After Cancer: The New Normal

It’s been a couple of months since I posted last. I don’t write in my journal every day anymore. It sometimes feels like the days are even harder now but how can that be? Tom is cancer-free. It’s been six months and late December he will do more tests to make sure but his last bloodwork looked great.

He feels great and is doing well. The thing is, we both are dealing with this process of life after cancer. We were so happy and so grateful when he got the all-clear. Then, we both started having days (sometimes the same days, other times different days) where we miss our old life, wonder what life will be like now, and wonder how we will keep up this new regimen.

When you go the western path of treatment, there are follow up appointments and tests but the treatments stop and you (try) to go back to life as it was. We can’t do that. We’ve cut Tom’s supplements in half but he is not ready to let go of any more of them yet. We are both fearful of letting go of them too quickly. So each month we spend a significant amount of money on supplements as well as organic food.

We have finally started letting ourselves go out to eat at 3 different restaurants rarely, but still, it feels so great, helps us feel “normal” and at the same time, we worry and feel that we are cheating.

We decided to take a break and spend a weekend at a place we loved. We used to go there a lot in our old life before cancer. The picture on the post is us the first night we arrived at dinner. It was beautiful outside and the water was in front of us. Both of us were wiped out and exhausted from the 5-hour drive to get there and after 2 days, on the drive home, we discussed how it wasn’t the same, we didn’t really enjoy it anymore. It’s from our old life.

We didn’t expect this at all but we were so focused on healing Tom, we never thought about after and what “after” would look and feel like. So we realize we need to make changes and start thinking about what our new lives will look like.

My routine of taking care of health treatments is pretty much the same; every morning I make Tom’s smoothie and every other morning I juice enough for both of use for 2 days. I have breakfast, check email and then go to the office. I schedule treatment and Dr. appointments for Tom and go with him to the Dr. appointments. I keep notebooks (I am up to 3 now) of all of his test results, bills, and anything else related to his health in these notebooks. I still research when we need answers. I shop on Fridays at 5 different stores for all of the organic food we need for the week. Now that we juice, I buy a lot more greens.

About every 3 weeks I make a new batch of Essiac Tea. Tom has started making it and drinking it at night on his own. I have other things to do like re-starting my business, managing our debt, and now the end of year processes have hit: manage to get his new health insurance plan, my new health insurance plan, and soon, I’ll need to start preparing for tax filing.

My body has finally let me know it’s exhausted so I’m getting treatments I need for adrenal fatigue and TMJ (which has flared up from stress and has caused me to have Tinnitus-it drives me crazy). At the end of the day, I am completely wiped out and exhausted. I knew it was time to take care of my body. I think the only reason I was able to go as long as I have is that I am eating what Tom eats and that has helped support my immune system.

About once a month I get a massage from a therapist that works on my TMJ, my back-because I hurt it and it’s been like that for months. Every other week I get an IV Vitamin C treatment that also includes B-12, Magnesium, and glutathione.

What is Glutathione and What Does it Do?

Glutathione is a combination of three simple building blocks of protein or amino acids − cysteine, glycine, and glutamine − and is produced naturally in the body. It is called the master antioxidant because it can regenerate itself in the liver after each “fill-up” of free radicals and go back to work. Free radicals are often the byproduct of normal cellular metabolic oxidation and toxic overload. They can lead to autoimmune diseases, several types of cancer, and even heart attacks.

Keeping yourself healthy, boosting your performance, preventing disease, and aging well all depends on keeping glutathione levels high. It is critical for immune function and controlling inflammation. It is the master detoxifier and the body’s main antioxidant, protecting our cells and making our energy metabolism run well.-truth about cancer

We both want to dig out of the debt and figure out how to get the most out of every moment of life yet we are stuck in the cycle of treatment and repetitive work. We both want to have so many life experiences together and enjoy living. We have come to terms with leaving our old lives behind, now we have to figure out how to move forward.

We appreciate everyone who follows us and thank everyone for the support and prayers-it’s what has helped us get through this.

Where in the World Have We Been?

Build A Better Boat and Diane P Leone

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. It was a bit of a surprise to us what we would go through emotionally after getting the news that Tom is cancer-free. Yes, after the shock and it sank in that it was real, we were so happy, relieved.

Living a real, authentic life together is important and we hope all of our family and friends understand and if the don’t, it’s okay.

What we didn’t expect? How do we decide when/how we can modify what we are doing? When we tell people Tom is cancer-free, they don’t say it but we think they are thinking, “that’s great but it can (or will) come back.” We discussed it and our response is that if Tom becomes symptomatic again, we know what to do and we are confident in that.

We are also continuing to eat whole, organic foods and we decided we won’t stop that. Regarding treatments and nutrient/supplements, we are taking time to evaluate them and after more testing over several months, we’ll decide, with the help of Tom’s Doctor, what to cut back on.

We both actually have felt a grieving process of losing our life before cancer. The truth is, life has changed forever after the cancer diagnosis. Then we spent a year completely focused on survival mode and getting Tom well. Now, what is our normal life? It feels a bit robotic and exhausting.

We want more peace in our life. We want to enjoy life again and appreciate it so much more. We eventually want to be able to travel a little bit.

Physical things are not important to us. Something interesting, however, is we have lived in our home 22 years and we tend to pick nice, quality furnishings and we’ve owned most of our things for many years. It feels like a memory of life before so we hope in the future to replace some pieces, and re-paint.

I am focusing on re-starting my business and determining when and how I will transition or add on helping people with holistic wellness. It’s become my passion.

Tom is Cancer Free!!!

Tom & Huxley and Build A Better Boat

Tom’s MRI, the last CT scan, and all blood tests show “All Clear”. Can you believe it? It took us a few days to process it but a feeling of relief and gratefulness was immediate when we received the MRI results.

It’s been a long year, with lots of changes and a lot of learning in a short amount of time. Basically, life has changed forever.

We will be closing the Go Fund Me page.

Not sure we could have gotten through most of this without the love, thoughts, prayers, and help from our friends and family and we want to thank you all so much for it. It wasn’t easy and it was definitely humbling to ask for the help we needed and we want to say “thank you” for all that all of you have done.


I think the last week has been a slow, thoughtful time of going over the past year and concluding that “all is clear”. We are choosing to live in the present as best we can. Not looking back, and trying not to worry about the future as we are not there, we are here now, in the present.

We will continue to eat 100% organic and determine with Tom’s Doctor what supplements he needs to continue taking and we will always live as healthy as possible.

We will continue to post blogs and updates on Tom’s page:www.BuildABetterBoat.life and we welcome you to follow it if you are interested in our journey.

We want to share our experience and what we have learned in the hope that everyone who knows us will feel they have options in their healthcare and we hope you all choose to live the healthiest life possible.

We are still here, rebuilding and moving forward and we appreciate you all more than words can show. We hope you’ll follow our blog and this Facebook page and Tom just wanted to say “THANK YOU” and….

He is ALL CLEAR, healthy, happy, forever grateful, and will continue “building a better boat” always. 🙏 ⛵️

August was as Bad as July

Diane Leone Build a better boat
Tom and his dad, Al and his mom, Alice.

After the surgery and diagnosis in July, how could August be as bad as July? Well, the same week of Tom’s diagnosis, I lost my largest monthly client. He called that week and canceled that week, no notice so a chunk of income was gone. We had no idea what costs and expenses were ahead of us. It just kept getting worse that month.

I had to focus on Tom and on research. And that’s what I did. It’s a poignant moment in life when you realize you need help and then you have to ask for it. My family helped, my friends, and associates.

It wasn’t an easy decision because we felt humiliated and I think you feel like people will judge you and I’m certain some people did that and all but one kept it to themselves. I had to be okay with that. I felt the love from the people who helped us financially to the people that prayed for us and sent positive vibes our way. The people who called, texted, stopped by to ask how we were doing, how Tom was doing. I am especially grateful for those brave souls that were genuinely interested in what Tom was doing and why.

Often we are told that Tom should have his bladder removed. It was never an option and everyone means well. They want him to be well. But that was not Tom’s answer. The organic, holistic treatment, that’s Tom and it’s working. But in August, we didn’t know. We were just starting down that path.

As if that was not enough stress in someone’s life, Tom’s dad, who had been sick for so long, passed away on August 28th. We received a call that night and drive almost 2 hours to be there with his mom. As Tom and I spent a moment with his father before they came to the house to take him away, Tom broke down sobbing and I couldn’t hold him tight enough. He just lost his father, he just found out he has cancer, and he’s trying to deal with all that comes with both of these life issues. It was too much.

When I look back through my entries in the journal in August, it was a rough month. But we are here today, with wonderful test results and Tom feels great. Grateful.

Great News!

Diane Leone with Tom in Wholefoods
Tom at Wholefoods with Me for the First Time.

Great News is always welcome! Friday was such a great day. Each time Tom has a test of any kind, I worry (and I know he does too) as we wait for the results. Considering we had such great news from the last CT scan, we were anxious to get the blood test results.

The Doctor ran a CBC, checked inflammation markers, and ran one of the 4 tests I inquired about that I found at ChrisBeatCancer.com from Chris Wark. She agreed that the CEA test would be beneficial. It tests for the level of a specific protein in the blood that can indicate the presence of cancer.

The news was great! The bloodwork is excellent and supports the CT scan results. We are so happy. I’ve decided that in the future, my goal is to expect the test results to be great and not worry. We will continue on with the treatments, except the oxygen, with Tom developing Tinnitus, we felt it was best to stop the hyperbaric chamber for a while. The picture above is of Tom on his first trip with me to Wholefoods. He really enjoyed the experience!

We are grateful.

Essiac Tea: A Strong Anti-Cancer Elixir

Our research and experience with other family members have shown and we believe that by cutting in to remove tumors, cancer can spread. Although our Dr. told us this isn’t proven, we were grateful they went in the way they did. You can imagine his bladder was inflamed so I called our Herbalist and he introduced us to a Chinese herb for internal wound healing and Essiac Tea. According to The Truth About Cancer website, “Several animal studies have shown that Essiac tea usage decreases the ability of tumor cells to multiply. The researchers did note a decrease in growth of normal cells in these cases but the herbal extract was effective at preventing the proliferation of cancerous cells at a higher rate.”

After the shock of the Cancer diagnosis, we knew Tom had Stage 1 high-level bladder cancer. He had just had surgery where they removed the tumors through a procedure called TURBT (a tube goes up the urethra and they can scrape and cut the tumors out) the Dr. also did a biopsy of the lining of the bladder and the muscle as the muscle is the first place cancer typically spreads. It turns out this was a good thing to do.

What it does & How it’s Made

Essiac Tea is comprised of four primary herbs that help destroy overgrowth of bad bacteria, viruses, and parasites, and detoxify the colon, liver, and kidneys, according to The Truth About Cancer website. There are four primary herbs that make Essiac tea so effective.1 These herbs help to destroy overgrowth of bad bacteria, viruses, and parasites and detoxify the colon, liver and kidneys.

These major herbs include:

  1. Burdock Root
  2. The inner bark of slippery elm
  3. Sheep sorrel
  4. Indian rhubarb root

Essiac tea is known in the functional medicine community as an anti-cancer elixir. I am convinced that our herbalist gave Tom the two best things he could have given him at that time, the Chinese herbs for internal wound healing, (Tom healed very quickly and very well) and the Essiac Tea. It’s very strong in the beginning and we started with one ounce of tea mixed with 2 ounces of boiling water. Tom didn’t feel great when he first started drinking it. He was drinking it in the morning but when he switched to evenings, it was better.

He has drank it everyday since then and now drinks 2 ounces of Essiac with 4 ounces of boiling water. Some as potent as Essiac really has helped Tom push this cancer back.

It’s quite interesting to make it and you can imagine, in the beginning, with so much to do and take care of, everything seemed like a monumental task. I buy the roots already crushed to a powder. I boil a certain amount of tea with a certain amount of water, bring it to a boil and let it sit over night 8-10 or even 12 hours without opening the lid. The next morning I heat the tea but don’t boil it. I strain it and then it is placed into cool water to cool the tea down. Then into the fridge it goes. The amount lasts about a month. It still feels like an ordeal but one that is definitely worth it.

We are forever grateful to our herbalist for giving Tom this tea that orginated with an Indian Tribe in Canada, and promoted by a nurse for cancer treatment. This was to be the first of many teas, elixirs, bio supplements and organic foods that we would add to our diet.

The Day the World Stopped Turning…

Tom’s birthday in Paris, February 2018

July 31, 2018 – We get the news…Tom has Bladder Cancer.

The Dr. who had a dull bedside manner at best, called while we were making dinner. I could see it on Tom’s face, I knew it was cancer. Bladder Cancer stage T1 high level. It had spread from the bladder lining to the thin tissue between the lining and the muscle-the exact place the cancer spreads to first is the muscle. The Dr. started on the phone talking about BCG treatment, chemo, radiation, and possibly removing the bladder. Unbelievable thing to do to someone whom you just told they have cancer.

We cried so hard and held each other so tight. This couldn’t be happening, it didn’t feel real. But it was real and we were not fighting for Tom’s life.

I made a note in my journal, “Have to share info with Tom to get him to understand other treatment options…but not everything like, how bad the survival rate could be with this cancer. I hate the word cancer.

We head to the Dr.’s office to have the catheter removed but the Dr. isn’t there so we have to wait. There was a flood of emotions from fear, anger, sadness, and just being overwhelmed while we waited for the next appointment and we researched like crazy the treatment options.

As I read my journal entries, there are moments of fear, sadness, being overwhelmed, and hope. Days of crying and days of doing a ton of research to find what we needed. After 5 Urologists, none of whom liked us very much, we are not deterred from our quest to push cancer back with the treatment protocol Tom has decided to use.