I posted a photo on Facebook of me sitting in a chair with an IV in my arm a few weeks back. I had just received a discouraging news about a lab report and took a picture of me taking a proactive, albeit alternative approach (Chelation Therapy) to that news. I’ve gotten a lot of questions since that post, so I decided to share what I’ve learned in my blog.
First of all, I’m not sick. I’m not doing chemotherapy. I haven’t relapsed. Chelation therapy doesn’t make me lose my hair. It doesn’t damage healthy cells in my body. It is most widely used in both traditional and alternative medicine for people experiencing heavy metal toxicity, but is a lesser-known treatment for my particular situation. I’ve chosen to do chelation therapy to indirectly help strengthen my body's defenses against my estrogen-dominant breast cancer
If you’re new to my journey, I was diagnosed with stage 1 ER+/PR+ Invasive Ductal Carcinoma on March of 2014. I’ve approached my treatment as I felt it best for me, opting for a double mastectomy but then opting out of any radiation or taking Tamoxifen. I use nutrition, yoga, and alternative medicine to heal myself. It feels right for me. (For more information on my new health habits, check out my "10 Tips for Optimal Health.")
Just after my breast cancer diagnosis, on the advice of my naturopathic doctor Dr. Mark Carney, I had some genetic testing done through a company called wwwww.23andme.com and found that I have a mutation from both my mom and dad that prevents my body from producing optimal levels of catechol-O-methyltransferase, or COMT. Long story short, COMT is necessary in the conversion of active estrogen/estradiol (4-OHE1) into a weaker, less active form estriol (4-MeOE1).
Since I have low levels of COMT, I have higher levels of estradiol (the active form of estrogen), which unfortunately provides a wonderful environment for my estrogen-positive cancer to thrive. This is simply not acceptable.
Based on these results, Dr. Carney suggested I test for heavy metals. High levels of metals interfere with the body's ability to produce COMT, and for me, indirectly adds to the already-present problem of weak conversion of the strong estrogen to its inactive form. In other words, the presence of heavy metals makes my already inadequate COMT even more feeble.
Chelation therapy is way to remove heavy metals such as lead, mercury, copper, iron, and aluminum from the body. Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) and Dimercapto propanesulfonic acid (DMPS), when injected through IV through the bloodstream, bind to the heavy metals which are then eliminated from the body through the urine. The theory is that if we remove the heavy metals, the body is then freed up to do the job it’s supposed to do.
The test is simple. I receive the chelating compounds EDTA or DMPS through an IV saline solution and then collect my urine for a recommended length of time. A lab analyzes and detects the levels of heavy metals that have attached to the chelating compounds and sends the report to my doc. He and I go over the report and put together a treatment plan.
My tests came back with high levels of MERCURY, LEAD, and ALUMINUM…??? How I got these high levels of heavy metals is up for debate. Mercury due to amalgam fillings? Lead due to old house paint and old toys? Aluminum due to antiperspirants? I may never know.
So Dr. Carney prescribed a series of chelation treatments—ten of them to start—that would rid my body of these excess metals and hopefully get me back on track with the metabolizing of my estrogens.
The treatment takes about an hour. I relax in a soft, overstuffed chair and the nurse, Stephanie (great name!), puts an IV into my arm leading to a bag of saline solution. She then adds a cocktail of vitamins (B1, B5, B6, B12, B complex; Vitamin C, magnesium, potassium; calcium EDTA, and DMPS) in an additional bag feeding into the saline drip. I don’t feel any side effects during the treatment, but do feel nauseated when she pushes glutathione into my line at the end for a boost of antioxidant. I am able to drive myself home afterward, no problem, and then just take it easy that night, making sure I stay hydrated.
I wish I could tell you that my medical insurance covers all of this, but it doesn’t even cover some of it. Out of pocket, these tests and treatments cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars. It is definitely the easier choice financially to go the traditional medicine path, but it just doesn’t feel right to me to put pharmaceuticals into my body that have serious side effects, especially with long-term exposure.
I wish I would have known that I have the COMT mutation and the heavy metals in my body much, much earlier. What if I’d known this when I was a young adult? What if our medical system provided testing for everyone as they approached adulthood? We would be motivated to be proactive in our health care, utilizing chelation therapy, clean eating, making better lifestyle choices. Way in advance of any illness or disease.
I’m not saying I could have prevented my cancer, but what if I could have prevented my cancer? What if YOU could prevent cancer from happening to you? These are the questions we need to be asking our doctors before disaster strikes us or our loved ones.
If you’re interested in learning about some of the basic steps I’m taking to strengthen my immune system, decrease inflammation, and heal myself, check out my "10 Tips for Optimal Health."
Simple. Easy. Crucial.
Thanks for your time.