Rethinking Breast Health
by Lisa Marshall
When Sandy Messonnier was diagnosed with breast cancer, she faced scary treatment decisions as doctors pressured her to consider all means available. “I was more afraid of the treatment than the cancer itself,” says Messonnier, 52, of Plano, Texas. “I kept feeling like I was being lumped into one big category of all women that got breast cancer, rather than treated as an individual.”
With the help of her holistic veterinarian husband Shawn Messonnier, Sandy took a more measured approach, blending conventional and complementary medicine in an individualized protocol the couple describes in their book, Breast Choices for the Best Chances: Your Breasts, Your Life, and How You Can Win the Battle!
After careful consideration, Sandy opted for two lumpectomies three weeks apart, instead of a mastectomy, to remove the small tumor. Meanwhile, she drank green tea and took coriolus mushroom supplements to impede the spread of the cancer cells. She had a test to determine how the issue was likely to respond to various treatments. The results prompted her to decline chemotherapy and opt for a brief stint of radiation while taking the supplements quercetin and curcumin to help combat the fatigue and other side effects. Afterward, she cleansed her body with homeopathic mistletoe, milk thistle and other detoxifying supplements. Then she began the work of keeping cancer at bay.
“A lot of doctors never talk to you about what you are going to do after the poisoning [chemo], the burning and surgery,” she says. “Rather than taking a cancer-fighting drug, I chose to be more mindful of what I do with my body.”
Her regimen called for committing to keeping up with the healthy diet, regular walks, yoga and Pilates that she believes helped keep the cancer relatively mild to begin with. But she also made some life changes to address the one thing she believes may have driven the outbreak in the first place—stress. She made peace with an estranged mother, began to cultivate a spiritual life and now takes time to meditate or walk when she feels even lightly stressed. She also vowed to keep the fear of recurrence from overwhelming her. “Many women never stop worrying about it,” she observes. “That is toxic energy you are putting back into your body.”
As of this October, Messonnier will be five years cancer-free. Her advice for women newly diagnosed with breast cancer: “Chemotherapy, radiation and mastectomy are not among the right choices for all women. There are other options, depending on the type of cancer. Don’t be so fearful that you make hasty decisions you don’t need to make.”