“I believe that when I assumed the feeling of cancer no longer being in my body, it pulled into my life what I needed to have the cancer leave my body.” – Alan
First, some background about our history: We have been married 25 years. Tonight is also a celebration of our 25th anniversary celebration. When it occurred on Feb. 14th, Alan had no energy to celebrate. He was still very sick.
We partnered in many ways throughout our marriage. In late 1989, we started our own business. It became a consulting business that helped law firms improve their business by using technology effectively. We each had different skills, and we combined them to do this business together. We did this for twelve years. During this time, we gave a lot of seminars for continuing legal education to attorneys.
During the years that we worked together, I started to notice that Alan was clearing his throat a lot. And the story I told myself was that he was an introvert and uncomfortable talking with people, and that the clearing of his throat was a nervous habit.
By conventional standards, we had been healthy. Alan started some medication for hypothyroidism about eight years ago. Other than that, we don’t take medication. We’ve always taken a lot of supplements. We eat a healthy diet, and we exercise. Alan meditated and did yoga up until about one-and-one-half years ago, and I continue with this daily practice. So we’ve done a lot of things that one does to prevent disease and stay healthy.
We have tried different diets over the years, usually because I wanted to. I would often rigidly adhere to the new eating plan and think it was the best and right way to eat! We tried food combining and only eating fruit until noon, vegetarianism and being vegan. We tried eating a no fat diet; then we tried eating meat and lots of fat. We ate lots of raw food and raw dairy; we ate according to our blood type. We tried it all. Over the years, I’ve eaten a healthier diet than Alan. Alan would eat sugar fairly often and pretty much eat what he wanted. I stopped eating sugar mostly about two years ago. For the past twenty years, I’ve cooked healthy, fresh organic food.
Now we know that one shoe never fits all. We all have different dietary needs and those needs may change over the years. It’s been humbling to learn this after experimenting with different foods for so many years. We now eat according to what our naturopath tells to do rather than eating according to the most recent fad diet.
We both started learning about complementary medicine more than thirty years ago, long before we became a couple. In 1987, we started working with our first homeopath, a medical doctor, who first was an emergency room doctor.
My mother lived with us for the last eleven years of her life, to the ripe age of 95 ½. During those years, I learned how to develop a health team, and I learned how to effectively work with all of them. Some were allopathic; some were alternative. They often gave conflicting advice, and I’d have to be the tie breaker and figure out the right thing for her to do. There were many times that doctors put my mother on drugs, and I’d have to get them to get her off of them. They often got mad at me, but they ultimately listened. We had some wonderful doctors. And I learned how to be a good health advocate for another person.
I used to frequently wonder what I would do if I really got sick. I had sepsis when I was 53 years old, and I was in intensive care in the hospital. I lived because of antibiotics. I resisted going to the hospital, and my organs were shutting down by the time I got there.
Alan had kidney stone surgery and surgery for a torn meniscus in his knee.
Then we sailed along for a while, our health was good. We moved to Bellingham in October 2004.
By 2006 Alan’s voice was getting raspier and he felt like he had something stuck in his throat. He saw an ear, nose and throat doctor in Bellingham who said he had Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), a condition in which the backward flow of acid from the stomach causes heartburn and possible injury of the esophagus. And he prescribed Prevised.
The diagnosis of the ear, nose and throat doctor made no sense to us, and we wanted a second opinion. We soon went to see a doctor at the University Of Washington Medical Center who specialized in otolaryngology (issues with the larynx).
The doctor quickly diagnosed him and said he had an HPV viral wart on his right vocal cord. This HPV viral wart on the vocal cord is more common in children and in women, and it is rare in older men. Soon Alan was scheduled to be admitted to the hospital. He had general anesthesia to remove the wart and to biopsy it to see if it was cancerous. It was benign, and the doctor told us that it is rare for this to turn into cancer. This HPV virus is the same virus that leads to cervical cancer in women.
Two years later, by the summer of 2008, Alan noticed a marked decrease in energy and his activity was curtailed a lot. Often by 10:30am, after breakfast, he’d often have to go back to bed. We started going from specialist to specialist to find out the cause of the fatigue. For quite a while we thought it was the hypothyroidism that was causing the fatigue, but two endocrinologists said that was not the cause and that there was nothing else they could do for Alan. We saw a cardiologist, a sleep specialist, a hematologist, two endocrinologists, several internists, one naturopath and two homeopaths.
It never occurred to any doctor that the fatigue had anything to do with the HPV viral wart. And we were under the impression that viruses can’t be treated. And we thought we were doing something positive by having the laser treatments every three or four months.
Every three or four months, since early 2006, for the next six years, until Dec. 2011, we went to Seattle and the same doctor/surgeon lasered off Alan’s HPV viral wart. There was no mention about the HPV virus itself because nothing could be done to get rid of this virus, according to this allopathic doctor. During the majority of this time, Alan’s voice was hoarse and raspy. He had a lot of fatigue and couldn’t do very much.
Alan started to get sick more often. He also fell down six steps in our house and fractured three ribs in early 2009. It took him a long time to heal from the fractures. I had to do everything for the two of us, and I became thoroughly exhausted, and run down. Every time Alan would get sick, I’d think that he was going to get well, and I’d get a break and not have to be the full time care giver. And there wasn’t time to even think about asking for help because all of a sudden, Alan would get sick again, and I was in emergency mode taking care of all of his needs.
I remember asking Alan on several occasions if he thought he had cancer, and he always said, “No.”
I n April of 2011, and again in September of 2011, Alan got pneumonia and was mostly bedridden for the rest of the year. When he got pneumonia in September, he got pneumonia so quickly again that I had to call 911 and he was taken to the hospital. I can remember feeling relieved that he was in the hospital and that I could go home at 3:00 am and get some rest without having to do anything else. I even disconnected the phone that night.
When Alan was in the hospital with his second bout of pneumonia, he developed a terrible toothache. I talked with our biological dentist in Anacortes while Alan was in the hospital. He was in the hospital for two days. Then, two days later, he had his first root canal tooth pulled by a dentist in Anacortes. He is a biological dentist. Having that toothache and getting the tooth pulled turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it set off a stream of healing events.
A biological dentist uses general dentistry, but focuses on the implications that oral health has on the entire body. This type of dentist appreciates that the diseases and materials in your mouth can have lasting, negative effects on other systems in your body.
Like many people, it was hard for me to ask for help. I thought I should be able to take care of my husband. I knew everyone else was busy just like I was. Who was I to impose?- Phyllis
Like many people, it was hard for me to ask for help. I thought I should be able to take care of my husband. I knew everyone else was busy just like I was. Who was I to impose? There was also a subtle shame about not being able to do it all myself. After all, I was such a competent person. But one day, in my mind’s eye, I clearly saw my mother. She was a caregiver to my father who at age 58 had a heart attack. Two years later, he had prostate cancer. Some years later, he got Alzheimer’s. I literally got one of those emergency phone calls one day to go and rescue her, and I flew to their house the next day. Thinking about Alan’s situation, I knew I didn’t want to become my mother, but I sure was going down that road fast.