Thursday, January 22, 2015

One in Three Will Get Cancer

Did you know that one in three people will get cancer over the course of their lifetime?  And that rate is rising every year.  Take a good look at the people around you and ask yourself, are you that one?

Did you know that with standard cancer treatment of chemotherapy, the five year survival rates are staggeringly low?   With the five most common adult cancers combined, the five year survival rate is 1.6%.  That's it.   Breast cancer isn't much better at 3.5%.   That is unbelievable to me.   Reference

And we are all, myself included last year, lead to believe that this is the only way we will survive.  We get treated with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, because that is the only option we are given.  It's this treatment or death.

Going through chemotherapy and surgery was literally torture, both mentally and physically.  To be stripped down to an unidentifiable science experiment is degrading, mortifying and just downright scary.  I lost my dignity.  I lost parts of my body that identify me.  I lost my physical strength.  I lost my income.  And worst of all, I lost my children.  And to find out now that it didn't have to be that way is infuriating.

Cancer comes from an imbalance in our body.  Toxins that damage cells outnumber what the immune system can handle.  It's simple.  Build the immune system, restore the balance.

Why is the survival rate for conventional treatment so low?  Because chemotherapy destroys the good cells with the bad.  There is no differentiation of normal vs cancer cells.  It kills the very thing we need to protect ourselves.  This is a fact.  And this is the reason that many people have recurrence of cancer within a short time of finishing treatment.

Just because I had complete response to treatment does not mean it will not return.  My body was obviously out of balance to create the cancer in the first place.  And now, after treatment, it's even further weakened.  That's why it's so important to bring in strong natural ways to build the immune system quickly.  Whether you choose to do chemotherapy or not, it's crucial to reverse the imbalance.

Many people in later stages of cancer are not given a break from treatment.  They remain on chemotherapy until their end, with doctors saying they are prolonging their life and giving them a better quality of life.  In my opinion, staying in a perpetual state of "miserable, but just getting by" is exactly where the money is for the pharmaceutical companies, a whole nation of people dependent on them to keep them sick.  Many will even give up and let the cancer take over.  It doesn't have to be that way.

There is another option, a better option.  There are natural cures all around us.  Not treatments, cures.  Getting your body in proper balance will cure and prevent not just cancer, but many systemic ailments as well.  We've become so dependent upon the next pill, that we've forgotten that we have everything we need right in nature.  And it doesn't cost millions of dollars.

Seriously, stay tuned and I will tell you everything soon....
  

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Basics of Cancer- In Layman's Terms

Original link to post

When I was diagnosed in September 2013 with very aggressive breast cancer, the first thing I did was start reading.  I needed to understand what was in my body, why it happened, what did treatment entail and what my prognosis was.  I spent hours, days, and weeks researching.

You would be surprised at the sheer volume of information and misinformation that is found on the internet.  And for the average person to wade through this, it's more than discouraging to say the least.  But I stuck with it.  I kept reading, and eventually, I worked my way through to a greater understanding of this terrible disease.  One thing I know for certain is, you can't believe everything you read on the internet, even by the government and pharmaceutical companies.  I think back to when I first started reading about cancer, and I was beyond terrified about what I was finding online.

Now, after over 7,000 hours of reading, researching, and even experimenting with my own body chemistry, this is what I have found to be true.

First, in theory, cancer is preventable.

If we control our sugar levels, build our immune system, and rid our body of the things that cause oxidative stress, then we can prevent cancer from forming.  How, you ask?  I talk about how cancer begins in a previous post called How Does Cancer Begin? 


Okay, now that we know the basics, what can we really do to help ourselves?

The truth is, sometimes we just don't know what causes toxic overload or oxidative stress in our bodies.  When we combine GMO food, processed food, beauty products, cleaning products, deodorant, soaps, environmental pollutants, medications, cigarettes, old dental work, and basically anything we come in contact with on a daily basis, we are making ourselves vulnerable.   Every time we breathe, we are exposing ourselves to toxins, moreso now than ever before in history.  Scary, huh?

So the goal should be to get these toxins out of our body before they start causing problems.  Who's responsible for that?  The immune system.   The job of the immune system is to send out white blood cells to find all those damaged cells and devour them.  But sometimes our immune system can't keep up with the demand or they're distracted.  Sometimes there are too many toxins in our bodies and the immune system becomes stressed.

But the biggest culprit of a weakened immune system is sugar.  I know people say, "Sugar feeds cancer", but this is not the function I'm talking about.  When we eat simple carbohydrates, processed foods, and sugary foods, not only do we have an overload of glucose in our blood stream to feed damaged cells, but our white blood cells get confused and absorb that sugar too.

When the white blood cells have too much sugar, it changes their ability to absorb damaged cells.  Their process is hindered for up to five hours at a time.  Unfortunately, because of the addictive nature of sugar, we may eat it far more often than every five hours.  So our white blood cells never really get a chance to do their most important work.

Did you know that we all have cancer cells in our body already?  Are we feeding them?  Are we encouraging them to grow by adding more toxins and withholding our immunity to them?

Great, so what you're saying is, I can't have any fun or eat any delicious food like steak and cake....

Well, in theory, we would all be using natural products, eating organic plant-based foods, and we would be running through fields of green grass and standing on mountain tops breathing fresh air.  How realistic is that on a daily basis?  We have become dependent upon convenience for food and rarely get our proper time in nature.  We have responsibilities, you know!

That said, we can try to create a better balance in our bodies by trying to include more plant-based foods and less sugar.  And we can reduce the toxins in our bodies by stopping smoking, shifting away from more chemical based products, and getting out in the sunshine and fresh air.  But there are some other natural ways we can help our bodies achieve a better balance.

There are plants found in nature that will clear our body of toxins and damaged cells.  There are natural immune boosters.  And most importantly, there are natural ways to prevent our body from going into sugar overload, even when we DO eat those delicious cookies.  These plants can even reverse damage that has happened within your body, including premature aging, diabetes and cancer.  These things in nature have been around for centuries and have little to no side effects.

Why don't doctors prescribe natural cures?

Doctors are governed by protocol.  They must do what the government has deemed appropriate care for patients whether it's good for us or not.  Sadly, just like the food industry giants, there is an overlap and inbred relationship between the government policy makers and pharmaceutical companies.  If they cannot make money on the medication, it is not prescribed.  And cancer is expensive!  My year of cancer was nearly $50k a month for chemo, and hundreds of thousands of dollars for surgeries. In total, my breast cancer was close to $400,000, and that came out of the taxpayers' money because I was on Medicaid.
This was me getting what they call the "Red Devil"

Why is this a big deal?  Because statistics show that with chemotherapy and radiation, the odds are not much better than going it alone.  It extends life in some cases, but many are left with debilitating problems and subsequent cancers from treatment.  I remember signing a statement before getting my first chemotherapy that said I understood I could get bladder cancer from this particular drug.  Then the nurse suited up and warned that the drug will eat through skin if it touched it...as she was pumping it into my veins.  It's terrifying.

Why don't pharmaceutical companies promote natural treatments if they work so well?

Great question!  In my research, I have found that there have been many natural plants, herbs, fruits and vegetables that have tested as well as or even better than chemotherapy in clinical studies. And the best part is that they have little to no side effects.  When they find something that works and kills cancer, scientists get to work to determine what compound in this plant is responsible for the great results.  Then they try to extract that one compound and patent it.  The patent is where the money is.

But many of the plants found in nature that have cancer killing properties need to be in whole form.  ALL of the compounds working symbiotically is what kills the cancer cells.  When that happens, it's proof that it was created perfectly already.  However, that cannot be patented.  In cases like this, the pharmaceutical companies drop the study and move onto another that can potentially make money.

At the same time, the plants that they have proven to kill cancer in clinical studies are now suppressed.  We continue to trust that current chemotherapy and radiation treatments are the only way we will have our lives extended.  When you look at internet sites run by the large cancer societies, treatment centers or research facilities, they try to scare you away from any of these natural substances.  They say you will die if you take them.  Or they say they aren't effective despite what the clinical studies have proven.

So what are we supposed to believe?

Everyone has to do what's right for them.  And trusting your doctor to do the best thing for you is a big deal.  But at some point, you must question the safety of these toxic drugs.  At some point, you must look at what you are putting into your body and question, "Why this one? And will it kill cancer or just prolong my life?"  Start looking at ways you can actually get your health back, not just survive a couple more years.   Do I wish I had done this differently now that I know all of this?  Absolutely!

Had I known that I didn't have to torture my body and put my future at risk, I would have gone a natural route.  There ARE natural plants, herbs, fruits and vegetables that will cure cancer.  There ARE ways to get the body's chemical balance back in line.  There ARE ways to get healthy by not spending half a million dollars.

Don't be swayed by all the scare tactics by pharmaceutical company propaganda.  These cancer killers do not have to be toxic to our body.  If I had given the natural treatments a month of experimentation before signing my life over to seven rounds of toxic chemotherapy and five surgeries, I feel I would be in a MUCH better place right now.  I just didn't know what to take and why.  But that's what I know now!  And you all get to benefit from my hard work.

Okay, you keep talking about all these amazing things that work, but what exactly are they?

After thousands of hours of research, I've put together a list of what I feel are the most important cancer killers.  Some things rid the body of free radicals, damaged cells, toxins and block oxidative stress within the cells.  Some things prevent spikes in blood sugar, thus preventing sugar from overfeeding the cancer cells and white blood cells.  And there are some things that promote immune system health.  ALL of them are from sources found in nature!

I will be posting all of those soon, so stay tuned....

Friday, December 12, 2014

What Does Breast Cancer Actually Look Like? IMAGES

Now that I am cured, I can show you my initial test results. When I found the lump in my breast and my armpit a year ago, I knew I had found something bad.  You'll remember I talked about that last year in this post.  I called Susan G Komen and got my diagnostic testing done.  Once the doctor confirmed that I had a lump, she scheduled me for a mammogram, even though she said it wasn't breast cancer.

Anyway, I talked about the mammogram, but couldn't explain very well what I saw at the time.  Now I have the actual images from my own mammogram and ultrasound.  What you will see is very dense breast tissue, which is all the white streaky area within the breast.  Second, what you may see is the indented area below the nipple.  That happened just in the time from finding the lump until seeing the doctor, which was approximately a week to ten days.  You'll also see tiny white micro-calcifications within the breast.  This was an indication that there may be a problem.

What you will NOT see on the mammogram are the SIX tumors I had in my breast.  Why?  Dense breast tissue. Remember that 59% of breast cancer is missed on mammogram because of dense breast tissue.

Easy to see the density of the breast and the indentation

Scattered white calcifications

Questionable density and at the top right are enlarged lymph nodes

Following this mammogram, I was immediately sent to another room for an ultrasound.  In that original post, I joked about this being the technician's lucky day, as she was training someone, and I was providing an excellent study.  The following images show what cancer looks like on an ultrasound.  The first is in my breast, and the second is in the lymph node in my armpit.   You can tell they are solid due to their grey color.  Fluid is black on an ultrasound.

This has an odd shape and grey color.
A cyst would be black and round in shape

Enlarged grey colored lymph node in axillary

That's a lot of cancer going on right there.
And several only formed in the prior week.
It was extremely aggressive and fast growing
KEEP IN MIND THAT EACH CM OF CANCER IS ONE BILLION CANCER CELLS

As I talked about in the original blog post, they found a total of six tumors in my right breast that day.  And several enlarged and grey lymph nodes.  They knew at that point it was cancer, but still had to do a biopsy to determine the type, grade, proliferation rate, hormone receptor and Her2 status.

One thing I did learn is that you are given a BIRAD number when you have a mammogram.  This tells you what you are dealing with.  Many women have a mammogram and wonder how it went.  Look at the bottom of your sheet when you leave, and you will see your BIRAD number.

BIRAD 3 means that the mammogram was normal
BIRAD 4 means that there is something suspicious, but not sure
BIRAD 5 means there it is 95% likely to be cancer
BIRAD 6 means confirmed malignancy/cancer

When I left that day, I already knew it was cancer.




When I went home, I looked everywhere on the internet, and there are only a couple images of mammograms or ultrasounds with breast cancer.  I don't know why they all want it to be a secret.  I find it helpful to see what it looks like and to know what was going on in my body.  I hope you do too.  

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Year of Enlightenment

This is it! Today was my very last treatment for breast cancer.  Since September of 2013, I have been making regular trips to the hospital's infusion lab to get treatments.  Initially it was for chemotherapy only.  And then in November of last year, alongside another four rounds of chemo, I began a year of Herceptin treatments, a specific protein blocker. Every three weeks I spent a couple hours hooked up to an IV that pumped this chemical into my body.    

The experience was more than just sitting there with an IV in my arm though.  I've come to know the wonderful nurses and staff that see patients day in and day out.  I love that they remember me and we can all laugh together, hoping to lift others around the room that are suffering through their own trials. Sometimes I see friends I've made, sometimes I see others nearing the end of their life, and sometimes I see the scared new faces of those just diagnosed.  I respect and acknowledge this dose of harsh reality that the world is not always kind or just.  And there are moments that I feel completely guilty for doing so well when others suffer.  I feel guilty for sitting there with my hair, my strength, and now having my health.

But here is what I remind myself.  I too suffered.  I fought an enormous battle for my life.  Not one single day of it was easy. That is not to be ignored, overlooked or diminished. Yesterday, I went back and read some of my posts from the thick of the storm, and I cried for what I suffered.  I never pitied myself while I was going through treatments.  However, to see now, to read my words with this new perspective, I am overcome with grief and sympathy for that woman.



Reading my words from my days of chemotherapy,  "... there were moments this day that I have never experienced in my life. And I actually wondered at the time if I was dying. I kept saying to myself, "Is this what dying feels like?", and I have to admit I was panicking a little. ", makes my stomach turn, because I remember the feeling.  I remember being so scared and feeling so alone in that moment.  Laying on my bathroom floor shaking, asking God if this was it, was utterly terrifying.

And then I looked back at my New Year's post, and how I said, "I know this is the beginning of a new year full of possibilities. Without this struggle, I would lose sight of all the small intricacies that make my life beautiful. I think this cancer is God's way of double-checking to make sure I want to be here, like a parent threatening to take back a gift from an ungrateful child. I get it. And I will fight every single day with all that I have, to prove that I want to be here. 

The pain will go away. The cancer will go away. And 2014 will forever be known as my Year of Enlightenment. It will be the year I started life over with a more grateful and empathetic soul. For others that have walked a path of turmoil and struggle, and come out the other side as a better person, you have my greatest respect and admiration."





As I read my own words of determination to win against this cancer and make this year something special, I now take a moment to look around at what I have.  First, I have the most amazing support system of friends, family and even strangers that look out for me, help me and guide me.  I value every single interaction, and I know that's what got me through the worst time of my life.  I have my children.  I'm still fighting a battle to get them home again, but when I see their faces, I am filled with so much love and strength.  And that means everything in the world.  It makes me want to fight even harder for their return home.


My perspective has also changed over the course of the past year for what type of energy I allow in my life.  I have defined not only what's important for me now, but what I want my life to become.  I no longer let negativity and stress get to me like it did in years past.  That's not to say it's not still present; it just doesn't affect me in the same way. I have surrounded myself with the people I want to emulate, the people that know that kindness, happiness and success come from helping others and not complaining or tearing others down.   

This shift in attitude, and my own self-esteem being raised by the sheer act of defeating my biggest enemy, cancer, has led me to even more wonderful things in my life this year.  Four months ago, I met a man that embodies all the characteristics I value to be essential in my life going forward.  He's humble, kind, compassionate, intelligent, funny and, like myself, is a jack of all trades....not to mention he's gorgeous. He amazes me every day with his thoughtfulness and unwavering support. I feel beyond lucky to have this man in my life, and know it's because my perspective enables me to recognize and appreciate who he is and what he offers on the inside. And he has the ability to see me in a way that I am now seeing myself, strong and beautiful.

Who would have thought of finding such a special person in the wake of something so horrific?  I think it was because I finally saw my own worth, allowed myself to be vulnerable, and had a little bit of help from some guardian angels.  Whatever it was that led him to me, I'm so very grateful and happy.



This past year of cancer has scarred me, both mentally and physically, in massive ways.  At the same time, it has given me more strength, self-esteem and character than I ever thought possible.  I look in the mirror and see a woman that has conquered and withstood so many trials in her life, and I am still standing. I'm filled with love, compassion, gratitude and yes, even forgiveness.  2014 is not done, and I still have a multitude of things to accomplish before the end of the year.  But so far, I have done almost everything I planned.  I am many steps closer to becoming the person I want to be.  I am surrounded by the people that I want to influence me.  And I feel like things will all soon be in their right place.

SEPTEMBER 2013 


OCTOBER 2014 CANCER FREE

So in saying all of this, I am officially done with cancer as of today.  Seven rounds of chemotherapy, five surgeries and twenty-two infusions of Herceptin all in a year's time. Without guilt, I am standing proudly, ringing the bell, and saying, "I DID IT!"  No more treatments. No more cancer. That battle is over and every single one of you helped me win.  Free at last!!! AMEN!    




Hugs and love to everyone at the Infusion Lab!!! 

FREEDOM!


And as a reminder to you all:  Check yourself!!  Please.  Don't wait until they say you're old enough to do a mammogram.  Don't expect the doctor to find anything for you.  Don't avoid it because you're scared of finding something.  Every day I read story after story of women and men my age and younger finding cancer by self exam.  And there are record numbers of younger people getting diagnosed with breast cancer every single day. When they say early detection is the key, that means one single month or even a week can mean the difference between life and death for you.  Sound scary?  It is!  Cancer can grow as fast as you can breathe.  So please, stop what you are doing and do a self exam right now.... unless you're at work.  That might look weird.


Monday, September 29, 2014

I Came in Last and Still Won

This past weekend was the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure.   It was my very first 5K, and it was a significant experience as this was the completion of my one year of breast cancer.  If it weren't for Susan G. Komen Foundation, I would probably be dead by now.  They literally saved my life.

We showed up before dawn in Downtown Greenville, and it was a sea of brave women dressed in pink.  The survivors stood proudly on the baseball field in their respective sections of how long they have survived their breast cancer.  It was moving to be a part of this army, but also so sad to know that they have all suffered.


Gorgeous sunrise

That's me up there on the billboard

Some of the survivors on the field

Thousands of racers getting ready for the start


My friends and I joined to make it through this 5k together.  My boyfriend walking on a broken ankle, my friend Deana had a pulled glute muscle from a previous 5k, I had a pinched nerve, and my friend Kim's daughters were wearing cowboy boots.  We were all decked out in tutus, wigs and anything obnoxiously pink.  We were loud with laughter and oblivious to the constant passerbys.



By the halfway mark, we realized we were at the end of the pack of racers.  A quick look behind us, we realized that the sweeper ambulance was creeping slowly behind us, pushing us a little faster.   We even paused for a moment, debating the idea of leaving the race route and heading towards the farmers market.  But we stayed course, determined to make it to the end.


Yep, there's the ambulance


Under an hour to hit 2 miles!! 

As we finally approached the finish line, I look up and with complete shock, see my children waiting there for me.  I was immediately overcome with joy.  Previously, I was told that my daughter would not be allowed to walk with me.  And it was such a wonderful and unexpected surprise to see both my children there, homemade sign in hand, waiting to walk the last 50 feet with me.






As a team, we all strode across the finish line, the very last stragglers of the race.  As we were crossing the line, the race officials were behind us tearing down signs and moving tables.  Firemen waited patiently at the end though, just to hand me a pink flower.

I didn't care that we were the last people across that finish line.  We made it together.  And much like this past year of cancer, I couldn't have made it without the help of my family and friends.  I have spent the past three days with the happiest heart I've ever had.  I am a winner in every sense of the word.