Fourteen years ago, today at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, July 19, 2006, my phone rang. It was the call I had patiently been waiting for since having a biopsy. If you have been diagnosed with cancer you know that sinking feeling of anticipation.
I answered the phone.
It was Nicole at the doctor’s office and she asked how I was doing. I remember thanking her sweetly for asking and the small talk we had before she finally said, “I’ve got your biopsy results” I said, “Oh good! Please say it’s good news!
Nicole said, “Well, I can’t , the doctor wants to see you now and needs to tell you the results in person.” I asked her if that was normal.
I lived all the way in the Tahuya Forest, in Mason County, Washington State. At that time of the day, I knew there would be rush hour traffic once I got to Tacoma. I would have to cross the Narrows Bridge, and it would be at least a two-hour drive.
I told her I probably wouldn’t get to their office until 6:30 or 7:00 p.m and asked her if I could come in the morning, or could she please ask the doctor to give me my results over the phone.
She said, “No, he wants you to come now and you need to bring a support person. I asked her if I should be scared. She was quiet and then I broke the silence and told her that I didn’t have a support person to come with me. She said, “That’s okay just come alone.” I told her I was on my way.
I’m sure some people who have been diagnosed with cancer can probably relate to much of the phone conversation I had as I received the first hint of my diagnosis. The ride to the doctor’s office was terrifying—I cried the entire way, gripping the steering wheel so tightly that my fingers ached. I found it difficult to concentrate on my driving, instead, I was panicking and drifting off into fearful thoughts. I think angels must have been steering that day, because I do not recall one moment of that drive.
When I arrived, all I could see through the glass window was a single light shining from the far corner of the medical office. Everything else was dark. It was after hours.
It felt eerie as Nicole escorted me through the dimly lit waiting area to the doctor’s private office, instead of the customary examining room. She put a box of Kleenex on his large cherrywood desk, within reach, and handed me a bottle of water decorated with a Susan G Komen pink ribbon label that said, “Run for the Cure.”. My heart sank. This couldn’t be good. It wasn’t. The doctor said my biopsy results showed that I had cancer. I kept staring at that water bottle and the message on it, “Run for the Cure”. Oh my God, I have breast cancer and they are still running for the cure!
A song came on the intercom called, ”Unwell” by Matchbox 20. The irony was it was a favorite of mine and my brother’s so I immediately remembered it was his birthday and I wanted to let him know our song was playing on his special day. My mom answered the phone when I called and said my brother was out and I asked her to write down the name of our song and let him know our song was playing for his birthday. What’s crazy, is that this was not a good thing for mom. I also told her I had cancer in that same conversation. It was my first phone call to my family. When I asked her to write down the band name and the song Unwell she said it wasn’t funny and she thought I was joking around because I found out I had cancer. I will never forget that moment.
That day marked the start of when I found myself transported into a whole new way of life, awkwardly trying to figure out how to win my battle with cancer. I had no idea how to fight against an enemy I had seen do its worst to some of my relatives. I had Stage 3 breast cancer, my life was in danger, and the eleven hundred miles that separate me from my family now felt like an abyss, stretching further into infinity than ever before.
I felt vulnerable and scared. I was a woman thrown into an unfamiliar arena to fight a battle of a magnitude I had never experienced before, and I knew nothing of the enemy. I transformed slowly, and it was painful. I learned that friends and family really cared, and they all had grand ideas as to how I should approach cancer treatment. I felt overwhelmed because my life depended on my choices. My strategy had to be successful because I was not willing to die from cancer!
I had a bilateral mastectomy. I was shocked by how I felt afterward. I was not prepared to feel as if I had just gone through an amputation. I suppose I thought it would be like what many of my girlfriends went through with breast augmentation. There had been no discussion, no preparation emotionally as to how much loss I would feel after surgery. Breasts are such a feminine attribute, and I had not realized the emotional pain I would experience once they were gone. I experienced complications from the surgery and became very ill with a staph infection. This complication lent me some time to learn about the world of alternative medicine for cancer.
After surgery, I declined the standard recommended treatments of chemotherapy and radiation. I was scared because I had lost loved ones to cancer who did chemotherapy and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I went to a small clinic in Arizona once the staph infection cleared up. The clinic shut down two years after I had treatment. There, I received intravenous vitamin C and B-17, far-infrared sauna, and ultraviolet blood irradiation treatments. About a month later, in May of 2008, testing at the University of Washington revealed that I was in remission. I had beaten Stage 3 cancer, and set out to rebuild my life again. I had reconstructive surgery, but always, in the back of my mind, lingered the very real fear of a recurrence.
I moved back to California in August 2009. It wasn’t long afterward until I experienced persistent coughing and pain in my sternum and ribs. In July 2010, I was diagnosed with a recurrence of metastatic breast cancer, which had progressed to Stage 4. The cancer had spread to all lobes of my lungs, my ribs, sternum, and the lymph nodes under my collarbone, as well as other soft tissue areas. My UCLA doctor told my family and I that there was no chance of going into remission. The disease, he said, would eventually lead to paralysis, and death. He predicted I likely had only three months to a year to live.
I refused the recommended chemotherapy and hormone blockers, but agreed to forty rounds of radiation to my sternum to slow down the bone metastasis. I completed twenty-two rounds, but had to stop the treatment because of another staph infection and pneumonia. The radiation burned my chest and back, and my lungs. Testing revealed that the cancer had progressed. The radiation therapy had not done any good at all.
After much research and soul searching, I chose CMN Alternative Cancer Treatment in San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico. My friends and I had to raise money because my insurance would not cover non-FDA approved therapies. When we finally reached our goal and had enough money to get to CMN I was admitted February 7, 2011 and received very advanced alternative cancer treatment. I did dendritic cell therapy and later I went back to CMN to do Autologous bone marrow stem cell transplant, a procedure using MY OWN fighter cells instead of drugs. Stanford University did an incredible study of women with stage 4 breast cancer which showed that it INCREASES SURVIVAL by 23%. We should be allowed to have this treatment in the U.S.
Six months later in August, I was free of all symptoms. Two months after that, on October 15, 2011, I received the results of my PET scan. The tests confirmed there was no evidence of disease. The CMN alternative cancer treatments had worked!
Dr. Payan saved my life. Five years later, my twin sister got breast cancer and she skipped everything I went through on my cancer journey and went straight to CMN and received successful therapies from Dr. Payan as well. It still feels like a miracle. It’s hard to hear you are going to die in a year or less. You never forget it.
Nine years later, I am still cancer-free, have learned of healthier ways to heal completely from a diagnosis of cancer, and have devoted my life to sharing what I discovered with others. Many people are learning that we can have hope for a healthier way to recover completely from cancer. I am living proof, and there are many others. I know many people who have chosen conventional therapies and at some point are told to get their affairs in order when the treatment doesn’t work and the doctor is out of options. It’s good to see people sharing their stories of healing beyond that point when the doctor says there is no more hope. They did not give up! When you have a strong will to survive you can’t quit because there are survivors who defied the odds and give them hope. There is research of alternative treatments that have the real possibility of complete healing of metastatic cancer. There are success stories that will not be factored in when the American Cancer Society or doctors are telling us the statistics.
I went to Mexico in order to receive therapies that will likely never be tested in the United States because the drug companies cannot patent natural substances and other non-toxic therapies, such as intravenous vitamin C and B17, ozone therapy, ultraviolet light, dendritic cell therapy, autologous bone marrow stem cell transplant—the list of therapies that will not be offered to you by your conventional oncologist goes on and on.
Just because a treatment is not FDA approved does not mean it is ineffective; it simply means the FDA refuses to test it for one reason or another. Contrarily, often the treatment has proven to work and has already been used successfully in Mexico or Germany. I did not get sick with side effects from alternative cancer therapies. I did not vomit or lose my hair, and I was cured in six months.
We are often discouraged and told we should be afraid to leave our country for non-traditional cancer treatments , and in the movies Mexico is not always depicted as safe or modern. So it can get us thinking hospitals in Mexico are dirty and dangerous. I saw many hospitals in the United States that were sub-standard, even filthy, when I was a patient. I find that each hospital maintains their own standards, regardless of their location.
My healing was a great blessing and I don’t I feel that I would have survived the barbaric conventional treatments for cancer because my immune system was so compromised. It would have been miraculous for me. I got an infection from surgery and radiation. Chemotherapy and radiation can cause secondary cancers and collateral damage to other parts of our body. The radiation destroyed my thyroid so I will be on medication for the rest of my life.
￼ Chemotherapy works for some and yet it can often make cancer more aggressive, promote metastasis, and eventually cause treatment resistance. The fact that there are not healing therapies made available to help restore a patient’s immune system after completing chemotherapy or radiation strikes me as nothing short of cruel and negligent. If a patient chooses conventional therapies, then focusing on the immune system and restoring it should be the other half of their treatment. It’s humane and compassionate.
I respect the reasons why people accept the therapies recommended by their conventional doctor. Often, a trusting doctor-patient relationship has been established in advance, and that trust plays a role in decision making at a time when the patient is most terrified. A sense of urgency is conveyed by their physician and they respond accordingly, rushing to accept conventional treatment without pausing to discover what other healthier options are available. Also, financial hardship can prevent someone from even considering researching other valuable resources for those who want to know about these healthier strategies before making treatment decisions. Health insurance will not cover the cost so why look anywhere else other than what cancer treatments their insurance will pay for.
The hard choices we have to make can overwhelm anyone with a diagnosis of cancer. There is a great impact on us physiologically, psychologically, and even spiritually. Stress and happiness can each impact our health. Over the last fourteen years I have a greater understanding of the human spirit and more compassion for those on the cancer journey, regardless of which road to treatment they elect to take. The journey to healing is very personal and to be respected.
Our souls are here for a reason getting cancer was a wake up call for me to put my soul front and center and not live on auto pilot any longer. We shouldn’t have to wait till we get a diagnosis of cancer but I believe It was the best thing that ever happened to me spiritually. I give all my thanks to God for His grace and blessings.