I have known Cathy since the 9th grade. A few years ago she was diagnosed with cancer. She wrote the following blog because she felt it was a life lesson that was worth sharing, especially since she was being approached by numerous friends and strangers who wondered how she beat cancer and was able to have a healthy baby after undergoing chemo treatments. Here's her story in her own words. - Paula
Four years ago I was diagnosed with stage 2 appendix cancer. I was only 37 years old at the time, a mother of 2 young children, a 5-year-old girl and 9-year-old boy, and at the peak of my career. Luckily for me, they surgically removed the tumour, but recommended I undergo chemotherapy treatments catered to colon cancer (the most harsh and aggressive therapy) since there were no known treatments for my type of aggressive cancer, and there still may be some cancer cells left behind. When I reached out to cancer organizations to find out more about the type of cancer that I had and what I could do about it, they told me they didn’t have any information for me because it was so rare. Even my oncologist told me that my cancer was a grey area, and they didn’t know if treatments were even going to work for me. So I took matters into my own hands and did a lot of research on my own. After 4 rounds of treatment (out of the 12 they wanted me to do), and feeling the worst I had ever felt, I lost faith in the process and began to search for alternative, natural ways to beat any cancer cells I had remaining inside of me. I stopped chemo and began a treatment plan with my naturopathic doctor – I did vitamin C infusions, eliminated all sugars, gluten and dairy from my diet (this was extremely hard for me to do at the beginning), took lots of different cancer-fighting supplements, ate a lot of garlic, onions and watercress, and drank a lot of vegetable juices with pea protein powder.
Throughout my journey, researching and interviewing others with the same prognosis, I came to the following realizations, and I would like to share my findings in hopes it will help empower others looking for information on how they too can fight the disease:
1. Believe in your symptoms
– If you’re not feeling “normal,” make sure to fight to get the best specialists to see you, even if they don’t believe that there’s anything wrong with you. You know your body best, and if you don’t fight for yourself, no one else will. If I had waited longer for my doctors to send me to a specialist, or even waited for surgery, my cancer would have elevated to a higher stage, which may not have been curable.
2. You’re always sick, your immune system isn’t working
– Prior to my diagnosis, I was always getting sick. We all have cancer cells – but it’s your immune system that clears them out of your system. If you’re stressed, your immune system will not work properly, so there is the ability for cancer cells to accumulate over time. Increase immune-boosting foods in your diet and vitamin D drops (you can get your blood tested to see how much vitamin D you have – I was very low when I was sick) to help build/rebuild your immune system.
3. Avoid stress/change your lifestyle
– Everyone I spoke to who had cancer had been under a lot of stress before they were diagnosed. I too had been under a lot of stress prior to feeling sick.
4. Sugar feeds cancer cells
– When I was sick, every time I ate something with sugar, I would actually get a pain in the area where my tumour was and then felt like I was going to faint. There are numerous studies showing that sugar has been linked to tumour growth, yet it still disturbs me when doctors say you can eat “anything” when you are going through treatments.
5. Dairy/soy products = hormones
– Studies have shown that hormone imbalances have been linked to increasing tumour growth in cancer patients with tumours that are sensitive to estrogen, so if you’re not sure what is contributing to your cancer, avoid products that contain hormones (and which can alter yours) when you’re sick. I know this is hard to do; I too loved dairy.
6. Gluten/carbs = sugar
– It is hard for your body to digest gluten and other processed carbs, so avoid gluten when you’re sick or if you have an allergy to it. But gluten-free doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Avoid having too many gluten-free products, as they still have a lot of starch and carbohydrates, and when digested, they become glucose (sugar) in your body.
7. Mind over matter – don’t give up!
– This is the most difficult time of your life, and there are days where you feel like it’s time to just give up. Believe in yourself and your body’s ability to heal. Feed it the proper nutrition and you’ll get better.
8. Spiritual meditation
– There is a greater being out there that really does look over you. Take the time to pray and ask others to keep you in their prayers. Even if you are an atheist, meditating on the present and all the good things in your life and how you can heal your body, will help you.
– At a time such as this one, you will need everyone’s positive support to help you get better. If it wasn’t for my brother pushing for me to do naturopathic treatments, and my mother-in-law’s fatal journey with chemo at the same time as my diagnosis, I’m not sure that I would be here today to give you these life lessons.
10. Avoid negative Nancys, and laugh
– Avoid hanging out with people who are always being negative about your diagnosis or talking about people they know who didn’t beat cancer. Laughter is the best medicine, so surround yourself with things that make you laugh (movies, books, etc.), as it will lighten your mood and make you feel better.
Of course, all of the realizations above are exactly that – my life lessons and what worked for me. They may not be right for you or your type of cancer, so please use them as a guide only. I would recommend that anyone going through a cancer diagnosis research alternative natural treatments – even though they come with a big price tag, especially if you’re not covered by a health plan (which I wasn’t – I’m still paying it back today – but think of it as an investment in your life). Be aware that medical doctors will not be willing to cooperate with naturopathic treatments as they do not believe in its ability to fight cancer. In some instances they will say that it is contradictory to the treatment and may recommend that you stop natural treatments. Believe in what you feel is right. I felt better when I was doing the natural treatments, to me it made sense that my body should be building its immune system to fight cancer with natural products and nutrition, instead of destroying it with chemicals.
I am happy to say that after all my treatments, I was able to beat cancer and have a beautiful, healthy baby girl 15 months ago, so for those looking to conceive after cancer, it is possible.
First photo: Cathy after she had just finished her chemo treatments.
Second photo: Cathy in 2015, with her 3 children.