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Karyn Marshall

Breast cancer - Stage IIA

This testimonial includes a description of this patient’s actual medical results. Those results may not be typical or expected for the particular disease type described in this testimonial. You should not expect to experience these results.

View CTCA treatment results for breast cancer

Video: Karyn Marshall - Breast Cancer Survivor

Breast Cancer Survivor

No case is typical. You should not expect to experience these results.

Karyn's journey with cancer

Overview

My story

My name is Dr. Karyn Marshall and I’m a chiropractor. Sports, fitness, exercise and nutrition have long been driving forces in my life. In fact, I used to be the strongest woman in the world. I was world champion and world-record holder in the sport of weightlifting. Through the course of my career, I set over 60 world and American records, and I’ve been in The Guinness Book of World Records.

Because of my lifestyle, it came as a complete shock when I learned I had cancer. It started on August 22, 2011 when I found a lump in my left breast. The next day, I went for a mammogram and pretty much knew that something was suspicious. Soon after that, I was diagnosed with stage IIA triple negative breast cancer.

To hear that I had breast cancer meant that I needed to give it my full focus, my full attention. The world stopped. I needed to do everything I could to understand what I had. I needed to find the right place for me to go to for treatment and I needed to determine what else I could to do to help my body fight the disease.

I went to Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) in Philadelphia for what was my second opinion. I had heard about CTCA and I had seen their commercials on TV. But more importantly for me was, as a chiropractor, we had our state convention and one of the vendors was CTCA. Dr. Sklar, a chiropractor who works for CTCA, was there and I remembered stopping and talking with him. I was very interested in the fact that CTCA offered chiropractic care. I kept a mental note that if I ever had patients that needed cancer treatment, I would recommend that they look into CTCA because it sounded like a really great place. Lo and behold, it was me that needed to look into CTCA for treatment.

Having cancer, I wanted to have the right treatment. Before I went to CTCA for a consultation and evaluation, I was given the names of the doctors I would be seeing. I researched them, saw their backgrounds, what they published, how long they’d been in practice, what other hospitals they’d worked at and where they went to school. I was impressed, and knowing they were working with integrative oncology clinicians in addition to the medical team impressed me even more. The fact that they were all working together for the benefit of patients, in my mind, is the way all healthcare should be.

During my three-day evaluation at CTCA, I met with my doctors and integrative oncology clinicians. They gave me what they felt were the best options for me: specialized, individual care that was going to address my specific cancer. I was going to receive aggressive treatment to fight the cancer and integrative oncology services to help me have a good quality of life during treatment.

Once I understood what CTCA was all about, I knew it was the right fit for me. As a chiropractor, it was really important to include chiropractic and holistic healthcare with my traditional cancer treatment. The fact CTCA did that and also had top-notch medical teams made it the right place for me.

My treatment & care team at CTCA

I had a partial mastectomy surgery at CTCA within about two weeks of my initial visit. At the time of the surgery, I also received intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT). After I healed from the surgery and IORT, I received additional radiation treatment, TomoTherapy®. I also received chemotherapy.

All of my doctors did what they thought was in my best interest to attack my cancer. And that's what I wanted them to do. The integrative oncology services helped keep me as strong and healthy as possible, and helped me have peace of mind.

I loved all my doctors. Dr. Standiford is special and great. He’s a skilled surgeon and a wonderful human being. And Dr. Lavagnini, my radiation oncologist, is a wonderful man.

I felt that I was well cared for. My doctors and entire care team got to know me. They cared about me and involved me in the decision-making process. My doctors answered my questions and I felt as if they gave me the time I needed and deserved.

My doctors got to know what I did before, what my goals were and how important it was for me to get back to working out and participating in CrossFit. I wanted to make sure I could workout throughout my treatment, but I knew I wasn't going to be able to do everything I wanted to do. My major goal was to try out for the CrossFit Games. The tryouts were coming up about four or five weeks after my last chemotherapy treatment. Sixty-eight thousand people worldwide were trying out for the games, and I wanted to be one of them.

Throughout my treatment, I worked out as much as I could. I was also able to go into the office to do paperwork and see some patients. I wanted to feel as normal as possible. Going to the office, working out and walking my dogs were all goals. My doctors were supportive and encouraging, as were my integrative oncology clinicians. They all helped me reach my goals.

The integrative oncology services CTCA offered were one of the major reasons that I chose CTCA. I practiced mind-body therapies I learned, including mediation and deep breathing. The therapies helped put me in a state of mind that was accepting and not panicking when I was going through treatment. I also received acupuncture treatment, which helped me with nausea and other treatment side effects. For chiropractic care, I continued to get adjusted by my partner at work, Dr. Cronk, but I also went to Dr. Sklar for a consultation and care. That helped me keep my nervous system and body flowing and functioning, and feeling good. 

At CTCA, I received massage therapy, Reiki therapy and Qigong too. I also had a dietitian, who taught me about a good diet for during treatment and the rest of my life. And, I had a naturopathic oncology provider who was absolutely vital in terms of helping me know which natural therapies and supplements I could take during different phases of my treatment. She also knew which supplements I should avoid, as they could be harmful and have interactions with my treatments. The natural therapies and supplements she recommended helped reduce side effects and keep my body as strong as possible.

Looking forward

I’m thankful to CTCA for helping me through what was a really difficult time. They guided me and supported me, and did everything they could to address my cancer from every possible direction.

It’s been an amazing journey. It's helped me have patience, better peace of mind and a different perspective on life. I appreciate things. Not that I didn't appreciate them before, but I feel that I'm looking at things differently now, savoring the moment and trying to learn from it.

I feel like I’m getting stronger every day. I’m getting my life back. I can’t say I’m 100 percent, but I’m getting there and every day I’m feeling better.

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