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Full Recovery of Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia - The Natural Approach

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a form of leukemia, or cancer of the white blood cells characterized by excess lymphoblasts. Malignant, immature white blood cells continuously multiply and are overproduced in the bone marrow. ALL causes damage and death by crowding out normal cells in the bone marrow, and by spreading (infiltrating) to other organs. ALL is most common in childhood with a peak incidence at 2–5 years of age, and another peak in old age.

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The Story of four Year Old Ryann's full remission of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

RyannRyann was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia just before turning four. She had contracted a virus over the summer that all four of my kids had gotten, but she handled it better than the older three. Shortly after that, she developed pneumonia out of the blue. After recovering from the pneumonia, she came down with another viral illness. She was very sick, and her glands became very swollen. She began to bruise very easily, she had pale skin and low energy.

At that point, my family doctor said that we should go to Scottish Rite for blood work. They told me that her hemoglobin was low (around 8 with normal being around 12), and that it was more than likely a “mono- like illness.” They said she need time to recover, and that I should wait six weeks and have her tested again. Around 5 weeks later, in the fall, she came down with yet another viral illness. It was her Birthday weekend, and she was so sick that we canceled her Birthday party. I took her to her Pediatrician on Monday, and was shocked to find out that her hemoglobin was 4.

By that time, her abdomen was swollen from an enlarged liver, and she was in danger for her life. Her pediatrician said that we should go to the E.R immediately, and not long after we arrived, we were told that she had Leukemia. It had taken around 4 months for the leukemia cells to show up in her blood. We were wheeled up to the Cancer floor that night, and she began her fight. We were told the next morning that with this type of Leukemia, for girls it is a 2 1/2 year protocol of chemotherapy and steroids. The cure rate was over 80%.

Ryann is my youngest of four children, and I felt like I had done everything “right” with her. I had a drug free delivery, nursed her for one year, and gave her all organic baby food. I tried to cook healthy and stay away from processed foods, but looking back on it now, I wasn’t doing nearly what I should have been doing.

My first instinct was to help her fight by loading her with anything and everything that would be good for her. After talking to the doctors, they told me not to even give her a vitamin. They didn’t want anything to interfere with the medicines. After a week in the hospital, I began to research. I began to find out that there were many foods that were proven to fight all types of cancers as well as strengthen the immune system.

I decided that I would make sure that I gave her every food or food-based supplement that I could. I discussed this with her doctors, and they were ok with it, as long as it was food. I talked to many different people including a former pediatric oncologist, several researchers, and I even traveled to New York Presbyterian Hospital to an integrative clinic for children with childhood cancer. I knew right off the bat to keep sugar and processed foods out of her diet, and add many organic fruits and vegetables. I was told to add some more food based supplements that have been studied to help with side effects and with the liver. I did all of this with the approval from her doctors.

In remission within the first two weeks of treatment

From the time Ryann was diagnosed, she began to amaze people with her strength and lack of side effects. She was in remission within the first two weeks of treatment. During the most aggressive parts of the treatment protocol, her blood counts were staying surprisingly high, and she her side-effects were minimal, while the medicine was doing its job. Her oncologist would always tell me that her counts were “perfect.” I learned to give her ginger instead of zofran on the days that she received her chemo, and she rarely got sick. She lost her hair much later than most kids do, and she was happy and full of energy.

I was giving her food based, organic supplements and adding more and more organic, healthy foods. The doctors told me to expect many hospitalizations due to her immune system being suppressed, and she made it through Delayed Intensification (the hardest phase of the protocol) with no problems. Many children spend weeks in the hospital during this time. The doctors began to notice the difference it was making. I remember asking her doctor if it was ok that she was doing so well. He told me, “Yes! You don’t have to have side-effects to cure leukemia.” She entered pre-school right before turning five, and started ballet. She picked up a few minor illnesses, but she would get over them quickly. I started to notice my other three kids were not coming down with the usual strep and colds that you see in school - especially elementary school.

As time went by, I continued to find more and more information about nutrition and cancer. I searched for anyone that had information on nutrition and integrative/holistic treatment for cancer. I found information on supplements that strengthened the immune system, like immunocal. I focused on keeping her body high in alkalinity, oxygenated and helping her detoxify properly. Every food and supplement was studied and proven to keep her immune system strong and fight cancer.

I added new foods, and If I couldn’t find it in the stores or local farms, I would find out which was the purest way of getting in the supplement form. I talked to someone that told the most important thing I could do was to juice many powerful, cancer fighting and immune system building vegetables daily. I also began to read every label, cook with different oils and stopped using a microwave. I researched the best water and the best foods to keep the body alkaline and oxygenated. I also took many things out of our diet that I thought were good, but were not. I found new ways to cook the foods that we loved and the best ways to cook to keep nutrients in the food.

I took her to Dr. Bhatia after she had been on treatment for one year. She still had over half of the treatment to go. After examining her and taking note of everything that I had been doing, she added a few supplements, gave me advice about adding good oils to her diet, and she told me to take diary out of her diet and limit gluten. She explained the reasons that cancer can occur in the body. I took her to her oncologist two weeks later, and we were both very surprised to see that her blood counts had decreased substantially from where they normally were. Her liver enzymes had improved.

I told him that I made the changes to her diet, and we both came to the conclusion that taking dairy out of her diet actually made her chemo work better! After stopping the meds for two weeks, she never went back up to the dosage that she was on before. In other words - it took less medicine to do the job - meaning less risk of side-effects and harm to her liver. I also began to see a change in Ryann. She seemed sleep better and her abdomen, which always seemed to be bloated, went down considerably.

Her doctor really started to take notice of the difference it was making, and he would tell her that it was because of how she was eating. He told her that she needed to be in a medical journal, and that she should be documented.

Ryann began Kindergarten this year, just 4 months before completing treatment. It has been an especially bad year for flu/cold and other illnesses. The amazing thing is that not one of my kids has been sick in one year. Ryann, who has been taking powerful chemo that makes her much more susceptible to illnesses, has not been sick once! Better yet, Ryann finished treatment in December of this year, and she made it through the entire protocol without being hospitalized once!!

Her doctor says he doesn’t specifically recall At her last on-treatment visit, before stopping her daily chemo, the doctor came in and said that “Ryann broke the CBC machine.” The lab-tech ran her counts twice because she didn’t believe that her hemoglobin and platelets were so high. She has had none of the side-effects that the chemo and steroids can cause, such as neuropathy, bone and joint damage and problems with concentrating. She is a happy, healthy and energetic 6 year old, and if you saw her, you would never know that she had been sick. She is now done with the medicine, but she will have all of these other amazing, powerful nutrients that God put on this earth to keep her healthy for life.

I am still learning and adding things, and I am planning on further testing for heavy metals, vitamin deficiencies and any other things that might interfere with her health. She does not crave “bad” foods, and we substitute healthy, gluten and dairy free goodies for the times that her class has celebrations. She is very good about passing up on unhealthy treats!

I have seen the difference that nutrition can make in not only keeping her strong during treatment, but actually helping the medicines to work better. She has made her doctors take notice of what good nutrition can do, and I hope that her story can make a difference for others as well. I am thankful for this journey and the knowledge that I have gained, and it is my hope that her doctors will help share this with other patients and Moms that are desperate for their children to have the good health that they deserve.

Kim Hayes is Ryann's mother. You're welcome to email her with questions: johnkimhayes@mindspring.com

Related story: How I treat relapsed childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia

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