Chapter 9 -------- What’s up Doc?
Danielle was constantly reconnecting with friends as her health began to improve. One friend had recommended that we meet with one of their mutual friends who was a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) in town. Danielle and I agreed that since we couldn’t get in touch with Doc as regularly that it might be best to have a back-up doctor. We decided to set up a consultation with her friend. Danielle was very familiar with the new doctor since she had worked as a front desk secretary for her and Doc some years prior.
I was very impressed at the first consultation with our new ND. She was incredibly professional and on top of that highly knowledgeable. I would say that she was not an expert on treating cancer, but she had hands-on experience treating it with alternative methods. We talked while she took Danielle’s vitals. We discussed the treatments that we had already started.
We told her that we were using the hyperbaric oxygen treatment to help with healing from the surgery. We also had used an alpha-lipoic acid supplement. There wasn’t much that we were doing that she had any problems with except the oxygen chamber. She wasn’t sure if the increased oxygen would also increase the growth of cancer. She supported it to help with healing from the surgery but didn’t recommend it for further treatment.
She had a couple of other options she wanted to present to us. The first was a light therapy device. We had investigated another device in town because of the data that has shown these light therapy devices can shrink cancer tumors and even rid the body of cancer completely. However, the device also uses additional Electromagnetic Fields during the treatment, which means Danielle wouldn’t use it. It isn’t that she couldn’t use it, but her phobia of EMF treatment made it not worth trying. The ND explained her light therapy was just light and no other frequencies. Danielle was on board for adding this treatment as soon as possible.
She also told us about a new IV treatment derived from a turmeric extract. It was called curcumin, and there was a doctor in Phoenix who was using it extensively to treat Cancer. She had a patient that had used it, and it put his stage 4 cancer into remission. She even told us that he was a McDonald’s diet type of guy, so she was very optimistic about Danielle’s situation. I learned turmeric was showing incredible anti-cancer properties, but now they were creating a more concentrated extract administered through an IV.
The big issue with this treatment was that insurance wouldn’t cover it. Each IV was also going to run between three hundred to six hundred dollars per treatment. Depending on the concentrations, it was going to be more or less expensive. Danielle would also have to run the IV once or twice a week. The price tag was daunting. I would have to start making far more money to pay for it myself.
The next item that she provided us with was a list of things that we should avoid. The list was extensive; it told us to avoid soy, gluten, and other refined sugars. The biggest thing that caught my attention was that memory foam mattresses, according to her, could be cancerous. I was a little bothered because the mattress I was planning on bringing up from storage was a memory foam mattress. So now we were left with a single mattress as our only solution.
Igniting the start of a crazy struggle to find a mattress solution. It wasn’t something that fit into the budget in the immediate future, so I just put it on the back burner. I was still sleeping fine on the single mattress with Danielle. A solution we didn’t need to focus on now.
The solution we decided on was starting the curcumin treatment as soon as possible. The additional research I had done showed that it was not harmful to the body, but it was highly anti-cancerous. It was a more natural form of chemo without all the crazy side effects. Danielle was confident it was the treatment for her. I just wished her family showed the same support. The price was our primary concern. I certainly couldn’t pay all the bills and pay for treatment. Danielle’s insurance didn’t cover any treatment that wasn’t chemotherapy or radiation. Additionally, we weren’t receiving any financial support from either of our family’s, but that wouldn’t stop us.
The first step we decided to proceed with was to have a chemo port installed. I know it sounds a bit strange, but it was necessary for Danielle. We had initially declined this after her surgery because our goals were different. Now a port was the best option. Danielle had trouble with people being able to find her veins, so if we had a port, running IV’s could be far easier to administer.
The insurance would only cover the port installation for chemotherapy. So it was decided that when we visited the surgeon, we would set up an appointment to have a port installed. Danielle decided to tell the Doctor that she was going to do Chemotherapy. It was all working out, but we still weren’t sure how we were going to cover six hundred to twelve hundred dollars a week in IV’s.
The ND also told us many other things to avoid, including stress to give Danielle the best chance for recovery. The plan included a modification to her diet and some chemicals to avoid. After going over everything, the ND also decided that the water could have been a huge culprit and that tap water could potentially be very harmful. The ND also informed us that the unmonitored estrogen doses that her other doctor was giving her might have been a huge contributor to the development of her Ovarian Cancer.
Now, this is where one of the first big arguments happened that put some serious stress on our relationship. Mostly due to my ignorance and expecting an answer about what caused Danielle’s cancer. We still had to meet back with the Surgeon for a check-up on the surgery. I was fully expecting to hear back from the surgeon that they had figured out what might have caused cancer to develop. I wanted answers from someone who promised me answers.
Danielle discussed her entire medical history with her doctor friend. She went on to explain her extensive use of IV’s for vitamins and estrogen. The ND explained Danielle should have been monitoring her estrogen levels during that time. Danielle confirmed the doctor never tested her levels. Leading Danielle to conclude, that a doubling of her estrogen doses six months prior was a contributing factor to her cancer. A possible cause was not quite the answer I wanted.
Nothing could convince Danielle differently. The doctor who gave her years of IV’s was at fault. It broke her to learn that her friend didn’t run the proper tests, tests which were required. The years of trust vanished in an instant. Danielle did nothing but vent about how angry she was at the situation she was in, and that it apparently could have been avoided. I couldn’t have understood the level of betrayal that Danielle felt. She became upset that I didn’t take her side completely on the matter.
Our arguments were explosive and never ended well. There was no doubt in Danielle’s mind, and I couldn’t accept that. I still wasn’t sure and didn’t want to be blaming someone if there was another cause. I didn’t want to jump to conclusions. I wanted answers, I wanted proof, and the surgeon was the man to give me those answers.
Danielle was not looking forward to the meeting like I was. Leading up to the doctor's appointment, Danielle showed increased health problems, especially through the night. I could easily tell when she was stressed about something because her pain would intensify, she would have more digestive issues, and on top of that would end up sleeping far less. I always tried to provide positive reassurance. I constantly wanted to show her the love she deserved, especially during times when it was so important I do so.
This trip required a lot of support for Danielle on my part, she not only wasn’t looking forward to the 4 hours we would spend in the car, but she didn’t enjoy going to the Doctor’s. Every time we go to a Doctor’s, they must tell us that Danielle is going to Die if she doesn’t do Chemo or Radiation. Even our Naturopathic Doctor had to tell us “by law” that Danielle was going to die without doing treatments that are approved by the American Medical Association. I can’t imagine the fear that comes with confronting people who repeatedly reminded her she was going to die.
This trip to Phoenix was a little tense, but we both managed to make the journey without any serious issues. Danielle’s comfort level was way down, her pain was constantly increasing, and we were less than halfway through our journey. We met at the doctor's offices instead of the Hospital. I hadn’t realized that we were going to a different location about 20 minutes further down the road. Meaning we had to take an extra bathroom stop, setting us a little behind schedule.
We arrived at the offices to find accommodations far nicer than we were expecting. The office had a much nicer atmosphere than the huge cold hospital. It put Danielle a bit at ease to not have to walk through the long hallways. I was thankful that they had tea and snacks in the waiting room. We welcomed anything that put us both more at ease. I was rife with anticipation, but Danielle was anxious and terrified.
The surgery to get the port scared Danielle the most. However, the surgeon sold us on having him perform the surgery. When I say he sold us, I mean he sold us on using him to install the port. Danielle and I decided there wasn’t another surgeon in the country that we would have used. We already witnessed his work once, and Danielle was satisfied with his current remarks. After his inspection of the area, he operated on, and he expressed healing was progressing well and that she should expect a full recovery within a month. A huge relief to us since we hadn’t “officially” consummated the marriage yet. Thankfully we didn’t wait till the wedding.
The Surgeon knew his stuff about Surgery. However, I would be disappointed with his answers about my wife’s cancer and potential treatment options. Danielle and I both inquired about the less harmful options that he had mentioned, but again, we were told that those options weren’t available for us — telling us that the abdominal port that he already installed was a new type of chemotherapy. The same new treatment that we had already had aggressively pushed on us. At the time, I didn’t think it was best to start treatment until her body had fully healed. Now it was different.
Danielle was mostly healed, and in a place to honestly look at the options. So we asked more questions about the abdominal port chemo bath, which was set up to put chemo right into the location of where he removed the Cancer. It seems like an effective possibility except that he finally informed us that some people end up only doing one to three treatments because it is so intense. I could tell right away my wife was scared, pissed, and mad that they would attempt to put something so toxic in her without disclosing this huge truth.
Danielle told him that she would pass on that treatment option but would proceed with a more traditional approach. We would have the port installed in Phoenix by this incredible surgeon, and she said she would receive treatment in Sedona at the local oncologist. We made appointments to get the port installed, and we also set up a consultation with the local oncologist.
When the Surgeon finally decided to go over the tests they had run on the Cancer, I was thrilled, well initially thrilled. I was hoping to find the answers we were looking for, but instead, I was completely disappointed. Not only did they have no answer to the cause of her cancer but that they weren’t even going to investigate further. The DNA test had turned back a negative so there was no answer that the Medical Establishment would or could provide. I was pissed off. I had held out blame in hopes of any additional information.
I felt horrible at my stance towards the cause of my wife’s cancer. I was truly sorry for any strife I caused between us. I was expecting answers, and the only answer we had was basic malpractice. It did bring some peace between us, but it did create mutual anger towards the doctor who administered the estrogen IV’s. Truthfully this is the first time I officially felt let down by the Medical Establishment. I wanted to know what caused my wife’s cancer or cancer in general, but the truth is that the entire Medical Industry didn’t care. I was so angry.
Despite our issues, we scheduled our appointment back to Phoenix. The rides were rough for Danielle. The hour and forty minutes between Sedona and the Hospital was very strenuous on her fragile body. The 03’ Mustang wasn’t the easiest car to get into or out of after surgery. However, the ride was smooth enough not to cause much more discomfort.
I stayed strong through these trips because I knew my wife needed me to be. With all the energy I could muster, I made sure that she had someone present for this new operation. Undergoing surgery struck fear into Danielle. I knew she didn’t look forward to the side effects of the Anesthesia or the meds that the hospital would provide. It is difficult when the side effects can be worse than the original diagnosis. Prescription Medications were one of the most harmful substances that my wife consumed while sick. The problems forced Danielle to use them as little as possible.
Installing the port was the smoothest adventure so far. Danielle was stressed about the surgery while also relieved that she would be able to start treatment. It also meant that drawing blood would be easier. Since Danielle suffered from very thin veins, she always had nurses that needed help finding her veins. So often I felt like they used her like a pin cushion before consenting to additional help. On several instances, we had to have an ultrasound machine to find her veins.
I had to leave the room whenever they would draw blood or insert an IV. I would get so light-headed around needles that I would nearly pass out. It was the same my whole life with piercings or even worse injuries. I don’t think I could ever be a doctor because of those issues. One time I did pass out during my blood draw. The nurse was surprised but continued the procedure since I passed out sitting up. I thanked her and spent the next hour recovering. My wife was nothing like me when it came to IV’s or needles.
After another routine week of recovery time, we were scheduled to talk to the Oncologist. I was a little more excited about this meeting because I figured an Oncologist would have all the answers. We needed to have all the answers so that anyone who questioned us could see we did the fact-finding ourselves. I didn’t see any way to stop her family without all the answers. Danielle was willing to do anything to gain her family’s support. It was crucial to me that we find a way to stop the stresses caused by the lack of support.
Danielle even canceled the initial appointment because she didn’t want to be pressured to do the chemotherapy. I supported her decision, but I guess that wasn’t enough. The pressure from her family caused her to set up the appointment secretly. I didn’t mind either way as I wanted to answer more of my questions.
Several days before the appointment at the oncologists, I could tell she was getting nervous again. Talking about it would cause her to stress; she would constantly question if she should even go. I would constantly tell her that we were going to get more answers, and answers we desperately needed to bring some peace between her and her family. I didn’t tell my family any details about the treatment we choose, mostly because I didn’t want to deal with their opinions. I knew my family knew nothing about cancer treatment. If I’m going to find some answers, I will get the answers from the professional or expert.
The trip to the Oncologist was not the same experience for me as it was for Danielle. I wasn’t scared to hear what she had to say. I fully intended her to answer all the questions I had about chemo. I was genuinely a bit excited to see into the lion's den. I thought it was going to be a very informative visit, no matter the outcome. After an hour wait to see the Doctor, I was in for a huge disappointment.
The doctor came in as most do and ran through the usual patient checkup and went through her records. We again discussed all of Danielle’s previous illnesses. We even discussed that Danielle had lost over a pint of blood and had chosen to decline a blood transfusion, meaning she rebuilt all her blood naturally. It was not something most people walk away from, but after surviving several life-threatening illnesses, it wasn’t unusual for Danielle to survive the impossible. We all joked about her past medical history, and that led to our concern with using such strong chemotherapy.
We were hoping for a new solution. The Surgeon had told us that there were new, less harmful chemotherapies now becoming available, and we asked her if that was an option. She said that the only one that she recommended in our case was the strongest and potentially most dangerous treatment option. The problem is they didn’t let us choose, and they only offered one treatment. It felt like there was no consideration for my wife’s personal medical history.
The medical establishment could only provide one option. There was not going to be another alternative. Danielle was upset to learn there were no other choices because we were expecting to hear about a safer version of Chemo. As Danielle put it, we were facing the Cadillac of Chemotherapies. The frustration came with the lack of other options and a complete lack of support for alternative options. I anticipated that would be the answer we would receive. What I didn’t anticipate is how the doctor would respond to my other questions.
I think my first trigger was when the Doctor asked if Danielle was eating enough. I proceeded to tell the Doctor exactly what she was eating daily. When I finished, I asked if that was enough? She responded, “I don’t know. I’m not a dietician.” I couldn’t believe that diet was not a primary concern for cancer patients. My research showed how helpful diet was in maintaining proper health. So why wouldn’t a cancer doctor be educated on the topic?
It was game time for me, and the gloves were coming off. I started asking serious questions about what we could expect from the chemotherapy the doctors recommended. Such as what potential health problems could we be facing? The doctor was not interested in disclosing the side effects and avoided the question completely. She decided it was best to print out the medical disclosure. I was somewhat satisfied knowing I would have the information I wanted. It still upset me that she wouldn’t discuss that with us.
To skirt the issue, our oncologist said something I still can’t believe. The doctor proceeded to tell us that chemotherapy was derived from the bark of the Pacific Yew tree. The doctor explained the medical industry created a synthetic version that works exactly the same, to protect the tree. As if to inspire a positive response from us. I said, “If there is a more natural version, then why can’t we try that instead?” She didn’t have an answer.
I don’t even remember the questions I asked next, but I can clearly remember my reaction to her response. I was expecting an experienced professional to provide me with answers. Instead, she looked up my remaining questions on WebMD. I was beyond upset at the apparent incompetence that showed. I couldn’t believe that the doctor had to look up answers online. Considering I could answer further questions this way, I decided to stop my questioning. I was in utter disbelief. I lost all remaining faith in our for-profit cancer treatment centers during this visit.
After learning that the doctor didn’t think diet was important to cancer treatment, I was appalled to find buckets of candy throughout the cancer ward. They were feeding high fructose corn syrup in copious amounts to patients who have cancer. Considering cancer thrives on sugar, and even more on refined sugar, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Doc and our ND had confirmed this fact. It was a huge reality check for me.
The whole show was about money, not health. I realized that the cancer industry doesn’t care about the health of people, near as much as they like being able to provide expensive treatments to patients. Our doctor would have made over one hundred and fifty thousand dollars for the treatment she wanted to give us. A treatment that she was required by law to recommend. A law that utterly violates any sense of medical freedom. It made me think, but it also made me mad. My anger toward the Cancer Industry continued to grow, and it looks like it was not going to stop growing either.
Danielle was not satisfied with the answers that the doctor provided, and she declined to move forward with any further treatment. This choice was a surprise to the doctor, and she proceeded to tell us just like all the other doctors, that we faced a high probability of death if we didn’t proceed with her recommendations. Sadly considering our circumstances, I felt the same way if we did try the chemo. Danielle didn’t want to face a potentially more destructive foe if the solutions were going to cause worse side effects. Again the solutions were nothing more than putting band aids on problems as they arose. It didn’t fill us with a bit of confidence.
Danielle asked one more question before we ended our appointment. She was concerned about monitoring her cancer markers and was hoping to reschedule another appointment. The doctor's response threw both of us a curve ball. We were informed that the doctor was very busy with training students, had many patients, and also, we were not pursuing treatment. Due to these reasons, we would only be scheduled for another appointment six months from that date. Danielle felt this was unacceptable. The doctor did not concede, leaving us both confused and angry.
After another terrible experience in a hospital for both Danielle and I, we knew there was no way that we would ever do chemo to fight her cancer. Not only did the sheets she provided show that there was a possibility of death, but it also showed serious side effects that Danielle, still, was not going to sign up for. We weren’t going to do something that felt so wrong. It didn’t matter that some parents, her mom, and sister were pressuring her to try Chemo. I had no problem standing my ground on the topic, and neither did Danielle. After this appointment, she made it excessively clear that she was done talking about chemotherapy. I could see that the decision was not a solution for us.
Danielle and I didn’t need to find any more answers from the mainstream medical industry. We knew what we were going to do. While I probably would not choose the same options my wife chose, I undoubtedly supported her decision. We poured through mountains of information to reinforce our belief in making the best choice. The experience helped my knowledge grow exponentially. Talking to professionals and receiving insights taught me more than any of the hundreds of medical articles that I previously read. I learned how we were going to treat my wife’s cancer. I had to support her decisions.
I knew that my wife was going to do it her way. It wasn’t about me or my way, and it had to be all about her situation. I had to put my ego aside and support my wife in her decisions, even if I didn’t completely agree. I could offer my input but had to allow her to use it or not. It wasn’t easy for me, but it was something that I learned to do in even the most stressful of circumstances. We all need to learn the skill of supporting people in their journey without putting our projections and desires on them too.
It was becoming more difficult to face the fact that the medical industry was never going to support our decision. Made even more frustrating that by law, doctors and nurses had to tell Danielle she was going to Die. I hoped that was it for Mainstream doctors, who constantly reminded Danielle of her demise, and the uncertain future she faced. Danielle faced all the additional trauma because we needed to convince her family that her decision was the right one. Danielle so desperately wanted the full support of her family in her decision.
I find it imperative to unify in support of a treatment option, and we cannot be divided. The division leads to doubt, and doubt can be the real killer. I find it criminal not to support treatments, especially in a world that scientifically recognizes the placebo or nocebo effect. Which states that treatments work or fail based on belief. All medications must beat the placebo effect to become available to the public. Sugar pills have been proven to cure more times than any pharmaceutical company would ever care to admit. So why does a law exist that creates a nocebo effect?
Despite the stress of the adventure, we walked away more resolute in our undertaking. There was no doubt in my mind that Danielle was making the right decision. However, despite both of us going through the same experience, Danielle did not walk away, completely satisfied. If I had known, I might have made changes then and there. It was at this point that Danielle needed to believe in her treatment. There weren’t enough people in her life that were showing her the support she wanted. Something needed to push us in the right direction, but I didn’t know what.
Then probably the second biggest miracle possible happened. The friend she had reached out to and that put us in touch with the ND showed up and offered to pay for the treatment. She also wrote my wife a check to pay for other medical expenses too. It was a huge relief to me since I only started getting paid at my new job. It took all the pressure of making sure we could afford treatment, off my shoulders. It would have killed me if we weren’t able to do treatment because we didn’t have enough money. Now we had more than enough to proceed with all treatment regimens.
Danielle’s friend truly showed her support in making sure Danielle would have the best chance to return to full health. Danielle even turned away an extra check she was going to write to me, but we both agreed that was excessive. I’ve always worked hard and earned what I needed or wanted, so bailouts have always made me feel uncomfortable. We welcomed the assistance and were incredibly grateful.
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