In response to these questions from another metastatic breast cancer patient...
1. Do I quit chemo and go the natural route and hope that my tumors are slow enough moving that ?
2. Do I keep doing the chemo that I hate, and push through and do all the natural goodness along with it?
3. Do I look into clinical trials, and do the chemo that way, and along with it do the acupuncture and juicing and diet like I have been doing.
Tough one. I'm going to tell you what I do, but not make a recommendation.
I've repeated chemotherapy three times, and expect to repeat it in the future. I've fought HARD for a chemo that doesn't cause side effects I don't want. I'm currently on paclitaxel-NAB, which I know I have a response to, AND doesn't cause much neuropathy. (BTW, I understand that it's not the taxol drugs that actually cause the neuropathy, but the solvent - ie petrochemical, that they are delivered WITH. LOVELY. Taxols don't cross the cell wall very easily.) I have a very aggressive cancer cell, and think that western medicine is part of the solution for me.
I don't follow any sort of strict version of juicing and cleansing. I'm firmly convinced that cancer is an autoimmune disease, and that all the western meds exacerbate that - whack the hell out of your immune system, and then hope that you can come back from half dead. It's amazing to me that our systems are strong enough that we can DO this - not just once, but repeatedly. So anything I can do to boost my immune system during and between times, I do.
I try to listen VERY carefully to my body and it's cravings. Right now I crave fish and shellfish - and I'm dealing with brain mets. Omega-3 fatty acids! Strange trace minerals in shellfish! I ordered shellfish the other day at a chinese restaurant...and I ATE THE SHELLS. Pretty soon I'm going to be eating ants off the benches in the park, or something even more completely random. Whatever. If I really need formic acid, well, so be it.
Lots and lots of exercise. I started ballet about three years ago, and age 42, and a year later started dancing on pointe shoes. I'm heavy, tired, and I have crap knees, and there is nothing in the world that will get me out of bed like Thursday's class, when I get to wear those magic pink shoes. I swear I should cover them with sequins as well - drag queen pointe shoes. Find some kind of dance or exercise that you adore, and can get completely addicted to.
I was diagnosed when my daughter was six. She is now twelve, and I was just diagnosed for the fourth time - second brain met, which we refer to as Brain Squid. (The first one was bigger, this is just a baby squid.) So I'm having gamma knife radiation for the second time in November. A certain amount of my decision making is based on my daughter, and her age. I will throw anything and everything available to me at this cancer beastie until she is 18. And recently survivor statistics for metastatic babes like us have gone way up. Instead of 3% alive after 15 years, we are up to almost 19 percent! Go team! So now instead of gunning for another six years, I'm going for at LEAST 15.
I also recently got in touch with Stanford, to look into clinical trials. (I live outside of Sacramento, so I have many fancy cancer centers nearby - Sutter, Stanford, UCSF, etc.) Not so much because I'm running out of options, but because there are few enough of us that are longer term survivors of MBC that I make an excellent guinea pig.
If I stop responding to paclitaxel, next things in line are Gemzar and heavy metals, like cisplatinum. Yick. But any of us who have survived with mets for more than two years are ALREADY beating the odds. That means you ALREADY HAVE figured out something that you are doing that the DOCS haven't. So most of all, trust your own intuition about what you need, and what you want. I also believe in getting advice before I decide, but once you've made a decision, ask for pure support from those around you, even if they don't agree.
Wishing you all the best,