The C Word & Hope (Things We Cherish & Love)

What do you cherish and love? I can name about five things off the top of my head. My husband, my cats, the ocean, making natural products, and music. Not necessarily in that order. Some things just give me a smile deep in my heart.

My cat Butterball was one of those cherished souls who side-swiped me and stole my heart early on (15 years ago to be exact). My cat was adorable. He had clumsy big rabbit hind feet that always seemed to be in front of his front paw.  His half-closed eyes that would slowly blink when I would walk by all the while purring at a very high decibel level- captured the very heart of me. While in bed, if I turned over to face away from him, he would walk right over my head to the other side so he could see my face. He loved making eye contact. He was almost human. I love him so much. I also miss him terribly. He just had a unique way of calming me when I became anxious or stressed out. I could instantly feel my shoulders relax when he was near.

Unfortunately, Butterball was laid to rest last Sunday (the weekend before Easter Sunday). I knew this day would come. I was still unprepared emotionally. He was such a faithful companion. He truly changed my life with his love.

You see, Butterball was diagnosed with Cancer Lymphoma towards the end of 2012. We had the best doctors and specialists to help him on his journey, and he did pretty well considering what he was fighting. I couldn't have asked for a better team of physicians at the Animal Cancer Care Center in Fort Lauderdale. Although the cost of medication for a cancer kitty isn't cheap, they helped extend his life and make him as comfortable as possible until he was ready to say goodbye. I just wasn't sure if it was his time because he still kept that love and purr turned up even almost to the very end.

David my husband, Butterball, and I made the trip to see the specialist for the last time. I asked if there was anything else I could do medically. Due to his low red blood count and anemia, I was told care would be very expensive and may not have a very good outcome. I had spent a lot on his care over the last year, and I also felt like it would be stressful for him especially if he were trying to die. He went peacefully, and I feel I did the right thing. That doesn't mean the guilt didn't grab me while sorrow still hits me during the day. I am a cat girl and adore even lizards, so you could say I am a HUGE animal advocate. It was hard.

Cancer is a battle with good days and some less than ideal days. Fortunately, for cats it's not the same as humans when it comes to the side effects of chemo. Animals such as cats, rarely lose their hair because they do not receive the high doses of chemo like we give humans. With cats, we are just controlling the cancer and not completely killing it. It would be too hard on them, so the quality of life is what we focus on for their happiness while in treatment. With humans, we want to kill the cancer and rid it completely from the body so the person can live a full healthy cancer free long life. Humans can tell us how they feel and it's easier in some ways.

The day after my fur baby was laid to rest, a cancer special came on TV. It was more than providential. I struggled to understand what I could have done differently. I wished I could have helped him more. I felt guilty. He wasn't old and still enjoyed playing and walking outside and being with my husband and I. (Cats live over 21 years many times and some 28 years and longer!).

So, I watched this cancer special. The program covered a lot of information including the latest breakthroughs in cancer research and the newest and latest technology. It was on for two days, and I watched both days without blinking an eye. It helped me a lot because I finally understood what he was truly battling. 

Bone marrow is the factory for making red blood cells. We need red blood cells to travel and bring oxygen to all the different parts of our body. You often see bone pain in patients undergoing chemotherapy because red blood cells are in a constant state of division and that's natural for bone marrow- and Chemo wreaks havoc on this area sometimes, well a lot of the time. My cat had this problem also. His bones were being affected because he couldn't make enough red blood cells to keep up with his bodies needs and the chemo while destroying cancer cells, also destroyed his much needed red blood cells inside his bones marrow. In my cats case, his limbs weren't being supplied with enough oxygen because his red blood cell count was dropping faster than he could make them, partially from the cancer, partially from the chemo. This is what is called in Chemotherapy as "bone marrow suppression". It happens with people as well as animals.

Our body has a powerful way of making sure our cells are put together correctly. There are actual places inside your body that give the "go" sign or the "self-destruct" sign to a cell that is being made and "trying to get a job". Cells have to pass through this "check point" and be accepted as good working cells before they are allowed to "pass on" and "go to work" doing cell things. If cells aren't in perfect working order and able to carry out their full functions and duties, they self-destruct after passing through the "check point". It's pretty amazing. The problem with cancer is that certain cells make it past those checkpoints, and they start rapidly dividing (mitosis) at an alarming rate. The program said it was like the gas peddle getting stuck. 

Cells that are in a constant state of mitosis take up a lot of energy from surrounding cells because they get "hungry" and crave more nutrients. Rapid cell division disrupts the other cells that need the nutrients but can't get it because the cancer cells are constantly eating up the surrounding cells nutrients. Cancer is like a hog. It just keeps taking and taking and dividing and dividing. This prevents the normal cells from doing their job because they get less nutrients. Cancer cells are in reality, your body attacking itself. The way chemo works is by destroying dividing (out of control) cancer cells. The problem is that chemo also destroys good cells in the process.

Our body is constantly making new cells and replacing old cells. We have some cells that naturally go through mitosis rapidly and then die so new cells can continue to do their job. Specific cells in our body divide fast to replace hair, nails, and stomach lining, etc. When those cells divide and grow mature they replace old cells. The problem with chemo is that it attacks all rapidly dividing cells, both the good cells and the cancer cells. Some cells in our bodies need to divide rapidly however, we don't want ALL our cells to be in a constant state of mitosis cell division because when cells keep dividing that means they stay in their early baby stage and never carry out their full function as mature cells. Our bodies need the full cells power (cycle) to live healthy. Since chemo destroys these out of control cancer cells and the fast growing cells in our bodies such as hair cells and mucous membrane cells this causes patients to lose their hair and have other side effects from the treatment. That is also why patients lose their appetites, and complain of pain in their bones. Our hair and stomach lining, as well as red blood cells are always in a state of renewal. 

There is a very promising breakthrough for treating certain cancers. It's called immunotherapy. It uses the bodies immunity to fight the cancer instead of chemo & radiation. They grow your cells and inject them back into your body to fight the cancer. I rather like the idea much better than chemo, because the chemo will either cure you or kill you. That's the bad side of cancer therapy and why I wish I would have known more about immunotherapy and sooner. So with this kind of treatment there's no bone marrow suppression and no hair loss!  Nice, right? Many are in full remission, and that's a very exciting cancer breakthrough! Remember not all cancers are caused by something you are doing wrong. Some cancers are from a gene that is more prone to being utilized by cancer cells according to "Cancer the Emperor of All Maladies" documentary. Science is working on identifying those cells and finding ways to "shut them off" so to speak. We as a human race haven't cured everyone's cancer yet- but many have been cured.  I am hopeful that the things we love and cherish will soon have a therapy that they can and will be safe from Cancer soon and have life extension.

Your immunity is very powerful. It's what keeps you alive and why you get better after a cold or illness. It's why your cuts heal by themselves. Immunotherapy is being studied and is having a profound effect for certain cancer patients.  We are living in a modern time and I appreciate learning about what is on the horizon and is already here.

I grew up with knowledge about the immune system from a very young age. Which brings me to this next part of my blog. My company and why I do what I do. I have built my understanding of health around natural living and preventative health science.  I prefer using natural ingredients on my skin. That's why I formulated natural skin care and my bath & beauty line Me and a Tree,  I choose to work with natural products over harsh chemical synthetic ones. Sure, a lot of companies want to make their soaps lather by using SLS. It's cheap and does the job. I'm allergic to it. So are many people who suffer from eczema. We feel that SLS isn't the best option.

Good old fashioned chemistry, mixed with heath science and research makes great ethical products- and that's what we sell. Soaps that lather beautifully because I perfected my chemistry through trial and error.  I spent years perfecting my anti aging face creams and body smoothing therapy lotions to make sure I could offer high quality, naturally safe products for me and my family and yours as well.

Me and a Tree is living proof that you don't need to use harsh chemicals to keep things up to par with commercial brands. In fact, we think our products are superior to commercial brands in more than one way. We aren't trying to take a shortcut. One can make safe healthy products and still make a decent living. We don't need the fast track. We enjoy what we do. That's our secret to success. We also think it's prudent to purchase products free from SLS, Propylene Glycol, and Phthalates. All of our natural skin care products are free from them. If you want to purchase more eco-friendly and cruelty-free products including vegan and vegetarian bath & beauty body care then stop by and pick up some great finds at (formerly Pixie Dust Naturals).  

The better your immune system stays intact the better chances you have of keeping your immune system in high working order so it can take care of you for years to come.  So, even if you or someone you love has cancer - it's helpful to boost your immune system using natural products and eating natural organically grown foods without cancer causing pesticides and GMO's.  After all, look what your immune system can do when it isn't being overloaded? A healthy lifestyle will certainly help your body respond better to outside environmental factors.

When you purchase Me and a Tree natural skin care products, you also help support families who can't afford life saving medical treatment for their children. Portions of "Me & a" proceeds go to Miami Children's Hospital to support families in need of dire medical treatment for their kids. Thank you for supporting us and helping others by supporting our brand. Together we can make a huge difference in the lives of everyday people.

Thank you for reading.

Be blessed,

Michelle Touchstone
Founder and CEO Me and a Tree LLC


Cancer research from this post came from a Cancer Special Video Called "Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies" that aired on PBS as well as my over a years experience with the Oncology Care my cat received through Animal Cancer Care Clinic. 

for more info on the video I watched click here

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