One Couple’s Journey With Cancer Leads Them To Mexico
One of the things that I find absolutely deplorable is the state of the American medical system. It’s fantastic if you have medical insurance and are able to receive the treatment that you need. If you cannot get insurance, either due to cost prohibition, previous illnesses or age – whatever the reason – should those without insurance happen to need medical attention in the USA, they could be in a world of hurt.
I was fortunate to be living in Australia when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, otherwise my boat would have been sunk. I got the best health care and it cost very little, other than some of my natural therapies.
Countries that have socialized medicine such as Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Canada have the RIGHT IDEA. True, you might have to wait awhile for non-urgent medical care but for anything dangerous like cancer, you are treated immediately. At least you don’t have to file for bankruptcy after you’ve had that treatment. This is something President Obama has been trying to rectify but somewhere along the way, it’s gone totally off the rails.
Perfect illustration of my point. I was recently contacted by a woman named Sheryl, who along with her husband Dan, lost everything they owned due to the cost of cancer treatments for both of them. They moved to Mexico and decided to stay. Their story touched me. Please read it, it has a positive and inspirational message.
Sheryl and Dan Malin’s Story
“On April 1st it will be three years since Dan and I moved to Mexico. We were living the American dream until cancer hit both of us and we lost everything due to the cost of the treatments – our house, our cars, and most of our retirement savings. The world as we knew it disappeared before our eyes.
So we downsized and moved to Mexico. We only planned on living here for two years, but it has been so comfortable and we are managing our illnesses with the simple things in life. This is what Mexico has taught us. A lot of my family and friends were afraid for us to go to Mexico. But we had a difficult choice to make. It was not our choice for both of us to have cancer and be in the situation in which we found ourselves. It was not affordable for us to live in the USA anymore.
In Mexico we can live happy and not be worried and stressed about things. Stress is one of the things that we had to overcome to heal ourselves from cancer.
Dan and I found this lovely hotel in Ajijic, which was affordable for us. We were offered a casita and have made it our home. The cost is just under $400.00 USD and includes internet, gas and electricity.
We are living on Dan’s disability check (from an injury due to an old bullet wound), as well as a small amount of proceeds from a book I published last year. Having cancer is not cheap, especially the aftercare for cancer ~ the healing process. Between the two of us, we spend over $1,000 per month on medicines and supplements because insurance does not cover them. So what we are left with is quite small, affording us not the luxury of a car but only the use of the local buses and taxis to get us down to the bottom of the hill for shopping.
Our experiences in Mexico opened up our eyes that Mexico is just as safe as the USA. Just as there are areas in the USA you would not travel in, Mexico is the same. There are gangs and drugs in the USA, just as in Mexico. You have to do research to find the areas where you will be safe. Our community in Chapala is full of ex-pats from America, Europe and Canada. We have many veterans here and they are being taken care of in Mexican clinics and facilities that specialize in their needs.”
I think it’s wonderful that Sheryl and Dan were able to start their lives anew, find some healing for themselves and get the stress out of their lives. Sheryl and Dan are now in the process of forming a foundation to help patients gain access to functional medicine. When I have more information about that, I will update you.
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One of the things I always recommend people do is vote with their money. If you are against a certain product or manufacturer, don’t buy it, don’t support them. They will soon get the message when sales start to slump.
This also translates to health care. While doing research on some ingredients within three different breast health formulations for which I have recently been writing product reviews, I came across something really interesting. It is apparent that our voices are being heard by the medical establishment!
Most of my research is done on pubmed.gov, the US website that is a service of the US National Library of Medicine. Pubmed.gov has over 24 million citations for biomedical literature, and that’s where I discovered that we – as breast cancer patients and survivors – are being listened to.
Use Of Complementary Approaches Is Common
One study I was reading about the effects of flaxseed began with the words “Use of complementary approaches is common among breast cancer survivors.” 1
A 2013 study done on the medicinal mushroom ganoderma lucidum stated “Breast cancer metastasis is one of the major reasons for the high morbidity and mortality of breast cancer patients. In spite of surgical interventions, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and targeted therapy, some patients are considering alternative therapies with herbal/natural products.” 2
I’m so glad they noticed! Actually in America alone, upwards of $35 billion is being spent on alternative therapies and complementary medicine. Per year.
We Don’t Want Side Effects!
One study investigating indole-3-carbinol (I3C) and its effects on the aromatase enzyme (the chief enzyme responsible for activation of estrogen) really got me chuckling. The researchers said “Natural products as aromatase inhibitors have received growing interest in recent years because of their potential in the inhibition of aromatase with lower side effect, and the possibility to the translation from their uses as chemotherapeutic agents to future clinical uses in breast cancer chemoprevention.” 3 More on chemoprevention below.
As a breast cancer coach, the complaint I hear most often is about the side effects of the hormone blocking drugs being prescribed for people after chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy treatments end. We are being told that we “need” these drugs, that our lives depend on us taking these drugs, but the side effects can be horrific – doesn’t quality of life count for anything? So I was delighted to read that researchers are aware of this and are actively looking for natural products that will have the same or similar effect. Good for them (and about bloody time)!
We Don’t Want Toxicity!
Another research study investigating the effects of eugenol, a phytochemical found in clove essential oil, stated “Breast cancer is a major health problem that threatens the lives of millions of women worldwide each year. Most of the chemotherapeutic agents that are currently used to treat this complex disease are highly toxic with long-term side effects. Therefore, novel generation of anti-cancer drugs with higher efficiency and specificity are urgently needed.” 4
Highly toxic indeed. Mother Nature has provided us with everything we need to maintain our health. The only thing that has been lacking is the scientific proof that they work, and the studies are flowing in, thick and fast. Researchers (mainly outside the USA, sadly) are discovering every day that what we had relied upon for centuries for our wellness really does work. It is exciting for me every time I come across some bit of research that indicates something coming from nature has potent anti-cancer activity and can be useful for our health regimes.
An Ounce Of Chemoprevention Is Worth A Pound Of Cure
A Polish study investigating the effects of curcumin as a possible cancer prevention agent stated “Breast cancer is the most common malignant cancer among women, both in Poland and worldwide. Due to the constantly increasing number of breast cancer cases, it is vital to develop effective activities in primary and secondary prevention. One of the promising methods of best value, connecting both types of cancer prevention, appears to be chemoprevention.” 5
Don’t confuse chemoprevention with chemotherapy. The goal of chemoprevention is to avoid breast cancer altogether, whereas chemotherapy is the use of some fairly toxic drugs to kill a cancer in progress. Chemoprevention can be possible not only with drugs, but with certain very particular natural supplements. In fact, I will go out on a limb and say the natural supplements and healthy lifestyle work better than the drugs do.
More Effective Modality Needs To be Promptly Established
I saved the best quote for last. My favorite remark in a research study was made in this new study just released this month (Feb 2015). Researchers were exploring the benefits of the medicinal mushroom Phellinus linteus and remarked “Although several therapeutic options are currently available for patients with various cancers, the outcomes are often disappointing and a more effective modality needs to be promptly established.” 6
Understatement of the year.
1. A pilot study comparing the effect of flaxseed, aromatase inhibitor, and the combination on breast tumor biomarkers http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24669750
2. The mushroom Ganoderma lucidum suppresses breast-to-lung cancer metastasis through the inhibition of pro-invasive genes http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24718855
3. Inhibition of testosterone aromatization by the indole-3-carbinol derivative CTet in CYP19A1-overexpressing MCF-7 breast cancer cells http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25612679
4. Eugenol triggers apoptosis in breast cancer cells through E2F1/survivin down-regulation http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24330704
5. Curcumin in chemoprevention of breast cancer http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24864107
6. Potent Anticancer Effects of Bioactive Mushroom Extracts (Phellinus linteus) on a Variety of Human Cancer Cells http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4245057/
GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right. You can also “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.
I have been thinking about this cancer-versary for quite some time, and especially once I started this website. I always knew I’d get here, I just wasn’t sure what “here” would look like. Or feel like. I’m here to share with you that it feels pretty darned wonderful, and as far as what it looks like, you can be the judge of that.
The journey hasn’t been an easy one, nor was it meant to be. One of my subscribers today described her cancer as her personal 2×4 up-side the head to get her to see that what she was doing wasn’t working. It was like that (in many ways) for me too. But the things I’ve learned along the way! The people I’ve met! Wonderful, really. I have truly been blessed.
A Visit With My Naturopath
Yesterday I went to see my naturopath, the very talented and dedicated Val Allen of the Perth Natural Medicine Clinic. I am so fortunate to be her patient, she is the most gifted naturopath and her real forte is iridology. She can see just by looking into the iris of the eye with her specialized equipment exactly what is going on within the body with such detail! She pronounced me very healthy and strong, everything I am doing is working to keep me extremely well.
I know someone will ask, so I will share the things that I feel have contributed most to my present level of wellness. It was not any ONE particular thing, rather, a blend of things. Here they are, in no particular order:
Meditation – Meditation helps me to calm down my overactive brain and to slow down and reflect on what’s important. My favorite sort of meditation is a visualization of a healing energy that surrounds me, envelops me and heals me from the inside out.
Nutrition – Learning about what to eat and not to eat is a continual process as new research comes to light. It is an ever-evolving smorgasbord of nutraceuticals, healthy food (and sometimes not-so-healthy because we are human after all!) and juicing that contributes to my every day health. As I coach my people, it’s what you do 95% of the time that makes the difference, don’t worry about the 5%, just enjoy it. Life is meant to be enjoyed.
Exercise – My daily yoga practice also evolves. Sometimes I need to add in certain stretches and drop others that no longer serve me. I know yoga is doing wonderful things for every system of my body and keeps me well in ways I don’t even understand.
Helping Others – Getting out of my head and my problems by helping others through health challenges is probably what gets me out of bed every morning. Breast cancer, sadly, shows no signs of slowing down. I had one smart lady subscribe to my information this week, saying she wants to get on top of her health before she has a wake-up call. Smart indeed.
Positive Attitude – Keeping a positive attitude is not always easy, especially if you have family members who are NOT positive with whom you must associate. It is so worth cultivating, however. A positive attitude helps keep you strong in the face of adversity, it gives you skills that will serve you well every day of your life. Research is showing that people who have predominantly negative emotions are completely unable to see the other options and choices that surround them. I believe that an open, positive mind creates a strong, healthy body.
Loving Friendships – Having friends upon whom you can rely to listen to your worries and cares, to be there when you need them, to love you no matter what… priceless.
My mother, circa 1949
Another Sort Of Anniversary
Today, March 25, 2014, is also the 16th anniversary of my mother passing into the spirit world. As you will know, if you’ve been reading this blog, I lost her to breast cancer that had metastasized to her bones in 1998. My mother, Marjorie Clymer, was generous and warm-hearted, a wonderful mother. She certainly didn’t deserve to leave when she did but I’ve made my peace with that. She taught me a lot about life and about love. I just miss her sorely and I wish she could meet her great-grandchildren.
If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right, and/or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com). It is my honor and my goal to help you through this so that you emerge from breast cancer feeling better than before, thriving!
On this very last day of the year, I want to first of all share my gratitude for the people with whom I’ve become connected via this blog. You know who you are – women of spirit, intelligence, passion, and wit.
It’s been a wild and woolly year! We’ve had ups and downs, we’ve cried together and laughed our asses off at some pretty ridiculous things. And we’ve lost our tempers over the state of the health care system, “pinkwashing” and other assorted breast cancer frustrations.
So many of you have shared your breast cancer journey with me – you had no idea who I was REALLY (other than as stated on this blog) but you gathered your courage and shared so much with me and I am truly grateful.
I have done my best to help you in your quest for health. I hoped to gently usher you in the direction you wanted to go – not wanting or intending to steer, but only to provide you with the information you needed to help you decide your own course. I hope that I have been of some assistance in that regard.
Together we have navigated the murky waters of BC and I’ve probably learned as much from you as you have from me. I am so grateful for your presence in my life.
My Wish For You For 2013
I hope that through your journey with breast cancer, you find your authentic self. Breast cancer changes you, certainly, and you will not arrive at the shores of Authenticity the same woman who left.
I wish for you to find peace. A little heaven on earth. Some romance and love. A soul-mate. A reawakening of forgotten desires. Delicious feasts with loved ones. Bouquets of flowers. Sticky kisses from beloved children and grandchildren. Long days in secret gardens with bare feet and a cold stream. Travel to exotic places. A parting of the mists of uncertainty so that courage and your special power can be claimed and wrapped around you like a favorite shawl.
A metamorphosis into your authentic self can be a little painful at times, but oh so joyous when you arrive.
After having several days off, now I’m having an “off” day.
My husband and I have just returned from a few days away – we were in Aspen, Colorado, which has to be one of the most gorgeous spots on earth, as evidenced by the photo I’ve posted today.
So good to get away – to breathe in different air, to view the world from another angle, to hear the silence of nature.
We did some hiking – one trail took us up to around 10,000 ft above sea level. It was so peaceful up there, and I find that sort of peace to be a balm to my soul.
You cannot experience that kind of peace anywhere else because it exudes from the earth, the rocks and the trees, and engulfs you in a peaceful embrace.
I highly recommend it for anyone who is going through breast cancer right now – get yourself into a beautiful location for a little while. Breathe in that peace. Your immune system will love you for it.
Now here I am sitting in my office and wishing I was back there. I wasn’t quite ready to leave it.
To make matters worse, at lunchtime today I was cutting up some basil and managed to chop the tip off one of my fingers. That makes typing hard, hence the brevity of this post.
I really should have stayed in the forest.
If you’d like to stay connected, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.
While writing my blog articles, I do a lot of Internet surfing and I see a lot of different sites. My favorite blog lately is http://thesilverpen.com so I thought I’d share it with you today, especially since my latest blogs have been pretty heavy going.
Written by Hollye Jacobs, a fellow breast cancer survivor, Hollye describes her blog as being “a way for me to document the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and oftentimes hilarious journey through, with, over and around breast cancer. One year later I’m still in recovery but now on a journey to find Silver Linings in all aspects of life.”
I love that – Silver Linings. A wonderful way to look at life.
Every time I head over to Hollye’s site, I’m in awe. It has an elegant feel to it – you might read an inspirational thought from Seneca, or a discussion of a book that she liked, or there could be something about gardening or stillness.
Today’s post is about Oscar de la Renta’s gardens in the Dominican Republic and there are some gorgeous photographs – the kind you can lose yourself in.
Head over there and take a look (you can use the link at the top of this page). Thank you, Hollye. Love your work and your words of wisdom. I even love the occasional “f bomb”.
If you’d like to stay connected, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.
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About Marnie Clark
Hi I'm Marnie Clark, breast cancer survivor, and breast cancer coach. I have 20+ years of experience in natural medicine. In 2004/05 I battled breast cancer myself. You can see more about my journey on my page Breast Cancer Diary.
I've been healthy and recurrence-free since 2004 and in 2012 I became a Breast Cancer Coach because I became aware of the fact that whilst there is now a wealth of information on the Internet, much of it is confusing, conflicting, and sometimes just wrong!
Why should you work with me? Because:
(1) You don't want to go through this journey alone, feeling unempowered, frightened or just plain
clueless about what to do to help yourself.
(2) You will have someone working tirelessly on your behalf, putting together a healing plan for
you so you don’t have to lose your precious energy researching what food you should eat,
what supplements you should take, and what other things you can do that will give you the
best chances for survival. Instead you can spend that time resting, meditating, healing.
(3) You will learn what questions to ask your doctor (and have someone to turn to for the
questions they can't or won't answer).
(4) You will be armed with the tools and strategies you will need to get through the therapies you
choose so you can make your body hostile terrain for cancer.
You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.