The Ovarian Cancer Chronicles Part 4: Alternatives?
Editor's note: This is part 4 in a series of introspective blogs written by Antra Boyd, iRNPA detailing her personal journey as an Independent Patient Advocate and recurrent ovarian cancer patient.
I had a pelvis and abdominal MRI in one sitting. Gadolinium contrast just once (oh, I made sure of that). It wasn’t as bad or scary as I thought it would be.
Bad news: Not one, but two masses on my posterior vagainl cuff.
Good news: They have not grown much since my CT last month and it looks as if bowel and bladder are NOT involved. Woot Woot!
Bad news: there are two liver lesions and some peritoneal metastasis.
Good news: they are small and maybe, just maybe the liver lesions are not cancerous.
What to do, what to do???
Do you believe in synchronicities?
Listen to this:
About three months ago, before I knew anything of this recurrence, one of the nurses I am mentoring reached out to me to see if I might talk to an MD friend of hers who wanted to get out of medicine and help people navigate the healthcare system. I said sure, why not?
So we introduced ourselves on a ZOOM call and it turns out that she lives in a small town west of Denver, Colorado called Evergreen.
Kind of weird, I was born in Colorado and raised in Evergreen.
What are the chances?
We got to talking about integrative care versus conventional care (she is a pediatric emergency room doc) and she told me that she has a chinese medicine doctor that she swears by and that when and if I come to town I should go in for some acupuncture. Cool. I’d think about that when and if I made a trip to Colorado.
We got to talking about integrative care versus conventional care and she told me that she has a chinese medicine doctor that she swears by.
Two months later, sitting in the “what to do?”, this girlfriend of mine (really a sister from another mother) says, “Oh my god, you gotta come see this doctor I was telling you about! What’s the worst thing that can happen? You get your immune system strong for the surgery, best thing? You don’t need surgery!”
Here’s the thing. I spent almost 40 years of my life looking for the answers to my problems OUTSIDE of myself. I was an avid self-helper of the 80’s. A book called “Women Who Love Too Much” turned me into a self-help junkie. From there it was Freud’s couch, cognitive behavioral therapy, sage-inhaling, yoga-ball bouncing, pot smoking, incessant therapy going, to FIND THE CURE.
I didn’t find it, instead I got cancer.
After my first round with this tumor (called a Female Adnexal Tumor of Wolffian Origin--I have wolf in me, apparently) I turned down chemotherapy and went to a naturopathic oncologist who was so smart and built a plan to help me stay healthy and not get a return visit from my “wolf”. The thing is, I was still stuck in fear. I thought I was doing it for the right reason which would have been to just get healthy, but from where I sit now, I was not pointed in the direction of possibility, rather I was still stuck trying to have someone outside of myself fix me.
I wonder, «Can I see this doctor as a conduit to my OWN healing. Do I believe I can heal myself? Do I believe self -healing is possible?»
So when my GF reminded me of this chinese doctor, I was a little worried I’d rush right into the next big fix. I let it sit a bit and then the doctor himself rang me (he had talked to my GF).
He introduced himself and said, “Are you having symptoms?”
I said, “Not really, just some irregular bowel movements''. (Like at two am in the morning for the love!)
He says, “You don’t need surgery. Come to Colorado, I can help. It’s your immune system, you wouldn't have cancer if your immune system worked. Give me twelve weeks, if your tumors don’t go away entirely, go back to Portland and have surgery.”
This doctor has been practicing chinese medicine since he was nine and he is a tenth generation practitioner. Apparently his grandfather practiced till the day he died at 100 years old. Before he immigrated to the United States, he was some big-wig director of a major medical center in Beijing. The guy has creds.
I wonder, can I see this doctor as a conduit to my OWN healing. Do I believe I can heal myself? Do I believe self healing is possible? What if I stayed square in this place instead of down the fearful health anxiety rabbit hole? What would open up? What would change?
The other thing is this: I have not seen my dad and most of my family (did y'all know I am the oldest of ten siblings?) in three years.
I’m on my way to Colorado today. I will be there a month and I will see this doctor every day of the week… If things stay the same or start to grow bigger, my immune system will at least be tanked and ready to go for surgery and I will go back to Portland.
So what are the chances that my new GF (from Evergreen) casually mentions a chinese medicine doctor (practicing in Colorado) that ends up calling me to tell me he can help AND I get to go home and see family I haven’t seen in years. It’s crazy!
So this is what I am going to do. I’m on my way to Colorado today. I will be there a month and I will see this doctor every day of the week except Saturday and Sunday. I am hoping my gyn/onc will scan me at that point. If things get better and are moving in the right direction, I will see what my gyn/onc thinks and, hopefully, stay the full twelve weeks. If things stay the same or start to grow bigger, my immune system will at least be tanked and ready to go for surgery and I will go back to Portland.
I have had my head in the toilet bowl for at least two weeks now. It sucks. But I am starting to pull myself up and out and look in the direction of possibility. I mean, it seems the universe has me covered on both ends. My gyn/onc on the one end (my safety net) and this chinese medicine doctor on the other, inviting me to explore the unknown.
Who could be so lucky?
Me, that’s who.
Read Antra Boyd's previous blogs related to this topic: