Category: Day in the Life


End of LoG

I started Life on Gerson as a blog for my experiences on the Gerson diet. but at this point in my life it is apparent that Gerson is no longer a part of the equation. I feel that this blog does not accurately represent what’s going on in my life so I’ve decided to create a new one likely with a vague title that I won’t have to change later. Anyway I did want to take a moment to reflect on Gerson and what I think it did for me.

I strictly adhered to the Gerson diet for about 8 months. Obviously it did not make my cancer go away in this time nor did it shrink. My cancer still grew though at a slower pace than expected. I had a higher grade cancer so that is pretty impressive in itself though with the type of cancer that I had, it was inevitable that I was going to have to cut it out no matter what I was doing. I tried very hard to gather evidence that would show any kind of proof of the Gerson diet working and though I believe that it did do something I’m very disappointed to report that I have no proof. What I have is a pathology report that shows 20% of my tumor was dead when they cut it out of me. On the surface this would be a good thing as far as evidence is concerned. Why? Well, cancer cells grow uncontrollably and do not go through the cell death process (apoptosis). This is the nature of cancer and why it is called cancer. The whole point of taking chemotherapy is to cause the tumor to die by introducing chemicals so strong they cause cell death indiscriminately in hopes of killing the cancer cells. So, 20% of my tumor being dead by the time that they cut it out without receiving chemotherapy would be impressive if my pathology report didn’t also go on to state that the tumor was wrapped around the main artery in my arm. The doctor who performed the surgery said that my artery was one third of the size that it would normally be when he found it. This could also be another explanation of why my tumor didn’t grow as fast as they thought it would since it was successfully cutting of its own blood supply with its growth.

Very unfortunately after my surgery I was not able to continue the Gerson diet. for the 8 months that I was on the Gerson Therapy I was completely responsible for everything that I was doing and I did not have consistent help. Even though I did not have a committed helper, I was very efficient, disciplined and fully able to maintain the incredible workload by myself which I attributed to the extreme amounts of energy I received from the diet. I worked for Gerson and Gerson worked for me was my motto.

The Gerson Institute actually will not allow you to enter their program without bringing along someone who will help you during the grueling 2 year process. They do this because they warn that if you try to take something like this on by yourself you will fail and I understand why they say this. The Gerson diet takes an incredible amount of energy and discipline just to produce the food and juices on a daily basis. They understand that you need help and not just sometimes but all the time. I just happened to be an incredibly efficient workhorse that got a broken leg half way through the race which killed my efficiency. I have a few friends and family that tried to help as much as they could when they could but unfortunately, this was not enough. I did not have a committed helper who could do the things that I needed on a daily basis and I had to abandon strictly adhering to the Gerson diet pretty immediately after surgery.

I also chose not to do chemo therapy after surgery. 2 months later my CT and MRI scans showed everything was clear so I continued with the low sodium vegan diet that I was able to get. All juicing had stopped by this time since I didn’t have anyone committed to this daily chore and I was unable to do it myself while trying to nurse a paralyzed arm and hand back to any semblance of usefulness.

It’s amazing how much we take having two arms and hands for granted and don’t even think of the trivial things we’re able to do so easily with both that are made so complicated when you only have one. Cutting apples in half, cutting carrot tops off, cutting lettuce heads, washing leaves and de-seeding bell pepper suddenly went from a 1 hr project to 3-4 hours of frustration by the shear absence of an arm (though I shouldn’t say that since my useless arm was very painful and literally in the way since it hung in front of me where the countertop and cutting board is) and I’m not even including the time consuming complication of trying to put any of these things into zip lock bags one handed (which is almost impossible without a good hook that won’t rip the bag). I chose not to be frustrated and in pain for a few hours a day for juice which I kinda regret but man, I was exhausted from surgery for a full month and a half after it so I wouldn’t have had the energy for any of that anyway.

By January my cancer had not only come back in multiple places in my arm but it had metastasized into my lungs in multiple places too. Now, my entire arm will be removed and there’s no chance of saving it (so please don’t ask if there’s anything else they can do because the answer is no) and I’m praying all of the little nodules in my lungs go away. They are all less than 1 cm in size so it’s completely plausible. Could Gerson have prevented this? Could chemo? I say it’s possible on both accounts but there’s no way we will ever know. As far as I’m concerned chemo is what is going to work for me now. Which is why I can no longer do the Life on Gerson blog seeing how I am no longer on Gerson and haven’t been for a while.

So, if you’re understanding the gist by now this is the conclusion to my Life on Gerson as the title to the post suggests. Thank you for following my blog! Look out for the new blog that will likely have my take on fighting cancer with chemo soon. Goodbye for now.

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When I see my mom I see a reflection of myself that I’m disappointed with. Don’t get me wrong there are many positive aspects to her and she’s a good person in general I just tend to see the stuff that irks the shyt out of me. We’re so much alike so I have these high expectations of how she should be. I feel like since we’re so much alike she should automatically “get” certain things and I get so upset when she doesn’t. This has been going on for years. I don’t know why I can’t just accept that she’s not how I think she is or maybe that she’s just not like me. Every indication is there that she is not like me my brain just doesn’t remember this when I get upset. It’s a very frustrating cycle. I’m literally driving myself crazy and now I know it. I just want her to be better. I want her to be the best possible her she can be so badly it hurts. But it only hurts when I get disappointed with her.

What do I get disappointed with her about? My mom routinely uses the excuse of being old or overweight to place limitations on herself which keep her in that same mindset. I see that it’s a negative mindset that isn’t helping her but I don’t know how to help her out of it. I’ll suggest she eat breakfast even if she’s not that hungry to avoid reaching for sugary treats when she gets hungry later but she doesn’t listen and goes for the sugar anyway making the excuse that it’s because she’s not in a routine yet. Or I’ll suggest we take a walk outside since that’s really all I can do and she’ll say yes but want to relax first…relaxing is sitting on the couch like we’ve been doing for a week. I love her so I keep trying but it hurts me when I see her put more effort into making an excuse or looking for someone else to accomplish something than doing what needs to be done. Case in point, I’m fresh off a week of chemo and she came over to help. I’m a very proud person and it’s hard for me to ask for help so she’s constantly telling me that I need to speak up when I need help. Meanwhile, a lot of times when I do ask for help I get a verbal response that I will be helped by her and as soon as my dad or anyone else is in the vicinity she’s asking them if they can help me with whatever I needed help with. It’s either that or she wants to relax first. Things I’ve asked for help with? Lighting a pilot light so I could cook my own breakfast and going to the store for supplies to rig things so I can accomplish things easier around the house with one hand. Oh, and un-clogging the bathroom drain.

She got mad that I woke her up at 9 o’clock in the morning to light the pilot light and said that that’s not the type of help that she wants to help me with because I should only ask for help in emergencies. She said she’d take me to the store for supplies but when my dad came downstairs she immediately pawned it off on him who also said he would take me and then neither one did. My mom would swear up and down it was because I had a doctors appointment at 4:30, but I asked at 10 o’clock in the morning. By 12 o’clock when I ask again she said she wanted to relax first. This is a day I decided I didn’t want to watch TV. She was playing a game on her phone. The drain was something that my dad said that he would do, mom bought the supplies. Draino has been sitting by the tub for the past 4 days even though I asked about it twice and again got responses that it would be done on both occasions. I know I’m supposed to have patience with people but shyt like this makes me feel like no one listens to me, takes me seriously, or wants to help me. and when I voice my concern about such things I’m told the world doesn’t revolve around me and I should stop being selfish. Am I missing something here because I’m really tired and frustrated with waiting on someone to wait on someone else to help me.

What frustrates me the most is that I know if I had the use of both my arms everything would have been accomplished in an hour or less because that’s the type of person that I am. One of the days after I got back and I was still weak I asked my mom to make eggs and toast for breakfast. She said she would then my dad came downstairs and she asked him to do it. It took my dad an hour to make me eggs and toast because he took that long to clean the kitchen first. I’m appreciative of the eggs and toast but if I we’re in the kitchen it would have taken me 10 minutes. I know this because I made my eggs and toast this morning with one hand and it still only took me 10 minutes. With the use of both of my arms cleaning the kitchen usually only took me 20. I know my dad doesn’t take an hour normally because I’ve seen him clean the kitchen faster on multiple occasions. This just leaves me wondering why my parents of all people are so lethargic about helping me. I’m really not getting it. I try to ask for as little as possible because I don’t want to be a burden but their actions/inaction/lethargy make me feel like that doesn’t matter because being alive and needing help is the inconvenience. I guess I should mention that my parents have been meaning to get divorced for the past few years but I honestly don’t think that should matter when it comes to being there for your family when they need you.

And you know after writing all this, I’m left with a nagging feeling that I’m the one being the asshole for having different expectations. After all, when you truly have no expectations you will always be pleasantly surprised by anything anyone does for you. I guess I need to work on lowering my expectations of the people in my family. It’s just so hard to do that when I know they’re capable of so much more.

Are you Vegan?

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I was out with my new beaux who happens to be vegan and we ran into a friend of his who is also vegan. One of the first questions he asked me was if I was one too. It took me a moment to stammer through an awkward explanation that I was eating a mostly organic plant-based diet. A few days later I realized I really need to be able to define my eating habits now that I’m not strictly adhering to The Gerson Therapy and I’m coming in contact with people who understand and live by the strict definition of veganism.

I never mentioned this on here but I stopped Gerson pretty much the day I went in for surgery. It wasn’t really my choice. The support just wasn’t there for me to continue through with it. I had been preparing my own meals, juices and enemas when I had two arms to work with. Surgery left me with a useless arm and completely depleted of energy for almost 2 months after so there was just no way I’d be able to do it on my own and there wasn’t a person in my life that was capable of making that commitment to assistance with my diet plan.

It was at this point that I realized I was going to have to rely on what I could find prepared and pre-packaged that was as healthy as possible. Many Amy’s frozen meals and soups got me through the next few months. I started craving fresh vegetables after I got a little better so I looked into the possibility of a personal chef. This turned out to be something way out of my budget but what I did find in my research was a semi local restaurant that provided a weekly food delivery service for low sodium, 100% plant based (vegan) diets called Veggytopia in Kyle, TX.

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Finding Veggytopia lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. No, not everything is certified organic but their goal is to use mostly organic or locally grown so I felt this was my best option. At $135/week for 7 days of lunch and dinner options (including dessert) I couldn’t beat it! At first I thought I’d be disappointed with their food because of the lack of sodium but I must give the chef props because I’ve only gotten 1 dish I absolutely didn’t like and I’ve been using the service now since the beginning of November 2013. Oh, and I certainly can’t forget to mention that they just started nationwide delivery service which I know will be a godsend to anyone wanting to eat healthy that doesn’t have time or, like me, just cannot prepare meals for themselves. Btw if you decide to sign up through my referral please don’t forget to mention me so I can get a discount. These guys truly are amazing, affordable and you will not be disappointed.

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The desserts are a nice touch but I have to admit the recently opened Capital City Bakery has them beat on vegan treats hands down, no contest! So if you’ve got a sweet tooth for baked goods, even if you’re not vegan, I highly recommend Capital City Bakery in Austin, TX. I’m pretty sure they also deliver nationwide. There’s no incentive for me to promote them so you know it has to be delicious.

Back to the subject at hand, even though I find myself grazing on vegan options by the luck of the draw I still don’t consider myself vegan. I still use honey in my tea and will satisfy a craving for eggs here and there as long as they are farm raised. Plus, I don’t mind wearing leather so I can’t say I’m committed to the fringe lifestyle choice by any means. I’ve also continued to juice and do periodic coffee breaks as a detox method so I feel I’ve combined the best of a few dietary and lifestyle choices that boils down to a recipe for my personal optimum health. I wish there was a name for what I’m doing. Who knows, maybe I’ll coin a term at some point. Opti-vore has a nice sound to it. Then again if I stated I was a detoxing vegan-ish juicer I think I’d get just as many blank stares from people thinking I was trying to kick a strange drug habit.

I really can’t understand why the phrase “Ignorance is Bliss” has circulated as long as it has when my experiences are more accurately supporting the phrase “Ignorance is Death”. In my previous post I stated that I was leaning toward a yes answer to this ever reoccurring question in my journey back to health and boy what a difference a few moments of reviewing information and research has on this decision!

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I spent a whole day finding optimistic things to say and feel about taking chemo, but the next morning my reservations got the best of me and I started wondering how I could get my hands on some definitive research. Luckily for me, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center has this amaze balls cornucopia of knowledge readily available to its patients called The Learning Center. I’ve spent the better part of a year putting in heavy leg work researchwise online to find information that legitimately supported my past decisions before I was admitted as an M.D. Anderson patient November 2013. Now, I call the number where someone picks up on the first ring and tell them what I’m looking for. They then send me this information with an eagerness to send more if wanted all through the convenience and immediacy of email! I’m just blown away by the ease of it all.

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More importantly, I was blown away by what was sent. I’m still waiting on snail mail to read my pathology report of final diagnosis to be absolutely sure but all of the research sent basically supports the decisions I’ve made. One document even flat out stated that there is “no evidence that supports the benefits of using chemotherapy” and “patients have been known to survive without reoccurring incidence through treatment by surgery alone”.

I want to point out that I had hit a wall on researching what I have online. Because my cancer is that rare, there was absolutely nothing I could find on it so I’m in awe that the information I was sent from M.D. Anderson’s learning center shows research going against chemotherapy’s use. It’s not my doctor’s fault though. The same reports state that chemo is M.D. Anderson’s approach to recommended treatment so I can’t be upset that she’s doing what she’s been taught. I think she’s going to be a little disappointed when I tell her the news since I semi committed to taking the therapy over the phone. Oh well. I’d rather the doctor be disappointed than my body be scarred for life so I find it to be more than a fair trade.

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I just got through watching a commercial advertising a weight loss meal plan showing before and after pictures invariably showing the same person weighing at least 50 pounds less than their previous state. The first thought that popped in my head was that my first doctor told me that diet doesn’t have anything to do with your health. It’s curious this type of commercial will air frequently on television and even pop up at you online yet people believe what the doctor says regardless of what they’ve seen repeatedly in pictures just through advertisements.

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Does this say more about the ineffectiveness of marketing or the gullibility and lack of basic recall ability in the minds of a scarily high percentage of the masses? I lean more toward the latter excuse because from what I’ve seen, we are easily led into buying highly marketed items like the latest Apple iPad.

Unfortunately, I’m being faced with the decision to do chemo again due to another tweak in my diagnosis and this time I’m leaning towards saying yes. I know that diet is an important factor. I also know that chemo is my best shot at surviving for a longer period of time than 3 years (2 if you factor in the past year I’ve spent dealing with my diagnosis). I’m guesstimating chemo as my best chance based on the limited research information I can find on the tweaked diagnosis update…go figure.

I’m just glad that I did wait because right now I’m as prepared as I can be to receive a seriously dangerous chemical into my body. I’ve been living organically, detoxing and treating my body right for a full year to prepare for the now 4 rounds of recommended treatment from a doctor I trust. This is a far cry from the originally recommended 12-16 rounds plus the pounds of flesh equal to one arm.

I need to spend a bit of time on finding research…again (hopefully I’ll be able to tap into those M.D. Anderson files since I’m tapped out in online resources). But, if chemo is what’s required I hope to defy some of those recurrence odds that are associated with the side effects of taking these recommended poisonous carcinogens by continuing my healthy lifestyle afterward. I certainly think it’s possible and am completely optimistic since there are so many things working in my favor at this time as opposed to last year when faced with the same decision.

The Illusion of Control

I had an interesting conversation with a lymphoma survivor the other day that made me want to write on the subject we had in common. He mentioned how absent someone important to him was at the time and how loved ones reactions weren’t at all what he expected.

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I never heard mention of this unpleasant facet of being diagnosed in the beginning. I wish I was told I’d have to either coddle everyone else as they found a way to deal with accepting the diagnosis I was given or accept their absence as a sign that they were unable to deal with the reality that was happening to me. I would’ve been more willing to draw from my inner self for comfort instead of just being hurt, confused and angry that the people I cared about weren’t there for me how I thought they were supposed to be when I thought I needed them to be.

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My sister told me something once that I’m recognizing as true more and more each time someone comes into my life that offers assistance. She said, “You can’t worry about why someone you think is supposed to be there for you isn’t. Whenever you really need someone to be there, that person will show up and help you and it doesn’t matter if they’re related to you or if you’ve only known them for a few days.”

Learning to accept this truth and truly live by it has been an unexpectedly hard thing to do. The drive to feel as if I have control is extremely strong. We’ve all been conditioned for so long to take control of our future, our career, our lives and everything else in it when letting go of this illusion of control is one of the most significant things you can do to gain what you really needed all along.

Some call it placing their faith in a higher power and in many ways that’s exactly what it is, but it’s also just learning to accept things as they truly are. When you start seeing things the way they are and stop working so hard (and often to no effect) to make them change something magical happens. Another better suited option presents itself or you’ll realize that whatever you were trying so hard at wasn’t necessary in your life anyway. In those instances you free yourself from unnecessary shackles or weights you yourself are responsible for. I don’t know about you, but I love it when my load becomes lighter and easier to bare seeing how I have plenty on my plate as it is.

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So ask yourself, what’s got a hold on you and why? We all have situations we want to change in our lives that we may not have the ability to do anything directly about. Fortunately, we have control over our own perspective about these things and if you ask me that’s the only change we need to free ourselves from unnecessary burdens.

Power by way of Love

Getting used to your own power is something that takes time, but once it’s accomplished anything (and I do mean anything) is possible. This power that is available in abundance to you, me and any other human being is just waiting below the surface to be tapped. I realized recently that I tapped it and the flood gates flew open. There’s no turning back to old powerless me after this. It’s a great feeling!

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I realized that power was there and wasn’t going away in a small but incredibly useful way. I’m learning to be unaffected by manipulations those close to me have been using. I’m getting the hang of recognizing when they are trying to use them immediately which keeps them from holding weight with me. I’m getting so much better at literally shutting off the switch to react in my brain so I can calmly love them through their attempt since I can use that power to look at the situation objectively in the moment. It makes things easier and less dramatic all around.

A recent example; I was getting help from a friend to do a weekly chore. A person close to me makes an attempt to impede progress and get a rise out of me. I don’t know why, but this is a common behavior I’ve noticed with this person. In the past I would get frustrated with the person and argue my sound case logically with no use since they were just being vindictive and petty to begin with. I think it’s important to point out that this person will always be in my life and I love them so it’s not as simple to just walk away from the situation.

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Instead of reacting like I always do, this time I recognized what was going on and reacted with love. To my surprise the power dynamic changed. Instead of me feeling powerless because progress was successfully impeded, I somehow got this person to help with what they were attempting to throw a wrench in. They may have reluctantly been helping, but they helped nonetheless and my power wasn’t taken from me in any way! I cannot stress how good it feels to react from that objective, loving point of view. It flexes a muscle I didn’t realize I had and keeps hurdles from slowing me down. Power by way of love? That wasn’t something I expected, but I certainly welcome it with open arms.

 

Feeling independent is such an important factor in my life and something about being able to drive has always made me feel that way. I thought I wasn’t going to be able to drive with my arm and hand being just shy of paralyzed. I can wiggle my fingers, but don’t misinterpret that as meaning I have use of them. I can’t grip anything and have trouble picking up the lightweight sponge pieces I exercise with in physical therapy! That’s with the aid of my other arm supporting the weight of its weaker sibling to guide my hand to the sponges then back to the prime target: a jar no farther than 1 ft. away. Basically, it’s a work in progress. So, if you’ll indulge me, I’m a bit impaired for the time being which forces me to come up with ingenuitive ways of doing random menial tasks like spreading peanut butter on bread (with a Dyson non slip mat and a spoon) and opening plastic produce bags at the grocery store (swallowing the taste of pride to ask for help when needed).

I was extremely concerned about my reaction time to turn the wheel in a wreck sans the use of an entire arm and hand. So, I had all but written my freedom of mobility off until sometime around when all of this PT builds my muscles and dexterity back. Due to the extensive surgical work done on EVERY nerve in my left arm, I’ve been told that should take 6 months to 1 year or more.

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Luckily, my Dad is from an era where they used what he called suicide knobs. What are suicide knobs? Yeah, I asked the same question. Apparently, where he grew up young men used these on their car wheels to look cool driving with one hand. It also served the purpose of making it easier to turn the wheel in a time where there was no power steering. They’re also known as disability wheel knob spinners. I purchased a basic one at Napa Auto Parts immediately, slapped it on my old girl Dusky Benz and drove her home for the first time in months! I can’t wait until the throwback to Jessica Rabbit I ordered online comes in for a flair of personal style.

Thank goodness for classic style and my generational ties to the past. Freedom and independence are flickering a ray of hope in my direction! Sure I may need a shopping buddy every once in a while, but it’s very satisfying to know I don’t have to be driven around like Miss Daisy to and from the many doctors appointments and various errands I run. It’s one thing to have a willing and reliable driver (usually for a fee). It’s quite another to depend on busy and sometimes reluctant transportation. So, being able to get some of that independence back for myself means less stress for everyone involved, especially yours truly.

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I think most people are unnaturally afraid of Death. I’m not. I’m sure there was a time when I was afraid, but I haven’t been afraid of Death for a very long time and it had nothing to do with my diagnosis. I think my lack of fear associated with death is why I was able to make the choices I’ve made over the past year. Don’t get me wrong, I want to stay here. I know that now more than ever. For me, wanting to stay here was always the reoccurring question. Such is the nature of depression with a touch of suicidal thoughts.

I just always knew there was something more real after this life and I longed to be unplugged from this alternate reality. I guess I felt like universal truths wouldn’t be so hidden there as they are here and I would get tired of wading through the crap to find them. Now that I’ve stared my finite nature in the face on a few occasions I’m starting to recognize that my understanding of universal truths have come at the time they were meant for me to understand them through no real effort on my part. This is because the understanding came through a life circumstance I had to experience first. I can’t say definitively if it’ll be easier to understand some of these things after life since I don’t remember being there. But I truly believe something after this life exists and there’s beauty as well as answers there.

Death is something that is an inevitability of life. I just don’t see the point in fearing it. I’ve accepted the fact that I was going to die on more than one occasion while in the middle of experiencing car totaling wrecks that I shouldn’t have been able to walk away from. Every time I accepted that reality I became calm and was at peace. I don’t understand the fear of death now after experiencing this calm and peace right before death seemed to be approaching.

After being awarded more life for accepting a fate that ended up not being mine I could only conclude that the end of my life has never been for me to determine and there’s nothing I can do to prevent or cause its occurrence other than suicide (and even that isn’t a guarantee).┬áThis makes it easier to say no to doctor’s orders in a sense. I know my success or failure has nothing to do with me. My life is a gift, and for some reason I’ve been awarded multiple opportunities to keep living it after accepting the inevitable nature of death and even welcoming its embrace on some occasions.

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There’s nothing I can do to sway my Creators decision on when, where, or how I die and it’s not my place to try. All I can do is live while He wants me to and follow the footsteps he lays before me. When He wants me to leave here, I will. Until then, I’ll keep listening for His voice and following his commands.

 

friendship

It’s obvious that I’ve been going through some ish for the past year but something that’s slowly starting to concern me is how many of my friends feel the urge to keep their struggles hidden from me out of concern. They tend to have the idea that their struggles are insignificant in comparison to mine and I’ve had to tell a friend on more than one occasion that I don’t believe my circumstances excuse me from being the compassionate human being that I can be.

It would be completely self absorbed and depressing if all I did was think about me, me, me all day and gave no thought to the people who care about and are caring for me. One of the things that I’m learning from this brush with mortality is that I want to be completely present with the people helping me along my path. I’m only getting this one life, I don’t know how long it’s going to last and I want to be the best person I can be for the rest of it.

To me this means to be there for the people that are there for me. We all have struggles, worries and pain in our life. My struggle shouldn’t overshadow anyone else’s and I really want people to feel comfortable sharing with me regardless of what I’m going through. If I’m a friend, let me be a friend while I’m here because if I die soon I’ll definitely NEVER get the chance which will be one huge regret of mine should I leave this place sooner than anyone expects.