My Journey of Faith through Cancer
Experiences of nutrition, treatment, support and prayer
"We've met half a dozen times, I know your name, you don't know mine, but I won't hold that against you............I hide what I've been going through, if you looked me right in the eye, You would see the pain deep inside, Would you take the time to tell me what I want to hear, Tell me that I'm not forgotten, Show me there's a God Who can be more than all I've ever wanted, cause right now I need a little hope, I need to know that I'm not alone, Maybe God is calling you tonight to tell me something that might save my life." (Sidewalk Prophets)
In the dictionary, the word abandon has several meanings. It can mean: 1) to desert or forsake; 2) to surrender or give up; or 3) to utterly surrender to one's feelings or natural impulses. The word abandonment, oftentimes, goes hand in hand with the word rejection, which means to discard or consider useless. These last few months, I have been contemplating the words abandon and rejection, in both their negative and positive connotations.
When I was a small child, my grandparents (father's parents) treated my brothers and I with scorn, ridicule and contempt. We were not allowed to touch anything in their house but were made to sit, for hours, and not move in their house. We were not allowed to speak unless spoken to and we were always put down. One time, my brother tried turning on the TV and he got his hand slapped and a good scolding. Needless to say, my brothers and I felt utterly abandoned by my parents, who allowed my grandparents to treat us in this fashion, and we also felt rejected by our grandparents. When my grandparents passed away, they effectively had in their will a rejection of us as their grandchildren.
When I was a teenager, my grandmother (mother's mother) lived with us. We had to take care of her since she had hydrocephalus and an operation to put a shunt in her brain was not effective. So as the years progressed, my grandmother could not take of herself (my grandfather had passed away years before). Just like an Alzheimer's patient, my grandmother did not who we were, could not feed or dress herself and eventually could not walk. My brothers and I had to take turns staying home to help my mom feed, dress, wash and change her since my mom could not do it on her own. My father worked two jobs at the time and wasn't home often.
Some of my friends understood this. However, a few friends grew tired of my refusal to go out with them because I had to take care of grandma. They did not seem to understand that my mother really needed my help. They abandoned and rejected our friendship and me. It was a bitter pill to swallow as a teenager.
In several books that I have read and in my own experience, I have found that the feeling of abandonment is almost an universal experience when you have cancer. Upon a diagnosis of cancer, someone or several people you know will disappear from your life. When you have a possible life-ending illness, being abandoned is both puzzling and painful. You begin to wonder, "do these people not understand they may never speak to me again? or do I mean so little to them that they will allow me to die rather than put themselves through whatever discomfort they may feel talking to me?"
One of the most difficult things to deal with when you have cancer, is the fact that most people think that you are no longer capable of "doing things." They no longer ask you to "bake cookies for the bake sale" or "help out with the fundraiser, etc..." And so you begin to feel useless, unwanted and very rejected. I have told my husband that I have not yet died but I still feel as if I was a "ghost" among the living. There are several things that I am not capable of doing any longer because of my broken back, however, I am much stronger now and would like to be a productive and useful person while I still have time on this earth.
These are some examples of the negative aspects of abandonment. There are some positive aspects of abandonment that I have come to discover through my journey with cancer.
When i came home from the hospital and was unable to move very well, I became easily frustrated. I am a mother to 5 children and there are many things to do in the home and outside of the home that I was used to doing. I soon came to realize that I would have to abandon my pride and allow my family to take care of these things and to take care of me. It is a humbling experience to have family members, especially your own children, do all the things that a mother is so used to doing - cooking meals, doing laundry, cleaning the house, shopping for groceries, etc... and even more humbling to have them have to help with bathing and dressing oneself. That is love and sacrifice - the complete opposite of rejection.
This abandonment to my family in helping with my needs has left me looking on them with tremendous love, caring and sacrifice. Those of us with cancer, many of us who have had someone abandon us in our time of need, have to learn to focus on the good, on our family members who have stuck around to help, on friends who have made meals and brought in someone to cut our hair to help us feel "human" again. We have to focus on the love.
All of the human relationships that we have come with expectations that many times become limited or we are met with disillusionment. The relationship with my oncologist became very strained when he did not want to answer questions that I had about my treatment options and medications. In fact, he walked out during an appointment that I had with him when my husband and I were asking "too many questions" about my health, my body and my care. He abandoned me as a doctor which led me to feelings of rejection, fear and disappointment.
It is at these times that we must turn to the One Who will never reject us, disappoint us, disillusion us, and who will not ever be untrustworthy. God will not abandon us. However, in our relationship with God, we do not have any control. We have to learn to abandon ourselves fully and wholly to HIm. This is the most difficult lesson to learn. It is a lesson that I am still learning. I have to abandon my family, my health, my aches and pains, my joys and sorrows, my sufferings and my very life to Him Who made me.
God often uses shocking, traumatic and painful experiences to break us out of our deeply entrenched way of life. We may question why, however, He always knows what is best for us. When God pulls the "rug out from under us" by demonstrating His ability to do anything with us, including taking away our health, we may initially have feelings of anger or distrust. But when we truly learn to abandon all our fears and our hope of control for our lives, we end up overwhelmed with peace, joy and a profound sense of freedom from this world.
I have a plaque on my wall with one of my favorite quotes, "When life gets too hard, kneel." I have looked at that quote too many times to count but have never allowed myself to really understand the meaning behind these words. Now, I no longer read it without understanding that it means complete and total abandonment to God. When life is so very difficult, when you are too sick to care about anything, when life is not what you expect it to be and you have absolutely no control of it, you fall to your knees and abandon yourself to the only One that understands and loves us unconditionally. "Even if my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will take me in." (Psalm 27:10). This is the good side of abandonment.
Alternative cancer treatment
Natural, side-effect-free treatment
cures “incurable” cancers
The phrase “pick your poison” must have been coined by oncologists. For decades, mainstream oncologists have only been able to offer their patients three treatment options: surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, cynically but accurately known as cut, burn, and poison.
While “the big three treatments” have improved somewhat with modern technology, they remain unpleasant, damaging to healthy tissue, doubtfully effective, and risky. They all have a common aim: to kill cancer cells. The only guaranteed result is an abysmally low quality of life during and often after treatment.
But now, after all these years, mainstream medicine may finally be adding a fourth treatment – one that doesn’t make you sick or damage your body. . .
The FDA recently approved a brand new treatment that’s been shown to slow down, reverse and sometimes even cure “death sentence” cancers.
Plus, for the first time in cancer treatment history, FDA has given its approval with a quality of life claim:
This treatment does not cause side effects.
In a moment I’ll introduce you to a patient who was cured while living a happy, normal life – no nausea, no hair loss -- and show how this device could become the go-to option in mainstream cancer treatment within a few years.
The root of the problem: Disrupting abnormal cell growth
As you know, cancer is nothing more than abnormal, accelerated cell growth leading to the formation of a tumor. The key to pulling up this lethal weed by the root is to disrupt that uncontrollable cell growth.
The “big three” treatments try to disrupt cell growth by damaging cells with high energy gamma- or x-rays or chemical drugs … causing the cell or its progeny to self-destruct … or by removing cancer cells entirely with surgery.
Dr. Yoram Palti, a specialist in electrophysiology and biophysics, has spent his career developing an elegant and side-effect free alternative: Use low-intensity electrical fields to disrupt cancer cells while they’re dividing … thus preventing tumor progression and, eventually, resulting in total tumor death.
Tumor Treating Fields:
The future of cancer treatment?
To understand his approach, called Tumor Treating Fields, you might first need a quick explanation of cell biology and division …
Healthy cells and cancer cells alike reproduce in a process called mitosis:
• First, the cell’s DNA is replicated and formed into x-shaped chromosomes …
• Proteins called tubulin form tiny tubes that reach out and grab the chromosomes and align them at the equator of the cell for division …
• DNA is then split into two daughter cells and officially divided, each with a full set of DNA.
Here’s the kicker:
The process depends heavily on positive and negative charges.
The dividing cell creates an electric field, with a positive and negative pole. Each of the pieces involved—the tubulin, the chromosomes, and the tubes—are also either positively or negatively charged.
It’s these charges that allow the tubulin to pull the chromosomes apart. (You can think of it like magnetism, although none of the pieces are technically magnetic.)
All of this means there are multiple opportunities to disrupt division electrically—and to trigger cellular “self-destruction.”
It was with this concept in mind that Dr. Palti began exploring electrical fields for cancer treatment in the late 1990s. He discovered Tumor Treating Fields, or TTFs, in a lab he had set up in his basement.
TTFs are low-intensity electric fields that, by alternating charges, essentially ‘freeze’ the electrical fields around dividing cells. They also prevent the cell from creating the tiny tubes … prevent the tubes from dragging the DNA to the cell’s equator and splitting the DNA … and thus, halt cell division entirely.
Dr. Palti and his team found that when they applied TTFs to cancer cells, the cells attempted to divide for several hours, but ultimately failed.
The electrical error in division either triggered immediate self-destruction (called “apoptosis”), or, the cell formed unhealthy daughter cells that could not survive.
After recognizing the potential, Dr. Palti set up a “real” lab space, hired three research employees, and started his company, Novocure.
Novocure has since expanded from the original basement lab to 170 global treatment centers, where practitioners have observed the positive effects of TTFs on at least 20 different types of cancer cells in culture. In each test, the TTFs have shown no negative effect on the normal, healthy cells surrounding them, because the healthy cells aren’t currently dividing.
Novocure has also completed multiple preclinical trials for some of the most common, aggressive, and difficult-to-treat cancers, including breast, cervical, prostate, kidney, liver cancers and melanoma.1
But it’s not just in theory or in petri dishes that TTF works. It works on real patients with difficult cancers, such as recurrent glioblastoma.
Phase III trials show
“death sentence” cancer can be cured
Recurrent glioblastoma (GBM)—the most common type of primary malignant brain cancer—has been practically a death sentence for 10,000 people every year.
Novocure recently ended a Phase III TTF trial on GBM because the treatment was so successful. The FDA allowed all control patients to switch from the chemotherapy drug temozolomide to the combination TTF plus chemo treatment.
Preliminary results of the trial involving 150 GBM patients showed progression-free survival increased an average of three months, overall survival increased by an average of four months, and 43% of patients were still alive after two years of treatment, compared to 29% in the chemo-only arm.
Six patients achieved complete response.2
As you can see by the numbers, it’s not a magic bullet or a miracle cure, but it is more effective than the conventional alternatives.
And better yet, “The TTF group suffered none of the side effects typical of chemotherapy patients,” explained Bill Doyle, managing partner of Novocure. “They had no pain, suffered none of the infections, they had no nausea, diarrhea, constipation, or fatigue that would be expected.”3
This might not sound too impressive, but in the case of a “death sentence” cancer … an additional two years (or more) of high quality living is a significant improvement.
Take Robert Dill-Bundi for instance. He’s a Swiss Olympic gold medalist in cycling and was a recurrent glioblastoma patient. He was given three months to live after “cut-burn-poison” had failed him. He then enrolled in Novocure’s phase III glioblastoma trial.
In just 12 months his tumor had all but disappeared … with no side effects or interference to his normal life.
Count Mr. Dill-Bundi as a fan. “My quality of life, I rate what I have today a bit different than what most people would assume. I am the happiest, the happiest person in the world. And every single morning I appreciate life. Every night I fall asleep very well, and I am the happiest man in the world.”3
Cancer treatment at home
On top of it all, with Novocure’s “Optune” delivery system, patients are not confined to a hospital room. They’re able to maintain completely normal, happy lives.
Optune uses an array of electrical field transducers that are stuck directly to the skin surrounding the tumor … like a big, cancer-fighting Band-Aid.
The device creates the alternating field within the tumor that attracts and repels the charged components of the cells during division.
It doesn’t heat tissue … it doesn’t stimulate nerves or muscle … and there is no sensation (or invasion) whatsoever.4
Optune is designed to be worn continuously, night and day. Patients can carry the battery and field generators in a backpack while carrying out a normal life.
It is a completely non-invasive, side-effect free cancer treatment that allows patients to live their normal lives—and I daresay it’s exactly what the world needs.
The future of TTF
TTF has been commercially available in eight European countries since 2014.
On May 11, 2015, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network officially recommended Tumor Treating Fields for patients whose glioblastoma is recurrent or progressing after initial treatment.
185 leading cancer centers in the US now offer Optune for the treatment of glioblastoma.5
Novocure is currently recruiting patients for TTF clinical trials on pancreatic cancer, adenocarcinoma, ovarian carcinoma, and brain metastases from non-small cell lung cancer. See the references section below for links to more information. If you’re a patient, you might try to get into one of these trials.The American clinical trials are required to combine TTF with chemo.
I would like to see how it works with nontoxic, alternative treatments like laetrile and mistletoe extract, to name only two. But that will probably have to wait till the procedure is approved for all doctors. At that point, naturopaths and integrative M.D.’s will be able to have a go – assuming Novocure will make its technology generally available.
Meanwhile, I hope Novocure’s cancer centers will treat other types of cancer “off-label” rather than wait for the results of these trials. There’s no reason why not, considering the treatment is harmless.
You can bet that Cancer Defeated will monitor the progress of this exciting new treatment and keep you up to date.
TTF resembles an alternative treatment – is there something fishy?
There’s another angle here I haven’t mentioned. TTF sounds to me very much like an electrical treatment usually called galvanotherapy that’s been around for years -- although I can’t say it’s widely used by alternative doctors. The most extensive trials have been in China.
We described it in our first book, Natural Cancer Remedies that Work, published nearly ten years ago. It relies on a weak electric current to disrupt and kill cancer cells.
The two treatments appear to operate on the same general principles although, unlike TTF, I haven’t see descriptions of how galvanotherapy works at the cellular level. (This doesn’t mean no one has researched the matter; it just means I haven’t seen the studies).
I don’t know what, if anything, Dr. Palti and his colleagues owe to the alternative medicine pioneers. If they were influenced they would do the world a favor by acknowledging the debt.