When my daughter surprised me with my gold Turban Diva head wrap I couldn’t wait to wear it. It truly helped me feel glamorous and I don’t think people realized that I had lost my hair to chemo when I wore it.
Losing my long hair was traumatic, but I also went into remission at the same time, so being grateful to be alive and getting well again was what I focused on.
The fabric used in my turban is amazing; it is lightweight and cool on my head and offers so much versatility with the separate scarf...and it is also beautifully made. I will wear it now but with my hair peeking out, which is growing back nicely.
My husband Nazim was also inspired by my new look, and worked it into one of his paintings, Starfish Medicine Wheel.
Thank you so much Turban Diva for your caring and compassion and making such a quality head wrap. Everyone needs to feel their best no matter the circumstances...it elevates one’s spirit!
I wanted to share my story to tell all women to be vigilant and not neglect any symptoms that seem suspicious. Ovarian cancer is very sneaky and standard diagnostics don't catch it soon enough. In a recent book called "Memoir of a Debulked Woman: Enduring Ovarian Cancer," the author, Susan Gubar writes, "There are many forms of cancer that offer a lot of hope but not this one." She adds that there were 21,550 new cases of ovarian cancer in the US in 2009 and an additional 14,600 women who died from it.
I was blessed to have a long career in the spotlight. Through my work in television, film, books, speaking engagements I found a valuable vehicle in my work as an advocate for women’s rights, holistic health and animal care. Back in 1964, I was elected as “Miss Rheingold,” an advertising legend that the Mad Men of the day dreamed up to sell beer. Many notable actresses got their start with this contest but you may need to ask your grandparents about this one! I later co-starred with Elvis Presley in the film "Live a Little Love a Little," and was in the original Star Trek series.
We were recently gifted with a trip to attend the STARCON/STICCON convention in Italy to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Star Trek with none other than Bill Shatner, Captain Kirk himself!
Besides my public life, I am devoted to my husband, daughter and grandchild, and an advocate of holistic care for animals. I’ve had the pleasure of co-authoring books about pets with my dear friend Jean Hofve DVM.
I love empowering women and sharing the importance of gender equality, through writing, producing and personal appearances. Most recently I was one of the producers on a documentary film entitled, "Femme - Women Healing the World," where I also appeared as a spokesperson with 100 women from around the world.
I was so excited to be part of "Femme," because it gave me the opportunity to share the importance of partnership with one’s gender of choice, to help our world move forward to peace at last. I am very excited about the project and hope to continue to be a part of conscientious film making.
On November 21, 2014 our world and plans were shattered. I had gone to my gynecologist for a routine visit for what I thought were some minor symptoms. I couldn't believe what followed after being so healthy and devoted to holistic health care and wellness all my life. I was diagnosed with stage 3 Ovarian cancer. I had lost two friends to this deadly disease but didn't know just how scary the diagnosis was because just the hearing the word “cancer” in itself is such a traumatic experience. One is never prepared for it, especially with no family history of it.
Four days later, it was like a miracle that one of the best women's cancer surgeons was available at our local hospital for my emergency surgery. After nearly 10 hours, my waiting family got the good news that the surgery was a success, but far more complicated than expected. My surgeon removed all the tumors as well as 10 pounds of cancerous fluid from my peritoneal area, along with performing two bowel resections and a complete hysterectomy.
After 4 grueling weeks in the hospital, enduring a huge dose of antibiotics for an infection at the surgery site, all the drains and tubes and minor additional surgeries, I was finally released in time for Christmas with my husband and family.
The chemotherapy with all the side effects followed and it was rough. I didn't realize how it would render me vulnerable to every germ out there. I didn't want to miss out on speaking at my favorite conference and made an appearance at the Conscious Life Expo in February 2015. With such a weak immune system, I caught a horrific flu bug, which went into bronchitis and I landed back in the hospital.
I needed to be put in isolation; the nurses were masked, gowned and gloved. My cough was so severe that I got a large internal hernia below my new surgical incision. I was finally released but still had to complete chemo, which just made everything take forever to heal.
My husband and I went into full-on survival mode. My daily routine of holistic modalities helped to build up my strength and immune system. Because there is so little hope offered by mainstream medicine, I diligently explored supportive treatments from the alternative medical community.
I completed chemo but needed another surgery on July 24, 2015. My PET and CAT scans thankfully did not show any evidence of cancer; however it detected two blood clots (DVTs) which required placement of an IVC filter in my Vena Cava vein to prevent the migration of the clots during surgery.
This repair surgery revealed a lymphocyst the size of cantaloupe. It was removed by a wonderful surgeon, then a second amazing surgeon stepped into repair the huge incisional hernia. A third surgeon stepped into to close and repair the damage that all this had done to my abdomen.
My first surgeon was a man of vision who does not simply settle for the usual standard of care. He had the foresight to ask if we could come up with the cost to store the tumor tissue for future use for a personalized medical protocol. Having no idea how we would come up with that money, we simply said yes to what the universe might have in store.
This tumor was stored at storemytumor.com and then banked at a facility in the Grand Cayman Islands called PerseusPCI. You may have seen lately in the news some of the exciting things that are being done in personalized cancer therapy, including the treatment former President Jimmy Carter had. This new immunotherapy involves a series of 4 injections which have been made for me from this stored tumor tissue and my own blood.
My husband and I went to the Caymans in December 2015 to make my vaccines and receive the first in the series, which are done just under the skin on top of each thigh. Upon arrival they review your blood work, give you a Nupagen shot to boost your white count and then begin to make the series of personalized vaccines. There are no other ingredients like those used in traditional vaccines. Here only one’s own biological material is used and this is unique to PerseusPCI's patented delivery system. The percentage of people surviving past 5 years who just do chemo and surgery are only about 2%. This new treatment option is our hope in extending my life expectancy. (See www.PerseusPCI.com and storemytumor.com for more on the treatment protocol.)
I’m also utilizing all the holistic and alternative options, including specialized nutraceuticals, aromatherapy oils and an advanced cancer protocol with state of the art supplements. Insurance doesn't cover any of these costs, nor the cost of immunotherapy treatments. I invite everyone to join my Facebook group page called Holistic Cancer Care; feel free to share it with others. I hope to do a book for women on Holistic Cancer Care and share what has worked so well for me thus far to get me into remission. Do keep in mind that we can't ever say that cancer is cured but we can say there is no evidence of disease and the purpose of immunotherapy is to prevent reoccurrences.
I recovered beautifully from my December hospitalization, but a chronic condition of degenerative hip disease was exacerbated to such a painful degree I must now explore a hip replacement.
But I will not let that slow me down, either!
My husband and I are combining our talents to create wearable art through ShopVida and it has been an energizing experience for both of us.
Being struck by this thunderbolt in my 70th year has been huge and led to major upheavals within our lives. It is our hope that I can beat the horrendous odds I am up against with ovarian cancer. Please share this page and my own blog; I hope that what we share here will help others too. To stay in touch with my treatment progress and find out more, click “UPDATES” on my GoFundMe page.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the love, compassion, prayers and support from my friends and family...we couldn't have gotten this far without each and every one of you.
Celeste Yarnall, Ph.D