The Babz Chula Lifeline for Artists Society

Archive for the month “March, 2008”

Actors Hold Charity eBay Auction for Actress Babz Chula

From MovieMaker.com:

Babz Chula is an award-winning Canadian actress and crucial presence in Vancouver’s independent film scene. She is also a cancer survivor who recently discovered that her breast cancer, that was thought to have been defeated, has traveled to her liver. In the face of increasing medical bills, a group of Canadian actors have formed the Babz Chula Lifeline for Artists Society.

The Society, whose members include Nicholas Lea, Suleka Mathew, Gabrielle Miller and Ben Ratner, will conduct an eBay auction April 2 though April 12 to raise funds for Chula’s medical fees. Up for bid will be dinners with actors such as David Duchovny, Nicholas Lea, Chris Carter, Callum, Keith Rennie and Peter DeLuise as well as collectible movie memorabilia including an autographed slate from the upcoming “X-Files” movie and original shooting scripts for the Burt Lancaster film Atlantic City and the Robert Altman flick Quintet.

The Society is looking to raise $250,000 for Chula’s treatment, which, in addition to traditional chemotherapy, will include naturopathic treatment that is not covered by her health insurance. Throughout her treatment Chula plans to maintain a blog, which she has already used to introduce visitors to the cause and detail her situation with extraordinary grace and honesty. In addition to the auction, the Society is also accepting donations.

More for information on how to donate visit http://www.babzchulasociety.org.

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Buy Duchovny dinner and help local actress’s cancer fight

From The Vancouver Province:

A group of actors on both sides of the border are going online to raise money to fund the cancer treatment for one of Vancouver’s most popular actors.

Up for EBay auction are dinner dates with a host of talents ranging from Corner Gas’s Gabrielle Miller to David Duchovny of The X-Files, in aid of Babz Chula’s battle with the cancer that has recently spread from her breast to her liver.

Chula, the perennially youthful veteran of nearly four decades in Vancouver’s movie, theatre and music scenes, needs an expensive new treatment developed in Austria that isn’t covered by provincial health benefits.

A group of her friends got together recently at the Vancouver home of Men In Trees co-stars Suleka Mathew and Nicholas Lea to think of ways to help, and came up with the online auction. Also up for grabs in the auction starting April 2 are nights out with musician Matthew Good, The X-Files creator Chris Carter, Robson Arms star John Cassini and actors from TV’s Stargate: Atlantis and Battlestar Galactica. The group is also auctioning off signed movie and TV memorabilia, including items from Carter and Duchovny’s recently-wrapped The X-Files feature film.

“We thought, well, what do we actually have to trade on,” says Lea, who was a recurring regular on The X-Files TV series and is still close to Duchovny. “Well, we’re friends with famous people. We have some famous friends who have other famous friends.”

Lea says the newly formed Babz Chula Lifeline for Artists Society aims to help other artists in similar needs, and to that end they’re planning other projects to raise money and awareness. They’ve set up the website http://www.babzchulasociety.org, with links and details for the EBay auction, which ends April 12.

“There’s a lot of artists in real need, with minimal health insurance,” says Lea.

Fellow actor Ben Ratner secured the rights to use the Trooper hit “We’re Here for a Good Time” from his friend, songwriter Ra McGuire, and the society aims to record a new version, to be accompanied by a video of stars lip-synching to it. Lea says they were inspired by recent celeb-studded videos done just for fun.

“If we can get people to go on for a purpose, I’m giong to be really shameless about who I talk to,” says Lea. “It’ll be just people talking into a camera.”

Chula was first diagnosed two and a half years ago, and decided on the latest course of treatment, intended to complement conventional chemotherapy, in consultation with her naturopathic oncologist.

“I’d like to collect and organize all the information and revelation that I’ve experienced on this journey and get it out to others,” she says.

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Welcome!

Two and a half years ago you saved my life. You gave me two and a half more years to live. To breathe…in and out. In this amazing, miraculous world. To love…for two and a half years MORE. I got to stay alive and be in the world! You did that. For me.

I worry that you do not know what that means to me. I’ve been concerned because I was not able to thank you all properly. You need to know that I am thanking you by being alive today. I never forget you. You did this.

I am in trouble again. It’s bad. It’s dire, actually. Having two cancers simultaneously is complicated enough, but this is crazy: maybe even so rare that you will never know another person in your whole life that has this happen to her or him. That doesn’t make me feel one bit special, incidentally. If it did, this wouldn’t be so difficult. This business of asking for help.

In August, throbbing pain and tenderness led me to discover three new tumours in the mastectomy area. My breast cancer was back, and I started taking injections of a very potent estrogen blocker to augment the other blocker I was already taking that was no longer doing the job.  Conventional chemotherapy and radiation treatments were only briefly considered at that time, as the effect either procedure would have on my bone marrow, and consequently, my blood cancer, would have a serious negative outcome. Treatment, therefore, consisted of extremely high doses of Vit C and Lipoic Acid administered intravenously three times weekly, two colonics a week, with coffee and herbal implants, twice daily far infrared saunas, an austere and restricted vegan diet, and specific supplements. Basically, the same stuff I’ve always been doing…only more.

Although I was able to hold the cancer back, I was not able to keep it away. My breast cancer has moved to my liver. A small lesion was removed by ablation about three weeks ago. We HOPE the ablation was successful. Won’t know for two months or so when it is safe to do another CT Scan. Yeah. It was awful. Very scary and painful. So now I’ve metastasized…it’s on the move. This damn cancer is on the move. Fuck.

The good news, though, is that my blood cancer seems to be resting right now. Oh, it’s still there. I feel it: restless and uneasy. A beast in fitful slumber. So, time is precarious and very precious. I have to jump on this immediately. Keep my head. Stay clear. Do not panic.

You see, at this point, there is really not much available for me to do. I think I’m already considered kind of a miracle case…a success, at the very least. No one really expected me to survive this long. First breast cancer, involving my lymphatic system, and then, three years later, an indolent, incurable blood cancer displays, having been there all along, hiding way beneath the surface, for probably, oh, ten or fifteen years. Another positive aspect, however: You cannot imagine how much this explains! Mostly that I’m NOT crazy!!

That’s when the first fund raiser went up. So amazing. I’m still reeling from it. You are amazing and I love you.

I am not the person who fears death so much that I would travel into the jungle to find the guy I read about in the National Enquirer who reaches into your abdomen and pulls out a chicken liver. I mean, I want to live, don’t misunderstand. I want to live so badly and I will be so sorry to leave this world when it is my time to go. Life is fantastic. It’s not always easy, but it’s fantastic. Isn’t it? Isn’t this one amazing ride?

I don’t think it’s time yet for me to go, yet. I still have so much to do. Maybe everyone feel that way. It’s never the right time, is it?  But…I really do have so much more to do. I have a one woman show to write and a film I want to make about how my Dad died in a fiery car crash when he was 27 years old. I have grandchildren, a new one coming in the summer! I teach them things. Things no one in the world can teach them, but me. They need me. My mom is in her 80’s. She has become a child again. She plays with the same stuffed animals that my grandchildren play with. She needs me, too. My kids, my Larry. How will I ever leave them? How do you get to a place where you are all right to go? What does it take? Who do I think I am, anyway? Someone special? How come I get to live when so many others do not? I will never stop asking these questions. I will die asking these questions.

So, there is a treatment that my naturopathic oncologist, Dr. Walter Lemmo, and I have discussed, that we think can work. CAN work. We don’t know if it WILL. Think of it this way: Cancer likes sugar. A lot. We make the cancer vulnerable by starving it, and then we lure it with sugar and then we kill. Kind of sneaky. It’s war, though. All’s fair in love and war. Yes?

Once you get cancer, I think you always have it. I mean, you had it before, but your immune system was strong enough to fight it. If an immune system is weakened, the mechanism that usually fights the cancer breaks down. Then you get it. The issue, then, is how one LIVES with cancer. My own experience has taught me that Transformation, and nothing less, is what is necessary if one desires to stay alive. And, even then, there are no guarantees.

For me, there were many transforming moments. I know that I am not the same Babz that had a mastectomy six years ago.

I spend a lot of time thinking about Death. Life and death. This is a great gift. I never allowed myself to think about it before. In fact, I avoided it. Who wants to think about death? But, now, I find I’m grateful to be able to contemplate my death. It has informed my life, and I’m glad for so many things that have happened. The abundance in my life is staggering. I’m even, well, especially, grateful for the challenges and difficulties, for I’ve been blessed with so many insights and revelations.

These treatments are very expensive. I will need three treatments a week. For a year or two. We are going to start with three months, and then re-evaluate the situation. Do some diagnostic tests and assess things. I will share all my thoughts and observations with you. Involve you all as much as I can. There will be miraculous things that happen. Imagine being involved in a miracle! I believe in things like that. Maybe we will discover a way to cure cancer. I am hopeful. I believe that if I can get these treatments, then I can survive. I want to be able to teach what I know about cancer, what I’ve learned, to others. It breaks my heart to know that some people are terrified when they find out they have cancer. I was there, and I know how that feels. If only there had been someone to help me then. I would have suffered so much less. I want to be the person that says the right thing to a newly diagnosed parent, frightened by the idea of leaving children behind when death comes.  I think I can be of some help to that older person…the one who is in their eighth decade and is all alone. So frightened. I think I can help the person who fears death and lives with stress and panic.

This “Society” will be my legacy. I know that true Healing lives in the gestures of generosity that we make to alleviate the suffering of others. I know this because when I am speaking to one of the many people that call who have somehow received my number from someone and need counsel, I can feel myself getting better. I know this because I can actually feel my pain subside when I am speaking to a cancer patient who fears death. My hope is to become well. Then I can use the Babz Chula Society for the benefit of others. Artists who find themselves , like me, suddenly dealing with a critical illness. I never thought something like this would happen to me. I always figured I could sing or dance or act my way out of a crisis. Symbolically, of course.  I don’t know another artist who doesn’t feel the same way. And I know of no one who anticipates that something like this is going to happen to them. I pledge to be there for those who find themselves facing illness and death. I pray to be able to live long enough for that pledge to reach fruition. I thank you all for your support.

Babz Chula

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