CHEMO IS NOT (ALWAYS) THE ANSWER.
We live in an indecisive world.
This life is a constant battle between "should I" and "shouldn't I", where typically simple decisions about everyday mundane things seem far more complicated than they need to be. "Do I eat that piece of decadent cake, or not? Do I skip yoga class, or motivate my lazy ass to get there? Do I have one more glass of wine, or take it easy on the vino?".
But, what about the not-so-mundane things in life that we need to make choices about? What about the heavy stuff - like cancer care?
Most of society takes the advice of doctors without any further research or investigation into diagnosis, causes and treatment options. Most people don't even know they have treatment options.
Once upon a time, I was one of those people. I've had cancer - twice.
Recently, there was a major breakthrough in the treatment of breast cancer. A study was just released in the New England Journal of Medicine and reported by CNN, which found that the most common form of early-stage breast cancer may not need to be treated with chemotherapy at all. They discovered that this type of breast cancer (hormone-receptor positive, HER2-negative, node-negative cancer), may only need to be treated with hormone blockers, radiation and/or surgery. According to CNN, this could be applicable to about 70% of women with early stage breast cancer.
The study followed breast cancer survivors over a 9 year period comparing those treated with chemotherapy and hormone therapy combined, to that of those having only hormone therapy and no chemotherapy at all. The findings were astonishing. There was only a 1% difference between the two groups regarding recurring or second primary cancers, with chemotherapy having the slight 1% advantage. Chemo made an insignificant difference in this group.
The list of side effects attributed to chemotherapy and other conventional protocols used to fight breast cancer, as detailed by Breastcancer.org, is a long and terrifying one. Everything from subsequent cancers to organ failure, is on that lengthy list. Countless lives will be saved from people having to endure chemo's deadly effects and the quality of life for many breast cancer survivors will improve dramatically, going forward.
This is a huge 'win' towards treating breast cancer effectively, safely and responsibly.
CNN's report on the study also included a short segment highlighting the causes attributed to breast cancer which included poor diet, lack of exercise and hormone levels as the three main factors - but can this common sense knowledge be used to treat breast cancer, too?
Using holistic and alternative approaches towards treating cancer versus or in conjunction with conventional methods, should be considered as viable options.
If there were safer treatment alternatives available, shouldn't people be made aware of them? This could be possible if studies were done to explore and legitimize these alternative and holistic avenues instead of just perpetually focussing on existing conventional methods.
After many sleepless nights researching ways to heal breast cancer, I discovered a variety of options to start the healing process and recovery of cancer without having to use all the harsh conventional treatments.
Eating a clean, healthy diet using specific cancer fighting foods
Detoxifying the body
Drinking plenty of the right type of water
Reducing acidity in the body
Consuming specific vitamins and nutrients
Administering herbal remedies with the supervision of a naturopathic doctor (ND).
The list goes on and on...and on.
The Canadian Cancer Society emphasizes that not enough research is available yet on the treatment of cancer itself using alternative and holistic approaches, but lists some of these above options as proven to help cope with conventional treatments.
But, can these methods actually work to fight cancer? From my own personal experience and account, I can say YES - because I am here and healthy after six years in remission from advanced stage III breast cancer. Although, having opted for a double mastectomy, I chose the no chemo, radiation and hormone treatment route and decided to try various holistic and alternative protocols instead.
Crazy? Maybe it seems like it right now. But, I'd like to think of it more as progressive - because the future of cancer care is finally changing.
Perhaps we should start looking at decisions like whether or not to eat that piece of decadent cake, skipping yoga class or having an extra glass of wine as not-so-mundane, after all. It's decisions like those that will probably save lives in the long run, and not so much the ignorant protocols of our current health care system - because although this is a great breakthrough in research, as the study shows, conventional medicine still seems to be unsure of their dangerous old ways.
Photography by Taylor Oakes.