend commented on the Facebook photo “That looks Brutal!” It was!

I responded “It’s making me sweaty and nauseous. When things get brutal, I show them what brutal is. Gothic Basin, here I come!” I’m not sure what I was thinking. I’ve been home 48 hours and I’m too tired to write. For now, enjoy the scenery. I’ll tell you all about it soon.  It’s not all rainbows and unicorns as the pictures might show. 

Sun or Sunscreen

Yesterday at the Lake 22 trailhead, a group of people were slathering on so much sunscreen, they had a white sheen on their skin. They would be walking under ~100 foot trees for however long it would take them to walk 2.7 miles to the open lake. More than likely, long enough to no longer have sun blocking benefits, but plenty of time to absorb the endocrine disrupting and other toxic qualities of the chemicals in the sunscreen. We were waiting for a parking spot, so they had a head start on us. When we caught up with them, that filter most people have got lost and I said “Aren’t you glad you put on so much sunscreen?” They didn’t know I was being sarcastic until I told them I was. They genuinely thought they were doing something good for themselves. I take my out of the box knowledge I’ve learned over the years as a given that everyone knows, but learning that I’m so wrong! My hiking partner looks up things I talk about on our hikes, most of which, he’s never heard of. He thought sunscreen was a good thing, but he likes to be tan so doesn’t use it.

As we continued to pass our sunscreened hikers, I said “I have recurrent melanoma. I don’t use sunscreen anymore.” One of the women said “Good luck with that.”

It then occurred to me that they didn’t know the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and disease. After my first melanoma diagnosis, I was freaked out about allowing the sun to touch any part of my or my son’s skin. It continued until it spread to my liver, lymphatic system and the skin all over my body. My research flipped my beliefs. When I’m going to be in the sun for hours, I do wear sun protection clothing or sunscreen I make, because sunburns suck!image

Since there are still no medical treatments for recurrent metastatic melanoma that give better results than what I’ve done, I continue to be my own lab rat and experiment with what I learn.

I saw this article today and hope others will do their own research and do what’s best for them.

I hoped we would run into the non-believers in the amazing benefits of the sun,  to explain my understanding, but they must’ve turned around. Their car was gone when we got back to the parking lot. The pharmaceutical and ‘food’ industries don’t want us to know we can live better without their chemical soups.

Love, gratitude and blessings



Happy Father’s Day, Lake 22 and Cancer

My friend wanted to go hiking today, since both of our dads died 17 years ago and neither of us would be celebrating Father’s Day. George, the tumor on my chest (remember, we named him), went away and will be remembered by the scar tissue left behind. I’m working on it with my lotions, potions and magic (or prayer if that’s what you call it). Soon it will only be a memory.

This week, I’ve been having a lot of pain from a tumor on the bottom of my left foot, which felt like it was traveling up my leg. I’ve had both of them before, but for whatever reason, they must be afraid they’re going to miss out on something and have come back a few times. Last week I applied blood root black salve to both of them. The one on my foot reacted, but barely. I applied it again the next day. It definitely hurt more!  On Wednesday, the pain was so intense, I was pale and sweaty and didn’t know if I was going to puke or pass out. The pain was bearable without my shoes on, so I ended up standing and working 7 hours in my socks.  I’ve been making a concoction of DMSO, Magnesium oil and Lugol’s iodine and putting it on the recent scars several times daily. I also put it on the spot on my leg that didn’t react. It started burning immediately. Yesterday, I decided to reapply black salve. I felt it reacting – tingling,  as I was trying to go to sleep. I used Emotional Freedom Technique tapping and the pain resided within a couple minutes. I was just as lucky when I woke up this morning, except it looked awful!

Left Foot Owie

I decided I would try the hike. My friend knew about my explant surgery in March and the current cancer situation, but he was willing to go slow and wait for me or even turn around if I needed to. Both owies were bandaged and I was ready to spend the day in the forest, talking about our dads, the things we want to do with our lives, the qualities of the significant others we dream about…you know, the little things.

Lake 22 is on the Mountain Loop Highway in Granite Falls, WA. It’s one of the few hikes I haven’t done on Mtn Loop. The trail reports looked like it would be easy enough for me, in my current condition. It was 2.7 miles to the lake, another 1.1 miles around the lake and 2.7 back to the car. I figured if the pain got bad, I could turn around and wait at the car. Since the trail around the lake comes back to the same trail, I could’ve waited while he walked around. He disagreed with my ideas. He would have gone back with me if I needed to. That’s one of the qualities.

I didn’t feel either owie. Once we got to the lake, we stopped on the bridge to take pictures. Immediately, both owies started throbbing. We started moving again and headed around the lake. As long as I kept going, I didn’t feel them. As soon as we started going back, I realized that going downhill escalated the pain. It sucked, but the smells, the trees, the birds, the cute little mountain rodents, the waterfalls and navigating the rocks, creeks and tree roots lining the trail, kept me distracted. The pain and swelling seem to still be increasing since we finished the hike. It was my first hike since October. I’m feeling it now. I am so excited I accomplished it!

I am so happy and grateful I was able to hike 6.5 miles, only having to stop to breathe once and I’m still awake, sharing my adventure with you! I hurt all over, but it was worth it!




I am so happy and grateful I was able to hike 6.5 miles, only having to stop to breathe once and I’m still awake, sharing my adventure with you! I hurt all over, but it was worth it!

Love, gratitude and blessings


Skyline Ridge Snowshoe Adventure

The first thing I did when I got up yesterday was look at  The entire Cascade mountain range, from Vancouver WA to Vancouver, BC was showing orange, meaning “considerable” avalanche danger.  Low, moderate, considerable, high and extreme. I was going with my hiking partner, Jack, so at least I’d be with someone.   We decided to go to Skyline Ridge, since 2 weeks ago, it was high avalanche danger and the people we talked to didn’t have any problems. Keeping in mind, just because someone else didn’t have any problems, doesn’t mean anything. Like normal, we got a late start. I don’t have the right gear for the weather, but I am great at improvising and find a way.

Normal people would have snow pants. I wore sweatpants with waterproof rain pants over them and waterproof gaiters to keep the snow out of my boots. Normal people would have a Gore-tex or similar waterproof coat. I wore 2 long sleeve, wicking layers with my non waterproof coat and a waterproof poncho over it. Normal people would have waterproof gloves. I had water resistant gloves and a second set of wool gloves I wore over them. The weather report said it was supposed to be 33F degrees and raining/snow mix. I’m not sure why that sounded okay, but yesterday was the day and when I make a decision, few things get in my way. We got lucky and the temperature was below freezing the entire day.

Jack is in much better shape than I am and does a lot of waiting around for me. I couldn’t ask for a better hiking/snowshoeing partner! He laughs and teases me a little when he turns around at the next switchback, only to see me stopped and panting, or taking baby steps. The route we chose was 1100 ft elevation gain. I hope snowshoeing is harder than hiking, because I don’t remember struggling on last summers hikes like I did yesterday.

By the time we got to the lake, it was 5:00pm. I had forgotten my headlamp, so we needed to turn around soon, to get back to the car before it got too dark. The snow was falling pretty hard. We couldn’t see any of the peaks the trail guide talks about, but still having my own peaks, decided to do my favorite pose for the photo. We did take a front shot, but my back is what I like to share. After my skydiving accident in 2007, my first goal was learning to walk again, my second goal was to get my back muscles back. The scar down the middle might always show up, but it reminds me how far I’ve come. The open lesion I had 2 weeks ago on the back of my neck/upper back is now a scar with the lump still protruding, making me wonder what it is and what I need to do about it. Jack warned me how cold it was going to be, but being stubborn, I decided to do it anyway. I put the poncho on the ground first, then took off all my layers above my waist (except for my hat, goggles and “Turtle Fur”.  My clothes were soaked with sweat and covered with snow before I could fold the poncho over them.  We tried to quickly take the pictures, but the camera didn’t like the freezing temperatures and kept pausing. It had only been 3 minutes when I was attempting to put my clothes back on. My body didn’t feel cold, but my hands did! Both hands were purple and numb. I was able to get all my clothes back on, but my fingers were so numb I couldn’t feel to put my gloves on. Jack helped me with both sets of gloves. He was snacking on trail mix, so since he’s faster than me, I left the lake to get my blood flowing again and head back down. I was too far ahead of him by the time I could feel my fingers again, so I took a few pictures and waited.


Snowing at Skyline Lake




Skyline ridge trail across from Stevens Pass Ski area



The moon…but it didn’t show up in the picture


Skyline Lake. I can’t wait to see it thawed out with blue skies!

Waking up today, it’s obvious that snowshoeing is a lot more strenuous than I thought. My feet, my knees, my leg muscles (all of them), my glutes, my back and my shoulders…are all sore.  So many of the stories I’ve read and the women I’ve talked to who’ve had their breast implants removed, talk about breathing better, muscle soreness and joint pain going away and so many other things! It makes me wonder how much of my pain is self inflicted vs from the breast implants or the cancer. Even though I love the way they look, I can’t wait to see how my life improves after my explant surgery! I drank a bottle of ASEA over the last several hours and will go to work soon. I am grateful for whatever it is inside me that allows me to push my limits and for ASEA to help me recover quickly!

I can’t wait until a blue sky day to go back and see the view!

Love, gratitude and blessings



Snowshoeing Yay Day


My plastic surgeon wants to make sure I’m healthy enough to undergo the surgery to have my implants removed. Hmmm…. What’s the definition of healthy enough?

I have an egg sized lump in my left breast. It’s not visible or palpable when I’m sitting or standing, but it seems to “fall out” of a pocket it’s living behind when I bend over. My family doctor sent me for an ultrasound in January 2013, but they couldn’t see anything. The technician and the radiologist and the doctor all felt it and could see it, but to the ultrasound, it didn’t exist. My plastic surgeon doesn’t think it’s related to the implant. She’s concerned it’s related to the cancer. A biopsy would put me at risk of breaking the implant, requiring removal anyway.

Nobody has wanted to be 100% healthy as much as I have! Ok, maybe somebody, but I’ve been on this path for so long!  Typing this from the bathroom floor as I have another Gerson coffee. Assuming the degrading of the implants are causing the problems, I think of all the things I’ll be able to do once they’re gone. I’m excited! The 3-5 hours a day I won’t be in the hyperbaric chamber, in the sauna, standing on the vibration machine, dry brushing, soaking in hydrogen peroxide spiked water, Magnesium foot baths, cooking tumors under the far infrared heat lamp, multiple hot/cold showers and yes, all of the coffee, supplement, mineral, oil, wheatgrass and garlic enemas… sure, I’ll continue to do those things, but not all of them, every day.

Yesterday, I paid the deposit for the surgery. Some decisions I KNOW are right.  I have NO idea where the rest will come from, but it felt right!  My friend Jack and I had planned our first snowshoe adventure. Making that payment, helped with other decisions to make sure the adventure went the direction I wanted it to.  You know, having fun, but living through it too!  I searched the avalanche website. It showed “High Avalanche Danger” the entire west side of the Cascades, from Canada to Oregon. We texted back and forth while I had coffee. We decided to go anyway and at least check it out. A 2 hour drive each direction is a big time commitment for me when I have so much to fit in every day. We stopped at the ranger station in Baring. The ranger told us not to go. He told us stories of people who went without avalanche beacons and were never found. Even with a beacon, there’s no guarantee you’ll survive long enough to be found alive. We continued on to Steven’s Pass.

The first group of snowshoers we found had just finished one of the High Avalanche Danger hikes. They hadn’t checked the website or asked anyone. Jack wanted to do it, but I have my eye on the prize of great health after the surgery and the risk of getting buried in an avalanche wasn’t in my plan. We went inside and asked the employees at Guest Services. They also told us not to go. Instead, they suggested we go another 5 miles to the Stevens Nordic center, where there are miles of snowshoe and cross-country trails. It’s in a relatively flat area and with so many trees, it is a low avalanche risk. It only took a few minutes to get the hang of the snowshoes.

Walking more on my toes uphill and digging my heels in on the hills down. The sunset happened before we wanted it to, but feeling safe, we stayed on the same trail. It started snowing. We had enough layers to stay warm…and the right layers to not be wet from sweat. We played in the snow on the ground and as it fell. My hat was encrusted with snow.

It was cold, but I couldn’t let anyone down. People expect my topless back photo on my hikes.  This was no exception!  Jack warned against it, because of the times I’ve gotten so cold I couldn’t stop shivering.

I believe getting the implants removed is the missing link to my health. My mental state is great! Even with the lump in my breast and the open lesion on the  back of my neck, I’m healthier and happier than most people I know. Life is good!  Very Good!!


Gotta be topless on my hikes…for a minute. This was exceptionally cold! I’m hoping this will be the last one with bandages!

Love, gratitude and blessings


Glacier Lake and the PCT
September 23, 2015, 11:39 pm
Filed under: Hiking | Tags: , , , , , , ,

It took me a month to write this.  I found out my 7 year old, little super hero friend had died.  Too many of my friends die. Because I’ll probably never know why, I like to find the positives…the benefits to them being out of my life.  It’s never easy, but definitely easier when I’m by myself in nature.  I didn’t bother to ask anyone to go with me. In fact, my hiking partner texted me while I was gone, after not talking to him for a couple weeks.  He started climbing and I’m not ready for that.  I’m guessing he “felt” I was doing something without him. Since I was going by myself, I decided to go to a trail that he and I had done before. Surprise Lake.  We got a late start when we went together, so only made it to Surprise Lake.  I was starting earlier, but wanted to go farther. It would change my 9 mile hike to 11 and I would get to hike on part of section J of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). It was a 75 mile trip each way, so I had time to think on the drive too.

I forgot to get the Northwest Forest Pass from the kids, so stopped by the ranger station to get another one. There are hiking rules on the counter, telling what to do and not to do. DO NOT HIKE ALONE! I asked if there had been bear sightings and of course the answer was yes.  We had such a dry summer, the animals were hanging out at lower elevations. I didn’t have bear spray, but didn’t really care either.  Every time a friend dies, the stupid “Am I next?” question circles through my head. It would be way cooler to die from being eaten by bears, than dying from cancer in a hospital bed!

Hiking by myself always seems like the trails are longer, without having anyone answer my questions. I take longer, but eventually either answer my own questions, or ask new ones to find a different way. The last time we hiked it, there were so many wildflowers, butterfly’s and bumble bees, we had a lot to talk about!

This time, the hike to Surprise lake was full of fungus! It was a lot wetter. I don’t have enough knowledge to know which ones are okay to eat, so I only took pictures. I thought about my little friend, but also the many friends I’ve lost to cancer over the years. Last week I was at a store where I know all the employees. There was a donation box on the counter for the family of one of them. He was overwhelmed with finances and a new baby and decided to overdose on pain meds. He died. I understand being overwhelmed by finances…or rather, lack of finances. Alternative cancer treatments are not covered by insurance, and at times when I’ve been too sick to work, the bills still need to get paid. With so many of my friends, giving everything they know to give and dying anyway, and myself, constantly searching for what’s missing and altering my own protocol…I don’t understand purposely ending it all. I saw a chipmunk eating the seeds out of the “cone” in the middle picture. I’ve never seen anything like it. In the next picture, it looks like it’s from a blue spruce tree. I ate one.  It tasted good, with a pine scent. I didn’t eat anything else away from my normal diet that day, but about 12 hours later, I was violently puking. That rarely happens!
I was excited to see the “No Campfires beyond this point”.  Those signs are at 5,000 feet elevation. Closer to the lake!P1020994

Surprise Lake was a prettier color this time, I’m guessing because of the clouds. There were people setting up camp, so I kept going.  I hadn’t seen Glacier Lake yet and was determined to get there. I was excited when I saw the PCT sign. I didn’t know I was going to be on it.  Maybe not a big deal to some people, but someday I want to do the entire trail, from Mexico to Canada. P1030011

I enjoyed the change of scenery along the route. I kept seeing water through the trees, but didn’t know how big Surprise Lake was and how long it would take to get to Glacier Lake. I felt like Forest Gump…I kept walking, and walking, and walking.  I was finally getting close to the clouds. P1030016I was almost to the top of what I later found out was Pieper Pass. A couple was walking towards me. I asked them if they made it to Glacier Lake.  They said I passed it about a half hour ago. They were camped there and would take me.  They were probably in their 60’s and were walking so fast I thought they were trying to lose me. After about 10 minutes, I heard something behind me.  A voice called out. I offered to let him pass, but he continued along behind me. His name was Saul. He had started section J of the PCT at Snoqualmie Pass


and was headed to Stevens Pass. Talking to him made the time go quicker. He continued on when we got to the turn off for Glacier Lake. The sign said “CAMP”. No wonder I missed it. About 20 feet down the trail, was the sign. It was only a minute down the trail before Saul came back. He asked if I was headed back to Seattle. I told him I was going north of Seattle, but not into the city. He asked if I would give him a ride near I-5 and he could get a ride the rest of the way from there. I asked if he was creepy. He said he wasn’t.  He was wearing what looked like spandex shorts with his other shorts tied onto his backpack. I didn’t notice until we got to the lake and he was putting the shorts on. He apologized for not having them on already and was concerned it would eliminate his chances of getting a ride. I thought it was funny that he said anything. I told him I needed about 30 minutes to enjoy the lake and eat, before putting on my layers for the hike back in the dark. He climbed on the rocks while I ate. It took me several minutes to decide if I wanted him to take one of my signature pictures. The temperature was 62 degrees. The fog was hanging above the water. Glacier Lake just sounds cold. Getting in wasn’t going to happen! P1030021I didn’t want him to think the wrong thing, since I had told him I’d give him a ride and we’d be spending the next 6 hours together. He wasn’t weird about it.

I spent the first half of my hike, thinking about life, thinking about loss of life, thinking about old and new goals and so many things in between. The second half was spent learning about someone who had traveled to places I’ve never been and had experienced things I never thought of as possibilities. I shared my thoughts. I felt safer being with him than I would have hiking in the dark alone. He appreciated the company and the ride back. I didn’t take him all the way home, but over 60 miles closer than he was.

I didn’t figure out why my friend died.  I haven’t figured out why any of my friends have died. I will continue to do everything I know to do to not only beat the beast, but thrive in a bigger way than I ever expected of myself. I love my life! I am grateful for so much! My mistake added about 2 miles to my hike, taking me from 11 to 13 miles, but I did it! And…I love taking my clothes off at alpine lakes!P1030025Love, gratitude and blessings


Naked at Vesper Lake
July 23, 2015, 12:52 am
Filed under: Hiking

I had a coworker and another woman, both on the same day, tell me how beautiful Vesper Peak is. It was already at the top of the list for hiking choices the next day. The trailhead is on the Mountain Loop Highway in Granite Falls, 3 miles past the Big Four Ice Caves. Big Four Ice CavesRecently, a group of people were buried in the ice when the ice cave collapsed. One person died. As sad as it is/was, all of the risk taker hikers who’ve been to the Big Four, have also been inside. They are closed indefinitely now, but there were signs warning people to not go inside the ice cave. It’s no different than cancer or bankruptcy…nobody thinks it’s going to happen to them. 5 years ago, a family was there, but not inside.  They were quite far, compared to how close I get, every time I’ve gone. If I’m remembering correctly, a giant chunk of ice broke off and before they could get out of the way, the little girl was crushed. I took this picture on June 7, this year.  We rode the motorcycle and did the hike wearing long pants, jackets and carrying our helmets.  Easy hike!

Back to Vesper Peak. The trailhead says Sunshine Mine and Headlee Pass. That’s the trip report I should have read! Either I wasn’t paying attention, or I skipped vital parts, but I found nothing on the Vesper Peak or Vesper Lake trip reports telling about the REAL details of this hike.

While I was lying on the picnic table, waiting for my hiking buddy to get his backpack situated, I stopped everyone who was finishing the hike and asked them how it was. The 4 people who passed, said it was too hot and they only went to the lake. “Wimpy, wimpy, wimpy” I thought to myself. “We are going to Vesper Peak!”

I dont know if my L-1 burst fracture hinders me or if it’s just an excuse. I don’t know if 3 weeks of cancer treatments 3 months ago hinders me, or if it’s just an excuse. I don’t know if eating under 30 grams of carbohydrates per day hinders me or it’s just an excuse.

That hike tried to kill me! Right from the beginning, tree roots crisscrossed across the dry and dusty trail. Less than a hundred yards in, balancing a fallen tree is the only dry way across the creek. More tree roots. Another fallen tree to get across the creek at a higher elevation. The trail was steep and dry, so loose rocks and dirt rolled down the hill with almost every step. Once out of the woods, we noticed large areas of smashed down vegetation, as though animals had been walking off the trail. Don’t they know the rules?!! The trail runs up between 2 major peaks. It felt like we were in a bowl, with giant mountains on 3 sides, like a horseshoe. The first quarter of the trail is obvious. After crossing the creek for a third time, the trail is a large boulder field. People have build cairns on both sides of the trail, showing the way. It wasn’t long into that section when one of the rocks I stepped on shifted. I tried to flex my back to protect it, but it decided to go into spasm instead. I leaned over to stretch it out and continued on. 2 guys on their way down were warning me how treacherous the hike was. Jack was challenging himself and going different routes along the boulders. When I told the guys I broke my back 8 years ago and had already tweaked it, they insisted I give Jack no other options than to turn around if my back got worse. They apparently didn’t realize I didn’t need that type of coaching. They needed to be telling Jack!

P1020881 P1020882 P1020883 P1020856 P1020855 P1020854 P1020818 P1020817 P1020816 P1020815 P1020814 P1020813 P1020812 P1020799 P1020798 P1020797 P1020790 P1020789 P1020788 P1020787 P1020786 The dry way over the creek

Towards the top of Headlee Pass, the switchbacks are gnarly! It’s steep, loose gravel and dirt. Every few seconds, piles of pebbles rolled down the hill out from other people’s feet. Because my doctor installed flexible plastic rods in my back, I am extra careful, trying to stay upright. He didn’t know how strong they would be and I prefer to never have another surgery!  I saw a girl in her 20’s fall and slide about 2 feet down the mountain. Shortly after, a man in his 60’s slipped. A group of 4 couples, all in their 60’s, headed down, almost sliding on purpose and skipping across the boulders. They had gone to the Vesper Lake AND Vesper Peak. They made it look so easy!

By the time we got to Headlee Pass, it was already after 5pm, the time we had decided we would head back. Neither one of us wanted to hike it in the dark. We were told that the Lake was only about 300 yards away from the pass, so we decided to continue to the lake. We needed to eat and with most of the trail in the 90’s, I wanted to get in the lake to cool off. Vesper Lake is beautiful!

There were 6 people at the closest part across the lake from us. Some of them were in the water and the others on the boulders nearby. They were talking, laughing and splashing each other with the water.  A few minutes later, 2 more hikers showed up, then 4 more. I couldn’t help but notice all the people in the water were wearing clothes. This was the first lake I’ve hiked to where there were other people there. It’s an alpine lake at 5,200 feet elevation. WHY are people wearing clothes in the lake?! I wanted to swim naked! It seemed a little awkward, taking all my clothes off when everyone else was covered up. I asked Jack if he cared either way. He said “Do whatever you want to do!”

He just wanted to eat and didn’t want to swim. I figure he doesn’t want me to see him naked. I took my hat, shorts and hiking boots off. I still had my shirt and bike shorts on. I walked to the edge of the lake, in search for a more private swimming area. It’s a circle. Almost every area of the lake can be seen from every other area. I found a large boulder in between me and the other swimmers. I took everything off except my thong. The poor thing was soaked from sweat and stretched out to fit a woman 3 times my size from lifting my legs to climb to get there!

The water was so clear! I could see the sand sloped down, then there was an obvious drop off. I couldn’t tell how deep it was. It looked about 3 feet deep, but I knew it could be much deeper. I had a pair of rubber shoes on, wanting to get out without cutting my feet on the rocks or logs along the shore and under the water. I slowly walked into the water.  My foot slipped on my second step and with a loud splash, was up to my neck in the water. I started treading water. The giant thong made it feel like I was swimming naked.  Across the lake, the melting ice sounded like a waterfall, cascading down the rocks and into the water. IT WAS COLD! I rinsed the dust and sweat off my face and hair. I only swam a couple minutes, when I decided to get out.  Since the cancer started, my body temperature doesn’t seem to regulate itself like other people’s. I didn’t want my body temperature getting too low to warm myself up.  I swam to the shore and tried to climb out. What I thought was sand, was more like slippery silt.  my rubber shoes weren’t gripping.  I kept slipping back into the cold water. Jack is all about wanting to rescue someone with a rope, although I haven’t ever gone thru his pack to see if he brings one. I was NOT going to need to be rescued!  After the fourth try, I started treading water again. I went farther into the water to see the other swimmers.  Sure enough, they were all still in the same place.  I watched them walk into the water, so I knew I could get out by them.  Have you seen my pictures?  The other girls in the water, were not shaped like me! I didn’t want their guys getting in trouble for staring, but it seemed the only way out of the water was to swim over by them and walk out. No.  I was going to try again where I was at.  I got closer to the edge and grabbed onto a boulder.  I still couldn’t get traction with my feet, so carefully got closer to the rock, and lifted myself up, then higher onto the rock.  I lifted my leg onto the same rock and moved my hands to another rock that was mostly on the shore.  I wanted to get out without scraping my nipples or any other important skin off on the rocks. I was successful and very happy that nobody was behind me as I was bent over and had both feet and both hands on the rock with my butt being my highest point. The little struggle probably only took 2 minutes, but my heart rate was up.  The swimmers were at least 30 yards away and by that point, I didn’t care.  I scooped up my clothes and started to walk back to where Jack was enjoying his snack. As soon as I emerged from the giant boulder, the talking, laughing and swimming all came to a screeching halt.  It sounded like I was there all by myself.  I felt ALL their eyes on me! I thought about looking back and waving, but watched where I was going and went back to my backpack instead.  Apparently, they didn’t want Jack to see them looking, so stopped as I approached him. I asked him if he’d take pictures before we headed back down the mountain.  We went back to where I had already gotten in the water. We were talking and no longer paying attention to the other people around. I was more graceful getting into and out of the water this time.  We took a few pictures, then headed back to our stuff to get ready to head back down the mountain. As I got dressed and Jack got his stuff ready, we were talking about filtering more water to fill our water bladders. We didn’t think we were talking loud, but a guy on the other side answered my question. I guess he wasn’t embarrassed to talk to a naked woman.

Naked in Vesper Lake

Naked in Vesper Lake

It was about 7:30 and we were just starting our descent. Jack was stressed out that we were going to be hiking in the dark.  I didn’t want to either, but I know getting in the cold water helped fix my body temperature from the hot hike to the top. About 10 minutes out, I slipped on the dirt.  My left leg went forward and my right leg bent back, twisting my knee and ankle. PLF went thru my head!  PLF is Parachute Landing Fall – using lessons learned in skydiving to benefit me now!  I leaned to the left (away from the 500 foot cliff) to land on my butt cheek instead of my tailbone.  I continued sliding, but only about a foot down the trail.  I sat motionless for several seconds.  Jack crouched down and grabbed my backpack to prevent me from sliding more. I straightened out my right leg, but sat for about 10 seconds to make sure I wasn’t hurt, or trying to stand up dizzy. I always wear knee wraps when I’m descending a mountain. I’m sure the knee wrap prevented my knee from getting hurt! I was okay so we continued down the mountain. I was overly cautious after the fall, but continued steadily. Headlamps have been our friends on every hike we’ve done! The loose rocks, gravel and barely visible trail on the boulder field were all more difficult in the dark. When we got to the meadow, I realized the reason Jack was so concerned about walking down in the dark was because on the way up, another hiker told us the smashed vegetation was from bears walking thru it. I didn’t bring it up.

Around 10:30 pm, we came to a fork in the road. Neither one of us remembered it. We took the trail to the left.  As we got close to a creek, the trail changed.  It looked like a 10 foot dirt wall with tree roots to use as a ladder to get down to the creek. Once again, I was thankful for my headlamp! We went back and took the trail to the right.  It wasn’t much better. Neither of us remembered either trail. We went back to the fork to look at the GPS and try to figure out where we were and where we needed to go.  The trails were so close together, we couldn’t tell if either or neither were the trails we needed. We didn’t have gear to camp out, but thankfully, it was still warm. I was starting to think we would be sleeping there and leaving after sunrise. I think Jack was thinking about potential bears and other critters. He was determined to find the trail. He has a really bright flashlight and kept shining it in different areas trying to find the trail on the other side of the creek. He climbed over rocks, a fallen tree and over the creek. He found the trail and yelled for me to come across.  Once we started moving again, we checked the GPS.  We were on the right trail, headed toward the car. The rest of the hike was uneventful.

I made it up the mountain, swam naked in an alpine lake and made it safely back down the mountain.  Another amazing day, challenging the limits of my body and mind. Life is good!

Love, gratitude and blessings