Frequently Asked Questions
Hi there. So you know how so much of what someone says is how they say it? Their tone? Well, I want to tell you what my tone is because you can't hear it.
First of all, it's gentle. Oh. So. Gentle. You'd be hard-pressed to get me to talk anybody into something. I'm just sitting here like a sweet, hardback book. If you want to read what I have to say, keep going. If you don't want to read what I have to say, then put me on the shelf for later... or give me to the thrift store.
Second of all, my tone is casual. I'm not YELLING at you. Okay? Grab a glass of iced tea or a cup of hot tea and let's chat. That's all we're doing is chatting. Yes, it's a little one-sided because I can't hear you when you talk back to the screen, but I'm just letting you in on a slice of my life.
Third of all, I do my best to be witty and make you laugh. If that happens, great! If it doesn't, don't worry, I won't quit my day job (*wink*wink*).
For years I've told my clients that my suggestions are just that, suggestions. Take what you like and works best for you and leave the rest. I won't be offended in the least. Cherry-pick a supplement I mention here or a meditation practice I talk about there. And using a grain a salt can work wonders as well. And again, if you haven't read "Newly Diagnosed with Cancer? 5 Things I Wish I had Known" yet, do that first!
What is the purpose of this site?
Since I'm focused on living my life as well as I can in my body, mind, and soul, I want to share with you the paths, tools, and ideas that have helped me on the journey after a diagnosis of cancer. For those of you who are finding this information and site helpful and a breath of fresh air... wonderful! If this site pisses you off or makes you feel scared or anything that is not strengthening, encouraging, and comforting... then you might be better served finding a different place. No worries. If I can decrease the amount of time you feel panic by just one minute, I'll consider that success. Seriously.
What's the best way to find information on this site?
Poke around and look through the blog posts. There are tags and categories to help you find what you want. Also, there's a "Search" button at the bottom of every page... so if you want to see everywhere something is mentioned, just type that in... like "mastectomy" or "prayer." And keep checking back here. My creativity and writing usually happens in bursts.
Will what you do to treat your cancer work for me?
No. I mean, well maybe... but no, not really. If you followed each step in my journey and did everything I did, then you'd be doing things you didn't have to and not doing things you should do. We're all so different! Your path will be your path and might involve working with a shaman in South America or being involved in new clinical trials or doing that one thing that you keep putting off doing. If some of the steps I'm sharing encourages you to do more steps on your journey, I love it!
You were only given a diagnosis of Stage 2 cancer. Mine is Stage 4. I don't think you can offer me anything.
You might be right. I can only imagine that a diagnosis of Stage 4 cancer would feel very different from Stage 2. I think many of the tools that I list in this post are applicable to everyone. When I was first given the diagnosis of cancer, I did not want to talk to anyone diagnosed over the age of 50 or maybe 40. I thought, "I'm young! I want kids! I want to continue doing the job I've just started!" So if you don't think I can offer you anything, then please go find someone who can. They're out there!
Do you think everyone given a diagnosis of cancer should decline chemotherapy & radiation?
Nope. That would be like me saying I think everyone should be vegan or Paleo or gluten-free. Eat what you want, people! (Here's my blog post about that topic in particular: "Hey Everybody... I'm Diet Queer*.") Also, I'm not a doctor. I work with a fabulous oncologist and think everyone should have a heath care provider overseeing their care. It's great when that relationship is built on trust... my doctor knows I'm not going to skip town on her and I know she's never going to give me any sort of "I told you so" speech.
Ask questions! Lots and lots of questions. And do your best to understand the answers. Dr. Kelly Turner says in her book Radical Remission that "Radical Remission survivors are the ‘annoying’ patients who do not automatically do whatever their doctors tell them to do."
Hi there! This is me waving at you with a smile on my face. Did my doctors think I was kind and funny and respectful? Yes. Did they also endearingly think I was a bit annoying? You betcha. From my experience, most (not all!) doctors want us to just do what they say, to just trust them, to just leave so that they can meet with their next patient so that they can eventually go home like the rest of us. I had that stereotypical "list of questions" at each appointment. I listened with respect to their answers. When I knew that a partnership with a doctor wasn't going to work, I found someone else.
During her documentary, Kris Carr of Crazy Sexy Cancer "conducts her search for an oncologist almost as if she were conducting a job interview. She makes it clear that what she does not want is a doctor that will focus on the negative aspect of her illness, and instead searches for a doctor that will support her in her plan to live her life to the fullest." I love that! You find doctors who will work for you.
When it comes to any treatment options, ask questions. Look at the specific drugs they want to use. Look at the side-effects (like possible heart damage and chance of a secondary cancer like leukemia, or permanent skin and nerve damage). Ask how long and how many treatments you'll get. Ask how this treatment will affect your mortality... this is "doctor-speak" for your length of life... and ask how this treatment will affect your morbidity... this is "doctor-speak" for your quality of life... it sometimes helps to talk their language.
If I've already used chemotherapy and/or radiation, is it possible for my body and immune system to recover and heal from those treatments?
Absolutely! The body is resilient. Working with a Naturopathic Doctor or other holistic practitioner to do a specific detox plan for you would be ideal. It might involve heavy metal chelating, certain vitamin and nutritional supplements, and other lifestyle changes. Rebuilding the immune system is probably what you'd be focusing on.
I'm so angry at insurance companies and the FDA and the doctors I see and the scientists that do these studies and corporations and... and... and... Why don't you talk about any of that?
Cool. I get it. It can be really frustrating. I don't talk about it because that's not what I'm called to do. I feel called to bring the alternative cancer treatments that are "crazy" and "out there" more mainstream. Lots of them have been studied but no one's talking about them. And in comparison to the effectiveness studies done on chemotherapy, the option to decline chemotherapy can be made on scientific evidence, not just "I think I'm going to go out on a limb here and hope for the best." (1)
I'm more interested in getting the information out there about treatments that could give us decades of good quality life, not just 5 or 10 extra years of dealing with lots of side-effects life. I want to increase my life, not prolong my death. But that's just me. Me. That's what I want. And there are lots of people talking to me and asking me about this information. So that's what I'm talking about and focusing on here.
For example, in a Clinical Oncology journal published in 2004, there was this article: "The Contribution of Cytotoxic Chemotherapy to 5-year Survival in Adult Malignancies" by Graeme Morgan, Robyn Wardy, Michael Barton. This is what I found really, really interesting:
The ﬁve most common adult malignancies (colorectal, breast, prostate, melanoma and lung cancer) accounted for 56.6% of the total incidence in Australia in 1998. In this group, the 5-year survival rate due solely to cytotoxic chemotherapy was 1.6%. [In my words, chemotherapy will help 3 out of 200 people diagnosed with those cancers to still be alive 5 years after being diagnosed.]
The minimal impact on survival in the more common cancers conﬂicts with the perceptions of many patients who feel they are receiving a treatment that will signiﬁcantly enhance their chances of cure. In part, this reﬂects the presentation of results as a ‘reduction in risk’ rather than as an absolute survival beneﬁt [89,90] and by exaggerating the response rates by including ‘stable disease’.
The best example of the ‘over-selling’ of chemotherapy is in breast cancer, where chemotherapy was introduced as the example of the new cure for solid malignancies. In Australia, in 1998, only 4638 of the 10661 women with newly diagnosed breast cancer were eligible for adjuvant chemotherapy [given after surgery] (44% of total). From our calculations, only 164 women (3.5%) actually had a survival beneﬁt from adjuvant chemotherapy. In other words, on average, 29 women had to be treated for one additional woman to survive more than 5 years. [Or in my words, of 90 women diagnosed with breast cancer, 87 women received no benefit one-way-or-the-other from chemotherapy after surgery and 3 women survived more than 5 years because they received chemotherapy after surgery. The problem today is that doctors don't know which 3 of those 90 women will benefit from chemotherapy, so everyone is given the message that you "must" receive chemotherapy.]
Notwithstanding, several studies have justified adjuvant chemotherapy in early breast cancer by showing that women are willing to undertake treatment for a very small benefit .
This "very small benefit" they discovered in their research is why I declined chemotherapy after my mastectomy. My decision was actually evidence-based! However, I didn't find this study until 4 months after I had already made my decision, but if I had seen this shortly after I was given the diagnosis, it would have given my research-oriented mind the information it was looking for. But who knows... maybe it was one of the first steps towards learning what my intuition sounds like and feels like. (*hint*hint*nudge*nudge)
If you have peace and feel like chemotherapy is the best choice for you... DO IT! I'm sharing my journey but it's finding the steps of your journey that are most important. If you love your doctor and what he/she is telling you, then you're making the best choice for you.
Ummm... what if what you're doing doesn't work? What if the cancer comes back or spreads?
Before I left the US for alternative cancer treatment in Germany in August 2015, I said that preventing cancer recurrence and metastasis was my full-time job. Both of those ideas were quickly thrown out the window after talking with my doctor there. The goal isn’t to prevent recurrence. The goal can’t be to prevent recurrence. It’s impossible. It’s torture and folly to set up something like that because I’ll have to live each moment in vigilance: there’s a contest, a race, with only 1 winner and 1 loser. I can’t rest. I can’t sleep. I can’t relax or "it" will win. It’s too much pressure… way, way, way too much pressure to try and prevent recurrence. To live this way means that if cancer returns, then I failed, I did something wrong or didn’t do something right.
Of course many around me think that preventing recurrence is the goal so that I live a long, healthy, and generally happy life. I think right now the goal is actually to be present to as many moments of life as possible. Not all of them, sometimes I need to daydream or be absorbed by a book or zone out with a movie, but most of them. So I’ll say and ask others to join me in praying, “Yes, I want to prevent recurrence and in the meantime be present to each moment and hope that it ends up manifesting a long, healthy, and generally happy life.” I can do that, but to try and prevent recurrence… blech. So I say to myself as often as I can throughout the day, “I am happy!”
I focus on creating my own quality of life in hopes that it leads to a long length of life.
In addition to this mindset, I incorporate many things: supplements (like probiotics, concentrated Green Tea extract, Cucurmin) and vitamins (like D3, E, K2, and selenium), infrared saunas, daily exercise, rebounding, mindfulness practices, Vitamin C IVs, B12 (methylcobalamin) shots, high dose Iodine, Ozone Therapy, Rife machine frequencies, heavy metal chelating, apricot kernals, Mistletoe injections (TBD), Family Constellation work, acupuncture, massage, reflexology, Healing Touch, chakra healing, cranial sacral therapy, EMDR, one-on-one counseling, going to the symphony, and reducing EMFs (electro-magnetic frequencies) in my home. I already eat a plant-based organic diet (ewg.org/foodnews/list.php); keep my home free of toxins (ewg.org/research/dirty-dozen-list-endocrine-disruptors) like those found in conventional laundry detergent, soap, and household cleaners; and filter my water (zerowater.com).
So if the cancer were to return, we'd cross that bridge then... not now... and certainly not living each day thinking if or when we might cross that bridge. In March 2016 (9 months after I was given the diagnosis of cancer), I was involved in a car accident. A guy driving at 45mph was texting, ran a red light, and hit me in my driver's side door. Thankfully I only had minor neck pain, but did experience some pretty intense emotional after-shocks. I was very loudly and violently reminded by the crash of the accident that we can die from lots and lots of other things beside cancer. Yay...?!?!
Can I give you my 2 cents?
Over the years a few people have fearfully approached me in person or virtually about my spiritual beliefs and practices. If what I write or believe evokes strong feelings in you, "Please look inside and get curious about whether those feelings have more to do with you and your life than they do about me and mine" (Glennon Doyle Melton at Momastery). And instead of approaching me, please take your fear, worry, and concerns to God.
In addition to that, I've researched like crazy and tapped into my intuition to create what I believe is the best treatment plan for me right now. I'm always up for learning new treatment protocols, but if I were to incorporate every "natural magic bullet" that cures cancer, I'd have no time to sleep, be broke, and be doing things that contradict each other ("Do a Ketogenic diet!" versus "Do a raw vegan diet!"). So I'm open to suggestions... and I trust/respect the treatment decisions others' have made and ask that you do the same for me.
Who is Gracie Goose?
She's my niece! I was there for her water birth in 2014 and had the honor of cutting the cord. It took a few days of playing with her nickname, but I finally landed on Gracie-Goose and everyone loves it as well. I Skype with her regularly, we have lots of crazy pics of her, and she brings *joy* to everyone she meets!
PS - In 2017, I was also there for her little brother's water birth and again had the honor of cutting the cord. His nickname is Asher-Roo!