Frequently Asked Questions about my diagnosis and path to healing

What type of cancer did you have and when were you diagnosed?
Brain Cancer, glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), grade 4. I was diagnosed in May 2011. The cancerous tumor was the size of a golf ball and it was located at my left temporal lobe (just above and behind my left ear).

What were your symptoms?
I had trouble with word finding. I couldn’t remember people’s names, or common words like “watch” or “bunny”. This was happening a lot. I was very tired all the time but I was sleeping well at night.

I also started having trouble “seeing” words and my ability to read and understand the words became worse and worse over time. The location of the cancer I was dealing with, affects memory, cognition, comprehension of words/language. I was having trouble with all of this.

I also became very sensitive to light on the computer at work or in my home. I did not have a problem with headaches until just before I was diagnosed. I did not experience seizures.

What was your protocol once you were diagnosed?
I had a craniotomy in which my brain surgeon removed as much of the cancer as possible (referred to as a resection). My neurosurgeons also used a brain mapping technique, in which I was awakened for a short period of time during surgery, which allowed him to avoid further damage to the brain regions responsible for language, motor, and sensory function. Then I had radiation for five days every week for five weeks as well as a lower dose of Temodar (chemotherapy). After radiation I took stronger doses of Temodar for one week a month – and did this for nine months. I was supposed to take the Temodar for 12 months but I broke out in hives everywhere when I took it for the 10th month and the doctors and I decided to stop the treatment at that point.

Didn’t surgery, radiation and chemotherapy cure your cancer?
Anything is possible and I am forever thankful for the care I did get from the doctors I worked with. Regardless, brain cancer is one of the most difficult cancers to treat because of the location (the brain), the important “wiring” that exists there, the fact that there are 120 types of brain tumors, and the complex nature of cancer cells that can remain in the area after treatment (surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy). It is also the most common and lethal tumor of the central nervous system with one of the worst 5- year overall survival rates among all human cancers.

When I was diagnosed, the survival rate for those with GBM’s was a 95% life expectancy rate of 12-18 month from diagnosis, even with the same protocol I took. Without the protocol, the mortality rate was about 3-8 months. The 5-year survival rate was 5% at that time. The 10-year survival rate for a GBM was 1.71% (now it is closer to 2.7%) and I am beyond that. This disease is a difficult one.

In my opinion, I would not be here if I hadn’t quickly taken control of the situation by flooding my body, mind, and spirit with as many supportive tools I could incorporate to give me a fighting chance to beat the prognosis. I don’t believe I am here because I was lucky and the people I know who have survived severe diagnoses of other cancer types say the same.

It is noteworthy that, with this illness, even if you are thriving and free of cancer, you will not be told that you are cured. The best you will get is that you are in complete remission/radical remission or that you are “stable”. Because I made fundamental changes in my life that support health and balance, I don’t believe those terms ably to me any longer, so I believe I am cured. Regardless, I respect what I did to heal initially, and I continue to follow that path today.

What was your diet and routine before you were diagnosed with cancer?
I was a runner and a vegetarian, but I did eat fish. I thought I ate well as I didn’t eat a lot of junk. However, I did eat a lot of tofu and processed tofu for which there is a big debate as to whether tofu inhibits our ability to absorb healthy nutrients in our body. I ate a lot of it.

I thought I was taking good care of myself, but I was very stressed out regarding my work and that lasted for almost 5 years before I was diagnosed. Extended periods of stress is a real problem- it is linked to six of the leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide. Among other things, stress inhibits the body’s immune system; the very system we need to fight cancer cells and other illnesses.

How did you take care of yourself once you were diagnosed?
Beyond the traditional doctors I was working with in preparation for surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, I quickly located a Functional/Holistic MD very familiar with cancer patients. She loaded me up with supplements to support my body in preparation for my surgery and treatments planned for me. She had a list of requirements I had never seen from traditional doctors. She gave me books to read (or listen to) to expand my ideas of consciousness and being well. She taught me tools I could use to relax my stress and concerns regarding my illness, and she spent time talking with me about healing.

I also met with a minister before I had the surgery who helped me connect to God and helped me during the whole process by praying for me and sending me encouraging words from the bible.

I changed everything in my life to remove the things that did not support me for those that did. I dove deep into mind, body and spirit as mentioned in this website, My Story, and The Case for Hope.