Episode 7: How to Survive and Thrive
Interview Transcript between Ty Bollinger and Shannon Knight
May 26, 2014
Shannon Knight: In 2005 I found a lump in my left breast, and it
scared me. You know, we are told to do breast exams when we’re in the
shower and I felt it. And I went to the doctors. And when I was seen in
the examining room, and the doctor felt for the lump he said, well, you
have cystic breasts. And I said, but this is different. This one is getting a
little bit bigger and its harder. And he said, well, I think your concern is a
little bit too much. You don’t need to be worrying about this. It’s probably
caffeine. You just need to cut back on caffeine. I said I only have a cup
a day of coffee. I said can we just biopsy it and test it and see what it is
or something? He goes, well, you have cystic breasts. I’d have to biopsy
both breasts, and you’d look like Swiss cheese. I’m not going to do it. So
I left feeling really embarrassed. I would say almost exactly a year later
it was the size of, as I said, a martini olive and I went in and waited.
They did biopsy it. And I got the news. And I got the phone call, and they said to bring a support person.
They wanted me to come in and have me talk to the doctor personally
face-to-face. They said to bring someone with me for support. And I just
knew. And it was a long drive. So when I got there-there was no one in
the office except a nurse and a doctor. And I knew that there was
something wrong. They handed me a bottle of water. It had a pink label
on it, a ribbon. And I just—I could already start feeling the blood leaving,
draining to my feet. I just didn’t feel good, and they told me it was cancer.
I had breast cancer. And they immediately sent me to another doctor.
And it was dark. It was night time. And I didn’t understand. And I said,
well, can I make an appointment? They said no, we called them for you.
He’s waiting for you. So in that aspect, I appreciated the urgency
of rushing and getting me to the next doctor. I went there, and he said
you’re going to have to go and get a lumpectomy and pretty much this was when everything started to change in my life.
So they wanted three types of chemotherapy, two intravenous through a port, one by mouth. It was an estrogen positive cancer and bilateral
mastectomy and radiation. And I needed to hurry. There was a sense of
urgency. So my sister was with me and my boyfriend at the time was
with me. So I went ahead with the mastectomy, and I had remembered
what my grandmother looked like when she was doing chemotherapy,
and she lost a lot of weight. And I was terrified. And I just didn’t want to go through what she went through, losing all that weight and dying
Ty: It sounds like they just threw almost everything including the
kitchen sink at you as far as recommended treatments.
Shannon Knight: They did. And I was in a hospital where I saw
patients in the waiting room and they were missing hair, they were
wearing scarves. They were—they looked like they were from a
concentration camp. It was terrifying.
Ty: You mentioned that they gave you, I think, a bottle of water
with pink on it. When—was it during breast cancer awareness
month, was it during October?
Shannon Knight: Yes. It was absolutely during October, Breast
Cancer Awareness Month and they gave me—everything was pink. The
pamphlets were pink. The wig book was pink. So I could start looking
wigs ahead of time preparing me to lose my hair, even the scarves if I
didn’t want wigs. It was all these information packets. They gave me a
bag with a bunch of stuff in it, support groups pamphlets, everything. So
when I got through with the mastectomy that’s when they were able to
tell me by taking the lymph nodes out that it had gotten into my lymph nodes it was stage III. So they needed to do everything and they
needed me to do it fast. Well, I got a staph infection from the surgery
and this bought me time. And this is when I started researching.
Ty: Talk about the big three treatments, the radiation, chemo, and
therapy. I appreciate you being honest with your feelings about
breast cancer awareness month. I know that’s a sensitive topic.
But talk about the big three treatments, the chemo, radiation, and
surgery. What is your take on those treatments?
Shannon Knight: Well, all three of those treatments—I know that
radiation causes cancer. That never made sense to me. Surgery during
a time when you’ve got cancer—you need your immune system. The
first thing that your body is going to do is all the—all your antibodies,
everything that your body needs to fight the cancer is going to go to the
surgical site. So it’s going to weaken your immune system more for a
good period of time longer than six weeks. It’s got to repair and restore.
So a mastectomy is not a simple treatment. It’s a major surgery. And
you’re at risk for infection. So that’s not healing the body. When you’re
sick with cancer the body wants to be healed plain and simple. We need
to start looking. How do we heal our body? Okay.
So chemotherapy is—the three that they were talking to me about—
you’re going to lose your hair, you’re going to get sick—I don’t
understand how something that’s going to make me sick is going to
ultimately keep me healthy. If it’s going to kill my cancer cells its
damaging my other cells. How am I going to come out on top of all of
this? That’s my big giant question mark. And why is everybody doing it?
I don’t understand it. So I did go through with the mastectomy. I had my
family saying just do it, just do it, and that part I regret and I’ve got my
own reason why. I don’t know if its something that’s been scientifically
research. It’s just my own common sense, Shannon Knight common
sense. But I got cancer again. I never got that vitamin D checked out
and I never got to address it. And when you’ve got that vitamin D
deficiency you’re still at risk. So I feel if I had left that mastectomy out
and hadn’t done it the cancer would have had a harder time getting to
my ribs and getting to my lungs. And I could have just had a better
chance. Plus the scar tissue, they’re finding research that says scar
tissue can cause cancer. You know, I read that in January of 2014. So if I had to do it all over again I wouldn’t have done that surgery.
Ty: Now you talked about getting to your ribs and your lungs. So
are you saying that eventually the cancer spread to other organs?
Shannon Knight: Yeah.
Ty: Talk about that.
Shannon Knight: I went through that nightmare of getting diagnosed
with it again. I had a recurrence in July, the same month, of 2010. And
that was a difficult one too because I was misdiagnosed from October
all the way through July—October 2009 to July of 2010 and I’ve got the
medical records that show that they never gave me the scans but they
gave me the paperwork and said you’ve got costochondritis. You’ve got
asthma. But they had done this CAT scan and never gave me the report
that said highly suspicious for metastatic breast cancer.
Ty: Really? So they—that was on the report but
Shannon Knight: They didn’t give that to me.
Ty: they didn’t give it to you.
Shannon Knight: They didn’t give it to me.
Ty: And then did they tell you about it?
Shannon Knight: No. Never. And they gave me the other paperwork
that said you’ve got costochondritis and you’ve got asthma. Go back to
work, don’t carry more than three to five pounds. I had to ask for that
paperwork and take it to my oncologist when the lump in the center of
my chest had advanced just so he could have my records. And when I
saw it, my mother was sitting next to me, and they said, oh my gosh, the
paperwork said it was suspicious of it. How could they not tell me? How
could they not say anything to me? Not one word was mentioned.
Ty: Now you mentioned that the cancer the second time it spread,
spread to your sternum, lungs
Shannon Knight: Sternum, all lobes of my lungs…
Ty: What was the prognosis at that time and what did you do from
Shannon Knight: Well, it had spread into my lungs and my lymph
nodes. We have other lymph nodes around this area so it was
underneath my collarbone in the bone, my ribs, behind my trachea. And
the doctor told my family—we were all sitting in infusion chairs. We had
an early appointment. My best friend flew out. And we had two
appointments. I had to meet with a radiation oncologist and with my
regular doctor. He was wonderful, very kind through everything, told me
when asked how long does she have to live. Everyone was concerned.
And he said, well, if she does treatment maybe a little bit longer but if
she doesn’t three months, a year. Its an aggressive cancer.
Ty: So it’s not an encouraging prognosis at that point.
Shannon Knight: No, it was terrifying. And he wanted me to start
treatment. He was encouraging me to be sensible this time around, be
Ty: And what exactly does that mean? What did that mean
according to him? What was being sensible?
Shannon Knight: Being sensible—the first time when we met he said
that getting vitamin C and doing these other things was like, going to his
words exactly, the sunshine farm and laughed. He laughed. And that’s
okay. I understand that they’re not learning about this in medical school.
So it probably is pretty funny to them. But I told him I didn’t even want
the Tamoxifen and I’m still not on it, so. And I’ve been in remission two
and a half years. So I allowed radiation on one area because he did say
that this was so aggressive it was going to paralyze me. So let’s try to
shrink this because that’s not a good thing to happen either. Let’s try to
shrink this. I made it through 22 rounds and I couldn’t complete it. I
ended up with staph infection, pneumonia, and another thing I would like
to address is they call it cyberknife. And they say it’s only going to go to
one area. I ended up with a burn all the way—like the size of a football
across my chest and my back with blisters.
Ty: From cyberknife.
Shannon Knight: yes
Ty: I’ve heard of that before but I have not heard of that side effect
Shannon Knight: It’s horrible. So it burns and I have scars on my
lungs from it. And they say that your lungs are protected. They make
this lead plate that goes in above—you’re laying down and it goes in
above you and so they can direct the beams. And you can see the
beams. It’s supposed to hit different areas. And it looks like it would only
hit those areas but everybody’s running from the radiation room so
there’s got to be a reason. So it got worse. My cancer got worse and
after we quit the radiation it was really sad. That’s when he said unless I
do one of the treatments he’s recommending there’s nothing else he
can do. And it’s spreading, so I went to the beach that day and I just—
that’s when angels for Shannon came into my mind. I wanted to live. I
wanted other patients. I wanted to do the healthier treatments and I
wanted other patients to have that opportunity. I prayed to God to let me
live and let me beat this the natural way.
Ty: What natural treatments did you choose at this point where the
doctor said its pretty hopeless?
Shannon Knight: Yeah. Well, when it was hopeless. We had to raise
money. I said, “This is where I want to go, the hospital was CMN Hospital in
San Luis, Rio Colorado Mexico and it was safe. It wasn’t where the drug cartel were. You
know everybody’s afraid of Mexico. But the treatments were
phenomenal. It was—there’s a list so I’m going to let you know what
they were. It was high dose vitamin C intravenous. It was laetrile
intravenous. It was ozone therapy. It was dendritic cell therapy. It was a
dendritic cell cancer vaccine made with your own blood. It was
hyperthermia. It was hyperbaric chamber. It was treatments that are
going to boost your immune system, the thymus gland, magnetic
therapy, biofeedback . We’ve all heard of rife. There’s SCIO, which I did
with my friend Cindy Jones. Quantum physics is big. We all need to be
taking a look at that. We have energy within our body and we can’t
ignore that and we need to balance that too. So it’s a compilation of
things and it was a very comprehensive treatment program that I did. I
got my treatment in February of 2011 and I was symptom free. You
know when it’s gone— because it had infiltrated my air passages and that’s like a knife.
So I was symptom free in August, late August, and I got it confirmed
with a PET scan in October. So I can say it took six months to heal.
Yeah. I had people saying that my eyes look clear. You don’t look like
you’ve got stage IV cancer. In fact, there were rumors going around, two
rumors in one week when I was in remission, one, “She never had
cancer, then someone that went to my high school, “Good old Facebook!”,
went around with the other rumor saying she’s not in remission. Its
Ty: What did your oncologist say when he saw the new scans, the
Shannon Knight: He was very happy and he asked my permission to
have my medical records to take to show to his colleagues. And of
course, I said yeah, take them. He was very happy. He said, “I wish I had
done some treatment on you so I could take the credit.” He was being
silly. He’s a good man.
Ty: He sounds like a good man.
Shannon Knight: Yeah. I like him. I can’t wait to show him when I’m in
three years remission so I can walk in there give him a hug.
Ty: Now you mentioned stage IV, did this—the cancer eventually
was stage IV.
Shannon Knight: Yeah.
Shannon Knight: Stage IV, its was scary. My family was preparing for
me to die. My kids were crying and calling me scared, not my son. He’s
tough, a paramedic but my daughter was.
Ty: She’s not crying anymore.
Shannon Knight: No. And both my kids definitely believe now which
makes me feel good because I want them to know there is another way.
This is not a time to be afraid. I’m not afraid of cancer anymore.