By Pat Wetzel
I had a rather large tumor on my left cheek. (I had actually taken to cupping my hands around it as I slept, so I could lie on my side.) I was referred to a radiation oncologist to deal with the tumor.
The local radiologist said it would need 35 gray (the unit of radiation) x 17 (17 straight days of radiation). No one mentioned anything about potential side effects, although later, when I Googled “cheek radiation”, I realized that the side effects could be profound. It could impact my bone, saliva glands, teeth and seriously impair my enjoyment of food. For a long time foodie, this was NOT ok. The quality of my life could have been profoundly impacted.
During a visit to Stanford, I mentioned the radiation option for this unsightly tumor. The young research doctor simply replied: “Do 2 x 2”. Two by two? I asked. “Just do 2 units of gray, twice. Lymphoma tumors are very sensitive to radiation.”
Needless to say, I did 2 x 2 and all was well. (My local radiation oncologist refused to talk to Stanford, and never followed up with me to see the good results. Definitely a doctor to ditch!) I pass this along in the hope that my experience may help someone else, especially with lymphoma. I also hope that it will make people aware of the potential consequence of these treatments andyour decision making role in the process.
Lessons learned: Ask questions, seek options, get second opinions, do not automatically do what anyone wants you to do, don’t be afraid to dump a doctor that is unresponsive, do your own research, listen, listen to your gut, get lucky!
Pat Wetzel is the Founder of the Anti-Cancer Club. In 2009, she was diagnosed with a rare lymphoma. After three rounds of chemo, surgery and radiation, she is in remission.
How does one take control of one’s health, even in the face of cancer? What are the factors of health in the context of cancer?
Research by Dean Ornish, MD, David Servan-Schreiber, MD, Jeanne WallacePhD, CNC, and others point to 4 key factors over which each of us has total control: Nutrition, Exercise, Mind/Body Modalities (such as stress management) and Social Connection.
The lifestyle choices that create anti-cancer health are not the day to day reality that most of us live. Our lives are fast and stressful. We don’t always eat well and exercise may or may not be part of our equation. And even with family and friends, cancer can be very isolating. People simply don’t know what to say or do.
Ultimately each of us must find our own path, but we don’t have to re-create the wheel. Learn from all of us on this site as we share personal experiences, expertise and insights into creating an anti-cancer life.
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