IF YOU WANT THE TRUTH,
I’LL TELL YOU THE TRUTH
LISTEN TO THE SECRET SOUND,
THE REAL SOUND
WHICH IS INSIDE OF YOU. – Kabir
So, here we are. Sixteen months of cancer freedom and healthy living– what a crazy, eye-opening path I’ve been led down. From total lifestyle change, to a new mindset, to an entirely new passion and calling (although I believe I’ve just been preparing for this, not suddenly coming to this conclusion). Every twist, turn, curveball, setback, and victory has propelled me forward in truth and hope.
Many people have been reaching out to me, either for themselves or for loved ones, online or in person, on an almost daily basis. I am so humbled by the fact that I can share my story of hope, faith, and staying healthy- but I also wanted to write this post to put everything into one awesome, condensed version to answer as many questions as I can, in one place. I’ve tried to compile the most commonly asked questions, and offer some resources and places of encouragement that helped me in my journey. WE DON’T DO THIS ALONE. We all need support in getting healthy and STAYING healthy.
What kind of cancer did you have?
I was diagnosed in 2015 with stage IV oral squamous cell carcinoma. Carcinoma is a skin cancer, and it presented itself as a canker sore in the back of my tongue that never healed. After extreme pain in my ear and neck, unable to eat or speak properly, I visited a few dentists who brushed it off because I was 27, female, and non-smoker, before a head & neck surgeon finally biopsied the area and discovered it was a fast-growing tumor.
Was it genetic? And what testing did you do before the surgery?
I have no idea if my cancer was a genetic thing. Most likely it was simply a mutation of my cells. I had testing done to the lymph nodes before the surgery, as well as an MRI, which showed the tumor to be larger than originally presumed.
What did the surgeons do?
Surgery was six hours long, and I had half of my tongue removed and reconstructed with muscle and blood vessels from my left forearm, as well as 41 lymph nodes removed from the right side of my neck, which showed to contain the cancer as well, and a graft from my left thigh to cover my left wrist. I spent 10 days in the hospital, then several months recovering physically and relearned to speak, chew, and swallow properly again.
So, you had therapy?
Yes. I did speech therapy for a few months with the awesome team at the Wilmot Cancer Center at the University of Rochester, and also physical therapy to try to regain mobility and strength in my left arm and my right shoulder.
Did you do chemo or radiation?
No. I chose to treat my cancer naturally, despite extreme opposition I faced from my oncologist and other medical professionals. I was told that because my cancer was a stage IV cancer, I needed further treatment, or else the cancer would be in my lungs and I would be dead in six months. I refused to go that route, however, with the support of friends who had treated their late-stage cancers through natural and holistic means as well, and were thriving years later. I also had a peace about my decision, which can only be explained as the Holy Spirit and the guarding of my heart and mind in Christ (Philippians 4:7).
What did you do to treat your cancer?
This is the exciting question that I love to answer! Again, please be aware and understand that I DID NOT do any conventional, western medicine besides the initial testing and surgery. So, I can offer the same resources, but I cannot speak from any experience with the after effects of chemotherapy or radiation. Everything I did to heal my body was 100% holistic and working WITH my body to heal itself. When we give our bodies even HALF a chance, we can see the most incredible results of an amazing organism made to heal and thrive.
- First and foremost- prayer. Lots and lots of prayer and meditation, as well as others praying for me.
- Total diet change. You are LITERALLY what you eat. I cut out ALL preservatives, meat, dairy, and refined sugars. The goal was to fill my body with whole food (think, anything in its natural state!), juicing, and completely eliminating all junk and sweets.
- Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. I did six weeks, every day, of hyperbaric oxygen sessions through a clinic here in Rochester, and it was affordable, comfortable, and completely amazing! Click on the link for more information. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is great for cancer, wound-healing, fibromyalgia, autism, Alzheimer’s, and so much more! Our bodies thrive in oxygen-rich environments! I continue to do sessions every few weeks for prevention and inflammation reduction, as well as increased energy.
- Essential Oils. I began using essential oils first in supporting my wound-healing and pain management, and now use them on an everyday basis to keep my immune system boosted and healthy, detoxing and emotional support, as well as have a side-business as a distributor and instructor. I personally have replaced all conventional, over-the-counter pills, creams, lotions, and cleaning supplies in my home with essential oils. The amount of chemicals we come in contact with on a daily basis is INSANE. And removing them from your home should be priority! Contact me for more info on essential oils, where to purchase, and classes on oil usage!
- Exercise and stress reduction. I cannot say it enough: YOU HAVE TO MOVE YOUR BODY. The lymph nodes need us to be continually moving and staying active in order to properly function in their detoxing capabilities. Find something you love doing- walking daily, going for a run, taking a cycling class with a friend, yoga, etc. And being intentional about removing stress from your life means saying “no” when tempted to take on another project. Removing toxic relationships from your life. Career change. Whatever is causing you to lose sleep at night and making you sick is called STRESS.
- Massage and acupuncture. Incorporating these holistic and stress-reducing treatments has helped to increase my healing responses, pain management, mobility, and reduce inflammation, especially after surgery.
- Talk to a trusted, professional psychologist. It was so helpful for me to process emotionally and spiritually through a counselor as I navigated PTSD and other mental stressors from the diagnosis, surgery, and dealing with a “new normal”.
That seems like a lot of work! Did you see results right away?
It is a LOT of work. It’s a whole change of lifestyle- and it becomes a way of life instead of a list of “do’s” and “dont’s”. After six months, my PET scan showed ZERO cancer. After a year, still ZERO! The change almost immediately is how GOOD you feel, even with weakened immune system. And over time, as you get stronger and healthier, it just makes sense!
Do you get tested often?
I see my oncologist for a brief check-up every three months, and am scheduled for yearly PET scans at this point, until I hit the five-year remission point.
How do you feel these days?
I feel great. I’m stronger, healthier, and happier than I used to be. I will be a certified health coach in September 2017, continuing to help others in their health and wellness journeys. I am getting my business up and running, working almost full-time at a juice bar, coaching young adult cancer patients and survivors through 13Thirty Cancer Connect, writing and sharing my story, and so much more. I continue to write songs and play out when I can, as well as leading worship occasionally.
What resources can you recommend?
Kris Carr– living and thriving WITH cancer
Chris Beat Cancer– free seminars and information!
The Truth About Cancer– statistics, resources, and eye-opening documentaries
Dr. Axe- great info on essential oils, cancer-fighting recipes and diets, as well as supplements
Dr. Leslie James– Rochester-based naturopathic doctor
“The China Study”– written by a local, Rochester-based doctor, best-seller on the New York Times’ list, and main source of statistics and research for the popular Netflix documentary, “Forks Over Knives”.
My dream? That you take the information I am giving you as a young adult who has had to face the unimaginable, and discover that in many cases, we don’t treat the body the way we are supposed to. We’ve lost the ability to be in tune with how we actually feel, or how things affect our health. My dream is that my story doesn’t fall on deaf ears. That you realize YOU ARE IN CONTROL OF YOUR HEALTH. Not the doctors, not the healthcare system, and not the government. You alone can make or break your immune system, run yourself down or build yourself up. Don’t wait until you’re sick to take control of your health! Make the changes TODAY that will set you up for a happy, healthy, and whole lifestyle.
You alone have the power to choose LIFE.
**Please note: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician.**
**This blog is my own story, my own information, and my own opinions. None of the companies listed are endorsing this blog.**