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No picking sides

March 25, 2018

One of the hardest things mentally about the last month or so has been working through my thoughts and feelings regarding traditional vs. alternative treatment. Until I recently started prescription hormone therapy, surgery had been the only traditional treatment option we’d chosen. Though I don’t think I’m particularly “crunchy”, I have always tended toward alternative options. I have always wanted to know what the root of the problem was instead of just treating the symptoms.

And as is the case whenever you go against the standard, you know people are doubting/concerned about/scared of your choices. I have struggled against the need to defend our decisions. This recurrence, and even when it was just a possibility, really challenged me in this area though. Why had we made those choices? Were they the right ones? Did the natural stuff not work?

As a side story, this is one way that I feel like God has been preparing us for this: I grew up with alternative medicine as part of my story. I had cancer as a baby, and other than me having surgery, my parents chose not to do traditional treatments. I was around a year old, and to them, the potential damage that chemo and radiation would cause was not worth their possible benefits. My mom and I spent time at Oasis of Hope, a center in Mexico, and I grew up on a very natural diet. I wasn’t supposed to survive my cancer, yet miraculously, I had. (This is a whole other amazing story that I hope to tell later.) Jonathan, however, did not have this same exposure and has had more of a “do what the doctor says” mindset.

When I got pregnant with Alida, we ended up in the office of the midwife who delivered me at home when I was a baby. She asked “So, what kind of birth do you want to have?” and we looked at each other like, “What?” I started learning as much as I could about birth and in turn shared much of it with Jonathan. I read stories of women who had no voice in their births, who doubted their body’s ability because of what they had been told, who feared the process that that we were designed for, who had so many unnecessary interventions that they lost control over the process. We decided for many reasons that if at all possible I would deliver naturally. (I did deliver all three naturally, but it’s good to point out and remind myself that each birth involved some sort of medical intervention – pitocin at the end to help get Alida out, oxygen with Farrah since her heart rate was dropping, and pitocin with Elin to get the placenta out.)

We learned two important things that have been helpful when dealing with cancer: Over the months, he would have conversations with guys he’d fly with who, upon finding out that we were planning to go natural, would tell him that we were crazy, it was impossible, etc… For one, you don’t even know me, and for two, why all the negativity?? We learned to be selective about who we shared certain things with. It’s not about being secretive, but it’s about not opening yourself up to people who you know will be negative and not support you. You can disagree and challenge, but there’s a difference.

The other thing was that it helped both of us, but especially Jonathan, see that the standard of care isn’t the only way and it’s not always the best way. Don’t get me wrong – none of us hate medicine. I’m grateful for doctors and c-sections/surgery and interventions when necessary. I just think these several years of having children naturally made it so much easier for Jonathan and I to be on the same page about my treatment.

So when I found out last summer that I had cancer, the first thing I did was research alternative treatments. I sent my info to the Oasis of Hope to see what they recommended. My sister, Christine, designated herself as my researcher and we started doing what we could to boost my immune system and fight cancer. This part is a whole other post on its own.

One major factor though was that I was coming from a place of extreme depletion in my body. In exactly four years, I had gotten pregnant 5 times, miscarried twice, given birth to and breastfed 3 children. It had been a hectic bunch of years in other ways as well, and I was in no way recovered from it. I was unable to fathom doing anything to my body that would tear it down more. And yet, that’s what the doctors were recommending. Surgery is hard enough on a healthy body, but then to immediately add all the other stuff – I just couldn’t do it.

During this time, I realized what I mentioned before – trusting God is not knowing the final outcome. Trusting Him is knowing that He will be the light to my every step. Rarely does the light shine out in the distance, but He promises it will be there one step at a time. He also promises that if we lack wisdom, we can ask God and He will give it to us generously (James 1:5).

One specific Sunday when I was despairing about the cost of the place in Mexico or something like that, we prayed this and then the next day I received a completely “random” email from someone offering me information that they “had no idea whether I was interested in or not.” I had voices from completely different parts of my life agree on specific things, and this is how I ended up at Real Health Medical with Dr. Bergeron. I knew that the circumstances of me even finding out about him could either be extremely coincidental or that it was God guiding my steps.

I went through the fall with peace that I was in the right place. I still have peace about that. I will write about my initial phase of treatment there some day, but it was good. I knew that even when I wasn’t sure about the details of the treatment, that I could have peace knowing that’s where I was supposed to be. They cared about and treated the whole of me – body, mind and spirit. And I feel healthier than I have in a long, long time. It seemed that this would be an open and shut case; I had surgery, I did the follow-up work to boost my immune system and kill any cancer that remained, and I went on my merry way. But, it’s not.

So now I find myself leaning more heavily on the traditional side of medicine and have, at times, almost felt like I’m a traitor to the natural side. But as I type it out, I realize again, that it isn’t one or the other. (Thankfully) no one is asking me to pick a side. (It actually grieves me that you can’t go to one place and have traditional and holistic/natural/functional all in one place.) My nurse, Karen, has frequently mentioned patients who are in chemo or radiation and who also come to them for support. She’s also told me about patients who are so stuck to the natural side that they won’t get a simple surgery that would solve their problem. I don’t have to choose. When Dr. B and Dr. Z recommend different hormone therapies and doses, I don’t have to sweat who is right or wrong. Instead, I can take comfort in the fact that they both believe in hormone therapy.

I went in for a vitamin C (plus some other goodies) IV this week. I do it monthly, but with the recurrence, I decided to go in early. I sat next to a sweet lady who is battling colon cancer. She has been going there for a year for immune support, and had chemo elsewhere for 6 months of that time. She said that throughout her chemo treatments, she was always able to eat and never threw up! It was so good to see firsthand the combination of traditional and alternative at work.

 

 

I thought I had already processed this, but it is obviously an ongoing work. I will see the new surgeon tomorrow at 8:30am. It’s a little scary, but it’s also time. I need to hear what she says so we can start moving forward. We continue to pray for agreement among our trusted medical people so I can have peace with the decisions we have to make.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Ruth Petersen permalink
    March 25, 2018 21:39

    love you Grace, I am SO like you when it comes to the natural way, if at all possible..My daughter who happens to be 46…was born naturally and I breast feed her…Forty years ago was kinda the return of natural child birth and breast feeding….Although most of my friends and family thought I was totally crazy, I have never regretted either choice…Please continue to pray about your choices (like you want!) and make the choice you and Jonathan feel are the best for you, I too will be praying that God will continue to give you His wisdom and those choices will be the right ones for you…I love you dearly, Please call me if there is anytime you need to talk, day or night I am available for you..Much, Much, LOVE, Ruth 321-431-7866

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