Talk about bringing a man to his knees. I think those were the only words I actually heard the entire morning of December 17, 2017. As you can imagine, this was a huge shock for us and the entire family. Following several months of acute pain in her right breast that came and went at first but then persisted, Vicki underwent a non-invasive procedure called a thermogram. Results indicated that there was certainly an abnormality so she had an ultrasound done revealing a notable mass. A mammogram confirmed the findings and but it took the biopsy to reveal that the cells of the mass were indeed malignant - Invasive Ductile Carcinoma of the right breast.
We made an initial consultation with an oncologist and were presented with the standard options for treatment – chemotherapy followed by a lumpectomy and radiation or a mastectomy followed by chemotherapy and possibly both radiation and reconstruction. No optimism or deviation but assurances that all courses offered comparable success rates. We sought a second opinion and following genetic testing, our fears were confirmed that given all the factors, those were her options. Door number one or door number two, period. Oddly, so many of the cancer information and education websites talk about treatment options being variable and personal based on each patient’s circumstances.
So almost immediately following the second consultation, she started looking for alternative treatment options and found what we believe to be the best fit to provide the greatest chance for success in her case. Vicki has had a great deal of success with nutritional supplements and holistic treatments to get her through her day-to-day health challenges avoiding prescription medications for nearly the last five years. Still in her thirties, she eats well, works out on a regular basis, and has a dream of becoming a nutritionist and opening a bed and breakfast that offers wellness services.
For those of you that know Vicki, you are well aware that for some reason, her system is hyper-sensitive to chemicals, metals, and seems to pick up viral and bacterial infections in an instant. A simple dental x-ray will have her experiencing flu-like symptoms within 24 hours and for a few days afterwards. Being in a new vehicle for a few hours, around new carpeting, windows, etc. or taking even a short dip in a chlorinated pool or hot-tub renders similar effects. The thought of the mastectomy being the least of the evils in her case was scary – the prospect of how her body would react to the chemotherapy and possibly radiation is downright terrifying not to mention the potential challenges of a reconstructive procedure. In Vicki’s case, there has to be a better way.
Following with that philosophy, we’ve elected to send her to Utopia Wellness Center in Oldmar, FL. As a leading-edge medical center that offers integrative, holistic, patient-focused medical treatments, they provide a treatment program with the philosophy of “treating the cancer effectively from all angles, while at the same time doing no harm to a body that is already dealing with the stress of the disease.” Consequently, the treatments provided there are not covered by insurance and the average treatment of eight week costs $35,000. We are fortunate to have family living nearby to defray living expenses.
A mother with two teenagers still at home, Vicki has been an inspiration to all of us through the entire process being extremely upbeat and with the attitude that her cancer fight is a journey so why not be a blessing to as many people as possible along the way. Most importantly, her unwavering faith has been the example for all of us and is one of the many reasons she means the world to me. Time is of the essence with regards to starting treatment and the plan is to do so before the end of February. I understand that supporting this endeavor may be a huge stretch based on your beliefs and I’m not condemning traditional approaches by any means. I do however, believe that this the best option for my wife and best friend so any support you can give is greatly appreciated.
- Luanne Shirkey
- Jason Mathias
- Kenneth Thompson
- Jeff and Mary Lutz
- Life Church Gaylord
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