Glenn's Cancer Journey
On April 23, 2018 our world was turned upside-down when my husband and soul mate of 29 years finally had his tonsils removed, well partially removed. The doctor came in right before the procedure and bluntly stated that his scans looked like there was a tumor that was cancerous. You know that cold sweat and the feeling like you need to be strong and not pass out? Yep, that was it! How could this be? He just had an extensive physical, blood work and EKG done for insurance purposes. The results came back as excellent with perfect blood pressure, no heart or glucose problems, just fantastic results.
Shortly before the surgery his speech became slightly slurred and his tongue was being affected by the constant swelling and pain in his tonsils. He had issues with his tonsils being inflamed during allergy season and was always advised against removal, especially as a child in the late 1960s, according to his mother who was a nurse.
Our advice, although we are not medical doctors - if you have chronic issues, pain and/or infections with your tonsils as a child or adult, seriously consider having them removed. Doctors warn about how bad it can be for adults to have their tonsils out. Whatever? It was 5 days of a bad sore throat and nothing compared to the next 3-4 months of hell we experienced!
Now, there are 2 types of tonsil cancer, one is caused by the HPV virus and the other is from not having your tonsils removed as a kid, which is much harder to cure. We were informed that it looked like the HPV virus version the doctor had seen in his experience and that it had a 95% cure rate. Well, that was good news until the biopsies and further scans revealed it was from still having his lifelong problematic tonsils. The scan showed that the tumor was half way across his tongue, wrapped around vital nerves, a salivary gland and one lymph node. Of course, there was no surgery to remove it and it was now diagnosed as stage 4 tonsil cancer.
This was the last thing we expected since he is of exceptional health. Thankfully, his PET Scan showed the cancer did not spread to other areas of the body. However, Glenn is a sales manager and part-time pastor who obviously needs to speak for both! He has the most amazing laugh, something he is now getting back! At his 3 week check up, the doctor reported the tumors are shrinking and he progressed faster than expected.
So what did we do?
First off, we joined hands with our 18 year old daughter and prayed and thanked the Lord we live in a time where there are treatment options. All three of us have had peace that surpasses understanding through all of this and trust that there is a greater plan in effect that will one day make perfect sense. Our daughter just left to go off to college and has handled this like a boss. I can't imagine what it must be like at that age seeing her big, strong father go through this process, but we all stayed strong!
Secondly, we found an amazing juicer on Amazon for $99 called the Breville BJE200XL Compact Juicer. I juiced organic fruits and vegetables consisting of 5 pounds of carrots, 3 pounds of apples and 2 cucumbers weekly. I made Kale Smoothies each day for him. The recipe is at the end of this blog and no you can't taste the kale!! He ate a high protein diet and LOTS of ice cream to keep on as much weight as possible to avoid a feeding tube during treatment - and he never had to get that feeding tube!
I wish I could say that we had time for a more natural approach, but it progressed faster than we could work out alternative options. The only treatment we could were presented with was 33 intense radiation treatments Monday-Friday for 6 1/2 weeks. Since his rate of survival dropped to 38%, we were advised to have him undergo 3 mid-range chemotherapy treatments to increase his survival rate by another 20%. This was the last thing we wanted him to go through. But we decided time was ticking quickly and felt out of options at this rapid pace.
He had the chemotherapy treatments every 3 weeks with some nausea and basically slept it off for 3 days. The second treatment was for about an hour since his electrolytes were so good from drinking the juice, smoothies and tons of water, they didn't need to flush his system through IVs. Amazingly he chose to stay at his day job until the last week of treatment and then took 2 weeks off to recuperate.
One of the other important steps in his treatment was for me to develop some intensive skin care to counter the horrific burns from 33 radiation treatments.
Sweet Life Spa's Burn Serum And Spray
As a wife, mother and care giver, I had to do anything I could to make his journey easier to deal with. Radiation is extremely harsh on the skin resulting in deep burns, blisters, sagging, itching, acne, dermatitis with red to purple and black skin with permanent scars. I was bound and determined to keep his skin as calm as possible and succeeded with ingredients from nature that have stood the test of time.
Glenn took our "Sweet Relief" Burn Spray with him to each treatment to use immediately after radiation to help stop the burning as soon as possible. As soon as he got home he used the "Sweet Relief" Burn Serum. We live just 15 minutes from the Sedona Cancer Center and he felt the spray was enough for the drive back home. He repeated this 3-5 times a day on clean skin with unbelievable results. The staff at Sedona Cancer Center were blown away by how well his skin was doing each week. We have provided photos below.
The last day of treatment was July 20. On that day he was standing next to a man that had undergone the same treatment plan that Glenn did. This man's skin was hanging at least 2" below his jawline and was severely blistered and bright purple and black. Glenn had some redness, hyper-pigmentation and nasty clusters of blisters mainly concentrated in his neck and collar bone area at week 6. We only included the most severe photos in week 6 at the end of this post.
Also, Glenn wasn't putting the spray or serum down that far, nor was he using it as much on the left side of his face and neck. He didn't realize how much the radiation was being used on the left since the tumor was on the right side. I guess as a woman, we automatically massage our skincare throughout the area we are focusing on, so I never thought to be certain he was doing this! You will see some extra hyper-pigmentation on the left side at week 3 because of this, but now that has evened out to his normal tan skin tone.
Another noteworthy experience was in week 5, he had a 3" black strip at his jawline in the evening. I thought "oh great, here we go with the black skin. Where did I go wrong with the formula?" I was shocked because the next morning that black area was gone! The area was white and peeling slightly and went back closer to his natural skin tone that week! This absolutely blew me away - I was thrilled! I couldn't wait to fill the need to share this with everyone going through this process.
Typical radiation therapy burns often require narcotics for pain relief, so to help others keep their skin as soothed as possible is really, really important to me. I only wish that I would have had it in the hands of the man Glenn saw on his last day of treatment. Click the photo below or visit SweetLifeSpa.com for more information on our Burn Spray, Serum and Set.
Organic "Sweet Relief" Burn Serum And Spray Set
Both alcohol, synthetic and sulfate free formulas contain Organic Aloe Vera and Wild Harvested botanical ingredients with a focus on antibacterial, soothing, rejuvenating and skin softening properties. We do not add any harsh ingredients or purchase our anything from China, including our packaging, ensuring purity. I am happy to report that Glenn never did get the dreaded acne, dermatitis or deep red, purple or charred black skin that is so common with radiation.
Additionally, the spray doubles as an odor and excessive oiliness reducing hair spritz with herbs that are known to reduce hair fall and promote growth. The serum is enriched with Olive Squalane and uplifting essential oils that draw it in to the skin quickly so you can dress and get out the door with less dry time. These products are handcrafted and offered at an amazing price point for their quality, are super concentrated and long lasting. We offer the two together as a set as they are best used together. This set makes the perfect get well gift for anyone that is about to undergo radiation.
Please note that we are not claiming that our products cure or prevent any type of disease or medical condition. Most importantly, these products are not to be used without your doctors knowledge, on open wounds or before an actual radiation treatment. They are after burn products and are fantastic for sunburns and kitchen burns as well. Other test subjects have used the set for soothing bright red sunburns when they forgot to use sunscreen. They also love the tart Lemon Drop scent and the fact their skin never peeled and the burns disappeared quickly.
Other Helpful Tips We Found Through Treatment
- Everything tastes like metal by week 3. Gargling with Pink Himalayan Sea Salt in warm water helps neutralize this. Some people add baking soda to the solution as well.
- Get your weight up as much as possible before treatments. Get a case of high calorie protein shakes, organic if possible, or Boost and Ensure type shakes. These will most likely have no flavor by week 3, but you must keep as much weight on as possible.
- Papaya Leaf and Astragalus Teas are known to protect healthy cells during treatment. Astaglalus Tea has a funky smell and taste, but is said to increase survival rates by an additional 20% breaking down the protein that cancer cells have that gives them their power. We added Organic maple syrup to disguise the flavor somewhat. Do your own research on this to see if it is something you want to incorporate. These teas are available at health food stores often in bulk.
- Avoid fast food and bulk up on healthy protein, vegetables, fruits and good fats like avocados and olive oil.
- Drink 8 ounces of water for each 20 pounds of body weight you have.
- Eat foods that you normally don't like for the flavor once your taste buds are pretty much gone. Glenn dislikes salmon, but enjoyed it with drawn butter and in alfredo sauce over pasta. Roasted chicken and mashed potatoes with gravy and french dip sandwiches were main stays in our house during the last 3 weeks. Cereal in instant carnation breakfast, fried eggs and scrambled eggs with cheese were fantastic options for breakfast. Always make sure you are including protein with high carbs to keep muscle mass. Kraft Mac and Cheese Spirals isn't something we normal would eat, but it provided numerous lunches with a bit of chopped ham or hamburger in it.
- Avoid alcohol and sulfates in your skin care routine. They are known to dehydrate the skin and throw off your pH levels. The last thing you need is extra dryness and irritation going through treatment. We have synthetic-free skincare of all kinds on our website and are currently working on a men's line and body wash to be released soon.
- Use natural laundry detergent and dryer sheets to keep your skin as free from irritation as possible. Personally, I find Mrs. Meyer's Honeysuckle formula to be the most effective "more natural" cleansers for dish soap, laundry needs and kitchen and bathroom cleaners. We also really like Biokleen Citrus Laundry Liquid and Stoneworks Dryer Sheets. These are all available on Amazon. We have no affiliation with Amazon or the brands listed by the way.
- Binge on comedic sitcoms and movies on Netflix. Get some good books and relax.
- Nap as often as needed. Sleep is your body's way of healing itself.
- Remember that this too shall pass. Stay positive and tough and surround yourself with the ones that lift you up in your time of need! Ask for help when you need it.
Kale Smoothie Recipe
1 Cup Whole Milk, Frozen Yogurt or Ice Cream (Cow, Rice, Cashew, Almond) Or Fruit or Carrot Juice Or Hibiscus Tea
1 Cup Greek Yogurt (Whole Fat, Plain, Non Sugar Added)
1 Cup Frozen Organic Fruit (Strawberries, Raspberries, Blueberries, Peaches, Papaya, Mango or Pineapple)
2 Cups Organic Kale or Spinach
1-3 Tablespoons Organic Stevia, Honey or Agave Syrup
Optional: One Half Scoop Organic Protein Powder, especially if using juice or tea instead of dairy. Keep in mind that your body can only assimilate 25 grams of protein at a time and will pass the rest.
Whirl all ingredients in a high powered blender on high for 1 minute or until it is smooth and creamy. This will make 2-3 16 ounce smoothies for breakfast, lunch or a snack.
Day 33 - Last Day Of Cancer Radiation Treatment With Blisters
Day 39 - 6 Days After His Last Cancer Radiation Treatment
We have only included the photos from his last days of cancer radiation treatment when the extremely painful blisters started to appear in the last week. You can see that below his jaw the area is lighter in color. That is where the blackness was, that was gone overnight. Day 39 was the last day of redness and the blisters popped. With 48 hours, they crusted over and fade to white. Early the next week there was no indication that he even had radiation treatments, other than a white cross shaped area that was flat and a very faint white color, which as of early October is now back to his natural skin color. His skin was smooth, tightened and extremely soft at 2 weeks after the last day of cancer radiation treatments. You will find the spray, serum and set at SweetLifeSpa.com under Organic Body Care and Organic Sun Care.
As of his Glenn's last doctor's appointment, 1 month after treatment, the doctor stated he was doing way better than expected and everything was looking GREAT! The final scans will be done mid-October. As of early September, he has gotten back to preaching twice a month and his voice is quite clear with little pain considering! He has gained 11 pounds and continues to drink the carrot juice blend and kale smoothies. Thankfully, he was able to taste food again a couple weeks after the last treatment! His PET scan came back on November 4th with great news. More than 80% of the areas have shrunk. He will have an appointment next week with the ENT to assess if there needs to be any surgery or if it will be completely gone by itself. Yea! As of November 15 th, the ENT said what he is seeing is dead tissue and not cancer! No surgery or further treatment is necessary!!
The following verses were helpful for Glenn and we want to share them with you:
Romans 8:28 - And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Psalm 46:1 & 2 - God is our refuge, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the mountains may be carried into the midst of the sea.