This was originally posted on my Wordpress blog December 2017. As I was moving my posts from there to here and came to this one I couldn't help but cry a bit. Tears of joy, of course, but also tears of gratitude and thankfulness, and a few in remembered fear. So, my friends, read on, then check out my update at the end!
It's Christmas time again. This time last year we were just getting through my whole breast cancer fiasco, feeling quite jubilant that things were looking good. We thought that we had survived the worst that could happen to us. What is it they say about pride going before the fall? Yeah. That.
So, here we are again. This time around, though, it isn't me. Instead, it is my child. Like some horrible, nightmarish monster that crept up on us while we weren't looking, this brain tumor of hers has thrown us all for a loop. Oh, I have no doubt we will beat it into submission. Not really. Maybe because I simply refuse to accept losing as an option. Maybe because I am that arrogant. Maybe...maybe...maybe... I really hate that word. But, still, every now and then the fear wriggles it's way into my thoughts and makes my breath catch in my chest. It paralyzes me for a few minutes. It makes me wonder if I have completely lost my mind, for the course we have chosen to defeat this tumor is not the easy choice, or the normal choice. But, we do still believe it is the RIGHT choice. It is the choice that gives my daughter the best chance of coming through this without brain damage, or loss of speech, motor skills or sight. It is the best chance of her actually healing from this thing, and not just coping for a few years until it kills her.
So, we keep going. Every day, we wake up and do it all again, praying that with each dose, each treatment, each sacrifice, that we are one day closer to winning this horrible, awful battle. I watch my beautiful girl struggle to accept the things she cannot change. Things like having some private time with her boys because she can't be left alone with them in case she has a seizure. Things like not being able to drive her boys to the doctor or the store or the park. I see her frustration when she feels like a child who can't be left unattended and my heart breaks for her. I watch as she chokes down another dose of whatever concoction she needs to take to make this thing go away. I see her strength and determination, her spirit, her bravery, and I am so very proud of her.
This post isn't really about all of the wonderful things that my daughter is, though. When I sat down and started writing, it was with the intention of sharing our planned journey so that someone else might benefit from our choices. I have been amazed at the many people who have contacted me asking what we are doing about her brain tumor. Not out of morbid curiosity, but because they (or someone they know) has the same issue, and the standard medical choices given to them are killing them financially, physically and emotionally.
As with my own treatments for breast cancer, I am hesitant to share all that we are doing. Not because I am a horrible person who wants to keep it all to myself, but because some of what we are choosing is frowned upon. Because, if the very worst happens and this doesn't work, the repercussions could be catastrophic. But, maybe (there's that word again), it is time to share. Maybe, someone else out there needs to see for themselves if there is another way to beat this thing.
So, here goes. The good, the bad and the ugly.
First, I have to tell you all once more that I am NOT a medical doctor. I don't have a license to practice medicine. I am a Certified Herbalist. Nothing more. I cannot recommend that you take a single word of what is to follow as anything other than my opinion, which I have come to after many, many years of studying, researching, investigation, questioning and experimenting. I do not suggest you try any of this at home. You have been formally warned, right?
Oh, and in case you were wondering, we are in regular contact with Summer's primary care physician, and we have scheduled her next MRI at the Siteman Cancer Center in March, where we hope to hear that the tumor has shown significant improvement.
The first thing you must understand is that a brain tumor, whether benign or malignant, is a very different thing than cancer. The brain is this unbelievably magnificent structure that has complicated, built-in protective mechanisms that man is still working on trying to penetrate. While this is normally a really good thing, it also makes it much more difficult to treat anything that happens to go wrong within the brain. Finding a course of treatment that will actually penetrate the blood-brain barrier without inflicting further damage is a challenge, to say the very least. Then, you have to find things that will kill off the tumor without causing any kind of inflammation, and will not damage or endanger the surrounding tissue. Next, you want to dissolve the tumor, or cause the 'bad' cells to heal and turn back into 'good' cells. There is quite a bit of science behind it all, and I really don't have the time, space or brain capacity to break it all down for you, but if you reading this right now I am going to assume that you have already done most of that research on your own. If that is a wrong assumption, then I suggest you take the time to do so. Treating a brain tumor kinda makes treating 'normal' cancer seem easy.
After countless days of research, we believe that we have come up with a multi-faceted approach to getting rid of this thing. The medically educated among you may, by the end of this post, be shaking your head and calling me foolish. Since many of you quietly believe I am peddling snake-oil to the unsuspecting on a regular basis anyway, all I can say is...bite me. I'm on a mission to prove you wrong. Some of you will be wondering why we didn't just choose surgery, radiation or chemo. The answer is, we studied all the options. All of them. Not one of them offered any more hope than the course we have chosen. Some of you will be cheering for us from the sidelines. You are the ones that I adore. Thank you!
And, I am finally to the point. What are we doing to treat this brain tumor? Maybe, the easiest way to do this is to simply lay out Summer's daily schedule for you.
As soon as she wakes up in the morning, she takes her first of three daily rounds of 'treatments'. She rubs a salve into her scalp that is made with coconut oil, lemon grass essential oil, clove oil, and cannabis extract. The massage helps stimulate the scalp. The coconut oil is believed to penetrate the blood-brain barrier, allowing it to carry the lemon grass, cannabis and clove oils to the tumor, where they can begin to break down the tumor. Here is the first point of contention. The medical machine is reluctant to admit that any natural options will help destroy cancer cells and tumors. The natural community swears they can. There is plenty of research results to be found on both sides, some quite slanted in one direction or the other. So, I will leave it at this: My research has led me to believe that these three oils offer very real possibilities in helping to break down the tumor.
The scalp massage is followed by two honey-based herbal syrups, fresh juice and/or smoothies, and a mushroom extract. The honey-based syrups were a little tricky because she is also nursing a 4-month-old. We don't want to use anything that could possibly harm the baby through the breastmilk, and many of the herbs commonly used to treat tumors can be bad for infants and children. We used a raw honey-base for both syrups because honey is a fantastic option for penetrating the blood-brain barrier.
The herbs we chose for her immune-enhancing syrup are red clover, burdock, dandelion, pau d'arco, ginseng, astragalus, slippery elm, echinacea, amla, and milk thistle. Many of these serve more than one purpose, which is a bonus, but most of them were chosen for their ability to strengthen the immune system. A healthy, strong immune system is essential for helping the body to heal itself. Some of the added benefits of this blend include mild cleansing effects, improved brain function, protection of critical organs and a general tonic effect on the entire body.
The herbs in her second syrup were chosen for their ability to help cleans the eliminative system. These herbs include red raspberry leaf, dandelion root, burdock root, parsley, plantain, self-heal, yellow dock and yarrow. Again, these herbs all have more than one benefit, so...yay!
Because some of these herbs can decrease the milk supply, she also takes a lactation supplement to keep up a steady supply.
For her mushroom extract, we decided on a dual-extract blend of Turkey Tail, Lion's Beard and Chaga mushrooms. I cannot even begin to tell you all the benefits of these three beyond their ability to kill cancer cells and tumors, but there is plenty of info to be had by doing a simple search. I have started taking this extract myself, and I highly recommend it for everyone as a general brain and overall health supplement.
Summer also takes a product called LipH. It helps balance the body's pH levels which is believed to help kill things like cancer cells and tumors.
Throughout the day, we also have to incorporate other herbs into her diet. Green tea, ginger root, turmeric root, aloe vera, onions, garlic, Himilayan pink salt, Vitamin C, omega-3's, B vitamins, as well as a wide variety of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables.
We have cut out any and all toxic chemicals. Things like shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, lotion and food have to be completely chemical free.
Daily detox baths with Epsom salts are required. Daily exposure to fresh air and sunshine to boost her Vitamin D and fresh oxygen supply. Daily castor oil packs. A daily drop of poke root extract to cleanse her lymph system. Three times a week she takes a dose of activated charcoal to help pull out toxins from her body.
Maybe the most difficult part, though, is the things she cannot have. Sugar, flour, dairy and meat. Try going a day without any of those things and you will understand how much of a struggle it is to accomplish such a feat! Each of those things will feed a tumor, so I guess the incentive is there, but still....it sucks! All of this after spending a week doing a juice fast to flush out as many toxins as we possibly could and reset her immune system and other organs.
Because of the risk of seizures, we also do our best to make sure she is getting plenty of rest, and we keep the stress levels as low as we possibly can with three small children and two families living in the same house. She keeps a bottle of anti-seizure extract on her always. Just in case.
Of course, everyone's first question is, "have you considered CBD oil?" We absolutely have considered it. What we determined is that cannabis oil, not CBD oil, is a valuable tool in this fight. One of the most valuable, in fact. It is my sincere hope that my state makes it legal very soon. The fact that any government entity would try to stand in the way of allowing such a potent, effective medicinal substance to be available to anyone who needs it is abhorrent. Sadly, many people will remain silent until it becomes a personal issue for them.
So, there you have it. This is how we are hoping to save our daughter. This is what we are putting our faith in.
The other question I keep getting is, "How much does this form of treatment cost?" My first instinct is to ask, "Does it matter?" The answer, of course, is yes. It does matter. Considering the fact that most people choose the treatments presented by their doctor because their astronomically-high insurance will cover those options, the cost of natural treatments can seem like too much to handle. I get it. I was blessed to have a friend set up a Gofundme account, and a whole list of angels that were willing to help us out, that allowed us to pull this off. A realistic cost expectation for 3 months of 'treatments' is between $2,000-$3,000. That isn't including things you don't expect like chemical-free personal care products and organic foods. Expect to spend an extra $150-$250 on these per week.
We have lots of support and many people asking how Summer is doing. She is doing great. She hasn't had a seizure since the one that sent her to the hospital in the first place. She stays on top of her treatments. She has to be careful to not overdo it, and sometimes even simple things like grocery shopping can cause her to have a rough day, but she is staying strong. She isn't any different than she was a month ago, personality-wise. She is still Summer.
Finally, is it worth it? Absolutely. Is it risky? No more risky than surgery, chemo or radiation. Is it difficult? At times. Will it really work? We are betting my daughter's life on it, so I sure hope so!
This is my Summer and her boys taken a few months ago. Is this not the most beautiful picture ever taken?
This is nearly 2 years after her diagnosis.
Is the tumor gone? Nope. It's still there. That's okay, though. All of the hard work on her part, all the changes, all the treatments, and all the people who told her she would never survive without surgery and chemo/radiation and here she is, still going strong. Still alive. Still raising her boys and living a mostly-normal life.
In the 2+ years since her diagnosis life has been a series of changes, fears, victories and struggles.
She has been denied both disability and insurance because she refuses standard medical treatment. That's okay. She will continue to follow the path she has chosen because it is working.
We have been kicked out of a couple more doctors offices because she refuses to accept their 'treatment'. Go figure. That's okay, too. It is pretty obvious she doesn't need them, anyway.
Make no mistake, things have not been easy on her journey. Sometimes she has small setbacks and has to go back to the beginning. Sometimes, being a single mom takes it's toll and she has to ask for help when she really doesn't want to. Sometimes, realizing that she will spend the rest of her life watching what she eats, what she puts on/in her body, and how far she can (or, rather, can't) push herself gets a little depressing. Sometimes, stress means adjusting her treatments and accepting help that she doesn't want. Still, she does it. Every. Single. Day.
This picture is the epitome of strength and courage.
This is my daughter and she is alive and thriving!