Updated: Dec 18, 2022
They insisted I enter into counselling to help with the PTSD I was experiencing after my mother passed away from Breast Cancer. They consistently tried to prescribe me "anti-psychotics" to help with the trauma of being a primary caregiver to one of the "worst cancers" they've ever seen. They categorized it as one of the most horrific cases of cancer for a reason, it had metastasized to her skin – this was a cancer that literally ate my mother alive. It ate her breast away, only an exposed tumor was present the last couple of months and it progressed rapidly eventually spreading to her back and torso. Even now when I look back at the pictures tracking the cancer I'm ill... these images will never leave my soul, tattooed in my mind forever.
Every day for 8 months I lived, breathed and obsessed about cancer. Every day I cared for my dying mother while raising a 2 year old child and operating a demanding small business. I had nurses come in to assist daily with bandaging but at the rate these bandages needed to be changed, I had to make this my full time job, which was extremely difficult while navigating the nuances of being a new mom and working. I ended up not existing in the grand scheme of it all - operating on little sleep, drinking too much alcohol, barely eating... my system quickly became acidic – a breading ground for illness. My health and wellness was dwindling for 8 months of this battle. I was just running on autopilot, in sheer fight mode every single day. The motto in my mind was "don't give up, fight harder". I wasn't going to let this be her end, I wasn't going to allow her to die after how fucking hard we faught for 6 years and ultimately succeeded in sending her cancer into remission... HOLISTICALLY.
Bottom line – I wasn't going to let them make and example of her.
So, I took out my $75,000 life savings RRSP and paid her bills, my bills and 10's of thousands on alternative health care - Chinese Medicine, Naturopathic, Homeopathic, Spiritual Healing, Hyperbaric, IV vitamin drips you name it I was in it... researching the latest/greatest treatments until the early hours of every single morning. I was also researching the drugs, what chemo was the most effective with her specific type of cancer, what new drugs are being trialed and how do I get her in on them. I was a robot, non stop, killing myself to save my most loved human (aside from my son).
Rewind to when my mother was first diagnosed.
2012, my mother was in a car accident which ruptured her right breast implant. Months after the accident she was finally able to get in for an MRI which detected a tumor. A biopsy weeks later confirmed it was breast cancer, HER2 + and by this point it had metastasized to her lymph nodes making it a "stage 4". They told her that the only path was chemo and heavy radiation and no time to delay... start now. The oncologist gave her 6 months to a year if we followed his path.
I'll never forget my mother sitting there and telling them very confidently "No" to it all.
Now this scared me, I knew nothing about cancer all I knew was that "stage 4" was basically a death sentence. I was terrified and I begged her to listen to the Docs, whatever they were telling her to do... JUST DO IT, they are the experts right?!!! Nope, she wasn't going to budge, the Taurus she is. Her surgeon and oncologist called me numerous times to tell me that she wasn't willing to follow their treatment suggestions and that I needed to convince her because she was matter of factly going to die... this was on me to get through to her. They called me all the time, telling me that time was critical and I needed to convince her of "their way" before it was too late. I was extremely vulnerable and I was 100% targeted by them to get through to her. I was a mess and all throughout I had this feeling in my gut that just told me to trust my mum! All the while she was acting completely normal, like this looming death sentence didn't even exist! I went to every appointment with her. I listened to them push their methods, instill the fear of God within us and yet she stood by her convictions and refused it all by saying
"the human body is powerful, I'll heal myself."
Weeks went by of her being stubborn, but finally I convinced her to take a hormone blocking drug that was showing results with her cancer called Letrozole. Body builders took it to stop the over production of estrogen in their bodies. Seemed safe, only side effect was bone loss which in comparison to the others it was by far the best. Her oncologist was content with this decision and agreed to continue to see and monitor her while taking this drug.
Ok so now it was time to kick up her alternative therapy. First thing I did was purchase Chris Beats Cancer Square One. This changed everything. Diet & exercise. Raw foods, juicing, smoothies, supplements... eliminate meats, dairy, wheat, alcohol, sugar and all processed shit. Now, my mother loved her social life, she was back to back booked every weekend with friends and she loved eating out at restaurants... but I had to put my foot down. Majority of restaurants cook with bad oils because they're cheap, so even the veggies I couldn't trust. She did it though, she would still go out and just have a herbal tea. She changed her lifestyle, I even had her exercising in my condo gym. Taking CBD daily, herbs, medicinal mushrooms and supplements were a steady routine. The years passed and each MRI she did was showing improvement. This woman worked, socialized and lived life to the fullest for 6 years when they initially gave her 6 months! Looking at her you would have never guessed she was diagnosed with "stage 4 cancer" She was living with it and she looked phenomenal! Glowing, radiant, full of optimism, confident in her body and healing others with her Reiki practices as a hobby with no charge.
She would saunter into those oncologist appointments like a super hero and the Doc would just look at her, clearly dumbfounded and stupefied.
Then one decision changed everything.
She lived with that ruptured silicone implant in her for 6 years, so when the oncologist confirmed that the cancer was "eradicated, undetectable", and the surgeon said "ok, let's operate, let's remove the implants, cut away tissue that was cancerous and give you beautiful new breasts" she was sold. I wanted her to have the implants removed but I most definitely did not want her to get them back in! I begged and pleaded with her to not get reconstruction, but she was stubborn and was going to do what she made up her mind to do. She wasn't going to listen to my concerns, she wanted new implants... her vanity won this battle.
So, late 2017 she had the operation, they cut out the implants and the surrounding tissues and replaced the silicone implants with saline.
June 2018, We left for Europe to visit Perry's family and as we were saying good bye I noticed that she was constantly feeling around under her arm, almost subconsciously. I begged her to book an appointment for an MRI which she did and results in August detected nothing, I went to the appointment with her and her oncologist said, I quote
"I would have never pictured you sitting in front of me 6 years later from your first appointment, whatever you're doing, keep doing it!".
November 2018, she was over for dinner and told me she found a rash on her breast and it wasn't going away. I immediately thought it was her body rejecting the implants, it must be a reaction. I was furious, engulfed with rage that she wanted these back in and now her body is rejecting them! My mind didn't even go to cancer, I naively thought that wasn't even a concern anymore. I made her book an appointment with the surgeon who sent her for another MRI and it confirmed it was cancer, her entire right side was lit up. My heart sank. I fell apart. I knew in my bones that those implants were a bad idea and now here we are, in crisis mode once again. They scheduled a surgery to remove the implant on the one side and they found the cancer everywhere – in the tissue, lymph and skin... it had metastasized to her skin and it was exhibiting the diagnosis of Inflammatory Breast Cancer, one of the most aggressive cancers known. Her light was dimming because now she could see the cancer. I now was seeing something I've never seen in my mother EVER before – fear. They once again started to push palliative chemo & radiation which she gave into because she was now completely vulnerable, in their hands, completely defeated. They told her this cancer was going to eat her skin away, only option to stop this was the chemo.
Here's where everything started to happen rapidly, mostly my awakening.
They started her on an oral chemotherapy drug and the hospital pharmacist dosed her wrong... told her to take less then half of the oncologists recommendation... this was grossly mishandled during a state where time was critical, over 3 weeks she was on the wrong dose and it wasn't determined until she went in for a follow up to see how she was responding to the treatment. MASSIVE INCOMPETENCE ON THEIR PART.
May faith in their way and their competence was plummeting, quickly.
This is when I started to research and obsess over studies involving new drugs. I asked for the reports, all scans and turns out her cancer wasn't even HER 2+ to begin with! Oncologist's response to that was "it changed"! I asked for her entire file and noticed that the last MRI, the one in Aug that the oncologist said "just keep doing what your doing", showed areas of concern that we were never even informed about! I addressed this with her oncologist and he just swept it right under the rug. They are great at answering a question with a question or throwing medical jargon your way that they know will confuse you, or becoming defensive, or just simply changing the topic.
I went to every appointment with her and presented multiple new drugs every time, drugs showing effective results in the US and Europe... only to be shot down every time by the oncologist stating
"OHIP won't approve that, it will cost you $40k a month".
I researched over 15 different drugs and he had that same response to it all. So in order for me to possibly give my mum a chance to recover, I would have to pay $40,000 a month and that would be a total crap shoot. The answer always came back to Taxol, Taxol or Taxol, that's it, that's all no other options.
I took her to every alternative healer I could find with great reviews. I looked into Mexico – clinics that were seeing some incredible results with holistic therapy. In Japan they take a very well rounded approach – allopathic and holistic. Where as here, when I asked about vitamin C IV drips I was told "absolutely not, could interfere with the chemo". Mmmmhmmm... many studies indicate differently actually.
Nights were dedicated to research, days were dedicated to taking her to alternative therapies and taking care of my son while my husband ran our brand new business on his own. By February 2019 the lymphedema was so bad, her arm was swollen to 4 times the regular size and it was weeping, poor soul couldn't use her right arm any longer and now the rash on her breast was opening - oozing and bleeding all the time.
The cancer was infiltrating her lymphatic system. The inability to use her right arm alone shattered her, she was an artist, her right arm was her gift from God. The decline happened at a rapid pace and the pain was uncontrollable, yet I never witnessed her cry. It got to a point that the morphine wasn't even working, so she asked me to go and get certified as a Reiki practitioner, this was the only thing that seemed to help her in any way. My mother is a Reiki Master and when her friends had given her a Reiki treatment she was able to receive some relief. So I received my Advanced Level in Reiki and I started treating her daily. We even practiced EFT Tapping, anything we could do at this point. For 8 months I took her to an appointment every single day with a 2 year old in tow. My poor son's toddler years were spent in hospitals and alternative clinics.
I ended up finding a woman who was using Rife to help treat people and I was deep into researching how effective this therapy can be with cancer so I took her to try the treatment out. Within 30 min. of moving the probes up her lymphedema arm, the swelling had reduced to half it's size... the blockage seemed to have been somewhat released, the fluid was moving! Sadly the woman was relocated out of province shortly after this treatment and so we weren't able to get back to her to use the machine. Having seen such a great response with just one treatment, I purchased the machine without hesitation but unfortunately it's made to order and there was a waitlist of 14 people ahead of me, it was going to be months before I would receive it.
There was no time, the cancer was spreading. I had to find another treatment solution so I found an alternative doctor in Georgetown that was doing a lot of alternative cancer treatments, she ended up putting my mother in her sauna without understanding that's the worst thing you can do to someone that has lymphedema... the toxins have no way out so they just build in the body and create a very toxic soup. Seeing that "doc" who was actually a dentist, was one of the worst decisions of our life and I poured thousands into trusting her, she had great equipment... but CLEARLY no understanding of it. A few days later my mum's lungs began to fill with fluid (likely due to that sauna) and during the appointment with the oncologist they admitted her. She was now in their control.
The last couple of weeks was a downward spiral. I've blocked a lot out but I stayed by her side the entire time just watching them. We talked for 4 days straight in palliative care, but she was so hopped up on pain killers that conversations were difficult. I slept beside her every night, I laid in her bed every day. Two days before she passed I left the room for some air and I returned to her with a pain pack attached to her, she was now unresponsive and in a vegetable like state. I told them that it needed to come out immediately but it was too late, I couldn't get her back and out of the unresponsive state. She would blink when I would tell her that we are going to fight this, there is still hope but that was the most response I could receive. It was 2 days of me just laying in her bed praying she would come back to me, refusing to let her go. Not allowing them near her, bandaging her exposed bones at this point myself. I refused food, drank minimal water just prayed and cried alone in the bowels of the palliative care unit.
If you've ever witnessed someone die, you'll understand that time doesn't exist in those moments, the world just stops. Breathing slows until that last breath is taken and then life just disappears. Did I want to start compressions and breathing into her mouth... absolutely I did but for who? Her or me? The answer was me. The nurse on duty came in and told me to take as much time as I needed, there was no rush and these moments shouldn't be rushed. I will say, as completely shattered as I was, I felt a weight lift. That 8 months of heaviness and doom was immediately lifting. That 6 years of fight for your life lifted.
I laid on rock bottom with her and I cried and prayed
It was over now and I had to keep telling myself that she is no longer in pain, she's free to ride her white horse amongst the clouds now. My heart was completely shattered. I laid there with her lifeless body for hours questioning life, God, this world, myself. I laid there on rock bottom unable to move just cry. There is no pain like this, heartbreak like this is bar none, the worst pain known to man.
A few hours went by and I was ready to leave her there. Perry came to the hospital to help me but I insisted I drive home, I insisted that I just try and be normal. I convinced myself that I couldn't let my son endure this environment of pain any longer, watch his mother in a state of constant distress I had to just bounce out, get to work, spend time with my son... resume life, just a life without my beloved mother. The hospital called, therapists contacted me, pushing anti-depressants and I refused. I couldn't possibly just bandage this pain. I had to go through it.
In order to heal you need to feel.
So I continued to cry, when I felt it was safe to. I screamed in my car in the driveway while listening to Pantera. I drank wine every single night, some nights tequila. Smoked cannabis to sleep. I was in a state of release, pain, grief, loss and toxicity and it was revolving. This was obviously not a healthy way of dealing with my pain but it was in a sense part of my healing, it was part of the release. Substance is a slippery sloap... it can lead to substance abuse real fast.
What ultimately started to lift me from rock bottom was her. I could feel her, hear her in my gut. I could feel every morsal of this grief process and I needed to feel it because that's when I would feel her lift me up. If I had capitulated to the drugs I would just be numb, I wouldn't be able to feel anything, just enter into a state of autopilot again but with suppressed emotions. My son was a huge magnetic pull to heal as well, for he had been on this horrific journey with us – I shielded him as much as possible but he still knew what was happening, especially when nana disappeared. I fought for myself to heal for him. He is the reason I live and he needed me, I wasn't going to allow him to lose me too. I reminded myself of this regularly and this was my motivation to heal.
I would be lying if I were to say that time heals, it doesn't, losing someone you love more than life breaks you. It fucking shatters your heart. There are times that you can't breathe the pain is so severe. Your broken heart never heals, you just learn how to live with part of your heart missing. I think about her every hour of every day. Three years later and I still cry often and sometimes can't get out of bed. This is all part of the process. I sold my home to move into her house just so that I could be closer to the memories. Closer to her.
I'm enraged when I think about how the end of her life unfolded. I think about how billions + dollars have been raised for cancer research and we still don't have access to a cure. I think about how cancer is a trillion dollar business EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I think about the "what ifs" often. And I fume over all of the mis-handlings and rejections. I think about the drugs, the copious amounts of drugs, that did absolutely nothing and mostly I think about the surgery that opened everything up and ignited a ferocious cancer within her that she didn't stand a chance with.
Often I blame myself, for not knowing more, researching more, fighting harder. I blame myself for not being able to save her and that's something that burns deeply in my soul and will forever more. I know I did my best but I will always think about the choices... I'll always have regrets. This is part of the process.
The moral of this entire horror story is that I no longer trust easily, I dig deep beyond what I'm being "told" to do/believe, I dive down rabbit holes and most importantly – I trust my gut. I learnt A LOT from losing my mother the way that I did and I will NEVER agree to anything without doing my own research first. This truly was the most devastating lesson of a lifetime.
I created The YumiMumi in her memory, she is and always will be the ultimate YumiMumi, helping others to achieve ultimate health through alternative modalities, herbs, supplements, frequency therapies & healing practices. She is still a healer, she just heals through me now.