Dear Sheryl,

As I mentioned earlier, I'm enclosing a printed out letter along with a package. Before I respond to your email, a few words about this Care Package.

Joanna and I were wanting to, and planning to send this bundle of samples to you even before we got your email with the news, as a way of sharing some with you some items you might want to carry in the store, and just as a way to stay in touch and be friendly and share some joy of neat healthy eating.

Enclosed are:

1) ORGANIC German bread. Ludgate Farms here has some tasty German style breads (Joanna's Edit: It's called Vollkornbrot in German...it means whole kernel bread...there's whole grain kernels (unground kernels) in the bread...very tasty -JR) but they are not organic; the one enclosed here is from the GreenStar Coop which is organic. And it's only one of 6? or so flavors.

2) Etna is a small little town near Ithaca and there's an "Etna Crackerman" as he goes by but it's actually he and his wife who've been doing this for years. We realize it's unlikely he can ship affordably to Salisbury (you can try..but probably not high probability) but are sharing anyway first, just so you (or others you choose to share these with) can enjoy the crackers, and second, maybe just to give you an idea to look for similar products.

We're sending 4 of the vegan flavors. It's amazing the great variety of flavors -- enclosed are Seeds and Grains; Buckwheat (just 5 ingredients); Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Apple (just 4 ingredients!) -- and some of these have just 4, or 5 ingredients total!

3) Marzipan. Yum! Ok it's not the healthiest thing in the world, but in small amounts, or as occasional things to buy at the new combined HH/HSM Health Store, it's an idea we wanted to share, and even if you don't end up carrying it, just for your (and/or friends) to enjoy. It's a confection mostly made from almond paste and sugar (Joanna's edit: Let's not forget it's chocolate covered! -JR).

Two kinds here, both available at Ludgate Farms (and www.veganessentials.com carries the Ritter Sport one) and you can check packages for more info. The Erasmi is a delicious vegan "nougat" in the middle while the Ritter Sport has less of the "nougat" center but wonderful with the taste (and "crunch into me" texture) of the chocolate.

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Hope you enjoyed the above and will enjoy sampling, sharing, and (only if you feel it's helpful) looking into the store carrying..And now to the main part of this letter...

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Below are general remarks with thoughts about healing through cancer in general..but you mentioned you had a particular, challenging type of breast cancer that doesn't get caught as early as some other kinds...could you share the name of this particular, type?

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So, I will now share with you my thoughts on health and healing. I believe each person needs to do their own research and know you are already doing this -- and with your health background both at the stores and your reflexology practice, you've got a great head start!

That said, I will be pretty candid with my thoughts, suggestions, my philosophy, my general understanding and what I would do if I were in a similar situation. I will be more candid or more forward than I usually am with my own advice -- usually I go slow and don't want to be too forward with giving advice, but the stakes are high here so, take only those parts you are comfortable with -- but I hope you will understand why I'm not going to be shy about sharing my thoughts and beliefs -- because I care about your health, so research it on your own after reading what I say but here goes...

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The Common Cold and Cancer are diseases that people have tried to find a permanent cure to without success for decades. Luckily the common cold is very mild -- and we understand that one reason it's hard to prevent/vaccine is that 100s of viruses who mutate and change are behind it so it's very very hard to vaccinate against any/all of them.

What about cancer? Well I'm not an expect and I'm sure your research has already found various aspects I don't know about, but I do think I have some correct general ideas. On the "micro" level there is a lot we do not yet understand about what happens at the cell level, DNA level, etc, though we have come a long way. But in general terms, cancer is in no small part (not entirely but to a significant extent), #1, a disease of the modern age #2 a systemic disease that's often due to multiple factors, multiple stressors on the overall system. There are exceptions -- some people are born with huge genetic problems, or smoke for years, or have a huge single toxic exposure, etc..but for most of us -- and the very scary thing for me is about 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will get some kind of cancer (Joanna's Edit: Those are my figures...my anatomy and physiology professor said it once in class while I was an undergrad.. -JR)-- for most of us (it seems from what I can tell) it's due to *multiple* factors over time, over years of one's life, stressing the body's overall system..including various toxins in food, air, water, workplace, home, etc plus various other stressors.

That's my first set of general remarks, and after I make a second set of general remarks, is my own list of suggested ways of strengthening the overall body system.

The second general remark, and this is one part I've been more indirect in the past about saying to folks, is this -- I do think on the one hand that mainstream medicine has many under-estimated risks, has many over-rated treatments, and has various types of B.S., absolutely. But at the same time many 'alternative' treatments are either B.S. or entirely unproven or largely unproven, or have under-estimated risks, or have over-rated alleged benefits and over-rated alleged success rates, etc.

And I am "tough" on mainstream medicine at least as much. See for example this article I wanted to share with you "Chemo destroys brain cells" at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/6156961.stm

But I am especially skeptical of those who hype some "amazing discovery". Yes, the government is corrupt, but no, they can't keep a secret in today's internet world, and if there really was a magic item, like "special water", they would be published in some peer-reviewed scientific and medical journals, etc. And I am very skeptical about folks who claim to have something -- which just HAPPENS to be the product line they sell and that no one (so they claim!) can tell you EXCEPT them -- that helps 101 different things. Whether it's HSOs or the "oregano will solve 200 different health problems" I have a real problem with that.

I mean, one book has hundreds of problems and he has nearly the exact same answer for EVERY problem: oregano! (coming one of a small number of types) That's too hard to swallow, and flies in the face of my common sense..Don't get me wrong, I have NO doubt that oregano DOES have some useful properties including anti-microbial, and some of those are well established. But any person or group that says that X is something only they can sell you and X can solve 101 problems, unlike "the other" essential oils you can get elsewhere, is pushing credibility.

..I don't think many of them deliberately lie. I don't think many of them do it just for profit (though it's a factor for many) but they start believing their own "Wishful thinking" and is snowballs from there. I think Ingram falls into not the "liar" but into the over-hyper, believes their own wishful thinking.

It's tempting for patients and consumers to go along with the full message, even the much exaggerated parts, since part of the message is absolutely correct and right on--that is, mainstream medicine is over-rated and under-estimated risks and BS in many ways...and some alternative holistic treatments are under-investigated, and underestimated even..so they are right up to this point...and then they have an audience of lots and lots of consumers that read those statements (which are true statements) and then those consumers want to believe anything the comes next...and then the claims made gets larger and larger..

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Ok, I said my peace on those general remarks..I said I'd be candid! Below then are my thoughts. First some non-diet related thoughts on what's key for health and healing --

1) Overall one needs to strengthen the body's immune system, and all other systems..

2a) Each patient doing their own Research is key..

2b) Patient-to-patient exchange of information and ideas is key: so I would suggest looking (if you haven't already) for internet discussion boards where you can find others that have your kind of cancer..as well as where you can chat with others with different cancers from whom you might still gain from and learn from.

One place is healthboards.com but I haven't investigated it in detail. There is also a new "myspace" place for medical professional called sermo.com and you can register as a non-professional and they will email you when they open the site up for the rest of us..I've done that already for myself. Hopefully there is one that is for holistic/integrative medicine as well.

I'll let you know if/when I learn of other sites..I would welcome hearing from you if/when you find good sites for patient to patient (or patients interactive with medical professionals) sites (but don't feel obliged)

3) Water. Drinking 10-12 or more 8oz cups per day. Drinking before one is thirsty. But not forcing it down either. Just keeping the system as clear and clean as possible: "The solution to pollution is dilution" as the saying goes for washing hands, likewise internally But just regular, filtered/distilled water -- no fancy gizmo water from some company claiming strange miraculous properties, is what I'm suggesting..

Holistic online says 8 cups of water per day plus another cup for every 20 pounds over 150, but I'm under 150 and drink (partly due to some conditions but I recommend anyone try to drink more than the minimum) fully 8-10 cups a day, so I would suggest 10 cups plus 1+ cups for every 20 pounds over 150. Of course a cup is 8oz, so a 12 oz drinking cup of water would count for 1.5 and a 16 ounce glass would count as two cups..

4) Relaxation by taking active steps several times a day, active steps like medication, breathing, receiving a massage, self-massage, or relaxation tapes.

I'll follow up later with more about Dr. Emmett Miller, M.D., the originator back in 1971 or so of the Relaxation Tape, and one of the most genuine underestimated teachers and healing of today, in my opinion -- but for now I'll recommend his book Deep Healing which I'd like to send you a copy of if you're ok with that, and his tapes (and tape catalog to chose from)

5a) Sleep, plus naps, plus general rest..

Here's a great quote on one radical idea: Sleeping without an alarm clock, along with other life tips,

"..one of my rules for myself [became] to never set an alarm clock. this was one component of the plan to recover my health. Once I felt the energy I had -- energy that lasted all day, I came to believe that alarm clocks, and working full time, were completely unnatural. Our very bodies are meant to be well rested, to nap when we're tired, to not be sedentary at a desk all day, and to do a variety of activities and physical motions in a day...

"I think a 25-hour work week is ideal. I think living simply lets us need less, and notice great free things, like concerts in parks, movies at museums [and universities], ..we need exercise every day -- yes, every day! Shut off the TV, or plan what program you'll watch. Ask, 'Am I spending my time the way I would like?' Pick your favorite cause and volunteer to do something you enjoy at a place where you admire what people are doing, and were you can learn new skills..

"Each person has to decide what's most important to them: money, security, autonomy, free time, health, routine, spontaneity. We start out programmed to some degree or another, making choices we're steered to, or trained to make. It takes time and luck to be able to discover what your preferences are, what really motivates you, and then to arrange things so that these can be honored or lived by

5b) Let me take that radical idea one step further: sleeping as much as possible without an alarm clock PLUS staying in bed even after you wake up, some days. Why? Some weekends or breaks from the semester I can sleep in all I want but wake up, feel like I can't or don't need to go back to sleep, but am tired or sleepy later that day. I've found that if I just remind myself the world will go on without my needing to rush to get 101 things done, I can lie in bed an extra half hour, and sometimes I fall back asleep for another hour..sometimes not, but even then my body got a little bit extra rest.

6) Diet tips/ideas/philosophy -- I'll mostly save for another time, for emails maybe... for now I'll just say I think it's great you're semi-vegan, and check out the sites below for recipes:

a) http://www.veganchef.com where you can type any keywords (your favorite ingredients) and get a ton of recipes.

and

b) From the Salisbury veggie potlucks, recipes from me, from Joanna, and others: http://www.greendelmarva.org/potlucks/

(Joanna's Edit: c) http://blog.fatfreevegan.com <--not free of fat, but she cooks without added fat.

d) http://www.pcrm.org/health/recipes/index.html <--Physican's Committee for Responsible Medicine collection of Recipes

e) http://www.theppk.com <--not the healthiest in the world...but it's vegan...if you want an occasional treat -JR)

7) Joanna suggested I add: Exercise as a way not only to get/stay fit but as a way of *strengthening* the immune system. Avoiding over-doing of course, but at a level that feels right and Joanna says you can build up and build up over time until you reach your full potential (cardiovascular especially but also muscular, stretching, etc). Sometimes you can just take a nice slooooow waaaaalk, which is what I do when I'm sick or recoving or weak but want some exercise, e.g. in the evening. Or if exhausted, rest for the time being, until you have the energy for short, slow (or even very slow) walks, when you have more energy. When I was very sick in August (worst in 10+ years) I took even a 10 min super slow walk outside with Joanna just a few dozen yards from apartment..

(Joanna's Edit: Not only will it improve your health, make your colds shorter in duration, it will make you happier. It is one of the few things in my life--Harel is another--that has truly helped me heal my spirit. If illness depends at all on your state of mind, your outlook on life, your feelings about the inside and outside of your body, exercise will make help make all those things better. It has changed who I am. Before (when I was obese) I used to be sick and in constant inner turmoil, now I have much more peace in my life--in addition to feeling better. Please try. You can do it! Try to workout as hard as you can, but don't hurt yourself. Slowly buildup what you can do until you're able to do more and more and more. Knowing how to stretch, drinking A LOT of water during, and listening to your favorite music all help. You'll feel better and better and better, and that HAS to help you beat this cancer! -JR)

8) Fresh air and sunshine ...can come through 7)

9) Social support network, family and friends.. :-)

10) Laughter! You've heard of the Patch Adams movie? That's the .com site...the REAL Patch Adams is at http://www.patchadams.org/ Hmm, his personal notes newsletter might not be there any more but it might still be a good place for you for inspiration. Dr. Miller is at http://www.drmiller.com/

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Last thoughts and philosophy and then I promise to shut up ;-)

Enjoy the present moment..I'm sure this isn't new to you, I'm sure you've thought about that already, a lot.. Let me share a personal angle, a story I have shared with others..

About 50% of people who enroll in graduate school nationwide drop out before they graduate...or at least for Ph.D. programs, I remember seeing that figure...pretty high attrition! Of those of us who ultimately finish, a huge percent of us worry, at some point(s) during our many year stay in grad school, whether we will ever get our degree...I had a personal crisis point sometime in the middle that involved both personal anxiety and sleep problems and worrying about whether I'll ever graduate, among other things.. A key turning point was when I was able to compare two possible outcomes.

Outcome (A) is what if I do graduate but only after years of high anxiety...outcome (B) is that I enjoy the present moment and do my best to graduate but do NOT worry so much, but I end up not graduating. The ideal of course is (C) not a lot of worry and you do graduate. But what if I had to choose between just (A) and (B)?

I remembered my friend Eric Schissel who had dropped out but was leading a decent and decently happy life. But even more than that I got to feel that I would be o.k. if I dropped out, I'd manage to have a happy life some other way. So I finally compared (A) and (B) and said I would prefer (B), the case where I don't graduate but don't make myself miserable, to (A) where I do graduate but DO make myself miserable... Interestingly, making that decision helped make (C) possible, where you do graduate and also do not make yourself miserable...but it's important not to lie to oneself and I really said, "!@#* it, if I really had to pick between 3 or more additional years of high anxiety and then graduating versus that many years of enjoying life but ultimately leaving grad school, I'll take the latter thank you very much!"

I think the above might be helpful to you when you think about the store. You want it to do well, as do I, which is why I've tried to spread the word so much..but it's not worth being miserable or hurting your health about. Living well and having the store last a few less years, is like (B), and I think it's better than (A) where the store lasts longer but at your health's expense. Hopefully you will get option (C) the best of all options, but isn't (B) most important than (A) for the store, too..? Maybe it can help you 'let go' too, to think about 200 or even 300 years from now..just about every company that exists today, yes even Sears and even Wal-Mart, is most likely not going to be around in 200 or 300 years. What will matter in 50 or 100 or 300 years? I mean what will be the MOST important thing? How big the store got? How many years it lasted, whether it lasted 10 years or 80 years or in between or more than 80, before it changed over and was replaced by something else?

No, that's not the MOSt important thing.. As much as I support your store and as much as I do *hope* it lasts for more years (and I hope it lasts longer than Sear and the other corporate giants) it's still not the most important thing. In 50 or 100 or 300 years what will matter most is: Sheryl and her family/co-owners cared. They were not only friendly, they created a beautiful loving atmosphere visually, with music, and most of all, with how they spoke with and interacted with customers they fed their customers' souls with compassion and caring, as well as their tummies.

That's what will matter the most in 50 or 100 or more years is that you were a good, caring human being. The healthiest 20-year-old living today without cancer will be just as dead as Harel and Sheryl will, in 100 years from now in 2106... Ok, maybe she'll live to be 120..so let's fast-forward 150 years...all of us are here temporarily. How we live, is what's important.

Wow, I don't know if this makes sense, but my analogy between not worrying too too much about "whether I'll graduate" and not worrying too too much about the Store's future (while still doing what you can to help it along so long as you take care of yourself, first) is an analogy to something else, too, which is how we conduct all of our lives..

I'll end here (but see the P.S. below!)...with love and hugs,


Harel and Joanna


Good news -- Emmett Miller's book Deep Healing-- I thought for sure I had given away my last new copy (I just gave one away last month when another couple visited us for a vegan thanksgiving meal) but I have one last new copy (besides our own often re-read copy) so I am sending that too, along with a catalog :-)