Deanna Won is a Radical Remission survivor of stage 4 ovarian cancer. Diagnosed at the age of 45, she combined surgery (while refusing chemo and radiation) and alternative methods to overcome incredible odds. She currently has no evidence of disease. Here is her story in her own words:
“My first inkling that I could have a potential health issue came about when I slipped on ice back in January 2011. My entire body went airborne, where I landed on my tailbone, and had to be rushed immediately to the hospital. In looking for potential fractures in my tailbone, the radiologist reported that incident to these imaging scans, he noted a cyst on my left ovary. When I later followed up with my doctor, she asked me if I felt any pain. As I did not, she informed me that I did not have to worry because cysts on the ovary are common in women of childbearing age, so I didn’t worry…until 10 months later.
In October 2011, I experienced tremendous pain radiating from the left side of my pelvis to the right side and then all the way up the right side of my abdomen to my right shoulder. Even sitting created too much pressure for me in my abdomen, and every time I took a breath, I felt as if I could not get enough air. Additionally, there was an excruciatingly sharp pain that literally felt like a knife stabbing my liver. I was admitted to the hospital, where, in addition to the tumor within my left ovary, they also saw a nodule on my right lung and tumor on my left leg. I was put on morphine immediately. However, to my dismay, the morphine did nothing to alleviate any of my pain. Instead, it brought on a whole host of other side effects, for which I was given additional medication. When I saw this vicious cycle of pharmaceutical side effects, I asked that they not only take me off of all the medications, but that they even remove my IV, for which I had to sign a waiver.
As I lay on the hospital bed, I made the decision to radically change my diet to an organic raw living vegan diet to include fresh vegetable juices and barley grass juice. I went to a Hallelujah Acres Lifestyle Center in Florida to learn more about juicing, raw living food preparation, rebounding, and natural methods of healing from cancer. Within 3 months of this change, by January 2012, my elevated cancer marker (CA-125) amazingly dropped back down to normal! This confirmed for me that I was on the right track with the nutritional modification.
Because I felt there was a spiritual component needing to be addressed, in early 2012, I went to ‘Be in Health’ and learned how 80% of all diseases have a spiritual component. I was baptized there and returned home with stronger faith. I then went to Hippocrates Health Institute to further refine my healing, where I learned about wheatgrass juice, the infrared sauna, electro-magnetic therapy, cold laser therapy, enemas, wheatgrass poultices and implants. I also consulted with their psychologists and upon returning home, my tumor actually began to shrink and die from the inside out, as my doctor explained and showed to me on my PET/CT scan.
At this point, I thought everything was under control, so I went back to working 16-18 hours days as I was a Colonel in the U.S. Air Force, and traveled overseas for duty. Because the potential to become ill from consuming raw vegetables was a real possibility, it was near impossible for me to sustain my new diet and regimen. After just three short weeks, to my shock, the tumor began to grow aggressively, and my cancer marker skyrocketed well beyond its previous elevated level. At this point, I realized the grave mistake I made by underestimating the complexity of cancer. I then went on to witness the reversal of the good progress made up until this point. It seemed as if I had crossed the point of no return. I was experiencing frequent internal hemorrhaging, where I could see the resultant bruising on my abdomen. By October 2012, the cancer had spread throughout the entire lining of my abdomen. While surgery was still an option at this point, it had less than a 9% chance of success.
However, in my continuing quest to learn and heal, I took the Gerson Therapy Basic Workshop twice, incorporating portions of the therapy. I also studied the macrobiotic diet through the Kushi Institute, the Budwig Protocol, and went to Living Foods Institute, where I learned about Bach flowers and essential oils. I also used Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture, and Qigong.
Unfortunately by February 2013, my right lung collapsed and began to fill with fluid, which created a challenge for me to breathe. This continued until half of my right lung was filled with fluid, and a third of my left lung was filled with fluid. At this point, I was put under hospice care and on an oxygen machine as my doctors lost hope for my survival. As my condition continued to worsen, my breathing became increasingly labored. By May 2013, my entire body started to retain fluid rapidly, and I started to gain two to three pounds per day, up until June 14, 2013, when I asked to be taken to the hospital, after gaining 10 pounds of fluid that day and experiencing a sudden dangerous drop in blood pressure.
There, my oncologist informed me that my condition was extremely poor and that I had just 1 to 2 months to live. He urged me to quickly start chemotherapy as that was my only hope for a small chance of survival. I prayed about this decision as he told me that if I chose not to do chemotherapy, he would just place me right back under hospice, where I would most certainly die. I asked God to show me an alternative, and that I would do chemo, but that I needed to hear directly from God if that were the case. The answer came to me in the form of the thought that I needed to first ask for the analysis from the fluid that they drained from my abdomen the night before.
Therefore, I asked my oncologist if we could wait on the results from this analysis before I made my decision. He refused, telling me that the results would be malignant and that I had no time to waste. He emphatically stated that I needed to start chemo immediately. However, I pushed back, asking him to humor me as scientist, since I am a physicist, as I really wanted to see the results from the analysis with my own eyes before I made this decision. He finally agreed, and two days later, he came to me, saying, “You know, your intuition to wait for the report was a good one, because the results came back negative for cancer cells in this fluid.” This was a shock to all the doctors, as it was to me as well. He went on to explain that this actually opened up the possibility for surgery. Upon hearing that, I felt an instant peace and consented immediately.
I had to wait to be transferred to another hospital for the surgery as there were no available beds there. When I finally got transferred 3 days later, the surgeon informed me that I looked too emaciated to even go through a major surgery. At this point, I did not know how much fight I had left in me because I was really struggling to breathe and the pain throughout my body was tremendous. My edema was severe, to the point that I could barely move due to the weight of the retained fluid in my body, along with horrific pain throughout my body. I was totally dependent upon the nurses to do all my bodily functions. By this time, I had gone without anything solid to eat for over 40 days and I could barely drink any fluid without causing significant pain. Along with my labored breathing, it felt as if life would slip away at any moment. Truthfully, I wanted to die, as the suffering I experienced went beyond anything I could have ever imagined. It was a very dark moment for me as I was just praying for God to take me, especially since I did not know if I was strong enough to withstand a major surgery.
For the next two days, in preparation for possible surgery, they checked out all of my major organs. They were most concerned about my heart, which was surrounded with fluid. Praise God that my heart function turned out to be normal, as did my kidney, liver, and bowel functions. This was a sheer miracle, considering that the 27 cm solid tumor was crushing most of those organs. The last hurdle would be my lungs, which had to be drained of the fluid. The pulmonologist began to drain my right lung, but after pulling out two liters of fluid, I began to violently choke, literally not being able breathe as my right lung collapsed and was not re-inflating. This caused an early termination of the procedure. The next day, my surgeon made the decision to proceed with my surgery. He told me that I would be put under, on a ventilator, and due to the blood loss from the procedure, I would have to receive some blood transfusions during the surgery. Up until this point, I had already had five blood transfusions as my blood level was critically low. He continued to explain that after the surgery, I would have to go to the Intensive Care Unit and remain on a ventilator until my condition stabilized.
When I came to after the surgery, I felt the most excruciating pain in my abdomen, but at the same time, tremendous joy because I knew that God had brought me through this surgery alive. Not only that, but I did not need any additional blood transfusions, nor was I put into the ICU as I was able to breathe on my own!
A few days after my surgery, the doctor confirmed that I had a granulosa cell tumor, a rare form of malignant ovarian cancer, and that I would need to have additional major surgery followed by 6 rounds of chemotherapy. Upon following up with the surgeon three weeks later, he informed me that while the tumor was malignant, my blood tested negative for the cancer markers, so he did not see a need for me to go through chemotherapy. I was elated and just thanked God for this great news. One doctor told me that it must have been the diet that I was following, or that something else was protecting me. I know that this miracle was nothing but the hand of God on my life. My oncologist and his fellow colleagues did not think I would make it. Another doctor told me that I should have died and that the results from my surgery are simply unbelievable. My surgeon told me that I “almost got thrown under the bus.” I then went through three months of rehabilitation to learn how to walk and function again, and have regained my strength in an amazing way.
Prayers have made a big difference for me as I literally had people praying for me from around the world. I am grateful to so many people who reached out to help me, from food preparation to cleaning my place, to praying with me. Most importantly, I am thankful to God, as He truly performed a series of miracles in preserving my life. I have since gone on to become a Motivational Speaker and Certified Holistic Health Coach. My prayer is that I will be able to share all that I have researched and the lessons I learned with those are experiencing cancer, chronic illness, or even in hospice care. I want to let them know that no matter how bleak the outlook might be, there is always hope.
[Regarding what may have caused my cancer], Growing up, I drank a lot of milk and consumed a lot of cheese, which I later learned had links to ovarian cancer. Additionally, there were unresolved emotional conflicts that I had to deal with from my childhood. While I lacked having my own authentic voice, due to deep-seated insecurities and feeling inadequate, I carried strong traits of perfectionism. I had high level of exposure to pesticides, and was exposed to nuclear radiation in doing laboratory work. I also experienced high stress while working over 26 years in the military. I had genetic testing done, which showed no inherited mutations, so I feel confident in saying that my cancer was acquired through environmental factors, toxins, overexposure to xenoestrogens, and how I handled stress.”
Editor’s note: We’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below. Also, for Deanna’s full story, please visit www.deannawon.com