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Sherrill Natzke

Breast cancer - Stage II

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

Overview

  • Cancer: Stage II breast cancer
  • Diagnosed: 2003
  • Treatments received:
  • Treatment at: CTCA at Midwestern Regional Medical Center
  • Care team:
  • Milestones:
    • Reaching the five-year mark was a milestone for me. Each CTCA hospital has a tree filled with brass leaves containing the names and hometowns of people who have made it to their five year mark. Getting my name on that tree was a goal of mine since I first saw and learned about “The Tree of Life,” and I made it!
    • My fifth year was also marked by completing a triathalon with several of my friends. It was a moment in my life’s journey to wellness that I will always remember.

My story

Not an infection

It was during a vacation that I noticed a lump in my left breast while I was in the shower. I was 47 years old at the time, and I panicked immediately and called my doctor. There’s no history of breast or other cancers in my family. My doctor and I agreed that she would take a look at my annual check-up, which was already scheduled for when I returned home from my vacation.

My doctor sent me for a mammogram, as she’d done every year since I turned 40. The mammogram led to an ultrasound, and sure enough, the lump turned out to be cancer.

Searching

My husband and I were living in Michigan at the time. I began seeing oncologists in the area to learn my treatment options. Everyone I met with talked about “protocols”. They wanted me to have a mastectomy and chemotherapy. Something about the approach didn’t sit right with me. It all seemed too cold and calculating, too impersonal. I knew there had to be more to treating my cancer than simply cutting it out and pouring poison in my body.

I was searching for someone who would look at the bigger picture, but no one approached treatment that way. I wanted to know how I got my cancer, what were the triggers, so that I can prevent my cancer from coming back in the future. How do I get through treatment in the most healthful way, considering the treatment alone for cancer can greatly affect the quality of your life? It was frustrated but I kept listening to the voice in my head telling me not to rush into anything and to take my time to find the right fit for me personally.

After researching options on my own, I became very interested in fractionated-dosing chemotherapy. It’s chemotherapy treatment that is delivered slowly, in 4-5 hours a day over a three day period, every three weeks.

We saw the commercial for CTCA. I had never heard of CTCA before, or knew anyone who’d been there, but I got the phone and started dialing the number on the commercial. A man named Harry Buchman answered, and for the first time since my diagnosis, I broke down in tears.

I decided to visit the facility. I’m so glad I did. As soon as I walked through the doors, a sense of peace came over me. That same voice that had screamed in my head to leave the last oncologist's office was now telling me I was going to be okay.

Becoming empowered

When I first went to CTCA, I noticed right away the differences in how I was being treated. They didn’t put me through any unnecessary tests. I didn’t meet with just one physician but many healthcare professionals who treated me like a human being for the first time since my diagnosis. When they gave me the results, they presented me with options that they had come up with, together as a TEAM that were specifically designed with my TOTAL health in mind. I said, “Okay, so what do you want me to do?” They told me that they’d provided their recommendations, but ultimately the choices were mine to make. As one doctor told me, “Part of your getting better is you being empowered to make your choices.”

From that moment on, everything changed. There were difficult times during treatment. Losing my hair was one of the hardest moments but also one of the funniest. Today my hair is at my waist, long, blond and beautiful. But the best thing is that I have total health and have greatly improved the quality of my life BECAUSE I had cancer and treated at CTCA. Their mind-body-spirit approach to wellness has changed not only my life but the lives of everyone I touch.

Surprisingly, one of the most valuable aspects of going through cancer treatment was traveling alone. I often recommend to people to travel alone if possible, for their treatments. It gives them valuable time to focus 100 percent on themselves for a change. Most of us are givers and worriers. We give so much of ourselves and worry about making certain everyone is happy and taken care of. In doing this, we get lost and forget to take care of ourselves. Cancer brings a lot of clarity to one’s life. I feel it’s an opportunity to make positive changes in your life for the better. Having those private days to fully care for yourself while at CTCA is an excellent time to reevaluate and figure out how to put yourself first so that you’re better able to give to those who really need you in their lives.

CTCA makes traveling to their hospitals very easy. I tell people the hardest thing you’ll do is pack your bag and get to the airport. They take care of everything for you. Just relax, focus on your wellness and enjoy the journey and all the wonderful things that will come with it along the way.

Paradise

Today, I teach others about approaching cancer and its treatment with a healthy mindset. First in Michigan and now in Florida, where we now live happily in paradise. I wake up every day and still cannot believe my life is so blessed and has been so enriched by my having gone through cancer. My life path has changed and led me to doing and helping thousands of people in these past 10 years. It’s truly an honor.

I’m currently finishing up my book on my journey these past 10 years, in the hopes of inspiring and helping others through their cancer journey. I am a certified health and wellness coach and teach classes regularly on several wellness topics that change people’s lives for the better. I’m a strong advocate and ambassador for CTCA and a volunteer for The Gateway for Cancer Research, as well as working on the Cancer Fighters Care Network. I’m a past Patient Advisory Council Member for CTCA. I am working together with several other healthcare and like-minded professionals here in Naples to open a total wellness center, all under one roof, where we work together as a team to compliment traditional healthcare, helping people of all ages and health levels reach their own personal optimal levels of wellness and improve the quality of their lives.

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