Breast cancer is no longer a disease for the aged, hard living person; it is affecting more and more otherwise healthy young women every day. Early detection is definitely key, as well as a complete change of lifestyle if one wants to prevent reoccurrence. I really wish I had known then what I know now about the ways I could have helped my body not only get rid of the cancer naturally, but prevent it from ever occurring in the first place…
The nineteenth of December is a significant day in my life. I met my husband-to-be on December 19, 1999 and exactly one year later on December 19, 2000, he proposed to me in the Hunter Valley. We were married December 19, 2001 on Sydney Harbour…and on December 19 of 2002, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. So you see, it is the very best and the very worst date in my life!
I never thought that I could or would be diagnosed with cancer. I ate right, worked out 30 minutes a day, and had given up the occasional cigarette 3 years earlier. Cancer was something that happened to other people such as my father, who was an alcoholic and smoked three packs of cigarettes a day.
At the age of thirty-three I was happy, healthy and excited to be pregnant with my first child. There was little stress in my life at the time, aside from having a particularly busy season with my events company.
Ailiya’s (I-leeya) birth was very difficult, entailing a 28½-hour labour, two epidurals and finally an emergency C-section. One day shortly after her birth, I was breastfeeding and noticed a small lump in my left breast. A few weeks earlier I had had mastitis in my right breast, and thought it was the same thing. However, just to be safe, I went to visit my doctor. The results were suspicious after the initial examination and an ultrasound, so a needle biopsy was conducted.
The day before we were to depart for America for a three-week family holiday, I was delivering my car to the mechanic when my mobile phone rang. It was my doctor with the results; she didn’t mince words as she said, “I’m sorry to tell you this Heather, but the results are positive for cancer. You will have to find a surgeon straight away. There is no way you will be able to go away to America”. I nearly had a car accident. I immediately called my husband, who was about three cars behind me, and we pulled over. Needless to say, I was incoherent with hysteria.
As neither my husband nor I have any family in Australia, I got on the phone and called all of my friends, as I needed all the support I could get. Luckily, one of my girlfriends got in touch with a doctor friend of hers and managed to get me an appointment with a surgeon for that afternoon. He looked at my lab results, did an examination and booked me in for surgery at the Mater for December 23rd. As I was still breastfeeding, this was considered a complication to the surgery so I had three days to let my milk dry up. In addition to this, I had saline implants that the doctor said may need to be removed during the surgery, but he wouldn’t know until he got in there.
My mother cancelled all of her plans and got the next flight to Sydney from Texas, and she was there when I got out of surgery. The first thing I did was check to see if I still had a breast; I did, and I was so relieved. They had removed the 2.2cm of tissue including and around the cancer, as well as all of the lymph nodes under my arm. Although the surgery was believed to be totally successful in removing all of the cancer and the lymph nodes were clear, the cancer was of a very high grade and I was told I would need chemotherapy and radiation to try to prevent any further tumors. The type of chemo that I needed was proven 100% positive that I would lose all of my hair. I just couldn’t believe it; for sixteen years I had been an international model, and was still doing odd jobs. The other possible side effects (of which I had all) would be mouth ulcers, nausea, vomiting and most likely, early menopause. I tried everything to avoid the chemo, but I was advised there was just no other choice.
At the same time, it was discovered that I am HER2 positive, which means that my particular type of cancer is genetic and that I most probably inherited the gene from my late father whom I had barely known! There is a new drug, Herceptin, which is being trialed in Australia for this particular type of genetic cancer, but costs $50,000 per year to take. Unfortunately, I was ineligible for the trial because my body wasn’t able to handle one of the chemotherapy drugs that I needed to have in order to be part of the trial.
I underwent the chemotherapy, but my doctor was not happy with the side effects I was getting. As a result I had to suspend some of the chemo, so we just hope that it was enough for me since I cannot afford the Herceptin. It is available in America and has shown to be 90-95% effective in healing those that are HER2 positive, but costs double what it does here in Australia.
Since my husband lost his job shortly after Ailiya was born, he was home to look after the baby and I. He had me on a strict non-dairy all-organic diet and made me fresh spinach, carrot, celery, beetroot and apple juices everyday. I also took high levels of prescribed vitamins A, D, E, C and anti oxidants from an American doctor. There is still much debate as to whether it is counter-effective to chemo to take high doses of vitamins, and there is just not enough evidence available in Australia to support it either way. So my oncologist and I found a happy medium…as long as I didn’t take them within the first 3 days of each treatment, I could take them for the rest of the cycle. She also told me not to take any Chinese herbs and certain natural remedies, as they may interfere with the chemotherapy.
In order to cope with the mental and emotional turmoil one goes through when being diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening illness, I sought the aid of a meditation therapist. She is a physician and has a degree in psychology, but offers meditation techniques to help people recover from illnesses. She saved my sanity. I also became part of the “Young Women With Breast Cancer” group, formed for women between 25-40 years of age with similar prognoses. It really helps to know that you are not alone with something like this. The support offered by the Australian Cancer Council was amazing! Straight after my surgery they had someone contact me to inform me about the group, sent me all the information currently available for people with cancer and put me into contact with a mentor, someone who was in remission from nearly the exact cancer as my own. Staying positive when I didn’t even recognise the person staring back at me in the mirror was a daily struggle, and it was great to get advice from someone that had survived everything that I was going through.
After I completed the orthodox treatments, I went through a series of cleansings. I did a liver detoxification, chellation therapy and deep tissue massage over three months. I began acupuncture, and went on a two-year Chinese herbal treatment to build my immune system back up after the radiation and chemotherapy treatments. I saw a chiropractor for two months who worked on my skeletal system and performed N.E.T & NEUROLINK reprogramming techniques to help me release stored pain. I also started two-hour sessions every three months with an energy healer, who assisted me with painful memory releases and helped build up my energy levels to protect me from any further illness. Every three to six months, I had LBA and CRT tests (live blood analyses) done to chart how my internal organs are recovering. I do these once a year now, six years on. I got tumor marker tests done every six months to make sure there were no signs of any further cancer activity in my system. I also started thermal imaging instead of mammograms, as statistics show that women who have mammograms under the age of 40 are at a far greater risk of getting cancer in their breasts from the exposure to radiation. As I have already undergone high doses of radiation to my breasts, as well as two other mammograms, I don’t want to take any further chances.
Unfortunately, most orthodox medics do not study into the alternative, natural ways of healing and rely solely on what their peers and pharmaceutical research says and does. This way of thinking is not only stagnating our progress in the prevention of illnesses, but is downright dangerous, as many lay people still rely on what their physician tells them. They feel underpowered when it comes to their health, as “medics STUDY to become doctors so what do I know about my own health?” If we just take the time to listen to our own bodies, many of our questions will be answered. And of course, we need to take necessary preventative actions. If only more people could be educated about the endless possibilities for their own healing, there would be far less illness in our world.
Breast cancer has been both the worst and best thing that has happened to me. It was a horrible thing to go through at the time, but it has completely changed my life. I know now that my purpose in life is to help heal and educate others through my knowledge and remarkable experiences of healing.
Kundalini Yoga with Heather is like a journey you don’t want to finish
It is the chef who turns a meal into a culinary experience for all the senses. Without her it’s just a yoga class. -M. Grabner