Excerpt from my life with breast cancer.
I was born and raised in Germany. After graduating from school I took an apprenticeship in window trimming and decorating. Once finished I moved to the United States where I studied languages in New York and then moved to California. In Los Angeles I was hired by an upper class department store, being responsible for ladies, junior and children's fashion displays in-store as well as decorating the store windows. After getting married we moved to New York City where I gave birth to our daughter. Later we lived in Phoenix, Arizona and Denver, Colorado. I was working for international Airlines holding various interesting positions. Life was exciting!
In June of 1987 we had different exciting news. My daughter had just turned eleven. The three of us went to my doctor's (OBGYN) appointment in Boulder where we were told to get ready for a new baby! We were thrilled! This great happiness though, was followed by a big, dark shadow. We were told there was a suspicion of breast cancer.... The doctors were very concerned. The following mammography did not show any sign of unhealthy breast tissue but two days later the suspicion for breast cancer was confirmed through a biopsy (removal of some breast tissue for diagnostic purpose). To say the least, this was very shocking news!
I had just lost my mother who had been living with breast cancer for eleven years. My parents lived in the town where I was born and raised in the Black Forest. The last few weeks before the parting of my dear mother, I was able to be with them while my husband, by himself was taking care of our daughter, his job and the household. Due to the big heart of Garland, my Station Manager at the airline, my position was held open for ten weeks so I could be with my parents, helping and supporting them during this difficult time. Thank you so much for that understanding, Garland! When my Mother was taken from us, it was for all of us an emotionally straining time. My father, who usually was the one who took charge, was totally under shock. It was my responsibility to handle everything there was to be taken care of. When it was time to say good bye I felt overwhelmed. I left my father all alone back in Germany. When I left he was standing by himself, without my mother next to the train tracks. A sad picture I will never forget!
Three months later it was his birthday and I had promised him that my daughter and I would visit him then. It was seven days before his birthday when my breast biopsy was performed and the diagnosis was confirmed. Since the tumor was one of the aggressive types, the surgeon wanted to perform a mastectomy (breast removal) right away. I was not ready for this. I did need time to think - and I did take the time. I contacted an oncologist I knew in Denver and he recommended seeing Dr. S. who is a Doctor of internal medicine and oncology specializing in breast diseases. That's when I started to become Dr. S. patient.
As promised to my father, we got ready to visit him. After long flights we arrived in Germany exhausted, for his birthday. Of course I did not want to worry him about my cancer three months after he had lost his wife of almost fifty years due to the same disease. Therefore nothing about it was said. Again time to say good bye. I cannot describe the overwhelming feeling of sadness I had!
Back in the USA, worries, thoughts and big decision making accompanied the next few weeks of my pregnancy: Thoughts about my father who I left alone thousands of miles away, thoughts about my daughter who lost her dear grandmother due to cancer, thoughts about my husband, countless worries about my unborn child. There were numerous lengthy medical appointments, as well as one more surgery to remove lymph nodes under the arm (axilla) under full anesthesia. After that surgery we found out that the cancer had in fact already spread to the lymph nodes. In order to have the best chance for survival I was given the following treatment plan:
1. Therapeutic abortion
2. Mastectomy (Breast removal)
It was explained to us that if we did not follow this "therapy plan", then within 24 months the tumor would return and I would die from it. As you might imagine, this prognosis was much more than terrifying! However, after much thought, this radical plan of therapy just did not convince us. Also the urgent advice to have the "therapeutic abortion" did trigger an immense emotional strain! For weeks, the days and sleepless nights of our lives were run by intense feelings, intense thoughts, worries and fear. Profound prayers were leading to make the right decision! Spiritually I was able to receive strength through faith and I am grateful for all the continuous prayers of my family - husband, daughter and brother, friends and the nuns at the Benedictine Monastery St. Walburga in Colorado.
Even though for a few weeks we had intensive talks with my local oncologist and his team, the acceptance of the therapy plan laid out was something I just could not live with.
I had accepted the diagnosis - but I could not accept the Doctors life threatening and horrible predictions!
During said period I was searching in the USA as well as abroad to find a less extreme therapy. After researching different clinics and therapies, I decided to follow Dr. Ernesto Contreras' Immuno-Metabolic-Therapy. Dr. Contreras had set an example by being a caring physician who was treating not just the disease, but the whole person with great positive results. He was the founder and chief medical doctor of the "Oasis of Hope Hospital" in Baja California, Mexico. Years before, when we heard him giving a lecture at a health convention in Arizona he already had convinced us of his unique approach. His philosophy of seeing the whole person as one: The body, soul and spirit and to bring them all in balance while strengthening the immune system, made sense to me then and still makes sense to me now. I felt that this was the best plan for me. Dr. Contreras' therapy was not a drastic invasive one but rather a combination of non-invasive medicines while always including a health supporting proper diet and prayer. Read my "plus points", "nutrition" and "stress management" pages on this web site. In order to accomplish positive results, an active involvement of the patient and their family was (and still is) strongly advised by the clinic's medical team.
While doing the searching I still was torn between decisions whether to keep this baby or follow the "treatment plan" I was given. Finally one night after intense prayer it became very clear to me which path I needed to take. With support of my husband, I decided not to follow the drastic therapy plan given by the medical experts in Denver. The next morning, we took an important forty five minute ride to the Medical Center downtown to tell the oncologist our plan. Dr. S. did not expect to hear what he was hearing but my decision was firm and he did accept it. He promised me to be there for me. That gave me peace of mind. From that day on I focused on going forward. Life was showing the sunny side again. I had been visualizing and praying over and over to give birth to a healthy baby and I did everything I could to work against the given prognosis.
The decision to keep this baby against the advice of the doctors,
the most important and most significant decision in my life!
My son today - January 2016- is celebrating his 28th birthday!
However, life was giving one big challenge after another! It was sunny, rainy, windy, stormy the whole bit life offers - we got it! Sometimes I had a medical procedure in the morning at the University Hospital in Denver and when I was discharged after a few hours of rest I drove to the airport to work the evening shift until 1:15 a.m. The last five weeks of pregnancy I stayed home. Then, in January 1988, right after a huge snowstorm, our almost 10 pound strong and healthy baby was born. Happiness was filling the beautiful birthing room! Our daughter who was taking a natural childbirth preparation class together with my husband and I did a lovely job reminding me about the breathing techniques and giving wonderful massages. She was quite excited about her little brother when she saw him. We were able to take him home exactly twelve hours after the birth.
While still being at the birthing center I called my manager at the airport and reported the good news. He shared the happiness and before the conversation ended he asked: "I don't want to push you, but when do you think you are coming back?" So, five weeks later I was back to work till I had to undergo bone surgery on my leg. The pain which I had since months, the x-rays, MRI scans and blood work all indicated that the cancer was now invading the bone. This was very frightening. We went to one of the best orthopedic surgeons. He was also an oncologist and part of the staff at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, a well known Cancer Center in New York, four hours flying time from us. During the pre-surgery check-up another lump was found in my breast and a breast surgeon was called to perform a small operation to remove the lump and some surrounding tissue (lumpectomy).
Right after the stitches were in, surgery on my leg was performed. The same day we were told the good news: No cancer setback in the breast. For the bone pathology results, which tell if the tumor is cancerous (malignant) or not (benign) we had to wait and wait and wait. Finally about nine days later we were given the result. Thank God, the terrible prediction was not confirmed and I was able to leave the hospital. Lucky again, I thought at that time. Now I know the "Higher Spirit" took care of me. Due to the surgery however, I was walking with crutches and unable to work for some weeks. My husband, after returning from the office, did take care of most of the household. Our daughter, who was not even twelve years of age was also helping with chores after school. Mostly she was taking care of her little baby brother who was just about three months old. She did a fantastic job with so much love and passion for the little one, it was a great, great blessing! After being given the okay from the doctor I returned to work.
Starting in June 1987 there was a period of 21 months where I ended up having 10 surgical procedures plus giving natural birth to our big baby.
During and after this time we were traveling with our infant by plane back and forth to the Oasis of Hope Hospital in Tijuana, Mexico. Since it was 1400 miles away it was quite stressful, to say the least. But we were sure to have chosen the right path, so we were rather grateful to be able to do that. Dr. Ernesto Contreras and his team were giving me hope from the beginning and up to today I am following the therapy-plan and going back for visits. (See the archive under "what's new".)
My time to leave this world has been postponed by the "Higher Spirit" above. I am daily grateful for that. I like to send positive thoughts to every one, especially the people who are ill and their families. I know how difficult it is for families and friends to deal with "challenges" such as a life threatening disease of a family member and loved one.
Although I did not follow the extreme therapy of my oncologist in Colorado, I am thankful he accompanied me through all the years of managing my cancer. Whenever I have cancer related problems I still call him, visit him when I am in his neighborhood and appreciate his advice. Yup, we do get along pretty well even though my chosen plan at that time, was not his recommendation. Today he agrees that stress and nutrition do play a major role in connection with health and breast cancer. He suggests a diet with lots of fresh fruits and veggies daily - about 10 servings- or more.
Even though I did have more surgeries, complications and cancer setbacks since that time, I do know that my chosen health plan was the right way for me! I am convinced that the positive outlook and faith as well as my nutritional approach has helped me get through those rough times much better. These points are very important pillars of my health!
We are now living again in Germany. I have added good local doctors to my medical 'advisor team' who support my approach to dealing with cancer. I continue the ongoing immune and nutritional therapy, which includes:
* A health promoting plant-based diet with lots of veggies and fruit.
In 1998 shortly after his 88th birthday we lost my father. During his last few weeks he and we as a family had to experience what Colon Cancer is all about if diagnosed late.
I did quit the airlines some years ago and made a commitment to spend more time sharing the importance of prevention with people. I am very much passionate about the primary prevention topic and hope you all take it to heart!
I have learned that health is not to be taken for granted.
I have learned to be thankful for each day.
I have learned to do all possible to maintain health.
I have learned the meaning of faith, time and life and
I have learned to live also with cancer.
Mostly I have grown spiritually and emotionally through these personal challenges and experiences.
I am grateful for my family who was struggling with me and supporting
me during many years!
And last but not least I give thanks to my parents who raised me sharing the meaning of faith and love!
The fact is that we only can make a decision, if we are well informed about any issue. That is why I researched well about this disease and the different therapies. With faith and spiritual guidance from "above" I was able to make informed decisions.
Here he is: Our confident, happy toddler
showing his positive attitude!
See inspirations on my "Links Plus" page.
In summer 2000 biopsies and scans revealed the cancer had spread, being stage 4, terminal. The word "terminal" to me is part of an airport which had been sort of "home" for me.... Hence, not related to death. I am grateful for the extended life I have been given.
The intention of my homepage is to encourage all of us to think "prevention" which means to take charge of our health also while we are healthy and not only when we are already sick!
Remember we need to feed continuously our minds, our soul and our bodies with the best nutrients there are.
God bless you and yours.
Notice: This is solely an excerpt of my story. It is not in any way intended for you to follow what I did. If you or a family member does have health problems or you think you might have health problems, consult a health care professional of your choice.
(Latest update Januar 2016)