So, now I am home from my month-long treatment. I won’t say “cancer treatment,” because it was so much more than that, and I have learned a lot!
To bring you up to speed, I left very quickly for Mexico after the 3T MRI test results returned with a BI-RADS score of 5: highly likely malignant on all three spots and the lymph node. The main tumor, which I can feel, was 1.2 cm. There were two much smaller spots (11 mm and 5 mm) spread out behind and to the side of the main tumor.
I had my radiologist in Pasadena review the MRI report, and we spoke my second day in the hospital. In his experienced opinion, what I am dealing with is Invasive Intralobular Carcinoma – Stage 2, because the lymph node is involved.
After our conversation, the doctors at the immuno-oncology hospital came to collect the blood from which they would create two kinds of vaccines for me. One is an autologous dendritic cell vaccine, and the other is called an autologous protein solution (cytokines) which will be used over the next six months as I continue to heal at home. They also gave me an IV of autologous LAK (Lymphokine Activated Killer) and NK (Natural Killer) cells. Autologous simply means from my own cells.
If you are interested in this process at all, I would encourage you to Google these terms and read more about the process.
The fascinating thing about the blood they collected (just under a pint), is that they actually gave me a report later with the count of the numbers of different cells in the sample, including circulating tumor cells, “daughter” cells (cancer cells that do not have the ability to create new tumors), and all the various white blood and dendritic cells that my immune system uses to keep all pathogens in control.
You can just see me now reading up on all of this while in my hospital room, can’t you? Every time someone said something I did not comprehend, I pored over medical papers and studies to get a grasp on it. They also gave me two books to read, and I read them each in a day. Not hard to do when you don’t have a lot of phone calls, webinars, interviews, and other appointments!
My hospital room became like my monastery cell while I waited for my cells to be returned to my body. I moved each day from the bed to the bench to the recliner and then got ready for lunch. I played soft music, meditated, prayed, practiced qigong, read, researched online, watched the most hilarious YouTube videos imaginable, and posted once daily in the Facebook group I created: Healing Journey with Beth. (You are welcome to request to be added to the group, if you want to follow my journey there. I post something usually every day. ) I never got bored – I was too busy to get bored!
Ivan did not go with me to Mexico. We had planned a trip during that time to both BNI South Korea and BNI India. Venues had been booked, catering had been ordered, and members were eagerly waiting for us to be with them in six cities! We agreed that I needed to get into treatment sooner rather than later, and that since I would not be having any invasive procedures, I could start out alone. He would plan to join me after the travel.
Later I was reflecting that my body almost needed to know that I was so committed to keeping it healthy, that I took myself right down, even though it meant going by myself. I think probably I needed to know I was that committed, as well, to be honest.
I’ll write more about my treatment and the startling results in my next blog post.