COFFEY BREAK
for
HEALTHY ALTERNATIVES
a different kind of coffee break with Gerry and Ray Coffey

Disease-Free Living Through Fitness and Nutrition

LOVE LETTERS

28 Aug 2010

Hi.
I've recently made the decision to become a vegetarian and found your website while searching the web. I tried two of the recipes you recommended today and just wanted to say THANKS! They were both excellent!!!

Bean And Artichoke Salad
Mayonnaise, Spicy, Egg and Oil Free

K K


6 Jun 2009

My father died tonight, and I don't know how to feel.

I was just at a grave site with him two weeks ago listening to him talk about his great grandfather at a grist mill when he was my 4-year-old Camryn's age.

I will make sure my children remember him.

He was a quiet, intelligent, and dignified man. The most important thing I learned from him is to love your wife, support your family and keep it together.

His life-long generosity was an expression of his love. The depth of his love could be measured in patience and persistence. His dedication to his wife, his children, his mother, his country and his work is what defined him.

The best part of him will live on in me, his other children and his grandchildren.

I am wracked with painful shivers and sobs, with cold and hot flashes of fever as my emotions of loss flood my body with uncontrollable waves of chaotic energy.

My eyes burn with tears, a low roar fills my ears as if I'm hearing blood rushing through my veins. Its as if I'm experiencing the portion of my fathers soul that resides in me, tearing loose from every part of me as his soul leaves this earth.

My body must be in shock, I've never felt this sensation before. It's somewhat alarming, but I'm sure it's a natural sensory overload, brought on by an extreme emotional release.

It is very difficult to type, but I am alone in my truck in the rain, somewhere in South Carolina and this scratched up blackberry has been there for me as an outlet and a coping mechanism through the roughest, most emotionally taxing, two years of my life.

I've come to the conclusion that its therapeutic. A way of holding my own hand, and method of channeling my emotions, and working through them.

I love my parents and the family they raised. We siblings have a maturing love and respect for each other that continues to build our parents' foundation.

I'm so grateful to have come out of my personal anger that threatened to destroy me last year. In that state I had severely wounded both of my parents, for which I'll always bear a shame.

I don't think either of them ever have fully recovered from those wounds, but I think they could see me, making improvements in positive directions.

I have desperately tried to connect with my Dad for the last twenty years, but we spoke different emotional languages. I have a need to talk and share feelings and ideas. Dad demonstrates his love by being a strong support system and excellent provider.

I think Mom is the only person he would bare his soul to. I believe that unique bond with her is what gave him the strength to weather the storms of their life and thrive over nearly 50 years.

He was the solid sturdy ship that carried the load, and Mom was his rudder. It was an arrangement that travels far and served many. There were turbulent waters that at times created tremendous tension and stress that threatened to break apart the union.

Loving care always managed to make good on repairs which allowed the voyage to continue. Yet in the twilight cruise, in the tranquil harbor, after some fifty years at sail, some unseen and unsuspected leak, caused the vessel to falter and fail. In the calm shallow waters all that remains exposed is the weathered but sturdy rudder. Still joined in every way to her love, and still supported by that love.

Although she feels exposed like never before, and may have thoughts to have preferred to go down with her ship. The ship who had for a lifetime protected her in his wake. But her work is not finished, and her family, the children and grandchildren still need her guidance and her example.

We embody the spirit of the ship and our Mother remains to keep us on course.

We love her and can never know all she has sacrificed.

We admire her for all she has accomplished and will accomplish in the future.

We respect her for her devotion to her husband, family, and health.

We are grateful for our parents loving example.

We do our best to follow their path.

-- Darryl


6/5/2009:

Dearest Family and Friends,

A great man died tonight.

He was my hero and I was one of the lucky few who called him Dad.

Mom was with him.

My brother David and his family are flying in from his post in Thailand. They'll be here at 1:30 pm Saturday 6 June 09.

My other brother, Darryl, and his family, sister, Carol, and my son, Jon Isaac, and I are here with mom
now.

Thanks for your prayers.
Valerie Coffey


4 July 2009:

Dear Family, Extended Family and Friends:

Please forgive the lack of response to many of your encouraging emails and cards wishing for me to be strong and well.

I greatly appreciate hearing from you and knowing of your concern and I hope you will understand I am going through an adjustment I hoped against all odds would never happen and am still in the process of learning to accept it has.

Over 50 years ago, Ray came into my life and opened a whole new and wonderful world to me. And half a century later we wondered where the years had gone but were looking forward to celebrating our Golden Anniversary in a few months, and today, the 4th of July, would have been Ray’s 74th birthday.

But that was not to be.

Many of you have wanted to know the circumstances of his totally unexpected demise, so I will attempt to summarize.

I believe it all started a little over two years ago after a freak fall when, in the dark, Ray missed the last step down the stairs when he was on his way out to the farm in the early hours before daylight.

He didn't tell me about it until he came in limping that night. His side hurt where he caught himself on the banister, but he was most concerned about his ankle and foot which had been painfully injured.

I urged him to stay home and rest and drink plenty of water but he would hear none of it. Despite my concern, he continued this way for 3 days and nights and was in so much pain he got little sleep. Finally he came home on the 4th day with a raging fever, high blood pressure and felt so haggard he knew he could not continue.

It was then I realized he had not touched the half gallon of water I had put by his bedside the first night, even though we teach people that dehydration is one of the biggest killers. On realizing this he finally drank some water and a few minutes later he was able to rest a bit for the first time in days.

I will not go into detail except to say he came close to death by the time he allowed Valerie and me to drive all night to get him to a trusted doctor in Ohio. Blood tests revealed he had damaged a kidney when he fell against the banister and had been bleeding internally for 9 days before it was discovered. In the process it severely weakened his heart and he never fully recovered his strength after that fall.

Before that, Ray seemed to think he was invincible and indeed after he stopped smoking, drinking and became a vegan over 20 years ago, his high blood pressure, arthritis, prostate problems and other health issues melted away. He never thought about nor considered retirement before the stair incident, but thankfully, after returning home, circumstances regarding the land he leased from the Wheeler Estate surfaced and, as he deemed it in the best interest of his partner, he retired shortly after.

And he never looked back. For the first time he could remember, he grinned from ear-to-ear as he told people, he got to sleep past 7:00 a.m. And for the past two years we have been enjoying each other's company and the freedom to come and go as we pleased. Ray liked to tell friends he stayed so busy since his retirement he often wondered when he found time to work.

But all the travels both domestically and abroad took a toll on our health, and back in February, after returning from Thailand and I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, Ray joined me for a short fast out at True North Health. While there, it was discovered he had unusually high blood pressure AND high cholesterol. They wanted him to fast for at least another week to insure it was cleared up but Ray said he had to get back home.

Once back home we began eating out a lot, straying from our normally health-promoting diet and exercise routine. And even though we were eating a plant based diet, many oils, salts, preservatives, etc., crept into our food intake. And as Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D., points out, “Moderation KILLS!” and when one has heart disease, "...even a drop of oil is like pouring kerosene on a raging fire.” I fear that is what happened to Ray.

About a week before the final hour, Ray had already arrived home from our daily walk/run routine, which was highly unusual since I’m the runner and he’s the walker. He said he “hit a brick wall” and could barely make it back from the park. We discussed it, thought it was a fluke, but decided he should just rest and slow down for awhile. He also noted he felt bloated after eating even though he wasn't consuming that much.

Thursday, June 4th, seemed like an ordinary day. We took care of some random business in the morning and decided to relax the rest of the day so we were totally unsuspecting when, about 8 p.m., in the space of an hour, his life was snuffed out.

It started with a coughing spell, advanced to hacking, then vomiting, and each time I went to see if I could help he waved me away. I feared he was dehydrated and offered some water but he still waved me away.

I was researching cancer treatments on the internet when I realized he was quiet and went again to check on him. I found him lying on the bed gasping for air. He managed to whisper the word "hospital." After my initial panic, I called 911 and pleaded for an ambulance to be sent immediately...but his eyes rolled up, his face went gray, and his body went limp…and even with 7 men working on him, it was too late...

Daughters Carol and Valerie met me at the hospital and pretty much took over from there. They called Darryl, who was on-the-road, and David in Thailand, to tell them the worst. David and his family were on the plane to Alabama in a few hours. Darryl drove home from out-of-state, and they all came together to relieve me of as much of the aftermath burden as possible.

Each in her/his own way, along with their children, made it possible for me to get through that first long night, followed by the other long, weary days and nights during which I willed myself to work, run and get so tired I might fall into a numbing sleep and then wake from this nightmare that surely had not happened.

The visitation, funeral--made especially poignant by the many testimonies made by family and friends as well as the presence of a number of Ray's West Point classmates who went to great lengths to obtain a Class of '58 Banner-- and the days following are pretty much a blur.

Then suddenly my offspring were telling me I had to do something immediately lest they soon be attending the funeral of their last surviving parent. A local Oncologist appointment arranged by Darryl confirmed I had Aggressive Inflammatory Breast Cancer. He indicated my only hope was to undergo an immediate program of chemotherapy, followed by a total mastectomy, more chemo, plus radiation for a period of up to two years: no guarantees.

By a fluke of fate, the night before seeing the Oncologist I learned about the Valley Cancer Institute's 80-90% success rate with Inflammatory Breast Cancer using Hyperthermia (artificially induced localized fever) with low dose radiation.

Though I was on the brink of submitting to conventional treatment to please my offspring, when I learned about this treatment it made so much more sense than poisoning and mutilating the body and destroying the immune system.

A fever is the body’s way of healing itself. Exercise in itself, which everyone knows is beneficial, is simply raising the body’s temperature and metabolism to create an artificial fever that mends, heals and builds.

The family agreed it sounded promising and Darryl, a professional driver, was assigned by his siblings to drive me to California so I would have transportation during however long my stay might be, and he would fly back to Alabama. Meanwhile the other siblings were on the phone night-and-day trying to handle the multitude of details involved in making such a move for an indeterminable length of time.

I have been here several days now and the people here are bending over backwards to help me. Darryl has been talking with the other patients and they all assure him this is the best place for cancer patients to be, and some of them have been to several other treatment centers both abroad and in-country.

In the process of checking costs we learned Medicare Plan B would pay for all expenses. Unfortunately, it turns out that Ray, thinking we would only need hospitalization should we be involved in some freak accident, refused Plan B several times and they are now telling us I can register and incur a large penalty BUT registration only takes place in January and does not cover anything until the following July. That is over a year from now, and the doctors say the Aggressive Inflammatory Breast Cancer I have cannot wait that long.

Carol and Valerie are doing their best to get one or more of our Congressmen or Senators to call Social Security to insist on making an exception to their once a year registration policy, as they do for two other diseases, including Lou Gehric’s. To refrain from doing so due to a mere technicality of their registration policy could well result in my early demise, as well as untold others.

Meanwhile, here in West Los Angeles, the doctor in charge INSISTED I get a biopsy in order to continue taking the low-dose radiation along with the Hyperthermia.

When they found out AGAIN I had no Medicare Plan B that would pay for this several thousand dollar a week treatment plus the extra $4,000 for the biopsy (Done by needle: the doctor assures me will not "spread" the disease). Thankfully, they maneuvered to get me an appointment at a hospital which will accept Medicare Plan A, the hospitalization plan we do have. Regretfully, that was an error, and aside from being subjected to one of the most excruciating procedures I have ever experienced--and I am no stranger to pain--I had to pay out-of-pocket.

Carlos (you can see him interviewing people on the Valley Cancer Institute website (http://www.vci.org/), wanted to interview me to put on the website and also wants to do a shorter version and put it on U-TUBE in hopes to get something done re: establishing Medicare Plan B.

I have been very touched by their concern and helpfulness and am taking things one minute, one hour, and one day at-at-time.

Darryl gives me no slack if he thinks I am feeling sorry for myself and I know he is right. I long ago concluded the closest one can get to heaven on earth is a good marriage. I have had 50 plus years of wonderful memories and Ray and I often talked about having “at least 50 more…”

A friend and colleague just sent me an email which said in part: “I trust that Ray's birthday will continue with an honoring of his life.”

Thank you, Dilip. I can think of no better way that might please him except that he be here to celebrate with his friends and loved ones.

Love,

Mom/Gerry

ps: If any of you have any clout with any of your Congressman or Senators, your assistance in requesting they make a call to Social Security about obtaining the Medicare Plan B coverage that is rightfully due would be greatly appreciated. Surely some of their own constituents have come up against the same problem and this NEEDS to be corrected. If exceptions can be made for Lou Gehric and some other disease, it can be made for this technical glitch...


14 Nov 2000
Dear Gerry & Ray:

I very much enjoyed the meeting tonight. I got a great blessing by visiting with each of you -- and you have inspired me at a time when I needed some wisdom and perspective about my own health and well being. Thanks!!

Tim


HI, Gerry:

Thanking you for your concern and friendship, even though we are not around a lot to acknowledge it. Your poems and stories and health articles are more than excellent.

Thank you. Blessings,
Helmut


"Dear Gerry & Ray:

"Thank You for the very powerful and dynamic presentation by Daniel Vinson on Tuesday, Sept. 8 at HEALTHY ALTERNATIVES. I am glad I did not miss this wonderful testimony by a very sincere, charismatic young man who is a role model for overcoming adversity. I am very appreciative of the fact that you work very hard to make your meeting a very unique caring and sharing opportunity. I get so pumped up and encouraged by each of you and by your awesome speakers. Keep up the good work!;-) Sincerely, Tim Hermetz, Cullman, Alabama"


Dear Gerry and Ray,

I really miss you both as well as the others from "HEALTHY ALTERNATIVES." I hope you are OK. You have made a big difference in my life and my family is making a change gradually. Change is slow, one person at a time, but each one is worth the effort. Thank you with Love, --Janice Harper

(Note: Gerry and Ray were on a trip to Los Angeles, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand, and Hawaii)


Dear Gerry & Ray,

Enclosed are some great photos of you and your DREAM CREAM demo. I enjoyed meeting you so much. You were the highlight of Summerfest for me this year! I also enjoyed your newsletter. Thanks so much for following through on the recipes. I’m having difficulty staying with good eating habits with my husband not being a vegetarian and eating out so much, no meat of course, but slip ups on dairy and processed foods. You are doing such wonderful work with your fitness and nutrition programs and newsletter. I wish we lived in the same community so I could participate. There’s nothing like it here. Looking forward to seeing you again. -- Linda Richardson, Ohio EarthSave Director


Dear Gerry & Ray:

Thank you for the Change-Your-Life Weekend. I learned so many things, and I feel WONDERFUL! I really feel good coming off the Premarin (Estrogen Therapy) and Zolov (anti-depressant) and Valium (relaxor). I don’t wake up nauseous any more. No more puffy eyes. I’ve lost about 7 lbs. in just a few days and am losing small amounts steadily. I have a woman doctor* who’s instilling fear in me because I stopped taking the Premarin and osteoporosis and heart disease run in my family. But my other doctor, a male, noticed the weight loss, how good I look and how much energy I have. He could really tell the difference. He said, "Whatever you’re doing, keep it up!" I intend to! --Bonita Ogle, Madison, Alabama

Editor’s Note: Read about Bonita’s health odyssey in a future newsletter. Her doctor is no doubt sincere in advocating what she has been taught to believe is Bonita’s best interest. As a female and physician, she might find the report on estrogen in our "Articles" section of keen interest. –Gerry Coffey

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