Did you know that 1 in 3 women will be diagnosed with cancer during their lives? And literally 50% of men will be also? Yes, this is a worldwide epidemic.
In fact, by 2024 there will be 19 Million cancer survivors in the U.S. alone.
And I am enormously grateful to share that last week I found out I am one of them. The test results are in and I am ALL CLEAR!!
The last 4 years have been a tornado inside of a hurricane.
On Oct 9th, 2019, I got diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Grade 3 of my left breast and had the surprising, yet very important realization that I was not, in fact, indestructible.
I have to back up this story a little bit. It really begins before Oct 2019, of course. Because no one’s cancer journey begins the day they are diagnosed.
For me, I have always been a person who refused to accept someone else’s limits as my reality.
I was always the one who championed and overcame difficult things.
So when my wonderful husband and love of my life, Ayeez was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in Nov 2017, I began our four-year battle to overcome the word incurable.
The first thing that goes wrong, when someone says a disease is incurable, is that we all stop looking for a cure. We are simply expected to accept that fate.
Ayeez and I decided that was NOT okay with us and our family.
My husband is one of thirty THOUSAND people in the United States navigating ALS today, as we speak. Thirty thousand.
Why are we accepting an illness as incurable in 2021?
Your body is a magical thing. It is literally designed, in the roadmap of our DNA, to heal itself.
So disease is an anomaly – it is an external villain seeking to interrupt this natural function – to heal.
So why can’t we find the cure for ALS? Or Parkinson’s Disease? Alzheimer’s?
The truth is we CAN – and we will.
I have worked with the world leaders on ALS and other neurological illnesses, and believe me, we are going to move from incurable to INEVITABLE. A cure is in-ev-it-able.
We should see ALL disease through that lens. That a cure is within our grasp.
And that ALL OF HEALTH is within our arms reach.
IF we keep moving and reaching for it, NOTHING should be seen as incurable. Nothing.
But along that journey, to be a champion for Ayeez – for my children – for the 30,000… I did what millions and millions of caregivers do – I did not prioritize my own health journey.
…My daughter Zoe said, in her TEDx talk, that True Courage is not denying the cards you have been dealt. It is knowing that you can still win a game, even with a bad hand.
And when the odds are not in your favor, you keep moving, knowing there are champions all around you.
Obviously my personal journey took an unexpected turn with my cancer diagnosis, and I was FORCED to put my personal health back onto my plan and to-do list every single day.
And let’s be honest, I was in a unique position – with a lifetime of health education and intuition – to recognize that something was going wrong in my body – and to take action – and quick.
Here’s the message in that: If you have an intuition that you are NOT okay, despite anyone’s opinion – or even a second opinion – even though those words might be music to your ears – I beg you to continue to dig deep and get a third opinion.
Your body KNOWS when something isn’t okay.
And mine was screaming it at me. It was telling me loud and clear that 2 years of little to no sleep, an enormous amount of stress, fighting for my husband’s life, searching for treatments all around the world, solving this puzzle – for not just our family but tens of thousands of families, little to no exercise, eating on the run, managing my medical practice and Ayeez’ 9 dental practices, being a nurturing, loving mom, and almost losing the man I love with all my heart (several times) …. Well, my cortisol level was off the charts, my body was in toxic overload, and my emotional and mental health were completely unattended to.
Don’t get me wrong, I consider myself blessed and fortunate …Not everyone has decades of medical school and clinical practice behind them like I did, especially my experience in functional medicine…. But of course, even all of that does not equal a “get out of jail free” card.
I began a TOUGH year-long journey of treatment. I lost my beautiful hair. I lost my energy. I had to put my fight for Ayeez and all of the neurological patients and families I champion aside on some days when I simply could not function, which broke my heart.
But if we are to care for others, we MUST care for ourselves.
And then, after the traditional treatments ended – the waiting game began.
But I didn’t sit still – I kept doing my HEALTH regimen:
I strongly believe in an INTEGRATIVE approach to cancer … taking the BEST of what traditional and conventional medicine has to offer and combining it with the crucial principles of functional medicine. Why not give our bodies the BEST chance at healing with no regrets. Yes, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation were parts of my treatment protocol, but so was (a lot of) nutritional supplements, IV nutritional therapy, an anti-cancer eating
program, yoga, detoxification, exercise, meditation, Infrared sauna, acupuncture, massages, emotional and spiritual work, cognitive behavioral therapy, thyroid and adrenal balancing, and most importantly, rest and sleep. I had to go ALL IN if I expected to come out on the other side even STRONGER for my family. More than any other time in our lives, they needed me and I needed them.
And I stayed connected to my champions.
My children are unyieldingly breathtaking in their courage and their inspiration, lifting me up and supporting me each and every day. And so was Ayeez… putting his struggles aside to be my strength and support.
They all called it like it is and reminded me that I am NOT replaceable.
My mother, by my side constantly. Both my sisters and brother, holding my hand through the treatments … all present, flying in for the surgery and taking turns to be there for each chemotherapy. My friends who never left my side. My team, my work family.. I am blessed to have champions everywhere.
What about you?
Whatever you are facing, those champions are the deep roots to ground you when you’re overwhelmed – and the wings to lift you when you’re crushed with worry or exhaustion.
Last week, I had the wonderful grace of hearing the words CANCER FREE.
In fact, even more (because again, I have decades of medical training – and have supported hundreds of patients on the cancer journey – I knew what to ask) – I was able to hear that I have no “roving” cancer cells. My circulating tumor cells and all my tumor markers looked great! Blessed am I.
Zero is a magical word. But it is not the end of the journey. It is only the beginning.
I am now one of the 19 million survivors.
Cancer came to teach me so many lessons … which I will be sharing in the coming weeks and months. This has now become another one of my missions, along with ALS.
What do we DO to support the people so they stay healthy and maintain a body that does not host cancer again and again?
How do we CHAMPION those people?
I say it over and over. I was one of the lucky ones. Not only am I an MD, but I am a functional medical expert.
I knew the treatments and protocols that would not only be inhospitable to cancer, but that would STRENGTHEN my body and immune system, even as I went through cancer.
Through treatments, like IV Vitamin C and glutathione and infrared sauna and CBD and hyperbaric and ozone and so many health-building modalities, I was able to survive and thrive and build the seeds for a GOOD life, one that I know will go far past diagnosis and treatment.
My wish for you is that you find YOUR champions.
And if you are on a tough journey with your health, I hope you will count me – and my team – among them.
No matter what your struggle is – if facing a tough diagnosis or in treatment, or if you’re post-cancer treatment, or navigating chronic illness, fatigue, autoimmunity, anxiety – whatever your story is, my life’s work and mission as an MD has been to create a world-class treatment approach that is focused on the WHOLE person.
You are not a set of symptoms or a diagnosis.
Let us be one of your champions… I am here to support you and walk the journey with you