Center for Study of Natural Oncology

Posted: January 31, 2012 in Breast Cancer
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By this time, I had discovered an online community called CancerCured.  On this site, there are cancer patients, naturopaths, MDs from all over the world.  They discuss all sorts of alternative treatments.  This community is an invaluable resource and is listed in the blog Resources list.  On this forum, I met a man named Dr. Vincent Gammill, a biochemist, who runs the Center for the Study of Natural Oncology in Del Mar, CA.  He has been working with advanced cancer patients there for 20+ years and, in the past couple of years has actually become an advanced cancer patient who has kept himself up and running quite well.  There he has a retreat where you go for a week and learn about all sorts of treatment modalities, both prominent and obscure, as well as their mechanisms of action, and he helps you decide what is the best path for you.  Dr Gammill will not tell you what you should and shouldn’t do.  He exposes you to what is available, has you do homework to read up on those options, and come to your own conclusions.  Then he will put you on your path and help you tweak it as you go.  This man knows about things most of us have never even heard of.

So, in October 2008 we headed down to Del Mar for a week.  The retreat house was in a beautiful location and we got the master suite which was incredible.  That particular week, we were the only ones in residence, so we had the place to ourselves. There was a wonderful hot tub and far infrared sauna (wish I’d known a little bit more about that then).  There was a shopping center right across the street, with a grocery store and several restaurants, so a car really wasn’t necessary.   There were computers and books so we could research the things he was discussing with us.  The only drawback was every other word I had to stop him and ask him to spell something for me.  I mean the man is a scientist and speaks like one.  To this day I keep telling Vincent he needs to dumb things down for me … and the rest of the world!

The first day of the retreat he takes us down to Tijuana to the San Diego Clinic there for some testing, which is included in the price of the retreat.  Dr Gammill is really well-versed in the Mexican clinics and their modalities … which are successful and which are not.  He was once medical director at one of them.

Anyway, we examined all sorts of things and how they worked together and, by the end of the week, we had something with which I felt comfortable that I could do on my own.  It was complicated enough that I had to keep a spreadsheet in the medicine cabinet and try to remember what to take and when!  Once you get a load of that spreadsheet, you can easily see why the majority of people opt for chemo and such.  That requires no lifestyle changes.  And insurance covers most of it.  Just go get your infusion once every three weeks (in most protocols) and take whatever pills you need to take to manage your side effects.  That being said, those side effects can be quite nasty, so that’s no small feat.  This was easy for me, by this point, after the lifestyle I was living with Budwig!  I mean, pills are easily transportable and water is readily available.  Much easier than being chained to a kitchen, stick mixer, and juicer every day or pack for a major outing just to run errands.  So this is where we started and we monitored my progress monthly through blood tests.

Dr Gammill is a very patient man and he wasn’t the one whose life was in jeopardy here, so he spent a lot of his time trying to grab my ankle when I would be flying around the room in a tizzy.  One of his favorite mantras is, “Things are rarely as bad as they seem and rarely as good as they seem.”  When you have cancer, it’s really hard not to take bad news as a death sentence or good news as a manic high.  So he’s really good at keeping your brain engaged and your panic down.  It’s hard to defeat any enemy when you are not in strategic mode and you’re just in reaction mode.  We worked together for almost a year but things kept progressing.  My tumor markers (the blood markers they monitor for different cancers) continued slowly, but steadily, upward.  Dr Gammill wasn’t concerned because he realized that my condition could’ve/should’ve jumped up and grabbed me years prior, so in his eyes, I was in really good shape and had plenty of wiggle room.  My markers weren’t as high as many people I knew whose were in the thousands.  Mine were only in the hundreds.  But I was getting physically sicker and sicker.

By this time, I was beginning to show signs of small intestinal partial blockage.  I would get intestinal spasms that I can only compare to labor pains.  I couldn’t eat.  My belly was expanding like a pregnant woman’s.  I felt horrible.  Vincent was hearing me complain of these things, but he wasn’t there to see it, so he really had no idea how unbearable it had gotten for me.  I felt I had reached critical mass and needed to move and fast.  It was at this point that my next step was lighting up on the path ahead.

  1. joellelee says:

    How are you? I am familiar with Vincent from the Cancercured group…what was your next step?

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