I met someone today that I admire more than I know how to express, a person who truly represents the meaning of life to me. With her permission, I will tell here the little I know of her amazing, courageous story.
Jennifer was the 34 year old mother of three children when she was diagnosed with systemic scleroderma, a rare autoimmune disease that involves tightening and hardening of skin and connective tissue.
Localized scleroderma involves the skin but typically does not significantly affect lifespan, while systemic scleroderma - the kind Jennifer was diagnosed with - also harms internal organs including the esophagus and digestive tract, kidneys, heart and lungs.
The prognosis for this form of scleroderma (SD) is not very good... folks with the CREST variety are typically quoted 12 years while those with diffuse SD are given 2-5. There is no cure for scleroderma.
As with most autoimmune diseases, traditional Western medicine has not determined "why" scleroderma happens or how to cure it. Descriptions of this disease may date all the way back to ancient Greek mythology, when the gods "turned people into stone" out of anger or jealousy.
Married to Jack and passionate about life, Jennifer wasn't about to take this kind of prognosis laying down. On her own she did a lot of research and discovered the Road Back Foundation and work of Dr. Thomas McPherson Brown who first isolated a bacteria without a cell wall called 'mycoplasma' in the joint fluid of rheumatoid arthritis patients.
Dr. Brown discovered that he could put his rheumatoid arthritis patients AND systemic scleroderma patients into permanent remission from their chronic, progressive autoimmune diseases using the same treatment... low-dose antibiotics given over several years.
During his career at the Veteran's Administration, George Washington University Medical School and ultimate position as Director of the Arthritis Institute at the National Hospital just outside of Washington, DC, Dr. Brown helped over 10,000 sufferers from autoimmune disease.
Followers of Dr. Brown's work believe that autoimmune disease is triggered by an infectious cause coupled with genetics, diet and environmental exposure to toxins. As described before in this blog, I myself believe in this theory and am currently on an antibiotic protocol for my autoimmune problems (triggered by lyme disease). My own bloodwork has come up positive for mycoplasma pneumoniae, borrelia burgdorferi and babesia microti... along with a healthy dose of group B strep. Lovely.
Jennifer faced stiff opposition from her doctor and rheumatologist when she mentioned Dr. Brown's protocol, since this antibiotic treatment was not widely known or accepted in the field. Still, she and her husband thought it made sense and decided to give it a try.
She found a rheumatologist who had personally trained with Dr. Brown and felt comfortable with the antibiotic protocol. Soon her treatment was under way.
A little more than three years later she says, "All my Scleroderma symptoms have gradually disappeared until I can't tell if I even have the disease anymore," although her scleroderma antibody blood test called the anti-Scl-70 continues to show that she is *very* positive.
Jennifer is considered by rheumatologists to be in complete remission. Her skin looks supple and one would never guess by looking at her that she contends with such an intense disease.
You might think that this is the end of my story about Jennifer ~ wouldn't it be plenty? Plenty to admire about such a brave, forward-thinking woman. After all, she has already fought for her life and won!
Yet, it is only the beginning.
A few months ago in December 2010, Jennifer learned that she has a new mountain to conquer: Cancer.
At 37 years old, Jennifer was told that she suffered from follicular lymphoma, a common type of Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma - a cancer from lymphocytes which are a type of white blood cell. This carries a slightly better outlook than diffuse systemic scleroderma, with a median survival rate of 10 years from diagnosis.
Once again, Jennifer was told: "There is no cure".
Jennifer and her husband Jack are fighters... and even more, they are researchers. They posted a sign on their bedroom door, "We Are At War!" and began to search for alternative treatments for the lymphoma, given the poor overall success rate of radiation and chemotherapy for this kind of cancer and her outstanding prior success with 'alternative' medicines. (Funny that one would call an antibiotic an alternative medicine!!!)
They have discovered mind-blowing, amazing research being conducted in Japan and Europe on an immune booster/cancer killer being used abroad as treatment ~ not only for cancer but also for HIV and autoimmune disease. This treatment is called GcMAF.
GcMAF is something our bodies produce naturally. In a normal 'healthy' person, the GcMAF sends macrophages out into our bloodstream to scour the blood for malignancies and eliminate them. Malignant cells (like cancers) send forth an enzyme called Nagalase to neutralize the GcMAF that we make, so that our macrophages never receive the call to battle. In this way, cancer suppresses the immune system and grows unchecked.
In 2008, Dr. Nobuto Yamamoto published this study showing a CURE for prostate cancer by activating the body's own immune system with injections of GcMAF made outside of the human body. Sixteen prostate cancer patients who were shown by CT scan to have significant amounts of metastasized tumor cells in the prostate, but who did not have signs of tumor lesions in other organs, received GcMAF exclusively through intramuscular injection once per week.
Their progress was checked by the measurement of Nagalase activity in their blood, since Nagalase is secreted by cancerous cells. After 14 to 25 weekly administrations of GcMAF, all 16 patients had very low Nagalase levels in their blood - equivalent to healthy controls - indicating that the patients were ALL tumor free.
Here is the kicker: No recurrence occurred over 7 years of follow-up.
Success with GcMAF has been reported by patients with many different types of cancers, along with other diseases that attack the immune system including HIV, Lupus, MS, Fibromyalgia and Parkinson's disease.
Other researchers are beginning to take their cue from Dr. Yamamoto's work, and GcMAF can be purchased from a few sources around the world - some in Europe, one in Israel. There is actually a long history of research around GcMAF - surprising that it is not more well known. (I could suggest pharmaceutical industry coverup, but I really don't know enough yet to understand why.) What I do know is that people have gone from dying to 'normal' and healthy using GcMAF - at least according to published research.
The most profound part of the way GcMAF works is that because it is YOUR BODY'S OWN IMMUNE SYSTEM that defeats the cancer, it is very unlikely to recur. Like with building immunity to any other illness - say, the chicken pox - your immune system remembers how to defeat that particular problem.
When Jennifer and Jack discovered GcMAF and analyzed the extensive research, they believed they had found the essential ingredient to add to her healing protocol.
She has now begun GcMAF therapy and to chronicle her journey with the new 'plan of attack' she is also writing a blog called "Cancer Will Not Win". I have read the blog from cover to cover and find her to be an incredible human being... so strong, so motivated, so courageous. Jennifer isn't just hoping for remission. That feisty lady is gunning for a CURE.
She is legendary in my book.
Only three months after undergoing open abdominal surgery and after just being diagnosed with cancer - WITH a PICC line in her right arm - Jennifer ran the Shamrock half-marathon (13.1 miles) in March, 2011.
"Almost everyone I knew thought I shouldn't run that race..." she shares on her site.
"The only ones who took me seriously were the ones who really know me... Running is what keeps me grounded, running is what keeps me going. Everyone should have something that keeps them going and helps them focus on the task at hand.
Whether you run or walk or do aerobics or Yoga you should do something, especially if you're sick. Exercise really helps boost the immune system. When I was out there in the cold running the Shamrock half marathon I couldn't think of anywhere else I would rather be and that is what running is for me."
I asked Jennifer if I could retell her story on my Year of Meaning blog because we can all use a little hope now and then! and I wanted to share her amazing journey toward wellness with my own children, family and friends.
I'm no longer worried that Jennifer's three children will lose their mother far too soon. I'm confident that her kids will feel even more strongly ten years from now that their mother is a heroic warrior who has shown them by example them how to HEAL, LIVE and THRIVE.
That girl's gonna be running marathons at 60! I truly believe it.