You have just been told that you have cancer. What is the first thing you should do? Take a deep breath. That’s right, take a deep breath. Unless this is going to result in death in the next day, or even month, or even if it is, take a DEEP BREATH. This kicks in your parasympathetic nervous system and calms you (if that’s possible) enough to think instead of just reacting.
In my case, it was a life-threatening situation in the very near future as I had a bowel obstruction due to a large mass in my colon. I had emergency surgery. Beyond recovering from this, I may have made different decisions based on the knowledge I have gained over the last 1.5 years.
As in most cases, my assigned oncologist (cancer specialist) came in to introduce himself on my night of surgery. I was completely awake and aware. My biggest concern at that point was the pain caused by the tube going through my nose to my stomach to keep it empty. Anyway, he was very friendly and just said something like, it’s stage 4 but that’s ok. We’ll give you chemo, you won’t lose your hair, you will have a good quality of life and it will go away. Well!………. That sounded good to me. It was certainly calming. So my biggest concern continued to be the NG (nasogastric) tube.
My First Choice
Long story short, I had 6 weeks of surgical recovery as chemo can’t be given right after surgery as it affects healing. I had to have an infusion port inserted. That’s another story. I received chemo and at first, it didn’t bother me a lot but I got the numbness in my fingers and feet, lost my taste, and my hair (not all of it), lost weight as I also lost my taste. My physician was not terribly tolerant of things not going his way so when he looked me in the eyes and said “Cancer always wins”. I changed providers.
My Second Choice
I went to Cancer Treatment Centers of America thinking that this would be better. It was in some sense, They have a lot of bells and whistles like nutritionists, psych, naturopath, etc. It’s a hospital dedicated to cancer. The people are very nice and that was their goal, to treat everyone as an individual, not as a number.
On the first visit, I was introduced to someone from each department. However, after a couple of times, if you don’t request to see these other folks, you are not scheduled with them and I was a little dismayed that the nutritionists did not agree with each other regarding diet. The reason I left them is that my “new” physician walked into the room, stood against the wall, and said something to the effect that I had a new 1.8 cm mass in the right lower lobe of my lung. He was going to have me get a PET scan and see radiation oncology. If that didn’t work, then it would be back to the chemo. I don’t remember him offering options. He was very matter of fact and this is the way it is etc. I felt like a number.
My Third Choice (final one hopefully)
That night I was on the phone with a couple of places that do integrative therapies and I was at Hope 4 Cancer in Cancun two weeks later.
So back to the “Take a deep breath part”. While I was getting the Standard of Care therapy, I had a chance to devour several books, etc regarding alternative and integrative cancer therapies. I’m not suggesting that any of these therapies are right for you. What is right for you is to do your research.
Know the success rate of any therapy you are considering. Most chemo will extend your life a couple of months and may even give you remission for a while but it’s not that simple.
Change your diet. Unless you are vegan, going to a plant-based diet is recommended regardless of any other therapy you choose. Don’t try to do it all at once. Baby steps. This is the hardest thing to do.
Discuss your thoughts with your family or a close friend who maybe has gone through cancer treatment but understand that whatever you do, it is YOUR decision, not theirs. Of course, their support will make a huge difference in the outcome.
Don’t be afraid to fire your doctor. If he/she isn’t “clicking” with you, find another.
Things you should read:
Hope 4 Cancer is my favorite and I’ve read it twice. In fact, it’s a good read even if you are healthy. The two most important “Key Principles” according to Dr Tony are nutrition and spiritual/emotional.
I currently am a patient at Hope 4 Cancer and I feel very comfortable there. Most of their patients are stage 3 and 4 cancer patients. However, Envita is another possibility and so are Dr. Coneally MD and many others. Warning! Most alternative therapies are out-of-pocket expenses. But, Blue Cross and United Health Care (not the medicare supplements) are starting to cover medical tourism. And, medical tourism is a tax write-off.
I’m happy to answer any questions at Theresalohmandnp@gmail.com.
God Bless you all and remember… Take A Deep Breath.
#cancer, #notadeathsentence, #takeadeepbreath