Hello! My name is Cheryse and this is my little nook in the internet where I am documenting my journey with stage IV breast cancer. If this is your first time here, I want to extend a warm welcome. I know it is very likely that you have received a cancer diagnosis too. I hope that my blog will give you help and hope.
I am a child of the One true God of the Bible. I am wife to an amazing, loving, supportive husband, Josiah. I am a mom to 3 wonderful children, J, E, and M. I was born and raised in CA (not a fan of my home state) by wonderful parents and have equally wonderful in-laws (in-loves). We have 4 siblings between my husband and myself whom we love all of them and their families dearly. We are blessed to have such a loving extended family and so may amazing friends! For 10 years, my husband was an active duty submariner in the US Navy and he has now been in the Navy reserves for nearly 3 years. I have my Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a minor in Gerongoloty (the study of aging).
I love to read, garden, crochet, do puzzles, hike, (if given the chance again) horseback ride), study the Bible, socialize (social butterfly here), and help others. I LOVE to research and I have no doubt that God-given love has driven me to understand my cancer, think outside the traditional “oncology standard of care” box, and help my body to remain healthy and hopefully someday achieve NO evidence of disease like many before me have.
I was diagnosed with Bilateral, ER+/PR-/Her2+ (L) and ER+/PR+/HER2+ Invasive Ductal Carcinoma- breast cancer on December 21, 2015 at the age of 30. Because of my age and the bilateral status, genetic testing was performed and discovered I have a genetic mutation on the Chek1 gene- a tumor surpassing gene. Our youngest was only 8 months old. I found a lump while breastfeeding and the doctor examined it but it presented like a cyst or clogged duct, plus I was “too young” for breast cancer so she sent me on my way with instructions to return if it didn’t go away (3 months before my diagnosis). Upon diagnosis, I started researching like a mad woman. I immediately started taking turkey tail mushrooms, switched to a mostly raw vegan diet (don’t do that diet anymore), and had a huge inward struggle on treating naturally vs. conventionally. You can read ALLLL about that if you start my blog from the beginning.
To make a long story short, I combined nutrition and supplements with some standard of care treatments. After my diagnosis, further imaging was performed and it was discovered that I already had at least 9 left axillary lymph nodes involved and suspected metastasis in my femur (that couldn’t be biopsied). I agreed to a chemo combo called TCHP- high dose, 6 rounds every 3 weeks, followed by a bilateral nipple and skin sparing mastectomy with immediate reconstruction with tissue expanders. Because of the suspected metastasis, my genetic mutation, and much research I did on radiation, I made the choice NOT to have radiation with the blessing of my radiologist. I don’t regret this decision one bit. I continued with the HP (Herceptin & Perjeta- Her2 brokers) part of my treatment but it had to be stopped for months because it put me into (temporary) heart failure. I had my reconstruction surgery in September of that year and then we moved from Hawaii, where we were living to Washington between November and December.
By January, my heart function showed enough improvement to start just Herceptin again for a number of rounds. Further imaging showed the suspected mets in my femur were likely just atypical marrow, NOT cancer…yay! Upon completing Herceptin, I was told by my oncologist (and a naturopathic oncologist) to just go live my life, no need for follow up imaging. Only 5 months later, I discovered another lump next to my left side mastectomy scar line. Testing and more testing revealed that I not only have a cluster of tumors there but I had lymph nodes involved and liver metastasis which were confirmed with a liver biopsy.
The very day that I scheduled the first test that led to my re diagnosis, God put Jane McLelland in my path on Facebook. I have NO idea how we were fiends or how I was in her FB group but that day I saw her post about her former terminal, stage IV cancer and how she was celebrating (I believe) 14 years being cancer free! She has since written an AMAZING book detailing HER cancer journey and I recommend it to EVERYONE! You can find it here.
I immediately started reading all the posts on her Facebook page, gleaning all the information that I could. Basically, she used some conventional therapies alongside METABOLIC therapies to heal. The metabolic approach requires figuring out the metabolism of your cancer, what is uses for fuel/food to grow and multiply. Then you use repurposed medications (designed for other purposes like diabetes, high blood pressure, etc) along with supplements that will BLOCK these “metabolic pathways” to starve not only the rapidly multiplying cells but the STEM CELLS (which chemotherapy and radiation often don’t kill).
I immediately contacted a clinic that is studying 4 basic metabolic meds and was able to prescribe them for me (my oncologist and Naturopath now prescribe all these meds for me so I don’t work with that clinic any longer) and I started on the 4 meds, Herceptin, and I chose an oral chemotherapy called Xeloda to start my treatment (my post “What I’ve been doing” outlays all these meds and what I did that year). Upon starting treatment Jan’ 18, I had “innumerable” liver mets but by April, after just 2.5 months of treatment, my chest recurrence was clear and I only had 2 liver mets remaining! After adding in more supplements and meds, I achieved “no evidence of disease” by November with PET negative scans! Unfortunately, I failed to block 2-3 very important pathways that HER2+ cancers love to up regulate and my cancer became resistant to the Herceptin AND chemo, and I had a very aggressive recurrence between my implant and my skin that stared growing into my skin. This was finally diagnosed spring of ’19 and I sought out a new oncologist (mine made a number of mistakes) in Seattle and started metronomic, low dose chemotherapy along with adding in more supplements/meds to block those pathways, I believe in June. I went to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance before starting chemo to request surgery to remove the recurrence and both my implants but was informed my disease was too involved in the breast and I was inoperable and likely needed 6-12 months of chemo before they would see enough response to be able to perform the surgery. Well, after only 3 months of low dose chemo and special immunotherapy (interferon-alpha) and my metabolic therapies, I saw the same surgeon who was STUNNED that my tumors were nearly gone, the dermal invasion was healing super well, and she could perform the surgery. Since then, she decided I need 3-6 more months of chemo to stabilize a “new” liver met……even though it shrunk from July-August. My oncologist and I both want the surgery ASAP so I am currently seeking a second opinion from Surgeons at Swedish Cancer Center. That is the condensed version of my journey. I welcome you to read through my blog and please feel free to comment or reach out to me if you have questions.
I also must disclose that I, Cheryse, am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. In layman’s terms, I will ocassionally share products links with you that are helping me on my cancer journey or that I love for my family and if you click on that link and make a purchase, Amazon will pay me a fee for “advertising” that product. This allows you to make a purchase you would make anyway and help me pay for my cancer treatments…a win-win situation!