How I Chose My Breast Cancer Treatment, Conventional Or Alternative?
After being diagnosed, I was adamant about going the alternative route. I had to consider my lifestyle, beliefs and type of cancer. I thought about the amount of stress I had, what my fears were, what I could change, and what I had to work on to heal. I chose not to look at the cancer as an enemy, but as a good thing. The toxins in my body accumulated into a mass that I could feel. It got my attention, rather than circulating all over my body undetected.
During my online search for cancer survivors who took tried natural therapies, it motivated me more to stick to all-natural plan. People had success doing protocols with carrot juice, a maple syrup & baking soda regimen, the Budwig protocol, apricot seeds, essiac tea, high-dose vitamin C drips. They all sounded appealing because they are non-toxic with hardly any side effects.
So despite my very aggressive triple positive (ER+, PR+, HER2NEU+) hormone sensitive breast cancer, I continued to ignore my doctor's recommendation of conventional treatment, chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. I was told by different doctors that my type of cancer is “easier” to treat with conventional therapies.
My tumor continued to grow from 5cm x 3cm to 9cm x 8cm a year later. It took me over a year of trial and error of holistic therapy: reflexology, vitamin drips, supplements, meditation, etc before I made the decision to go the conventional route. Chinese herbs were the most effective of them all. My armpit tumors had shrunken down by 75% and it had only been four days. Had I known the Chinese herbs were that effective, I would have stuck with it for longer. By the time, I realized it was working, I had already left home to go to the Oasis of Hope hospital in Mexico.
My 4 week stay in Mexico did not change much. Then back at home, I began Herceptin, a targeted chemotherapy, and my tumor markers decreased by 25% every month for 4 months. But the improvement was trailing off. I started feeling more pain and more fatigue, which was out of the ordinary for me. It was very scary. After consulting with my integrative doctor and nurse, I was advised to do full dose chemo. It was only because someone from the "alternative" side strongly advised me to do this that I seriously considered it. It was the hardest decision I've had to make in my life.
I am currently on the last few rounds of chemo and there is some improvement. Although I am not seeing the results I had hoped for, the main tumor has shrunken considerably. I do regret not making this decision earlier (I used to. Regrets are useless anyway). But I needed to feel safe with my doctor and nurse and to trust that what they were suggesting wasn't to just make money off of me and I didn't have that until almost a year after the diagnosis.
During chemo, I had nausea for a short time, all of my hair fell out, I had insomnia, mouth sores that made it painful to eat, hot flashes, fatigue and more, but I had been anticipating even worse. I've come across some natural remedies to cope with the side effects of chemotherapy. What was terrible about the Taxotere-Herceptin-Perjeta mix, was that had taken a lot for me to even decide on doing it and it didn’t help me. So my oncologist suggested trying another chemotherapy.
I had to start the process all over again and mentally prepare myself and stay open to the possibility that this 2nd type of chemo could help. I was switched to TDM1/Kadcyla and continued to incorporate complementary therapies. I changed my lifestyle. I focused on a healthy diet. Getting sick really forced me to change the way I eat. It made me question a lot of foods for a long time, it took some sorting out. Now, I feel I am finally in a place of control over cravings and clear on what is and isn’t good for me.
I also did acupuncture regularly, forcing myself to go even though I was exhausted. I did daily coffee enemas for 4 years. They helped with the pain and fatigue. I relied on it for a long time, but I’m happy to say I’ve transitioned off and all is well. I even had a colonoscopy done and my reports came back clear. I was slightly worried that they would do me harm, but the doctor said everything looked fine, there was no polyps or anything to be removed.
I’ve focused on gratitude, mindset. I even thanked the cancer for showing me what is important through sharp stabbing pain in my breast as I sat and meditated while tears ran down my face. I had a lot of faith that things would work out in the end.
In the beginning, I was set on a specific way that I wanted to heal from cancer. But it’s almost like I had to face the scariest thing in my mind, which was to do chemo, get through it (twice). It was like a test of my faith and will.
By my third infusion, all of the tumors were gone. The lesson I learned was to be open to the fact that I may not like what I hear, release my fear by crying it out and abandon the belief that ONLY doing holistic therapies is the right way. It was the goal that mattered, not how it happened.
I’ve tried half of these therapies listed below at one point or another and I’ve been the most consistent with acupuncture, chiropractic manipulation, diet of mostly vegan/vegetarian, guided imagery, massage, meditation, natural products and yoga. I stopped herbal therapy with a Chinese healer too soon and realized there was significant tumor shrinkage by the time I left the country.
It wasn’t until I found the book, Medical Medium by Anthony William, that I got clear guidance on what to eat and do. More than any other source, I follow and trust his advice as much as I can. I recommend these books for natural therapies to complement your treatment.