Dee Henderson-Haefner was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer which had spread to her lymph nodes. Read about her journey with mistletoe...
Age at diagnosis: 50
Current age: 54
Diagnosis: advanced breast cancer, spread to lymph nodes
I was terrified when I was given my diagnosis. My partner, Iain, went with me to the clinic, as a ‘just in case’. My tumour, the only one I could feel, was smooth, a bit squishy, and moved around. My sister had been dealing with cysts for years, and we had laughed that it was finally my turn. Our 8am appointment turned into a day that changed our lives. We were still at the clinic at 4pm, the first and the last patients to sit in the waiting room that day. The diagnosis finally came in about 2pm: advanced cancer with multiple tumours and tumours through the lymph nodes.
The lump had only come up a month prior to the diagnosis, so Iain and I couldn’t really take the diagnosis in.
The nurse who had been with me during most of the day told me that I could get brilliant support at CLAN (Cancer Link Aberdeen and North). It was at CLAN, a couple of days later, that we found out about the Mistletoe programme. I was impressed that there was a more natural option to use in my battle against the cancer. A week after my diagnosis, Iain and I had an appointment with Dr. Geider at Camphill Wellbeing Trust (CWT). I remember it clearly because it was a Friday. Dr. Geider explained our options and explained the most suitable option would be the intensive mistletoe therapy which entailed staying at the flat next to the clinic for two weeks. He advised that I should start as soon as possible.
Iain was never good around medical stuff, and he had a business to run, so we made a phone call. My amazing sister, Kelsey, boarded a plane in Tucson, Arizona, the next morning and arrived in Aberdeen on Sunday afternoon. We arrived at CWT for 9am on the Monday morning to start the treatment. Kelsey stayed with me, caring for me during the high fever parts of the treatment and taking extensive notes for the entire two weeks. I was never alone. Iain joined us every evening, and Dr. Geider checked in on us at least once a day. Including the CWT nurses, Heather and Barbara, I felt like I had the very best team to help me through my battle.
I believe very strongly that the mistletoe therapy gave me the edge I needed to beat a very aggressive cancer. It also gave me the control to do something for myself in my treatment, which I needed to do.
At the end of the two week Intense Mistletoe treatment, I went home to rest for a few weeks, then I started my chemotherapy. After the first three doses, the chemo didn’t seem to be working, but instead of giving up, Dr. Geider changed when I had my mistletoe IVs. He kept me positive and I honestly felt that no matter what happened, he would never give up on beating this cancer with me. After the change, the chemo started working. I finished the course of chemotherapy, had a couple of weeks to rest, then went in for my double mastectomy. My histology came back as triple negative, late stage 3. I had no answers as to why I had developed cancer, but I had survived. Iain and I never looked at life the same way after that experience. We enjoyed our ‘extra’ time together until his death last Boxing Day. The mistletoe therapy felt like a very positive part of our battle, as opposed to the scary chemo and radiotherapy treatments, which also had horrible side effects.
I still have monthly mistletoe IVs and I love the boost of energy I get after them, as well as the positive feeling that I am doing something very pro-active to keep the cancer from coming back. I also self-inject every other day, which was scary at first, but now is just a normal part of the day.
I believe very strongly that the mistletoe therapy gave me the edge I needed to beat a very aggressive cancer. It also gave me the control to do something for myself in my treatment, which I needed to do. I am a different person, after having cancer. I am more positive and I don’t waste a day now. Every day is precious.
I am a different person, after having cancer. I am more positive and I don’t waste a day now.
Every day is precious.