Q & A with Bernie – July 22, 2013

Question for Bernie:

cancer head coveringsI am a Stage III breast cancer survivor and have really appreciated your blog.  I would like to give you a resource to add to your arsenal about the wig that significantly changed the way I felt during my intense journey with this disease.

The wonderful wigmaker I found is Merria Dearman (merriadearman.com).  It is not just because her work is so exquisite that absolutely no one thought I had lost my hair, but it is because of Merria’s healing personality and kindness.  She spent hours with me shining a very bright light onto the gloomy landscape I was at first looking at after diagnosis.

I appreciate everything that you’ve been doing for all these wonderful years, and I hope my contribution to your resources for women facing hair loss from cancer treatment is accepted and many will get a chance to meet Merria.

Thanks so much!

Bernie’s Answer:

Thank you for sharing this resource with our readers. Hair loss is a personal issue, and many women don’t have a problem being uncovered.  But for those who do, it will be comforting to hear your story and have a resource like Merria.



Question for Bernie

Thank you for your suggestion on mastic gum which I will certainly look into.  I wanted to ask if you know of any great hiatal hernia surgeons.

I just saw a pain intervention doctor yesterday who, I was told, “thinks outside the box,” but he felt I needed to pursue allergies as the cause of the pain.  The test results showed my allergic reactions were mostly very low to normal.  She suggested I go on allergy drops under my tongue for three months.  I said that I came to see her because I need intervention, results, and a resolution to what is causing my pain. She gave me a prescription for Elavil and said this was her plan for me and left the room.

My husband is angry that I listen and believe just about anything I am told by doctors, and I am frustrated to always be explaining myself and just regressing instead of progressing toward a resolution.

doctor listening to patientI am desperate for a doctor who will advocate for me, understands that I am not a happy pill-popping patient, that I need to have the pros and cons of things explained and  be given the chance to consider them before agreeing to treatment.  Also, I really do not want to be treated like I am being “difficult” if I question things they suggest.

If you have any further advice or insight, I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you as always for your time.

Bernie’s Answer

I don’t have any surgeon to recommend, but follow these suggestions:

  1. Ask any doctor you see if they are ever criticized by patients, nurses and       family. The good ones say “yes” and learn from their mistakes.
  2. Also ask nurses who they would choose as their doctor.


Question for Bernie

How can I get rid of depression once and for all? My mother suffered for many years and both my sibling and I battle it daily. We both take the same anti-depressant at the same dose.

I am trying constantly with activities to put an end to this depression through meditation, reading books, gardening, exercising, eating healthfully, and attending church and praying.

Some days are worse than others. I am so tired of not being able to break free from the ugliness of depression as well as from the medication. I am able to put on a front at work most of the time, but the front is getting harder and harder to hide behind. Thank you for your time.

Bernie’s Answer

Think of your mind as your advocate and use its amazing ability to imagine to your advantage by letting you experience what it feels like not to be depressed.  You do this by acting as if you are not depressed.

Humans are blessed with the ability to imagine almost anything, so imagine that you are an actor in the role of a positive person who likes herself. In the play you are helping others who are feeling depressed and feeling just the negative parts of their lives.  You become their teacher and start showing them all the things in life that produce even little moments of happiness and contentment. Those moments add up and reside in our memories to nourish us when we need them.

You may be able to do this next thing with your sibling as a way to banish depression even for a few precious moments.  Think about something in your early lives or more recently that made you both laugh out loud.  Make sure you each think about that time three or four times every day.  When you know you spirits can, indeed, be lifted even for moments, you can let go of thinking of yourself as just a depressed person.  You can accept that depression comes and goes—say this beautiful, absolutely true adage every day when you feel low—THIS TOO SHALL PASS.

Then, every morning start by thinking of three things you are grateful for.  Start with the letter A and use the next letter of the alphabet each day.

You are already doing many activities, but it is important to do the things that you really love.  When you do something you have passion for, you lose track of time and become completely immersed in something that is nourishing you and making you feel really good. Depression cannot thrive in that emotional environment.

Think about everything in your life as objectively as you can.  Write down what your ideal life would be, and then set about creating it.  Almost everything in life that really fulfills us, gives us joy, and helps us learn to love and trust ourselves and others does not cost money.   The only real investment you need to make is in yourself—in loving yourself.  For many people that is harder than it would be to just make a lot of money and hope that fixed everything.

dogs-playingIf you are not already practicing mindfulness meditation, take a class and learn it.  You will then be able to actually acknowledge depressing thoughts and learn how to let them float in and out of your life in a natural way.  It is unrealistic to think we can be completely free of depression, but we can learn to understand it enough to not give it total control over our lives.

For a constant reminder of living for the moment, which is the real key to happiness, get a dog and or a cat.  Our pets teach us that all we really have is the “here and now.”  The pure, unconditional love of a dog or a cat can be the greatest comfort and the greatest joy rolled into one wonderful, uplifting, happy experience of life.