Veteran fought in Afghanistan now fights brain cancer

Former gunner in the Marine corp, Casey W. has a fresh battle on his hands, Grade 4 glioblastoma with a survival rate of about 2.5%. HIs story is personal as this man is my son-in-law. I’ve witnessed his struggles with physical and psychological trauma. I’ve watched him strive to heal and deal with the legacy of war – the guilt, the grief, the terror. As if he hasn’t been through enough, he’s been dealt a horrible blow, this time with brain cancer.

Casey needs our help

Casey had his tumour removed 8 months ago. The doctors wanted him to go down the chemotherapy and radiotherapy route. Casey has good reasons why he’s not doing that as he explains below, even though that’s all Veteran Affairs is prepared to fund. Instead, he’s going down the natural therapies route, transforming his body into an environment toxic to cancer cells. There’s a lot involved in that, and ensuring that he isn’t putting any carcinogens down his throat is seriously hard work. He’s on a special diet. He takes a ton of supplements. He has ozone therapy and Vitamin C IVs. And so much more. The passion of this man is awe-inspiring. He’s on a quest for survival like no other. But it is not cheap. He’s looking for ways to cut the costs. A large part of that is purchasing distillation equipment so he can make his own remedies. But that equipment is also not cheap. This is why he needs our help. He’s set up this GoFundMe.

In his own words …

Hi, my name’s Casey. I have been given a 100% disability rating through the VA hospital. As a combat veteran I served two tours in the Middle East in the Marine Corps, and during that time I suffered some injuries and also was exposed to burn pits and other toxic chemicals. I worked and flew on CH-53E’s and was exposed to uranium on the regular as well as sucking down JP5 fumes for years. Now I’m raising funds to help with my brain cancer treatment. After years of going to the Veteran Affairs’ hospital emergency room and not being taken seriously and refused brain scans, it turned out I had a baseball sized tumor and was diagnosed with Glioblastoma multiforme. It’s a Grade IV cancer with a ‘terminal diagnosis’. After getting the tumor removed, it didn’t feel right in my gut to go forwards with chemo and radiation. After extensive genetic testing my suspicions were validated – I have issues with methylation and DNA repair, which means that chemo and radiation would do far more harm than good in my case. Every oncologist I have seen told me I wouldn’t make it as far as I have today. Its been 8 months since my brain surgery, and I know I will beat this. I have been waging war on this diagnosis since January 26, 2022, and love the challenge, but financially it is killing me. My wife and I dived into studying holistic treatments and have developed a treatment plan using IV therapies, herbal remedies, a fasting regime and strict diet. We invested in an infrared sauna and a hyperbaric oxygen chamber and are in the process of converting an old shipping container into a medicinal mushroom grow room as mushrooms are a big part of my cancer healing journey. Currently my treatments, supplements and diet are costing us $8,000 a month because the VA won’t cover the costs of anything outside of the ‘standard of care’. We are passionate about herbalism and have been foraging on our land for medicinal plants as well as growing our own. A core part of my treatment going forward will be these medicinal plants. Hence this fundraiser. I found a distillation kit that we can use to create our own tinctures and oils etc rather than continuously having to purchase these things from outside sources that may not be 100% organic, non gmo etc. The upfront cost for the kit is $12,000. The kit includes a 5L solvent rotary Vap, hot plate stirrer for decarboxylation, and supporting accessories for a much larger output from the company Agrify. This is too much money for us right now as we are struggling to pay for my existing treatments. Anything you can contribute to help out would be greatly appreciated. My plan is to create herbal and medicinal mushroom blends not only to heal myself but to offer to other cancer patients who wish to explore a holistic approach. So far, taking this holistic pathway, I am symptom free and feeling great. My plan is to stay this way and kick cancers ass. Many thanks for your contribution. Large or small, or simply sharing this around, it all helps. Love and Light my friends.

Casey W

Times are hard for most of us right now with cost of living hikes, so if you feel you can spare a few dollars, warm thanks in advance.

(this post was written with Casey’s permission)

‘Murder In Myrtle Bay’ by Isobel Blackthorn

Reviews don’t come any better than this!



When feature writer Ruth Finlay and her elderly neighbor Doris Cleaver visit an antique and collectibles market in the small town of Myrtle Bay, they get a lot more than they bargained for.

After Ruth’s old tennis coach is found dead, they discover that there’s no lack of people who harbor a grudge against the victim, and a tangled web of family ties and lies begins to unravel. But can Ruth and Doris find the killer in time to avert a second murder?

My Review

I have been a fan of Isobel’s work for a while now. I haven’t caught up with every book that she has written, which is something that I hope to rectify soon. I read the synopsis of ‘Murder In Myrtle Bay’, which is the first book in the series featuring Ruth Finlay, and I thought that it sounded just like the cosy mystery sort…

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Blog Tour: Murder in Myrtle Bay – Isobel Blackthorn

What a wonderful review on the Murder in Myrtle Bay book tour!

Bookshine And Readbows

*I received a free copy of this book with thanks to the author and Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources blog tours. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*

Blurb: When feature writer Ruth Finlay and her elderly neighbor Doris Cleaver visit an antique and collectibles market in the small town of Myrtle Bay, they get a lot more than they bargained for.

After Ruth’s old tennis coach is found dead, they discover that there’s no lack of people who harbor a grudge against the victim, and a tangled web of family ties and lies begins to unravel. But can Ruth and Doris find the killer in time to avert a second murder?

A quirky feel-good mystery laced with intrigue, Murder in Myrtle Bay is the first book in Isobel Blackthorn’s ‘Ruth Finlay Mysteries’ series. Set in small town Australia, it is a sure pick for any fan of…

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New Migrant Overwhelm?

Migration, permanent or temporary, from anywhere to anywhere is never easy. I’ve migrated from Australia, and I’ve lived in Fuerteventura for a full eleven days. What an eleven days!

First up, I’ve come from a cold grey winter to bright warm sunshine, the maximum temperates double if not treble what I’ve been used to. It was 35 in the streets of Puerto del Rosario yesterday, with 80% humidity. And I wilt in the heat. The large shopping mall there has it’s air-conditioning set at the government mandated 27 degrees. Two days after my arrival, I suffered mild heatstroke sorting out my new mobile phone, saved only by the actions of a good friend and large ice cubes wrapped in a hand towel. There’s a sign up now warning people about the heat in the shopping mall and I wonder if my ‘episode’ had anything to do with that – I had to sit on the floor of the store looking very ill while the mobile phone and plan got sorted. How embarrassing! And those things always take ages! (Anyone migrating from a cool climate would be advised to arrive in the winter.) But, I did get my phone and now have a Spanish phone number! What a novelty!

While I slowly acclimatise, I’ve also tackled the essential paperwork for the Padron certificate and then the TIE – foreign identity card. Then there’s the shopping, everything from towels to a fitness mat. All the things that wouldn’t fit inside the two suitcases I came with.

Even though I have lived in the Canary Islands before, it was a long time ago and there is a lot to adjust to. I am embracing all the differences, large and small, and the way things are here. I’ve switched off comparing here to where I’ve come from as there is nothing to compare. Besides, I think I enjoy a permanent romance with this island. Many do. For one thing, the Canary Islands have the best climate on earth, I believe. And of course there are the magnificent beaches. Most come for the beaches…

I came for the mountains, and the history and culture. For the slow pace of life. And so I can walk by buildings with facades like this:-

I’m finding the local majoreros very relaxed and easy going, friendly, and also cautious. Perhaps, a bit curious. Who is this newbie woman? Why is she here? More’s the point, why isn’t she in one of the resort towns on the coast, where almost all the other expatriates are? I’ve come for the solitude, not the sand. And not everyone eyes me with curiosity. When the assistant who dealt with my Padron application last week shook my hand and welcomed me to the town, my heart swelled in my chest.

Something else I enjoy here are all the sculptures. This one is situated at the southern end of the plaza in La Antigua.

Such sculptures are everywhere. I enjoyed some of the sculptures in Puerto del Rosario on my holiday here in 2020.

After eleven days, I feel privileged to be here. It’s been a long hard road though, involving many moments of intense doubt and cold feet, but I am so glad I persevered. Ahead of me is masses to learn, not least the language. Without it, I can’t begin to really understand the culture. I’m looking forward to the challenge. Meanwhile, natural beauty makes a big difference when it comes to adjusting to a new way of life and Fuerteventura has that in spades.

Canary Islands Here I Come!

Photo by JF Olivares

Back in June I wrote a post announcing I had submitted my residency application to live in Spain –

Since then, I’ve been waiting two months to write this post. Two months anxiously waiting for my residency visa, and a month of that in limbo after I moved out of my former home and went visiting family and saying my farewells. It’s been a very emotional time as I’m relocating halfway around the world. The hardest part has been saying goodbye to my beautiful cat of ten years. I well up every time I think of her. But taking her was not an option and I know she now has a lovely new mum and she’s really happy in her new home. Separation from loved ones is always hard and that includes our pets. Many times I thought I would never go through with fulfilling my dream because of her.

Anyone who has dealt with immigration knows how edgy the process can be. There’s so much doubt and uncertainty, and simply not knowing what’s happening and where things are up to. Having sold my home, I came up with a Plan B (and a Plan C, too), options I could implement that I would be reasonably happy with if my visa application was rejected.

When your life depends on the outcome, as is so often the case, the stress of waiting is truly oppressive and psychologically crippling. Thirty years ago, the Australian government issued me with a deportation order over a failed residency application so I do know a little of what that’s like. This time, as the weeks dragged by, I began to think I wouldn’t get the visa – that I had somehow mucked up my application, thought I met the criteria and didn’t. I even began to implement Plan B (the UK option). I had got as far as choosing a location in the UK and even a possible house to buy. I was all set to call the Spanish consulate and ask for my passport back because the whole process felt doomed. Then, just as I was poised, phone in hand to dial the consulate, the phone rang. It was the consulate, informing me of my success! I was so happy, I cried.

Right now the news is still sinking in. I’m about to become a resident of Spain. I hope to make that permanent. I can’t know what the future will hold, but I’ve known for a long time that I need to be where I feel I belong. That said, I know that just around the corner is a bit of a culture shock. Still, I’m resilient. I’ve lived in so many different places and managed to find my way. And I do have a lovely set of friends on the island already. My Spanish has come a long way, too, thanks to Duolingo.

I left Lanzarote in 1990 with a single blue travelling bag and a heart full of sadness. This time, thirty-two years later, I’m arriving in Fuerteventura with just two suitcases and a heart bursting with joy.

Wish me luck! I’ll let you know how I get on…

Six novels set in the Canary Islands

Book Review – The Beached Ones by Colleen M. Story

About The Beached Ones

Daniel and his younger brother grew up in an abusive home. Daniel escaped. Now an established stunt rider, he intends to go back to rescue his brother. But then one jump goes horribly wrong . . .

He recovers to find himself in Iowa, unscathed, yet his life has drastically changed. His best friend won’t answer his calls. Even his girlfriend is hiding something. Increasingly terrified, he clings to the one thing he knows: He must pick up his brother in San Francisco. In five days.

From the isolating fields of Iowa to the crowded streets of San Francisco, Daniel must fight his way through a fog of disjointed memories and supernatural encounters to face the truth and pay a debt he didn’t know he owed.

My Thoughts

The Beached Ones is a remarkable and beautifully written exploration of love and loss, friendship, family, damnation, redemption. Daniel, who has died whilst taking part in a motorbike stunt show, wakes up in a world that is familiar and yet different. He does not know that he is dead, cannot understand why most people ignore him. He is driven by a burning imperative: in a couple of days time, he has to pick up his little brother from a summer camp in San Francisco.

Much of the book is a dreamlike journey towards that end, full of disconnected incident, obstacles, frustrations and yearning. Interspersed are flashbacks of memory, through which the terrible truth of Daniel’s story is not only revealed to the reader but confronted by Daniel himself. In counterpoint to this, there is deepening but troubled relationship with an ex-girlfriend, one of the few people who can see him in his ghostly state. Supernatural components are important but not overdone. There are themes of suicide and the book may be an unwise choice for vulnerable readers, but it is ultimately a brave, redemptive and life-affirming story, both haunting and memorable.

About the Author

Colleen M. Story has worked in the creative writing industry for over 20 years. Her last novel, Loreena’s Gift, was a Foreword Reviews’ INDIES Book of the Year Awards winner. A full-time freelance health writer, she also publishes nonfiction books for writers including Your Writing Matters and Overwhelmed Writer Rescue. As a workshop leader and motivational speaker, she helps attendees remove mental blocks and tap into their unique creative powers. When not writing, she’s playing the French horn, walking, reading, and exploring the beautiful Northwest. To learn more, see her website (, motivational blog (, and mystical blog (, and connect with her on Twitter (@colleen_m_story).

Book Review – The Portable Nine by Pete Mesling

About The Portable Nine

Meet Davenport, also known as the Mad Marksman of Malta. He is a hunter. Not of game or fowl, but of men. What he hunts he finds, and what he finds he exterminates—until his trusty revolver fails him at a crucial moment in Italy, that is, leaving a job unfinished and his resolve shaken. Mistakenly thinking the blow has been struck, a criminal mastermind known as the Black Phantom performs a cruel act of retaliation. The once and would-be assassin has no choice but to reunite with a storied band of skilled mercenaries in an effort to exact revenge.

Davenport. Abel Hazard. Miranda Gissing. Dr. Joseph Intaglio. Mr. Bonnet. Twitch Markham. The Butcher. Lovinia Dulcet. Robin Varnesse. These are the Portable Nine. They operate outside the law, but they are not without a code of ethics. Outcasts all, they are heroes to the underdog and enemies of the ruthless. Intelligent and fearless, they will stop at nothing to see that their brand of justice is meted out.

My Thoughts

I’m glad I read the preface to this novel. One often doesn’t but this is a curious book and the narrative framing of the preface gives it a depth and a context that might otherwise have passed me by. It’s a book, as it seemed by the end, about loyalty and betrayal, and about what morality is. Take nine of the worst, most amoral characters you can imagine, who live by ruthlessly murdering others. Are they friends? Yes and no. Can such people have friends? Yes and no. Is there honour amongst them? Yes and no. Are they any better than the people they murder? Well… Yes and no. It’s a book, in short about ambiguity.

I did not like any of the characters but I certainly remember them. Nothing that they did was particularly endearing – a certain amount of looking out for each other is the best that I saw – but in some curious way I did engage with their project and wanted them to succeed. The gripping writing carried me on, and afterwards I thought a lot about the characters. The book opens a series that could move off in various directions. I hope they go on asking interesting questions, as this book does.

Book Review – Hag of the Hills by J.T.T. Ryder

I’m delighted to be a part of the latest Blackthorn Book Tour review of yet another good book!

About Hag of the Hills

Brennus is destined from birth to become a warrior, despite his farmer’s life. But when the Hillmen kill his family and annihilate his clan, he now has the opportunity to avenge those who he loved.

Brennus must survive endless hordes of invading Hillmen and magic-wielding sidhe, aided by only a band of shifty mercenaries, and an ancient bronze sword.

Failure means his family and clan go unavenged. Victory will bring glory to Brennus and his ancestors.

Hag of the Hills is a historical fantasy novel set in 200 B.C. on the Isle of Skye, steeped in Celtic mythology and culture.

My Thoughts

Hag of the Hills is a rare achievement: a novel that makes real people with living minds out of slivers of historical evidence from a time before written records. The author is an archaeologist, and his knowledge of that hard evidence is clear throughout the book, but he has also dived in imaginatively to fill in the gaps in our knowledge and create a plausible social world. It is a world where people not only lived and died very differently – the two being permanently intertwined – but also thought very differently, interpreted the world very differently.

There are supernatural elements : the story is being recounted by the main character to a bard, and the supernatural components make sense of his story for himself and his listener. At the heart of the story are two promises – a supernatural promise to the main character that he will achieve greatness, albeit at great cost, and a human promise by the main character that he will protect a young druid woman. The working out of these two promises comes with much action, less romance than one might expect, and a great deal of learning. A really satisfying read.

Moving to Canary Islands – When a Dream Comes True

photo be JF Olivares

It’s been a red letter week for me. After a six-week rigmarole pulling together all the necessary documentation for the Non Lucrative Residency visa to live in Spain (the new reality for all us Brits), I finally mailed the application. What a process! So much conflicting info online especially around translation and notarisation requirements. I wouldn’t dare make any statement about it in case I was wrong. I’m currently based in Australia, and it appears the Spanish consulate does things a little differently here, which might be a good thing, I’m not sure. And of course now that travel restrictions have been lifted on Fortress Australia and cruising is back on, everyone is scrambling to get their passport renewed and buy luggage. This meant getting an Apostille (same department as passports) proved painfully slow, and you can’t buy low-cost luggage except on eBay. Small frustrations, but they can pile up.

Reducing my possessions to two suitcases has occupied much of my time as well. Shipping is prohibitively expensive. But to start a new life with just two suitcases! At my age! I had the sense to start early with massive clear outs, and the organising of who is getting what of my furniture and what I can sell. It’s quite a process and not something I would ever want to do again. Funny thing though, for a lot of items once you get rid of something, you can’t even remember what it was.

I’m trying not to be awash with anxiety. This is my fourth attempt at this move. The first time back in 2017, when I came very close to buying a farmhouse in Fuerteventura, resulted in me writing another novel based there. No move. The second time was a dizzying period of uncertainty and cold feet, resulting in an interstate move in Australia instead. The third time, just six months later, saw the borders close on me thanks to Covid. I really was going to take a leap of faith. Instead, I moved interstate again. And then Brexit happened and I thought I would never get another chance. The door on Spain had well and truly shut. I had to resign myself to spending the rest of my days down under.

But real estate in Australia has gone barmy lately and thanks to soaring house prices and an unexpected and keen-as-mustard buyer wanting my place – it wasn’t even on the market – and a ‘cute as’ little flat for sale in Fuerteventura… Well, I did the maths and went, ‘Hell, yes!’ And then I went through weeks of stress and turmoil dealing with the Non Lucrative Visa process.

It’ll be worth it in the end.

And this time, there’s no going back on my decision. There’ll be no cold feet. I have no idea what it will be like living there, no idea what the future holds, but I do know the island has stolen my heart and I can’t live the rest of my life filled with longing, especially when my special place is halfway round the world from where I currently am.

I can’t wait to get there. Meanwhile, I’m giving Duolingo a run for its money, completing about 200 questions a day, putting my faith in the brainwash approach which does seem to be working. Last time I lived there I only spoke Spanish and developed a decent vocabulary, but I reckon I can improve on whatever standard I had reached back then which was pretty much centred in the present tense. When you get to my age you definitely need the past tense as well.

And thanks to an exciting opportunity with a large UK publisher, to start with, I’ll be spending my time in Fuerteventura writing books set in Scotland! Who knows when or if I will expand on my Canary Islands output. Maybe six novels is enough. Maybe not. I do have a few ideas…

Book Review: Riebeckite by O.R. Lea

About Riebeckite (Bruised Moon Sequence Book 1)

Dangerous spores gather on Earth after an asteroid strikes the moon. Humanity watches the skies…but the real danger is at their feet.

After an asteroid strike on the moon, a strange blue dust began to flow down through Earth’s atmosphere. It’s harmful to breathe, but at least the microscopic creatures within the dust are dormant. Or so we thought.

Tahira made a childhood promise to a friend that the crisis would bring their people together… before a violent riot tore their lives apart. Now, as an adult, Tahira works as a biologist for a corporation constructing experimental towers to force the spores—known as riebeckites—to germinate into harmless colonies.

Except they’re about to learn everything they think they know about the dust is wrong. The real threat isn’t the asteroid that struck the moon and by the time humanity figures it out, it might be too late.

Riebeckite combines suspense and conspiracy with heart-in-mouth action sequences and nightmarish encounters, all in an immersive near-future setting and, at its core, a heartwarming story of friendship against the odds.

My Thoughts

On the surface, this sci-fi novel is a remake of a familiar story – think Ridley Scott’s Alien. There is a strange off-earth creature with a curious life-cycle. It is potentially terribly dangerous to life on earth. Dark military powers are secretly working to weaponise it. They are playing with fire. So far so familiar. But this compellingly written drama offers a refreshing reboot of the genre. It is firmly based on earth, and built around a realistic understanding of geo-politics. It explores the likely response to a global ecological threat, in a way that has a poignant resonance in a world that faces several of these. Its central characters are intelligent, competent, principled middle-eastern women. All of the characters are three dimensional.

This is sci-fi for readers who are ready to grapple with our own world as well as escape into fiction. It is billed as the first of a three part series, and it will doubtless be worth reading the sequels. At the same time, however, it works perfectly well as a standalone. All in all, a terrific achievement. A well-earned 5-stars!

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