Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Story of Survival, Part 2: The Battle

This is a continuation of my mother's story.
The Battle
Linda starting looking through a book of alternative doctors in Washington State and the first doctor she could get an appointment with was located near Green Lake.  After her first visit with this doctor, it was recommended that Linda see a doctor in Vancouver BC, Dr. Chan, who was doing some "incredible work and seeing success in alternative cancer treatment".  Linda, along with her husband Bill, would drive to Vancouver every Wednesday-Saturday for treatment and this ended up costing them about $2500-3000 each week with gas, hotel, treatment costs, supplements, etc.  Linda and Bill used up all of the money they had in their savings, used all of their vacation days through work, and drained their 401k retirement savings.
After about 3 months of weekly trips to Canada, Dr. Chan told Linda that the tumor was "encapsulated" and that meant she needed to have a mastectomy and he couldn't do anything else for her.  Linda returned home and continued alternative treatment.
In 2002, Linda decided to go to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance to see what the next step of treatment should be.  She left with differing opinions from six different doctors, all with varying degrees of optimism.  "It came across to me as, 'We could try this and if that doesn't work we can try that...and on and on the guesswork continued", states Linda. 
In 2003 Linda went to Cancer Treatment Centers of America and saw Dr. Chen.  She had blood work and tests done, visited a nutritionist, and met with a counselor.  This visit did not end with good news.  Linda was told that the cancer had spread to her liver, chest wall and lymph nodes, and she needed to start chemotherapy the very next day.  Even then, she was told she only had about 20% chance of survival.  "I told them I didn't like their odds and that I was going home!"  You have to love my mother's tenacity :)
February 2004 she started the Kelly/Gonzales treatment with included the use of Bloodroot and lots of enzymes, but got to the point where she was tired of all of it and the pain the Bloodroot was causing her, so she dropped this regimen altogether and tried to figure out what her next move should be.  (Although there are many sources of information out there you can check out, Click here to learn a little more about bloodroot)  At this point, the lesion that the Bloodroot created became infected and a friend referred Linda to her doctor at Cancer Care Northwest.  Linda's infection was treated with maggots (yes, maggots!) and antibiotics and it cleared right up.
February 2005, after much pleading and negotiating with others, Linda agreed to weekly chemotherapy and radiation treatments at Tri-cities Cancer Center.  She would drive one hour for treatment, then one hour back to work, and this continued for 14 weeks until Linda said, "I'm not doing this anymore.  I wasn't a very good patient.  I would go for a couple days and then not go for a week or so, and then go for a couple days, and then not go.  As I was sitting in a room with a bunch of other people in our thin little hospital gowns, it occurred to me that it seemed like we were being treated like cattle being hurdled into a cattle truck.  I finished up that day, put my gown in the little locker and never went back.  I got a letter from the doctor informing me that the treatments won't work like it's supposed to if I don't continue on the schedule prescribed.  I told him that I just couldn't go there anymore.  And another doctor crossed me off their list."
March 2005 Linda was referred to a doctor who was "one of the best cancer surgeons in Washington", but that appointment did not go well.  This doctor asked Linda why she was there to see her, and continued to tell her that not one single surgeon in the state would take her case.  That Linda had Stage 4 cancer and that at this point she wouldn't make until the end of the week. That Linda needed to go home, get her affairs in order and say her good-byes.  This doctor also told my mom that she brought herself to this stage by not listening to the recommendations of many medical doctors, and that wasting her time and money on alternative routes is was brought her to this day.  Linda was numb as she was trying to wrap her head around what that doctor was telling her.  "Finally, after what I thought was forever, I looked her straight in the eye and said 'Well, it looks like I'm wasting your time and you are certainly wasting my time!  I'm going home.  I reached down, picked up my purse, and walked out.  As I started walking down the hallway I heard Bill behind me say, 'Well, I better go too'."
During this time, Linda continued to do what she was doing from the very beginning as far as homeopathic treatment at home.  She was working two jobs and was very busy with work and was also going through a lot of family and personal issues and was wearing many stressful hats.  "The hardest issues to deal with at this time were the family ones.  It got so bad that I ended up not taking care of the lesion [caused by the tumor] and it got so infected that I could hardly use my left arm due to the pain.  It was so bad!"
Linda recalls a day which she describes as the most significant to her 'Survival Story'..."I remember the day when your dad left for work and I was in so much pain and agony. The thought came over me so heavy that all I had to do was just close my eyes and release my spirit to the Lord.  It was so real, and for a brief moment as I was contemplating this decision, which all happened in a blink of an eye,  I remember seeing your dad, and both of your (my sister and I) faces before me and with the future so bright and sunny that an overwhelming sensation hit me like a wave of heat and light and an overwhelming adjustment in my thought process of digging deep and fighting with everything I had within me took over.  I cried out to God to help me.  I want so badly to see my girls get married and have babies of their own and want to grow old with my husband. I told the Lord I have so much life yet to live and that I didn't want to just give up and leave everything that was good in my life.  I fell asleep and when I woke up, the pain was gone and I never experienced that feeling ever again!  And the rest of the story? Well, you know how that ends."
The Turning Point
Through a friend of mine, my mom saw a naturopath, Dr. Matthew Brignall, in Tacoma.  Dr. Brignall referred my mom to Dr. McKee and Dr. Craddick in Ashland, Oregon as he felt her condition was more than he could treat.  Dr. Craddick referred her to Dr. Anton Bilchik at John Wayne Cancer Center in Santa Monica, California.  If anyone could help Linda at this point, Dr. Bilchik was her man.
Click here to read Part 3: The Victory to hear how my mom's battle
with breast cancer came to a happy ending. 
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