Cancer Free – My Testimony

This is bittersweet.  It’s bittersweet because I know others who are at stages or points in the journey and I want so badly for them to be healed.  By sharing this, I hope cancer patients reading it are filled with hope.

There are no words to express the appreciation for the support I receive.  This has been some journey, and along the way have been friends who are consistent in contacting me.   Some have busy lives, but they always find time to check-in with me.  They have helped to keep me positive.

In addition to the above, much appreciation goes out to friends and relatives who took time to understand the type of cancer and treatment.  Not all breast cancer is the same; it depends on the receptors on the cells.  Everything we read about cancer on the internet and in advertisements does not apply to all types of cancers.

Cancer treatment is not a one size fits all.

On March 1, 2019, I had surgery due to breast cancer.  Within weeks, I received the news of the pathology reports, but didn’t want to post about it until I got a printed copy.  On April 29, 2019, I saw my oncologist and received a copy.  I am now cancer free but not really because there is no cure for cancer known to man.  My former oncologist repeatedly told me that there is no cure.   Why then, should patients put themselves through treatments that at times makes them think they are better off dead?

The more my former oncologist told me there is no cure, the more I researched in effort to learn what I can do for self-help.  I asked God to rebuke that oncologist’s pessimism.   It’s not that what he said isn’t true, but he added no hope in the equation.

In December after spending 4 days in the hospital because of the negligence of my oncologist to treat me for a urinary tract infection, I changed oncologist.  My new oncologist discovered that the former one staged me incorrectly.   My former oncologist should have ordered a cancer marker test before assuming the cancer in my right breast traveled to my left side through my lymph system.  I learned in December that he made that conclusion without ordering a cancer marker test.  (The cancer marker test in January 2019 returned a low score, indicating no cancer cells in my blood stream.) The new oncologist took time to go over the first PET Scan taken in September 2018, and the second PET Scan taken in November 2018.  He sent me through a battery of tests, all with very encouraging results.

My journey continues.  I am still scheduled for 6 months of immunology drugs.  The 6 months of treatment with target drugs after surgery is intended to give me up to 10 years of life without recurrence.   Although I should avoid some of the effects of regular chemo drugs, Herceptin does come with its own drawbacks.  Herceptin is hard on muscles and causes muscle pains, and that includes the heart.  Many women have stopped treatment because of heart problems.  I am given a MUGA or Echo test every 4 months during treatment to make sure that my heart is still strong enough to continue treatments.  I started off strong with a MUGA score of 72.  That became my base line.  In January of this year, my Echo results were at 55.  I’ve not had treatments since February 15th, so the rest from it might have given my heart muscles time to improve since heart function can recover when Herceptin treatment stops.  I am to have another Echo in several weeks.

Cancer cells have a way of making it out of the source tumor.  They can lay dormant for years before dividing and creating a tumor.   There are oncologists who attempt to predict whether or not cancer will return by examining the stage and type of cancer cells when first treated.  Even when tests do not detect that the cancer has metastasized/spread when treatment begins, and in spite of completing treatments and surgery, there is always a chance of recurrence.   There are studies that attribute recurrence to cancer stem cells that traditional chemo and radiation cannot destroy.  There are also studies that an ingredient in ground ginger kills cancer stem cells.

It’s almost strange that even before reading the study on ground ginger, I began taking ground ginger 3 days a week shortly after my diagnosis.  I shall continue taking it for the rest of my life.

My Journey

My journey began on August 30, 2018 when a nurse in the Women’s Center scheduled me for two appointments which represented one hour each for two procedures.  Since I’m still working with the hospital to amend or remove a malicious lie by the radiologist from my medical record, I won’t go into the nightmare that delayed diagnosis until September 21, 2018.

I was originally scheduled for 6 treatments with what is referred to as TCHP.   The drugs were Taxotere, Carboplatin, Herceptin and Perjeta.  The purpose of the drugs and number of treatments was to shrink the tumor.

My Testimony

Seldom do I ever repeat things but this time it’s necessary.  My treatment plan was for 6 treatments with 4 drugs.  My first treatment was the only treatment with all 4 drugs.  Let me say it another way — out of 6 treatments, I only received the 4 drugs once.

The treatment plan is suggested by the drugs’ manufacturers as all working together to be more effective.  The plan was to shrink the tumor so it could be surgically removed.  I was told by the surgeon that if the biopsy of lymph nodes were positive for cancer cells, that I would have six weeks of radiation.  That’s radiation five days a week for six weeks.  I did not want that.

They didn’t tell God about their plan.  He had another plan.

From the Pathology Report;

“No residual invasive or in situ tumor identified.”

“No metastatic tumor identified in multiple levels and pan-karatin.”

“Additional three reactive intramammary lymph nodes, no metastatic tumor identified.”

The surgeon and oncologist put it in layman’s terms — no cancer cells in my breasts nor lymph nodes.  Keeping in mind that the purpose of the plan was to shrink the tumor for surgical removal, it turned out that there was no residual tumor identified.  It was gone.

Giving Credit Where It Is Due

I am grateful to my new oncologist for sending me for diagnostic tests when I became his patient.   He is owed credit for his knowledge and taking time to get things right.  He is patient and never condescending.

Full credit goes to the God of my creation.  Not only did he answer prayers, but he led me to learn about things he created that I adopted into my care plan, as well as spiritual things.

There is one more surgery in the future after I’ve completed treatments with the immunology drugs, and that is to remove the port.  It will be done outpatient under local anesthesia.

My life is hidden with Christ in God.  Let it be known that I am not only a believer but a knower.  What we believe can change, but what we know cannot.

“And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” (1John 2:3, KJV)

Jesus Christ said that all the Law and the Prophets hang on two commandments.  Love God with all our heart, soul and mind, and love our neighbors as ourselves.

Peace and love to you all.

Posted on 05/08/2019, in cancer and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 45 Comments.

  1. 👍👍 Two thumbs up!!! 🤗🤗🤗🤗🤗 Bunches of hugs!!! I am so thrilled … and so glad you changed oncologists! The old one ought to retire and get out of the profession! Yes, there is a chance of a recurrence, but for today, my friend, just be happy. ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 4 people

    • Hi Jill! I feel those hugs. 🙂 By the way, the former oncologist left practice in January and said he was retiring. The man I met in late September was not the same man by mid-October. Something happened with him and it’s really sad because I want to believe that there’s still a good person inside of him.

      Smiley gets a big hug

      Liked by 2 people

  2. That’s great news Xena, good for you. The Chemo was the hardest part for me, I never really got sick from the Cancer. I’m glad it’s worked out so well for you. :o)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jim! Chemo is like being on a battle field hit my friendly fire. Some of the chemo drugs are absolute poison, yet it’s cancer patients’ only chance of getting rid of the cancer or sending it into remission. Here’s hoping that your journey ended and you are doing well.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful news, Xena! Sending love and hugs. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  4. So happy for you Xena. My friend with cancer is like you, a true warrior, especially in prayer. I’ve lost two many people to cancer, not easy.
    The advances made today and the power of the human prayerful spirit is truly powerful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sunshiny,
      First, I apologize for not seeing your comment sooner. Although you have a blog on WordPress, for some reason your comment went into the spam folder. I too have lost people to cancer, including my godmother, husband, oldest sister and her youngest son.

      I learned through all of this, the first and most important thing is to exercise faith in God.

      Like

  5. Two sides to a story

    Hallelujah! So glad to read of your recovery!

    Ginger is great stuff, for many reasons, and is a good companion with turmeric (for inflammation – many dis-eases begin with inflammation of one type or another).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Two sides,
      As we used to say in church some decades ago, “Hallelujah! Sock it to ya!”

      You’re right-on about ginger. I’m working on getting info about ground ginger for a blog post. There is a kosher vitamin company in NJ that I order from that has a tonic of Blueberries, Turmeric and Ginger. Good stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m heartened by this good news!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. What a journey. God took care of you. Very happy for you . And your news. Wish you a healthy and happy future.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. This is excellent news. Way to go Xena.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. touching reflection, Xena!
    i’m sorry you went through this difficulty.
    it’s wonderful your body found precious healing
    with faith and medical miracles.
    may your day be in sunshine, david 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • David,
      Thanks so much for your comment. I’m beginning to understand the reason why I was placed on the road of this journey. At some point, I hope that some good will come from it that is a benefit to others. I’m really inspired now.

      Like

      • all i know of you
        has been beneficial!
        may you continue
        with calm breaths
        in freedom 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks for your kind words. This is a new experience for me. Since the early 90’s, I got into exercise and healthy eating, doing all the things recommended to prevent cancer. It happened anyway. I would like to encourage others to not blame themselves when diagnosed, and to know that life is precious.

          Like

          • i witnessed a number of people
            who became strong advocates
            for well being after they survived,
            during my public health service career.
            may you continue feeling your inspiration
            with each calm breath 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

            • Thank you for your kind words and sharing your experience. It is so true. It is often after walking in certain shoes that we become advocates because of direct experience. Breathing calmly, and looking forward to sketching out a plan of advocacy. 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

  10. Never never never do I want to hear of embarrassment for your wonderful healing and being free of the monster. Shame! This is your will and I love you. And I love you cancer free! Tears of joy!
    Text me, yeah?
    Ilene

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ilene,
      I love you. If a cure for cancer could be put in a pitcher, I would pour it out starting with you and some other bloggers I’ve met on this journey.

      As you no doubt already know, being cancer free simply means being in remission and remaining vigilant because those zombies can lay dormant for years before rearing their ugly heads again. I’m doing everything in my power to prevent that, but then too I thought the healthy life I was living would prevent cancer. I’ll be on immunology drugs through September. This journey is not yet over and after September, I’ll be able to rest while not leaving the path. I am happy about being cancer free, but not happy that cancer even exists.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You know survivors guilt is not a fun feeling. I’m sure that you are going to be vigilant and strong and the warrior princess you are and make sure you get your scans and blood tests and do not let the oncologists let you down. Once stage 4 is stage 4 it’s gone for now. Stay positive and don’t let your stress get to you and I hope it stays gone forever. I’m sure you would cure everyone as would all of us indelibly changed by the shit that cancer is…if we ever can find a cure. I’m doing okay all things considered. I want you to be happy and healthy and know I’m right here routing for you as your personal cheerleading squad. And don’t hide such awesome news. You have not one thing to feel badly about – we all gain more hope when one if us is NED. You go my friend!
        Love you,
        Ilene

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ilene,
          I’m unsure if I have survivor’s guilt or a strong desire to shout to all those with MBC what I did and didn’t do since first receiving the diagnosis and what I am doing thereafter. Perhaps there’s a hope in me that says if I survive and die from old age cancer free, that there’s no harm trying what worked. What I don’t want is an assumption that I am anti-traditional cancer treatment because I’m not. I combined natural treatment with it, and the two must have worked together.

          The thing with curing cancer is how governments make decisions. I’ve read so many studies about herbs that kill cancer and cancer stem cells in mice that I lost count. Unless something can be patented and regulated by the FDA, I don’t think that a cancer cure will ever be approved in the U.S. The pharmaceutical companies develop dosages of chemo drugs, but scientists and researchers appear to always say in their conclusions that more research is necessary to determine dosages and delivery methods of herbs and minerals in humans. (sigh)

          Stress that I have now involves the purported programs that are offered to cancer patients where the professionals do nothing other than come to your home, dirty your carpet, and talk. For the hours I’ve spent allowing that to happen since December, I could have written a novel. Last week, I drew a boundary and this week there might be more to come.

          Liked by 1 person

          • My lovely woman, I’m so proud of you for being your own best advocate. So many people just do as they’re told by the oncologists, etc. As strong as you are in your life you’ve been with your cancer, and you carry that into your current situation. Setting boundaries for being specific about what you will and will not do also defines the healing process. There’s two healing processes – physical and psychosocial.

            I though about the idea of survivors guilt, about your prognosis, and about how therapies both approved and healthy but unproven, from both standard protocol treatments and herbal, natural, eastern, diet based, and combining both into a program that works for an individual. And it’s different for every single person. No way to combine the same genetics, environmental influences, psychological impacts, and you have as many mutable forms of cancer as there are people. No two are alike.

            In that cancer is so different from person to person that every treatment must be as well. I wrote a blog post regarding curing cancer and can it really be accomplished. Have a quick read if you want so I don’t have to repeat my thoughts here.

            And the thing I worry about is: no evidence of disease is the best you van hope for with stage 4 cancer. No evidence of disease doesn’t mean cure, it means nothing is active, so stay VIGILANT. I had to switch cancer centers because I was NED and my oncologist only wanted to see me every 6 months, but that meant not doing scans for a year and who knows, even as healthy a life as one can adopt, what can mutate in a cancer cell in that time. If cancer cells are those that grow faster than any other cells in the body and they are not recognized by the body’s immune system, then who knows what can happen in a week or a month or a year. That’s what I’m worried about for myself as well as for you. I’m not certain…but being without disease is the best possible thing that you can hope for… yet also having some diligence by knowing your oncologist but perhaps by having a second or even third opinion might be wise. Again I’m not sure of all of the details but I just want to make sure that you are happy, healthy, and content with how you’re taken care of by those in the oncology world.

            Furthermore I want to send you a copy of Michael Lerner’s book – it’s the de facto reference guide in the field of alternative therapies. I know Michael and he’s THE reason I started my blog and began writing again.

            Send me a quick email to my personal email address with your address so I can send you the book. I think you’ll find it useful and it’s very balanced.

            Also if you’re able to go on YouTube search up the new school Commonweal and you’ll also find fair and balanced discussions with some amazing people including Michael Pollan who wrote “change your mind” about psychedelics and healing.

            Love you,
            Ilene

            Liked by 1 person

            • Ilene,
              I love you. Is this the Michael Lerner you referenced? If not, let me know and we’ll make contact so I can have it. I did read your post about cancer cures.

              Early on when I first blogged about my diagnosis, I wrote what the oncologist told me — Stage IV. Angela, who is a doctor and has a blog, was just as confused about that staging as I was because no cancer cells were found in any major organs. It was in November after the second PET Scan that the oncologist told me he saw “shadows” on the left side of my neck and left armpit which he “thought” were cancer cells that had spread from the right breast through my lymph system. I changed oncologists in December after the first gave me Taxatere that almost killed me. My new oncologist compared the two scans. When the first PET Scan was taken, I had an ear infection in my left ear. In fact, I asked the oncologist if I could have the scan with the infection. I had also shaved my armpits that morning.

              My new oncologist said he would have never thought the “shadows” were cancer cells. He would have staged me at Stage IIIa because of the size of the tumor and because there were cancer cells in a lymph node in my right armpit.

              It’s really frustrating being NED because insurance companies don’t want to pay more than every 6 months for diagnostic tests to monitor cancer. Funny. My son and I watched the movie Saw IV today, and I was saying lines in the movie about insurance companies controlling who gets medical care and who dies before the character said them.

              I suppose you can say I’m an old soul. My mom was 40 and my dad 53 when I was born. They both loved hanging around people older than themselves, and having come from a background of using “home remedies” they learned even more. Our family, friends and acquaintances are diverse, so there were “home remedies” we learned from first generation immigrants. There are certain illnesses that can be successfully treated with herbs, minerals, and food. Then, there are progressive illnesses that need an extra something on the scientific level.

              I will follow the oncologist’s instructions, but will take ground ginger and drink green tea for the rest of my natural life.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Yes indeed that’s Michael.
              Shit fire. What an abominable ordeal. Thank you for sharing the background and your truth.
              Yes, insurers anger me as they’re use of actuarial tables vs. PET scans and MRIS and CT scans and oncologists opinions don’t cover those of us who don’t meet certain standards of nearness to death.
              We agree that older people are on the whole more interesting – perhaps in another life we knew one another. In fact the median age of my friends post diagnosis I’d say is roughly 67 and pre diagnosis I’d say right about 60. So not much difference. Post diagnosis my two good friends are in their mid 70s. They’re well aware of ends and losses, as they slide into home and are fully enlightened in the matters of death, but death isn’t much of our conversations or concerns. They love antiques like I love antiques, in fact I’m wearing a black French artists smock from the 1910s at this very moment- I prefer old to new. My parents said I was born with words in my mouth and my eyes open walking at 6-8 months, talking at 1 year and a beginner at reading at 18 months – my dad gave me Stranger in a Strange Land in 4th grade and Kurt Vonnegut by 6th grade. I grokked my dad. Had he not the foresight, well that and the degrees in psychoanalysis, to feed me critical texts and literary works to nourish my curiosity and early questioning of life, the universe, and everything (yes Douglas Adams remains a household favorite), I’d not be me. Me who doesn’t recall ever thinking much differently than I do now only with a broader vocabulary with which to express myself. Me who asks a lot of questions. Me who hates the telephone. Me who brute forces a skill until imminent mastery or failure become clear. Me who has cancer and while I accept its inevitability as my likely cause of death, but rejects the notion that the terms cancer survivors and pink aren’t synonymous. In fact the more I write the more obvious answer to the question: why does it seem so many of us air our deepest emotional laundry to dry in the cavernous echoing World Wide Web?
              You and I for example found like minded support and strong sounding boards across miles, wires, light, and screens. Community and immediate acceptance amongst the others who exist on this side of disease timidly at first then screaming into an intrepid canyon empty and vast until the first hello we hear brings a smile to our face and somehow we enter a place inside that feels less alone and less out of place in the real world.

              But we have ginger, and green tea, and baths of magnesium, apple cider vinegar and baking soda, and vitamins C and B. We have chemo and a taxed system with 50% of our population with cancer meaning everyone is touched somehow by its mutinous mutations. And none of it is good but the community of people with whom we find friendship and love out in the universe where no one in our lives at home truly can understand us anymore, changed by the disease that groks us, like water to a Martian except we don’t need the cancer and it’s unfortunately not scarce.

              With much love and peace peace peace from way over here awake in insomnia land,
              Ilene
              PS chemo tomorrow (or today since you’re not on pacific time ❣️) May be the last infusion of second to last. Let’s hope to hell it’s the last of 22 weeks straight of Taxol, ‘cause I feel like ashes from a camping trip fire.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Ilene,
              By the way, about the second or third opinion. I can get test results on CD and take them to see another physician if I want another opinion. However, in my neck of the woods, there are only three hospitals. One of them I wouldn’t send my dog to. The other is where a specialist sent for a second opinion of a biopsy that my original physician sent to Mayo Clinic. The specialists told me that it was good news — no A1 typical pre-cancer cells on my ear, yet she didn’t know what is causing the problem and here a year later, has still not sent me written results.

              In other words, I would need to go to another state in order to get a second opinion on the pathologist’s report and pay for it out-of-pocket. That’s not a priority with me now because I’m still receiving treatment with immunology drugs through September.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Well, I can offer to ask around at Stanford on procedure and cost. I know they take Medicare and work with out of town patients all the time. Knowing you May have a hard time getting here, there’s corporate angels and other orgs that give give you seats on corporate jets free and housing you’d not have to worry about, ppp
              Ppp
              Ppp

              Liked by 1 person

            • Ilene,
              It’s not only because I can’t fly without taking strong antihistamines, in addition to fear of flying, but I’m in no position to pick up and move. I’m certainly in no condition now to put my house on the market and allow people to walk through when most times, I just want to sleep or vegetate.

              Waking up

              Like

            • I don’t know how I hit reply but I was not done. Must be the Taxol / Benadryl hangover from chemo today.

              Off to a bath and bed. I love you and let me know if you’d want to explore the Stanford or even UCSF where I plan to transfer once we move I HOPE in June

              Liked by 1 person

            • Ilene,
              Hope you have rest and peace. I hear that Taxol is as bad a Taxatere. That stuff is poison.

              Since I’m only on targeted drugs, a second opinion is not really necessary. Even if the pathologist’s report is incorrect and cancer cells were present, I would still only receive targeted drugs. The treatment would be the same.

              Oh — I know — you just want me geography close to you. 🙂 That’s so sweet of you. I think we would be dynamite together.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Well of course I’d want you closer – but – I just worry. My intent was to take your CD to Stanford and your report and set up a call with one of the team there, no planes trains or automobiles. Second, it’s always in your power and best interests to make the decisions you need to create a healthy body that cancer can’t thrive in, like an inhospitable Petri dish. If you’re not a good host for cancer cancer can’t grow. Did you know that cancer grows it’s own vascular system to feed off of the body? I’ve learned so much in four plus years. But the two things I inherently understand are:
              1. No one thing is right for everyone and everyone is different in how they can get to the stress body that allows the immune system to not recognize the cancer in the first place, since everyone has cancer cells in their body all the time.
              2. My empathy suits me to want to take care of people I love, and therefore if I feel a wave of big help coming over me I must remember that I have to say so, but be gracious enough to make sure I give information without obliging the person in my heart to take it.

              So I am just worriedly hoping you’re in good hands. Lucky me has the fortuitous place of residence where two cancer centers are available. I am going to be switching to UCSF ASAP, as I am more interested in naturopathic and targeted therapies. My oncologist is overworked and he missed two things that glaringly could have bad repercussions. We are moving to the country by the first week of July, so I’ll be closer to the other facility anyway, and it’s more of what I need now, however Stanford has some world class diagnostics and diagnosticians and I can always ask for a long distance referral should you want one.
              Hugs, hugs, and more hugs.
              Ilene

              Liked by 1 person

            • Ilene,
              That is one reason why I love you. In the midst of your journey with Stage IV breast cancer, you take time to worry about others. Friday, I had another Echo and should have the results early next week. That is really my only concern now. Herceptin is hard on the muscles, including heart muscles. Even if the pathologist’s report found cancer cells, I would be on the same targeted drug therapy with Herceptin. My oncologist did have another cancer/tumor test ran, and the score is lower (11) than last time, which was 18. That’s good news. Thanks for your offer for long distance referral for diagnostics.

              Good news about your moving to the country!

              Liked by 1 person

  11. What a testimony! Doctors have a purpose. But doctors and labs make mistakes. God is almighty! Know that you are blessed! Be strong! Stay strong and blessed!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. As you say there are a lot of different kinds of cancer. My late husband died of throat cancer, but at the social club he attended he had a friend in her nineties who had had breast cancer and had the operation in her sixties, and there were several other elderly ladies with the same story. Many women completely recover from breast cancer, so I am really pleased your operation was a success and you are now judged clear. You may very well stay clear – and your view about finding everything about the condition and living in a cancer averse way from now on, is sound.
    Thank you for your account, and I wish you good health. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for sharing and your words of encouragement. I’m looking forward to completing treatment with the immunology drugs and living the rest of my life cancer free.

      Liked by 1 person

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