Monday, November 21, 2011

If you read any of my posts, read this...

Everyone runs for different reasons, and one of my main reasons is for one of my best friends, Jessica. She is one of the strongest, most fun (funnest??), most inspirational people I know, and in April 2011 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is in her second round of fighting due to many leftover active cancer cells after the first fight, and she has decided to fight the fight this time around with diet and exercise instead of chemicals and harsh radiation. A hard decision, I know, but she has been amazingly strong. I admire and respect her in so many ways. Remember my first 5K back in March that I have talked about? Well, she was the one I ran it with, and we were in training for a half marathon together. So here I am today, still running for her. I will still be running the half marathon, but what I'm more excited about, is that through all of this, she still plans to walk in the 10K in March! Now that is an overcomer right there!

I think about her every time I run, and it reminds me why I'm doing this- for the love of running, yes, but also to prove to myself I am an overcomer. That each day, each little decision I make, impacts my choice to live a better life, to be a fighter and an overcomer.

What I want you to get out of this:
  • Remember that each little decision- getting up an hour earlier in the mornings for exercise or maybe just "you" time, going for a walk with a loved one versus making sure to catch your favorite show on cable, consciously making an effort to choose better foods such as fruits and vegetables- each decision impacts your future. Your habits determine your end results. What kind of results do you want?
  • While each decision is crucial to your health, please please please do not forget to savor each moment for what it's worth. Take advantage of every random opportunity, grab hold of new adventures that take you outside of your comfort zone, hand out an extra smile today, go volunteer, anything! With all the daily stressors we have thrown at us, we often forget to be thankful for the little things that we do have. Stop, take a deep breath, and once a day think of at least one small thing you're thankful for. Once I was able to run again, I was just simply thankful for the fact that I could run. Having an injury can be humbling. Also, you think you're life is rough? I guarantee you there is someone out there (possibly many people) who would trade with you in an instant. Just keep that in mind.
  • Read the note that Jessica posted on facebook below. It's long, but it explains her journey, and I think it is a worthwhile read. It reminds us to be thankful, to cherish what we have, and it invokes a feeling inside that most of us know, that overwhelming desire to fight and overcome against even the most hopeless odds.
It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 7 months since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Initially I was in complete shock and in an attempt to keep my sanity & just “get through this” I went into “trust the doctor” mode & was the best patient possible. I took my medicine, went through 4 months of hell with a good attitude & smile on my face, doing whatever my doctor asked of me – trusting her medical degree & experience more than myself - I was in a chemo fog those months. It was all I could do to go through treatments, work my full-time job and keep my head straight. Throughout this whole time I’ve been collecting books, articles, links, etc… to alternative treatments / healing the “natural way” - but with a foggy head I wasn’t about to make any changes.
As you know from my previous fb notes / updates, the chemo was successful in significantly shrinking the tumor & cancer in the lymph nodes enough to be able to have surgery & have all visible cancer removed. As far as technology in 2011 can tell – I am cancer free. However, 4 out of 5 lymph nodes that were removed tested positive for active cancer cells. This was my “wake up call”. You’d think it would’ve occurred at the diagnosis, but like I said, I was in shock & overwhelmed by it all – it happened so quickly, I didn’t really have time to process anything fully & had to make a decision quickly & made the best one I could at the time.

Between my last round of chemo on August 18th & getting the results from my surgery I had time to clear my head and had time to process what was happening in my body. At the recommendation of my doctors I had begun a new round of chemo on October 11th but the only way I knew it was doing anything in my body was that my blood counts tanked – in particular my white blood cells & platelets. They were so low I only received 2 treatments and couldn’t receive more because my counts were so low.

In the meantime, while waiting for my immune system to strengthen I began researching, watching documentaries, reading medical articles / research /case studies and emailing with doctors who have successfully walked this road without chemo & radiation. I hadn’t been ready to even look at this option before but this was the time. My “ah-ha” moment was a Sunday a few weeks ago, I had spent the entire weekend devouring all these studies & reports – I turned everything off and got up and started talking to God – telling Him what was stirring up in me to do & that I needed wisdom, clarity and to know what to do with this stirring. I began praying in the spirit so fervently – I knew it was coming from deep within & when it lifted I knew what I had to do. I had a peace & confidence that was unshakeable.

I went in the next week to my oncologist & my blood counts were back up enough to get chemo but I refused chemo & told my oncologist I will be refusing all further chemo treatments & radiation. She was not happy about the refusal of radiation. I agreed to meet with the radiologist for a consult and told her I’d give her my final decision this week. I met with the radiologist & we talked for almost an hour – he answered my questions & I told him I’d tell Dr. Gentry my final decision. I called Dr. Gentry the following day & told her nurse my final decision, to refuse further chemo & radiation and to treat with nutrition & exercise instead. She said that she will still be my oncologist for life & wants to keep an open door policy with me – if I ever need to come in, I can just come even if in between set appts. I had blood work done on Wednesday of this week & my counts are back in the normal / healthy range – Praise God!
I’ve already had 3 of the strongest / best drugs they have to offer in fighting breast cancer & I’ve had all visible signs of cancer removed from my body. As far as I am concerned, I am cancer free. I will still have blood work done & will see my oncologist next month & then every 3 months for the first year and follow ups for the rest of my life just to confirm all is well. I am not making this decision lightly; I’ve done my homework & have a peace about my decision.

I am choosing to fight recurrence / any remaining cancer cells in my body with nutrition & exercise. I’ve drastically changed my lifestyle to vegan, low-fat, low glycemic, consuming at least 80% raw foods that are ALKALINE. I know cancer thrives in an acidic, anaerobic environment, so I am doing all that I can to make my body a hostile environment for cancer & any other types of disease, infections, etc… And, treating “possible” cancer recurrence with toxic treatments that further damage my body & compromise my immune system doesn’t make sense to me. God designed our bodies to heal themselves and how can it do that if it is compromised? And, I know that if you have cancer in your body, by the time you find it – it’s been there for years & has gone all over your body. So, the best thing to do is to build up your immune system so that it can defend against any further cancer & other diseases that you could become susceptible to.

When I discovered the lump in my breast it was right before I made drastic changes to my diet but before that I had lived years eating sugars, fats, unhealthy food & lots of high stress. I was not a healthy person at all – even though I always wanted to be that, I wasn’t. By the time I made the change, it was because I was home praying and felt really convicted about how I cared for my body. I thought it was so I could get pregnant but looking back I can see the warnings /promptings to make lifestyle changes that I ignored. I believe that God was trying to warn me to make changes because this was a potential but I didn’t see that. When I made those drastic changes to my lifestyle I noticed the lump in my breast would actually get smaller & the lump under my arm would seem to disappear. I had just assumed it was hormonal or a cyst & didn’t think much of it at the time. When I lost my babies, I figured I had missed it when I felt God telling me to make those changes –because all I could see is being pregnant. After the 2nd miscarriage I got really depressed & dove into all my old bad habits & worse ones. I ate sugar like it was going out of style, stopped exercising & gained 50 lbs in a short time. The lumps grew, and became painful to the point that I sought out a doctor & the rest is history.
Since I have been so vocal throughout my journey since diagnosis – I felt it only right to be vocal about this decision.

It would of course be easier to just sit back and tell the doctor to do whatever they want to do to me but, just thinking about that makes me nauseous because I’d be going against what I know I’m supposed to do. This lifestyle change is not easy, especially since food is such a huge part of our society & culture. I have the best husband ever! Patrick has agreed to keep our house stocked with only good foods & when we eat together, we eat the same, so I’m not the “weird” one eating alone or feeling like an outcast. When God created me, He gave me this incredible stubborn /strong-will personality that serves me well in situations like this – it makes me tough as nails when I need to be. I can’t violate the peace & confidence I have on the inside. That may not makes sense to some and that’s okay. I’m not asking you to feel comfortable with it or understand it – just respect that this is my decision to make & this is what I believe it best for me.

Unfortunately insurance does not cover alternative therapies like treating / preventing cancer with nutrition (you’d think they’d take advantage of the savings). I have decided to choose Dr. John McDougall as my doctor and the only way to become his patient is to go through his 10 day Program in Santa Rosa, California. He has done extensive research on Breast Cancer & Nutrition. I’ve corresponded via email with both him directly and one of his patients, Dr. Ruth Heidrich. Dr. Ruth was diagnosed with breast cancer that was in advance stages & had metastasized to her lungs & bones; she had a mastectomy with 17 lymph nodes removed on one side and when they told her she would have to undergo chemo & radiation she went to Dr. John McDougall who was conducting Clinical Trials for Breast Cancer & Nutrition. Dr. McDougall told her she would have to refuse chemo & radiation and treat solely with nutrition. She did exactly what he said and now over 25 years later she is in her mid 70’s and completely cancer free, her arthritis reversed, her bone structure is that of a 30 year old and she has since completed several Ironman Triathlons, as well as hundreds of marathons and races. She has been such an encouragement to me – she responded to my emails personally within hours of receiving them. To view Dr. Ruth Heidrich’s story, click here:
The 10 day Program with Dr. McDougall costs $4760 (that includes lodging, all food, 3 private appointments with Dr. McDougall, 2 sets of labs, cooking classes, a private session with a personal trainer and more. My airfare should cost approximately $500 +/- so I’m estimating, including incidentals, that I’ll need about $5500 total.
The earliest dates available are January 28th -February 5th, 2012, which is my preference. But if I have to have longer to raise funds, I can go on March 16th to 25th, 2012. I have to put $500 down to hold my reservation and then pay the balance in full upon arrival.

Why do you run?

What feelings did this bring up for you? Any input?

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