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

~Susan



Wonder Woman at Mukilteo Lighthouse Festival

 

Once again…Wonder Woman showed up for the Mukilteo Lighthouse festival. For those of you I met for the first time and a recap for the rest of y’all who follow my adventures…

For those of you who took pictures of me, please send them to me here, susanwonderstone@yahoo.com or on my Facebook page https://Facebook.com/susan.story.71

My son Cameron and I have been participating in the parade since he was in 2nd grade. He turns 20 this week.  Since the festival is always near his birthday, we invited his friends to celebrate with us. Sometimes we had a party after the parade,  complete with singing and birthday cake. At some point along the way, he decided to make a “FREE HUGS” sign. He would run from side to side along the parade route, with his arms out offering hugs to anyone who wanted one.

In the beginning, when I first made my outfit, I realized that when people saw me they often smiled, laughed  and asked to take pictures with me. We all tend to smile when someone smiles at us. It’s just as contagious as a yawn! People who were together, but not saying anything, would smile and communicate with each other. Regardless of whether they are having problems with relationships or work, recently lost a fur kid or other family member, have health challenges, are “drugged” from the crap food they just ate…or, whatever other things are going on in their heads, comnecting and communicating with another human always makes life easier to deal with. I’ve continued doing it, not to make it easier to deal with my own stuff, but to bless others with my will, in hopes that they’ll find their own.

Friday at my retail job, I dealt with the biggest jerk I’ve ever dealt with in the store. It spun me for a bit, because I really thought I could change the constipated look on his face into a smile before he left. I wondered what could be so bad in his life to make him nasty to not only me, but several of my coworkers he also interacted with. After about 30 minutes of wanting to chase him down in the parking lot, and tell him that I’d pray for him because his terminal cancer and putting his dog down this week must be challenging to his entire existence, I realized that jerks only show up in my life to check my own attitude. I really paid attention to myself for the rest of the day, still having the goal to make everyone I came in contact with, a little better than before they talked to me. I try to always make it a goal for me, even when I’m in so much pain I should be at home in bed. Like after the parade, when I slowly wandered around the Festival.  I did my best to smile. I talked to everyone who made eye contact with me. I met a beautiful woman named Demetria, who after a health challenge of her own, started a business providing  shoes to low income and foster children.

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People are amazing when you give them a chance to tell you who they are!

What’s my story?

As many of you know, my first melanoma diagnosis was in March 2000. I had two more surgeries in 2002.  In 2004, aside from skin lesions on my face and just about every body part, I had an open 2inch hole on my right butt cheek and the cancer was in my liver and lymphatic system. In August that year,  my doctor told me I probably wouldn’t make it through the summer. I knew, based on the conversation I had with my dermatologist in 2002, that there were no treatments that would give me hope. I cried  daily for months, wondering what I could do to save my life.  I researched and implemented everything that made sense. Over the years, I’ve stopped things that no longer seem to be helping and added things newly discovered.  A few days ago, my friend Armi, who I met in Tijuana, suggested I put raw honey in the hole in my leg. Why had I forgotten how many times raw honey had helped the skin lesions?   I filled the hole with raw honey, aside from the other things I’m still doing, and after two days it looks so much better!

In 2007,  I broke my back in a skydiving accident. It was my third jump. I had an L1 burst fracture. The staff in the emergency room told me I would probably never walk again. I must have said 100 times “Thank you God, I can move my toes!”  I believed that if I could move my toes I would walk again!  I kept telling them that they did not have my permission to touch any cancer they found in my body. I believed  what I was doing was working, and didn’t want biopsies or other medical treatments to interfere with my healing. My neurosurgeon  asked where the cancer was. Even though I still had lumps in areas of lymph nodes, he showed me the CT scan if my liver. There were no spots on my liver. I KNEW  if I could eliminate melanoma from my liver, I could recover from a broken back. He put me back together with screws in L2 and T12, with flexible plastic rods in between to give me full range of motion. They made me walk soon after I came out of anesthesia, three days after the accident.  I have walked every day since! It took me awhile to get my courage (or stupidity- however you look at it) to skydive again. I have 40 jumps now. Someday I’ll travel and jump in every city, state and country I can!

I’m not going to list all of the challenges I’ve faced, because it seems when I signed up for this life, that I agreed to face most obstacles others do, so I could empathize with the masses.

After I made my rounds at the festival, I went home to do the cancer treatments I didn’t have time for in the morning. I was so tired, but didn’t have time for a nap before I was supposed to be back for dinner with my Northwest Photo family.

I love my spray tan, sponsored by Oasis Airbrush Tanning!

 

The evening was just as amazing as the day!

While looking for the kids, I spun a wheel and won a month of free karate classes. I later found them giving hugs to the people who were within ear shot of the dude yelling at everyone, telling them they’re going to burn in hell for eternity. I’ve never understood how anyone thinks anger, hatred and fear will help convert another to their ways. Meanwhile, the Sikh group was dancing, hugging and appeared happy. But…that’s another story.

Dinner was great! Sunset was great! Connecting was great! Fireworks were great! I fell asleep with my feet soaking in Epsom salt, apple cider vinegar and frankincense.

 

Life is good!

Love, gratitude and blessings

~Susan

 



Missed Opportunities or Distant Friendship

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Another beautiful story about friendship and connections. Written by Darian Clogston, another of my son Cameron’s best friends. And a little Harry Potter spoiler…

 

I went to Jake Long‘s memorial service this weekend, and it was the most difficult funeral I have ever been to.

Not that I have been to a whole lot of funerals, but for a twenty-year-old, the few I have been to already feel like far too many. Jake’s was different for me though, because he and I were not friends…not until after he died. Prior to a week ago, when I had been asked if I knew Jake Long – and I had been asked before, on at least a couple occasions – my answer was, “The name is familiar; I would probably recognize him if you showed me a picture…” His profile picture on Facebook would jumpstart my memory, prompting me to add on, “Oh, he sat with the group of guys behind Blake and I in Mr. Schillinger’s calculus class my senior year”. Not really a significant connection to bring up, considering that I essentially never talked to, or even really acknowledged, that group of guys sitting behind us. I’ve thought about that class every day since Jake died though. There were 180 school days where I could’ve tried to talk to them. 180 missed opportunities where I never said, “Hey”, or, “Good morning”, or anything. I’d just walk in every day, glancing a little skeptically at Will Kramer rocking on the back legs of his chair – that drove the stage manager side of me nuts – and then I’d take my seat next to Blake. And Blake is just such a friendly and positive human to sit next to at 7:20 in morning; It made sense to mostly just talk to him and to ignore everyone else as much as possible.

I know I can’t fill my mind with the what-if’s though. That’s not fair to myself, or to Jake, or to anyone. That class was years ago, and I can’t change the fact that I never talked to Jake when I had such a prime opportunity to. The connection between Jake and I started to grow even years before that though. The problem was just that neither of us knew it.

Jake had taken part in the Summit program, through which he grew a group of guy friends that became a very solid, tightknit bunch. Cameron – one of my two very best friends now – was a part of Jake’s group then. I’ve heard a remarkable amount of stories and anecdotes in the past week about what Jake was like back then and about the shenanigans that this group of guys was able to get into together, and everything I hear makes me love Jake a little more.

And let me tell you, he’s amazing. I’m not going to re-cap all of the stories I’ve been able to hear about him, or share all of the photos I’ve seen of him in the past week, because other people have shared those with me, and I feel like their memories are better left in their own hands to keep sharing. But either way, there is no denying that Jake is one awesome guy. From what I can tell, he and I would get along so well if we had ever had the chance to hang out together.

One of the biggest differences between us is the fact that Jake loves baseball and I love theatre. But within our own realms, each of us thrives. We’re both driven and passionate when we get involved with something. Baseball and theatre are our outlets. They allow us space to practice, and to persevere, and to overcome obstacles, and to build community, and to engage, and to inspire. These activities keep us going. They give us something to look forward to.

Attending Jake’s memorial service was surreal in a way. It is one thing to know and love someone, have them pass away, and to then grieve for them by reflecting on their life, celebrating their achievements, and sharing the stories you have about them. But to begin to know and love someone after they’re gone – that is a whole other beast to tackle. Responding to the question, “How do you know Jake?”, was harder than it ever had been before. I hadn’t even known that Cameron and Jake had been so close until after Jake died. And Cameron has been the biggest contributing factor to me learning about Jake, but I have also witnessed an outpouring of love and stories coming from the other friends that Jake and I share, as well as from his family at the service. So simply saying that we have a mutual best friend doesn’t seem to sum it up. It feels more like Jake has become one of my best friends himself.

Late on the night of the funeral, when I finally went home, I was welcomed by new groceries that my mom had picked up that day. It was late, and I was sleepy and I wanted to go to bed, but I also didn’t quite feel like I could sleep yet. So, being the huge nerd that I am, I sat down in our living room and started thinking about Harry Potter. Often, I find myself using the morals found in Harry Potter to get me through rough patches of life. It’s as if J.K. Rowling has a direct line to my heart through her writing. This past week, I have been drawing inspiration specifically from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Spoilers from this and other books will occur if you continue reading). The end of the fourth installment to the series is where Hogwarts loses one of it’s students, Cedric Diggory, to the hands of Voldemort, and where Dumbledore tells his school that they must band together for the light to rise out of the dark. I have found this part of the series very relatable this week because Jake, Anna, and Jordan are all a little bit like Kamiak’s Cedric Diggory. The sense of community and love felt at the end of the fourth book was exactly what I was reflecting on when I looked up and saw two copies of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child sitting on the mantle. Now, I love Harry Potter. I love the books, I love the movies, I feel kind of iffy about all the spin-off books and movies, but they are all an extension of the Wizarding World that I consider myself to be a part of, so I love them too. BUT all of that being said, when I picked up my copy of this new book, I didn’t know anything about it. I had heard it was coming out soon…but I had no idea what was inside. I opened the front cover to read the inside flap; it informed me that this was actually not a book at all. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a play, and so I was holding in my hands not a book, but a script. Continuing to read the inside cover flap, I also learned that the play is already in production in London’s West End. The world premiere was July 30, 2016. The date that Jake, Anna, and Jordan died.

I took all of this as a sign. I needed to start reading. The timing was too perfect, and a play about Harry Potter – yes there are already other Harry Potter-related plays, but one that J.K. Rowling wrote and brought to life – it felt like it was meant for me to start reading immediately. I made a snack, took my new script up to my room, and jumped in. I made it three scenes before falling asleep. So the next day when I woke up, all I did was read. I read until I finished the play, only stopping for a bathroom break or two. And it AMAZED me how much of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child depended on Cedric’s death. The entire play is about the idea that while you can’t change the past, you can allow the past to inspire you to live.

My favorite part of the script, the part that resonates with me the most, is this exchange between Harry and a portrait of Dumbledore:

DUMBLEDORE attempts to reach out of the portrait – but he can’t. He begins to cry but tries to hide it.

DUMBLEDORE: But I had to meet you in the end…eleven years old, and you were so brave. So good. You walked uncomplainingly along the path that had been laid at your feet. Of course I loved you…and I knew that it would happen all over again…that where I loved, I would cause irreparable damage. I am no fit person to love…I have never loved without causing harm.

A beat.

HARRY: You would have hurt me less if you had told me this then.

DUMBLEDORE (openly weeping now): I was blind. That is what love does. I couldn’t see that you needed to hear this closed-up, tricky, dangerous old man…loved you.

A pause. The two men are overcome with emotion.

HARRY: It isn’t true that I never complained.

DUMBLEDORE: Harry, there is never a perfect answer in this messy, emotional world. Perfection is beyond the reach of humankind, beyond the reach of magic. In every shining moment of happiness is that drop of poison: the knowledge that pain will come again. Be honest to those you love, show your pain. To suffer is as human as to breathe.

HARRY: You have said that to me once before.

DUMBLEDORE: It is all I have to offer you tonight.

He begins to walk away.

HARRY: Don’t go!

DUMBLEDORE: Those that we love never truly leave us, Harry. There are things that death cannot touch. Paint…and memory…and love.

HARRY: I loved you too, Dumbledore.

DUMBLEDORE: I know.

Jake, as well as Anna and Jordan, were taken from us too soon. And we can’t ever change that. But through the memories and love that they instilled while they were alive, they gave so much light to everyone around them. And so we have to live for them, spreading their love and memory and light along with our own, Always.

*Upon reading this, Jansen – another member of Jake and Cameron’s Summit friend group and another friend of mine – wrote me this: “I remember him saying that you were in Calc together. He said that he didn’t know you too well but he thought you were cool and he wished he got to know you better in Calc[…]Jake knew how much you meant to Cameron and what a great person you are. He heard it from me, as well as from Cameron. Even though you never became good friends, you now feel close to him in his death, hearing all about him from Cameron. And he knew how important you are to Cameron. It wasn’t 180 missed opportunities, instead it was 180 days of distant friendship, both incredibly important to each other and to Cameron.”

I love our distant friendship and how it has evolved. I love you, Jake

by Darian Clogston

Jake will be missed by so many! We can’t bring him back, but we can live our lives even bigger than anything we’ve ever planned before.

Love, gratitude and blessings

~Susan

 

 



Mukilteo Mourns at Kamiak High School

imageI’ve often said that there are few “bad” things I haven’t experienced and overcome, that allow me to help others get to the other side of the trials they face. From car accidents, moving when I didn’t have a choice, watching my dog get run over by a train, breakups including 2 divorces, 7 miscarriages, being accused of being a violent drug abuser with my son temporarily being taken away from me, getting fired from a job I loved, having to file bankruptcy, breaking my back and being told I’d never walk again, losing friends in other skydiving and airplane accidents, my dad dying from cancer, 2 dogs and too many close friends and acquaintances also taken too soon…to my own terminal cancer diagnosis and the daily struggles that came with it…including having to go outside of the country to get the treatments that have kept me alive, having countless doctors refuse to help me because I won’t allow more biopsies and recently finding out that the toxicity of my breast implants could have been the reason my immune system wasn’t healing my body – even though I was doing all the right things.

As I write this, so many other things fill my head. The roof leak that caused over $11,000 damage and the insurance company threatening to drop my coverage unless I replaced the $16,000 roof in the middle of a chapter 13 bankruptcy. One of my dogs dying 4 days after a cat bite. A police officer telling my son I was overreacting from someone attempting to break into our house, only later to have “the suspect” admit he had broken in at least 15 times and had stolen from us. Answering the 911 call from a neighbor describing my house being on fire (it was my neighbor’s house, but it took another 30 seconds to find that out. They weren’t home, but the cat and bird died in the fire), then a year later when my supervisor advised me my son had called in and our kitchen was on fire (my firefighter neighbor took care of it before the fire department arrived)…then I think of the stressful 911 calls I took for over 6 years with people hurt, dying or dead, amongst all the non emergency stuff…

The traumas other family members have faced. My oh my! How thankful I feel right now! None of that was on my mind to write about.

None of those things could have prepared me or anyone else for getting the news that three people were killed and one in serious condition at a party in my community. Like I said yesterday, I got messages way before my alarm was set to go off. I knew that when the news reports said college age and teenagers in the same sentence that I would know the people involved. I’ve lived in Mukilteo since 1992. Many people in this community have lived here for a long time too. Several hours after getting the initial news, I opened Facebook and saw that one of my son’s good friends had been killed. I was at work and managed to stay through the end of my shift,  but not without crying…a lot.

Shortly after I got home, several kids sat in our living room crying and telling stories.  There was a vigil Saturday night, at Kamiak high school. I was going to go, but after talking to my mom and my brother the kids were already home.  We all cried more. Rayla  was so upset, she was throwing up. She went to bed early, while Cameron and I stayed up talking.

Most of the day Sunday, was filled with tears. There was a community vigil being held Sunday night that I was going to.  Cameron decided at the last minute to go with me. I couldn’t count, but there must’ve been 500 people there. There were people from different  churches and faiths,  who spoke along with the mayor and the governor.  Many of the kids who graduated in 2015 were at the vigil. Many of their parents were there with them. People from the community who were unrelated, were also there to show their support.

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There were families I’ve known since Cameron was in kindergarten. Several of the kids at the party, were in the summit program. Summit is Mukilteo’s  gifted program. The kids who are in it, come from different schools in the district. They form close relationships.  The parents seem to be more active with school functions then many of the non-summit kids’ parents.  Even though the summit kids took different paths in high school, they remained connected.

Some summit, some not, were at the party, hanging out before they went back to college for their sophomore year.

Based on the news stories, the shooter was jealous over other guys after breaking up with his “dream girl” Anna. He shot and killed her. He fired 20 rounds total, killing Jake and Jordan and critically injuring one more.

One choice. 3 dead. So many lives changed forever!

We worry about our kids drinking and driving or being in an accident with a drunk driver. Being killed at the hands of one of their classmates isn’t something most of us have ever thought about.

How can we tell them  everything’s going to be okay? How can we trust that they’ll be safe wherever they go? So many questions! Very little of it makes sense to me!

Cameron and I were only going to stay an hour, but ended up being amongst the last to leave. Hugging, crying and holding kids and parents who were upset was more important than going home. The trauma every kid (technically they’re adults) at the party suffered, was more than most of us will ever experience.  I talked to some of the church leaders about dating violence and the importance of teaching the signs of it before it escalates into a tragedy like this. I talked about survivor guilt and they looked like they hadn’t even thought about it. The family and friends of the shooter have suffered loss too. He and Anna dated over a year.  They don’t need to feel isolated at this time either.

Most of us think our first love will be our one and only. When we really love someone, breaking up is never easy, whether it’s the first, third, tenth or whatever number it is. Since everyone is different, how do we help our friends and loved ones deal with a breakup, death or loss of any kind?

I feel like my past experiences have prepped me for a lot and am willing to talk to and share with the families affected by this tragic event, starting with Cameron and his friends who are still alive. So much I’d love to tell you that I learned last night, but being so fresh, will allow time for healing before I do.

On a lighter note, one of the kids last night, said he’ll always remember meeting me. I volunteered in the classrooms a lot. Shortly after he moved here, I had gone to the school to eat lunch with the third graders. He was eating a raisin bagel and a raisin fell out and onto the table. He said that I said “Look, it pooped!” He was grossed out, threw it away and didn’t eat anything else for the rest of the day. He said he still won’t eat a raisin bagel. I don’t remember it, but he might always remember my  3 words!

Love yourself. Love your friends and families. Reach out when you need help and reach out when you see someone who appears to need help. Don’t expect someone else to do it. If we truly are one, let’s find ways to take responsibility, help each other and stop blaming.

Life is good, let’s make it better!

Love, gratitude and blessings

~Susan

 

 



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. 



Acceptable way to die

When my son was 7, he believed if I died from the cancer, that it was because I chose to. He believed that I had a choice to live or die. Because of his belief, I had a mission to not let that happen. How could I purposefully abandon him?

Now I know, most people don’t think that way, but what if it’s true? When I look at different ways people die, it seems cancer, heart disease, stroke and so many other health problems are a completely acceptable way to die. If a car accident is “someone else’s fault”, that’s an accepted way to die.

Going back to my son’s belief, dying from anything is no different than suicide.

How are you going to exit?

Yesterday, someone I’ve seen around, but had never talked to, died doing something he loved. I don’t believe it was intentional. Nor do I believe that it was stupid. I also don’t believe he was suicidal. I don’t know that we’ll ever understand why some people seem to live forever and some die so young. He was 30 years old and so full of life.

Three weeks ago, a 27 year old friend died, also doing what he loved. He had helped me on several occasions, but I didn’t know him very well. So many questions as to why?! Again, so full of life.

Today, as I spend hours doing alternative cancer treatments – enemas, sweating, oil pulling, dry brushing, full body vibration machine, earthing, prepping food, cleaning the open and swollen tumors, taking care of my organic garden and later, getting in the hyperbaric chamber, I think of these friends who died so young, full of life and healthy.

I can hear both of them saying “Shit, that wasn’t supposed to happen!”

Few people who’ve never been sick, see the utility in dying at the prime of life with no or few health challenges. It sucks that they were so young, but at the same time, I believe that being sick for months or even years and dying in a hospital bed would suck more!

Allowing others who’ve died to take part of my life source through depression won’t bring them back or help me or those around me at all. It’s my job to keep myself as healthy as possible and keep moving forward.

I will continue to do my daily treatments until I’ve been cancer free for a year. Regardless of how long it takes, I know I feel better than most people do. I am worth the time I put into myself!

What if we all take care of ourselves to the best of our abilities, take responsibility for every aspect of our lives, get outside and have as many adventures as we can?

Loving from a distance. It’s what we do when someone leaves our lives, no matter how they leave. We either continue living or can choose to go too. I’m choosing life!

Now to increase my income!

Love, gratitude and blessings

~Susan

 

 



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!

 

 

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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

~Susan