In the Fall of 2004 I found a lump in my neck. Knowing that my mom’s twin sister had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma as a teenager, I was concerned. It was examined, MRI’d and then I was given the option for a biopsy. I was just out of college and was very intimidated by the cost of all of this medical care, so I opted to “wait” for a biopsy, was given antibiotics, and the lump shrunk…temporarily.
In September of 2008, almost 4 years after my initial discovery of my neck’s enlarged “cervical” lymph node, I found a new lump- this time in my right armpit. I was calm and told my husband of barely 3 months, Kevin when I got home. About a week later, I was in the general practitioner’s office. Within an hour I was getting lab work, then immediately sent to Piedmont Hospital here in Atlanta for a consultation with a surgeon who scheduled me for a full lumpectomy/ biopsy the next day!
It took two weeks for the official results. The good news- it was a slow moving Hodgkin’s Lymphoma with an excellent prognosis. “Nodular Lymphocyte Predominant Hodgkin’s Lymphoma”- a mouth full! Bad news- the recommended treatment was 3 months (4 cycles) of R-CHOP chemotherapy and radiation*. Side effects- hair loss, nausea, mouth sores, and the worst of all- INFERTILITY.
My first oncologist scheduled me for a CT/PET scan to confirm the suspected Stage II diagnosis, along with a bone marrow biopsy. Over the next few weeks I did both, and both came back confirming what Dr. M thought: Stage II Nodular Lymphocyte Predominant Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
While I was awaiting my impending doom of chemotherapy and mourning the loss of my future children, my husband Kevin began researching alternative cancer treatment. The first source Kevin came in contact with was a man named Jerry Brunetti. Jerry healed his Stage 3 Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma with nutritional therapies. He had an online presentation that made so much sense to us. He presented the individual healing powers of the food he consumed while healing from cancer. It all made so much sense to us when the conventional treatment didn’t.
Kevin also began ordering different books on alternative cancer protocols. One of these was Bill Henderson’s Cancer-Free: Your Guide to Non-Toxic Healing. He shared stories of people who cured their cancer naturally- without drugs or radiation. I really struggled with the idea of this. How could this “natural” treatment be so effective, but yet doctors continue to treat almost exclusively with chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery? It must be because modern American medicine was superior to simple diet changes and small town cancer cures, right? I read Bill’s book in one day and throughout the month of November began following his protocol 100%.
On November 4th I began a strict regimen of 2/3 cup organic cottage cheese and 6 tablespoons of flaxseed oil for breakfast every morning, a series of vitamins and supplements, and an immune “booster” made mainly from baker’s yeast called Beta Glucan. My diet was strictly raw vegetables and juices. I even limited fruit to 2 servings per day. No sugar, meat, caffeine, processed foods, or cooked food.
December brought a new discovery- the Living Foods Institute here in Atlanta. Kevin saw their ad in a newspaper at my Holistic MD’s office. He and I both registered for the January 12 day course and detoxification. There I was introduced to new ways to enjoy raw foods. This helped me with the depression that comes with eating a diet of raw vegetables all day during a time of year when Americans feast and celebrate with so many sugary and rich foods.
At the Living Foods Institute I received 7 colonics to detox my colon. I say I was in “perfect health” before my diagnosis, but the truth is my digestion was a mess! I had chronic constipation and gas issues. Something was just not right. I had a SAD diet (Standard American Diet) of eating habits and my body was starving for nutrients! This is what I believe to be the main cause of my cancer. My body wasn’t eliminating correctly and became TOXIC.
During this time we found out about Ty Bollinger’s book: Cancer: Step Outside the Box”. In it we found reassurance that what we were doing was God’s plan for my healing. We also read more about the research and success of holistic approach to cancer treatment. I began drinking Essiac tea as another weapon against the lymphoma. I believe it was this that really detoxified my lymph system. We also bought an Alkaline Water Ionizer and all of the kitchen supplies we needed to prepare “Living” Foods. Living this lifestyle is a lot of work. I had never sprouted a thing in my life and now I was sprouting wheat grass. lentils, and mung beans and juicing wheat grass every morning! I also began HcG Testing, a much cheaper and easy way to monitor the cancer. I began this in November and took a follow up in January right before the Living Foods Institute. I dropped almost an entire point in my score, excellent progress!
Also, exercise and detoxification was important. We bought a Cellerciser rebounder. In February 2009, after almost 4 month my days were starting to feel “normal”. During this process my husband, myself, and my doctors kept physical track of the cancerous lymph node in my neck. At the next oncologist’s visit my doctor couldn’t even find the lump. It had shrunk to the touch completely. I was scheduled to take my next HcG test in March.
But instead I found out I was pregnant. My husband and I didn’t know what to think of this, but we knew the chance was there since I had gone off all prescription medication including birth control. What should have been a joyous event ended up being a scary one. I even had an OBGYN who refused to take me as a patient because “I refused to treat my cancer.” My parents and other friends and family were extremely skeptical of our decision from the beginning. The pregnancy only made it more difficult. It was during this time that any negative feedback from anyone had to be turned off in my head. I knew the importance of positive and prayerful thinking.
Through March and April we waited. I continued Bill’s protocol up until April when I started getting severe morning sickness. Anything green instantly induced vomiting. I knew I had to eat to nurture my baby, but the food that was fighting the cancer was not an option. The next few weeks I lived off almond butter, apples, and organic saltines. I also could no longer monitor the cancer through HcG testing since human fetuses have high levels of HcG. This was an extremely scary time.
It is ironic that shortly after I began surviving off of my 3 morning sickness staples, my oncologist gave us the shocking news that I was in remission! May 4th, 2009 I was declared in “clinical” remission and I have had a clean bill of health since then. My new oncologist did not think that that CT or PET scans were a superior way to monitor the cancer because of its indolent nature and the unnecessary radiation the scans would have on my body. (Remember- this was not a traditional Hodgkin’s lymphoma.) Instead, I continue to be monitored via bloodwork and physical examinations. Following several months of excellent health reports, I received “clinical” remission status. I went on to have an unmedicated and natural birth to Ruby-Claire Campbell on November 19th 2009. She is truly a miracle! And so is her mom.
As of this writing I am still in clinical remission. I celebrate this, but also don’t use it as an excuse to go back to my old ways. My diet is not as extreme as it was in the beginning, but I still stay completely away from sugar, processed foods, and conventional foods. I rarely eat meat, but when I do, it is grassfed, free-range meat or wild-caught fish. I eat a TON of nutrient-dense, organic vegetables: a big, colorful salad and 64 ounce veggie smoothie everyday. I still drink green tea and take 26 purposeful vitamin supplements a day. I have missed very few days of Cottage Cheese/Flaxseed Oil since I started.
I think there is a place for conventional medical treatment and intervention/monitoring. For my husband and I, it was a PRAYERFUL decision to approach the cancer the way we did. We believe that God gave us a fully functioning, self-healing body that when brought back to its original state can fight off malfunctioning cell growth like cancer. It will be a journey to keep the cancer away, not a destination. That is how we hope America will begin to look at health. I hope I can be an inspiration to encourage this belief.
Cortney Campbell is the founder of anticancermom.com, a popular blog to express the lifestyle changes that she has made since being diagnosed with cancer. She and her husband, Kevin, also helped to co-found HealingStrong.
(Since this original post in 2013, Cortney has had two other beautiful little girls and continues to help others with her very popular blog and serving on the HealingStrong Board of Directors.)
Books or Resources that Most Inspired my Healing Strong Journey:
Cancer Step Outside the Box by Ty Bollinger
Cancer-Free: Your Guide to Non-Toxic Healing by Bill Henderson
Food as Medicine by Jerry Brunetti
Therefore once more I will astound these people
with wonder upon wonder;
the wisdom of the wise will perish,
the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish. Isaiah 29:14