In June of 2019, I discovered I had HER2 Positive Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Stage 3. As if the name wasn’t scary enough, they found four tumors in my right breast and the cancer had spread to some of the lymph nodes under my right arm. Termed aggressive. And I was afraid.
Many nights during those initial weeks, I jolted awake in sheer terror wondering if this diagnosis meant the end. But time and again, as I leaned deeper into my spirituality, I was lovingly guided with the same message: I was going to be OK. My healing journey would be used one day help others.
Armed with my faith and the belief in the body’s innate ability to heal, I stepped into the unknown. I took an active role, knowing that traditional Western medicine's treatment of my physical condition was only one piece of the equation. I had to get to the heart of it. According to author and podcaster, Dr. Rangan Chatterjee, chronic disease doesn't just happen. By the time doctors give a diagnosis, things have been going wrong for a very long time.
My life was out of balance. In addition to a wonderful team of medical doctors, I needed to begin healing emotionally, spiritually, and energetically. And thus, I enlisted the help of talented practitioners who heal the body and spirit in ways that medicine can't touch.
By not allowing the fear of data & statistics to overpower my instincts, I forged ahead with my gut and God as guides. I was fortunate that my type of cancer had a targeted treatment similar to immunotherapy. And for those researchers who developed the drugs Herceptin and Perjeta in 2012, I will always be eternally grateful. Unlike chemotherapy, which attacks every rapidly dividing cell in the body, this treatment directly targets cancer cells. Most importantly it works with the immune system, not against it.
The standard protocol was to combine this targeted treatment with chemotherapy, a mastectomy, and radiation. To all of which I said no. I wanted the targeted treatment alone. And amongst raised eyebrows by some in the medical field and in those around me, I began.
In conjunction with a radical new diet, an arsenal of supplements, Chinese medicine, acupuncture, Reiki, deep inner emotional and spiritual healing, and prayers from so many...
5 months later the results were in:
My lymph nodes were back to normal and my tumors, gone. As a recent update: In July 2020 my scans were still clear.
I believe, without a doubt, that my rapid healing was a combination of traditional & alternative medicine, diet, supplements, and the hand of God in my willingness to be broken in order to break through. I’ve always known cancer came to heal me in many ways. And still is. Healing unravels in layers over time. The physical results were the beginning. I'm still walking my journey.
As I write the first section of this blog in the present looking back, I see clearly how, even in the midst of chaos and uncertainty, everything was Divinely orchestrated. And while my healing may be unique to my body, I have always known that this journey was never meant for me alone. It is my hope to be the light in someone's darkness.
The Next Chapter (or The Second Beginning!)
As my follow-up tests continued to be clear, in August of 2020, I relocated and started a different career. Even though I enjoyed my work, I had added two big stressors in my life: moving and a new job. My body was under tension from all the changes. In addition, I was still processing and healing childhood emotional trauma. As many outside of the medical profession had told me, my cancer had deep emotional roots. Medically, I had opted out of a mastectomy and ended treatments early. Were there still microscopic cancer cells lurking?
We'll never know the why? But one thing was clear: I still had work to do. After a routine MRI in Decemeber of 2020, I received the shocking news that the cancer had returned.
The loss I felt was devestating. I felt betrayed by my body and all that I believed in.
In the words of a dear friend:
“All that you learned last go around, you can apply now. First and foremost, trusting yourself. Trusting that there is a higher purpose. Trusting that this is just one more layer of the proverbial onion. Healing is rarely linear, but often a bumpy, messy journey.”
I look back at those words as prophetic. In the next part of my journey, I had to lean into my faith and trust myself like never before. As you will read in my blogs, it was Instinct Against Imaging. I knew (and could feel) my treatments were working, but the imaging showed no difference. Confounding.
I had healed quickly the first time. Why did it seem that it wasn't happening again?
A team of respected physicians, radiologists and surgeons were telling me one thing, when I believed something else. How could I be right? Bouts of terror and indecision racked my life. Chemo was my next option, and I was fervently against it.
And for the first time in my whole cancer experience, I doubted myself. I now better understood how it felt to be powerless. Debilitating to the body and spirit. I was shutting off my own voice. Giving up.
How many thousands of cancer patients felt that way too?
But me being me, I rallied! I continued on with treatments because I truly believed they were working. And they were! After my mastectomy, the breast pathology showed 1mm of cancer left in the breast (a pencil point). The confusion on the imaging had arisen from scar tissue and other past treatment aspects.
I write this four months after my surgery. I am undergoing immunotherapy treatments for a little longer, but now they are only for preventative purposes. I've been told that my prognosis is excellent and my doctors are thrilled.
So, is this the end? I hope its the end of cancer! Yet, it's not the end of my story. For in many ways, it's a new beginning. A new way to live. A new way to heal. And I will be continuing to share this all with YOU!