Success Story: Breast Cancer Conquered
This patient's success story is interesting in that while it
reflects a similar journey to that taken by many of our breast cancer patients,
the author is a talented writer, the success story she has written clearly
reflects such, and we felt that her words deserve their own page. She has given
us permission to use her name. Susan Stevenson's story follows:
Ever since I was a teenager, I have been afraid of getting
breast cancer and dying. Thirteen years ago, I got the dreaded call from my
gynecologist. Her exact words were, "I'm sorry to tell you that your biopsy
result came back positive for breast cancer. I suggest you take a moment to
digest this distressing news and then call one of these two breast
surgeons." My fear had become reality, and here I was staring death
straight between the eyes.
After a sleepless night, I arose the next day feeling willing to
take the next step on my own behalf. That very day, my husband Scott and I
met with our breast surgeon of choice who spent nearly an hour with us outlining
in great detail what my mammogram and subsequent biopsy had revealed. She
recommended a lumpectomy and lymph-node biopsy, followed by courses of
chemotherapy and radiation.
Two weeks later, the surgery results showed my lymph nodes were
free and clear of cancer. But, before I could breathe a sigh of relief, my
surgeon hit us with the shocking news that she had found two tumors in my
breast, one of which had spread beyond the duct. She recommended a total
mastectomy, followed by a 6 month course of chemotherapy.
As my mastectomy date approached, I read numerous personal
success stories of people faced with cancer, and I found myself feeling more
positive about my chances for recovery.
Scott and I researched alternative therapies to support my
immune system during chemotherapy. We were very impressed with a doctor of
complementary medicine in New York who achieved great success with cancer
patients. Traveling 3,000 miles from San Diego to find the right doctor was not
too much for me. I made an appointment for three weeks following the mastectomy
I walked into Dr. Schachter's office in Suffern, New York and
found a bright, friendly man who had plenty of time to listen to my concerns,
take my medical history and outline his program. I expressed my commitment to
cover all my bases with both conventional and complementary medicine.
Dr. Schachter explained something shocking to me. "From
much current research," he said, "chemotherapy has been shown to cause
mutations in some cancer cells making them more aggressive and more likely to
become secondary cancers. This could explain why some people who are initially
in remission after conventional treatment experience a recurrence a few years
later. And often the cancer cells are then harder to kill. The same is true for
He concluded my best chance for survival was to clean out the
toxins in my body and build up my army of natural killer cells - my
immune system - to destroy any stray cancer cells and protect against a
Dr. Schachter outlined his program: a healthy cancer-fighting
diet, fresh green juices, pharmaceutical-grade supplements, exercise, yoga,
meditation, prayer, psychotherapy, acupuncture, massage and even daily exposure
to sunlight. He also recommended intravenous infusions of natural substances to
kill cancer cells. And he reassured me he would closely monitor my progress with
follow-up tests beginning at 2 month intervals. He would leave the choice of
whether to include chemotherapy in my regimen up to me.
I sat there in shock. I thought covering all my bases was the
way to go. Could I actually rely on my own army of natural killer cells? Should
I risk doing chemotherapy even if it could end up killing me? What about all
those people who had chemo and are doing fine? I pictured telling my sister I
was opting out of chemo and I heard her saying, "Now you've really gone off
the deep end!"
I spent hours on the phone with Scott and everyone else on my
healing team. In the end, they all had the same advice, "We will support
any choice, but you have to listen to your inner wisdom and make your own
decision." I shook with anxiety. I wasn't used to trusting myself,
especially now with my life on the line. I cried out to God for help.
By morning I knew. While still feeling really scared to buck
conventional wisdom, I felt the best choice to insure my survival was to opt out
of chemo altogether and plunge wholeheartedly into Dr. Schachter's program.
Although I felt really shaky, I was happy to see I was beginning to trust my own
Ten days later, I arrived home feeling well armed for the battle
that lay ahead. I called the oncologist and cancelled my chemotherapy
appointments. I hung up the phone in amazement. I felt so proud of myself...
It's been 13 years since my greatest fear was realized. I have
followed Dr. Schachter's program faithfully, and every test I have taken shows
that I remain cancer-free. During these years with Dr. Schachter's support,
encouragement and close monitoring, I have slowly climbed up out of the depths
of my own fears and darkness. I see my evolution as I now ask myself less,
"Will I live?" and more, "How will I live?" And if death
should knock on my door, I am less scared to open it.
Eight years ago, Scott and I left the stresses of the city to
live in a beautiful house we have built ourselves in the middle of the forest at
4500' elevation. Today my passion for living is spilling out of me. I can
honestly say that facing my greatest fear, learning to trust my own inner
guidance and learning from Dr. Schachter to treat my body with the utmost
respect has been the greatest of gifts.
Stevenson's husband, Scott, has written an award-winning inspirational book, Looks
Easy Enough, A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce and Disaster, which
recounts in more detail the many challenges they both went through during the
time that she was fighting breast cancer. Scott's story, from his perspective as
Susan's husband and number one supporter, is heartwarming, and recommended
reading. Further information about the book can be had on their website: www.lookseasyenough.net