Friday, December 30, 2011

Never too late for Thanksgiving

I've been gone for a while --nearly 9 months since my last post.  My blog friends have been asking why, specially with my unfinished post in April.  That fateful day in April 2011, as I was writing my post, my son had to bring me to the hospital ---severe headaches, dizziness, loss of balance, lack of coordination, weakness and intense abdominal pains.  

My primary care physician was out of town, my appointment with her was for the next week, but I had to see a doctor right away--so lucky Dr. Hill was at the walk-in clinic.  He was my family doctor before he decided to do the walk-in clinic. I trust him. He is very sharp, has the best bedside manners, a real professional. I was in good hands!  He ordered an MRI.  That afternoon, Dr. Hill had difficulty breaking the bad news.  He was heartbroken, his eyes were misty as he told my family that I had mutliple tumors in my brain--the largest being 4 cm!  My family was stunned!  The scientist in me was very calm, I thought to myself, that the tumors explained why I was having those severe headaches and lack of coordination  Dr. Hill made arrangements with a neurosurgeon at OU, my husband rushed me to the ER and called our pastor and church friends to pray for me. 

Word spread around and they immediately prayed for me.  By the time we reached the hospital and was at the ER, my symptoms had disappeared. Some of our friends came by--Kim and David went to the ER later to cheer us up.  My church brethren were storming heaven for me!!  Later a CT scan showed the tumors were in my lung, pancreas, bone, everywhere!  The doctors did not know if it was brain, lung or pancreatic cancer--the doctors could not decide if surgery was EVEN an alternative if it were pancreatic and lung cancer since the tumors were just too widespread.  

Biopsies were done---a diagnosis of metastatic adenocarcinoma--non-small cell lung cancer--it was a surprise-- I never smoked in my life!!  Craniotomy was scheduled to remove the 4 cm tumor in the brain stem as it was very close to the brain centers that controlled heartbeat, breathing, swallowing.  

I had the best neurosurgeon, Dr. Gumerlock--very sharp, very thorough yet gentle and very positive.  She explained to us exactly what she was going to do.  While waiting for the scheduled surgery the nurses at the hospital were so caring---Nurse Patie, Carol, etc.  But specially Nurse Patie!  When she learned I was about to be brought down to surgery, she prayed for me--a fervent prayer of faith--she prayed for the success of the surgery and that I awake from it whole--never have I seen or heard such powerful prayer--that everything would be right and all will be well with God.  Surgery was at 6 p.m., I was out of the OR at 11 p.m., brought to the Intensive Care at 12:30 a.m.  Slept well through the night, woke up next day--refreshed ---I was able to stand and walk around the Intensive Care unit --5 times!  God heard Nurse Patie's prayer, and that of our pastor, all our church brethren and everyone else's.  God is merciful and kind.  He crowns us with His loving kindness and tender mercies (Psalm 103).  Praise the Lord, O my soul!

Fast forward, after talking to some cancer survivors I decided not undergo the usual chemotherapy route. It was my personal choice. I would not have survived it.  Instead, I decided on building up my immune system.  I learned that the usual chemo drugs kill cancer cells as well as other fast-dividing non-cancer cells in the body, resulting in side effects.

My family's friends and relatives (including a first cousin) who have undergone conventional chemotherapy during the nine months since I was first diagnosed have all passed on--- all seven of them..  Several of my church brethren with brain and/or breast cancer who had surgery and then changed their diet or sought alternative treatments are still around. I am very grateful to them for sharing what has worked for them.  I've been on a strict diet, all natural, alternative treatments, polyMVA and targeted therapy. My last PET scan and Brain MRI showed that on average, all my tumors have shrunk by half in size and the metabolic activity of the cancer cells have dramatically decreased. The tumors are still there but my neurosurgeon has reclassified my diagnosis from metastatic adenocarcinoma to stable systemic disease!  

My pastor and church family from congregations around the world have been saying lots fervent prayers for me, even those I don't know personally, as far away as Australia and Germany.  I am very grateful for them, my doctors, nurses, my son and specially my husband's love, patience and dedication  but most of all I am grateful to our Lord and master...I stand before you, a cancer survivor by the mercy of God.   

 I am sharing with you here the simple Thanksgiving dinner I prepared for my family, our first Thanksgiving in our new house.  I did not partake of this spread but it was still a wonderful Thanksgiving. In this blog, I plan to share with you later all the diet and lifestyle changes that has worked for me.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Asian-flavored roasted duck
Turkey spring rolls, Asian-flavored roast duck, roasted asparagus, roasted garlic potatoes and lo mein


SharleneT said...

You poor dear. What a journey. We've missed you. Both my husband and daughter had different cancers and didn't win the battle -- but, the thinking on nutrition wasn't as strong, then. Congratulations on being able to bring the tumors down. And, come visit when you can.

Mimi said...

God is good! I know your journey is not over, and I will pray for your continued good health.

Barnicles said...

thank you for your story. Best wishes and strength to you!

Momgateway said...

Thank you so much Sharlene, Mimi, Barnicles and Kim for your kind words, concern and prayers. God's blessings be upon you.

Ivy said...

Glad to see you back Ann and hope that this is behind you now. FAITH makes wonders!! You are very brave and wish you full recovery soon. Shall be looking forward to your future posts and learn more about the ways you confronted and faught cancer.

Sippity Sup said...

Never to late to say Happy 12 2 U either! Sorry it took me so long to see this. GREG

Juliana said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story...and I am so glad that you recovered well and had your lovely family, friends behind you as you battle this awful disease. Yes, God is kind.

MaryMoh said...

Ann, thanks very much for dropping by my blog. I am SO touched by your story. Thanks so much for sharing. It's really encouraging how you went through with the courage and strength from God, changing your diet and trusting Him for healing. My best friend suffered from aggressive lymphatic cancer. She also changed her diet completely into a lot of juices and home grown vegetables. She is still well and healthy today, 9 years on....Praise God! Please take care. I am really glad you have very good support there. Will keep you in my prayers.

Koko said...

Wow. I am blown away by your story. You are in my thoughts. I wish all the strength in the world to you and your choice to go without chemotherapy was very brave, although I think very smart, too. You are truly a survivor!

Carolyn Jung said...

Oh my gosh, what you have been through! I'm glad life is returning to normal for you now. And who cares if the holiday was months ago. You should celebrate Thanksgiving in the biggest way ever -- because you have so very much to be thankful for. ;)