Advanced Ovarian Cancer | A Personal Story of Health and Survival

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From one of my patients:

I was diagnosed with stage IIIc ovarian cancer in July 2009.  After the initial shock, I got busy putting together an amazing team of practitioners to get me through this ordeal.  The team included Dr. Nalini Chilkov. Without her guidance and expertise, I don’t think I could have gotten through the a major abdominal surgery and chemotherapy.  She gave me options for my hospital stay to quicken my recovery.  I was released from the hospital after only 5 days!  4 months of grueling treatment was very difficult but would have been much worse if not for the complementary medicine prescribed by Dr. Chilkov.  She also put together a plan to keep me healthy post treatment .  Two years later, I am thrilled to say that I am doing great, am healthier and happier than ever, and plan to stay that way for many years to come!  Traditional cancer treatments cannot do much beyond conventional chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.   Dr. Chilkov fills in the gaps left by western medicine.  Her impressive understanding of oncology from a western medical stand point makes communicating with my doctors easy.  I am forever grateful for the compassionate, caring and in depth knowledge that she continues to impart; I am indebted to Dr. Chilkov and am so appreciative to have her in my life and on my team.

D.W., friend, colleague, wife, mother, acupuncturist, cancer survivor

This is the statement of a patient who chose to incorporate integrative, complementary and alternative medicine into her cancer journey.   Her ovarian cancer was found at an advanced stage. She had very aggressive surgery and chemotherapy.

I have collaborated with her oncologist, a very open minded and forward thinking deeply compassionate physician, for several decades.  We trust and respect each other and that is good for our patients.  We managed her through the surgery and recovery, the chemotherapy and side effects, the menopause that followed having her ovaries removed and now the restoration of health.   Her statement does not really tell the whole story of her own courage and tenacity and love of life that is also part of her success.  Since completing her treatment she has seen her cancer and inflammation markers rise twice.  Each time we have employed botanical and nutraceutical supplements to support her body’s own functions to restore her to health under the close supervision of her oncologist with great success.

Most ovarian cancer patients are diagnosed at a late stage of the disease because there are few symptoms.  Due to the late stage of diagnosis, it is much more challenging to remain cancer free for the long term.  Using an approach that is a health model rather than a disease model, considering support for health and healing makes all the difference not only in quality of life, but also  years of healthy disease free life.

We used acupuncture, botanical and nutritional supplements,  specialized nutritional blood tests, anti-cancer dietary guidelines and lifestyle modifications to enhance immunity, healing and recovery and make it possible to cope with the stress effectively.

We encourage exercise as well as relaxation and sufficient sleep.  We recommend removing all toxic chemicals from the diet and home environment. We offer emotional support.  We encourage contemplative and spiritual engagement such as mediation and prayer.  We include the patient as a full partner in all decisions and respect the values of our patients so that the patient remains in control of her own life and healthcare decisions.

This woman is an example of a patient that fully engaged in her own healthcare, modifying her diet and lifestyle, coping with emotional and spiritual issues.  She took her supplements sometimes diligently and sometimes sporadically.  But now, having seen the difference in her markers and the quality of her health she is committed to the full program.   It is not easy, but it is certainly worth it for a mother of two beautiful sons with a loving husband and circle of friends to enjoy the health and energy and hope, instead of fatigue and fear that many cancer survivors face.

May this story inspire others to be proactive and engaged in their cancer journey understanding that the oncologist is focussed on disease and that there must also be a team that is focussed on health, longevity and wellbeing.  This team includes the patient, her significant others and her team of clinicians which may be knowledeable and  experienced professionals such as an acupuncturist, herbalist, nutritionist, yoga teacher, meditation instructor, trainer, holistic functional medicine physician, Mother Nature herself to name a few…. who know how to restore and  support healthy function and promote an anti-cancer life.  There is HEALTH and HEALING after cancer.