Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Would YOU Do Chemo?

I consider myself a pretty open person when it comes to different medical therapies. I will give most anything a chance until I research it and find proof that it is a bad idea. I research a lot of alternative cancer therapies and I've read a lot of stories with both positive and negative outcomes of these treatments. Before I found out I had cancer I always swore I would never touch chemo or radiation no matter what... I was determined to use natural therapies if I ever got diagnosed. I was certain that chemo/ radiation was completely unnecessary and I could cure myself.

Then I got diagnosed. Stage III/ IV colon cancer, they weren't sure which. I was still determined to skip the chemo and I said no to the recommended radiation pre-surgery. After surgery the diagnosis was changed to Stage II, thankfully. After some research I stuck with my decision to opt out of chemo, especially since my oncologist wasn't totally against my decision. While I would love to say I stuck with that decision because I was sure I could conquer the cancer with alternative therapies that just isn't true. They felt like they had gotten all of the cancer so I just didn't see the point in chemo. If it had been Stage III? I'm not sure what my decision would have been.

Over the past several years my feelings towards alternative methods has changed some. Mostly because of someone I know that has cancer. Like I said, I had always felt very strongly that chemo wasn't the answer, but many things have changed me. First, and foremost I might add, my husband. He had Neuroblastoma as an infant and was cured with chemo. I wouldn't be married to him without it, so how can I really be against it? Secondly, all of my friends I met at First Descents a couple of years ago. Almost all of them had chemo and it either cured them or at the very least extended their lives. I've seen it help a lot of people. Yes, I've also seen it not help people and yes I've seen the horrible effects it can have on people. But nothing is 100% effective. Alternative therapies certainly aren't. I have a friend who was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer over 2 years ago. She didn't have health insurance so she didn't have many options but she also made the decision not to do anything traditional. No surgery, no chemo, no radiation. She followed several well known alternative routes, like Gerson Therapy, colonics, lots of supplements, etc. I have never seen anyone so dedicated. She NEVER messed up, not once did she "cheat" or stray from her plan. Now, over 2 years later she is still following that plan. But now she has stage III breast cancer, possibly stage IV. Watching her get progressively worse as she does everything right naturally has really changed the way I look at treatments. If it works, it should be working for her. I could never be that dedicated.

I still believe alternative therapy has it's place in medicine. I love how the Cancer Treatment Centers of America incorporate naturopathic medicine into treatment in order to curve chemo side effects. Why doesn't everyone do that? There is no harm and it has been proven to help. But I've come to realize that no one method works for everyone... chemo doesn't always work, natural diet etc doesn't always work... every cancer is different and every situation is different. I can't judge anyone's decision regarding their treatment. I certainly wouldn't want anyone to judge me for mine.

So I'm curious... would you do chemo? Or would you ever not do chemo? Did you ever say you wouldn't do chemo and then changed your mind once you got cancer? Love to hear some feedback on this.

*Just as a note, I have met people who say natural treatment alone cured their cancer, just like I know people cured from chemo. I'm not against either one. I believe it is a case by case thing and a personal choice.

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"Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting..... 'WHAT A RIDE!'"