Ruth Brant: Third time’s the charm

I know first hand the importance of family and friends when undergoing cancer treatment. I am a two time survivor, having beaten cancer twice: endometrial and non Hodgkins lymphoma, a cancer of the white blood cells.

I was living in Michigan in 2000 when my first cancer came, three years after the death of my husband.  When I heard the words “you have cancer” I knew I was going to fight this disease with everything I could.  The ensuing surgery for uterine and endometrial cancer removed my fallopian tubes, ovaries and lymph nodes. Surgery was followed by three rounds of radiation treatment and I was pronounced cured.

In the spring of 2007, I felt a lump in my neck. I had previously been fighting an infection and I thought the lump was part of that. But after the infection cleared, I could still feel the lump. My first thought was “that doesn’t belong there, that doesn’t feel right.” I went back to my surgeon in Michigan and he removed the lump. I asked him if it was gray and he said no. Then I waited and waited for the laboratory results. Finally in September, the call came from the surgeon’s office with the news that I had non-hodgkins lymphoma, a cancer of the blood.

As soon as I found out I had cancer again, I did two things. I planted a new garden in front of my house and I called Goshen Center for Cancer Care.  I got an appointment so quickly that even Dr. Westbrook was surprised. She asked me if I wanted to see a Naturopathic physician too and I said I wanted everything she could offer me. Westbrook said I needed chemotherapy or my prognosis was death. I immediately asked her ‘when does it start?”  My schedule was to have six cycles of Rituxan but when my PET scan showed no cancer cells after four cycles, I did not have the additional two.

Like many people, I lost all my hair during chemotherapy, but I did not have any side effects. I didn’t lose weight and I was able to keep up with all my usual activities. Once when I was upholstering a chair, I accidently hit my finger with a hammer and it bruised immediately.

My third cancer came in late 2011 when a routine mammogram revealed breast cancer. As always, my family and friends were at my side as we once again defeated the foe called cancer.

My advice to people facing cancer is to get the best opinion you can and follow it. Don’t doubt your oncologist and do what they recommend. Ask questions and do your best to understand what you’re going through. Find a support group and stay with it. The cancer center has one every Tuesday and I learned alot by attending it. I also suggest you see one of the Naturopathic doctors to help deal with your symptoms. I saw Emily Moore, ND and she prescribed zinc lozenges for the thrush in my mouth. I can’t imagine going through treatment without the advice of a Naturopathic Doctor  like Dr. Emily.  And of course, rely  on your family and friends for support. My faith in God and the support of my family, church family and extended family brought me through these journeys.  For my 70th birthday my family gave me a ‘wig party’ and my son shaved his head to show support for my bald condition!

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Goshen Cancer Survivor Network
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