A Cancer Survivor Shares: Kim’s Story
March 14, 1992 – at the ripe old age of 35, I was marrying the love of my life. Three years later I was on the surgery room table having a malignant tumor removed. Not exactly what a girl’s expectations are for celebrating an anniversary.
My ‘cancer walk’ began on Thursday March 9 when I woke up that morning with an unshakable ‘internal voice’ telling me I needed to go get a mammogram. I was reminded that workmen were still remodeling our kitchen….I said, “I feel God is nicely but firmly telling me to go.” So I called my internist and he said he had no time available for me for the next two weeks. I told him we were leaving for a European vacation with friends and then told him about my ‘internal voice’. He agreed to see me the following day, Friday the March 10 – I was his last patient for the week. The mammogram came back positive! I was rather shocked but not totally surprised because of that incessant internal voice talking to me. Tears began pouring and I could barely drive home. I was thinking…how can the doctor not feel the mass but it show up on the film? Aren’t I supposed to feel sick if I had cancer? The doctor made a mistake then!
My husband is not one to sit by idly and not work a problem. He took total control and worked the problem until it was exhausted beyond means. We canceled our trip and he began making numerous phone calls — all weekend — and I continued to cry incessantly. Crying was inhibiting his thinking so after 48 hours of the tear machine going on he asked “why the tears? We are going to beat this thing!” Knowing that a few of my friends “better halves” had left them when they were going through this type ordeal, I quietly asked him, “Are you going to leave me?” He looked at me like I had just slapped him. He walked up to me, gave a BIG bear hug and said, “Not even a chance!!” At that moment I quit crying and never cried a tear after that. We were on a mission — together.
Monday morning, March 13, we swung by the clinic where my mammogram was taken and picked up the film and we then went to MD Anderson Cancer Center to meet with an OB-GYB oncologist. With the doctor holding the film up to the fluorescent light in the ceiling my husband, Joe, asked if a biopsy was in order and the doctor said, “Joe, I’ve seen a lot of these type films and if it came back negative I wouldn’t believe it.” But to follow protocol he said we should have a biopsy done then later the tumor removal. We trusted this long time friend and doctor and his ‘fluorescent” vision but I said I didn’t want long drawn out numerous hospital/clinic visits so sign me up for a day on the surgery table and do whatever they felt necessary.
On March 20th, a seven hour surgery: they did a biopsy first, determined it was a cancerous tumor, then came back and did a lumpectomy and lymph node removal. I had a Stage 3 tumor…very small but extremely aggressive.
I had four different doctors at Anderson: our friend the OB-GYN oncologist, the surgeon oncologist, the chemo oncologist, radiation oncologist. – none were “in charge” of my case. The radiation doctor told us that radiation would take care of 80% of any cancer cells that could be lingering in my body after surgery. He told me I could have side effects of everything from broken ribs, breakdown of the bone structure to pneumonia. Hesitantly I began radiation immediately. Just me, that big ‘ole room and the nicest nurses you’ve ever met…..everyday…..for six weeks. I felt like a wet rug. One of my lungs had been radiated hence I lost part of one of them which was not one of the side effects I had been warned about. I was devastated. Had I known this I may not have gone the radiation route.
Then it came time for chemo. The doctor came in, handed me a small stack of pamphlets and write ups on chemo and asked me to start reading them and about the effects chemo will have on my body. She said since she hadn’t read my case file she was leaving the room to go do that and I could read up on the side effects of chemo while she was gone. My hubby came into the room while she was gone and I told him what she had told me. He was strangely quiet. When she returned I asked her how could she know that I needed chemo if she knew nothing of my case. Her reply was that the chemo would help me up to 50%! Not an answer to my question and I became immediately jaundiced at the situation.
Joe told her that the radiation doctor told us that the radiation would help me by 80% and 50% + 80% does not = 100%. He furthered that he had a statistical prof in college that told him if you torture numbers long enough they will confess. I felt as if I was being numbers-tortured! After awhile, she finally agreed that it was 50% of the final 20% to make up the 100%!! Huh? My head was foggy as are most patients going through this so understanding quantum physics was easier than what I just heard. I would have all those painful horrible side effects and it would only help 10% or less? Hmmmm…time to drop back and punt.
Since the chemo consensus continued to be in disarray, to the disdain of most of the doctors, I prayerfully decided not to go the chemo route. By summer’s end of that year I began Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez’s regimen that follows Dr. John Beard’s findings that the pancreatic enzymes are the first line of defense against cancer. Dr. Gonzalez’s regimen incorporates those enzymes as a strategic part of the treatment.
Is following this protocol a tremendous leap of faith? Not really. It is my belief in God and His product – the human body – that we all have healing qualities, i.e., our own immune system. So, pump up the immune system I say! Since starting with his protocol I have never looked back and never wished I had gone a different route. I have been cancer free for almost 16 years.
The support of family and friends was undeniably bountiful. It never stopped or failed. I felt like a one (wo)man football team and they were the cheerleaders!
What I leave with all family and friends is that going through cancer is painful – physically and mentally. However, with faith, love of and from God, family and friends……….and a sense of humor……you make the best of the situation laid in your lap.
My name is Kim Reid Smith and I am a 16-year breast cancer survivor.
Category: Survivor Stories
Tags: Breast Cancer, CancerForward Survivor Story, enzymes, immune system, integrative medicine, Kim Reid Smith, lymph node, mammogram