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Survivors start HealingStrong in Gainesville
HealingStrong1
HealingStrong group leader Christine Holcomb, right, Lynn Kearns, left, and Marsha Dickey meet at the Natural Juice Cafe to chat over some healthy juice drinks. The volunteer-based nonprofit is a cancer resource organization educating, connecting and encouraging those seeking comprehensive, natural strategies to heal strong and stay strong.

HealingStrong
What: A cancer resource organization educating, connecting and encouraging those seeking comprehensive, natural strategies to heal strong and stay strong
When: First Tuesday of the month; next meeting Nov. 1
Where: Natural Juice Cafe, 2480 Limestone Parkway, Gainesville
More info: christine@healingstrong.com or www.healingstrong.org

The doctor utters the words “you’ve got breast cancer.”

 

Then comes the treatment options. In some cases, chemotherapy and radiation are a mandatory next step.

But for others, such as Christine Holcomb, Lynn Kearns and Marsha Dickey, the idea of injecting themselves with the poisonous substances didn’t sit right. Instead, the trio chose alternative options.

Holcomb chose to have a double mastectomy, while Kearns and Dickey chose radiation at first and changed to controlling their diets and exercise to battle their cancers.

Now, the women run the HealingStrong chapter in Gainesville. Part of its mission is to show people how to make the decision about treatment for themselves. The group meets every first Tuesday of the month at Natural Juice Cafe, 2480 Limestone Parkway, in Gainesville.

Each woman’s journey, though, started with a cancer diagnosis.

CHRISTINE HOLCOMB

Holcomb found out she had breast cancer five years ago.

“It was a lot of panic and fear,” she said.

She visited three surgeons after her diagnosis, weighing her options with doctors who were fans of the “gotta get it cut out” method, Holcomb said. But her daughter begged her to see general and plastic surgeon Dr. Grant Carlson at Emory Hospital in Atlanta.

“He did it all,” she said.

All included an oncotype DX test, which determined Holcomb’s cancer was on the line between needing chemo and not. She explained the test is based on thousands of genes of cancer patients and is designed to predict how cancer is likely to behave.

Insurance doesn’t normally cover the costs for the test, but  Kearns had the test. She said it cost her $3,000 out of her own pocket.

Based on this information, Holcomb decided against chemotherapy, even though her family was pressuring her to do so.

“My (alternative) health journey started after (refusing chemo),” she said.

Holcomb said it was a slow process, and she didn’t completely change her lifestyle overnight.

She started off with changing how she was eating, which led to changing how she exercised and the other things she was putting into her body. She now uses chemical-free makeup, for example.


LYNN KEARNS

Kearns’ battle with breast cancer started seven years when she found a lump in her breast.

It wasn’t the first time the Gainesville woman discovered a lump. It was in a place where the 62-year-old previously had one at age 20.

A mammogram without an ultrasound came back with negative results. But Kearns was not convinced.

“If you’ve got a palpable lump, insist on an ultrasound,” she said.

For her, the mass had all the signs of being benign, but specialists in Atlanta biopsied the mass. They called her to tell her the news — she had cancer.

Kearns demanded a second and third opinion and eventually called Duke University.

“Everything fell in place,” she said.

 

The doctor spoke with her for 45 minutes on the phone to plan her appointments. There wasn’t a rush to get the tumor out of her body like at most other places. This gave her time to inform herself about her condition before making any big decisions.

“Your body will tell you what’s right,” Kearns said. “You need to find a doctor you have a connection with.”

She traveled to Duke and met with her surgeon, radiologist and oncologist. The trio tracked her progress from appointment to appointment.

“They all communicated with each other, which is rare,” she said.

Once Kearns received her results, she learned her cancer was on the border of needing chemo treatments. She decided against it. Her tumor was small, low grade and slow-growing, meaning it wasn’t as aggressive as other types.

The Gainesville woman, however, elected to go through 20 days of radiation.

After that, she vowed to clean up her diet, change the sources of the food she was eating to organic or as local as she could get it, and implement an exercise regimen, among other things.

Kearns is now cancer-free.


MARSHA DICKEY

Nine years ago, Dickey chose to treat her breast cancer with surgery.

“My cancer was caused by chemo I had in ’04,” she said.

But Dickey never felt fear toward her diagnosis, just the need to get rid of it. She did with a double mastectomy.

Next, she decided to help her body recover from the ordeal. She began taking supplements, such as pancreatic enzymes, and studied the dietary side of alternative healing methods.

“I was doing fine,” the 72-year-old said. “I never felt bad.”

A book called “Knockout” by Suzanne Somers led her to a doctor in New York who helped her. He prescribed a fish-based diet, which was especially suited for her. 

Detoxing is a huge part of Dickey’s treatment plan.

“It flushes out all the bad stuff,” she said.

She gives herself coffee enemas regularly to help balance out the chemicals she ingests on a daily basis.


HEALING METHODS AFTER CANCER

 

All three women say to have a successful recovery from cancer, one must follow six key elements: diet, nutrition, supplements, detox, exercise and mental and spiritual wellness.

Not only should these keys be used for recovery, but they should be used for the rest of your life to stay healthy.

“Food is the biggest block to get people to understand,” Holcomb said. “They need to know what they put in their bodies affects them.”

Diet and nutrition go hand in hand. Eating whole or real food is important for healing, they said.

Dickey, Kearns and Holcomb all take different kinds of supplements.

“It’s a very individual thing,” Kearns said.

Though, they said, across the board most cancer patients have low vitamin D. Other popular supplements include magnesium, calcium, vitamins K2 and C.

Detoxing can be done with saunas, enemas, salt and soda baths and breathing exercises.

Exercises used can include yoga, walking or swimming. Skin brushing or massages also can help stimulate your lymph nodes and rebounding with a small trampoline can help work out every cell in your body.

And finally, mental and spiritual wellness can be achieved through prayer, reading or meditation, as well as an overall attitude change.

 

Some of these practices are discussed at their monthly meetings, which are set up to educate, not to prescribe methods of healing.

BY HAILEY VAN PARYShvanparys@gainesvilletimes.comThe doctor utters the words “you’ve got breast cancer.”Then comes the treatment options. In some cases, chemotherapy and radiation are a mandatory next step.But for others, such as Christine Holcomb, Lynn Kearns and Marsha Dickey, the idea of injecting themselves with the poisonous substances didn’t sit right. Instead, the trio chose alternative options.Holcomb chose to have a double mastectomy, while Kearns and Dickey chose radiation at first and changed to controlling their diets and exercise to battle their cancers. Now, the women run the HealingStrong chapter in Gainesville. Part of its mission is to show people how to make the decision about treatment for themselves. The group meets every first Tuesday of the month at Natural Juice Cafe, 2480 Limestone Parkway, in Gainesville.Each woman’s journey, though, started with a cancer diagnosis.CHRISTINE HOLCOMBHolcomb found out she had breast cancer five years ago. “It was a lot of panic and fear,” she said.She visited three surgeons after her diagnosis, weighing her options with doctors who were fans of the “gotta get it cut out” method, Holcomb said. But her daughter begged her to see general and plastic surgeon Dr. Grant Carlson at Emory Hospital in Atlanta. “He did it all,” she said.All included an oncotype DX test, which determined Holcomb’s cancer was on the line between needing chemo and not. She explained the test is based on thousands of genes of cancer patients and is designed to predict how cancer is likely to behave.Insurance doesn’t normally cover the costs for the test, but  Kearns had the test. She said it cost her $3,000 out of her own pocket.Based on this information, Holcomb decided against chemotherapy, even though her family was pressuring her to do so.“My (alternative) health journey started after (refusing chemo),” she said.Holcomb said it was a slow process, and she didn’t completely change her lifestyle overnight. She started off with changing how she was eating, which led to changing how she exercised and the other things she was putting into her body. She now uses chemical-free makeup, for example.LYNN KEARNSKearns’ battle with breast cancer started seven years when she found a lump in her breast.It wasn’t the first time the Gainesville woman discovered a lump. It was in a place where the 62-year-old previously had one at age 20. A mammogram without an ultrasound came back with negative results. But Kearns was not convinced.“If you’ve got a palpable lump, insist on an ultrasound,” she said.For her, the mass had all the signs of being benign, but specialists in Atlanta biopsied the mass. They called her to tell her the news — she had cancer.Kearns demanded a second and third opinion and eventually called Duke University.“Everything fell in place,” she said.The doctor spoke with her for 45 minutes on the phone to plan her appointments. There wasn’t a rush to get the tumor out of her body like at most other places. This gave her time to inform herself about her condition before making any big decisions.“Your body will tell you what’s right,” Kearns said. “You need to find a doctor you have a connection with.”She traveled to Duke and met with her surgeon, radiologist and oncologist. The trio tracked her progress from appointment to appointment. “They all communicated with each other, which is rare,” she said.Once Kearns received her results, she learned her cancer was on the border of needing chemo treatments. She decided against it. Her tumor was small, low grade and slow-growing, meaning it wasn’t as aggressive as other types.The Gainesville woman, however, elected to go through 20 days of radiation. After that, she vowed to clean up her diet, change the sources of the food she was eating to organic or as local as she could get it, and implement an exercise regimen, among other things.Kearns is now cancer-free.MARSHA DICKEYNine years ago, Dickey chose to treat her breast cancer with surgery.“My cancer was caused by chemo I had in ’04,” she said.But Dickey never felt fear toward her diagnosis, just the need to get rid of it. She did with a double mastectomy.Next, she decided to help her body recover from the ordeal. She began taking supplements, such as pancreatic enzymes, and studied the dietary side of alternative healing methods. “I was doing fine,” the 72-year-old said. “I never felt bad.”A book called “Knockout” by Suzanne Somers led her to a doctor in New York who helped her. He prescribed a fish-based diet, which was especially suited for her.  Detoxing is a huge part of Dickey’s treatment plan.“It flushes out all the bad stuff,” she said.She gives herself coffee enemas regularly to help balance out the chemicals she ingests on a daily basis.HEALING METHODS AFTER CANCERAll three women say to have a successful recovery from cancer, one must follow six key elements: diet, nutrition, supplements, detox, exercise and mental and spiritual wellness.Not only should these keys be used for recovery, but they should be used for the rest of your life to stay healthy.“Food is the biggest block to get people to understand,” Holcomb said. “They need to know what they put in their bodies affects them.”Diet and nutrition go hand in hand. Eating whole or real food is important for healing, they said. Dickey, Kearns and Holcomb all take different kinds of supplements. “It’s a very individual thing,” Kearns said.Though, they said, across the board most cancer patients have low vitamin D. Other popular supplements include magnesium, calcium, vitamins K2 and C.Detoxing can be done with saunas, enemas, salt and soda baths and breathing exercises.Exercises used can include yoga, walking or swimming. Skin brushing or massages also can help stimulate your lymph nodes and rebounding with a small trampoline can help work out every cell in your body. And finally, mental and spiritual wellness can be achieved through prayer, reading or meditation, as well as an overall attitude change.Some of these practices are discussed at their monthly meetings, which are set up to educate, not to prescribe methods of healing.

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