Do Supplements Make a Difference in How You Respond to Cancer Treatments?

When one is using traditional cancer treatments many people are told to stop all their vitamins and herbs. And utlitmately one will need to do some research themselves to make sure that your herbs or vitamins  do not interfere with any chemo drug the doctor prescribes. With that said, I think most oncologist will make a blanket statement to the patient and tell them to stop all or simple take a multi when going through cancer treatment.

I personally think that stopping all nutritional support is like killing an entire village to kill one theif. There is supporting research out there that would say that to that is simply an over reaction and utimately makes cancer treatment harder on the patient.

Before I get to the story of Debbie and how she responded




My name is Polly Mitteer, I am a 75-year-young, a double cancer survivor, and I want to share my story with the intent of offering hope and encouragement to others facing the challenge of cancer.

My journey began in January of 1995 when a routine mammogram became not-so-routine by revealing changes in my left breast.  Follow-up ultrasound showed a suspicious spot.  Surgical biopsies were positive for hormone negative breast cancer.  I had a lumpectomy and axillary node resection.  The surgeon got clear margins with the lumpectomy, but there was involvement in one lymph node.  Next, I had a series of six chemotherapy treatments followed by four treatments in a chemo drug study.   Then I had seven weeks of daily radiation.

By December of 1995 I was finished with all treatments just in time to celebrate my 60th birthday.  And boy did I celebrate!  I promised I would never complain about another birthday but would embrace every single one with gratitude!  It had been a long, hard year.  I was sick most of the time.  I lost my hair.  I lost my appetite.  I lost energy and sometimes hope.  Following each chemo treatment my blood counts dipped dangerously low, so that I had to have daily Neupogin shots, which I came to dread.  I was hospitalized for pneumonia, but I survived.  I celebrated, and I put that difficult year behind me and became a cancer survivor.

Fast forward to January of 2011.  I developed significant puckering and red streaks in the same breast.  These findings hurled me into a flurry of tests, including a diagnostic mammogram, breast ultrasound and breast MRI.  All three studies were either negative or inconclusive.

Since we could actually see and feel the physical changes, I had a PET scan which did show activity in the left breast but thankfully, nowhere else in my body.  On February 8, I had surgical biopsies.  Although the surgeon took “extensive” biopsies over a wide area, she did not get a single clear specimen.  The pathology report diagnosed ductal carcinoma and metastatic ductal carcinoma in one lymph node, grade 3.  The surgeon described the cancer as “very diffuse,” and she told my daughter, “I’m very sorry.”

The cancer was triple negative, meaning that it was not hormone or HER2 sensitive.  This diagnosis is fairly rare, and it generally does not respond particularly well to chemotherapy.  The treatment plan was to do chemotherapy first to try to shrink the cancer enough to make surgery a viable option.   If the chemo worked, they would remove the breast, including the skin (which had cancer in it as indicated by the red streaks), then radiate the surrounding tissue to try to contain any undetected cancer cells.

The oncologists and surgeon were skeptical about my ability to tolerate a full chemo regimen (I was, after all, 75 years old), but we planned 4-6 treatments as I could tolerate.  I more than tolerated all six chemo treatments.  I did not lose my hair or weight.  I maintained good energy, had a great appetite and slept well.  My blood counts never became dangerously low, so I did not have to have the dreaded daily Neupogin shots. People were routinely amazed at how well I looked and often exclaimed, “You don’t look sick!”  To which I replied, “I’m not sick.  I just have cancer.”

Throughout this time I had one complication:  I developed an infection in the biopsy site which required 15 days of daily IV antibiotic treatment and a delay of my chemotherapy.  Even this complication was minimal, as I never had GI upset or significant loss of energy, much to the medical team’s surprise.

Following the very first chemo treatment and progressively thereafter, I experienced remarkable response.  The red streaks lessened and eventually disappeared.  The breast tissue softened and the puckering smoothed out.  Everyone agreed that it looked like I was having a great response to the treatments.  I finished chemotherapy, and on August 16 I had a left mastectomy and reconstructive Latissimus Dorsi flap (they moved a muscle from my back to my chest to provide skin with a good blood supply to close the wound).  The surgeon was very pleased to report clear margins on her first sections.  I tolerated the surgery extremely well and was discharged less than 24 hours later.

This time the pathology report was negative for carcinoma in ALL specimens, including a negative report for residual carcinoma in the breast mastectomy.  I would like to add here that for several months before the mastectomy I had the overwhelming feeling (and stated it several times) that they would not be able to find any cancer when they did the surgery.  God is faithful!   Thank you God! I am now almost three weeks post-surgery and am healing quickly and generally feel very well.  I had minimal post-op pain which was controlled by oral pain medications.

I am still amazed at (and appreciative about) how different my second experience with breast cancer treatment was from my first experience 16 years earlier.

Both times I entered the journey with a positive, can-do attitude, surrounded by loving family and friends and a powerful prayer community.  I had great medical teams both times, and my treatment was comparable, although not the exact same combination of drugs.

My second journey has been in no other way similar to my first.   During my chemotherapy in 1995 I felt toxic, poisoned.  I got sick from some foods, my hair fell out, I had significant energy loss, experienced intermittent depression, and was hospitalized for a week for pneumonia.  Ultimately, I survived both the cancer and the side-effects of the treatments which helped me emerge and remain cancer-free for 15 years.

In 2011, I did not just survive the treatments, but I had very good quality of life during them and following surgery.  I was not sick at any time from the chemo, lost very little hair, slept well, had a great appetite, did walking exercise and in general felt well.  I took a leave of absence from my part-time job at our church preschool to avoid being around the bugs that preschool children inevitably share, but I sure missed the children and the staff.  As I said earlier, when I had the biopsy-site infection, I did not have any side-effects from 15 days of IV antibiotics.

The difference in the quality of my life during two breast cancer experiences 16 years apart was both tangible and striking.  With most other factors being similar, I attribute the positive differences to nutritional supplementation.  For eight years I have taken Shaklee vitamins, and I believe that giving my body the nutrients it needed on a daily basis prepared me for and supported me through the challenge of cancer and cancer treatments.   Perhaps it also helped prevent or delay the recurrence of this aggressive form of breast cancer, more typically seen in much younger women and typically recurring within a few years.

I am grateful for all the blessings God has bestowed on me, and I want to pass on the HOPE and help that I received.  My oncology professionals strongly urged me to stop supplementation at the beginning of my chemotherapy treatments. They said that some supplements might interfere with the chemo’s effectiveness and might even protect the cancer cells.  They even said that was particularly true of Shaklee supplements, “because they work too well!”

Because they could not cite any clinical evidence to support these ideas, and since I personally knew the benefits that supplementation had given me for the past eight years, I chose to continue supplementing.  Since I had such a positive unexpected response to the chemotherapy, I am convinced that nutritional supplementation was a key factor in, and did not hinder, my healing.

In addition to taking a wide range of supplements, I had cleared my home of toxic chemicals, replacing brand name household cleaners and personal care products with safe, natural products.  Over eight years of personal use, I had come to trust Shaklee to provide only safe and effective products, based on solid science with clinical proof.

I am convinced that getting rid of the toxins in my environment AND feeding my cells critical nutrients on a daily basis contributed to the difference in my quality of life between my two cancer experiences.  My healthy cells stayed healthy, my body made healthy new cells, and my immune system remained alert so it could work with the chemotherapy to attack the cancer cells, ultimately eradicating them.

If you or someone you love is facing a cancer diagnosis or treatment, I urge you/them to consider safe, natural, clinically-proven nutritional supplements as part of the overall care plan.  Be proactive and get informed.   Be an active member of your treatment team, because after all, it is your body and you know it better than anyone.  I also strongly recommend having a positive attitude (laugh often and loudly!), a competent and caring medical team, surrounding yourself with positive family and friends, and prayer. Just do whatever it takes!

I write this in the love of God.  Life is Good!

Polly Mitter                                                                                                          Independent Shaklee Distributor and Two-Time Cancer Thriver (not just survivor!)

P.S. For those who want to know specifically what I used (and continue to use), I have listed those below.  I used Dr. Steve Chaney’s suggestions as a general guideline for which supplements to take and when to take them in relation to the chemotherapy treatments.

Shaklee supplements that I took during chemotherapy (following Dr. Steve Chaney’s suggestions) and take daily now include: Vivix  Nutriferon  Vitalizer Gold  Cinch, Energizing Soy   Protein and/or Physique (Physique was also a key factor in controlling post-op   pain) Vita-D3 Performance (for hydration)   was also very helpful, and I always sipped it in the chemo chair, sometimes   adding a packet of Pomegranate Energy Tea for an extra boost.

Frequent (but not necessarily daily) supplements include: Lecithin CoQHeart (CoQ10 is now   included in Vitalizer Gold!) OmegaGuard Osteomatrix

Other Shaklee supplements I take: Cholesterol Reduction   Complex (daily) Alfalfa (symptomatically   for allergy symptoms)


Keeping my home and my body as toxin-free as possible — means that I use only Shaklee Get Clean household cleaners and all Shaklee safe, natural personal care products.

September, 2011

Information Shared With You By:

Debbie Garrison Independent Shaklee Distributor, Murphy, NC 28906, USA

About the Author

Caroline Heinemann has a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Concordia Teachers College in Seward Nebraska. She has coordinated a variety of educational programs in her local community and conducts regional business training events and teleconference training calls. She become personally interested in health when she experienced some personal health issues and found that alternative medicine has been the key to her health. She shares tips on staying healthy. She is a former and teacher and has owned her own health education business for the past 30 years

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