My husband, Ivan, hates surprises. Me, I LOVE them. He succeeded in completely surprising me for my 40th birthday, even though all my family had flown in from near and far. I knew it had to be happening that weekend, but he pulled it off. What I thought was just a quiet dinner with the family before the big event the next day turned into the full party. It was awesome, and I was delighted.


But sometimes surprises seem like someone’s idea of a bad joke. Take my recent surprising visit to my doctor for breast screening after finding what I thought was a cyst on my self exam: “Oh, this is not good. You need to go right away and have this taken out,” my doctor said to me urgently when he moved the ultrasound transducer over my “cyst.”


Just as Ivan had gone without me many years ago to his urologist due to how confident he was that his prostate biopsy would be clear, I had flown back to California to see my regular doctor, asking our daughter, Ashley, to go with me to the appointment. I had assured Ivan that I was so certain that it was nothing suspicious that he did not need to travel with me.


Boy, was I surprised!


And given how well I’ve been taking care of my health and cleaned up my eating habits, I have to tell you I thought this was a joke. I mean I am at the lowest of the low for breast cancer risk. What’s this all about?


In Dr. Kelly’s opinion, the mass was small enough at its current stage that a simple lumpectomy might be an option with no need for any chemotherapy or radiation. But I had to find a breast specialist, and fast. During all this, I kept thinking, “Benign tumors can be ‘vascular’ – it does not mean this tiny mass is malignant. I need more information.”


On my flight home, I wrote out my health prescription: Love and Laughter are the first two things on this list. Even if the lump does not turn out to be malignant, it’s clear that something in my system has a blockage, and I need to address that. When researching alternative cancer treatments during Ivan’s healing process, I learned a lot about the mind-body connection and emotional/energetic imbalances that can create blockages in ways that cause cell damage that might lead to malignancies. I found myself completely surprised that I it looks like I must to apply this knowledge in my own situation now.


I started with asking for a referral. Several people told me the very best cancer center in Texas is MD Anderson in Houston. I made an appointment with a breast surgeon two days after receiving Dr. Kelly’s stunning news. In the day between, I went to a functional medicine clinic to start some of the support treatments Ivan had done in Mexico to immediately boost my immune system and oxygenate my body tissues: vitamin C IV with a glutathione chaser, a session in the hyperbaric chamber, and a consultation with the nurse practitioner I had seen a couple of years ago. She was great, advising me also to get more information from the MD Anderson doctor, then come back and let’s get busy finding the root cause. She sent me for “pre-op” blood work, fully expecting that a lumpectomy would be done quickly. I told Ivan they took about 15 vials to do the tests. He said, “Welcome to my world.”


I also booked a private qigong session with Master Chunyi Lin to work on energy blockages and their impact on my entire system. And I took myself down to Houston.


This time when I went to the specialist, I took my husband with me, you can bet on that! Hoping that she could send me in for the diagnostic mammogram, and that the radiologist would find nothing more than the small lump which she could completely remove the same day in procedure known as an excisional biopsy, we went that same afternoon for the scans.


I think I had the most thorough 3D mammogram and high-def, color Doppler ultrasound known to woman. After the scans the radiologist came in to review her findings and make her recommendations for next steps. She started by placing her hand on my forearm. “There is a little more going on than just the one spot,” she delivered another surprise!


Long story short, she said that she wanted to take a core biopsy of the primary mass, as she felt it was highly likely malignant. She saw two calcifications that looked suspicious and one lymph node that also concerned her. I stopped the exam and told her that multiple biopsies were not what I wanted to do next. She was great. She completely understood, didn’t try to talk me into additional tests I did not want, or try to intimidate me with fear. It was here that I felt myself going into shock. My body started to shake, even though my heart and mind were calm. I was watching my body almost from a distance, realizing that there was a lot of energy moving through my whole system in that moment. And I let it move through, breathing deeply and sitting quietly until the shaking stopped.


Being able to be completely in the moment, to know that my body could react without my spirit and soul engaging in that response was a gift. I truly do not fear cancer. I have seen Ivan put prostate cancer into remission not once, but twice. I have seen people being treated successfully with “alternative” therapies and sent home to heal – all of this after having been written off by conventional cancer doctors. Their doctors sent these people home to die, telling them there was nothing more they could do for them. As a last resort, they turned to alternative medicine.


I know there are effective approaches to addressing cancer as a metabolic condition that allows the body to literally dissolve tumors. These approaches keep in mind it is a systemic malfunction that can also have emotional causes, as well as physical and genetic causes. There are energetic, viral, bacterial, and also stress-related causes of cancer. Removing the symptom – a tumor – won’t address the entire metabolic condition. It only removes the symptom. I’m blessed to have doctors in functional medicine and emotional balancing as well as qigong and the healing arts of oriental medicine to help me with this healing process as we go to the root and fix THAT.


I do not believe cut, burn, and poison are the only ways (or even the best ways) to address cancer. And I’m committed to getting the information and answers I need, but I know that my path is alternative, functional medicine, held up with lots and lots of prayer and faith in God’s hand in my life. And I have complete confidence in this path for healing. I want to go there FIRST.


Part II will cover my next steps and the next surprise gift in this surreal, sublime, and powerful experience.