Hello. My name is Jen Van Pelt. I am a certified holistic cancer coach.I was so excited to find Susan Silbersteins cancer educators course! I jumped right in it really helped me get clear on how to proceed as a cancer supporter. I often utilize the well organized information from the course. Thanks BeatCancer.org for your work! Here is a little snippet of who I am and what I’ve been up to on this path.
I was working at a birth center in Senegal in 2011. I was standing by the community water hole in the scorching sun. I noticed something on my arm, it was flat and pink. I thought I must have picked up a fungus. Back home on the farm in Northern California I didn’t exactly ignore it for two years, but applied frankincense, copal and cannabis oil. It never changed, until it did. In May, 2013 A friend convinced me to go to a dermatologist, and that was when my life changed. Melanoma deep and thick. Fear, dread, panic.
I was attending rural home births, running a thriving raw milk farmstead cheese making operation, growing food, raising two teenagers with their dad. We owned our land. We had it all, we were successful. It looked really good from the outside. However, inside I was train wrecking. I was deeply unhappy, stressed out, sad, exhausted and depleted. I was so busy trying to keep up with a pace that was not my own, I couldn’t see a way out. I felt trapped and owned, the farming work was unrelenting. I was self medicating with wine, smoke and rich food [all organic of course]. Although my physical body was showing up in a big way, a lot of the time there was nobody home. I self abandoned, I left myself. I was dying to be me.
I went to a holistic oncologist who advised me to get surgery right away to debulk the primary tumor and get busy on changing my life at the same time. I left her office frustrated by her good advice, thinking myself more holistic than her. I was stubbornly opposed to medical intervention. I thought I could ‘move’ it on my own. In retrospect, I realized how much unhealthy ego I had wrapped up in my decision to try to tackle cancer by myself. I just had no idea what I was dealing with. I just couldn’t go mainstream. I just couldn’t trust the medical establishment. I just couldn’t.
I dove head long into a self guided holistic green juice, colon hydrotherapy, quit everything, change your life program. We left our farm to move our family to a bigger town.
I went to a holistic cancer clinic in Arizona where I was encouraged, and given a false sense that everything would be OK if I just stayed the course on the raw foods, iodine, blood ozone and lymphatic work. Root canalsand amalgams were radically removed. At that time I was also diagnosed with Hashimotos autoimmune thyroiditis. Wow. autoimmune disease and cancer? Woah. It was starting to sink in. This is serious. People are scared. Meanwhile, the ‘tumor’ on my upper arm was growing outside like a slimy pink mushroom. It was a no brainer. Six months from diagnosis, I returned home to get surgery.
Surgery number one, Oct. 2013. A chunk of my arm cut off, sentinel lymph nodes positive for melanoma. Another surgery, more positive nodes removed. My surgeon was pretty cool. She supported my wish to refuse antibiotics and she loved my raw cheese. Meanwhile I’m staying the course with the life changed behavior, doggedly researching and implementing supplements, natural cures, plant spirit medicines, ceremonies, hypnotherapy, rebounding, saunas,superfoods, enemas, sleeping a ton, traveling as much as I could, visiting friends. All the while I was being generously supported by my family.
At this point I had serious look at my desire to live. I had honestly never really thought much about my future, the future of my family, or dying. I just kinda went through life dealing and reacting. So I drummed up a strong prayer for my life. I decided I wanted to live, that I wanted to watch my kids unfold and I wanted to be there for them. They needed me! I realized I was going to have to get behind myself one hundred percent, and that meant loving myself enough to take care of myself like a cherished one. A precious one. I had to start loving myself the way I love my children, the way I love water and trees and Mother Earth. I had to start loving and respecting this precious human life. One integrated woman; body, mind, spirit, all moving in the direction of self love.
In 2015, working at a cold pressed juice bar, dun dun RECURRENCE. More surgery, and a 4th stage diagnosis. Tumors in my lung and abdomen. 15 percent chance of being alive in 5 years and western medicine had no answer. The toolbox was empty. I packed my bags again and headed to Mexico for Coley’s Toxins Immunotherapy treatments, fever therapy. It felt like the way to go. Things started very slowly turning around then.The tumors in my lung and abdomen were very slowly shrinking! However, being hooked up to IVs all day at the clinic and spending nights alone in a Tijuana apartment injecting myself with minute doses of pathogens, which induce chills, rigors, and severe flu like symptoms, eating medical marijuana and watching surgery shows all night was getting depressing, and money was running out.
Just in the nick of time, Opdivo becomes available. Namaste Big Pharma. Let’s do this. Back to the States, I had my bed decorated for my possible death. I felt like Freida Kahlo. I looked fear in the eye so many nights. “Come and get me, wash over me. I can’t resist you, so lets be friends.” I didn’t know what else to do. Get ready, whatever happens, I gotta accept this and make it beautiful. I’m not going to die kicking and screaming. This was my lowest point, but death never came for me. I continued to live, and still have not let up on my healing path.
While contemplating my soul’s purpose.. It came. The name and everything. Cancer Doulas. I would help people navigate through cancer and life threatening illnesses using all I’ve learned. I took the cancer educators course, and then put the whole thing on the back burner for 2 years, marinating it, do I even want to do this? Do I really want to get close to people who have cancer knowing full well what that means? Do I still want to research cancer and think about it all the time? Should I do this? Is it safe for me? Am I strong enough? I am a sealed impermeable vessel? Is the spirit of cancer still hovering over me like a grey gunky cloud? Am I in integrity? Am I in my body now? Why am I doing this? Self introspection will never end for me, it seems. I’ve learned that healing has no finish line. Balance is a lifelong pursuit, and this work keeps calling me.
I went to India last year to do a 30 day Pancha Karma treatment, meditate, do yoga and wander around India by myself for as long as I wanted. I learned to be there very inexpensively. I went there to continue to heal my inner self. I went to ask for more spiritual help. I needed to stop looking to outsiders and machines to know whether I was ok or not. Living scan to scan, getting bad news repeatedly, and having one’s life fall apart is very dis-empowering. My self-esteem was dragged under the bus for 100 miles. I want to know whether I am OK or not, by myself. I want to move around at my own pace. I want to know myself again. One should know this right? I want my power back, my autonomy, My sovereignty. I lasted 6 months in India, then started missing my kids, and returned to California to get a divorce [ hardest thing I’ve ever done ], become financially independent and start my life over on my own terms. I’m working in an Ayurvedic Center, and seeing clients as a Cancer Doula.
Although I haven’t reached my 5 year mark yet, and fear still visits me at night sometimes, I’ve been in so called remission for roughly two years, and most days I wake up rested and energized and everyday with gratitude. I’ve learned to turn my fear and anxiety into prayers. Again, I am grateful to BeatCancer.org. It feels so good to know I have support with this work.I feel nourished and fed by helping people in this way. They say your biggest wounds are your greatest gifts. Thanks for reading this snippet of my journey. I hope it helps.
See my webpage at www.cancerdoulas.com or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.