Cancer: A Survival Story Pt 3

Forward by Jennifer Dixon MBA ERYT 500 – This past summer, I had the pleasure of getting to know Marcia Dorris and her sweet daughters when they started coming to the studio.  Marcia and her best friend tried us out and, luckily enough for us, fell in love with Thrive Yoga and Wellness (and we will forever be grateful.) Always up for a challenge, Marcia would come to the studio, almost daily, with a smile and a look as if to say, “ok, now what are we gonna try?”  

As a teacher, I LOVE that.  🙂 (Because I love coming up with new and exciting ways to learn and teach things.)

When it came to my attention the tremendous situation that occurred in Marcia’s family while she was only just now becoming a part of the Thrive Family, it moved me.  I don’t believe in coincidences and I know that Marcia and her sweet family were here at the studio for a reason. A support network, even though a new one, is still a wonderful landing place.

I am blessed by her strength and grace under fire, and even more by her ability to cling to the hope that is  in her faith. It’s an inspiration to see how she has grown closer to God, her family, and to her Thrive Family through this challenging season.  It is an honor to help her spread her message. I hope you find hope, inspiration, and strength throughout this series of posts, and I ask for your continued prayers and thoughts for the Dorris Family.


Cancer: A Survival Story Part 3 – By Marcia Dorris

The typical American oncologist has been taught chemo radiation and surgery are the only viable options for cancer patients. I truly believe most oncology doctors believe this and have good intentions for you when they are pushing so hard for chemo.

As I said in the previous post our oncologist was pushing for chemo from the beginning even before we got the pathology report. My daughter however, told me pretty much from the start she did not want chemo. She is over 18 and therefore legally able to make her own medical decisions.

When we went to Vanderbilt I actually had the audacity to question the specialist. I’m not so sure she had ever had anyone push back quite as hard as I did but I had done plenty of research on chemo, cancer, diet, the effects of chemo on the body and natural treatment options.

If you have a cancer diagnosis the first thing I would do is to completely cut processed sugar out of your diet. Sugar feeds cancer cells. When my daughter had a PETSCAN they injected her with a radioactive sugar because cancer cells are drawn to the sugar and will light up if they are there. This is what the radiology tech told us. Although after the test they offered her a coke and a Little Debbie which infuriated me.

Back to the Vanderbilt specialist, my husband asked her if Kelsey needed to do anything special with her diet like cut sugar or processed foods. She said no just continue eating like she always has. Then she went on to say I know people say sugar is bad for cancer but there isn’t any proof of that. If that’s the case then why do they use radioactive SUGAR in the PETSCAN?

She also was pushing for chemo. My daughter had several tests to see if the cancer had spread or if there was anything left they could see. All the tests came back with no signs of cancer. Also the tumor they removed which we were told was extremely aggressive and fast growing had been there for 6-8 months and had not changed in size from the time she noticed it so it was hard for us to wrap our head around their diagnosis. The chemo they wanted to give her was some of the strongest they have and their course of treatment was every 2 weeks for 9-12 months. We kept looking at our healthy happy daughter and knew this could easily affect her for the rest of her life.

When we discussed this with the Vanderbilt specialist she said it was our only option. She also told us the many risks involved with it. The chemo was simply for preventative measures. Not to destroy something already there but to try to keep it from coming back. The chemo came with many risks and side effects. She would be at risk of developing permanent heart damage, her immune system would be destroyed, she would be at risk of getting sick from whatever viruses were going around, it would make her lose weight and be constantly sick at her stomach, she would lose her hair and she would also run the risk of developing secondary cancers specifically leukemia from the chemo. The Vanderbilt doctor said she thought the risk was worth it. She also told us she had never had anyone turn down chemo before and she knew she had given chemo to people who didn’t need it in the past. I have this recorded and saved on my phone.

My husband asked her what do we do if our daughter refuses chemo and her response was then take her, no drag her, to other doctors who will tell her the same thing and she will eventually believe it and give in to it. She even offered to make us an appointment with Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York. We opted not to do that.

In the meantime, we had talked to dozens of people who had either undergone chemo themselves or had a family member who did. All of them told us don’t do it. My own mother had chemo and was devastated at the thought of Kelsey having to go through it.

I knew in my gut trying to make her have chemo would not be a good thing. I can’t explain it but I knew chemo would be much more damaging to her than not having chemo would. I had researched sarcomas and Ewing’s sarcomas. The internet and disease is a frightening combination.

I was terrified of what was going to happen. Side note here: most doctors will tell you when you are diagnosed with something not to research it because it will scare you to death, our oncologist suggested I research this type of cancer on the internet. Something I did learn was chemo actually increased the chances of the sarcoma returning.

Another thing on the pathology report said was that this particular type of cancer was chemo resistant. I could not wrap my head around putting my daughter through a year of hell and torture for something that probably wouldn’t work, to begin with.  I had done so much research on alternative cancer treatments and really felt that was the route we needed to take.

I began getting calls from our local oncologist after our Vanderbilt visit. They would call to see if we had gotten her eggs harvested yet if not what day is the appointment. Once I told them no we have decided not to do chemo, the oncologist himself began calling me. My daughter thankfully had the foresight to tell them to call me and didn’t give them her phone number. He did everything he could to try to convince me to make her do chemo. He even went as far as to tell me if she doesn’t have chemo she will die.

I was on an emotional rollercoaster. I would be okay emotionally then I would get a call from the oncologist and I would have days of feeling terrified we had made the wrong choice. When I wasn’t dealing with him I felt complete peace with our decision. Eventually, my husband got tired of it and he talked to the oncologist and finally fired him as our doctor.

I have never experienced such high-pressure tactics as I did this summer with him. High-pressure car salesmen have nothing on this man. Our daughter is being treated but we did not seek the traditional medicine offered by most US oncologist and because of that our oncologist at the time believed we were doing nothing for her.

Going against medical advice is not for the faint-hearted. I’m not so sure I could have been as strong of an advocate for myself as I was for her but I knew in my heart we were doing what was in her best interest.  If you find yourself in a similar situation prepare yourself for a similar response. This situation I described is not an isolated incident. I have talked to many others who chose not to go the traditional route and have experienced the same kind of high-pressure tactics and for some, it was even harsher.

My next post will be about alternative options and the choice we made. If you would like to email me directly, please feel free!  I would love to offer you support and encouragement on your journey through this challenging season, or, I would be happy to discuss further the reasons we made our choices.