Cancer Survivor Makes Changes for Better Health

By: Melody Spurney

As a busy mortgage loan officer, Lori Caldwell loves to work, and in early 2022, low mortgage rates kept her especially busy. So when she found a lump in her right breast, she said it took her a while to get it checked out.

“I didn’t take too much time for my health. I regret that now. It will never happen again. My health comes first,” she said.

Lori, 56, of Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer in February 2022. It was her second cancer diagnosis, having survived stage 3 melanoma in 2011. Lori had a lumpectomy and removal of seven lymph nodes in March.

She got an infection in April, which she said was initially ignored by her medical providers for nearly a week. Finally, it became so severe that she wound up in the Emergency Room in sepsis protocol.

She was starting to feel better by summer and then got shingles.

“I was suffering. I really couldn’t start my real health journey until I got through that,” she said.

She knew she did not want to do the conventional radiation treatments or Tamoxifen, which her oncologist recommended. Instead, she started asking questions about holistic options.

She recalled telling her doctor, “You can preach big pharma to me, but I ain’t gonna do it.”

She said her oncologist told her “there is a place out in Kansas” but wouldn’t tell her the name.

She eventually identified the Riordan Clinic and went to Overland Park in June with her boss, who was also facing a cancer diagnosis.

Laura Vasquez, MSN, APRN, NP-C, is Lori’s provider. She began Lori’s treatment with blood work and additional testing in the clinic’s Oncology Profile to get a baseline for her treatment plan.

Lori said that the blood work and results were a pivotal part of her treatment at the Riordan Clinic.

“Who doesn’t want to know what is going on in their body? How cool is that? And knowing each and every thing that I have to work on and what to do about it,” she said.

She said that tests revealed high mold levels, and although a specific cause isn’t determined, Lori and Laura suspect wine or Lori’s CPAP machine may have caused it. Lori said they also are addressing high cholesterol and blood pressure, elevated calcium, a fatty liver, and low vitamin D.

Laura said she also worked with Lori to detox her body, reduce inflammation, and stabilize her blood sugar to help get her immune system on the right track.

Lori’s treatment plan included high-dose vitamin C, ozone therapy, mistletoe injections, and treatment for low vitamin D, which Laura said is common in breast cancer patients.

Her health journey also included learning about the terrains that can influence cancer. Lori said stress from her job, lack of exercise, and too much wine probably contributed to her cancer.

“A lot of the factors that play into getting cancer are the factors I have. My lifestyle was work, work, work. Sit at a desk all day. Go home. Grab a glass of wine. Eat dinner and go to bed. That’s not the healthiest lifestyle,” she said.

During a visit to the clinic, Lori met another cancer patient who is also in the mortgage business. After swapping stories about their profession and related stress, Lori said, “Maybe we should get a different job.”

Making Changes

Rather than getting a different job, Lori made other lifestyle changes as a result of her treatment plan and what she learned from Laura. Lori took diligent notes during her treatment visits and said she has tried to follow much of Laura’s advice.

“I like it when people do what I ask them to do when it comes to loans, and I try to do that in return,” she said.

She says she has addressed her sleep apnea, cut back on wine, focuses on healthy food and losing weight, takes supplements, and goes to the gym five days a week. She said that transitioning to healthy food wasn’t especially hard because she loves to cook and already ate a relatively healthy diet.

She is motivated to improve her liver by reducing alcohol. She said she sometimes lacks motivation for the gym, but her husband, Brian, enjoys fitness and encourages her.

“Who listens to their husband, really? But I know he’s right,” she joked about her husband of 26 years. Lori now has developed a routine of a treadmill and strength training session on days she works out. “I just have to stay committed,” she said.

Lori has additional motivation to improve her health. Her son Eric, 24, is engaged to be married.

“I don’t have grandbabies yet, but I want to have enough energy to run around with them when I do. I don’t want to be some old, decrepit grandma that can’t get around and do anything,” she said.

Lori considers herself cancer-free after her most recent blood work showed no circulating cancer cells.

“I’m never going to have cancer again. I am going to do everything I can to stay cancer-free,” she said.

However, she is reflective about her experience with the disease. “I’m glad I got cancer. It really opened my eyes to a lot of things,” she said.

Lori has enjoyed her experience with the Riordan Clinic and said she loves talking to Laura and the help of the clinic staff. She plans to continue to see Laura several times a year for blood work, which she considers a crucial part of her health journey.

“It is important to fine-tune your body and take care of it,” she said.

In addition to referring her boss to Riordan Clinic, she has also referred friends and others.

Although she does see obstacles for some, including expense since insurance does not cover treatments, and the fact that she said people are lazy and don’t want to put effort into fixing their bodies.

It is laziness that Lori doesn’t understand. She said she sees so much value in knowing what is going on in her body and what action she can take to fix it.

“You only have one body, and it’s important,” she said.

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