I would like to share with you a story about a client of mine, “ Donna”, whom I was seeing for unrelated reasons. Donna is a woman in her mid 70’s and was diagnosed with breast cancer, and also learned at the same time that she carries the BRCA 2 gene. According to the National Cancer Institute, “BRCA1 and BRCA2 are human genes that produce tumor suppressor proteins. These proteins help repair damaged DNA and, therefore, play a role in ensuring the stability of each cell’s genetic material. When either of these genes is mutated or altered, such that its protein product is not made or does not function correctly, DNA damage may not be repaired properly. As a result, cells are more likely to develop additional genetic alterations that can lead to cancer.”
Due to the increased risk for those carrying the BRCA gene for certain types of cancer (Breast, Ovarian, Fallopian, Prostate, Peritoneal), her oncologist recommended her to undergo double mastectomy (removal of both breasts) and oophorectomy (removal of ovaries), even though the cancer was early stage and only detected in one breast. It is not easy to face the truth that you carry the BRCA gene, but on top of that, removing the breasts and ovaries are not something you expect to hear I believe (and hope) that the final treatments for her breast cancer (mastectomy and oophorectomy) are the best possible solutions the medical doctors came up with based on the all the knowledge they have.
The genetic test for the BRCA gene became available to the public only recently. None of Donna’s doctors had any idea that she carries the BRCA gene. However, her primary care doctor has been prescribing a medicine, called DIVIGEL, an estrogen hormone therapy to treat moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms due to menopause, for over 25 years. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) has been controversial for over a decade. The government authorities like National Health Institute have been changing its position from increased risk of breast cancer to denying it a couple of times. So no consensus has been established regarding the risk-benefit ratio of HRT. Results of various trials have failed to resolve the ongoing controversies. I am sure that Donna’s primary care doctor is aware that the risk-benefit rate depends on the particular circumstance of each individual patient and the doctor thought as long as the patient feels better from taking HRT, it is okay to prescribe continuously.
I don’t think Donna’s doctor is the one to take responsibility for Donna to develop cancer. Cancer is complicated and generally cannot be traced back to single cause and effects. It is hard to accept that you, as an individual are the one responsible for your own health. I am sure that there are many wonderful functional medicine doctors who review and analyze multiple angles to determine the root cause of a particular disease and treat it in as natural way as possible. However, not all of us can afford to see functional medicine doctors since most of them do not accept any insurance. Plus, you know your body more than anyone else.
Even though conventional medicine has one treatment option in their textbook, there might be multiple treatments in non-conventional medicine. You don’t have to accept the treatment a conventional doctor offers you. I recommend that you collect all the data the doctor has, not just listening to what the doctor summarizes to you. In Donna’s case, she was offered mastectomy and oophorectomy only. Does she have another option? Of course! As I mentioned in another blog, it is all about epigenetics. In Donna’s case, she was born with BRCA 2 gene, but it had never been activated till now. HRT is a highly probable activator of this gene, but there could be other environmental and lifestyle factors that contributed to turning on this gene. As an alternative to surgery and chemotherapy, there are many non-conventional treatments for cancer like this movie describes.
It is best to take a thorough blood test at least once a year and manage the data by yourself to see if there are any noticeable differences even though all the results are within a range. If you can, add some record lifestyle changes such as when you start a new diet, new medication, physical activities, job and career change, accident, loss of loved ones, and so on. You can see the whole picture. Those data is definitely helpful to any health professionals you see.
To your health!