Meagan's Story: A Holistic, Whole-Team Approach to Healing Breast Cancer
7 Minute Read: Women in business, breast cancer, holistic medicine, integrative medicine, paleo, keto, ketogenic diet, morning routine, healing.
One recent morning, I walked outside to find a book and card in my mailbox. The book was In Praise of Difficult Women: Life Lessons From 29 Heroines Who Dared to Break the Rules, by Karen Karbo.
The card was imprinted with a photograph of the book’s sender: my client Meagan, along with her wife Shannon and their son Riley.
In the card, Meagan – a “difficult woman” herself who declared sovereignty over her healing path – expressed gratitude for the role I've played in her journey.
This journey includes so many! I'm deeply grateful to be a part and to share an interview with Meagan here, in this healing space.
Below, Meagan talks about:
Addressing ALL aspects of life and self on her healing path: Body, mind, spirit. Past, present, future.
Choosing and coming from a place of possibility, hope, connection and love...rather than one of claustrophobia, despair, disconnect and anger.
Choosing to connect with presence, vulnerability, humanness, and a willingness to be surprised at what comes back – at how others and the Universe respond.
Creating an Intentional Care Team – and Community of Care (encompassing not just her wellness team, but also her wife, son, friends, colleagues, and other connections).
Refusing to let others make the rules of her healing journey, even as she invited others in.
Transforming her journey into a gift, offering and way to help others.
I hope you savour Meagan's insightful, inspiring responses as much as I did!
Please introduce yourself!
I have been working with Dana for three months. We met in Mark Sisson’s Keto Reset Facebook group, and I appreciated her approach to helping people maintain health with ease. Prior to meeting Dana, I had been eating strict keto, had achieved my goal of losing 20 pounds, and had been through a personal healing journey.
I was starting to feel bodily stress staying keto at this point in the journey, and I felt it was time to return to a simple, sustainable primal eating plan. I saw Dana as someone who could help me make this shift.
Could you share some background on your healing journey?
Officially, I refer to it as my abrupt journey into mind, body and spirit, inspired by a breast cancer diagnosis in March 2018. With a mass of high-grade, invasive cancer, I decided to go with surgical intervention – a double mastectomy – in May 2018.
From March until my surgery in May, I built a team of doctors and practitioners to provide me with expertise, guidance and support to prepare me for surgery, empower me to make the right decisions, and provide me with alternative approaches to healing.
What came out of this journey is a set of practices and an understanding of the origins of the cancer, including how my thoughts, beliefs, genetics and environment perpetuated cancer growth in my body.
Did you have times of anger or fear?
With the initial cancer diagnosis, my primary feeling was fear. For a week, I laid in bed every night and my mind would race and run free. I was thinking about and focused on the worst possible scenario. I was convinced I was going to die and was preparing for it. With the intention of calming my mind and discovering relaxation techniques, I started daily meditation.
Next, I did some research and found an Ayurvedic practitioner who introduced me to various practices, including self-massage and high-vibration essential oils, such as rose and lavender. She talked about focusing on self-love, appreciation and gratitude. To help me sleep, I introduced sleep mantra audios that I played all night using headphones.
Within a few weeks, I started to feel hopeful. I definitely had moments of feeling anger and sadness, but these would come and go quickly and were less frequent as my feelings of hope grew. As time went by, I started to appreciate that I was alive, as evidenced by the fact that I was breathing. Any time I felt overwhelmed, I focused on my breath and appreciated that I was alive and was going to heal.
Could you talk about your holistic, whole-team approach to healing?
Within 24 hours of learning I had cancer, I researched and picked up books that addressed holistic approaches to treating cancer – going beyond conventional cutting, burning and poisoning of the body. While I decided to have surgery, my goal was to find alternatives and avoid chemotherapy and radiation.
Drawing on my capacity to research and integrate perspectives quickly and skillfully, I signed on a diverse team of surgeons, an integrative oncologist, a medical oncologist, an integrative primary care physician, an Ayurvedic practitioner, a Chinese Medicine doctor, and a progressive doctor who analyzed my genetics/epigenetics. I began to consider myself the CEO of my journey and leveraged the team to provide me with information and ideas.
I landed on a working principle: All ideas are good ideas and must be pursued. Not everything ended up fitting into my plan, but if a member of my team had an idea, I always looked into it and determined whether it was feasible. As a result, I started a regimen of vitamins, nutrient IVs, ozone therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, red light therapy, 23andme genetic analytics, and intermittent fasting – to name a few.
What about the role of connection on your healing path?
A key for me to heal was reconnecting with myself and others. A simple technique I used from the beginning was to connect with strangers. In elevators, hallways and stores, I said hello to everyone and started conversations with many.
My goal was to feel the connection between me and the universe and to feel the “oneness” between us all. As simple as it sounds, it worked. It also enhanced the connection I had with my family, friends and coworkers.
What about the connection between healing...and food?
I had been on a keto eating plan for six months when I received the cancer diagnosis. Knowing that sugar and grain-based carbs feed cancer growth, I consider it a gift that I had been eating this way: low carb, medium protein and high fat.
While preparing for surgery, I started measuring my glucose and introduced intermittent fasting. Though this was one of many practices I employed, I believe the keto diet was an important element in shrinking the invasiveness of the cancer and preventing metastasis.
Today, with Dana's help, I’m taking a simple, primal approach to eating coupled with low-oxalate foods – I feel better than I have ever felt in my life.
Could you walk us through your morning routine?
My morning routine starts at 5am, when I listen to a morning mantra (Louise Hay has a great morning and evening mantra). Then I have warm water with lemon and stand on a vibration machine for 15 minutes (Bulletproof Vibe) in front of a red light (Joovv). I do a 15-minute meditation on weekdays and an hour on weekends.
Depending on the day, I either do a 30-minute infrared sauna or I work out. My workouts are a mix of intervals, weights and functional movements. I enjoy doing Pete Egoscue workouts on YouTube a couple times a week to bring my body back into alignment.
Then I take a pile of vitamins and drink a bulletproof decaf coffee on my way to work.
What’s next on your journey?
Following the surgery and subsequent labs and tests, I learned that while the growth in my right breast was large (5 inches) and high grade, the invasive component found in early biopsies was no longer present. Through genetic analysis, I learned my body does not effectively process oxalates found in spinach, greens and chocolate, and this condition caused my body to hold onto heavy metals.
Essentially, the cancer grew in response to heavy metal toxicity. Starting in August, I will be doing heavy metal chelation with my integrative practitioner to flush the metals from my body.
Moving forward, I want to help people understand and come up with the right approach for their healing journeys. There are unlimited approaches to healing from cancer, and there is more to know than one doctor can understand.
My advice to anyone getting this type of diagnosis is to involve mind, body and spirit in your healing journey AND be sovereign in the process, build a team, and know when to surrender.
Thank you so much, Meagan! Your embrace of life, connection, and our capacity to heal is profoundly inspiring! I’m deeply grateful to be part of your story.
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In integrity + alchemy.