A medical advocate helps a good friend.
Hester called one day to invite me to a local production of Peter Pan. She asked if I would come to dinner beforehand as she had something she wanted to tell me. Since we hadn't talked in some time, I was perplexed about what was up.
At dinner on the appointed evening, Hester told me she had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. She wanted me to act as her medical advocate, give her input on the diagnosis, medications, treatment, etc. We immediately went into action - time was of the essence!
Shortly before that conversation, my friend, Deloma Sherwood had introduced me to Ambrotose®. Her brother had experienced some pretty amazing results with it. Through Deloma, we arranged a phone call with the pharmacist to talk about using Ambrotose®. We wanted to know if it was right for Hester or not, what she needed to know about taking it, etc. During that call, we learned that it is really helpful to also take colostrum, preferably the "before 6 hours" kind. This acts synergistically with other medications to improve the function of whatever you're taking. I felt this was important to know. We also knew that Hester's cancer was "estrogen receptor positive" which means she needed to avoid any medications, supplements and foods that either contained estrogen or promoted estrogen in the body.
Hester started on Ambrotose® and the colostrum about two weeks before her surgery. She was fortunate that a lumpectomy was the recommendation rather than a full mastectomy. Nevertheless, the possibility of recurrence is always there with breast cancer, so it would be necessary to be vigilant for the remainder of her life. The surgery went well. Hester stayed with me during her recovery period, which was relatively short, especially considering she was in her 80s!
Following her surgery and recovery, I went with Hester to her followup doctor visits. We got to know her primary care physician, oncologist, radiologist, and more very well! At each visit, I asked questions and made sure Hester understood what the doctors were saying. After the visit, we discussed their recommendations for treatments so she would be able to make an informed decision about what she wanted to do.
Hester's oncologist, Dr. Julie Smith, was amazing! She was (and is) an excellent medical doctor. When we told her Hester was taking Ambrotose®, she didn't even blink. She only requested that we keep her informed as to the dosage so she would know that when she reviewed lab reports. Dr. Smith was open to learning more about Ambrotose®, (a glyconutrient; a blend of plant-sourced polysaccharides). At that time it was pretty rare to have such an open-minded doctor, especially an oncologist! Since many doctors are still willing to look only at chemically based medications, we were delighted to find a doctor who was open to alternative possibilities.
Several years later, a few weeks before her 91st birthday, Hester and I ventured on a two-week trip to Europe. She had repeatedly told her family (and me) she had "no intention of living past 90" so it was important to get that trip in while she was still 90! We had a wonderful time and she proved to be a fabulous copilot and co-adventurer. As we were preparing for that trip, Hester informed me that she was stopping the Ambrotose® ~ she felt it was too much of a hassle for the trip. She never resumed taking it.
Having a medical advocate made it possible for both Hester and her family to feel easier about her situation. Knowing she had someone on her side to advocate for her brought a peace of mind to them all that made a world of difference for everyone. Even Hester's doctors found it beneficial to have someone there who had Hester's best interest at heart and who also understood the medical side of things. It made communication between the doctors, Hester and her family smoother and easier for each of them. I knew the questions to ask, the concerns to raise, and knowing medical language helped her doctors to feel more at ease.
Shortly before her death at age 92, Hester was admitted to the hospital for a serious but unrelated issue. At that time, some small malignant areas were found, but these were not the cause of her death.
During this last hospital stay, Hester's children and friends had the opportunity to gather in her hospital room for a goodbye visit. At one point, there were more than 25 people in the room! She was much loved and respected. Quite a few people considered Hester a best friend, myself included. She was an inspiration to each of us and I still feel privileged to have known her and call her Friend. Much love to you, Hester!
ps to Hester: Did you get to see the formation of this world yet?