(This post is a continuation from The “C” Word – More of the Cancer Story.)
I continued with the lifestyle changes that I made, went on a maintenance supplementation program, and lived my life. I felt as though I had been given a second chance. I noticed things that I had taken for granted for so long – the laughter of my kids, my husband’s handsome smile, the stark white clouds against a bright blue sky. It seemed as if the cancer target had been taken off of my back and a weight was lifted from my shoulders.
About a year later, it was time to retest. Throughout this time, I had been using two different means of testing. About every six months, I had an ultrasound by a company called Her Scan. They specialize in breast cancer ultrasound screening, which is known for being safe (no radiation) and extremely proficient for early detection. The second means I used was blood testing to keep tumor markers in check and see whether or not cancer cells were multiplying.
I passed the HerScan with flying colors, but the results of the latter test was disappointing, to say the least (enter…the aforementioned target and weight). It turns out my tumor markers were up from last time. We decided it was time to resume Vitamin C infusions, up my cancer protocol and retest in three months.
Vitamin C infusions have been an emotional ride for me. I did them early on after the initial diagnosis. Vitamin C has been shown to be beneficial for several reasons, one of which is killing cancer cells. Another important function is Vitamin C boosting the immune system. The IV delivery allows the Vitamin C to bypass the gut and go right into the bloodstream. Win-Win. My issue early on with infusions – and this is truly not a criticism but just my own emotional struggles – was trying to come to grips with the fact that I was a cancer patient. The place where I did infusions early on scheduled people on certain days for infusions, so I would share a room with several cancer patients – most of whom wanted to talk about the very thing that I didn’t – cancer.
I know this sounds heartless, but I’m just being real here. I didn’t want to identify with them. I didn’t want to be sick. I didn’t want to have cancer. I didn’t want to hear another cancer story. I was struggling so greatly with fear at the time, even a well-meaning statement or story would be replayed in my mind countless times.
There were days I toted my IV pole into the bathroom and had a good, long cry.
I did come to know and love many of these people. We were a community fighting for the same thing – to beat cancer and live life. I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve been in the autoimmune community for a long time. It’s a great group of people who understand the issues that surround autoimmune disease and accompanying food allergies – both from a physical and emotional aspect. But admittance to the cancer community was very different. It was an invitation I never wanted and struggled to accept.
As I was awaiting my results from the next marker test, I met a man at infusions named Barry. He was very sweet but one of those who talked openly about cancer. He was so confident and hopeful. It really struck me about him. He blatantly asked me one day if I was there because I had cancer. I felt queasy inside, but answered him with a short explanation. I won’t go into the intricate details, but bottom line, I spent the rest of the day either in the bathroom or in my car with my IV bag sandwiched in my sunroof sobbing my eyes out.
He had given me the name and number of his doctor and his last words to me were “there’s so much hope out there for us”. Being the “cup is half full” kind of person that I am (big eye-roll) I kept the number, but feared needing to use it.
The next test result wasn’t good. I decided to take Barry’s advice and call his doc. She talked to me for thirty minutes without charging me and I got off the phone with more hope than I’d had in over two years. The first thing she wanted me to do was to get the book by Jenny Hrbacek, R.N. entitled Cancer Free Are You Sure?
The doc explained to me that we are in an amazing time to have cancer. She said the science and studies are so much clearer and with proper testing, protocols can be targeted to address the exact cancer cells that each individual has.
WHAT? You mean my breast cancer cells are different from another woman’s breast cancer cells? YES. I had never heard this before. But it makes a lot of sense. Why does treatment work on some cancer patients but not others?
Another important issue the doc pointed out was that it’s not just tumor cells with which we need to be concerned. We need to know my circulating cancer cell counts. This test shows how many cancer cells are circulating in your blood per mL.
In fact, I don’t want to spoil the intro for you, but Jenny Hrbacek talks about this very thing in Cancer Free Are You Sure? as she shares her own cancer journey. I usually tend tend to run away from cancer stories, but found hers to be both encouraging and inspirational.
So, all of this said, there were some “non-negotionables” that this doc had in order for me to work with her. She explained that she wants the best results for her patients. Working with cancer patients for more than 30 years, and having been able to talk to Barry at length on the phone about his experience with her, I figured she knew her stuff.
The non-negotiables consisted of a few things, but the two I’m going to mention here are:
- dealing with dental work
- proper testing
I’m going to talk about these two in more detail in my next post. I see this has gotten so wordy, I fear I have put my audience to sleep…
Tune in next time!