what I know now.” An age-old saying with profound implications. One of my favorite, more philosophical quotes: “the path isn’t a straight line; it’s a spiral. You continually come back to things you thought you understood and see deeper truths.”
When faced with my health challenge, understanding the deeper truths of my health story was the most critical part of my journey. Without reflecting on the contributing factors, I would not have known how I arrived at a breast cancer diagnosis. Without knowing, I risk a future diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer.
In my first blog, I talked about the symptoms I had experienced that lead to a self-diagnosis of leaky gut syndrome. Since my symptoms happened over a long period, I wanted to understand where it all started. I began by re-examining my childhood. The food we ate! Wonder bread, American cheese singles, boxed macaroni, and cheese, and bologna. After my parents split, my mom was on food stamps. I have memories of canned meat and powdered milk. TV dinners were a special treat; Salisbury steak was my favorite. It was the era of eating radically different than our parents and grandparents. Convenient, processed foods had taken hold.
Recognizing that most, not all, of the food my family consumed was full of preservatives and lacked whole food nutrition, coupled with the knowledge I wasn’t breastfed as an infant, led to some realizations. Since breastfeeding sets the foundation for healthy gut flora throughout life, (1) and whole food nutrition is mandatory for building and maintaining good health, when I add in the heavy alcohol consumption of my 20s and the NSAIDs I used to prevent hangovers and treat pain, birth control pills, and antibiotics, I understand how I ended up with gut dysbiosis. An issue so severe it led to breast cancer. (2, 3, 4)
Reflecting on my time in Mexico, the microbiologist I worked with told me “cancer is a chronic illness; it’s no different than any other chronic illness. Now that you have it, you have it. Your job now is to prevent it from advancing.” He said to live a long, healthy life; there was no room for anything other than organic, whole-food ingredients. Since I had evolved many years earlier to eating organic, whole-food ingredients, I had to figure out the why, first. Fortunately for me, the “why” revealed itself in a single test result.
The Final Connecting Dot of My Health Story – Gut Dysbiosis
The term “gut dysbiosis” was absent from my vernacular until December 2018 when I received lab results from a test done six weeks earlier. “Intestinal (gut) dysbiosis is associated with GI-related diseases in which alterations in the interaction of the immune system with intestine-derived stimuli and antigens initiate uncontrolled inflammation in the intestinal mucosa, and in some cases beyond. These alterations in the microbiota can result from exposure to various environmental factors, including diet, toxins, drugs, and pathogens.” (5) To learn more about what causes a leaky gut, click here.
When the mucosal lining is affected, the inflammation it causes makes it difficult to absorb nutrients, which can lead to malabsorption and leaky gut syndrome. (6) “Disruption of the microbiome in early life has the potential to influence neurodevelopment, and long-term mental health outcomes, particularly through its interaction with the immune system and the gut-brain axis” (7) and why breastfeeding, and vaginal delivery (8) is so important. It’s safe to assume that in the absence of gut flora promoting infant nutrition, and later consuming a diet lacking essential nutrients, my childhood experiences, along with my ignorance around proper nutrition in early adulthood, heavily influenced my breast cancer outcome. But breast cancer isn’t the only condition linked to gut dysbiosis.
“Based on the evidence, the gut microbiota is associated with metabolic disorders such as obesity, diabetes mellitus and neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, autistic disorders, anxiety disorders, and major depressive disorders.”
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Type 2 Diabetes
Dementia & Alzheimer’s
Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Since the balance of the intestinal mucosal immune system plays a crucial role in host homeostasis and defense, based on the spiral of my life experiences, there is strong evidence I could have prevented a breast cancer diagnosis. If I knew then what I know now, I would have focused on healing my gut.
However, knowing what I know now, I feel confident I have a better chance of preventing metastatic breast cancer because of the steps I’m taking to bring balance to my microbiome. (11) It’s a process! It takes a concentrated effort; one I have been focusing on since I learned the final connecting dot of my health history.
Click here to go to my Nutritional Support for Healing page.
Disclaimer: Please note that I am not a medical or nutritional professional. I am simply recounting and sharing my own experiences. Nothing I express here should be taken as medical advice and you should consult with your doctor before starting any diet or exercise program. To read my full disclaimer. click here.
While I experienced great results from healing cancer, I still felt things were not where they should be. There was an issue with my ears that had been going on for over a year where my ears would continuously drain. I tried everything, including antibiotic ear drops; one doctor gave me a steroid shot; I did a two-month long candida and parasite cleanse all to no avail. The constant draining concerned me. I didn’t know what was causing it or what I could do to eradicate it. The fecal test I mentioned in my previous post was for this reason.
About the time I received my gut dysbiosis test results, Saul’s (my love) sister sent him a transdermal human growth hormone (hGH) gel called Somaderm Gel. She had stumbled upon Somaderm while researching natural ways to alleviate her joint pain. After using the gel for a few weeks, her joint pain was relieved, and she noticed a significant improvement in her sleep. She sent a bottle to Saul who has health issues of his own, like type II diabetes, neuropathy in his feet, and knee pain.
After starting the gel, Saul began commenting on how much better he was sleeping. A couple of days later he said his knees didn’t bother him as much and the neuropathy in his feet had lessened. He encouraged me to try it, but I was reluctant because of my breast cancer ordeal. I didn’t want to introduce anything that could potentially trigger a metastasis response. I changed my mind after reading the testimonials of other women.
Two testimonials imparticular stood out for me. I read where women had experienced a reversal in their PCOS symptoms – Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. My 19-year old daughter has PCOS. She didn’t have a menstrual cycle. It’s caused her to gain weight along with other health issues. Reading these two testimonials was the deciding factor for me.
The first night of applying the gel, I experienced the deepest sleep I can remember. Within a few days, I started to feel moments of euphoria, which was hugely significant. I had been going through what felt like a deep depression but assumed it was due to menopause. Over the next couple of days, I experienced a noticeable increase in energy. Within a month, I no longer had hot flashes. My ears cleared up! It appears the infection I had was healing.
After being on the gel for a few weeks, I sent a bottle to my daughter. Within two weeks of applying the gel, she started her menstrual cycle – 28-days later, she began her cycle again. My daughter hasn’t had a normal period in years. Within one and a half months of using the gel, it appears she has a regular menstrual cycle.
Since I worked so hard to heal my body after cancer, I wanted to understand why this product had such a powerful impact on not only me but my loved ones. Through research, I learned the pituitary gland is responsible for producing hGH along with other hormones the body needs to function correctly. However, it significantly slows hGH production between the ages of 18 and 25 years old at which time the aging process begins. When hGH is introduced, it signals the pituitary gland to increase its production of hGH. It moves from the bloodstream to the liver, where it converts to somatomedin-C (also known as growth factors), which are messenger molecules that carry hGH’s message of growth into other parts of the body. (10)
The thymus gland is responsible for producing killer T-cells. Killer T-cells are responsible for eliminating pathogens and cancer cells. By the age of 40, the thymus gland stops working; it goes into atrophy; turns into fat cells. (11) My understanding is when hGH is introduced; the pituitary gland signals the thymus gland to start working again.
Following is a link that introduces Dr. Greg Fahy who is conducting a clinical trial using hGH. He talks about how he first experimented on himself and how through his experiment his thymus gland was rejuvenated.
The following link explains hGH from a hormone system perspective:
If the thymus gland stops working around the age of 40 and it’s responsible for forcing out pathogens and destroying cancer cells, then it connects a significant dot for me. At age 40, I received my first skin-cancer diagnosis, followed by another diagnosis of skin cancer, followed by hypothyroidism, followed by another skin-cancer diagnosis, followed by breast cancer. Is it possible that when my thymus gland went into atrophy and stopped producing killer T-cells, without the extra support, did my immune system get overburdened by my gut issue and allow cancer to advance? (12)
Since starting the gel, my ears have cleared up! Since hGH signals, an increase in glutathione, which is the master antioxidant, could use of the gel be responsible for assisting in clearing up my ear infection? What about the sudden change in my mood? Is my pituitary gland producing the hGH needed to balance my hormones?
Since hGH is essential for bone growth (13), I’m hoping the “candidate for osteoporosis” mentioned by my doctor will reverse itself. My skin looks so much healthier! My neck feels firmer; the skin isn’t as droopy, and the back of my hands look younger. My vision has improved to a point where I don’t have to wear my readers as much, and there’s been a significant improvement in my libido.
Another improvement I noticed is when I run, bounce or sneeze; I’m no longer leaking. After the birth of my second child 19 years ago, it was challenging to run. I recently purchased a rebounder, a rebounder is a mini trampoline used to stimulate lymphatic flow, but had to keep stepping off to use the restroom. It wasn’t getting much use. hGH has been shown to heal tissue. (14) I can’t help but wonder if using Somaderm Gel, which has a small amount of hGH, is responsible for this unexpected and welcome change. If you would like to learn more about Somaderm Gel, click here.
It’s been an intense journey of healing. A long and difficult journey but one in which I’m deeply grateful. Now that I finally know the cause of my breast cancer, gut dysbiosis, I have the power of knowledge, which affords me the opportunity to fully heal, and hopefully, prevent a metastasis.
Disclaimer: Please note that I am not a medical or nutritional professional. I am simply recounting and sharing my own experiences. Nothing I express here should be taken as medical advice and you should consult with your doctor before starting any diet or exercise program. Click here to read my full disclaimer.
When I was diagnosed with stage II, aggressive breast cancer I chose alternative therapies to heal. My choice was a direct result of watching someone whom I loved dearly, die of cancer at 36 years old. Christina had just delivered her third child when she started having trouble swallowing along with severe heartburn. Her dad called to say he was worried. Several weeks later, I received a phone call to say she had stage IV, esophageal cancer. At the time, I didn’t know much about cancer other than it is an unpredictable and often life-threatening disease.
My mom died in 1992 of lung cancer, but her cancer wasn’t surprising. She had started smoking when she was 12 years old; she died at 54. She smoked for 42 years, but how does a 35-year-old get stomach cancer? Out of a need to calm me, I began researching her disease. I panicked. The first thing I read stated stage IV stomach cancer is not survivable. I dug in. I had to know she was going to be okay but the more I read, the more frightened I became. It was when I stumbled upon alternative therapies I began to feel a sense of hope. I started sending her information about the foods she should be eating; the supplements she should be taking. She was doing research and found hope in lifestyle changes, too. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. Her prognosis was grim; she got scared. Her doctor told her chemotherapy was her only chance for survival.
When Christina first started chemotherapy, her doctor told her that she had responded beautifully to the treatment; that he was going to write a case study about her. Toward the end, when her doctor told her the chemotherapy stopped working, she went to Mexico for alternative treatment, but it was too late. She died March 7, 1999, less than a year after her initial diagnosis. Her children were too young to lose their mother! We had been friends most of my life. Just like that, she left us.
Beyond the disease and her brave, unwavering fight to live, it was what chemotherapy did to her that forever instilled in me that I would never, not for any reason, ever choose chemotherapy. So, here I was with cancer, and I decided to go with what the only thing that gave me a sense of hope, alternative therapy.
One of the lasting impressions of the research I had done during Christina’s fight to heal is that cancer is a disease triggered by nutritional deficiencies, exacerbated by toxicity. Cancer is a lot more complicated than that, but it’s how I interpreted the information I was reading, which created the room I needed to embrace alternative healing – it resonated for me. Since we all have cancer cells, for those cells to turn malignant, they need a trigger. What was my trigger?
I went to work researching ways to heal my body and stumbled upon The Gerson Therapy. I immediately implemented two of their healing protocols: juicing and coffee enemas. I did two coffee enemas a day and drank 32 oz of fresh, organic juice daily. I discovered the docu-series, ‘The Truth about Cancer.’ I found a website devoted to breast cancer, breastcancerchoices.org where I learned about the importance of iodine and how, as a society, we’re all deficient; I scoured information on Chris Wark’s website chrisbeatcancer.com, and from the information, developed a list of supplements to take, and essential oils to use. Every day, any free moment I had, I educated myself.
During my discovery phase, I learned about a clinic in Mexico that treats early-stage cancer and other illnesses. After researching the clinic, I made an appointment with Dr. Michael Hino. The cancer diagnosis was on September 15, 2015. My first meeting with Dr. Hino was at the end of that October, one and a half months after my initial diagnosis. When we met, he had my blood drawn. I was asked to come back the following day to discuss the results. During the blood test review meeting, Dr. Hino said I had a strong immune system; my cancer marker was 15.6; the oxygen in my blood was low; I was borderline anemic – iron deficient; a candidate for osteoporosis and had low thyroid. Because of financial issues, I was unable to return for treatment for over a month.
When I returned to Mexico for treatment, it was one month and one week since I had last seen Dr. Hino, so he asked to take another blood sample. Like before, I was asked to come back the following morning to review the results. As he was scrolling through the results, he looked up with a puzzled look on his face and said “your cancer marker dropped to 11.4! What did you do? Did you start chemotherapy?” I told him no. He asked me what I did to have such a dramatic effect. When I told him what I had been doing, he said ‘I have never in my career met anyone who personally affected their cancer marker without some form of treatment.’ He also asked me what I had been doing for my thyroid because it looked amazing (I had started supplementing with iodine after my first meeting with him – more on that in another post, but in the meantime, you can click here to read more about iodine deficiency and the importance of supplementing).
At the end of my five-week treatment plan with Dr. Hino, where I received an intravenous drip of vitamin C, laetrile and DMSO (four times a week), my cancer marker dropped to eight. He told me it was an indication the cancer was no longer active. However, in April I had my first thermography, and the tumor showed active. The thermography, like the blood test with Dr. Hino, showed a strong immune system but it also showed cancer had infiltrated my lymph nodes. I was told my lymph nodes had not been affected but were infiltrated.
Back to Mexico! I went to see Dr. Hino for another blood test. I needed guidance. He told me my cancer marker jumped to 18. He said he didn’t know what could be causing it – he suggested it could be inflammation. The jump in my marker, along with the results of the thermography scared me. I asked him what I should do. He recommended I reduce the tumor load by getting a mastectomy, which I did in May of 2016.
The oncology surgeon and plastic surgeon expressed astonishments at the biopsy results. My plastic surgeon told me he had never met anyone in my situation where cancer hadn’t spread. The tumor hadn’t gone anywhere. The margins were clean, and just like the thermography showed, my lymph nodes had not been affected. Proof for me that with the right nutrition, my body’s immune system was doing what it was designed to do, heal.
Four months after my mastectomy, it was time again for my well-woman exam. During the consultation with my doctor, she asked me what treatment plan I had decided on as a follow-up. I told her I hadn’t decided; that I was continuing to do what I had been doing. She expressed respect for my healing choices but asked me to please meet with an oncologist to make sure I had all bases covered. Even though I was reluctant, I agreed. Besides, I was a little curious about what kind of post-op treatment plan an oncologist would prescribe. A week later, I met with the oncologist. I left the appointment with a prescription for Tamoxifen and an $800.00 bill.
When I researched the side effects of Tamoxifen and how long I would be on it, I grew weary. The long list of possible side effects wasn’t something I was willing to risk. Instead, I started down the research path again to find out if there was an alternative to Tamoxifen. Not only did I find the alternative information I was looking for, but I encountered a lightbulb moment.
The question I had asked, “what was my trigger?” was answered. I had a leaky gut. Since “all disease begins in the gut” (Hippocrates), it was the link I had been searching. What is leaky gut? A condition that occurs when the gut lining becomes abnormally permeable; meaning undigested food and toxins spill from your intestines into your bloodstream.
Dr. Josh Axe goes into detail about the cause of leaky gut on his website. He also provides guidance around how to heal it. The following information and the above photo I captured from Dr. Axe’s site:
7 Signs of Leaky Gut (1)
- Food Sensitivities – the onslaught of toxins that enter the bloodstream make bodies more susceptible to antigens in certain foods like gluten and dairy, think IBS or ulcerative colitis.
- Autoimmune Disease – think fibromyalgia, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis – eating gluten can often trigger this dangerous cascade.
- Thyroid Problems – can lead to hypothyroidism – Hashimoto’s.
- Malabsorption – nutritional deficiencies include vitamin B12, magnesium, iron and key enzymes that help digest food.
- Inflammatory Skin Conditions – can cause a slew of skin conditions like acne (milia) and psoriasis.
- Mood Issues and Autism – shown to cause various neurocognitive disorders (like depression).
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease – researchers from Hungary have recently uncovered that elevated gut permeability is often localized to the colon in people suffering from IBS, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Following is why I concluded my breast cancer diagnosis originated with leaky gut:
At 25 years old I was told by my ophthalmologist because I had dry eyes, I would have a difficult time wearing contact lenses. I have read dry eyes is a symptom of slow lymph flow; digestive issues cause slow lymph flow.
At 27, I had a major breakout of milia all over my face along with boil type eruptions along my collar bones; one I had to have surgically removed. Milia looks and feels like little cysts (inflammatory skin condition). Acne is an indication of digestive issues; malabsorption. Malabsorption occurs when something prevents the intestines from absorbing essential nutrients and fluids, including proteins, fats, and vitamins. Malabsorption is a sign of intestinal damage; leaky gut. (2)
At 29, the dentist told me I had the beginning stages of periodontal disease. Destructive bacteria from gingivitis can be swallowed and carried to the gut, causing an imbalance. It’s a chicken and egg scenario. If there were healthy gut bacteria, it might have warded off periodontal disease. However, the periodontal disease could have contributed to an unhealthy microbiome.
When I was 34, I developed chronic yeast infections. At first, I treated the symptoms with over the counter creams like Monistat. As I got wiser, with supplements like Caprylic acid. Candida is a fungus – its job is to aid with digestion and nutrient absorption, but when there is an overproduction, it breaks down the walls of the intestine, penetrating the bloodstream and releasing toxic byproducts into the body; causing leaky gut. (3)
At 38 I was on Paxil for depression – I have since learned depression is a symptom of poor gut health. Because of the side effects of Paxil, I stopped taking it after six months then continued to go through bouts of depression and just dealt with it.
At 49, annual blood test results showed I had hypothyroidism. I started taking a supplement called Nature Throid. Through research to treat hypothyroidism, I read about the cause: iodine deficiency, but dismissed it. I wasn’t sure what to do with the information.
A few years earlier, concerned about my hypothyroid diagnosis, I met with my friend Catie Norris, a naturopathic doctor and founder of Simply Young. She said I appeared to be vitamin B deficient. I asked her why – the pores on my face were big, and my tongue was engorged. Vitamin B deficiency is another indication of malabsorption. To treat my hypothyroidism, she recommended that I supplement with sea vegetables which are high in iodine.
During my annual well-woman exam at 54, my doctor discovered a tumor in my left breast.
Interestingly enough, the first thought that came to mind after my initial cancer diagnosis was my hypothyroidism diagnosis three years earlier. I wondered if there was a connection. When I began to research hypothyroidism, I discovered hypothyroidism is an offset of hormonal issues created by digestive problems. (4) Everything, I mean everything, pointed to a severe problem within my digestive track. What causes a leaky gut? To learn more, click here .
The oddity is I didn’t experience any glaring symptoms one would expect with a digestive issue, like cramping, bloating or frequent bowel movements, although I did suffer from constipation, which is hugely significant on its own. And bouts of depression that would come and go, but when I look back over my health history, the symptoms I was experiencing seemed subtle, and when issues arose, I dealt with them. Or so I thought.
A few months ago I did a fecal test, and the results revealed I have gut dysbiosis. Gut dysbiosis is an imbalance in gut flora caused by too few beneficial bacteria and an overgrowth of harmful bacteria, yeast, and parasites. The more clinical term is “Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth” (SIBO), and this term refers to the gut flora that crawled back into the small intestine from the colon, where it belongs. (5) Get this; gut dysbiosis is linked to breast cancer! ( 6 ), ( 7 ), (8), (9)
The way I understand gut dysbiosis is it expresses itself in a plethora of ways. I expressed it as leaky gut that led to malabsorption that ultimately led to breast cancer. Someone else may express gut dysbiosis as IBS, ulcerative colitis, lupus, prostate cancer, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis/eczema, etc. A gut dysbiosis diagnosis only confirms what I initially thought: breast cancer was the result of a much bigger issue. It means if I don’t heal my digestive track, then my health will continue down a path to metastasis.
The gut dysbiosis test results I received stated it is “very, very common.” Anyone reading this who is struggling with a health issue, you may want to find out if your microbiome is out of balance. The test is easy and painless. I used a company called BIOHM, but you can ask your doctor to prescribe a gut-health test. If you would like to order a test kit through BIOHM, click here,They accept HSA and FSA as payment. I used my HSA. It takes approximately six weeks to get the results. Use my code AHW10 to receive a 10 percent discount.
Disclaimer: Please note that I am not a medical or nutritional professional. I am simply recounting and sharing my own experiences. Nothing I express here should be taken as medical advice and you should consult with your doctor before starting any diet or exercise program. To read my disclaimer, click here.