Bonnie Annis is a breast cancer survivor, diagnosed in 2014 with stage 2b invasive ductal carcinoma with metastasis to the lymph nodes. She is an avid photographer, freelance writer/blogger, wife, mother and grandmother.
Alternative cancer treatment takes a moderate amount of effort, but this survivor thinks it's worth it.
“You have cancer,” are three words that can scare the bejesus out of you in a split second. Your head starts spinning and before you know it, a myriad of decisions lie before you. Questions need answers. Will you need surgery? What comes next? What type treatment options are available? Will you need chemotherapy or radiation, or perhaps a combination of both? And after you've completed those, what comes next? It's enough to drive you mad, and in the midst of the madness, you may forget you have a choice. Although you trust your doctor and lean heavily on his or her expertise, you don't necessarily have to follow it.
Some people, when diagnosed with breast cancer, choose to follow the traditional route of health care. Others choose to participate in alternative therapies. Each choice is an individual one, and I'm not here to encourage you to choose either way, but I would like to share a little about my experience in hopes that it would provide a little food for thought.
Four years ago, I sat in a chair in my doctor's office. My head was reeling from the amount of information being thrown at me. For two hours, I listened as the physician shared everything from the size and grade of my tumor to my reconstruction options. I left the office that day feeling overwhelmed.
After I got home, it was important to process the information I'd been presented. Pulling out my notes, I began to go over each one. With the help of my husband, we discussed the pros and cons of surgery, treatment and reconstructive surgery. We made lists and we took time to pray about the options.
Finding peace in the midst of turmoil was difficult. At times, we felt alone and confused, but then I began to do some research.
I wasn't sold on traditional breast cancer treatment. Several friends of mine had been through those types of treatment for breast cancer and had recently passed away. I'd witnessed the decline in their health as they'd struggled through treatment. I'd seen the dramatic effects chemotherapy had made on their bodies. As I'd talked with these women, each of them had shared their regret at agreeing to traditional therapy. Over and over again, I heard the words, "I wish I'd never had chemotherapy, just look what it's done to my body."
Of my friends who'd been through their own breast cancer journey, there wasn't one who hadn't suffered severe side effects from chemotherapy. One friend lost her hearing, another had heart damage and yet another had lung damage. All of these side effects were attributed to their chemotherapy drugs. Needless to say, I wasn't too thrilled about the possibility of suffering any of these irreversible side effects.
At my next appointment, I talked with the oncologist and shared my concerns. He listened as I told him my decision not to take chemotherapy. It was shocking to find he actually agreed with and supported me in my decision.
The next day, my homework began. I purchased all sorts of books on alternative cancer fighting methods and read each one. Armed with an arsenal of information, I began planning my own alternative therapy. I was determined to live, and knew it was going to take a good deal of effort on my part, but I was willing to do whatever it took.
Soon, my counter tops were lined with herbal supplements, essential oils, vitamins and Matcha green tea. It felt good to know I was doing something proactive for my health.
The first few months required a lot of trial and error, but I managed to find a rhythm and plan that was easily incorporated into my day.
When it came time for periodic blood work to be done, I was a little nervous. Although I knew I had done everything possible to keep cancer at bay, I wasn't sure my routine was working. The blood work would either show an elevation in my tumor marker, or it would not.
The oncologist and I were pleased with the test results. He said, I was "holding steady and that what I was doing seemed to be working just fine." It felt wonderful to hear that news and I left his office feeling confident.
For the past 48 months, natural alternative therapy to fight breast cancer has become my daily routine. I won't lie, it has taken some effort and time. Every morning, I begin my day making cups of Matcha green tea which I drink with a little stevia and lemon juice. I follow this by adding a handful of supplements. Throughout the day, I carefully watch what I eat making sure to follow an organic diet filled with fresh fruits, vegetables and lean protein. After, and sometimes in between each meal, I'll down another few vitamins or herbal supplements. I make sure to drink lots of filtered water and get some exercise each day.
Sometimes, it feels like I'm constantly watching and listening to my body, but I know I'm in charge of my home health care, and I want to do my best to prevent a recurrence. If I can strengthen my immune system by including herbal supplements, vitamins, healthy food and exercise, then I don't mind putting for the effort to stay alive.
I could have opted for traditional treatment. If I'd gone that route, my body would have been subjected to trauma after trauma until it had healed enough to begin taking an antihormone therapy drug for the next five to 10 years. What would have been easier to prevent cancer from coming back, popping a little pill full of chemicals or following a lengthy regimen of healthy choices? Probably popping the little pill, but I chose not to put those man-made chemicals into my body and I'm thankful for my choice.
Today, I am healthy, happy, and strong. My body no longer feels weak and broken. On my last checkup, I received word that I was NED (no evidence of disease) and I'm hoping I'll hear the same words at my next six-month appointment.
If you can't tell, I'm an advocate for doing everything possible to heal naturally but I understand there are those who don't hold to the same conviction as I. Whatever your decision, don't make it lightly. Do your research. Talk to your doctor. Fight hard! We all want to live as long as possible.
Some of the books I read as I gathered my information include:
Beating Cancer With Nutrition by Patrick Quillin
A Woman's Guide to Healing from Breast Cancer by Nan Lu
Alternative Cancer Therapies by Ron Falcone
Cancer and Natural Medicine by John Boik
The Alternative Cancer Therapy Book by Richard Walters