In 2016, Ken was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. The follow-up consult informed Ken and his wife Sandy that he had cancer in his lower esophagus, in an area currently overcome by what is called Barrett’s Esophagus. This is where the stomach tissue grows up into the esophagus in response to the acid flowing there from the stomach. Here is Ken’s story in his own words:
“After having this condition for over 25 years, and knowing that I would be more susceptible to cancer developing there, I wasn’t overwhelmed with the news. But something happened right there in the moment, Sandy turned to me and said “you’re going on a cancer diet”, and Dr. Somogyi’s response was “that isn’t going to do any good”. I found that interchange interesting, as one was positive and the other negative. He indicated that I needed to get in touch with a surgeon as soon as possible, and gave me a piece of paper that he had written down four names on. Well there is one thing I have learned, and that is you have to sow the field before becoming enlightened, so I set out to investigate new information and material to add to what I already knew to determined which direction I needed to go.
Seven days later I received a letter from the doctor, with confirmation from the lab that I had esophageal cancer and needed to schedule surgery and meetings with the Oncologist. Technically: adenocarcinoma,
Since I started this process with the Oregon Clinic, which I had been going to for more than 30 years, I needed to make a decision as to whether to continue there or switch to the Veterans Administration Hospital Healthcare System (VA) which I have been using for everything else. This was going to be a big-ticket item and I really wanted that in the hands of the VA vs. Medicare, but since it was also an item that needed to be addressed immediately, I decided to continue my investigation with the doctors at the Oregon Clinic and to also consult with the VA for second opinions. Both were agreeable and responsive, so I arranged a meeting with an Oregon Clinic surgeon and a radiation oncologist at Oregon Health Sciences Hospital (OHSU), which the VA contracts with to handle all the VA’s cancer patients that need radiation and surgery (the VA does chemotherapy in house). First up was a consult with Dr. Steven DeMeester with the Oregon Clinic. He had ordered a PET Scan to be performed prior to our meeting and would also have a CT Scan that Dr. Somogyi had ordered earlier to look at prior to the meeting. Yet to be performed was an endoscopy with ultrasound (EUS) scheduled later that week with Dr. Somogyi.
I went to Dr. DeMeester’s consult having already researched him on the internet and found him to be well known and well qualified to do this work. In our meeting, he expressed to me that if the cancer was T1 or T2 and no more than two lymph nodes (N2) were affected that he could remove the cancer and I would have an 85% chance of recovery. He also indicated that my chances wouldn’t be improved if I went through radiation and chemotherapy. That was monumental in the decisions I made from that day on. Having surgery meant I could go on living with an altered body much as I currently am living. An Esophagectomy takes something from you that can’t be replaced and your life, although continuing, is different or altered, but I felt as long as I could continue to play golf and ride my motorcycle, and be with my family it would be fine. Dr. DeMeester illustrated on a whiteboard in a diagram the removal of 2/3rds of my esophagus and 1/3rd of my stomach. Ouch. That was an awful lot of me being removed to gain wide margins around a small cancer tumor. I later followed this up by watching a video on YouTube of an operation being performed. Dr. DeMeester would have liked to go directly to surgery at that time, which was about a month following discovery, but I wanted to continue on with exploring all my options which included meeting with the radiation oncologist and a chemo oncologist as well as with VA surgeons. I felt like I had time, and wasn’t going to be rushed into any procedure before I was ready.
This is about the time I started to experience differences in thought, as to what to do. First up was a consult with Dr. Nabavizadeh, oncology, who had me sit through a video of how OHSU performs radiation, in which the video suggested that this was clean, safe and exacting science being performed on your body 5 days a week for 6 weeks. I advised Dr. Nima that I was leaning towards surgery and no radiation. He said that that wasn’t the way they did cancer treatment at OHSU and that it would take a meeting of their overseeing committee to review and discuss my case before that could be done. I asked that that be done as I wanted to do surgery soon. A few days later I was informed that OHSU overseeing committee reviewed my case and decided that they would require radiation prior to surgery.
Next up was a meeting with a VA Chemo Oncologist, Dr. Robyn Scherber who pretty much went through the highlights, but lacked specifics related to esophageal cancer drugs and effects. We advised her of the cancer being T2 N1 M0 and that it appeared to us that proceeding without chemo would be best for me, my spirit and that I had great support for this decision. She seemed to agree with us and all seemed good. A few days later we meet with Dr. Donn Spight, MD a thoracic surgeon regarding having surgery done. This meeting was expanded and Dr. Sukarno Sukumar, MD, Chief Thoracic Surgery was asked to join us to further discuss getting surgery without radiochemotherapy. After a climb up 8 flights of stairs and back down, Dr. Sukumar’s self-made stress test, he advised us that due to my heart disease and the strain of surgery that I was a high-risk patient and that surgery may not be an option, as well as it wasn’t the way they handled cancer patients at the VA/OHSU facility and that I needed to proceed with radiation and chemotherapy. It was at this point I said “I’m the captain of this ship and I will make this decision”. At that moment a white light shot through my body from my feet to my head. At the time, I didn’t realize what had happened, but for sure, I wasn’t going to just follow the doctor’s advice. It was clear to me that my body would be affected negatively by both radiation and chemo and I told them that both these procedures were harmful to me and could or would have a lifelong negative effect. I even told him that it was my spirit, soul that was telling me that surgery was best for me. He asked me if I had other means, which I told him I did and he suggested I pursue them. The meeting was over, but I felt something was missing, as I felt the VA had a responsibility to provide me with this service.
I started to realize at this point that something was happening. I was feeling good about what had just happened. The position of the VA wasn’t bothersome but invigorating. I needed to fight for what I believed was best for me and I was the only one that could make that decision. It was at this point I recognized my “soul” and that it was speaking to me. Some may call this their intuition, or their gut response, but to me, it belonged to spirit. I needed to appeal the decision made by the thoracic team and OHSU on the grounds that I knew what was best for my body. I wrote the Chief of Staff, Dr. Sahana Misra, MD explaining my position. While waiting for a response, I ended up in the Hospital on an issue I experienced regarding my lung and not being able to take a deep breath. Because of my heart disease and the pain existing in my chest, I was seen mostly by a cardiologist and spent a lot of time talking to them. Since they were mostly interested in making this issue the result of a couple of small blocked arteries, I failed to convince them it was my lung, so it made for some interesting discussions. I was visited by the Chief Chemotherapist on request by the Chief of Staff to discuss my appeal. This was also interesting in that she brought along an 11-page article published in a medical journal that specifically addressed cancer of the esophagus and treatments. It compared having surgery with radiochemotherapy and surgery alone. This was the document that Dr. Sukumar must have been referring to when he stated that the science supports radiochemotherapy as being more beneficial and the reason that the VA/OHSU has chosen that as their only procedure. As I lay in the hospital bed, I read the whole medical article from front to back. How depressing I felt it was. My following numbers may be wrong but it sums up this feeling. 50% of the people die in 2 years. 40% percent that had radiochemotherapy followed by surgery live past 5 years and 32% who only have surgery live past 5 years. If I read that right, there is only an 8% difference in survival rate, and that 8% has this science community leaning to a treatment that possibly causes permanent damage to the body with poisons and radiation. I’m not sure I agree with their decision on that, especially when 50% are dead in two years.
It was at this point that I knew I wasn’t one of those who would die and therefore having radiochemotherapy wasn’t necessary. I was one of the ones that live on past 5 years no matter what. I have games to play, rides to make, grandchildren to help through college, and I’m determined to see these things come to life. It is my life and it can only happen if I see it happening before it happens. I received a cardiac catheterization during my visit to the hospital, and the grafts I had received 3 ½ years prior were working magnificently and the two small arteries were still functioning and would do me better in surgery than having stents or other fixes made. The most important aspect of this procedure to me had nothing to do with the procedure at all. It was a discussion with the doctor just prior to the procedure. He asked me what was going to happen and I described it to him (I’ve done this before), and he said to me that “this is what I want to happen” that he would check out the grafts and the questionable arteries, test them and see if they would work well enough to allow me to go on to surgery. WOW, he was on my team for doing surgery now. I felt there was light at the end of the tunnel and maybe I could go on to surgery at the VA/OHSU.
Another important document was put in front of me while in the hospital, and this was the VA Inpatient Handbook. While reading the section on patient rights, I noticed on page 5 that a patient has the right to refuse a procedure and still elect to receive future care. I took this as refusing radiation and chemo and going on to surgery. My conclusion was that the VA wasn’t following through on their written statement. I added to my appeal to the Chief of Staff with this added argument and further emphasized that this was a decision to be made by me, my spirit which was all supported by my wife and family. It was followed up with a call from the head Veteran’s Advocate directly under the Director of the Hospital. We had a long positive conversation and she was impressed with my knowledge, determination, my support circle, and spiritual confidence. As we talked I indicated that this time investing in trying to get the VA to do surgery may prove to be in my benefit in that Sandy and I will have had time to remove cancer from my body. We would not talk again for a month or so; I finally received the official letter from the VA that they would not do surgery on me as they felt my chances to die during the operation was 15-20% and that was too high of a risk. The letter came the same day I had arranged to meet Dr. DeMeester to further discuss doing surgery in light of the findings of the VA. The VA recognized that by not providing surgery, that they were not following through with their mission statement. Dr. David Keagen, Asst. The Chief of Staff suggested providing me with VA Choice, which would provide me with the financial support outside the VA Hospital system to provide the surgery I was requesting.
The meeting with Dr. DeMeester was very positive and he explained how he would manage the heart issue and if there were complications what he would do to reduce the risks. Dr. DeMeester was very confident that we would get through this and be successful. We schedule a surgery date at the end of March which was changed a few days later and rescheduled for the 14th of March. Dr. DeMeester and I discussed doing an endoscopy to re-examine the tumor prior to surgery, as it had been three months. For him, I’m sure he just wanted to make sure it hadn’t grown too large to a point where he would recommend radiochemotherapy, and for me, that it would be gone from view and test as my thoughts and diet had overcome it. As I had been telling people, the VA dance has given me time to poop the cancer cells out my butt. I felt very strongly that it was gone, I hadn’t seen anything but a healthy esophagus since the first of January. My GI track was working better than it has worked in 35 years, I had not had any GERD effects either. I had lost weight at first due to the diet change but had maintained 150 pounds for the past two months. I had developed a strong support community of close friends, church, and also internet friends. I keep a FB thread on my cancer progress. I developed a stronger sense of positivism, and I was open as to how I felt and what I wanted to happen. Maybe most important is that I always saw my body as healed, without cancer. My minister had said that she had been seeing a healthy aura for about as long as I had felt the cancer was gone. I had had a vision, golden light surrounded my body for 2-3 days. This replaced my normal visualizing of energy flowing from my heart to my esophagus and then it stopped as quickly as it appeared. I tried to duplicate the vision but was unsuccessful, and then went back to my previous visualizing no cancer.
As I was being wheeled to the O.R. by Dr. Hiroshige, Anesthesiologist, I was telling him that I don’t see any cancer anymore and that these biopsies will be negative. After the endoscopy, Dr. DeMeester said he didn’t see much, other than a couple of small nodules. He took lots of biopsies and we would know in a week the results. We felt that was very positive. A week later I was informed by Dr. Ell, a fellow working with Dr. DeMeester, that the biopsies were all negative. I immediately said I will not be needing surgery, and he encouraged me to wait and talk to Dr. DeMeester before making that decision. Sunday night Dr. DeMeester called and congratulated me on the negative results and felt we needed to replace the surgery with more investigation and tests to be sure, so he suggested we do an endoscopic mucosal resection, which is deeper, bigger chunks from the esophagus wall to be examined. I agreed and on the 14th of March, we did the resection. After being wheeled into the OR, and all parties were there, I called to everyone that I had something to say and wanted their attention. I got surprised looks and their attention as they gathered around the table. I asked that they have “positive thoughts and energy, that these biopsies be negative, and there would be no surgery”. Aside from their looks, they all pretty much gave me thumbs up. Then just before going under the anesthesia, Dr. DeMeester said in a loud voice that all could hear, “POSITIVE ENERGY, NEGATIVE RESULTS, NO SURGERY”. That was the most in-tune thought from the medical science community that I had heard in 3 months. 3 days later he called and said: “Mr. Hattan, the results of the biopsies are negative. Unbelievable, unbelievable.” Two weeks later I received a call from his assistant that they had ordered the original biopsies from the December 7th exam to be sent to a specialty lab in LA to be re-examined thinking that the original biopsy was mistaken, and these results came back positive. Yes, I had cancer. Yes, the cancer is gone.
Yes, I am going to maintain my positive outlook. Yes, I am going to share this with as many people as I can. Yes, I am going to maintain this positive diet. Yes, I am working on getting rid of my Barrett’s Esophagus too.
In telling my story to others, I have been getting lots of high fives, smiles, unbelievable looks. The Facebook page I have been sharing this experience on is a closed group cancer page, but it is very helpful and I am getting lots of feedback with new and improved ways of doing my diet and spiritual support. I learned of a woman that was studying at Harvard and went on to work in a clinic helping others with therapy. She discovered that there were people that got rid of their cancers without medical assistance, so she started to investigate this. Her name is Kelly Turner, PhD., and she wrote a book, of which I ordered 3 copies so I can share. In her book, she writes of interviewing people all around the world who have gotten total remission from cancer, and therefore titled the book “Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds.” I haven’t read the book yet but noted from reviews that she identified that from over 1000 interviews that there were 9 actions common in all success stories. I’m going to describe these in my experiences as I feel this to be my story. The reason is that I have been saying these to my friends, church, family, and motorcycle friends as well, over and over the last couple of months. Although I have placed them in order, there is no one item more important than another, but for sure, all must be felt from the heart and 100% mental support from your head. I am sure of that.
As I told Dr. Sukumar, “I’m the captain of this ship”, he provides me the science and I make the decisions. Whether my chances of dying on the table or not is his to make, but mine. I take total responsibility for that decision and do so with the knowledge of what is at stake. I have gone on to explain to others that their bodies are theirs to maintain and honor. Their bodies are the most magnificent machine know to man. Their bodies are temples and they need to maintain them in perfect functioning order. They are whole and perfect. They should always view their bodies as healthy, pure, working perfectly, clean, and free of disorders and contaminants. Best of all, they will feel better and perform better in life. Win-Win. Taking control of your health.
I felt I was being told by my spirit, which may have been my first real connection to my soul, that chemo and radiation were not the way to go. I knew chemo was not good for my body, as it made you sick, and I knew radiation was not good for my body, as it broke it down. These were last resort procedures and should never be done if you don’t believe in them. My spirit was saying that following chemoradiotherapy, recovery may not be a good recovery and that path may lead to many years of continued body destruction and spirit breaking. This is what I see in others that go down that path. Therefore my intuition says that my health is dependent on a strong positive spirit and to maintain that, I must not put it through a never-ending cycle of poisonous negative therapies. Follow your intuition.
First of all, if you have a truly good diet, you probably don’t have cancer. Changing my diet changed my body immediately. My GI track started to work more perfectly, thereby helping me view my body as more perfect, whole and well. My new diet can be summed up as No sugar, No carbohydrates, No dairy, No processed food. Food as mother nature produces it, without the help of GMO or pesticides. Mostly organic vegetables and fruits, but some meat without use of hormones, and fish from the wild and clean waters. And the belief that you do the best that you can with following this diet. If you are out at a restaurant or, heaven forbid, at a party, you need to be very selective and in some cases ask for help from the owner or waiter and you may be surprise as to what they come up with. I was. Radically changing your diet.
I have been working on stronger spiritual beliefs for a number of years. Sowing the field. I stopped when I was young and pretty much came up with my own ideas of spiritual connection. Then I started going to church with my wife and started to learn about planting ideas that grow into something. My minister talked about sowing the field in the bible and later I would reward her with my comments that I was sowing the field when I was moving forward in beliefs. Usually after a moving talk. Through the years I have added teachings from others including psychics and energy workers, and different forms of meditation. I have never embraced any of these wholeheartedly, but have come to the conclusion that all are from God and are good. I believe that man who uses religion for power or wealth is to be mistrusted. Not what God intended. I also believe that God is made up by man for the purpose of having power over other men. I believe God is everything and therefore equal to all, for all, free and unbelievably fantastic, or as we state in our church “omnipotent”. To know God is easy, all you have to do is look inside yourself. Everything you see is God. Everything you can’t see is God. You can’t see a water molecule, but you can see water in a raindrop. Here is the way I move through life. I am made up of 93% water and I am as old as the universe itself. I have water molecules as old as the universe making up my body. I am connected. Deepening your spiritual connection.
I have been so positive through this whole ordeal. I never felt that I was handed a negative that couldn’t be turned into a positive. From the start, I felt I could conquer cancer. Then the good results with the diet. My body was turning positive right in front of me. Seeing is believing. I always felt during this process, that I was healthy and well, without cancer. Therefore I was positive the outcome would be good. Then it got more positive in that I could do surgery and come out on top, without those big negatives associated with radiation and chemo. Then the VA dance, as I call it, waiting for them to come forth with surgery, gave me more time to heal. Then the good news that I was without cancer. I started telling people about halfway through this event, to practice their positivism as when you get hurt it is hard to be positive. Increasing Positive emotions.
My gratitude goes out to my friends. It is so heartfelt that I become emotional and it brings tears to my eyes almost every time. Whenever I talk about the remission and the help received in prayer and healing energy felt, I stop because I can’t talk. This is what happens when you feel it in your heart. This is what lets your body know what to do with those prayers and energy being sent to you. I go to “therapy” on Wednesdays. We meet at Rock Creek Corner Restaurant and Pub. When I told my friends that I had cancer, they supported me with positive thoughts and prayers. I asked if anyone knew how to send healing energy in their prayers. It drew blank stares. Dean said no, and I asked if they would like to know and that I could teach them. Yes is what they all said. So I taught them how to do this effectively. They went along with me at the Pub and then either did it or returned to their tried and true methods, I learned that I had some really great friends as no one gave me any shit about what I proposed. I knew the folks at church supported me with healing energy and that my wife is an expert at giving healing energy. My family is all very supportive too, as well as so many people I know. I feel the energy coming from around the world and it is all good. This one item moves my soul more than any other. Embracing social support.
I know nothing about herbs and supplements, but my wife Sandy does and is well educated in this. She put me on 4 units of 16-20 oz. distilled water with Reishi mushroom extract on day one to help reduce the cancer and improve my immune system. We have added to this with pills and more extracts in the water, and because of the success will continue long after. Using herbs and Supplements.
My wife and my family are as strong a reason to want to live as anyone could imagine. I want to add that our everyday activities and decisions affect our lives and sometimes these are made up of a lot of fun things we do. Two very influential activities I do are in this category: Golf and riding motorcycles. I could go on forever but will boil it down to one. One day I was having trouble keeping the usual pace in mowing the lawn behind the power mower. I wrote it off as getting old (67). The next day I went to golf with my usual group of 40 years at the same course I had been playing all those years. The temperature was 93 degrees when on the first hole, at the dogleg, I sat on the tire of my pushcart in the shade to wait for the others. They saw me sitting over there and approached, when one said, “are you okay Kenny”? I was quiet. The second one said, “should we get you to the hospital”? I was quiet The third one said “Can I go get you a power cart.” I said yes! On hole eighth, I felt an absolute relief feeling as I walked off the green and knew then that something was wrong. Shot 39 by the way. I went home and got Sandy and we went to the VA ER and was admitted to the hospital and 5 days later, I received a Quintuple By-Pass Surgery. Having a strong reason for living.
Not mentioned above but equally important to me:
I believe that in conjunction with the items above we have the ability to self-heal and one of the main principles in self-healing is seeing oneself as already healed. Seeing the diseased areas as healed and well sets the mind in motion to do the job it is already geared to do, and that is taking care of the body. I believe that heart energy is the most powerful healing energy of the body and the energy from the heart can help heal other parts of the body, mind, and other people. Much like a story told by Kelly Turner in her book, about a man with cancer left to die by the doctors, after trying everything science could do for him, only to see him radically cause remission by loving cancer away. Unbelievable! I also have a community of believers like this, that had my back. Strong sense of healing from within.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: As of March 2021, Ken is thriving post-diagnosis.
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