For my second blog I thought I would separate my journey update into battles and blessings. Although this has been a tough few weeks, I have been blown away and reminded of God’s goodness through every step. Thank you again to everyone who has been praying and encouraging me. Your support is a constant reminder that I’m not alone in this battle.
Daily Routine / Diet change / Supplements
The number one most practical thing I am battling right now is changing my daily routine. In order to boost my immune system I am doing all sorts of things that require many diet and lifestyle changes. I am taking anywhere from 9-15 different plant-based supplements a day (depending on how many I can get down). My amazing mother and husband juice vegetables and fruits for me almost every night. I try to get down 2 to 3 juice bottles a day and each bottle has an average of 7 full size carrots, 2/3 stocks of celery, half to ¾ of an apple and half a lemon. I have been following a paleo, gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, no processed food diet. I bought a couple really great cookbooks and have actually really enjoyed trying new recipes! Another lifestyle change has involved clearing out all the toxins in our home. This includes buying chemical free products like toothpaste, deodorant, dish soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, cleaning products, facial products, lotions, candles/smelly stuff…etc. You would be surprised at how many products we use on a daily basis on our bodies or around our bodies that carry toxic chemicals. Thankfully Young Living has an assortment of household and personal products that are chemical and toxin free, and any natural grocery store will have an abundance of options for cleaner products as well. There is a great free app available for your phone called “Think Dirty” that lets you scan everyday products either at the store or at home and it will show you which ingredients are toxic and what products are clear of chemicals.
Second Opinion Oncologist
I wanted to get an opinion from another oncologist that was not associated with Peace Health or the Willamette Valley Cancer Institute. I met with a new doctor last week in Springfield. He has a very small and inviting office and practices more personalized care treatment options. I felt really good about his office and his staff but before the appointment my spirit and my stomach were very unsettled. As soon as I met him he was not the warm and fuzzy person that I had imagined him to be. As I sat there with my mom and my husband listening to him talk about surgery, chemo and radiation he was very matter of fact. Not surprised by his treatment ideas, he suggested chemo and surgery would be the best route for me. He again confirmed that because of the size and location of my tumor, my entire rectum would need to be removed if they did surgery. He concluded his talk by saying that if I decided to do none of those treatment options that I was going to die. In that moment I sensed my spirit shift. I was about to look this man (who legitimately thinks I’m going to die if I don’t follow his treatment plan) in the eyes and tell him that I had already decided not to do chemo, radiation, or surgery and that God was going to heal me. Although I was terrified, I felt a confidence and a strength come upon me. I knew I was going to have to be bold and let him know exactly how I felt. I told him that I believed God created our bodies to heal themselves if we fed it the right nutrition. I said I was going to do everything I could to boost my immune system and help my body fight this cancer naturally and that God was going to heal me. He was taken back a bit. Drawing on what he knows best (science!), he proceeded to tell me all sorts of scary statistics and percentages of people who have opted not to receive care and didn’t make it or decided to receive care too late. He also told me that he has had handfuls of people tell him what I’ve told him and not one has survived. Though his fear tactics may work on most people for me I am not driven by a fear of death, we are all going to die someday, right? I would rather be motivated by a fear of God. When you put into perspective that God not only created us from dust but created the entire earth and universe, anything is possible with him! My tumor is just a spec in the realm of what God can do. I began to ask the doctor if he believed in miracles. He said he didn’t, and stated that he is a scientist who believes in statistics and studies. Although he didn’t support my decision he did say that he wanted to still be a part of my journey in some way and asked how he could help. I told him I needed some way to monitor my progress and keep tabs on how my body is doing as I heal. He agreed to do so but with hesitation he said “what if you come in in a month or so and your tumor is bigger”. I looked at him and said, “In my situation there is no ‘what ifs’ there is only faith”. I have learned that we can spend all day saying “what if” in any given situation but all that does is open the door for fear, and no major decision should be decided out of fear. We have to capture those “what if” thoughts before they get any farther and then remind ourselves of God’s truths. God is good. I don’t know how to explain it but I know in my heart that I will get better. I just have to keep that on the forefront of my mind and not let fear try to manipulate my decisions. I asked the doctor if he would believe in miracles if I came out of this journey healthy and healed and I don’t remember what his response was but it wasn’t yes. After the appointment I was reflecting on why I thought God lead me to meet with this specific doctor. I left a bit shaken and disappointed that I didn’t get what I was hoping for from the appointment. Then I realized I was only thinking of myself, when in reality, I think God was leading me to this appointment so that I could plant a seed in someone who has never believed in or seen a miracle. I know now that God put this man in the path of my journey to, not only help me monitor my progress, but to be a firsthand witness to my testimony and the miracle that will take place in my body. I have my first appointment on Monday which will be the marker for the rest of my progress! Please keep me in your prayers! (Update at the end of this blog)
Now we get to talk about the exciting stuff! God has been so faithful to us and shown us that he will take care of all of our practical needs during this journey! Below are some of the amazing blessings we have received in the past month since being diagnosed.
JOB – I have been extremely blessed to have worked for Windermere for over 3 and a half years. They were so great to work for and I received countless blessings from them over the years. I honestly thought I was going to work there 10+ years. Although I loved my job, because I was just part time I wasn’t getting any benefits and had to pay for out of pocket insurance for myself and Hailey. 90-100% of my pay checks were going towards monthly insurance premiums and babysitting. Back in May I had a friend tell me about a job opening that was similar to what I was doing currently just in a different industry with greater opportunities for growth. Over the next three months I did multiple interviews with the company and was hired in August. My very FIRST WEEK on the job I had an emergency colonoscopy and was diagnosed with cancer. God’s timing is always so perfect. My new job came with full time benefits, a huge raise, and greater flexibility in my hours. Starting Oct. 1st I will have insurance for me and Hailey through my work, two different forms of life insurance, Aflac, and short term and long term disability. Praise God! – (Also my new office is less than a BLOCK away from Whole Foods!! Talk about convenient! Such a blessing!)
Research – I have family members who have spent countless hours reading and doing research on my behalf and I am beyond grateful for the knowledge they have helped me with in such a short amount of time!
Water – The pH of our bodies plays a big role in cancer. Cancer thrives in an acidic environment and cannot live in an alkaline environment. The foods we eat and the things we drink change our bodies’ pH levels. In order to get our bodies more alkaline we can eat more fruits and vegetables and we can drink water that has a pH of 7 or higher. Bottled water and tap water are not good for cancer patients trying to get their bodies more alkaline. You need to buy water that has been processed through special machines that change its pH level to be more alkaline. Thankfully we have a family member who refills large jugs of water for me on a weekly basis from a local company that sells high pH water. God is so good! (Fun Fact – one 12 oz can of Coke has a pH of between 2 and 3, very acidic. Our bodies would have to drink 32 glasses of water with a pH of 9 or higher just to rebalance your body back to neutral, crazy!!)
Fish – Levi’s amazing co-worker and her husband have dedicated weekends to go out deep sea fishing and catch us HUGE salmon to put in our freezer. They have caught two so far and we tried some of it for dinner the other night and it was the best tasting salmon we have ever had! They have starting calling their fishing adventures “fishing for a cause”! Haha! Seriously so generous of them and a huge blessing!
Organic Deliveries – We have been beyond blessed by one amazing company called “Homegrown Delivery” here in Eugene and another amazing couple. Homegrown delivery has donated us a weekly delivery of fresh local organic fruits and vegetables. And we have a second delivery once a week coming from a loving couple who wanted to help. We are SO blessed by these deliveries!
Gift cards – we have received almost $300 worth of gift cards to Whole Foods from title companies and coworkers that are affiliates of Windermere. Even though I no longer work with them they have chosen to provide for us in a tangible way and we are beyond grateful!
Juice Plus – This is an awesome company that sells whole food/plant based supplements and an amazing couple has donated us a 4 months’ supply of pills!
Bottles – Another amazing couple who I used to work with at Windermere had more glass bottles for juicing and a cancer fighting nutrition book sent straight to our door! Cannot believe the great timing of this delivery! Thank you guys!
Spa Days – My amazing sister is taking me to biweekly appointments at one of the best spas in Eugene so we can relax and have fun together. She really is the best!
Exercise – Another amazing testimony already is that my energy levels have vastly improved over the last few weeks! When I started this journey I wanted to be able to work out 30 minutes a day, even if it was just a slow walk on the treadmill. My first few days of working out all I could do was 1mph on the treadmill and I had to use my arms on the side bars to hold myself up as I walked. I think I made it just over half a mile. Since then I can now walk at a pace of 2.6 mph and can make it almost 1.5 miles in 30 min. and still feel strong when I’m done! And my need for naps/laying down during the day have almost diminished completely! I’m starting to feel more like myself again!
Check – I will try not to cry when I write this one. My dear friends Zanna and Greg at Windermere organized a company wide effort to raise funds to help me get through my journey and not feel stressed by finances. The generosity of all the agents and affiliates of Windermere has always blown me away but this time it was different, I didn’t even work for them anymore and they still wanted to help! When I opened the check that Zanna had given me from everyone who pitched in my heart stopped a beat. My eyes flooded with tears and I can’t even put into words what I felt in that moment. An overwhelming feeling of gratitude and awe swept over me as I looked at the check made out in my name for $7,000! Not only will this cover our medical bills but it will cover many months of buying organic, paying for supplements, and all the other expenses that have come up! We are just so grateful!
I want to thank everyone who has been praying for me and encouraging me! Your prayers are greatly felt! Thank you for all the support! – Marissa
As a side note – If anyone is interested in learning more about cancer, how to prevent it, what causes it… etc. Here is a good starting point! “The Truth about Cancer” has books, Dvds, and lots of Youtube videos with really eye opening information. I would recommend everyone do their own research into cancer! In the United States cancer will affect 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women in their lifetime and is set to double its impact by 2030. Getting a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables is one of the BEST things you can do every day to help your body fight off cancer cells and keep them from growing. Do your part and be informed!
Update from Monday’s Appointment! – Last weekend we had guest speakers at our church that were in town for a conference and they held a healing service where I was prayed over. The following Monday was my appointment with the oncologist to start my progress charts. He did a physical to feel for the tumor and said he felt 360 degrees of nodules and showed me that they were about an inch or so in size. He was very quiet and didn’t mention one thing about finding a large tumor! I’m not sure if he was thrown off by not finding what he saw from my colonoscopy or my CT scan but I think that the results were positive! We have our next appointment in a month to check again so I will ask him more detailed questions about my progress and if the tumor has gone down significantly. Again thank you for the continual prayers! Although I had a great positive day on Monday, I felt a strong wave of discouragement on Tuesday and I know the enemy was trying to take down my spirit. Please pray for a renewed hope and faith among the many highs and the lows of my journey. Being emotionally strong is going to play a big role in my healing journey and I won’t let the enemy try to steal my joy or take me down after God’s victories!