At 24, Jeannine was diagnosed with a stage two oligoastrocytoma brain tumor. After a successful brain surgery removing the visible brain tumor, she continued her journey for cancer prevention and optimal health and healing.
Here’s her story in her own words:
Wisdom in the Waves as a 25-Year Brain Tumor Survivor, By Jeannine Walston
Over 25 years ago, I worked in the U.S. Congress in Washington, DC, with plans for law school. My life changed when I was diagnosed with a brain tumor in March 1998. Since then, I had 3 awake brain surgeries in 1998 at the National Institutes of Health, 2011 at the University of California, San Francisco, and 2013 at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Since the brain tumor changed from Grade II oligo-astrocytoma to Grade III anaplastic astrocytoma in 2013, I had to get more treatments. For the first time, I had radiation and oral chemotherapy in 2014. Also, I have known about the UCLA Department of Neurosurgery and the UCLA Brain Tumor Center for many years, including their immunotherapy clinical trials. I was fortunate to have the immunotherapy dendritic cell-based vaccine clinical trial in the spring of the same year.
In the aftermath, I continued going to UCLA for MRIs and seeing other doctors. I also had additional practitioners outside the facility. In 2018, I had stomach issues, and at age 45, a doctor recommended my first colonoscopy and endoscopy. I had no idea I had nearly 30 large polyps and almost 90 small polyps. I had an appointment with a genetic counselor and then got testing through my blood. The results showed I have a mutation from my family history, and it is related to colon cancer and potentially other cancer types. Since then, I get my colonoscopy and endoscopy annually. From my OBGYN doctor and ultrasounds, I have had two endometrial surgeries in 2020 and 2022 and a hysterectomy.
Life has challenging curves, and I found insights and strategies for my optimal potential. I want to highlight several ways that might be helpful for you in your quest.
Find the Flow in Being Proactive
Dealing with cancer, or the thought of a recurrence can be chaotic. I know how people get stuck in finding ways of where to go and what to do. I learned an intuitive wise and motivated mantra. Challenges can become opportunities and adversity into actions. Being proactive and engaging in actions has built a foundation of movement. As that motion can occur in one’s mindset, an entire well-being can emerge for strategies and healing. All of that assists cancer patients, caregivers, and survivors to be proactive, and there is also other help. Guidance comes from many resources, sources, and your soul.
Numbers Give Clarity into More of a Reality for Motivation
Approximately 39.5 percent of individuals in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. People living beyond a cancer diagnosis reached almost 18 million in 2023, and 1.9 million are expected to be diagnosed this year. Since only 5% to 10% of cancers are caused by inherited genes or genetics, the remaining 90% to 95% have relationships with lifestyle factors, the environment, and other causes. Those numbers motivate us to explore new directions for optimal health and healing, including cancer prevention strategies and transforming the hole into the whole.
Integrative Cancer Care for the Whole Person
Complementary, alternative, and holistic therapies were initially a part of my path. Ultimately, I realized that integrative cancer care for the whole person could improve quality of life, cancer survival, and cancer prevention. Strategies include the physical body, mind-body connection, spiritual vitality, social support, and a cleaner environment. Cancer patients and survivors experience profound changes through integrative cancer care and incorporating the whole person. As I have done it for myself and helped many people, creating a plan, a skillful team, and self-care strategies are paramount.
Hope and the Transformative Relationship with Resilience
People discuss hope in the cancer journey, which is extremely important in an individual’s mindset. In my path, I also became more focused on resilience with relaxation, recovery, and restoring. These internal and external levels can be a deep process, sometimes letting go of dynamics past and present. I see resilience in the whole, and in my healing evolution, gratitude, love, and presence are transformative to optimal health and healing.
Everyone has their path, such as prevention, diagnosis, treatment, recovery, other aspects of prevention, recurrence, and further components in the journey. Believing in possibilities, being a part of your healing process, and knowing many resources are essential. I am grateful to be a 25-year brain tumor survivor; in my vision, the best is yet to come.
Jeannine Walston has worked for the U.S. Congress, national and international cancer non-profits, the National Cancer Institute, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, hospitals, clinics, practitioners, other businesses, cancer patients, caregivers, and the public. Currently, she has several websites, such as www.JeannineWalston.com about integrative cancer care for the whole person and www.healingfocus.org, and some of her services include being a Cancer Coach, consultant, and speaker.
EDITOR’S NOTE: As of October 2023, Jeannine is thriving.
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