Olivia Newton-John’s Journey With Breast Cancer After More Than 20 Years
When I read that Olivia-Newton-John once again continues her journey with breast cancer, my heart sank. Olivia, now 70 years old, first entered the journey in 1992. She underwent a mastectomy and 9 months of chemotherapy. She was declared cancer free. Twenty-one years later, there was a recurrence. Olivia was in a traffic accident and a lump on her right shoulder turned out to be metastasized breast cancer cells. She underwent conventional and natural medicine, which she says helped to boost her immune system. It’s now been over 25 years since her first diagnosis and in September 2017, a tumor was found on her spine.
Olivia and Suzanne Somers (diagnosed in 2001) both used a combination of traditional and non-traditional treatment on their journey kicking breast cancer’s butt.
Since Olivia has used non-traditional, natural methods on her journey, I thought I would share a segment of my own journey thus far.
One of the things that is not widely known is that when some women are declared “cancer free” medical professionals do not advise them how to stay cancer free through diet, herbs, and vitamins. The thing with cancer is that even if the doctors believe that the cancer cells have not metastasized, there’s no guarantee that they haven’t. All it takes is one of those mutated cells to get into the blood stream, end up in an organ or a bone, and when the environment is right, start dividing and creating a tumor. I read a story by a woman on her journey who was told she was Stage 1 and with the tumor removed, she was cancer free. About 5 years later, her hip started hurting and there was a tumor consisting of the same breast cancer cells.
Olivia Newton-John is proof that even with metastatic breast cancer, patients can use natural methods to keep it in remission for 20 years or longer. However, it takes lots of research to find out just what works for each individual because not every breast cancer patient has the same cancer cells.
I do try to listen to my body. As a child, I heard the elders say that cancer loves sugar. There was a time when I thought they were just trying to scare us kids into not eating lots of candy and ice cream. Well, what does a kid really know about cancer anyway?
It turns out that the sugar theory was introduced by German Nobel laureate Otto Heinrich Warburg in 1924. All cells use glucose, but why give the body more by directly consuming products filled with sugar?
For years, my favorite soft drink was Pepsi. After the biopsy, I felt pain that is indescribable and was told it was cancer cells eating through healthy tissue. My first thought was that the biopsy which pierced through tissue opened that opportunity. However, with that pain, I was able to identity the activity. A few sips of Pepsi that evening, and there was increased activity. My last Pepsi was in late September and I’ve neither had any other soft drink. The same thing happened after eating white potatoes. However, information published by the chemo class recommends drinking Ginger Ale to help with nausea. “Eat whatever you like and usually eat” said a nurse.
The thing with breast cancer is that it depends on the cell receptors and that also dictates the type of treatment and prognosis. In my research and gathering information since October 2018, I found it important when reading to distinguish between the types of cancer cells. One of the most frustrating things is to have a family member or relative see an advertisement on television and suggest that I speak to my oncologist about the drug. When I ask is the commercial said it was for women with Her2 positive, they don’t know. I also found it necessary to be careful when reading headlines such as, “Blueberries kill cancer” because the article might not mention what type of cancer.
As one example, I was going through a nutrition book that said grape seed extract is the most powerful anti-oxidant. The target drugs that I receive use my immune system to kill the cancer cells, so I’ve been looking for supplements to boast my immune system. Since a DVT was discovered in my upper left arm after my first treatment in October, I was placed on Xarelto. When I asked about interactions with the supplements I take, I was instructed to stop taking garlic tablets. (Garlic boosts the immune system but thins the blood.) Because of dizziness and nose bleads, I did not rebel against those instructions. In December, I was changed to Eliquis in a lower dose than the Xarelto and was told that I could start back taking garlic tablets. Last month, I had an ultra sound and no blood clots were found. I was taken off prescription blood thinners.
While researching for another immune system booster, I found that blueberries are promoted as anti-inflammatory and immune system builders. I am one who does not believe in coincidences. There’s an online site I use to order vitamins and supplements and when I went to look for grape seed extract and blue berry supplements, the products that returned appeared confusing. About two days later, I discovered why.
There’s a study published on the U.S. National Library of Medicine regarding triple negative breast cancer and blueberries. I do not have triple negative cancer cells, but wanted to read the findings of the study. They found that blueberries are beneficial in treating triple negative cancer cells in mice.
On the same site is another study. It’s highly scientific and way over my head, but the simple wording that resveratrol “significantly accelerated cancer development” in Her2 and ER mammary carcinomas was enough for me to realize that God kept me from ordering grape seed extract and blueberry supplements. Resveratrol is found in red grapes and blueberries, along with other sources that are mostly berries with brightly colored skins. If I had jumped on the blueberry and/or grape wagon, I would actually be accelerating development of Her2 positive cancer cells.
I was disappointed to see Suzanne Somers selling resveratrol on her website.
So, what am I saying? Before we take certain supplements or eat certain foods to help kill cancer cells and while in remission, we must be fully informed. I can witness that being fully informed is almost a full-time job. About 95% of what I read now is about cancer research and chemo drugs.
What I’ve found is that it’s important to distinguish between verbiage such as “prevents cancer” as opposed to “might kill cancer cells”. Preventing cancer does not mean killing cancer after it has progressed into a tumor. I’ve spoken with two physicians and told both that I don’t believe a human can consume enough of anything by mouth to kill malignant cancer cells in tumors. I do however, believe that we can consume enough to accelerate healing along with chemo. If any cancer cells are hiding out after surgery and treatment, taking supplements and herbs can’t harm us. Mostly, I believe that after being declared “cancer free” that we can continue those vitamins, herbs and foods that promote environments in which cancer cells cannot thrive.
Of course, when it comes to herbs, vitamins and food, the word “might” is common to read because the FDA cannot monitor or approve those things. For example, Suzanne Somers used mistletoe extract as part of her natural treatment. It is used in Germany and other nations in Europe but is not available in the United States.
Studies of herbs, vitamins and foods are often performed on mice and not humans because the testing does not involve man-made medicines, and it’s practically impossible to get humans to participate in a “control group” taking placebo drugs when they have cancer and want to live. One of the things I’ve found when reading the studies is that there is an inference that cancer patients are looking for one herb, or one supplement rather than combining them.
Then of course, there are studies and findings by professional scientists that are misrepresented by others. This is what I mean …
In February 2018, the Guardian reported;
“Researchers are investigating whether a change in diet could help patients with breast tumours after studies in mice showed that asparagine, a compound first identified in asparagus but present in many other foods, drives the spread of the disease to other organs.”
The article continues that scientists examined records from human cancers and found that breast tumors that churned out the most asparagine were most likely to spread where it becomes incurable.
That same month, an article was published by American Council on Science and Health with the headline, “No, Asparagus Won’t Give You Cancer.” It criticized the media reports including the headline used by the Guardian for its article although the Guardian’s headline pertains to the actual study which does not say that asparagus gives people cancer. Rather, it pertains to the spread of cancer.
About now, you might be saying “Xena, why not just ask your doctor about these things?”
I tried that. I also tried talking to the dietician for chemo patients. My now former oncologist cut-me off mid-sentence and stated, “Take whatever you want. None of it does any good.” I think I had the dietician confused and discouraged when telling her about my allergies and that I don’t eat pork or chicken because of the blood type diet. I mean, when you promote soy as a benefit to a patient who is allergic to soy, and tell them to eat chicken, it spoils the entire presentation of what that patient should eat and shortens their grocery list to about two items.
My insurance company has a program where they send out meals to patients who have just been discharged from the hospital. I told the representative that I doubted I could eat them unless they contained no soy and no chicken. She sent them anyway. Sure enough, every single meal contains soy, even in the breakfast hash browns. By the way, asparagine is found in soy. Another by the way — almost all of the dinner meals included asparagus. I don’t like asparagus and wouldn’t have eaten it regardless of the aforementioned article published in the Guardian.
A person who turned out to be very valuable was a pharmacist. He was able to tell me what vitamins and supplements interact with the chemo drugs, and when I should and should not take them. He even stated that some of the supplements I take help the chemo drugs, but others were helping by extending the life of the chemo, which is why I was still in pain during my recovery week.
Olivia Newton-John is encouraging, and I wish her the best. I just hope that her sharing the holistic method does not end up as a one-size fits all that might cause more damage than help in the long-run.