Dad’s Cancer Journey Part 2: Adjusting Expectations

My Dad and my girls summer 2018

Last March (2018) my Dad had a biopsy that showed recurrence of his Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.

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He had successfully treated this cancer 5 years previously with a combination of chemotherapy and dietary changes. But now it was back! This time around the recommended therapy was much more intense with a lower chance of cure and many more possible side effects.

After much soul searching and research, my father decided to pursue a different route. You can read more about this in my first post on my Dad’s journey here: Cancer Isn’t From Bad Luck: Your 3-Step Plan to Cancer Recovery. A lot has happened since this last post.

Optimism Abounds

At the end of May, my father took time off of work and with my mom drove to an Integrative Cancer Immunotherapy Treatment Center.

At this clinic he discovered some of the possible root causes to his cancer; Epstein Barr Virus, multiple parasites, and a weakened immune response.

He spent 3 weeks there doing a lot of different therapies. Here is an overview of what therapies he received and a brief explanation of what they’re used for.

  • IV Nutrient Therapy (Vitamin C & others): used to increase his blood levels of antioxidants & other nutrients to boost the immune system
  • Lenyo Cellcom Therapy: a bio-regulation device used to modulate the body’s electromagnetic field to target the immune system & stimulate healing
  • PEMF Therapy: using pulsed electromagnetic field technology to support cellular communication and enhance immunity
  • NanoVi Technology: a device which boosts cellular activity to again enhance the immune system and help to protect cells against free radical damage
  • Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: breathing in pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber which enables the lungs to gather up to three times more oxygen; it is thought to boost the healing process, fight off infections, and help to create an anti-cancer environment in the body
  • Infrared Sauna Therapy: used to boost detoxification & the immune system while also helping to create an anti-cancer environment in the body
  • Autohemotherapy: this is the withdrawal of a small amount of blood from the vein and the re-injection of the same blood back into a muscle or into the vein; the aim of the therapy is to enhance the immune system’s ability to fight disease
  • Plus acupuncture, counseling sessions, nutrition education, plant-based meals for lunch (breakfast & dinner they did on their own), and supplements

During these 3 weeks he felt good but also tired and sluggish. This is not uncommon when you consider the amount of detoxification and cellular turnover that was likely happening.

At the end of his time there he was encouraged by lab results that were showing improvement in his blood markers. He came home on a protocol of dietary suggestions, lots of supplements, and IV Nutrients. He found a naturopathic clinic not too far from his work that allowed him to continue the IV Nutrient therapies, twice a week.

The goal was to continue the home protocol for a full year (mostly because of the Epstein Barr & Parasites), checking his labs once a month, doing follow-up ultrasounds every 2 months, and then returning to the clinic after 3 months.

Initially he did well. I went home during this time, with my kids, and was able to spend several weeks with my mom and dad and even accompanied him to one of his IV therapies. His energy and spirit were good and he was really able to enjoy the summer with his grandkids.

It was challenging to keep up with all the supplements. But he stuck with it. His protocol included 16 different supplements (along with 2 prescriptions) that needed to be taken at different times of the day. It was difficult to swallow all those pills and started to become frustrating and tiring for him. In all honesty, if it wasn’t for my mother’s ability to organize and keep his protocol going, he admits that he would never have been able to do it on his own.

Turn For The Worse

In August however things changed. The good news was that his follow-up ultrasound showed some shrinking of the cancerous lymph nodes. But the bad news was that he started to not feel good. His arm that he was using for the IV Nutrients was becoming more and more painful. He was also starting to experience lower back and shoulder pain. He was feeling more and more tired and mentally foggy.

He finally went to see his primary care physician around the 3rd week of August and they discovered that he had blood clots close to the IV line which were most likely contributing to the pain in his arm. He started on blood thinners which helped a bit but not entirely.

He went back to his doctor the following week and they ran some additional lab work. This showed severely high calcium levels, which landed my Dad immediately in the hospital. His doctor was surprised he wasn’t already in a coma; this helped to explain the severe fatigue and mental fog.

While in the hospital they found that his kidney function had declined significantly, to only 10%. They started him on fluids right away along with blood transfusions to help bring down the calcium levels. Everyone was fearing the worse.

The news we dreaded…on August 29th, he had a PET scan that showed the cancer had spread and was encroaching on his kidneys (thus the diminished function) and was pushing on nerves in his upper back & arm (thus the increased pain). Although the ultrasound had shown improvement in the lymph nodes they were tracking it didn’t give a picture of what was happening in the rest of his body.

As a family, we were in total shock. We all truly thought he was getting better. How could the reality be so different?

For the next 8 days the doctors tried everything they could to stabilize his kidneys, calcium, & blood levels enough so they could attempt chemotherapy. There were many touch-and-go moments where we weren’t sure he would even leave the hospital. I was on the phone with my mom and sister multiple times a day as they tried to loop me in on updates and decision making.

The bottom line though is my Dad wasn’t done fighting. He wanted to live. And in all honesty with my Dad’s track record of surviving health challenges over the years, the odds were definitely in his favor.

Back on Chemo

His kidneys did stabilize enough for his oncologist to try a chemotherapy protocol. There was no guarantee of course that he would be able to tolerate the treatment and his physicians were not hopeful it would work, but sure enough he pulled through.

He tolerated the chemotherapy, his labs stabilized, and his body started to respond. He’s been home now since September 12th and has continued with weekly outpatient chemo sessions plus blood work twice a week.

He went back on his dietary protocol (mostly) and a refined supplement regimen. He continually feels better and better. His weight has stabilized, his kidneys continue to improve, and the pain is gone. He just completed his follow-up PET scan this week and will meet with his oncologist next week to go over the results and discuss next steps.

Adjusting Expectations

So here’s the thing. The few people I’ve shared this story, logically wonder, if we regret that my Dad didn’t go right with the conventional treatment instead of trying the immune therapies first. For my Mom & Dad, unfortunately they’ve had many people assume they are filled with regret and have approached them with this assumption; including their oncologist. Here’s how they respond:

“At first, yes, we were both pretty upset that the natural treatments didn’t work, but it didn’t take long before we started to think that they probably did help! Many times during my stay in the hospital, the doctors couldn’t believe I wasn’t in a coma because of the high calcium levels. They didn’t give us much hope and were definitely preparing us for the worst. However, that was not to be. I tolerated the chemo, slowly started getting better, and now feel a lot better. I believe that all the therapies I was doing plus the supplements and diet, actually helped my body prepare for everything I had to go through. My kidneys are now back up to 55% and we are fortunate enough to be in a place to consider additional treatment options.”

For me, I too believe that my Dad was not in a position, health-wise, to safely contemplate the options they initially presented to him. He also really didn’t want to miss out on spending the summer with his daughters and grandchildren. I believe he chose the right path for him.

I also believe that getting to the root cause(s) of cancer is a critical piece to the puzzle. We have more information now about underlying infections & inflammation that my Dad’s body has been burdened by. This gives us tools to help his body heal and prevent yet another recurrence.

If there was a regret, I think we all agree that it would be around not monitoring better. Yes, my Dad was being tested via blood and ultrasound but not via scans. And for his type of cancer, it easily moves in the lymph, and we should have been doing regular full-body scans. His 1st scan was in January and he didn’t have another one until after his hospitalization. That was too long. The results of more regular scanning may have helped us take action quicker before he became so depleted and weak.

Choosing Integrative Care

I am a firm believer that there is never just ONE right path to heal. There are many tools, tests, and therapies at your disposal. And only by pulling together all of the best options for you will you have the best chance of recovery.

There is also something to be said for trusting your inner wisdom about what is the right path for YOU. The first time around that path was chemotherapy for my Dad, along with diet and a few supplements, and he did really well. But clearly it wasn’t enough to resolve the root cause(s).

The second time around he chose a different route. He uncovered several root imbalances and chose to focus on those first. Unfortunately this wasn’t enough on its own to heal the cancer but likely helped his body build tolerance and strength so that when the time came he could handle the chemotherapy.

As he continues to stabilize and make progress, we will be able to bring in more therapies and tools, and I’m hopeful that with an integrated treatment plan he will be able to help his body fully heal and prevent the cancer from taking hold again.

For me the most important take home message is to be flexible. Life rarely unfolds the exact way you expect and the same is true for healing. Health doesn’t usually improve in a straight line. By staying adaptable and responsive, bringing in the right therapies at the right time, monitoring, & trusting your intuition, you CAN help your body heal and recover from cancer.

If you’re ready to stop searching for answers on your own and gain the support & guidance of a trusted professional, the first step is to book a free 20-min “Planning Session” where we will review your diet, your lifestyle, your cancer treatment plan, and begin to map out your best recovery strategy.

Click here to book a 20-minute “Cancer Recovery Planning Session”.

My Dad’s cancer journey is not over yet but thankfully we have renewed hope and optimism about what the next steps will be.

The 4 Most Toxic Foods To Avoid During Cancer Recovery

This FREE Guide will help you take the First Step in helping your body heal!
By knowing what foods will feed your cancer vs. slow it down, you and your family can begin to take control again.

Where should I send your FREE Guide?