The famously forward-thinking Oxford Health Plan is now offering its members a hardy 20% discount on all Health Journeys guided imagery, meditation and yoga resources.. Hello, everyone!

We’re delighted to report that the famously forward-thinking Oxford Health Plan is now offering its members a hardy 20% discount on all Health Journeys guided imagery, meditation and yoga resources. Oxford, an extremely popular plan with the smart folks of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, is known for its emphasis on wellness and prevention, not to mention its extraordinary coverage of complementary and alternative therapists - acupunturists, chiropractors, massage therapists, naturopaths, yoga therapists - along with more traditional medical care. By choosing this route, they are doing well while doing good. People who use these services stay well longer, recover from illness faster, and ultimately cost their insurer less. When a good idea that serves people well is also cost-effective- well, we call that a holistic SLAM DUNK.

Other carriers smart enough to have figured this out are Blue Shield of California, ( ), Kaiser Permanente ( ) and Aetna U.S. Healthcare ( ). We get wildly excited when one of these insurance companies decides to do this, because it immediately puts guided imagery into the mainstream pipeline, and helps huge numbers of people who would otherwise never think to use it enjoy the benefits of this user-friendly intervention. Indeed, we have a little Gallery of Honor for some of the organizations who chose to customize our guided imagery for their patients, over at .

Say, when you have a minute, come visit our events page, where we’ve listed several of my upcoming 2004 workshops at . I’ll be all over the place this year: in Washington DC, Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, Bloomington IL, Cleveland, Rutland VT, Rhinebeck NY, New York City, Oklahoma City, Indianapolis, Raleigh-Durham, San Diego, Pacific Grove, Toronto and Hilton Head, to name just a few spots. So, maybe you can come join us at one of these places, most of which are good for continuing ed credits, too…. and our distributors get special discounts, of course, for themselves and their clients. (Karen Wilkerson can tell you more about this if you call her at 800.800.8661 or email her at [email protected] .

As I wrote to you all in my enewsletter, my husband was recently diagnosed with a nasty case of lung cancer, which propelled me to do a mad scramble for resources, assistance and support. I must say, that as I networked, researched, consulted with myriad friends and colleagues, sorting through confusing and conflicting advice, I thought to myself, "Yikes, if I’m this overwhelmed, what on earth do people do who aren’t ‘in the business’, so to speak?". It’s hard enough to just deal with the diagnosis. Figuring out what the best treatment strategy is.. well, that’s something else altogether.

In any case, I thought I’d pass along some thoughts and ideas that I picked up along the way. I think I’ll post these on the discussion page as well. (He’s doing very well, by the way, and we have hard evidence that his condition is improving.)

  • Don’t assume providers know what they’re talking about. You’ll want desperately to believe in them, because you’re so vulnerable, but please double and triple check the information you’re getting, even if the healthcare institution thinks it’s the best in town. (We had to fire our local "world class healthcare institution" for confusing the diagnosis, brutalizing us with tantrums on the part of their staff, and delaying numerous tests because it wasn’t convenient for them or because the docs didn’t talk to each other. No one seemed to be in charge. We are now safely in excellent care elsewhere.)

  • Use whatever contacts you have to get the most up-to-date information possible. The landscape of cancer treatment is radically changing by the minute these days. There are now many new, multi-targeted treatments that, when used in combination, are often beating the odds, and a lot of well-meaning providers know ZIP about them. This means you have to be proactive at a time when you feel like collapsing. My advice: get cracking; don’t collapse. (We wound up taking advantage of the considerable talents of health writer Henry Dreher, a cancer guide who helped us research the options and made sound suggestions; and we went to The Block Center in Evanston IL for invaluable consultation on nutrition, supplements and off-label drugs. Both these fabulous resources are featured on our Clinician’s Corner, at .)

  • Think outside the treatment box, especially if you know standard protocols have limited success rates. You can tell your doc that you’ve read the stats and you want more than just standard care. If that’s not an option at his or her institution, ask if he or she will serve as local backup while you go elsewhere for more cutting edge care. (My husband, for instance, is on a standard protocol of Carbo/Taxol and Zometa, but he is also taking 2 drugs designed for other illnesses, but which happen to have special antiangiogenic properties that kill tumor-feeding blood vessels - Celebrex and Lovenox, along with a modified macrobiotic diet and massive doses of nutritional and herbal supplements from The Block Center. I’m not recommending this for anyone else - this is his individual treatment plan, arrived at after weeks of study and tests. But I’m offering it as an example of what can be done beyond standard care. Of course, he’s also listening to guided imagery for the first time in his life, and he’s also benefiting from the doting attention of his children, friends and community.

  • Be really clear with friends and family, what you need from them and what you don’t need from them. Again, it’s not fair that you have to do this at a time when you have no energy for it, but, trust me, the price of NOT doing it is too high. If you want visits and calls and cards, tell them. If visits, cards and calls feel like an assault, tell them that. If they insist, tell them "It’s out of the question". And let your kids help out. There’s no better resource and they’ll feel good about contributing; and it will deepen and enrich their relationship.

  • Also, be smart about asking people to do what they’re good at. Some friends are great listeners. Others are terrible listeners but great cooks. Still others have a talent for efficient errand running, or internet database searching. They’ll be glad to have an assignment they can actually perform well for you, and you’ll be very glad for their excellent help.

  • When people start giving you unwanted advice, or sharing their own cancer story with the hideous outcome, or guilt-tripping you about how you’re not meeting their needs, you need to be at the ready with a firm, fast response: "That is not helpful" works well, as does "I don’t need to hear that right now" or "We need to change the subject"... and, always, my favorite, all-purpose standby, "That is out of the question". Again, you’re not going to be in the mood to be this assertive, but fake it. It’s necessary protection from well-meaning but clueless people.

  • Ask for prayers. Prayers are the best. They are felt by the giver and the receiver alike, and they perform miracles. Trust me on this. (And thank you all so much for already responding with such heartfelt generosity on this request! I swear you can see the difference already!)

All best,