Updated: Oct 19, 2018
Cassie was diagnosed with stage 3b colon cancer in 2016. She treated it with surgery, but declined chemotherapy, opting instead for dietary and lifestyle changes to prevent its recurrence. Hers is a story of finding hope and empowerment by listening to her gut and making her own healthcare decisions.
In August 2016, in the midst of much personal upheaval in her life, Cassie learned she had colon cancer. Four days later she had surgery to remove most of her sigmoid colon, 23 lymph nodes, her ovaries and fallopian tubes. After a series of follow-up scans, Cassie was informed that while her cancer had been stage 3b, she was cancer free – for now. The chances of recurrence were 50% without chemotherapy and 30% with chemotherapy. She was scheduled to begin six months of chemotherapy treatments soon thereafter. However, for Cassie, it did not feel right going through chemotherapy and dealing with the side effects when she was being told she was “cancer free”. That is when she began looking into alternative options to heal her body.
Initially, Cassie researched alternative treatments to supplement her overall healing while simultaneously going through chemotherapy. Then Cassie noticed that each time she saw a doctor and took another step towards chemotherapy, she started crying and felt extremely depressed. On the flipside, when she read about alternative cancer treatments, Cassie felt much more positive and happy. Eventually, she made the decision to listen to her gut, heal her body through good nutrition and forego chemotherapy altogether – even though she did not have the full support of her family. Her oncologist, while surprised with her decision, agreed to continue monitoring her.
Cassie initially researched the Gerson Therapy, which provided useful information regarding dietary changes, but was out of her budget. She then began following Chris Wark, who had beaten stage 3c colon cancer in 2003 through surgery, nutrition and natural therapies. Per Chris Wark’s recommended protocol, Cassie drank carrot juice daily. She became much more diet conscious, began eating healthier foods and gave up sugar. This lasted for about two months before she succumbed to holiday treats. For the next 12 months, Cassie went back to the standard American diet, even though she knew she should be eating healthier. While her blood tests were stable for the 16 months following her surgery, Cassie was aware that the only way she was going to truly regain her health was to make permanent dietary and lifestyle changes.
In January 2018, Cassie found a diet that works for her, and this time she received the full support of her husband. Together, they began following the ketogenic diet, which consists of high fats, medium proteins and low carbohydrates. They have mostly given up sugar in all its forms and have learned to cook from scratch rather than eating processed foods. For Cassie, it’s a lifestyle change rather than just a diet.
The results have been quick and dramatic:
For the first time in 20 years, the medication dosage was lowered for Cassie’s Hashimoto's hypothyroidism in May – just over 4 months after beginning the ketogenic diet.
Her CEA levels, which had been on the slightly elevated level of normal since her cancer diagnosis, are now completely normal. (CEA is a protein in the blood that rises in the presence of some types of cancer.)
Her cholesterol, which had been high, is now normal.
Her blood sugar, which had also been high, is now normal. (In fact, prior to the ketogenic diet, Cassie was considered pre-diabetic.)
Cassie has lost 55 lbs.
Little bumps on her skin that she’s had for years began disappearing.
Cassie has gained a much more positive mindset. Prior to cancer, Cassie always saw the glass as half empty; now she sees it as half full.
Even with all positive results, once in a while there’s still a voice in the back of Cassie’s head that fears the cancer returning. Cassie acknowledges and addresses this fear through prayer and faith. She is convinced that God played a role in the detection of her cancer and has been walking this path with her ever since. Her hope comes from her strong connection with God, who is her guide through this process, providing her with positivity and comfort.
Cassie has the following advice for others going through cancer:
Don’t be too hard on yourself, because the past doesn’t matter now.
Be positive, research, and do what you can.
Stay strong, but also become humble.
Enjoy your life and the people around you. Do some gardening, watch your favorite show, and take that trip you’ve been dreaming about. Enjoy your life however you can within your means.
Let your family know that their emotional support is so important, especially when you are making dietary and lifestyle changes.
Listen to your gut. Your gut is God talking to you.
Today, Cassie is thankful for her life, for every breath she takes and every sight she can see. Cancer came at a time when she was already dealing with many other personal problems. She had to dig deep to find the courage to follow her gut and make significant lifestyle changes, but now she is absolutely thrilled with those changes. For Cassie, cancer empowered her to take back control of her health and her life.
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