Dede Miller Beating Cancer Everyday
Near the end of April 2015, I found out by an email message from my sister, friend, and peace comrade Dede Miller that she had a lump on her right breast (the size of 1/2 a tennis ball) that had erupted and bled copiously. Dede lived in L.A. County with our brother who rushed her to the ER when her lump began to hemorrhage.
Through subsequent tests and doctor visits, she was diagnosed with (at that point) Stage 3 "triple-negative" breast cancer (TNB). Triple-negative breast cancer is rare for Dede's age and race, but is more common in young women of color. "Triple-negative" refers to the fact that there are no hormone (progesterone, estrogen, HER 2) receptors and does not respond to the prevailing treatment option for women whose breast cancer is hormonal. The more research I did on TNBC, the more depressed I became. Also, Stage 3 is not a good stage to begin treatment with. Also, I was dismayed to learn that Dede had been hiding the fact she had an alien growing on her chest for a year and a half.
Dede has been working with me off and on (mostly on) since Casey died on April 04, 2004. After Camp Casey in 2005, she quit her "day job" (personnel director for a local K-Mart) and worked full-time for/with me. I have been responsible for her pay for all these years and as War Tax Resisters, we have tried to live simply and under the radar, so health insurance was almost impossible and we are both opposed to the fascist aspects of "Obamacare." (Being forced under penalty of fines to purchase insurance from a private company IS NOT heathcare--it's corporate welfare). So, Dede was advised by the ER doctor she saw to get involved at USC-LAC (USC-LA County) Medical Center for care.
I would travel down to LA (about 6 1/2 hours south of my home) for her appointments. Each appointment took a minimum of three hours---usually more and that was just for exams. If she had a test, it was even longer. I would sit in the waiting room with her watching the other women with cancer. USC-LAC resembled many jails I have been in, with not a lot of seating and quiet despair as the prevailing emotion: Women with scarves around their bald heads leaning up against walls and that was AFTER we healthy ones had already given up our seats. The rush to the snack cart which wheeled in every so often to sell processed carcinogens to people who already had cancer broke my heart---I wanted to scream in frustration and even talked to one of Dede's doctors about it who told me that it was "Okay" for people going through chemo to eat whatever they wanted to "keep up their weight." He sputtered some bullshit when I asked him if it were also possible to keep weight on eating healthy food (I am a perfect example of that).
The ultimate insult from USC-LAC came when Dede was in the chair at the chemo center getting ready for her first treatment when she was pulled out and sent to the financial office where she was told she would not be receiving treatment because she had the "wrong" Medi-cal provider. She was sent home to die and it made me wonder when insurance scofflaws will just be summarily executed for their transgressions? Dede phoned me and we decided she may as well come up to Vacaville to visit us and we could see if we could get her into a county hospital up here for treatment.
When she arrived here in mid-June, I was shocked at the degradation of her health and energy. A friend suggested we phone an integrative health doctor in Sebastopol, CA (Dr. Brian Bouch) and he immediately put her on some supplements (more later) and gave her an infusion of 50,000 IUs of Vitamin C. On the way home from that appointment, Dede felt the tumor recoiling in a good way, and Dr. Bouch and his colleagues became an integral part of Dede's recovery. Some dear friends of ours offered to pay for her visits to Dr. Bouch's office and are also an integral part of Dede's cure.
Dede's tumor began to bleed badly on June 22nd, and I rushed her to the ER here in Vacaville which is connected to North Bay health and she was immediately admitted and transferred to the big hospital in Fairfield where she was given the care she needed at that time. Her ER doctor pooh-poohed the fact she didn't have "the right kind of Medi-cal" saying, "You need help and it's the right thing to do."
During her first stay at the hospital, she had a test done which confirmed that the cancer had spread to soft tissue near her esophagus and she was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma a "metastasis" and she was downgraded to "Stage 4-incurable." Well, never say never to a Miller.
Since June, she has lived with me and her care has consisted of chemo for 20 weeks and visiting Dr. Bouch in Sebastopol about once a week for Vitamin C infusions and nutrition/supplement counseling.
Dede had a PET scan on December 5 and this past week we found out that she is completely cancer free (metastasis gone) except for her breast tumor and she meets with a surgeon on December 29th to hopefully have this approved.
People ask us all the time how WE are beating it---well, it's been from help from so many people who have raised money and given us valuable advice and with an integrative approach.
First of all, when Dede moved here, I refused to take her to buy cigarettes and refused to feed her junk food. She has kicked fast-food, processed food, dairy, and sugar. Her diet consists of fruits, vegetables, organic meats, whole grains, beans, nuts, and everything as pure to nature as possible. Right now, she is eating the seeds of one pomegranate per day which are in season. Lemon juice for stabilizing her Ph balance and Matcha tea are also in her daily regimen.
Some supplements that are essential are Vitamin D3 (there's been establishment studies linking TNBC to a VitD3 deficiency) and turmeric which is an anti-inflammatory and her breast cancer is classified as "inflammatory."
One important factor in her ongoing cure is Rick Simpson Oil---I will not go that much into it because there is a great documentary here: Run From the Cure--The Rick Simpson Story.
Dede's oncologist is amazed that she has done so well when she was so ill. She felt very little nausea from chemo, but in her first go round, I was sure she was dying. I think all of the alternative measures we have taken have helped ameliorate the effects of the toxic chemo. With the advance of the disease, even Dr. Bouch recommended chemo, but I feel so grateful that we were given the resources to fight this multi-pronged attack.
I am not saying it has been easy: Dede and I have not lived under the same roof since I got married at 19. When we shared a room as kids, we often put tape through the middle of the room as a border for our constant sisterly battles. So, the tension for me has been that--getting used to a full-time patient/roommate and I have terrible bedside manners. I am more on the vein of "suck it up, Buttercup" and have had to learn that strength comes in all kinds of shapes and stripes and some days Dede even had difficulty walking to the bathroom.
Last year, Dede came up to spend time with me and our family for Christmas. I was shocked at how bad her energy was. I begged her to lose weight and quit smoking and start exercising. I had no idea she was growing an inflammatory breast tumor. This Christmas, even though she has cancer, I believe she is far healthier than this time last year. Right now, she is cleaning the kitchen and playing with my 5-year old grandson.
I don't believe in miracles, but I do believe in Dede and am proud of her determination to be cancer-free.