The Ovarian Cancer Chronicles Part 5: Chinese Medicine
Editor's note: This is part 5 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 am in Colorado. I jumped right off the plane, had lunch with my sister, and went directly to Dr. Zhang’s office. That was INTENSE! The overwhelm just about dropped me to my knees. He assessed my pulses for quite some time and then told me I was tired. That I was running on pure battery and no gas. He was surprised I looked so young because he told me I have the body of a 100 year old. I’ve got some major systems down. Most of them, actually. It’s not hard for me to see the truth in that. I mean, I have the actual masses to prove it. Something is not right, clearly.
Acupuncture. Wow, this is not for the weak of heart. Shit! Needles all over the damn place. This is no kind of acupuncture I’ve ever had before. The needles he places feel like they are being inserted into something solid, as if I have wooden blocks in every location he places a needle. I suppose this might match up with blocked Qi or something. I really don’t know much about TCM and I am too tired to try and sort it all out right now.
He sent me home with three bags of Chinese herbs. I steeped the first bag into tea. It tasted like dirt sludge. It looks like the eye of newt, bat wing and some other weirdness, probably lizard tongue or snake oil.
I was on the verge of tears the entire time I was on the table. I felt so lost in all of THIS. After he came back to remove the needles, I broke down and cried. He looked at me and said, “Oh no, your first time here and I made you cry.”
He sent me home with three bags of Chinese herbs (curated from all over Asia). At home, I steeped the first bag into tea. It tasted like dirt sludge. It looks like the eye of newt, bat wing and some other weirdness, probably lizard tongue or snake oil.
Six weeks, Monday through Friday. I will fly home off and on to be with my husband and children.
And then there’s this:
I had a Zoom appointment with my gyn/onc and I was all up in my head about how I was going to either a) convince him that I needed to do this Chinese medicine for at least six weeks or b) that I was going to have to tell him I wasn’t interested in conventional treatment (aka surgery) at this time.
I didn’t have to do either. He listened to me and, to my delight, said. “I think this is a good idea. Six weeks and then come home for a scan. If things are the same or worse, surgery. If they are better or improving…”
I thought to myself, “Then I will stay another month and finish out the treatment with Dr. Zhang.”
I wonder why we humans so easily fall prey to worst case scenarios without ever considering the opposite possibility or a different perspective. It must be conditioning. Etchings from early on that get deeper as time goes on.
I also saw my naturopathic oncologist and she told me a fascinating story about a patient of hers who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The patient explained that she became an artist to see things from a different perspective. That the doctors were telling her she’d be dead in two months conflicted with this perspective. In art, one sees things from different angles. From the bottom, in the back, on top, from the sides and so she decided that all she needed regarding her “terminal diagnosis” was a new perspective. She healed herself and has been cancer free ever since.
That’s right. Possibility. I wonder why we humans so easily fall prey to worst case scenarios without ever considering the opposite possibility or a different perspective. It must be conditioning. Etchings from early on that get deeper as time goes on.
Remember when I told you that I had a finger tap me on the shoulder to “check again” regarding that first CT scan? That was pure knowing and intuition. I was very aware of the feeling I had when I picked up the phone to talk to the radiologist.
This is different. It all feels so murky and not like that intuitive feeling, but what seems true is that intuition or knowing doesn’t come in a neat little package because here I sit still not really knowing if I am following my intuition, but all the pieces have fallen into place perfectly. Everything from my girlfriend in Evergreen, to Dr. Zhang, to my entire family in Colorado, to my gyn/onc supporting me 100%. It feels like I am being moved down a river and if I don’t resist, life just flows. I went on a walk with my sister and there were little sidewalk chalk messages along the way that said things like, “Rest up buttercup”, “You got this!”, “Love”. It was as if they were written especially for me.
So, lesson number six hundred and thirty two (I can’t keep track), trusting your gut isn’t one thing. It seems the universe, God, Mind, the quantum field (or whatever you call it) is so full of possibility that our wisdom can show up in a variety of ways, if only we are willing to listen.
And then I hit rock bottom.
Read Antra Boyd's previous blogs related to this topic: