A Personal Journey
In recent months, I’ve had a good many calls requesting the column I wrote about my own cancer. Here it is.
On July 5, 2001, I became a member of the growing group of mastectomy victims. A few weeks before, a prominent mass had been detected on a manual examination. This small lump was also visible to the naked eye. Mammograms, ultrasound and iridology all confirmed my suspicions that this would prove to be cancer. At first, I experienced a short period of apprehension. This was followed by a very serene attitude which, until this day, I continue to maintain.
The pathology report read, "Biopsy, mass left breast: Infiltrating ductal carcinoma." This report further stated that no cancer cells were found in the tissue surrounding the small tumor. I was given the option of two types of surgery. I could have an axillary dissection (removal of lymph nodes leaving the breast intact). However, I chose to have a modified radical mastectomy (removal of the breast) since I felt this was the safest procedure.
Before it was ever proven that my tumor was malignant, I told my family physician and my surgeon that I planned to follow all of their recommendation regarding treatment. I also told them I would be using herbs and other natural remedies known to combat cancer. On my first visit with my oncologist, I told him the same thing. They voiced no objection to my use of natural products even though they couldn’t advise me on which products to use.
My oncologist said, "I will give you the same advice I would give my own mother. Chemotherapy is available to you if you request it. However, since you have stage 1 cancer, I do not feel chemo is necessary. I believe the proper treatment for you is the medication called Tamoxifen."
I took this oral medication for 5 years. I was monitored on a regular schedule by my oncologist, of course. Although the future is not ours to see, my prognosis was and still is good.
As soon as I thought I had cancer, I began to take two capsules of E-Tea twice daily. I also began to take two capsules of Pau d’ arco twice daily. These are the two natural products I hope to take daily for the rest of my life.
E-Tea contains burdock root, sheep sorrel herb, turkey rhubarb root and slippery elm bark. The formula comes from an old Native American remedy.
Pau d’ arco grows in South America. It is reported that South American Indians use this herb to fight tumors. It is further reported that research in Brazil and the University of Illinois shows Pau d’ arco contains substances highly effective against cancer. Today, I only take one capsule daily of each of these two products.
Before I began taking E-Tea and Pau d’ arco, I had a number of small dark spots on my lower arms. These spots resembled freckles, but had a roughness like warts. (I assume this was tiny skin cancers although this was never confirmed by a doctor.) Before I began taking Tamoxifen, these rough spots had disappeared and been replaced by tiny smooth white scars. They have not grown back.
You never know when the following information might be needed by you or someone you know. I suggest you read it and keep it on hand.
The American Cancer society recommends all women ages 18 and older, and those who are sexually active, receive a Pap smear yearly. At the physician’s discretion, this test can be done every 3 years after three consecutive normal test results. Women 20-39 should receive a clinical breast exam every 3 years, and women 40 and older should receive a clinical breast exam and mammogram each year.
The Alabama Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program is a program of the Department of Public Health that provides free breast and cervical exams to women 40 and over who are uninsured or underinsured. Women who qualify for this program receive a Pap smear, pelvic exam, clinical breast exam and mammogram if age 50 or older. If there is a cancer diagnosis, treatment services are available through the Alabama Medicaid Program. For more information about enrollment in this program, call toll free 1-800-227-2345.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer related deaths in the United States. In 2000, it was estimated 192,200 new cases of breast cancer would develop and 40,200 women were expected to die. In Alabama only, 2,900 women were expected to develop breast cancer and 600 were expected to die. A woman’s best protection is early detection. (Note that 2001 was the year of my cancer.)
I must add one other warning by telling my daughter-in-law’s story. In the early1990s, this young woman developed a problem with her breast. During a year’s time she had several manual exams, mammograms and ultrasounds. No problems were ever detected. Finally she said, "THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH MY BREAST AND I KNOW IT!" On her request, a needle biopsy was done and cancer cells were detected. She had a mastectomy and it was discovered that her whole breast was pre-cancer cells. She followed all the recommendations of mainstream medicine and takes the same natural products I take. At this time, she and I both appear to be in excellent health. I tell you this so you, too, will be persistent as she was if you should have a similar situation.
As always, I advise you to consult your physician before taking any herbal remedy.