Before I begin this blog entry, I want to say we are overwhelmed by your love and prayers. We are honored and humbled. It is obvious that the NEWS and entertainment establishment have it all wrong. God’s love is alive and strong, growing and spreading. It can’t be squelched, as His creation, our very existence cries out “ABBA, Father” – He is the Air we breath, the manna from heaven, the Living water that quenches our thirst.
Today we heard that the final test puts her HERS2-neu as indeterminate still. The cells in the 5cm breast mass biopsy showed some positivity to the HERS2-neu receptor but the biopsy of the lymph node showed no receptors. They average this out and the number turns out to be indeterminate, suggesting that the tumor once produced HERS2-neu receptors but is rapidly changing and thus probably doesn’t have these receptors. Despite this She had her first treatment today with Herceptin, which targets HERS2-neu receptors and with Taxotere, which is true chemo and a shot gun approach that targets all fast growing cells.
I thought I would talk about our decision process. The decision tree we used will be different for everyone, because everyone’s situation is different. What is key in my mind is that we feel this is the right direction for us at this time. We know that God is sovereign and He is in control. It is His will we submit to. He told us to be still and know that he is God, to rest in Him, rely on Him. We can easily run here and there chasing human wisdom, but in the end it is His wisdom we seek. Below are a few variables that went into our decision:
First, I am interested in alternative treatments for cancer and have read many books and watched a few documentaries on them. I have also read a few books, one excellent book (a little dry if this doesn’t interest you) the Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee is a review of cancer treatment from antiquity to now, The Demon Under the Microscope by Thomas Hager which goes through the finding of the first chemical to fight infection, Sulfa. The initial search for medical treatment for disease was using our own body to fight the disease. With cow pox they induced immunity by causing a small infection and the body then forming a defense against that infection. They tried the same with the common Strep and Staph bugs but there were too many variations that it never worked, so research went toward finding a chemical that could target the infection. Needless to say since 1937 or so our treatment of disease has been medication, or chemical, focused. In the past 6-8 years through we are back to the antibody immunity theory and great gains are being forged in this area. Herceptin is one such drug, and there are many others in use now. It is an antibody that focuses on cancer cells with the HERS2-neu receptor, killing them and sparing every other cell. The future of modern cancer treatment will be antibody treatments not nonspecific chemotherapy drugs. She is being treated with Herceptin and I hope it works on her indeterminate status. But most likely nonspecific chemical drugs will be what she gets since medicine has not found all possible receptors to block with antibodies, yet.
Second, Some of the ideas brought forward by alternative cancer treatments ring true to us, such as the belief that diet is crucial in helping the body fight the cancer, keeping the immune system as strong as possible, and avoiding sugar and refined flour since they preferentially feed the cancer. So we tightened our already strict dietary habits and removed all sugar and processed foods from Theresa’s and my diet. Fructose in fruit isn’t a problem so we have fruit/vegies/pea protein/avocado smoothies 1-2 times a day, and if she can eat solid foods, we eat a spinach/black bean/avocado salad. She is taking a good number of vitamins and nutritional supplements as well.
Third, Theresa’s cancer is very aggressive and rapidly growing all over her body. We were given a 2 month prognosis if we did nothing, so we had to act fast – “shoot first and ask questions later”. We needed to act. In addition we have responsibilities to our kids, family, my office. Our kids are grieving too. The information about alternative treatments is based around testimonials which is the weakest form of data. There is no rigorous studies that compare alternative therapies to standard therapies, so called head to head comparisons. Because of the rapidity of Theresa’s cancer, we were not willing to risk her life on testimonials, nor accept current cancer treatment on its own merits. Traditional cancer treatment doesn’t believe in the sugar driving cancer growth theory and so they have jars of candy in their office and offer sugar sodas while getting chemo. There is no nutritional advice given.
We decided to stay home and get care close to home to limit the disruption to our kids, to help them grieve and work through this and together embrace our new normal. We are going the traditional route but using nutrition to improve our chances. A book that we are following to some extent is Beating Cancer with Nutrition by Patrick Quillin. I believe he gives good advice, and advice that is consistent to our thinking. Our decision fits us and our circumstances and we are at peace with it.
I hope this helps. We are all different, see life and human wisdom differently. There is no one way to do this. In reality our part is not the important part, God is at work, He is in control and we seek his guidance for what He desires of us. It would be nice though if His will included healing Theresa physically. I was hoping to retire and grow old with her.