A big thank you to everyone who commented on my last post.
I am continually questioning my decision to go against the grain. But the more stories I hear and encouragement I receive, the more I am committed to doing what feels right to me and not just blindly following ‘standard protocol’.
I recently started taking Herceptin again after a 3 month hiatus and the side effects are settling in… Constant headaches. Back pain. Mood changes. Hot flashes. Exhaustion. Cracking skin around my fingertips that renders them utterly useless and painful to the touch (there were a few days recently when I couldn’t even type). Nose bleeds. Dry eyes (no more contact lens wearing). Forgetfulness and mental blocks. And this horrible sensation of not feeling satisfied by the amount of air I inhale (otherwise known as “air hunger”).
And it’s not even these minor side effects that concern me. Rather, it is the long term damage to my heart that really concerns me.
So now I am questioning my willingness to continue with the Herceptin.
The standard treatment for early stage HER2 positive breast cancer is 52 weeks of Herceptin (which I have almost completed). However, those of us with metastatic disease are often told to stay on Herceptin indefinitely – Or for as long as our hearts can handle it. But I’m not so sure that’s something I’m willing to do.
I just finished watching a disturbing documentary – Cut Poison Burn – about the war on cancer and how it’s not working. As well as an intriguing book by Shannon Brownlee called Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer.
Both question America’s current medical system and treatment methods for common ailments such as cancer. They ask us to consider why death rates from cancer haven’t really changed all that much. Why more and more people are being diagnosed. Why so many people end up dying from the treatment they receive and not the cancer itself. They look at how the pharmaceutical companies, FDA, and politicians are caught up in an incestuous relationship that revolves around money instead of truly helping people. Because lets be honest here, cancer is a multi-billion dollar industry. If cancer patients get better, jobs will be lost, and a lot of companies will loose a lot of money. It’s like the war on drugs. We’ve been fighting the war on drugs for decades now but still don’t seem to be any closer to achieving a drug free society. Instead, we’ve been funneling revenue to government agencies and creating a booming prison industrial complex.
It’s all about the benjamins baby.
This is another reason why I believe “alternative” non-toxic ways of treating cancer are not embraced or encouraged. Do the doctors and pharmaceutical companies make money by me eating healthier and exercising and meditating? Do they make money when I boost my immune system naturally?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying my doctors don’t want me to get better. I’m just saying the system is really really messed up.
In January I go for my next set of scans. I believe they will show NED (no evidence of disease) – knock on wood… If that is the case, then in my mind the battle becomes one of prevention rather than active treatment. Regardless, most doctors want me to continue taking medications for the rest of my life. However, I truly believe that if it’s all about prevention, all the actions I am taking to fortify and heal my body, mind, and spirit can work just as well as medications – without all the horrible side effects.
It all makes so much sense to me. It feels right to me. The difficult part is convincing everyone else that I’m not crazy for going against the grain and making such “radical” choices. But, I’m learning to get over that. I am listening to my gut. I am honouring my feelings. I am seeking information from all sources. And ultimately, these are my decisions to make.
This is my life. I plan on living it to the fullest.