The Elderwoman Newsletter

Issue #12, April, 2006

Welcome to the April 2006 issue of the Elderwoman Newsletter
- an e-zine for 21st century elderwomen committed to radical aliveness.

View from the Desk
Feature Articles:
'Heel to Heal' by Helen Redman
'Outwitting the Duty Gods' by Judith Macdonald & Marian McCain
'My Brush with Cancer' by Pam Godman
Reports: Elderwoman Discussion Group
Bits & Pieces: 'Stroke Recognition'
Call for Submissions
Last Laugh


It is a huge honour to be able to present, in this newsletter, the words and paintings of a wonderful and talented artist from San Diego, Helen Redman.
I first came across Helen's amazing body of work -
Birthing the Crone:  Menopause and Aging Through an Artist’s Eyes -
five years ago and I totally related to it.  It made me laugh and cry, all at the same time. Oh if I could only paint like that!
We have had some e-mail correspondence over the years but I didn't meet Helen in person until last year, at Crones Counsel in San Diego.
When you see these pictures I'm sure you will be inspired to visit her website and see more of her work. And if ever she has an exhibition near you, be sure to go! 
Helen is not only an artist, she also runs workshops to encourage and
nurture the artist in other people. And to aid them in expressing and celebrating the changes that come with aging. As she says: "I have been struck by the number of women who speak of not recognizing themselves when they look in the mirror as if their face and body had morphed into another version of themselves. In our third age, we must deal with the changes of flesh and spirit that move through us in both small and dramatic ways. Wanted or not, changes in our life circumstances, work, relationships and health, just keep on coming, giving us an ongoing challenge to see ourselves anew." Bless you, Helen, for what you do and for who you are.
I'm also delighted to have several contributions from Pam Godman. Pam's handling of the cancer scare that she had a couple of years ago was, I believe exemplary. It's the mark of a true elderwoman, that determination to remain fully responsible for one's body, health and decisions. Such a contrast to the experience I had the other day while visiting an elderly relative. She had a very large tablet to take, and asked me to break it into several pieces for her. "What's this one for?" I asked her as I broke up the tablet.
"I have no idea" she replied, looking surprised that I had even asked. The doctor said she should take these drugs, so she took them.
That's one thing that marks the huge difference between my parents' generation and my own, I believe. The sense of autonomy that we feel now and our need to make informed decisions about our health.
Pam's story also illustrates our generation's ability to grasp a situation -- any situation -- with both hands and to use it as a tool for personal and spiritual growth.
The times we live in may be tumultuous, scary and challenging. But they are also full of riches. We have access to an unprecedented amount of knowledge, wisdom and understanding -- more than any generation before us. And I truly believe that human consciousness is undergoing a transformation. Slow and painful it may be, but it is exciting too.  As Helen Keller once said: 
"This is a time for a loud voice, open speech and fearless thinking. I rejoice that I live in such a splendidly disturbing time."

If you have looked at the Elderwoman website recently, you may have discovered that I've added a bunch of new pages. These new pages are not about me or my work but about Jane Clitheroe, an elderwoman colleague who, like me, lives in the lush, green, south-west corner of England.
Jane has many strings to her bow. Among other things, she is a photographer and a 'clutter consultant' for people who feel burdened by too much 'stuff'. She also has a dedicated retreat space on her country property, Coburns Farm, for women who need to spend some time in peace and quiet, with wholesome, vegetarian meals provided.
Jane is now offering what she calls a 'Hearth Elders' group - a series of one-day workshops, spread throughout an entire year, based on the material in Elderwoman.
Her idea is that the women who take part in this group may go on to lead similar groups in other places. In a sense, they -- and we -- are all 'elders-in-training', feeling, learning and growing into our reclaimed role as women of age and wisdom.
The lovely pebble picture, above, is one that Jane took and there are others like it on the website pages that I've made for her. Click here to take a look.
I know you will all join me in wishing Jane well for this new venture.

Note to our Australian readers:
is taking place in Sydney at: The Carlton Crest 6-9 April 2006
And while we're down under:
Ann Baylay, who runs Elderwoman workshops in New Zealand and who also has some pages of her own on the Elderwoman website, is organising a gathering that she's calling 'Elderwomen's Connection'  for March next year. Similar to the Crones Counsel but different.
Ann writes: "Still early days but the tentative dates are 2nd, 3rd and 4th March 2007. We are holding it at the Taipa Resort which is right on the beach a few miles west of Mangonui in the Far North."


by Helen Redman

"Celestial Rub" by Helen Redman © 2005
Mixed media drawing on board, 16" x16"

I'm moving from a life where art was my profession to one where art is my practice.
Most mornings I awaken my body and spirit by doing Yoga or Qi Gong.
As I slowly move through the postures, I become part of the beauty of my garden.
But what manifests in my art is often a particular fallen leaf or my moving hands
and grounded feet.

In "Celestial Rub," the soles of my feet have come together in a Yoga asana
called the butterfly. Once in the studio, I recreate this pose. Sitting, looking
down on my body, I draw my feet (which go numb by the time I finish).  After
delineating the foot's contours, I use colored pencil to add flesh tones to
the wood grained panel that is my original surface.  Then I consider
figure/ground relationships. My imagination begins to play with what's
above and what's below, illusion and solidness. I select images from my
collected files of earth, universe and humanity-- repeatedly photocopying crystals,
starbursts and an image that appears to be bone and connective tissue. I cut
and tear these secondary images into shapes to fit around the feet and then
collage them into place with acrylic medium. By repeatedly glazing the acrylic
 medium over all the surfaces, what is drawn, painted and collaged unifies
into one field. The wood panel itself adds to the cracks and fissures of my
feet, becoming part of my ongoing exploration of worn and furrowed forms,
of flesh marked by time and change.
In this new work from my Aging Into Full Creativity series, some kind of
magical thinking has overtaken me at the very time that I am searching
for footing, for ground, for center. It amazes me as I travel my path as
an artist and aging woman how the journey seems more and more related
to spirit. Although this work is based on very focused observation and
 physical detail, it seems to move me towards mystery as I follow the
textures, shapes and images that keep evolving. Seeing ourselves as part
of life's continuity, whether we are currently young or old, seems essential
 for our well being and the earth's survival.

And even though I don't know how to write poetry, these words came
to me and found their way from the art to the page:


These silent feet
rub infinite
heel to heal
toe to toe

Bone and cartilage,
crystals and galaxies
compose and decompose
within me.

I need the dream of ongoing life
of cycles of formation and completion
of renewable energy
of before and afterlife.

I want to be at home in the universe
part of the starburst
close in and far out
rebirthable and remarkable!

"Drawn Inward," Helen Redman © 2005
mixed media drawing on board, 16" x 16"
Helen Redman, M.F.A., of San Diego is an internationally exhibited figurative
artist, workshop facilitator and grandmother who shares her art in the context
of life issues. Over the past 45 years, she has created a uniquely personal body
of art moving from pregnancy and children’s growth to menopause and
Currently devoted to her project on women and aging, "Birthing The Crone:
Aging Into Full Creativity,” she travels her art through cyberspace (
 and to universities and community centers addressing and honoring women's changing
roles throughout life.

"Gravitas  & Levitas"  Helen Redman © 2005
mixed media drawing  on board     16 x 20"

Outwitting the Duty Gods
by Judith Macdonald (from Melbourne, Australia) & Marian McCain

The pressure of the 'shoulds' and 'musts' and the tendency to become overwhelmed
with tasks and responsibilities is one big area that despite not being in the paid
workforce for 3 years, I cannot come to terms with. It has been the biggest
area of adjustment for me – that and the absence of a ready-made colleague group.
I’m never at a loss for things to do (despite those who query “what do you do all
day?”), in fact it is the opposite. When I had the structure of work it seemed to
be easier to say ‘No’ to other demands and to even preserve a tiny part for one’s
own space. Is it just a time management problem or are there some underlying
sabotages that come into play? I have described my life at times as being in
damage control, at best, maintenance mode!

The importance of achieving is totally built into our schooling, even if we
didn't get strokes for it at home – which we all do, of course. We not only
 get (and learn to give ourselves) strokes for doing things well (quality) but
also for getting a lot of things done in a day or a week or a year (quantity).
Whether it is two thousand words written on the computer or a huge load of
washing done and dried (we have no washing machine, so laundry is still a big
task for me) or a patch of garden weeded, I award myself points for each day's
achievements and find it hard to award points for days like yesterday when
I spent the entire day reading a novel from cover to cover.
The thing is, though, that to be able to have a day like yesterday without
winding up feeling guilty is, in itself an achievement, so I awarded myself
a big handful of points for managing that :-)
I also remind myself, often, that the older I get the more time I need to
spend re-charging and a day like yesterday is, in a funny sort of way, like a
day spent plugged in to a battery charger. Feeling guilty for our re-charging
time is as silly as feeling guilty for sleeping, I reckon.
To me it's not surprising that taking time out for ourselves is easier when
we are working full-time because an eight-hour work day (plus cooking dinner
for the family etc) is enough to appease the Duty Gods. But after retirement,
the Duty Gods come sniffing around, hungry. At first, retirement is a wonderful
opportunity to do all the things we've had in our 'One Day I'll...' baskets and
never had time for. But the problem is that those very things themselves can
then turn into new ways to placate the Duty Gods, so that before we know it
we are feeling as overwhelmed as ever!!

I have found an antidote – have a bolt-hole in the country (too small for
most guests) and escape there whenever you can! Three years ago I bought
a tiny cottage on the edge of the forest on the outskirts of Marysville.
It was a decision prompted by death and dying around me and the hunger
to have a personal involvement with nature. I didn’t  realise I was
so needy for that contact until I actually got here. Sometimes I just lie on
my back on the earth, amongst the ants and spiders and other critters that
frequent the earth realm, and soak in that connectedness. It does me so much
The depth of the silence and the stillness that washes out of the forest
is another healing force. I picture how it comes uninterrupted from hundreds
upon hundreds of square kilometres, really right up from the Pacific Ocean.
No wonder it is silent! And so I also see myself as a self-appointed steward of
the forest and the creatures that live there. They often come out to visit
me – wombats, wallabies, snakes, bats, possums, birds and insects of all varieties.
This morning on my daily walk up the back I found a magnificent moth,
camouflaged to look exactly like a gum leaf. In fact I almost walked past
it so well-disguised it was. Everyday brings some precious gem from nature.

Something I often remind myself of is that monks and nuns, as well as taking
part in the physical tasks of their monasteries, also spend huge slabs of time
praying and chanting and nobody accuses them of not achieving. In the same way,
all the time we spend meditating, cultivating peace within ourselves or in
simply being in conscious communion with the rest of creation – like you  lying
on your back on the ground and sharing time with the 'more-than-human
world' (David Abram's phrase and I like it) – is like prayer and is part of the
task of healing the damage humans have done to Gaia by plundering and
disrespecting her.
Who knows? Perhaps, for those elderwomen now freed of the need to earn
a living, this could be the most worthwhile and important task of all.

 My Brush with Cancer by Pam Godman

Lets begin at the beginning. I saw my doctor because I was concerned about symptoms that we are told to be concerned about - namely bleeding between 'periods' - artificial these, by this time, due to HRT (prescribed not for the menopause as such, but because there is osteoporosis in the female line). My Doctor took me off HRT immediately and arranged routine tests. After these initial tests, I was still perturbed - although they had shown nothing untoward - so my Doctor referred me to a gynaecologist. Further tests ensued, with the comments that they did not expect any problems, as the lining of my womb showed no thickening. I went off to Cyprus for a planned holiday, and on glorious Aphrodite's Island I forgot all about it.

A few weeks after my return I was sent an appointment for the clinic. Being one of life's 'eternal optimists' I attended the clinic thinking I was being 'signed off.' My first inkling that this was a mistake on my part was the sound of muttering outside the door, and much shuffling of papers. Then three doctors walked in, accompanied by a nurse. The consultant and registrar I had seen before; the new doctor wore a label saying 'observer.' I thought "Oh shit!" 

The consultant sat down opposite me. He didn't beat about the bush, but told me that the biopsy had revealed some abnormal cells. He emphasised that they were 'nasty' cells. "You mean cancer?" I asked.

The consultant looked me in the eye and told me I was going to be all right - and I decided, instantly, and despite the shock, that yes, I was going to be all right.

 At first I felt angry with my body, feeling that it had let me down by developing these cells. How dare it, when I didn't smoke, ate healthily, walked to work daily. Then, almost immediately, I realised that my body had warned me, very early, that something was wrong, with the symptoms that had taken me straight to the GP who had taken me off HRT immediately. From that moment of realisation, my body and I were back in 'sync,' as it were.
I asked the consultant why I'd got cancer. Was it the HRT?
"No one can be sure why", he told me. "Cancer hits most families somewhere; some people who smoke heavily don't get lung cancer, some who don't smoke at all, do."

Then he went on to say that if God said to him, before he was born, that at some stage in his life he would have cancer - but he could choose where to have it - he would say, make me a woman, please, and I'll have it in my uterus.  This was because it would be 'contained,' if caught early, and removable without risk of spreading. (He is a Greek Cypriot, I believe, and thus not afraid to talk about his God).

He told me that I had two choices - as it was 'level 1' he could do a scrape, or he could do a hysterectomy.  My immediate, instinct-driven answer, was 'hysterectomy.'  At my age, (fifty seven) it seemed the best option - given that I knew I would always worry that it might come back if I had a scrape.  It might be an area of weakness for some reason, and a hysterectomy would remove the possibility of return.

The consultant then began to doodle - this turned out to be a drawing, showing where he would cut and indicating the location of my kidneys and urethra, informing me that there was a possibility of damage to them during the operation.  He went on to tell me that I had a good chance of it all going well, and that I would be ok.  He was very positive, and said he would arrange everything as soon as possible.

I could only wail that I was supposed to be going on holiday on the 31st October - to Paris, for our 40th Wedding Anniversary.
"Go and enjoy yourselves," he told me. "I have to sort my lists out to fit the operation in."

The doctor who had seen me originally then took over, prescribing a high dose of progesterone, to be taken daily until the operation.  He explained that it would help to keep the rogue cells in check, and remarked that if I hadn't been taking the dual HRT there was the possibility that the cancer would have developed more quickly, and been larger and to a higher level.  The cells were well differentiated and at level one; just sitting there, and not penetrating the wall of the uterus.
I've thought since that maybe if I hadn't been taking the HRT I'd never have made the cells in the first place - but who knows? It was my decision to take it so it was my responsibility to get sorted.

I have to say that the doctors were very positive and very kind.  They made me feel positive despite my shock.

I asked whether I should continue taking red clover, which I had started to take when the HRT was stopped, as it is a plant oestrogen. He said natural forms of hormones were always better than synthetic and advised me to try soya. I have to say I didn't, because I decided to use the red clover up (thrifty trait kicking in!) - and by the time I had finished them I had read about adverse effects with soya. It definitely isn't all its made out to be. But that's another story.

The following day I went to see my Doctor, who explained what all the terminology meant. Level 1 meant an early stage and 'well differentiated' meant that the cells were separate from other tissues. She was very positive and encouraging.

Don't think for one minute that I was unafraid. Afraid I certainly was - of the unknown waters in front of me - but at the same time I had an inner certainty that all would be well - eventually. I was also acutely aware that I was responsible for my own healing; I could not abdicate that responsibility. By this I mean that I accepted what the surgeon could do for me, but understood that I had a part to play in the organization of my healing. I realised, more or less immediately, that this illness presented me with an opportunity to learn more about life, my relationships and my inner self; to re-value everything and to develop spiritually. This sounds very pious, but it is how I felt. I suppose I perhaps needed to have some sort of meaning in order to 'stiffen my resolve' so to speak!

I also knew that I needed help to tread this road, and I asked for it. Silently, in my heart, I asked for help in fighting the illness and for courage. I asked these things of the Great Lady of Healing and of the Lord of the Wild. Others would have other names to represent the source, or energy of the Universe. Whatever the name(s) we choose, they all represent the same loving energy.
For one thing, I wanted to know why I had developed these 'nasty' cells, as it occurred to me, instantly, that having developed them once, I could do so again. In the meantime, I decided to call my cells misguided Juvenile Delinquents, as they seemed less threatening - and more controllable under that nomenclature! 
A number of events followed these prayers.

· I suddenly came to the conclusion that my immune system was down.
· A friend advised me to go to see a healer in Harrogate - even went so far as to book a session for himself and offer it to me.
· Information from a number of books I had read over the past months jumped into my mind.
· I became acutely aware of the love of my family and friends, and of affection and good wishes from colleagues at work and other acquaintances - even on the Internet. It was as if I were being underpinned by their strength. It both amazed and humbled me. And made me even more determined to 'get sorted!'

I followed them all up.  I found my Vitamin Bible and checked what would be useful as supplements and in my diet, and set off.
· Vitamin C  - between 1,000 and 10,000 mg daily - I decided on 3 x 1,000mg of the vitamin C with rosehips.
· Vitamin E - an antioxidant, plus A D & B complex.
· Brazil nuts for Selenium

I upped my intake of fresh vegetables and salad, and cut down on red meat - not that we ate much anyhow.  I drank more water - 8 glasses a day at least.

I've since invested in a juicer for vegetables & fruit - I use the vegetable 'waste' from it as a soup basis, so that I not only get the enzymes from the raw vegetables, but the residue retains the roughage we need. I cook it with water and an organic stock cube then add lentils or chicken or whatever is to hand - or freeze it for future use.

When we went to Paris, the hotel upgraded our room to an Executive Suite, because the travel agents had told them it was a special occasion. They gave us champagne and a bottle of red wine & chocolates - and all the smellies in the bathroom were Roger Gallet! It was a huge treat and totally unexpected. The friend who had booked a session with the healer for himself & offered it to me (himself a Reiki Master) told me that it was a gift from the Universe - that when you ask for help it comes in many guises - and believe me, it was a perfect 'pick-me-up!'

I had recently read a book 'The Power of the Subconscious Mind,' by Joseph Murphy, who like many others, put forward the theory that what we think becomes reality. This made sense to me.  If I were to think about the JD cells, and about their possible effect on my well-being, I'd probably get worried and miserable. So I put them out of my mind as much as possible. When I did find myself thinking about it and the possible consequences, I let the thought pass through my mind then let it go. Or rather, I emptied my mind of the thought as you do in meditation, and willed myself to think positively that all would be well.

Joseph Murphy had fought cancer himself and one of his weapons was to talk to his sub conscious mind.  He explains that you need to give your sub conscious mind life affirming patterns 'of wholeness, beauty and perfection' which force out negative images and patterns of thought. One illustration he gives is that of the stage hypnotist making individuals act out something unconsciously. If that idea is fed in to the sub conscious whilst the conscious mind is 'out' then the pattern put in will be followed.
A clergyman had once pointed out to him that his sub conscious mind had built his body's organs up from the original tiny cells, and that if it could do that, it could also 'recreate it and heal it to the perfect pattern within.'  My GP nodded, saying that is right, when I mentioned the concept to her.

Murphy devised a prayer to his subconscious:

"My body & all its organs were created by the infinite intelligence in my subconscious mind.  It knows how to heal me. Its wisdom fashioned all my organs, tissues, muscles and bones. This infinite healing presence within me is now transforming every cell of my being, making me whole and perfect. I give thanks for the healing I know is taking place at this time. Wonderful are the ways of the creative intelligence within me."

Within 3 months his skin cancer had cleared up, leaving the doctors and specialists baffled.  Needless to say, I pinched his prayer and adapted it for myself. I continue to repeat it to myself each night. I said it a few times daily when I needed to - now I feel I'm on maintenance!

I visited the healer in Harrogate. She is a young woman of great serenity. She asked me various questions and dowsed the plans of our house that I had taken with me, drawing two lines across it from points she marked as she dowsed. She then told me about geopathic stress lines and indicated that there were two lines in my house, which crossed at the point where I had been sleeping for 33 years. These read -3 and -4 on a scale that ran from +5 to -5. The effects of this were 98% the cause of my problem. Since reading up on geopathic stress lines I have found that their effects can be implicated in miscarriage (I lost a child in this house, at 5 months - for no apparent reason) and at the other end of the scale they can cause unexplained damp patches and attract ants - both of which have plagued our house!). You may think this is fantasy, but when we put crystals down the damp disappeared along with the ants' nest.

The healer then went on to dowse me, saying that my energy was running far too fast at 16Hz. She thought it might be due to the MRI scan I had had the day before - and then I'd had a CT scan that morning.  It was a pity, she said, that I hadn't got to see her before I had the scans. She had to leave the room whilst her spiritual guides sorted the energy levels out. When she came back, they had reduced to 11Hz and would continue to fall (she told me) until they reached around 7Hz. She then put her hands on me and told me she was going to open all my chakras that were all closed down - due to the stress lines. After about half an hour she stood up and said " I'm going for it now." She remained standing for quite some time, and the lower half of my body began to feel very heavy. That's the only way I can describe it. I also began to feel as if something was twisting round and round inside me - as if it was being screwed around. "You can feel it, can't you?" said my healer.
"Well, I can certainly feel something," I said. At one point she asked me if I had ever met my father. (He died of TB when I was 8 months old). I said I believed he'd held me a couple of times.
"Well, he's here now. He's come to help you," she told me. After a few more minutes, she put one hand gently on my shoulder and told me everything was going to be all right, and that I shouldn't worry. She said the healing would take 7 weeks to complete, and that I need not return. I might even decide not to have the operation.  Further dowsing followed, to find out if I needed supplements. I had to take 14 apricot kernels daily, plus 7 teaspoons of colloidal silver (for the nasty bugs and fungal overgrowths which she said were lurking within me, causing problems). She also recommended 3-6-9 Omega Oil - 3 tablespoons daily in pineapple juice.  I found in my research afterwards that you need pineapple enzymes (or papaya or pancreatic enzyme) to attack the protein shell of each cancer cell. The B17 (sounds like a bomber, doesn't it) could then attack the cancer cell and kill it. B17 is a mixture of cyanide and an analgesic. Any that is left over is neutralised by another enzyme in your normal cells, so you have no risk of poisoning, so long as you do not overdose - which is the same for drugs. Sites on the Internet give more information - and Phillip Day's book: 'Cancer, Why We are Still Dying to Know the Truth' is very thorough. Some sites are scathing - these are run by the drug companies, who cannot license a vitamin!  You have to be open minded and draw your own conclusions.
I went ahead with the operation. I have always been a 'belt and braces' person. And to be honest, I didn't feel I could put my husband and daughters through the uncertainty. In the event, I am able to offer proof that the healer really is a channel of healing.

The doctor who admitted me told me that the scans showed the cells were still at level 1. (Remember that I had both of them just before I saw the healer). The operation was successful although the surgeon told me I'd given him a hard time, as I'd lost a lot of blood - due to a varicose vein in my abdomen. Lying on the trolley outside the theatre, I had asked to be watched over; I believe I was. I didn't need the transfusion they threatened me with, although later on I took iron for 3 months on the recommendation of my doctor.

My husband was a bit upset when I said how much I'd enjoyed my stay in hospital! I had to explain it was like being on a sort of school trip! The other women in the ward were good company and we had a lot of laughs together. All the staff were positive and kind, and apart from the obvious twinges when I moved about, the post-operative pain was not unbearable. I was still eating my apricot seeds - so maybe the analgesic element helped! I only had paracetamol at night.

Just before Christmas, the surgeon phoned me at home to say that the cancer had all gone. I was confused later, though, at my check up by the Registrar, as he kept flicking through my notes and saying it was level 1; I thought he was looking at the histology notes, but I think now he must have been referring to the biopsy and scans.

A while later, I went to see an oncologist, who told me that the news was very, very good. The histology following the operation had showed nothing at all. No errant cells were in evidence. He said he thought they must have got them all, by lucky chance, with the biopsy. This did not explain why they were in evidence on the 2 scans I had. I did not say anything - I was unsure what he'd think if I suddenly started talking about spiritual healing. I wish now that I had told him.  (Two years on and I have just had a check up. I mentioned something about seeing the cancer specialist and the Doctor checked through my notes & said - oh yes, they did a second histology. That explains the delay in seeing the cancer specialist - he called me in about 2 ½ months after the operation, which worried me at first).

One other experience stands out: a visualisation, which occurred during meditation before I went into hospital.
I had started to meditate and was suddenly on a moorland path, with a hare and a fox trotting in front of me and looking back as if to encourage me.  We came to an outcrop of very large millstone grit rocks (the sort we have around here) and I followed them through an opening to a glade, completely enclosed by towering cliffs, but with birch trees surrounding a pool of bright yellow water.  The colour was opaque - a bright sunshine yellow - like the wax crayons used by children.  I waded into the pool without any hesitation, and stood watching as a sort of inky blackness flowed out around me into the water - presumably from me.  A breeze came up and rippled the water, and the black splodge disappeared.  I floated about for a while then turned to wade out.  There was a woman on the shore with the hare and fox.  Her hair was a bright russet colour, like the fox, and she wore a long green dress. Her face was kind. She held out a large towel, and when I reached her, she wrapped it around me, hugging me close and patting my back.  We sat down on a big rock, with her still hugging me  - I was crying - I'm near to tears now, remembering it all.  After a while I knew it was time to leave and stood up with her - I think she held my hand for a few seconds, then she was gone, and I followed the hare and fox back onto the moor.
A few days later I bought a book on colour healing - I just saw it by chance in WH
Smith.  Yellow, it transpired, is the colour associated with elimination - as well as with
the sun and healing in general.

I have to say too, that I found myself regarding the whole episode as an adventure, and as an opportunity to find something out about myself. It inspired me to research many associated areas - which I am still doing. I also took up my pen to write to my MP, the Health Secretary & Tony Blair about the proposals to take away our rights to buy vitamins and supplements - and about the dire proposals to fluoridate our water supplies. Most important of all, perhaps, it led me on a voyage of discovery and to my daughter and I joining a workshop run by the healer, with the result that we are now able to dowse and heal  - though I send anyone with things as serious as cancer to her, and help out by doing distance healing alongside. I still take apricot seeds and all my other vitamins & supplements. We eat as much organic food as possible, preferably as local as possible - and have acquired some land for an allotment garden. It is an event that has caused very positive waves in my life rather than ripples, and they are still working through.

    I hope my experiences will help other people to be positive and have hope if they find themselves in similar circumstances.

    To anyone in that position, I can recommend the following books:

     Close to the Bone: Life Threatening Illness and the Search for Meaning. Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D.

    Cancer, Why We are Still Dying to Know the Truth. Philip Day.

    The Power of the Sub-conscious Mind.  Joseph Murphy.

    Guide to Geopathic Stress.  Jane Thurnell-Read.

    There's also quite a lot on the Internet about both B17 / Apricot seeds, just key in B17, and about Geopathic Stress & Colloidal Silver etc.

Elderwoman Discussion Group

I asked the group members to send me photos so that we could all see each others' faces, but so far I only have eight pictures. I wondered if maybe people thought it was a bad idea, but no-one has written to say so, so perhaps it is simply shyness.
I was intending to wait till I had at least twelve before I uploaded them but it's been months now, so I've given up waiting. I've put the photo page online anyway. Maybe that will encourage the rest to stop being so shy!!

Only a fraction of the Newsletter's readers have joined the Discussion Group so far, but it is open to everyone on the mailing list - and it's free. So if you would like to join, just send me an e-mail with OKEM in the subject line and say "add me to discussion list."
(You don't have to be fully registered with Yahoo to get the group e-mails).

Stroke Recognition
Most have you have probably received a 'chain letter' e-mail on this topic, as there have been several of them floating around on the Internet for a while now. Some are true, some are not.
So I thought it worth reproducing the following info from the American Stroke Association.

A bystander may be able to spot someone having a stroke by giving the person a simple, quick test to see if they can smile, raise both arms and keep them up, and speak a simple sentence coherently, according to a report presented at the American Stroke Association's 28th International Stroke Conference. The American Stroke Association is a division of the American Heart Association.
The test, which takes less than one minute, has helped healthcare professionals accurately identify stroke patients. If bystanders can relay results of this test to an emergency dispatcher, it could speed treatment to stroke patients. Time is crucial in treating stroke.
A clot-busting drug has been shown to limit disability from strokes cause by clots (ischemic strokes), but the drug must be given within three hours of the onset of stroke symptoms. Because of this short time window, only a small percentage of patients are eligible to receive the drug.
"As the brain is deprived of oxygen during a stroke, it's literally starving minute-by-minute. The sooner the patient receives proper treatment in the appropriate medical setting, the better the chances for a full recovery," says Amy S. Hurwitz, a second-year medical student at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Medicine in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Hurwitz is the lead author on a study designed by Jane H. Brice, M.D., assistant professor of emergency medicine at the same institution. The study examines whether members of the public can effectively administer the simple three-item examination that healthcare professionals use. It is known as the Cincinnati Prehospital Stroke Scale (CPSS).
Researchers modified the CPSS into a script for over-the-phone administration via a layperson intermediary. They recruited stroke survivors from the hospital's support group. Some of these volunteers still had one, two or three of the unresolved symptoms identified from a previous stroke, such as facial weakness, arm weakness and/or speech deficits.
Researchers then recruited 100 non-patient visitors (bystanders) to the UNC hospital's emergency department and brought the people to a quiet room where a stroke survivor and investigator were waiting. The bystanders were instructed to "answer the telephone when it rings" and to follow the directions given over the phone, using the stroke survivor as their mock patient. A researcher role-played a dispatcher implementing the CPSS script.
Results indicate that the bystanders correctly administered CPSS directions 96 percent of the time. When stroke patients were told to raise both arms and keep them up, bystanders were 97 percent accurate in detecting arm weakness, and 72 percent accurate in determining the lack of arm weakness. When patients were asked to repeat a sentence, bystanders were 96 percent accurate at detecting speech deficits and 96 percent accurate in detecting a lack of speech deficit. The bystanders were 74 percent accurate in finding facial weakness based on the stroke patient's smile and 94 percent accurate on the absence of facial weakness.
"While treating stroke patients may require extensive training and expensive equipment, our study shows that untrained adults can successfully detect stroke symptoms. This ability can allow a bystander to act as 'eyes and ears' for a 9-1-1 dispatcher who may be miles away," Hurwitz  says.
"Unlike other investigations that strive to improve the treatment of stroke within the hospital setting, this study taps into the general public as a first-line resource in the diagnosis and triage of possible stroke victims."
The bystanders in the study scored high when detecting arm weakness and slurred speech - two key symptoms suggesting a patient may have had a stroke. They were less successful detecting facial weakness, probably because it's hard to assess a stranger's smile, according to Hurwitz. If the possible stroke patient was the bystander's spouse, it's likely the bystander would more readily detect an abrupt change in the quality of the smile, she says.
"The general public should remember the three items tested by the CPSS. Therefore, if a family member's speech unexpectedly becomes slurred or incomprehensible, you should call 9-1-1 immediately. Similarly, if one side of someone's body 'goes numb' or if one side of the face droops down, you should call for help immediately," Hurwitz says.
Delaying medical attention is dangerous when someone is having a stroke, since continued oxygen deprivation can cause brain damage. "As the medical profession strives to improve the diagnosis and treatment of stroke, so should the general public aim to access this medical attention as quickly as possible," she says.
Hurwitz says the next step is to test layperson administration of the test in the field with real patients and emergency dispatchers. "We will train dispatchers to lead callers through the CPSS assessment of the stroke victim. We will then compare the survival and symptom outcomes of patients who are screened with the CPSS with a subset of patients who do not receive the screening. By statistically comparing the patient outcomes, we can assess whether the addition of the CPSS to the dispatcher's repertoire would benefit future stroke victims and their families," she says.
Co-authors of the study are Barbara A. Overby, R.N., and Kelly R. Evenson, Ph.D. The study was partly funded by the American Stroke Association and the UNC Medical Alumni Foundation.
'Pilgrimage' by Pam Godman


This valley
swallows me whole,

Draws me inward
with skeining
then searches,
amongst my deepest
Once I have trodden
between these sheer
cleft walls,
wilderness bound,
she will neither relinquish
her hold,
nor abandon me.
in Her new-born
fisted grip,
a minnow
caught in life’s strongest
I wait,
half afraid to follow paths
familiar as the faces
of lovers
swaying behind
my curtained
until siren-songed,
her silence
grants me absolution,
all human conceits
within its echoes,
eroding my edges
where I lie on
her sheep-cropped
no more, no less
than the grasses
I crush bodily,
or the wind
that feathers
my skin
her breath.

Gives me leave
to fly again,
outside of dreaming

© Pam Godman 2006
Contributions for this newsletter are eagerly sought. Please send in your writings, your thoughts, your poetry, a book or website you have found, an announcement that you think would be interesting to others, a comment on one of these articles, a subject you'd like to
see, an anecdote, something that moved you - whatever snippet you want to share.

"I pledge allegiance to the Earth, and to the flora, fauna
and human life that it supports, one planet, indivisible,
with safe air, water and soil, economic justice, equal rights
and peace for all."

Women's Environment and Development
Organization of the Women's Foreign Policy Council

"You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake."
– Jeanette Rankin (the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress)

"Help us to be ever faithful gardeners of the spirit, who know that without
darkness nothing comes to birth, and without light nothing flowers."
 – May Sarton

"Maybe the things we're working on today won't bring about changes for years. 
But, it's just as important that we do them."
– Virginia Ramire


            "Doctor, I have earache."

            2000 BC  -  "Here, eat this root."
            1000 AD  -  ""That root is heathen, say this prayer."
            1850 AD  -  "That prayer is superstition.  Take this potion."
            1940 AD  -  "That potion is snake oil, swallow this pill."
            1985 AD  -  "That pill is ineffective, take this antibiotic."
            2000 AD  -  "That antibiotic is artificial. Here, eat this root."

The Elderwoman Newsletter by Marian Van Eyk McCain, March, 2006

The Elderwoman website:
Marian's e-mail: marian(at) 

NB: replace 'at' with the @ sign, and please remember to insert OKEM in the subject line to make sure you get through my three layers of spam filtering!
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