I haven’t actually seen the MRI report, but Kari, my surgeon, emailed me the executive summary yesterday: the smaller tumor remains the same size; the larger one, which was 21-23 mm in February, is now 34 mm (approximately its size at the time of diagnosis). The lymph nodes all look normal.
I have to admit I had some moments of doubt when I got Kari’s email. Of course. But they really were just moments. Doubt morphed into respect when I remembered that Brendan changed his treatment strategy about six weeks ago to precipitate this healing crisis because he judged, from my pulses and presentation, that I was strong enough to clear the Fire Toxins. We were expecting the tumors to grow. Still, having my Heart Vaporize the Phlegm (spontaneous remission) would have been so much easier (though less interesting, I suppose, as blog material).
Subjectively, I’ve known that The Fish is growing. It’s now closer to the skin and seems much bigger than it was. It does seem softer, though. Biomedicine cannot measure the density of a tumor, just it’s size.
The smaller tumor, The Ghost, has remained fairly stable in size. I can’t speak for its probable density, since I can’t palpate it. I’ve been puzzling over why the treatments haven’t had the same impact on this tumor as they have on the The Fish. After reviewing all my class notes, I think I now have the answer.
Last summer I attended Jeffrey Yuen’s annual retreat for his advanced students. These retreats aren’t focused on one topic like his regular seminars. Instead, he addresses concerns and questions that arise when experienced practitioners want to go deeper into their understanding of classical Chinese medicine. One of the days was devoted to questions about the seldom used secondary acupuncture vessels known as the Divergent Channels. Divergent Channel treatments focus on serious chronic diseases. Divergent Channel treatments require nuanced pulse diagnostic and needling techniques that are difficult to master. Since cancer is clearly a serious chronic disease, Jeffrey used me as the class’s case study.
In the course of interviewing me, taking my pulses, and working out a possible treatment strategy, Jeffrey talked to us about breast cancer in general. He said that ductal tumors are problems of the jin-ye fluids, especially the ye (don’t worry about that) and are usually related to the Triple Heater and Small Intestine (Fire organs, the yang aspects of the yin Pericardium and Heart). In his experience, these tumors resolve faster than lobular tumors, which he believes arise from Dampness and Phlegm, terrains that create the most stubborn pathological states. The Fish is ductile, The Ghost is lobular. That explains why one tumor is responding more quickly to the treatments than the other.
(A few months ago, for a different reason, I started a 100 day Daoist regimen for exorcising ghosts. More on this later.)
Now that I have proof that the healing crisis is upon me, I need to adhere more closely to my diet, exercise (gotta get back to qigong), and detox bath regimens. I don’t want to give those cancer cells any excuses to linger. “Get off my plane!”
It looks like I might have to go through a second healing crisis down the road to clear the lobular tumor, unless my Heart can vaporize The Ghost’s Phlegm. All things are possible!