Cured 10/15/2011) Stage 4 ER positive breast cancer
In July 2010 I was diagnosed with recurrence of stage 4 breast cancer with metastasis to all lobes of lungs, bones and lymph nodes. I chose a hospital in Mexico that did alternative therapies and cured not just cancer but other disease like HIV, Lyme Disease, Hepatitis and other serious illnesses etc. I took a leap of faith I suppose, but it was not blindly. I had done my research on the treatments. Knowledge is power and I was not studying statistics and success rates. I studied the immune system, and if we want to know how to kill cancer we also need to understand our habits that may have led to this disease. It made perfect sense to me to heal my body and to do it quickly which meant I wanted a treatment protocol that was stronger than drinking juice. I was not going to start juicing for stage 4 cancer. I was not going to put toxic chemo drugs in my blood or sign up for a trial study drug and roll the dice. I was going to learn about what killed cancer and healed the body. I would change my diet but not to the point where I was starving. This was not healthy either. You can walk into any book store and find several diets for cancer and it can be very overwhelming.
After reading my story and researching this website you may email me if you have questions or are interested in learning more at email@example.com. I am not a miracle and you should not expect a miracle either. However you certainly can go down a road of healing and it can be intensive like mine, one that is healing your immune system and killing cancer at the same time. One that gently detoxifies as well. You can learn about good nutrition and supplementation. I am healed and my immune system is stronger. It takes teamwork between you and your doctor. He must care about healing you from cancer. You do not have an expiration date stamped on your foot, so start thinking healthy. When you go home from the doctor no one watches what you do. You live FREE! You are part of your own success! You report to your doctor.
You have choices to eat junk and feed depression, to smoke, do drugs, exercise, get fresh air and vitamin, change your environment. You know if it is a healthy environment. Are you in an abusive relationship? Do you have support? These are all uncontrollables and definitely can change the outcome of success. What kind of water are you drinking? Do you drink enough? Do you get angry all the time, do you pray or have faith? Do you laugh? Laughter does affect cells positively
I am part of a great project now that will help cancer warriors across the nation in yet another way! I am not just a living testimony of how I beat cancer I am an advocate to families affected by cancer and now co producer and host for Diagnosed TV “Affect Cancer” This is a project that is slowly but forcefully building momentum. People are jumping on board and it is something that has needed to happen. Cancer is an epidemic now and for many reasons. People want to be heard and they want real answers! I hope you will become a part of Affect Cancer’s mission as well.
This nest part of my blog is about about my first victory over cancer. You may want to read it later if you are looking for treatment information. There are a lot of links you can click on, so you decide!
My first victory over cancer came May 29th 2008, a day I will remember for the rest of my life! I was finally at the end of a tough journey. I went to the Seattle Cancer Care Center for my test results and found out that I was free of cancer, finally! It has been the biggest mountain I had ever climbed. Reaching the top seemed impossible, but I did it. I had no idea I would some day be rejoicing about a second victory without using drugs now celebrating 3 years cured! Video Below!
As I sat in the lobby waiting for my appointment I felt like I was in another world. I began reflecting on my life since the day I first found the lump in my breast. One night after a nice bath I was putting lotion on my body and I felt it. The fear gripped me instantly. Something inside me just knew I was in trouble. I went in for a mammogram and then I had an ultrasound and finally the doctor felt a biopsy was necessary.
Every day waiting after the biopsy felt like forever. I had trouble sleeping and I kept thinking back to my appointment a year ago when I went in to a different doctor for that same lump but it was only the size of a pea. My doctor had been flippant with me when I asked him to please do a biopsy. He smiled and said, “If I biopsy this one then Id’ have to biopsy the rest and your breasts will look like swiss cheese. He said, “You’re fine, just watch your caffeine and chocolate intake. Now all I could think about was this cyst and wondering how it had grown from the size of a pea to the size of an olive. Why was the doctor not more concerned back then?
A year later on Wednesday, July 19’th, around 4:30 pm, 2006 I got the call from the surgeon saying that he needed to see me that night and to bring a support person. I felt my blood leaving my brain and weak in the knees. This was definitely not good! I was instantly sick. Unfortunately that night my boyfriend had a work engagement, so I went alone. We lived in Tahuya National Forest. I remember how scared I was, I even made a wrong turn on a road where I had driven a dozen times and ended up at Maggie Lake, my fear was keeping me from concentrating.
I gripped the steering wheel tightly the entire drive over. When I got there, my legs felt like lead and I got out of the car walking toward the building as if I was waiting for a sentencing for a crime I had committed. When I pulled on the handle to the doctor’s office it seemed heavier than it ever had. I was afraid of what he was going to tell me. I walked in and I was immediately offered a bottle of water that had a label with that pink ribbon logo that always shows Susan G Komen “Looking for the Cure”. This can’t be good! Breast cancer is only getting worse every year and there is no cure! The nurse led me to his office where I sat in a nice leather chair at the end of his extravagant cherry wood desk, She left me alone for a few minutes and I sat there staring at the doctors big empty chair where he would be talking to me soon about my life being threatened.
The doctor walked in with the nurse behind him carrying a box of tissue that she set off to the left edge of his desk within my reach. You just know it’s going to be for tears they were preparing to see come streaming down my cheeks. That’s it! I was holding my breath I guess, because the air felt like it was leaving the room. I felt like my soul was trying to break free and escape, leaving my body behind. Why was I alone, I was panicking, it was hitting me fast. I didn’t want to hear what he had to say.
When he told me, I felt braver than I realized. What was this, an automatic quick response or a pride thing to show the doctor I could handle this without his damn tissues box on the desk. He said your biopsy test results are positive for breast cancer. I said, “Okay… okay… so…what does this mean?” I was diagnosed July 19th 2006, my brother’s birthday around 6:45 pm my world came crashing down around me, I’ll never forget the moment I found out. I just listened without asking questions because I knew if I spoke a single word I would fall to pieces. I finally excused myself from the doctor’s office, went to the restroom, put my hands on the sink and looked in the mirror and just whispered to myself over and over “No, not me, this is not happening.” I couldn’t breathe, I felt tears stinging but would not let them fall. I just kept looking in the mirror, telling myself, “Be strong, don’t cry, you can handle this! Just go back into the doctor’s office and be cool, calm and collect. I was also pleading to God why? Why me, I had already been through so much, did you have to pick me? I remember saying to God, “I am telling you Lord, this one I cannot handle!” You promised us Lord that you would never give us more than we could handle. I am not as strong as you must think I am. How am I going to drive home?
It was close to 7pm when I returned to the dark waiting area , I sat down while the doctor got some paperwork together for me. I wasn’t going home yet, he was sending me to another doctor that was waiting for me after hours. Obviously this was all coordinated well and I appreciate how they handled it actually. I just couldn’t see how I would be able to get to my next evening appointment safely with this news on my mind. I realized everyone in the office was gone except the doctor and nurse. There was only the light coming from office. It was such an eerie feeling. I called my mother in CA to tell her what happened and to wish my brother a happy birthday. What an odd thing to do. A favorite song of mine and my brother’s was playing on the intercom. My brother wasn’t home but I told her to write down the name of the song and tell him Happy Birthday and that our song was playing. The irony of my situation and the song was actually funny at the time and if my brother was in the room with me, we both would have started laughing. It did bring humor to my frightening moment. My mother was angry about the song and thought I was making light about it. I was just being me. SO here’s to you and me brother. I love you Matthew! I love our sense of humor!
So now, fast forward to May 2008, two years later, in a different waiting area, finally victorious after a long battle. I felt all the stress leave my body like heavy armor worn in battle for so long. I defeated the enemy and I could feel the burdens falling away, I felt so light. Tears welled up in my eyes with relief and happiness. I looked out the window feeling peaceful yet very excited. The clouds opened up letting the sun shine through giving Seattle a break from many days of cloudiness. The sunlight was more magnificent than it ever had. I felt so small in a world full of billions of people, yet the sun felt like it was shining just for me. It marked the beginning of new days ahead.
This song by my friend and very talented singer Trae Edwards “The Sun Will Come Out Again” Was a song dedicated to my book club and all individuals who were affected by cancer. Book Club name is “Cancer Step Outside the Box” I relate to it and hope that many of you reading this blog will too.
This was the day I had waited for, I had chosen the right treatments to destroy the cancer. The cancer therapy I decided upon was healthy for my body and detrimental to the cancer. Seattle’s UW Medical Center recommended three types of chemotherapy. They were going to combine two drugs for the IV and the third drug was going to be a pill. It took conviction to stay the course using unconventional cancer treatments and refuse chemo and radiation. With the treatment I chose, I felt healthier while healing from stage III breast cancer. The sun was rising on a new life for me, I had made smart choices. Everything was going to be okay.
I began thinking of my future again, it was like a veil was now slowly lifting and I could see a bright future of possibilities. I was afraid of many things that I might not get to experience these last couple of years. I wanted to see my son and daughter one day get married and have children of their own, I want to be a grandmother. I wanted to get married and get old with my true companion. Now I could see all the wonderful possibilities without the fear. Life is more precious than it ever was and it has changed me. I wished that I had not come to this appointment alone. It felt ironic being sitting here by myself in this moment of victory because I was for the first appointment when the “cancer” bomb was dropped on me.
I felt like celebrating and hugging someone, but the waiting room was filled with strangers. There were many patients waiting for their appointment. Some with no hair, some wearing a patterned scarf or hat. A couple patients looked like they were extremely underweight from chemotherapy. Some looked so frail reminding me of pictures I had seen from victims in concentration camps. Their eyes were sad or scared, or they had their head down. I could hear people talking on the phone about the loved one that was sick, trying to explain what was going on. There was nothing but gloominess all around the room and I felt so sorry for them. I felt tears sting my eyes again because I wanted all of them to be in remission. I just couldn’t take it today. I turned away in my seat towards the window again and the tears just poured down my face. I felt guilty sitting in a waiting room where patients were still fighting their battle.
I cried quietly with sadness for them. What an emotional roller coaster that day was for me and I know it was for them too. I had come full circle. to reach my victory and I wanted the same for them. I realized this more and more as I watched them talking with each other. I would never want to be in that room again! I prayed for them and I wanted them to feel my empathy and compassion through that glass window. I wanted to hug them wishing today’s victory would give them hope, I tried to send hope straight through the glass to all of them. I knew how many hours they had already spent there in that room. I knew that they had been listening to the doctors and interns tell them all kinds of frightening things, very much in a way that is convincing. There would be no comfort from any of the interns they were detached for a reason. I have never been to medical school so I couldn’t know, I just remember the experience of it.
From where I was sitting I could see out the window directly across from me to the conference room where I was sitting 2 years ago. It’s the conference room you go to with your family to discuss treatment with the team of doctors and surgeons. I was there with my twin sister and my boyfriend, meeting with the whole team of doctors that would be working on me. It was a whole day of being poked, stuck, examined by interns and then hours spent in that conference room listening to everything the doctors and surgeon said about my diagnosis and the treatments I would have to do if I wanted to survive this.
The sadness for them was very overwhelming, I wanted to call someone and talk about my good news, but I felt bad sharing the great news in a room full of sick people. So I texted friends instead. When I finished sending the messages, I started thinking about dreams I had put aside for so long. No one is prepared for these changes. One minute you’re smiling, and life is going smoothly and the next you feel like you were drafted to fight a war whether you want to or not, if you don’t fight the enemy will kill you. I had no experience with cancer and all I could equate it with was suffering and death. I had to stay focused.
I did not expect all the mental and emotional exhaustion that would come in fighting the disease. I wished so many times I had someone to handle everything for me. I did not want to keep filling out forms and keeping track of appointments. I was tired and the medications for the pain were messing with my thinking. I had surgery after surgery and there were many complications. I was either recovering from complications like infection or having additional surgery because something went wrong. Then there was so much physical pain that could not get managed. I learned what nerve pain was and how pain pills cannot touch that kind of pain.
I had many surgeries in those two years and I was in a great deal of pain. I had a bilateral mastectomy, bilateral knee replacement, then the left knee had problems because the replacement was put in crooked, so new surgeons tried correcting it with cutting bone and 3 screws in my tibia. The surgery failed, so a knew knee replacement was put in correctly. Then my gall bladder was removed, a foot surgery prior to finding out about the cancer that had trouble healing. I had a 2 inch screw in the top of my foot for almost a year. So using a wheel chair was difficult because of the complications with my surgery from the mastectomy. I know that there were 14 surgeries in 2 years and my body was wiped out. My arms were not strong enough to use the wheelchair. I started losing my sense of value. I was trying to be positive and hopeful, but I was starting to fail.
I was terrified but wouldn’t show it. You have things that go through your mind you find yourself minimizing because if you act scared you’re afraid your boyfriend will think you can’t handle it or leave you because you are sick or less of a woman and too much of a burden. I pleaded with God to just take the cancer away, I wondered if he had time for me when so many other people are sick, I had never felt so felt so small and insignificant in all my life. I made desperate promises to Him and try to set up a bargain of some sort, I felt like a little girl all over again completely vulnerable and scared as if there was a big monster out to get me and there really was no way to out run him! There was no hero, not the kind I wanted. I did not want to die, I was not ready to part from this world I was attached to loved ones.
I felt like I had to be strong from that day forward because I did not want people to pity me. I had to show people how brave I was so they’d be proud of me and it would be more comfortable for those that I loved to be around me. It was all an act. I was terrified, I felt like I was thrown into an abyss. I felt that if I shared anything real that I felt I would be a burden. I risked sounding depressing if I talked too much about it with my friends unless it was with a very positive attitude. I was only positive about one thing during that time, I was positively frightened. I searched for the lessons always in each day and for the bright side of things. It’s how I am.
The journey was rough, I can still smell the anesthesia and feel all the IV needle pricks and of course I feel the pain in my bones and my chest, which will eventually fade away with time. I feel the anger well up inside me sometimes when I look in the mirror at all the scars the doctor says will fade away. They remind me of my battle and the dignity I tried so desperately to hang on to. It may be vain to wish they were not there, but you know what someday I may get to that point. I don’t know a single friend that doesn’t look in the mirror trying to look their best! You go through shock at first. It’s a choice to adjust and love yourself regardless. We’ve all got something that doesn’t fit in our scope of the perfect body. So embrace what you’ve got, it’s just a vessel really, that carries our soul.
I think our soul can become more beautiful as more scars collect on the outside. If people worked out their souls as much as they worked out their bodies, this world would be a better place to live in. Who are we if our breasts aren’t perfect or we have too full a bottom or tummy, too many wrinkles, men worried about balding. I’m more aware of that type of consciousness in all of us now more than ever. I think it’s great to take care of yourself because it makes us feel confident and when we’re confident, we can move mountains. Having balance in mind, body and spirit is key.
I want to give a tip for anyone with a loved ones battling cancer. Educate yourself, read books that will help you be supportive. Don’t allow ignorance to be the barrier between you and your loved one fighting the battle. The most ignorant thing I ever heard from a girlfriend that I’m sure was said with good intentions to make me feel better was ”Awe Shannon, look at it this way girl, you’ll have new boobs and look better than the rest of us girls”, she said it very dismissively when I was breaking the news to her about being diagnosed with breast cancer”. She had gone through breast augmentation to increase the size of her breasts, which is a simple procedure compared to a bilateral mastectomy. Let me tell you, when you wake up from that surgery it feels like someone took a hot shovel and scraped out your entire chest! You are emotionally punched with the reality that something is missing. You’re very groggy and scared to look. When you look in the mirror and your completely flat and you have two long gashes where your breasts use to be. It does something to you in every way, emotionally, mentally and physically. My friend didn’t realize what was taken from me, what trauma it was for me. I breast-fed my children and it was a maternal part of me, as well as sensual. Reconstruction was painful and took a year with infection and complications. I knew it was to save my life, but everything is a process and we need to remember that when helping others through an ordeal like this.
If I could share advice it would be to please make sure that you have a “round table” of knights, your own noble friends, people you can trust, even if it’s just one or two. You’ll make mistakes, believe me you will, forgive each other. There is power in apologies and forgiveness. Most of all there is healing” It’s amazing what people will gossip about and I had friendships that became stronger and some that fell to the wayside by doing things that you would never imagine. I have seen the worse nature in people come out even battling such a terrible disease.
I wrote a blog about gossip because it was through my battle with cancer that I experienced the worse betrayal and had to not only fight for my life but heal from the reckless behavior caused by toxic friends. Sometimes you just have to let go and it took a long time to learn that lesson. Forgiveness is for us, forgive whether they ask for it or not.
I beat Stage 3 cancer without doing chemo The one mistake was not getting enough sunshine living those 9 years in Seattle and I think having all those surgeries severely compromised my immune system. I also know for certain that I had been through a lot of stress. I was a victim of a terrible crime from late 1997 to 2000 where I finally left all the people I loved except my daughter and moved to Port Orchard WA for safety. I had to change my name, my social security number and start my life all over terrified. I dealt with PTSD and I was having night terrors. This is another story for another day. Cancer showed up again after I moved back to California. It came back with a vengeance. However, I beat that too and have been cancer free from cancer over 3 years now since October 2011.
CEO and Founder Angels For Shannon www.angelsforshannon.com
Co Producer/Host Diagnosed TV “Affect Cancer” www.affectcancer.com