Guest Blogger: Kendell Reichhart on Family & Cancer
Greetings:) My brother Brett has me inspired to share his story with everyone. Three and a half months ago, he was diagnosed with two aggressive stage 4 brain tumors, one was operable, the other tumor was not. Last week, his follow-up MRI showed no signs of tumors.
Many of you on this email list are clients, customers or have attended events that I have hosted. So you have likely heard me talk about my brother. For those of you who do not know the story, we will start with almost 15 years ago, when my younger brother Brett was diagnosed with Stage 3 brain cancer at the age of 21. He luckily happened to be home from college on Thanksgiving break when he had a massive seizure. It was determined that he had a grade 3 Astrocytoma brain tumor. They performed surgery to remove what they could and gave him a prognosis of 18 months. It was shocking that a young, healthy athlete would end up in this situation. Brett being Brett, took on this challenge with a remarkably calm and positive attitude...which is his amazing personality in general. I was 26 at the time, and always looking for the natural alternatives to everything, so I instantly started looking into cancer fighting herbs. This is when I became intrigued with medicinal mushrooms. So we put him on the mushrooms along with blue-green algae, chlorella and spirulina, which I was currently taking myself. After surgery, he did 7 weeks of radiation followed by a year of chemo. During that time, we dosed him with supplements and fed him as clean a diet as we knew how to back then. This included lots of salads and whole foods (at least while he was home from college;-). He never got sick or nauseous during all his treatments. He was mainly focused on getting back to college and just having fun, while he was washing down his chemo pills w/beer. The Dr's cleared him to start playing lacrosse again, and he went about life as normal. Miraculously for the past 14 year, he has been in complete remission with clear MRI's and is married with 2 small children. This past April 3rd everything changed. He had another massive seizure at work, only for us to find out his brain cancer had come back.
It is amazing when these cancers come back, how quickly it can happen. In October he had an MRI which was still clear. Within 6 months, not only did a tumor return in the original location, but there was a second tumor located close to the center of the brain. This cancer came back more aggressive, as two Stage 4 Glioblastomas brain tumors, which is the worst prognosis for brain cancer. Being 14 years later and knowing so much more, we immediately changed his diet. A nutrients dense diet of high fat and high plant based protein and sprouts, (a small amounts of animal meats on occasion...some people need it), lots of greens, and no sugar/carbs/starches. The idea is that cancer cannot survive without sugar and it cannot survive in an alkaline environment. The very 1st thing by brother asked me when all of this happened..."Should I go back on those mushrooms I took last time?"...We laughed because I already had the mushrooms and the algaes in my purse for him. He took them there on the spot;-)
We found out on April 6th the cancer was back, and he went in for surgery on April 23rd. They removed what they could of the tumor in the original location, the 2nd tumor located near the center of the brain they did not operate on. They did not want to give Brett a prognosis since he had already beat the odd once, but they said the average prognosis for this type of tumor is 9-13 months.
He said he beat this once, and he said he would do it again. He wanted to do it all, the diet, the supplements, along with the Chemo and Radiation...the alternative with the conventional. And wow, has he been doing it! By the time he went in for surgery, we had a few weeks to work on the diet and supplemental end, boosting his immune system with herbs, medicinal mushrooms, turmeric/curcumin for anti-inflammatory, vitamin C, juicing.... trying to get him prepared for surgery. He came out of the surgery fantastic, no problems at all, and was recovering so well, minimal inflammation in the brain, that the Dr's let him go home in 48 hours. Now, he had supposedly a month to let the brain heal before starting Chemo and Radiation. So from a dietary stand point we kept focusing on starving the cancer... if you don't feed it sugar, it has nothing to eat and hopefully can not survive. We really focused on his immune system and a lot of digestive support (enzymes and probiotics), glutathione for liver support and detoxing, etc. to prepare him for chemo and radiation.
He finished 6 weeks of chemo and radiation with minimal side affects. He did chemo every day for 6 weeks and radiation 5 days/week. During treatments we has working out and running almost every day to try and sweat and detox himself of the chemo. He came in frequently to use the infrared sauna. He was assistant coaching his son's lacrosse team. He kept up with his diet, has been constantly tracking his blood sugar with a glucometer and also keeping track of his keytone levels (meaning that the body is burning fat for energy, not sugar). He was fasting 1 day a week on bone broth soups with medicinal mushrooms steeped into it...I was impressed!!! We kept supporting his digestion from the chemo, along with charcoal to help flush out the toxins from the chemo quicker. The radiation gave him some headaches due to the swelling in the brain that it causes, so he did take some steroids during that time. He only lost hair where they were doing radiation on the tumors, but no other hair loss from the Chemo and he never got sick. And even more impressive, his blood work continued to improve each week during treatments (his radiation oncologist seemed impressed by this). By the time he was done treatments, he was looking amazing. And everyone that knows him has been saying the same thing. Lost 15 lbs, was building up lean muscle, loosing fat (on a high fat diet...hummm;-)
After the treatments we had to wait 4 weeks for a follow-up MRI. This past Thursday July 16th, 3 1/2 months since his diagnosis, he finally had the MRI to see how everything has been going. We were all biting our nails....His MRI was, according to the Dr's, was close to perfect and as good of a scan as they could hope for!! They could not see the in-operable tumor, and spiderweb area around the tumor they operated on seemed to be gone. The Dr.'s were a bit surprised and pretty intrigued with what he has been doing. They said they wanted to include him in a study group they are doing with the Atkin's diet and cancer, but they will let him stay on his more plant based diet since we argued that the Atkins diet is too much animal meat and too acidic;-)
So right now we are are all in such a state of relief and excitement and so much proof in how our diet is a key component to our state of health and recovery. So many people have asked me why I think his cancer had returned all these years later. My opinion, stress and lifestyle. Brett is in the mortgage industry which is high stress. The past two years especially he has been working long hours and not getting much sleep. He and I are very close and spend a lot of time together and he was often complaining about not having to time to keep himself in shape, not eating well due long hours at the office, convenience eating, or not eating at all. Drinking too much alcohol...stress management;-)
Brett has been truely impressive, taking on this battle full force, and in such a calm manner...as usual. He is planning to continuing this diet and lifestyle. He is also planning to do the 6 months of Chemo, which he knows I'm not excited about. This is his decision and we will continue to support him through it. He wants to continue with the herbs, medicinal mushrooms (since they also help bind to the toxins) and a lot of digestive support to protect him from the negative effects of the chemo. He did tell the Oncologist if it makes him ill and him immune system becomes too depleted, he will stop treatments and let his own immune system battle this.
My brother has been one of my closest friends my entire life and he is doing an amazing job fighting this... again. He " believes" he can do it again and that's so powerful in itself. He said in a letter that he wrote to his clients that 14 years ago he was 21, in college he didn't have stress or much to worry about except to live his life. Now he has more to fight for... an amazing wife and two small children. This cancer, he said, has been a blessing in a way because now he is spending more quality time with his wife and children, which he would be missing out on if he was still working those crazy long hours.
When we are presented with this life threatening situations, it really makes us take a step back and realize how precious life is, and that we really need to take care of our self first. If we don't take care of our own health first, we could end up in a situation where we may not be able to take care of the ones that we love. Self care should come first, but in our fast paced, high stress lifestyles, it usually comes last, or not at all. We make excuses why we "don't have the time". Anyone can wake up 5-10 min earlier to make themselves a green smoothie for breakfast. Or what about making it the night before, and grab it in the a.m. as you run out the door? Go for a 10 min walk at lunch to get your blood moving. TEN minuets a day could change your life!
I learned so much from my brother by the way he dealt with this 14 years ago, it was pretty amazing. Here we are again, and he is just going about this as if its any other day, doing what he has to do. He is always light hearted and smiling and positive. He doesn't seem to let things get to him...most of the time...(except work). He had us in hysterics even when he was just an hour out of recovery from surgery. He took a look at himself with his head all bandaged up and said, "I look like a human Q-tip." And the next day he was on-line...researching;-) He seems to focus on other things rather than the cancer...going about his life and what he needs to do:)
I do believe there are no coincidences in life and everything happens for a reason. I feel so blessed that I do what I do for a living. I was always into alternative therapies due to my own health issues, but my brothers cancer battles and success has only furthered my belief in alternative health, herbs and superfoods. I have been taking notes for a long time when it comes to cancer, especially brain cancer, hoping that if his cancer ever returned, we would have a plan...and I feel like we did and that so far everything is falling into place. What it boils down to, HE is the one that is taking this on and DOING it...and it has been impressive to watch!
I have to thank to a few key people who I/we have learned a lot from over the years and have been helpful in this immediate situation. David Wolfe, my 1st inspiration and who furthered my knowledge of superfoods, herbs and medicinal mushrooms. He spoke with Brett while in town last month. Dr. George Yu, out of Annapolis, who we took my brother to meet with after surgery, is a Urologist and surgeon who dedicates a lot of time to the study of diet and cancer. It has been so beneficial to have an MD to back up and encourage the alternative approaches, and reassure my whole family that there are more options out there than just the standard conventional approach. Dr. Yu also has a talented, knowledgeable team that he works with to look over MRI's and PET scans to give a second opinion. The Hippocrates Health Institute and Brian Hetrich, spoke with my brother about good success stories (people need to hear that when they have cancer). Beth Zupec-Kania, who is a Ketogenic Diet Specialist out of California... we have learned a great deal by working her. And most of all, my sister-n-law Lauren who has really stepped up to this challenge and is doing an amazing job helping my brother with this diet and life-style transition. Not to mention my parents, who have been extremely helpful, supportive and on board with absolutely everything. Having love and support is such a key component. It has been great team work:)
I really believe when you give the body what it needs, it can do it's job...nature has all the answers and it is in the food and herbs that we eat, along with how you take care of your body. Those dandelions in our yard that we spray to kill, are one of the most medicinal herbs you can eat...they help us cleanse and detox...which is so needed in today's toxic world. Nature is slapping us in the face with what we need and we are not even seeing it. We just need to open our eyes and mind and we will see all that is available to us.
Yours in Vibrant Health,