(written by Ryan D. Luelf)
Getting the news that cancer was active in my body was a tough pill to swallow. Going thru the plethora of medical appointments and procedures is a whole other level of stress and fear; at least for most. Knowing where peace comes from has kept stress and fear at bay. It doesn’t keep it away completely, but makes it easier to bounce back during the tough moments.
(side note: please read thru the end before forming a full opinion)
Even knowing I am led and knowing I have peace, I still had to battle so many emotions today as I met with the surgeon. As I drove to the appointment to discuss the pathology results and next steps, every scenario imaginable went through my head on how this conversation would go. This isn’t my first rodeo. I have been to oncology & surgeon appointments with my dad after his malignant tumor in the brain was removed this May. I was not sure how my doctor was going to respond to my thoughts, emotions and opinions. You see, if you don’t know by now or haven’t read my Facebook or this blog, you may not know that I carry just a slight different opinion about American Healthcare, cancer and how one should treat it. In fact, if you get me started on the overall healthcare system, cancer, Big Pharma, lack of nutrition training and the greed, you may feel like you just got blasted by a fire hydrant, literally.
I will say that I was at peace heading into the appointment. I was confident and I do really like my Surgeon. I did have an inclination that told me he would respond to me and my alternative path to beating cancer with kindness, dignity and respect, and that is exactly what happened. I gave him the same, and I mean no disrespect to him or any medical professional who may read this blog. The truth is we are all a by-product of our environment. In America, doctors are simply trained and programmed to prescribe drugs, not learn and master true health and nutrition. When it comes to how nutrition can impact someone’s health, most graduating medical students do not even get the minimum of 25 hours recommended
(not even required) by the National Academy of Sciences. (source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2430660/
). In 2010, this NY Times article
“. . . even two and a half decades later a vast majority of medical schools still fail to meet the minimum recommended 25 hours of instruction. Few doctors are prepared to effectively spearhead or even help in those efforts . . . research has increasingly pointed to a link between the nutritional status of Americans and the chronic diseases that plague them.”
and the most disturbing line of all . . .
“And while a majority of medical schools tended to intersperse lectures on nutrition in standard, required courses, like biochemistry or physiology, only a quarter of the schools managed to have a single course dedicated to the topic (nutrition).”
Did you know that the average medical student contractually completes an average of 4700 hours to graduate? 25 hours is less than 0.006%!!! This is a fact! Research it for yourself! Because of the lack of education in nutrition given to our doctors and the lack of self education by the general population (who then relies on their physician’s education on nutrition), we as a society are on a downward spiral when it comes to our health! There is not just one way to beat cancer and we definitely do not have to be sick and have long term effects from what we do to beat cancer! . . . ok, off the podium . . . back to the appointment. (I told you not to get me started!)
So, here I am sitting in a patient room having light discussions with Caroline. The doctor comes in and starts going over the official diagnosis: B-Cell Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma which he believes will be either Stage 3 or Stage 4. He showed us the forms that state the diagnosis and went on to explain the next steps. First, we will do a PET Scan. Second, a bone marrow biopsy will be performed at the hospital under anesthesia and at the same time he will go ahead and put in a port. TIMEOUT! Put in a what, I said? He said a port, that way when I do chemotherapy my veins won’t burn up. Right here, TIMEOUT! I stopped him dead in his tracks and was very kind, very professional and respectful (you can verify this with Caroline). I expressed my stance at this point, that I truly appreciated everything he has done thus far and everything that he will do, but at this moment chemotherapy treatment was not something I was ready to do and will likely refuse. I explained that in the last 10 days since our PCP had given us the news I had RADICALLY changed my diet and lifestyle. These changes have already proven to be effective as my headaches had completely stopped after just 4 days of lifestyle changes (last one was Tuesday, September 22nd) and the night sweats had dissipated as of Thursday. I showed him the left side of my neck where one lymph node that was previously visibly swollen had completely gone away. He was visibly puzzled. The doctor took a moment and let us know he didn’t know of or had any knowledge or experience on nutritional or natural ways to treat or fight cancer. He said this cancer is treatable and beatable with chemo. After a moment of silence all of a sudden the robotic, common answers stopped. He actually stated that “not all cancers respond to chemo.” WAIT! WHAT? Are you reading this sentence??? He added, “NOT ALL Lymphoma cancers respond to chemotherapy.” Read HIS words. A piece of truth unveiled by an actual medical doctor. Now understand my heart here. He is a great man. We do appreciate science and what the medical community offers. This man is a great man. I think the world of him, but what I’m sharing is simply revealing the system he is a part of and I am not blaming him. I do not believe for one second he would ever recommend harmful things to his patients, but this is the route the medical community has to go because of the persuasion the Pharmaceutical companies have on healthcare. If you are a practicing medical physician you HAVE to follow the guidelines set forth by your respective licensing organizations. A large percentage of doctors do not have the time to research nutrition and its effects on our health, and the pharmaceutical companies have NO incentives for them (or us) to learn about nutrition. I say this in all humility, Caroline and I probably know more about nutrition than he does. Let that soak in for a minute. . . By the way, you can learn about nutrition as well.
As all of this unfolded I greatly appreciated how respectful he was to the fact that I did not want a port at this time. I respected that he would listen to me and understood that I was not the average patient coming to his practice. I have questions. I am somewhat informed and educated about what I am dealing with. I am extremely confident in who I am and that I get the final say on what I choose to do with my life. We both agreed that I am not going to die anytime soon. I politely stated that I did not want to rush things and just wanted to slow things down a bit so that I could gather all the information, including the results from all of the tests before I make a final decision. I, again, politely stated that this is my life and I have to do what I believe is best for me no matter what. He made a final point that they would recommend chemo and cautioned me to be careful about the information I got from the Internet. He suggested I only listen to what the government owned sites suggested and shared regarding cancer. . . yeah, I will let you figure out what you think my response to that was. Of course I kept it to myself! . . . I believe it ended well and he basically stated that we should wait and see what the final diagnosis, staging and grade this type of Lymphoma actually is and then final decisions can be made. I agreed to those terms.
In conclusion, here are some final thoughts, a summary and a few last disclosures:
- The appointment went well and was peaceful even though it is very uncomfortable standing up against an MD/DO. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for those not confident in themselves and living under a belief system of fear.
- I am beyond grateful for my surgeon. He is the best and I have the utmost respect for him and how he is handling me as a patient.
- It was surreal to see what I now believe play out in front of me with my life on the line. The medical community has become a cookie cutter system with one basic protocol that holds little to no thought on what can really work on each individual situation. They were seriously ready to put a port in me before getting a final diagnosis of my condition . . . this is a cookie cutter, conveyor belt system that says: node biopsy = pet scan = bone marrow biopsy = poison, I mean chemotherapy. If I had not brought up my diet, nutrition and lifestyle changes there would have been zero discussion about it. I get it, it’s not my doctor’s fault, it’s the system he is in. But damn!
- After I took a time out, explained my personal thoughts, the doctor had to take a minute to think about my response. In that time, he took the time to think and stated, “Chemo does not work on all cancers.” Those words came out of HIS mouth. He also said, “not all Lymphomas respond to Chemo.” Chew on that for a while!
- The nurse nor the doctor had any real responses on how I was able to go from many obvious symptoms to hardly any at all. This didn’t just happen, I took control of my health thru nutrition, diet and lifestyle! (I do still have re-occuring coughs & swollen lymph nodes, I am not saying I’m cancer free, yet!)
- I am not 100% anti-chemo. I also completely understand that there are many out there not wiling to do what I am doing or probably do not know they have more control of their health. So in all honestly, chemotherapy is their only hope. There are cancers treatable by chemotherapy. I’ll let you do your own research there. It’s just not as many as everyone is made to believe.
- You are in control of your health. NOT your insurance company, NOT your physician, NOT anyone else. YOU are in control. Take control of it. No one ever thinks it will happen to them. It can, unfortunately, statistically speaking, it likely will happen to you or your loved one. I believe I am led. I believe you are led. God is alive in us.
In the end I am fighting the American Healthcare System Protocol and Cancer. One battle would be plenty for any human, but two is insurmountable to most. I will win victoriously over both and absolutely kick Cancer’s ass! Yes, I did just say that & I am pretty sure God suggested it over butt!
~ I speak my mind. It’s my Facebook page, it’s my blog.
~ If you think I don’t respect doctors or medical professionals, you did not read this blog post correctly.
~ If you are offended by me, that’s ok, you don’t have to read my blog. It’s ok, it won’t offend me.
~ If my blog inspires you, makes you think or brings value to your life, feel free to share it with others.
~ The key to my response to this journey is my willingness to lay down my opinion of me and others’ opinion of me and only to believe the GREAT OPINION of God about me. I hope you have discovered that too, or soon will. It’s life transformational.
Authored by Ryan Luelf
Edited by Caroline Luelf
PS: We will be blogging about the changes in diet, nutrition and lifestyle sometime soon. Please be patient with us. (*Edit: Caroline blogged about all the changes I made in the blogpost The Whisper in the Rain