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Never Say Never: Lessons of My Healing Journey

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Dear Friends, this is a blog entry from Breast Wishes founder, Lexie Shabel. Lexie is currently deep in treatment and has been documenting her story and experience. These are her words.

I had surgery less than a week ago where a large part of the right side of my body was removed.

In what I fictionally remember as a kidnapping, my parents came to the apartment I was staying at in Hollywood Florida and took me to the emergency room at Aventura Hospital where I was told I would have an appointment with maverick surgeon Dr. Robert Donoway.

Close to two years ago I was told that given the location of a small tumor, which was right in my sentinel node lymphatic watershed area, that it was inoperable. In over a decade since I was diagnosed with breast cancer I have never had surgery but I have never ruled it out. My wish has always been that if I was to have cancer I would truly feel as though it was the root and that there was no more tentacles connected to the cancer in my body. This cancer has that expression to me.

No surgeon seemed willing to operate at any time and so I just ruled it out. As I let this small tumor explode into a wildfire that crossed the whole right side of my chest, I put up a mental block that surgery was just not an option. As it became a fungating wound another tumor popped out underneath my nipple, and the primary tumor at the sentinel node location continued to grow, die, drain, and go through it’s terrifying yet fascinating process.

At the emergency room we waited a long time and little did I know I just went right into surgery. I didn’t remember anything until I came out which was very scary. My mom says she was there with me though I don’t remember. The nurse assigned to me seemed quite unkind. She lacked compassion and it was a terrifying night of not understanding what had just happened, so much extreme pain, and her unwillingness to give me more pain medication to deal with it. Your basic nightmare.

Then the dawn came and a beautiful Asian woman who goes by the name of Bing cared for me and started to help me understand what had happened. I was unable to really look at myself yet and I called my mom and she came and helped me transition as they moved me to a private room.

I attempted to integrate this deep pain from a very intense surgery and what was really happening.

You never know where your expert team of doctors is going to be. Mine just happened to be here in southern Florida. Dr. Robert Donoway had been introduced to me professionally through Breast Wishes and through our advisor Dr. Kevin Bethel from a cancer conference in the Bahamas I had attended. His fearlessness at doing surgery attracted me. He has a skill utilizing a tool called a nano knife that certain hospitals have that seems to make a big difference in less need for aftercare and getting extra margins. In my case this makes a difference because I did not believe chemo was the right option for me. I am going to remain open about new developments in radiation but it is contrary to my thought process of care.

More information about the severity of my condition started to come in.

I had lost 20 or 30 pounds and this tumor was 22 cm. My white blood cell count was at 25,000 where I believe normally the count is around 10,000. Dr Donoway said it was quite possible I might not make it through the weekend alive. It was starting to feel as if my life force was leaving me. My parents were challenged to respect my wishes while watching their beloved daughter die in front of their eyes. I apologize for putting them through this frightening experience, and acknowledge how brave of them it was to honor my wishes despite their own completely different feelings, which in this case were absolutely the right ones to honor if I want to stay in this body in this life.

It’s 6:30 AM. Dr. Donoway’s team of young interns just came in to tell me the tumor they chopped up downstairs did not get all of the cancer, meaning there is still some in the my muscles of my chest wall and lymph nodes.This will make the discussion of postoperative chemo and radiation another conversation, and another opportunity for me to really look at my principles and beliefs and what has changed over the past decade since I was first diagnosed. We are still not sure if any of the hormone markers are different from a decade ago where I was triple negative for hormones.

Will I do nothing or will I take poison? Or will I continue to have confidence in all I have learned about immune enhancing, cancer killing possibilities available from team advisors from all over the world 🌎?!?

Through this transformation of self I have now learned to never say never about anything.  I no longer cling to my principles what I cling to his quality of life love and acceptance that no matter what I do I feel confident in the treatments ability to help my health better than anything else available.

I have been deeply gifted by the most generous parents this time around and regardless of what I choose for a treatment they will not tell me to not do something because it is not covered by insurance. At this time I am not even sure if my insurance will cover the treatments I have done so far.  Dr. Donoway does not accept Medicaid which I have in New Mexico and we are trying to get in Florida, but paying everybody at this point is a real quandary.  As mentioned my parents have put no pressure on me though and the true healing of this cancer has some of its roots in that total support.

Some other options I have are the immune enhancing plasma, the best vaccine I have been taking developed with Dr. Bethel, as well as the Webber photo laser watch.

My goal is to not be living with Cancer all the time, every day, as I have for over a decade– but to live a life full of joy and without constant cancer episodes.

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