In today's heartfelt episode, I'm diving deep into my personal journey through the trials and triumphs of battling not one, but two breast cancer diagnoses, and how living with stage four cancer has transformed my life in ways I could have never imagined. This episode isn't just about survival; it's about thriving in the face of adversity and discovering an incredible healing evolution along the way.
The first time around, I navigated the maze of treatments, emotions, and the inevitable questioning of "why me?" Yet, it was during these moments of vulnerability that I found an inner strength that carried me through to remission, but the journey was far from over.
When cancer touched my life for the second time, it brought with it a diagnosis of stage four. This news could have easily broken me, but instead, it served as the catalyst for profound personal growth and transformation. I came to understand that my body, mind, and spirit were inextricably linked, and that healing one meant nurturing all.
Throughout this episode, I share the strategies and mindsets that have been instrumental in not just coping with cancer, but in flourishing despite it. From adopting a holistic approach to healing, to finding joy in the smallest moments, and the importance of a supportive community, these insights have reshaped my approach to life and health.
Living with stage four cancer has taught me that every day is a gift, and that our greatest challenges can lead to our most profound discoveries about ourselves. This journey has been about more than just surviving; it's been about learning to live with intention, grace, and gratitude.
Join me as I share my story, in the hopes that it will inspire, comfort, and empower you, no matter what challenges you may face.
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Read the full transcript below:
Laura Lummer 0:00
You're listening to better than before breast cancer with the breast cancer recovery coach. I'm your host, Laura Lummer. I'm a certified life coach, and I'm a breast cancer thriver. In this podcast, I will give you the skills and the insights and the tools to move past the emotional and physical trauma of a breast cancer diagnosis. If you're looking for a way to create a life that's even better than before breast cancer, you've come to the right place. Let's get started.
Laura Lummer 0:33
Hello, friends, welcome to episode 317 have better than before breast cancer with the breast cancer recovery coach. It is a cold, stormy, windy, rainy, crazy rainy day here in Southern California. And I know a lot of people don't think that it gets really cold and rainy and stormy here, but it does. And especially when you're used to moderate weather, it's really cold. But what better thing for a cold rainy winter day than a story? Alright. I have been asked many times recently, it's kind of surprised me how many times someone has asked me story. And I tend to forget, I mean, obviously I live my life. So I know my story. And I have clients that I've worked with for years. So I just and I've talked about on the podcast. So I just kind of think people know my story. But I forget the last time that I told it. Well, one the original time I told my story was over 300 episodes ago, and who goes back and listens from number one. I don't even know what number one said anymore. And then the second time that I caught everybody up on what was going on was over three years ago now. Yeah. It's so wild when I think that it was October, three years ago. So October, November, December, January, February. So almost three and a half years now since my second diagnosis, man. So wild. But during that time, and since my first diagnosis was in 2011. So this July will be 13 years since my first diagnosis. So much has changed. In that time. I've changed so much in that time. I have learned so much in that time I met so many amazing people. And so I thought, Well, gosh, if that many people are asking me what my story is what my history is, maybe I'll catch you all up and retell it. But I want to retell it and share with you some of the really big revelations I've had, as I've worked to support my body to heal from breast cancer. And from the side effects of breast cancer treatment and menopause and aging. Because it's been 13 years I was 48. And my original diagnosis, I turned 60 This last November, amazing how time goes by. So something that I've been thinking about a lot lately is just the kind of the psychological way that I approach healing and how my mindset has changed. My approach to health has changed. And I'll fill you in on that. And I'm gonna give you this kind of where I'm at now in my head with the way I think about healing. And I'll offer that story to you as well. And hopefully, it'll resonate with you, and may give you something to think about that works for you when you consider your body and your healing. So, first of all, you listen to this podcast, you know, my name is Laura Lummer, the breast cancer recovery coach, when I started off, I knew I wanted to work with breast cancer survivors. And actually, if we did go back to episode number one, I believe that the original title of this podcast was let your lifestyle be your medicine, because I was a health coach, a trainer, a certified personal trainer. I had a degree and a certification in health coaching. I was a yoga teacher I had been through a your VEDA college and so I just kind of looked at healing from a whole lifestyle perspective. And so I started off saying it's all about lifestyle, right? So we need to let our lifestyle be our medicine, which I still 100% believe. But over time as things became more clear and what I was doing and what I was focusing on and who I was working with. Even the title of the podcast has evolved from, like your lifestyle, your medicine to the breast cancer recovery coach to now better than before breast cancer with the breast cancer recovery coach, because I spent a lot of years putting a lot of stuff behind that name, the breast cancer recovery coach, so I didn't want to completely leave it off the title of the podcast. Anyway. So my original diagnosis I was 48 years old. It was July of 2011. And the way I discovered I had breast cancer was a beautiful sunny morning, a July 3 morning on extended weekend because of the holiday. I woke up in my adorable brand new condominium. I had recently been divorced. I recently left, I think it was like almost we were coming up, I think, on 12 years of marriage. And I had left that marriage in December of 2010. And this was July of 2011. I woke up kind of had that moment where you run through where am I at? What do I have to be? What time is it what's going on today and realized, ah, it's a holiday, I don't have to be anywhere, I can just stay here and just take in how wonderful it is. And the sun was coming through my window, and I rolled over. And as my arm fell across my chest, underneath my wrist, I felt a lump in my breast, I had very small breasts and I felt a lump in my breast. And I thought, oh my god, this is not good. Immediately, my heart dropped. My brother had died from testicular cancer in 1993. He was 32 years old. And so there was definitely some trauma around cancer. And the only real intimate experience I had with cancer was that of what I watched my brother go through, and it was horrifying. It was absolutely horrible. Back in 1993, I think about what we watched him go through what he went through as far as treatment, and his body's reactions to the treatments that he was subjected to. And his cancer was very advanced when they discovered it. It was metastasized to all through his body, his brain, his lungs everywhere when they discovered it. So he died six months after his diagnosis. So when I found that lump, I immediately knew something was very wrong. Because I didn't have cystic breasts. I'd never had a lump before. And because I had really small breasts, and I was athletic. And I just thought I would I would have noticed that it wasn't like you hear sometimes when people say, oh, there was this little bump, and I thought it was a cyst and I just waited and then it got bigger. No, literally, I didn't feel anything or I would I would swear to you there was nothing there. And then suddenly, there was this lump. And when I stood up to really look at it, it was close to the surface of my skin and towards the front of my breast. And so it protruded. I mean, you could see this sucker and I was thinking like, Where the hell did that come from? So I couldn't call anybody it was a holiday. I want to say it was I believe it was a Monday was a holiday weekend. I think it was Monday and maybe Fourth of July was on to Tuesday. Pretty sure those were the days that year. And so I needed to wait the third, the fourth, and the fifth. I was back at my doctor's office, I called the doctor I said I need to get in. She felt my breasts. She said, We need to get you in for some further tests right now. And they sent me over for a mammogram. They did an ultrasound and a biopsy all bang, bang, bang. As far as I remember. You know, sometimes memories change over that long, but I remembered all happening within a day. They just sent me from one place to the other. And I waited maybe it was a couple days because I waited and it was July 11. I was at work and I got the phone call from my doctor. And she said you need to come to my office. We've got the results back we need to talk and I asked her Of course what do they say just tell me and she said you need to come into the office so we can discuss it. So of course I knew that something was very wrong. And I was diagnosed with with breast cancer. I don't know that they staged me at that time. And let's talk about trauma. My doctor was a naturopath so she was an MD So she was covered by man insurance, but she practiced naturopathic medicine. And in naturopathic medicine, as you know, if you listen to this podcast, they don't treat disease, right? It's not like you're going to an oncologist who's treating cancer in naturopathic medicine, you're treating the body, you're looking for imbalances in the body, and correcting the imbalances in the body. So when she discovered that I had breast cancer, she said, Well, I don't know what to tell you. I haven't worked in allopathic medicine in many, many years, you should probably go home and Google what to do next. And I was floored. Seriously, go home and Google what to do next. You just told me I had cancer. And I didn't know anything about breast cancer that time all I knew about cancer is what I just shared with you about my brother. I went out and I sat in my car and I thought is this it? Am I gonna die is did this lump because there's cancer other places in my body because that was my experience with my brother right? It was through his whole entire body. And then they discovered the primary tumor was testicular When I didn't know what to think I had no idea. But is this it? You know? Does it start your moves throughout the body? Is it everywhere else in the body and showed up here? It was very scary. And I went home. And I didn't tell anybody for while I was trying to figure things out. I was trying to figure out what do I do? Who do I talk to next? This was what 2011? So I was like, Okay, I will Google it. I don't know what to do. Do I call an oncologist? Do I call my primary care doctor? Do I call a surgeon? What the heck do I do? And I just wanted to get this thing out of me, right. And at the time, my youngest son was 12. And my daughter was 17. And my two older boys had already moved out of the house. So I was a single parent, two kids at home. And I finally was trying to figure stuff out and I ended up calling my younger sister and telling her and you've met her before on the podcast. She's been I've interviewed her as we talked about our Mother's Day experiences. She's also a cancer survivor, cervical cancer, lung cancer, my family hunt, but only in this generation. Isn't that interesting? Right? No cancer and my grandparents, great grandparents that we know Wait. Yes, my mom's mom also had cervical cancer. But both that and my sisters were HPV driven. So which is something you should look out for if you have HPV by the way? Anyway, thank God, my sister knew someone who knew someone who was a mentor at the local hospital. And she was a two time breast cancer survivor. And she mentored in the program that I also mentor in now and have for many years in women guiding women. And we are connected with women who are newly diagnosed with breast or gynecological cancer, depending on our own experience, and then support them through the process of understanding. The next step is understanding what to do and processing what they're experiencing. Thank God for her every day. I haven't seen her. You know, since that first couple months, we talked two times. And I never saw her again. But she literally changed the direction of my life. She calmed me down, she gave me direction, she helped me think straight, she answered my questions. And then I started the process. I went through a lumpectomy, I made the decision to have a lumpectomy. And this is interesting, too, especially lately, because now I would say, this has always been something I was aware of. But in the last several months, it's been a glaring, glaring thing that I see is an obstacle, a barrier, a challenge to the way we women, respond to our health, and make choices about our treatment. And it breaks my heart. And one of the things that I hope to be able to do in the future with my business is to address this and to help women with this. But I made the decision to get a lumpectomy because of money, really. I was a single mom, the downtime was shorter, the recovery was less. And my doctor said you can basically expect the same outcomes whether we do a lumpectomy or a mastectomy or a bilateral mastectomy, the studies say you're gonna get the same outcome. And I did trust my doctor when they told me that, that really the motivating factor was how much downtime? How much sick time do I have? How much is this going to cost? I had insurance through my employer, but obviously I still had co payments and premiums and all that and how to take care of my kids, right. So I did the lumpectomy. And in the post surgical pathology, they found out that they did not get all the cancer there was DCIS surrounding which was stage zero cancer surrounding the tumor. The tumor was a stage two tumor and it had moved into some of my lymph nodes. So it was stage two B. And they told me that I would have to do chemotherapy because it was in the lymph nodes. And I did do chemotherapy. I did THC chemotherapy was brutal. I did six rounds of it. THC every third week or three weeks off one week on and I finished my last treatment in December of 2011 December 30 2011 During that time, so I think I found out first and it spread to my lymph nodes and then that while I was in chemotherapy that they had not gotten all of it and they wanted me to go back and do a bilateral mastectomy. So that following March, I said, you know, I wanted to take a couple of weeks off and I wanted to really do everything I could to support my body to feel better. I was exhausted from chemotherapy. I was I was in a lot of pain. I had a lot of nerve damage hands, feet, legs, from chemotherapy, a lot of digestive issues. It was rough, rough road and I wanted to take a couple of months to let my body recover before I went back into surgery. So we did the bilateral mastectomy in March of 2012. And then I went through reconstruction after that. So we wrapped it up, I finished everything which was meaning everything reconstruction, nipple tattoos, all of that was done mid December 2012. And I remember having these December dates, I think I've talked about this on the show before, knowing that I had this future vision to be done, right, I have cancer behind me, and I was going through chemotherapy. And in December, my immune system was so low, my white blood cells were basically non existent. They put me on prophylactic antibiotics. And they say, well, we're not sure we're going to be able to do this last treatment, we might have to put it off for a couple of weeks until your immune system builds back up, your blood count gets back up, and I was determined. I was like, There's no way I'm not, I'm not doing chemo in 2012. I just, to me, it was like, there was an end date, right, the end of the year was this barrier. And on the other side of that barrier was getting back to life again. And I was so excited to be done that in my head I had committed and said, whatever doesn't get done by the end of December, and get going to get done. It's not happening. I'm not doing it. And I was able to do it, I was able to have my last chemotherapy treatment. And so I was done with chemotherapy. And that's when this whole party really got started. To be honest with you. I was so excited. And as I've shared before I had going into chemotherapy was terrifying for me. I didn't want to go, I could remember my brother's experience. And as his experience was he had to check into the hospital for his treatments. He was in the hospital five days, this is how severe it was. And it's interesting because he had some of the same chemotherapy agents that I had. And yet, the experience he had was just horrific, because he didn't have all the pharmaceutical drugs in 1993 that I had in 2011. That helped me and help all of us get through chemotherapy in a very different way than it was not that long ago. So he would be hospitalized for five days, because the chemo was so incredibly toxic, and so strong. And they told us, you know, if the cancer doesn't kill him, the chemotherapy will and that was kind of the way it was for a long time my husband's father also died from leukemia, while was being treated for leukemia, and died from overtreatment from the chemotherapy, which caused internal bleeding. So, you know, chemotherapy is is tough. And we're very fortunate these days to have the pharmaceuticals, we do have to get us through, there was one that I would take, I don't remember the name of it, but it was these three pills. And I would take one, as soon as I would sit in the chair for they would start my drip. And then I would take it each day for two days after that, along with other things, steroids and stuff. But this one in particular, was a pill that was designed to disconnect the signals from my gut to my brain. Imagine what that did to my microbiome, right? But hey, I mean, we do what we do to live and get through these treatments. And it would prevent my gut from sending the signal to my brain letting the brain know that I was nauseated. And it worked. It worked well. And it was one of three different medications that I would take for nausea. But I was on a lot of meds. And when I finished chemotherapy, all I could think of was, wait, throw this baggie away. And I remember going into chemo, a dear friend of mine said to me, cuz she knew my mentality about health. And I was that person's like, you know, take aspirin and you don't take anything, everything's food and everything's exercise. And she said to me, you've got to give yourself permission to be comfortable. I feel motion coming up just talking about it. She said, You've got to give yourself permission to tell the doctor everything you're going through and to take the drugs to help you be comfortable because what you're going to go through is very challenging. Let yourself be comfortable. And I think the emotion comes up now because it was a big growing thing for me when I started suffering horribly in chemotherapy. to It was like admitting weakness, right? We have all these stories we go into treatment with and you know, my story was, you know, I'm strong, I'm athletic, I do triathlons, I lift weights, like I just saw myself my identity was very much tied to physical health and physical strength. So doing that work, and allowing myself and forgiving myself and giving myself permission at that point in time with what I knew then to take these drugs to help allow me to continue what I believed I needed to do, which was continued to work use as little sick time as possible. I put myself through hell. I would do it completely differently. If I I could go back. But that is what I did then. And I don't regret it. I did the best I could with what I knew. And I want to share that because I know that's common for a lot of us. You know, we learn things as we go along. And as we learn things, we look back and go, Oh, wow, had I known that I wouldn't have done this, what did that end up doing to me, but we don't get to go back. And we make those decisions.
Laura Lummer 20:25
Out of fear, sometimes out of desperation, out of desire to live, you know, fundamentally out of desire to freaking live. And so whatever you do, because you believe it's the right thing for you, because you want to live, it's okay. You know, if you did things and now you're realize that damaged your body in some way, you didn't know better, or you would have done better, and it's okay. And I think back there was a lot of years when I finished the treatment, that I just was so angry at my body. Because going through menopause, I gained a lot of weight during chemotherapy, which blew my mind, right, I had no idea going into chemotherapy, people could gain weight. I just always thought chemotherapy would make you emaciated and sick and bald, and I would look like Gollum. But I didn't look like some cornfed farm girl, when I got out of chemotherapy, I gained a lot of weight. And I was determined to get right back in the gym to get right back, start everything and it just didn't work. You know, there were years that I went through the struggle of trying to figure out how to get this weight off of me. And now I look back and I realize how much stress I caused myself No wonder it was so difficult to lose weight is my cortisol, which I can say now must have been through the roof at that time. When I did eventually go back to another naturopath. And God tested. It was through the roof. My cortisol was so high, because I was so hard on myself. And I coach women all the time, who have this belief, some belief, whatever belief it is tied to their identity. And they believe they have to be strong and whatever their version of strength is, are they the emotional rock for the family? Are they physically elitist? Right? They're the physical athletes physically strong, and have a lot of beliefs tied to that chemotherapy, breast cancer treatment, cut cutting parts of your body off, these things make you rethink. And I think that's why it's such a big struggle to know yourself again, and allow yourself space to love yourself again, because you kind of really have to let go of your identity and get to know yourself again. And people say it's my new normal, it's my new normal. And I just I don't know why. I just don't think that captures it correctly. And I think that I think that that phrase, I don't know what it is, it brings up a lot of resistance in the people that I work with, it kind of brings up resistance in me too. And in my experience, I would just say that, you just have to get to know yourself again, you know, you have to get to know your body again. And you have to learn to love your body, to let go of some of the things that you attached your identity to, and to really dig deep into understanding what it means to love your body. And I know we talked about that people say, you know, just off the cuff comments, like you know, it's about looking good, like in the way you look, that is so surface, that is not what I mean. I mean, there's a lot of things about the way my body looks that I could look at if I chose to and says I don't like the way that looks. You know, I could say that. But I choose not to put my energy into that when I talk about loving this body. I mean, the miracle that it is what it has brought me through how it has managed to heal through so many things. And I've done a lot of work to support it. But thank you so much for responding to it. You know, thank you so much buddy for being 60 years old, and going through everything it's gone through and still here and still kicking is still doing its job to heal itself. It's pretty friggin amazing. You know. So that is what started me on the road to become a coach for breast cancer survivors that struggle in that period right after my first treatment. And being part of the mentor group at the local hospital here allowed me to meet so many other women when I realized we're all struggling with the same thing. We're all struggling this mental emotional component, the depression, the anxiety, the fear, is so real and so common and yet, when I would go to my doctors and complain about it, and I did complain, and I'm like, Ah, this is how I feel, and this is what's going on with my body. My immune system was shot, I got shingles three times in a row. After I finished chemotherapy I got it got better like three weeks later, I got it again, my immune system was just wrecked. And I was constantly fighting, you know, inflammation and pain. And I'd go to my oncologist and I go to my doctor, and they'd say, I don't hear that, that doesn't have anything to do with chemotherapy. And I felt like I was out of my mind. I felt like I was crazy. Like, how could you say that to me? I didn't have any of these things. Now I have all of these things that say, Well, you know, your hormones have changed because you went into menopause. And I couldn't argue with that. Because I was in chemically induced menopause. I was insane, hot flashes all the time. But getting to know this group of women and these mentors and the women that we watched, going through treatment, and we supported going through treatment. I knew for sure, I wasn't alone. And I met all these women who would say that happens to me, those are my doctor told me that's what happened to me. I thought I was crazy. My doctor told me it wasn't normal, or it wasn't because of chemotherapy. And that's when I decided to give a voice to that space, to let other women who went through it I went through and through so many women I had met went through to let them know you're not alone. You're not crazy. This is real, this is really happening to you. Now what now what do we do, and it started to work for me, I dug in, I went back to college, I got a degree in healthy lifestyle coaching. I dug into every certification, I could get my hands on reading, studying everything I could about the body, about health, about cancer, about mental emotional healing, self compassion. And it was really the book radical remission, I think that gave me the biggest shift. Because it was that book that broke through a barrier for me, and helped me see through this fight mentality, you know, the fight mentality, the warrior mentality, the, the, I don't know, everything, everything pink ribbon. And I don't mean to say that in a derogatory way, there's a tremendous amount of great things that the pink ribbon movement does. And there's a tremendous amount of need to feel like a survivor and a warrior at times, right.
Laura Lummer 27:17
But that energy of fighting, it does not lead to healing. It just doesn't, in my experience, and in the experience I've had with every single woman I've coached has had cancer, because fighting means resistance, and what are you fighting, you're fighting your own body. And when I heard the story in radical remission of one of the people in that book, who started to send love to his cancer, that is what blew my mind. And it got me rethinking things. And then it got me reading and looking into people who had healed in that as I read those stories, and I went to summits and I listened to podcast, and I was like, these people are healing from cancer. And there's a lot of them out there. And they're all saying the same thing. That they learn to love themselves, that they learn to care for themselves, by radically changing their diet, by trusting their intuition by building their spirituality by building their communities by building their support network. So basically connecting, right so little a bit. I mean, diet, exercise, and supplements were a part of that, as was medication in many cases. But the really big part when you read all the stories was the emotional mental healing that went on. And it was when I realized I needed to shift that I had a lot of stuff I needed to let go that I was holding on to that I was angry that I was resentful that I was fighting cancer and cancer was my own body. That was a huge change, for me, a huge change. And I look back now, you know, it's one of those things where I think, Wow, I can't even believe that. I thought the way that I thought, right? It's like when we learn better, we do better. And then when we do better, we look back and think how did I believe this other way? How did I? How is it possible that I was treating myself that way and didn't even know it? Like I wasn't aware of how hard I was being on me of how hard I was pushing my body. Holy crap. I remember a time I was going to the gym, I loved orange theories, high interval, high intensity interval training. And there was one that was literally a couple blocks from the house that I lived in at that time. And I would walk there so I could get in extra steps because everything was about steps and biometrics I had you know all of these meters on me always measuring how many calories I was taking in how many calories I was putting out, just trying to figure it out from a personal trainer. Perspective. calories in calories out muscle or inflammation, I was so stuck in the physiology of what was happening in my body, that I was overlooking what I actually needed. And that was self care. And that means gentleness and means kindness. It means allowing myself to feel emotions at MIT, emotions, release emotions, that was a huge part. And that didn't go along with my identity of being strong. You know, it wasn't just strong in the gym strong and exercise strongest girl a gym, strongest woman, I needed to lift weights with the guys, you know, it wasn't going to be good enough, I wasn't stronger wasn't the best. And stuffing emotions comes along with that, or came along with that, for me that mentality of not being vulnerable, of not being emotional. And I realized, that wasn't helping me heal. It was actually hurting me it was actually doing harm. So I started doing different work. Now, it's interesting, because in 2020, so my story goes on. In 2020, I was already coaching people, I started the podcast in 2017, I really wanted to get this message out, I just could visualize it in my head, just like a radio frequency and just seeing that message go out everywhere it could in the world through this podcast and let women know you're not alone. And there's support available for you. And it's okay to feel. And it's okay to love yourself. And it's okay to stop judging yourself. And it's okay to stop hitting the highest bar and the highest standard all the freakin time. And it's okay not to be everything to everybody, because people can take care of their own shit sometimes, right? It's okay. I really desperately wanted that message to get out there. And I was so happy. And I started coaching women. And in 2018, I went through a really rough time in my personal life, one of my children and my husband and his business and one of my kids in his personal life. And I say, I went through it because I was still at that time, very attached to the idea that what he was doing, what was happening around me, was causing me stress was impacting me in a way that I didn't have control over. I didn't really get it at that time, as I do now, that it was what I told myself about what was happening with my son and his life with my husband in our life and in his business. And I had old stories that tied me to this belief that I had to be impacted by the suffering of people I loved. And I don't mean that sound like cold like, Man, I don't care what happens to you. That's not at all what I mean. But I was making myself sick because I was so in worry. And it was affecting my sleep. It was affecting my digestion. And I thought I was working on it. I was kind of working out. But I didn't really know I didn't really get how much more work I needed to do. And so we all went into lockdown in 2020. Right. So 2018 2019 They were challenging. They were difficult, emotionally difficult years. And at the same time isn't this just life. They were emotionally wonderful years, because I started this business. And what I was doing was growing and thriving, and the women I was connecting with were amazing. And I was loving what I did. And I launched my 10 week program, the four pillars of breast cancer recovery, which is now a 16 week program, which then was called revivify breathing life back in after breast cancer. And I launched this program three times. And almost all the women who joined that program are still with me to this day. And I just love them dearly. And so many others have come into my life since then. But we were all in lockdown. And I was out exercising one day going for a walk, I was walking out at the beach, and I went over to the showers at the beach and I went to wash my feet off and to watch the sand off my feet. And I had flip flops on. And as I stepped into the shower area, I slipped in a puddle and I slammed down on my hip and my back I just hit this on that knocked the wind out of me. And immediately in excruciating pain. Like when you see cartoons and they show Star circling around somebody's head. That was me. I I thought I broke my hip. Immediately. I thought that's what I had to have done. This was horrible. Now, let me just rewind a little bit because during 2020 2020 was the year that I would go back for at this time. I was getting my checkups every two years right I would do bloodwork once a year. And then I would do scans every two years and I Did scans because initially there were nodules in my lungs. And then, of course, many of you probably heard that, that my oncologist said, you live in California, you live in the United States, almost everybody has little tiny nodules in their lungs. And so they would watch them every two years. They never grew. They were just always there. It wasn't anything malignant. But every two years I would get a scan. And it would be April was my time to go and do it and everything was shut down. Nobody was you couldn't go to a doctor. And I wasn't worried about it. Right? Because 2018 I had my scans, I had had my bloodwork, everything was good. I was healthy, I felt strong, I felt great. And then I started getting these weird things happening to me, I had a lot of aches and pains in my bones and my hip and in my back. And I'd lay down a bed at night to go to sleep and my bones would just ache. And I thought it was just because I was really lifting heavy weights. So that time I was loving lifting heavy weights and and we have this mentality to that I think oftentimes doesn't serve as that as we get older aches and pains are normal. We're just supposed to be in pain. So I just thought, I'm old and I'm lifting heavy weights, right, silly. And then one day I went to the beach, I stepped off of a little like a sandbar. And kind of like when you step off a curb and you don't realize how far you're stepping. So you kind of Jar your back a little bit. I did that. And my back hurts so bad. And I went to see my sister in law who was a chiropractor. She was my brother's wife. And as I laid on her table to get a chiropractic adjustment, she said, there's a lump sticking out of your back. And I was like, what, what are you talking about? So right in just a little below my shoulder blades and my thoracic spine area. There was a lump look like a freaking softball sticking out of my back. I went to the doctor right away, the doctor faulted she's let's go get an x ray and got an x ray. She said, there's nothing there. The results came back. There's nothing there. I said.
Laura Lummer 36:59
So there's a lump sticking out of my shirt. You could see it through my shirt. That's how prominent was I said, How can you tell me there's nothing there? When I can see it sticking out of my shirt. What are we talking about? And she says, Well, you know, maybe it's just fluid maybe just swelled up because you have the way you stepped off. You hurt your back. Let's give it a few days and see if it goes away. Okay, well it did. Went away. All right. So I just went on with my days and happy go lucky. And I woke up one morning I went in to brush my teeth. I looked in the mirror, and half my forehead was so swollen. It was unbelievable. It was what is that? The show the Goonies and there's a character in The Goonies and I looked like that character like my head was so swollen. It didn't hurt. It wasn't discolored, there was no mark on it. It was just swollen. I called my doctor I said something's wrong. I gotta come in. I even sent her a picture because again, it was locked down. So not easy to get in. Unfortunately, I knew you know, this, these doctors well. And so they said, Okay, come in, we'll look at it. And she looked at it. She says, You must have just like bumped your head when you were sleeping. Said I didn't bump my head. I'm not drinking. No, I wasn't drunk. And if I bumped my head, so it would swell this much. There's no way there will be no mark there. I didn't bump my head on something. She says well, let's give it a couple of days and see if it goes away. So we did and it went away. So during this time, my shoulder is also hurting. So when I go to bed at night only when I go to bed at night and very random. My right shoulder would hurt but I'm already like aching in my in my hips and my right shoulders hurting and, and it would wake me up it was really, really painful. And there were some nights I just couldn't sleep because the pain was so bad. It wake me up the Millah night and then I couldn't lay back down. But it was very random. went to the doctor two different times. Both times she sent me for X rays, both times the X Ray said nothing wrong. Okay, so all is it happened in 2021 a little bit in 2019. And now all that in 2020. And so here I am, I fall and I'm in excruciating pain and I'm thinking, I'm freaking broke my hip. I cannot believe I did this. So my husband helps me get to the emergency room. Because I'm in so much pain. My body is literally shaking. I mean, it was horrible. I get to the emergency room. Thank God they gave me toradol they had toradol which is like when I have been in my worst pain. toradol has been amazing. It's like a liquid ibuprofen. I know it does stuff to you. That is not ideal, but for me, it was better than opiates and the pain was mind numbing. So they gave me Tortall thank God it helped. They did an x ray of my hip. They said no broken bones, no fractures. You probably just bruised yourself. Probably a big bruise is gonna come up because there was no bruise on my hip ailment or my back at that time. She says you're probably Get a big bruise come to the surface, it's going to hurt for a couple of weeks. So So okay, so she gave me some toradol to take, they give me a prescription for some toradol. Because I told her, I don't want to take opiates, you know, I work I have stuff to do, I can take those things and stay awake. So fast forward, the pain does not get much better. It's a really rough several weeks really rough. And I'm very blessed in that. I have what's called a hydration room close by me. And I could go to the hydration room where I can get liquid IVs and total injections. And so that's hard on your kidney. So you can't do it frequently. But when it would get so bad that I couldn't take the pain out, go get toradol injections, and I was like, when is this thing going to heal. So about six weeks goes by and I'm meeting a friend of mine. And at this time, we could dine again. And there was a restaurant here where we could sit outside and eat. And she came to me for lunch and I limped up to the table and she was like, what's going on? Why are you limping? I told her and her husband is an orthopedic surgeon says we need to get you in to see him, you should not be in this much pain for that long. So I go in to see him. He looks at my previous X rays, he kind of does a physical exam with my head. He says let's get an MRI. Let's look a little deeper. Maybe you tore some soft tissue or something when you felt because there was never a bruise. A bruise never surfaced. So it's okay. And I went and got the MRI. And it was interesting because it was the day that I had I was doing a webinar, I had done a webinar and I was enrolling people in my 10 week coaching program. And I was sitting here it was a Sunday. And I had enrolled people in the program. I was super excited. It was I done multiple webinars. This was the last one, the program was opening the next day. And as I was wrapping up the webinar, what when I got off, I looked at my phone, and there were text messages from my friend and from her husband and missed voice called the voice messages. And so I thought, no, because they told me if the terror is big enough and causing this much pain, I would need to maybe have surgery and I did not want to go through surgery. I did not want to, you know go through all the things that are involved in surgery. And so I called them back and I called her husband might the orthopedic surgeon I call it and he answered the phone. He's just the nicest guy ever. He's like, Hey, Laura, how's your pain? And I said, Oh, I mean, as long as I don't stand on my leg, it's good. How bad is the chair? And he starts hemming and hawing. Because this is not this is not what orthopedic surgeons do. And it's not what someone who's your good friend usually has to do, right? And he says, Well, you know, we're seeing a lot of inflammation inside your the head of your femur and several lesions. Boom, right? There's the buzzword lesions, what the hell, lesions means tumors? And I said, Whoa, hold on. Are you trying not to tell me that I have cancer? And he says, yeah, it looks that way. And so I said, Okay. All right. Well, he's orthopedic surgeon, what do they do hip replacement. So I said, Okay, all right. Well, it's okay. You know what? It's in the hips and the head of the femur, let's go in, let's take the hip out. Let's put a new hip join in, boom, let's get back to work, right. Let's get back to life. Let's not worry about this. And he says, his wife calls me my friend. And she says, I'm on my way over. And she's I'm bringing lunch, I'm coming over. And so she did. She's a freaking amazing human being. They both are. She comes over, she brings lunch, and I'm limping around my house, do whatever I'm doing. I'm super excited. I'm starting this program. It starts the next day. I can't wait to support these women. And she brings me crutches. And she says, You need to get off of that leg. And I said, Well, I mean, I stay off it as much as possible because it hurts to step on it. And she says, No, you need to be off your leg, you need to be on these crutches. And she says, give me a piece of paper and she starts drawing a picture of my hip and describing what's going on. And she says probably because you're so strong and you lift so much weight, the outside of your bone is already so strong, because I had also already had a bone density test as well, which came back normal. And she said your your bone, the cortex of it. The outside of it is so strong. That's probably the only reason your hip is not broken right now. And if that hip breaks, you're in big trouble. And she doesn't it's literally if you stepped the wrong way. Your hip could break. You got to stay off the leg no matter what. So as I have frustrating fine, I was out of my leg, right? She jumps in. She was a guardian angel for me. She calls other doctors she knows her friends of hers. Because it's 2020 is October 2020. is So really difficult to get to get into doctors and see doctors and she knows more than she's Only me at that point in time from what she sees and what her husband saw on the MRI. She knew I needed to get in quickly. She knew more than I knew. And she didn't want to really say everything until until we had a plan. And so I knew it was going on. And she didn't know the extent but she knew that there was something I shouldn't be messing with her. So she gets me set up with appointments and full body scans and MRIs, full body MRIs, full body, CT scans, and oncologist, all of the stuff she gets helps me get it all lined up. And I go, and I do all of the tests. And
Laura Lummer 45:37
I think it was a Thursday that I did the tests, right? I'm sitting there with my husband, it's a Sunday. It's a Sunday, and I'm gonna go see the oncologist the following Wednesday to get the diagnostic results. And she calls me and she says, Listen, I gotta tell you, I've got the test results back. And I'm going to tell you what they are. Only because I don't want to tell you this without a plan. I'm not an oncologist. And I want you to hear from your oncologist. But I need you to understand that you can't be moving around. And I'm like, What in the world? I'm so excited because my son had moved, and I'm going to go out to Colorado. I'm going to fly out to Colorado the following week. I'm seeing the oncologist on Wednesday, the following Monday, I'm flying to Colorado for a week I'm going to see his new house. I haven't seen him in a couple of months. And I said okay, why can't I move and she starts listing. And she says, you have cancer in as I already knew my left hip, pelvis, femur, right hip, pelvis, femur, lumbar spine, thoracic spine, three of your left ribs, your forehead, your shoulder blade, your chest is full of fluid. And the pericardium the tissue on your heart is full of fluid. You are in serious condition right now. And I'm floored. I'm absolutely floored because on the one hand, I'm thinking what are you talking about? Like I walked a couple of miles a day. I work out all the time. I mean, my hip hurts. And I haven't been doing any squats since I hurt my hip for the last several weeks. But How's this possible? How is this happening to me? This can't be real. This cannot be real. And then at the same time, I'm thinking I'm gonna freakin die. Holy shit. I have cancer everywhere. What the hell. And I I'm just in shock, right? absolute shock. And so of course I listen to her. I take her seriously. I think God go and see a wonderful oncologist. He starts me on a program right away. He sends me in we drain a liter and a half of fluid out of my chest crazy. I have a video of it though, because I love stuff like that, like I would love. If I could go back in time I'd be a surgeon because I was like absolutely fascinated by the human body. Then this wonderful nurse when they went into drain my chest, I asked her Could you take a picture of it for me because they put a tube through your ribs in your back and then they connected to this big glass bottle. And they drain all this fluid. And it was still so unbelievable to me that I thought there's not going to be any fluid there. Like there's no way. I'm not incapacitated anyway. And my oncologist said to me, he goes, I am in shock that you can speak people with this much fluid in their chest. They came a hold a conversation. He says when I saw your diagnostics, I was going to hospitalized you I was prepared for this appointment to send you to the hospital. That's the condition you're in. And I'm like, Well, I don't have time to go get all this stuff done right now because I'm leaving for a trip to Colorado. And he says you're not going anywhere. I don't think you understand the series position you're in right now. And so he schools me again, right. So I cancelled a trip to Colorado, which was very heartbreaking. And I go and I asked this nurse, will you take pictures of me let me see this stuff because I don't believe there's that much fluid. There's no way because I'd feel so good. It can't be true. A liter and a half of fluid and she tells me your lung is partially collapsed. And as we drain it once we get the fluid out your lungs gonna start to expand and you'll start coughing and in my head I'm thinking it's not gonna happen. That's not gonna happen. Sure as hell it did happen. She fills up a bottle. She picks up another bottle and she set up my camera so she was videotaping. She says do you want me to videotape I was like yeah, videotape it. That's so cool. She videotapes this and a liter and a half of fluid. And sure enough once my chest is empty fluid, I start coughing and I thought on believable This is unbelievable. Hey, how's this happening to me, but it was happening. And this is another thing where I come back. And it's hard sometimes for the brain to connect, right? We have our identity, we have what we believe is our life. But then what is our life is our life. And I sit here and go, Oh, this is actually happening to me. And then after I see my oncologist, after he sends me to go, we have a biopsy. So the reason my shoulder was hurting was that there was a five and a half centimeter tumor in the lymph nodes, and my shoulder, never showed up on any of the X rays. Me being naive, not being a medical professional, I would think. And I always felt safe, because I had had X rays on my spine had multiple X rays on my shoulder. And so I thought, well, I don't have to worry about cancer, because I've had all these X rays. And I believe I had one ultrasound in there to either way I whatever it was, I thought, I've already looked at the inside of me. So I'm good. I don't have to worry about cancer, I don't know what's going on what's causing this pain, but it's not cancer, because it would have shown up. But it didn't show up when they didn't see the tumor, and all the tumors throughout my spine. And so I was told I needed to go in and have radiation. So part of the problem was my thoracic spine where the big lump had come up, where they told me there was nothing there. Those vertebrae all there through T five and T 12. The vertebrae, my thoracic spine, all had a lot of cancer in them. And I was on the edge or the verge of what they call a chord compression, which could have paralyzed me. And because of all the swelling and the tumors and stuff in there, and then I also had more cancer in my lumbar spine in the L three, four and five. Suddenly, things made sense, right, the swelling that happened in my thoracic spine was because there was cancer, this swelling on my forehead, because there was cancer on my forehead, the pain in my shoulder because there was a tumor there. And I just like how did this happen? So what how did this happen? Like I just had a clean bill of health in 2018, April of 2018. Everything was good. I don't understand how this happened. Well, my friend calls me back and she says, Listen, did you have a conversation with your oncologist about your 2018 scans? No, we just looked at the 2020. We talked about, you know, my plan. And she says, You know, I don't know if I should tell you this. But if you know it was me, and it was my personal history and my personal body, I'd want to know. So I'm going to tell you, she was in your 2018 scans, you had a three and a half centimeter tumor in your lymph nodes. And it didn't make it into the report. So when the radiologist does your scan, they look at the pictures, they write a report, dictating or translating what they see in the picture and they send that report to your oncologist. Well, the radiologist who looked at that scan did not write that I had a tumor in my lymph nodes. So in 2018, this chest, abdomen, pelvis, CT scan showed my bones were all clear. But there was a three and a half centimeter tumor in my lymph nodes, which was now five and a half centimeters. And no cancer has spread through all my bones. That was another load to take, right? Just making a really tough decision. Because I knew at this point, I got to watch my emotions. It's hard not to feel betrayed and angry when you hear something like that. But I had to make a decision, I felt I had to make a decision for me because I know me. And I know when I go into something I go all in was going to go after the doctor who didn't tell me that I had cancer. And as a result of that cancer is spreading untreated in my body for nearly two years. Or do I put all my energy into figuring out how to heal. And my husband, my kids, my family were furious as you could imagine. And they all wanted to fight. And I had to spend some time with that and just say, You know what?
Laura Lummer 54:29
I'm not going to do it. I can't do it. I can't divide myself and fight and go through what I know is involved in legal battles, especially when you're fighting a hospital and this physician was at a really well known Hospital in Orange County. And he was the head of a big radiology department. And I knew what I would be up against. I said those kinds of emotions. I can't I can't be putting myself through that right now. I have I have to be able to continue what I've already learned is so critical for this emotional release, I have to stay in a place that supports healing. And that was the decision that I made. And that was, so this was October 2020, that I was diagnosed, I found all this stuff out. I don't know, over the course of the next couple of weeks, and by the beginning of 2021, so I went through radiation, 30 rounds of radiation on my left hip and on my spine, so I could get off the crutches that was all through the end of 2021 or 2020. And then in 2021, I just made a decision, it was like, I'm gonna dig into everything we can about emotions. And although I was already a health coach, and I was already coaching people, I signed up for a certification at The Life Coach School. And I went through that, because I had been a part of and been coached by lots of coaches at The Life Coach School with a student there for some time. And I wanted to be certified in their tools, because they dig so deep into your emotions, of managing your emotions. And so I made a commitment to make a really big investment into going into that certification program. And, you know, I think it's all of it was part of my healing. As I look back now. And I see this was all a part of my healing. It was all a part of me learning to bring myself together. And what I mean by that is not get my shit together. But understand, and this is the story of the very beginning, I didn't expect to talk this lungs really long podcast. This was a story I was gonna tell you at the very beginning, through all of this through all of these experiences. I just feel like I was always led to the right thing at the right time. Me I'm a lifetime learner, I need information I need data steady is important to me, information is important to me. And it always led me to the right place to learn. And I was open to learning, open to coaching, open to doing things that were uncomfortable. And that I think is important. I talk about this on the show a lot. If you want to change and grow, you've got to be willing to feel anything that's going to come up. And a lot of stuff that comes up is super friggin uncomfortable. You've got to be willing to feel all the fields because that supports your healing. So I did go to the Life Coach School. And it's you know, people are looking like, Okay, what you have advanced stage four cancer, and now you're going into this six month long study program. And then when I got out of that I joined a year long study program with nation winters I had read the metabolic approach to cancer, I'd read and reread radical remission, I'd read radical hope the second book, I was just so focused on healing, and I had followed Naisha winters, I'd read her book, the metabolic approach to cancer. I was so focused on what do people who have stage four cancer, I don't care what kind of cancer it is? How do they heal? What did these people do? And I found so many fantastic stories, and I was like, that's what I'm gonna do. I just, I'm gonna keep figuring it out. I'm gonna keep going deeper. I know that nothing is uncurable, that bodies heal, because I see it I read the stories I meet the people, I've met the people. You know, when I would talk to my college about it, he won't talk to me about that, which is fine. That's not his belief system. That's not the world he lives in. It's not the world he works in, but it his world is not my world. He's my advisor on one end, and have lots of advisors for different things, because life is just not seen through one lens. And I don't want to see it through one lens. So I decided I when I finished LiveCode school, I went into a year long training with nature winners, I got an email one day that said she was opening this program. And she was training people in the metabolic approach to cancer. And I was like, boom, I'm in. I'm in right now. I'm down. And I think my husband was just thought I was crazy. But he's amazing. And he'll do anything to support me. And I just said, I got to do this. I have to keep doing this. And I honestly believe that part of my healing has been the commitments to these programs say, I'm invested, right? I'm invested, my time is invested, my money's invested, I'm doing this, I'm not dying. I'm not gonna give up anything. I'm going to get through this. I'm going to figure this out. I'm committed for this amount of time, right? So it kind of helps me to always have this aspiration in this future thing. That's exciting. So I continue to learn amazing things on a regular basis because I'm in the metabolic Training Institute of Health Network. And so it's an ongoing support mentorship program of learning through Naisha through the doctors that she's trained, it's absolutely fascinating. So I do that and I learned so much about taking care of my body, the kind of things to look at, you know, I've learned so much about labs and about genetics and about myself. So I just You're deeper and deeper and deeper. But we also talk constantly when we see a big change. And when I say we were we're doing a case study inside this network. And we're looking at a patient who's maybe suddenly had a dramatic change. One of the first things that gets asked is what happened in that person's life? Did they go through an emotional release of some kind? Did they experience a stress of some kind. And it's amazing to listen to the stories and hear how the experience the emotional experience of life affects the physical body. And so I'm gonna wrap this very long podcast up with sharing this with you. This is what over all the study I do for all of the things that I do. This is the one thing that has come to me that I really cling to that has helped me when I say bring myself together, this is what I mean. So my story is, cancer is a cell in my body that's gone wrong. And I picture it, like, you know, our body has all these living things. It's bacterias. It's organelles like the cell is a fascinating world of living things that are functioning and everything has its own responsibility, and it responds to different things. They send chemical messengers back and forth. It's just absolutely incredible how our body works. So I think of all that lifeforce. In Me, I think of what an incredible community that is to work together, right? All the cells work together, they have their own functions, but they also have integrated functions. And they work together, and they fulfill their role. But they support other things in their role. Everything works together. And I sit and I meditate on this, I visualize my body is this working community? And then I think of the cancer cells, and I think what does that mean to me on an energetic level, it means to me, this cell is not part of the community. It's not doing its job, right? It's not participating is not supporting the rest of the community. Something's gone wrong. And I can be angry at it right? I can be angry and say, work right damn cell, right, I can be angry and get it out. You're not part of the community. You're ostracized, you don't belong. But I've shifted my thinking, I say, Okay, what about people I meet where they're really sad, really negative, we call them toxic, right? When you meet a toxic person, I may not want that person around me, because that energy doesn't feel good. And if that person is willing to work on their self awareness and their behaviors, that's not something I want to expose myself to. But I want to think of them in such a way that I think, what's happened to you, you know, what's your story of your life that's brought you to this point where your energy is so angry and negative. And I think about that with the cell. I'm like, okay, something my cell is sick. It's not working, right. And I want the community to come together and support that cell. I don't want it to be pushed away. You know, like, I was just saying, like, there's some people are so negative, you're like, Ooh, I got to move away from you. And I try internally, to focus my energy on going to those cancer cells and not being repelled. That's right, we're not letting my other cells be repelled by the toxic things that the cancer cells put out. But to learn to say, I'm coming in, right, we're coming in, and we're gonna love on you anyway, and we're gonna heal you. And we're going, we're stronger. Right than the normal functioning healthy cells I have a lot more of them are a lot stronger. My tumor markers are lower than they've ever been in, in almost three and a half years. They're in the normal range of what a normal non cancer person could have in their body. freaking amazing, right.
Laura Lummer 1:04:06
And I feel like that work, because it's a lot of work even to think about on a cellular level to think about my body on a cellular level like that. It's a lot of work to not be repelled. And I feel like doing that work for me, has caused me to do a lot of work on releasing negative emotions, negative thoughts about not just me and my health, but other people, other situations, history, past experiences, because you can't do one and not the other. Right? And when you start doing the internal work, it starts to grow. And then you start to see it, it starts with this microcosm, and it grows out into this macrocosm and you just evolve with it. And that's where I'm at in my healing journey, right. I'm so excited to be able to share everything thing that I've learned over the years that I practice that I can still continue to study and learn, as a metabolic health advocate as a life coach as a health coach, because I know what is possible for us as survivors, I know what we go through. Because pretty sure I've been through it all. Now at this point. I know what we go through, and I know what we're capable of. And we're capable of so much. And I didn't change the name of this podcast to better than before breast cancer for no reason. Like it took a lot of thought and a lot of time. But I realized that's the message that I want to put out there. And not everyone will have the healing some people get and not everyone will have the results that I get. But does healing always have to mean curing. Because I would say to you, I have healed a tremendous amount over the past almost 13 years now on multiple, multiple levels. And I feel really good about that. And I still remain hopeful that my body will be healed also will heal itself completely. It's working on it, and it's doing a great job of it. And of course, I love that idea. But it's again, like anything else in life, it's really more about not achieving the goal, although achieving the goal is amazing and will be fantastic. But it's about who you become on your way to that goal. And I gotta say that cancer has caused me to really become, you know, cancer has been the catalyst, me making a decision to evolve. Yeah. And that's, that's my story. That's where I started, this is where I'm at, this is what I believe. And this is what I love to put out into the world and share with others. So if that helps you in any way it gives you ideas resonates with you. Questions, you feel like you could use some of that support or you're on the same journey, you know where you can find me work with me, you can find me and DM me on facebook and instagram as the breast cancer recovery coach, and you can work with me and my better than before breast cancer, life coaching membership, and very soon here very soon. I think like by next week's podcast, you're going to hear the announcement of my metabolic health coaching program which is getting ready to open and I'm very, very, super excited about that. So details coming soon. Alright, friend, take care of yourself. Thanks for hanging in there with me if you hung until the end and listen to the whole story and I hope that I helped someone in some way. All right. Take care. I'll talk to you soon.