Marifran Korb

Tag: tumor

My Relationship with Cancer, Part 17

by on Nov.12, 2015, under Overcoming Cancer

It’s now been five and a half years since I was diagnosed. A ‘long and windy’ road for sure. It’s risky doing it my way. I could lose, and lose big.

My choice is not something I advocate for anyone else. The traditional route could kill me as well as the non-traditional. People takes sides. I’m only sharing my choices and reasons that apply to no one else. Had I had surgery as was advised, I truly think I would not be here today. Now I have lived beyond the five-year cancer success date. And I’ve lived happily and passionately, knowing that each day is a gift. Some things I’ve learned is that I must focus on what uplifts me, and what keeps me going. I’m no longer willing to keep people in my life that do not value me.

Yet, living five and a half years is not enough for me. Looking ahead, I still don’t know what will completely turn the ship around. Not for a minute can I be sure what kept the tumor from going to stage two, despite the fact that the tumor is close to the ureter and the blood supply.

Last December, the CT scan showed that the tumor had grown for the 4th year. It was stage one, but any larger and it would be stage 2, whether it spread to other organs or not. This was my last year to get it under control on my own. If it grew, I’d be in deeper trouble.

To make matters worse, reluctantly I had to forego Low Dose Naltrexone, a prescription drug. It was getting harder to obtain. Though it may have kept the tumor from growing a lot, after 2 1/2 years of use, it had not stopped the continual growth.

So, with lots of research, I decided to try Artemisinin, a drug that is easy to acquire on Amazon without a prescription. With constant research in books and on web, I know what I’ll do and won’t do. Consistently, I receive and practice Reiki. Yoga, Tai-Chi and Qigong also are frequent practices. Continually, I meditate and exercise. Daily I eat well, take supplements, and have fun. I appreciate every morsel of life.

Last Monday, I had a CT scan. From the CD of the scan, I saw that the tumor looked a tiny bit smaller. Next day, I picked up the radiology report. The tumor is 1 mm smaller on one side and 4 mm smaller on another side. Though it is not all I had hoped for, I am relieved and encouraged.

However, the report refers to the tumor as basically the same size, despite the numbers. Evidently, it’s not an important distinction for the medical field. It is for me, though. For the first time, it has shrunk rather than grown!! It’s the same size it was two years ago.

What put a damper on the excitement was the scary words: “it may have metastasized.” The report said that it may have metastasized to my left lung since there is a new nodule there. After studying past chest scan reports, I realize that this is a new nodule on my lungs. Yet, what I recognize is that my lungs have had other nodules that have disappeared. Each one has been in a different part of my lungs. So I am not going to worry. This new one can disappear, too.

If the new spot means stage 2 cancer, then it will be a difficult game changer. I declare the smaller size kidney tumor is a healthy game changer.

To me this is a success. This gives me hope the tumor will continue to downsize in my kidney, and in my life.

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My Relationship with Cancer … and Creativity.

by on Apr.18, 2015, under Life is a celebration., Overcoming Cancer

Getting a diagnosis of any deadly disease can shut down your creativity. It is easy to be and stay in a shocked state. From my experience, the saying: “Plan for the worst and hope for the best” can be very wise. One needs to be practical. Yet the part about “hope for the best” often gets lost in the fear that comes up with that terrible diagnosis.

The timing for each of us is different in our shifting from fear to hope. Often both are occur simultaneously. The immune system, so important in health, can be lowered by fear. So it seems to me the more often we flip the switch, the better off we are.

Hope alone is a long shot. Most of us want to walk the fine line between whatever one thinks reality is, and what one thinks hope is. My thought is that creativity can help keep both in balance.

When you are creatively self-expressed, you tend to be upbeat and peaceful. Yet, many of us think we’re not creative and tend not to try things. With some friends, I spend an hour a week writing to prompts. This week we wrote to a quote that speaks to creativity: Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun. ~ Mary Lou Cook

Anyone can relate to this definition. There are so many forms and so many directions to go with creativity. Most of my life, I believed what I was told … that creativity was just given to those few souls who were famous for their paintings or writings. The message I got was that the rest of us were riff-raft that had to find a way to live the nose-to-the-grindstone life. The feeling I was left with was depressing to the core. Despite myself, most of my life, I was being creative without seeing it as such.

This quote defining creativity includes me. I’m super good with making mistakes. Experimenting and having fun are innate. Teachers hit my knuckles for breaking rules and having too much fun in the classroom. Experimenting was how I learned.

Risk-taking, part of creativity, has run with me since I was an 18 month-old, climbing out of closed cribs and jumping across wide alleys. Breaking my collar bone twice before I was two, did not stop me. Wearing casts for a year, did not slow me down.

Later at age 17, I chose a college I had never seen, in a state I had never been to. Flying alone to Cincinnati that long ago September day, I started a new life where I knew no one.

Continuing to risk, I traveled to and around Europe alone, at age 23, with only a general idea of what countries I wanted see. Everything else had to be invented moment-by-moment. This was a time when, at every border, I had to obtain, learn and use entirely different kinds of money. It was also before the internet and booking long distant hotels. Getting into unforeseen challenges, I learned how to think quickly and create solutions.

For fun, I live life as an adventure. In my business: “Rising to the Occasion” I am a Celebrations Consultant. Some friends call me “Merry Friend,” and “Mary Fun” instead of “Marifran.”

Even difficulty can be greeted with creativity. That is when it is needed most. Challenges are opportunities for growth. My most recent CT scan was last December, and it had grown a little more. That was discouraging, given the many things I am doing to shrink the tumor. Still, I walk the fine line between hope of being free without surgery and the danger of the tumor spreading. For me, there are multiple dangers of a three-hour surgery that make it not an option. My reality includes the “damned-if-I-do” and “damned-if-I-don’t” predicament. Doctors offer only surgery as an option, despite admitted low chance of surgery survival. Living with cancer does not stop me from living creatively doing all I can for my physical and emotional health. Looking at the present and the past, I notice that I have invented a life that I cherish.

If your early experience around the topic of creativity was unhealthy like mine, examine what creative outlets you use regularly. Do you recognize how creativity flows out of you? Look at what other ways you might want to self-express. Knowing that creativity takes many forms, how does “… inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun” contribute to your life? How can it support you in challenging times?

Feel free to write your response to the questions in the comments section below on the blog.

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My Relationship With Cancer, Part 16

by on Oct.21, 2014, under Overcoming Cancer

Huge things have been occurring. Since my lungs are a risk factor in any surgery that may be necessary, I am doing what I can to heal without it. Primarily, I have been enjoying life, receiving reiki and practicing meditation. Besides, I use Low Dose Naltrexone and take many supplements.

When I made an appointment with another urologist, I asked if she did partial or complete nephrectomies. There is no way of telling from internet information. The nurse I spoke with me assured me that this doctor does both. I needed to ask since one urologist, Dr. B, kept me going to see him for two years before admitting that he “was not allowed to do complete nephrectomies (cutting out the whole kidney), only partials.” Due to the location of the tumor, I knew from the start that I am not a candidate for partial, meaning taking only the tumor and leaving the rest of the kidney.

After six weeks of waiting for this appointment, today I saw urologist Dr. R. She told me she does neither type of nephrectomies. Happily, she stated that the doctor in her group who does complete neprectomies is Dr K, who happens to be the first urologist I saw four and a half years ago. He is the one who told me it was necessary to have surgery immediately. He told me the date he had schedule my surgery, without consulting me.

Meanwhile, Dr. R said my only option was surgery, despite my risks. There was no discussion of surgery benefits vs. risks, so I mentioned a few risks I knew. 1) For healthy people there’s only an 87% chance of surviving and 13% chance of not surviving. There’s a very good chance my 38% capacity lungs will not withstand the three-hour operation. 2) Most people in otherwise good health who get complete nephrectomies due to cancer will die within ten years. This is due to increased risk of cardiovascular health. My heart is already compromised by my lungs.

When I stated this, Dr. R acknowledged that it was true, treating these as insignificant details. She clearly expected me to go to Dr. K for surgery.
My response was: “If I wanted to see Dr K, I would have made an appointment with him. I would have said yes four and a half years ago.”

In Cincinnati, it appears the urologists are in three groups: The Urology Group, the UC Group and the Christ Hospital Group. I have been to at least one doctor in each group. So I came home and made an appointment with yet another urologist. The earliest appointment is over a month away. In case I have to resort to surgery as my last option, I got assurances that this new doctor does complete nephrectomies. Wish me luck.

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My Journey with Cancer Part 12

by on May.25, 2013, under Overcoming Cancer

The tumor is still there. Of course it is, you and I say. Who gets rid of a tumor without surgery? My thought is that it does happen. If it happened once, it could happen again. There are many routes to healing. Any of us could be that person who heals. Am I delusional to think the tumor could go away?

Though I am taking a risk not to have surgery, surgery itself is a big risk for me, given my lungs. Constantly, I am weighing the odds. Right now, I feel I am not putting myself in ridiculous danger.

To this day, it has been three years since it was confirmed I had cancer. Since I have been on the prescribed Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) for seven months, I decided to see if is working. So, three days ago, I had an ultrasound.

When I arrived in urologist Dr. B’s office, he said that ultrasounds are too dark to determine anything. When I protested that he was the one who ordered it, he said he was trying to save me from too many CT scans.

No amount of my questioning Dr. B, gave me the information I wanted to know. Did the 51 ultrasound pictures of my kidney show enlargement, shrinkage, or similar size to the CT scan in October? He dismissed the questions. That part of the appointment was over in a minute. So I had time to ask about whether he offered gene mutation testing. After Dr. B talked in a long circuitous route, the short answer was a big fat no. Then, he said I should come back in two weeks to have a CT scan and to see him again.

While I was in a daze of disappointment from having no information in exchange for the cost of time and money there, I followed Dr. B to the secretary’s office. He instructed her to schedule me for an appointment in two weeks. As the secretary dialed the radiology department for a CT scan schedule, I woke up from my shock and told her: “Thanks anyway, but no.” Politely, I stated I would call her if I decided to do anything.

Yes, a CT scan would more accurately determine the size of the tumor so I could see if all I am doing is making any difference. Yet, knowing the tumor is there is enough for me to step up my plan of action.

Today, I received the radiologist’s report with specific measurements. It showed that the tumor is seven millimeters smaller. That difference may seem small, but it appears to be going in the right direction. That is not how it usually goes with tumors.

While I do have to acknowledge that ultrasounds are not considered to have pinpoint accuracy compared to CT scans, I’m elated about this apparent progress. Still, I’ll continue taking LDN and high doses of tumeric, reishi mushrooms, and vitamin D3.

Just in this past year, I have not been 100% disciplined about avoiding sugar, grain, wine and cheese. These are my biggest temptations that may increase cancer. Now my commitment to speedy recovery is to go off these substances again. In these last 3 days I have lost a pound of weight from renewed self-discipline.

An interesting note here is that recently, on a CD, I heard the voice of a healer named Braco speaking in his native Croatian language. Wanting to do all I can to heal no matter how strange, I sat for about 45 minutes listening to words I could not translate.

What I am about to tell you sounds bizarre to me. About 25 minutes into listening to the CD, I had a dramatic and unexpected feeling on my right side. It was not painful, but seemed like a lightning bolt with its strong, sudden start and quick, abrupt exit. Getting my attention, it took a minute to realize it struck where my tumor is.

Never have I had an experience like this. If someone else told me this story, I might think they were wacko. Definitely, I would not be able to relate. If I tried, I couldn’t make this very real experience happen. Unwilling to assume anything, I wondered why it happened. While I am skeptical, I could not deny this experience. I do not know what it might mean, if anything.

Was the smaller tumor due to the LDN, the supplements, or hearing Braco? I have no idea.

Braco will be in Indianapolis, Indiana in person on June 26 and 27. His site is From Braco, many people have stories of being healed of deadly illnesses, difficult relationships, disastrous finances, etc. Of course, not everyone is healed. Keeping an open mind, I will go to Indianapolis with friends.

While I am not counting on healing through Braco, and I am not counting on healing at all, what I can count on is what I do. Since I am taking many supplements, taking prescribed LDN and improving healthful eating, I hope to have even better scan results in the future. If it does not happen the way I would like, I will have surgery, despite its danger to my lungs. No matter where this journey with cancer takes me, I am finding things that intrigue and amaze me as a result.

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by on Nov.27, 2010, under Random Writings on Relationship

Dr. K requested an office appointment five days after the procedure to determine the type of kidney cancer. I knew he wanted to schedule surgery.

The day arrived. June 29 was a sunny morning. Ed drove while I prayed that I had the strength to face the day’s challenges. In a few hours, I would conduct my first interview for my new Blog Talk Radio Program. Unsure of the technology, I was insecure about whether I would ever be prepared enough to interview a psychologist in a venue that could be heard around the world.

Definitely, that was not what I was most concerned about. One anxiety centered around overcoming kidney cancer. The most immediate apprehension focused on how difficult this meeting would be. I let the summer sun warm me. On the short drive, I imagined that the sun was pouring power into the cells of my body.

Once at the office, Ed and I were escorted to the office with the doctor’s big desk, not the usual utilitarian, soulless, cramped space. Dr. K came in after awhile and took his place behind the desk, facing us.

Getting right to it, Dr. K informed me he had already scheduled surgery for me. In three weeks was the date. Explaining all the aspects of surgery, he said he would have to go in by hand the old fashioned way due to the tricky location of the tumor.

Quickly I reminded him of the risks of such a long surgery since I have serious complications with my lungs. Dr. K thought it was no big deal since I needed this surgery to live. I asserted that whenever I had surgery I wanted my pulmonologist to be consulted. Neither agreeing or disagreeing, Dr. K was convinced I needed surgery no matter the extenuating circumstances.

“There’s a good chance I can save some of the kidney, and just cut out the cancer,” he cheerfully stated. “Yes, and it’s not likely,” I guessed aloud, disputing his claim. “Well, there’s a slight chance,” Dr. K countered. That was more what I thought. From the beginning, I knew I could not count on rescuing any of that kidney. Now the truth was out: just a slight chance, not a good chance. I was even more convinced of the risks.

Yes, I know I have another kidney. There’s a reason we are supposed to have two. I wanted them both intact if I could manage that.

I was aware of the risks of not having surgery. Cancer could spread and I’d be in much worse difficulty. As a calculated risk, I hoped it was worth it. It appeared to be all or nothing, and I was willing to go for it.

I told Dr. K and my shocked husband that I wanted to try some things for the next three to four months before I would consider surgery. My strong feeling was that I had time. The tumor was found by accident. I had no symptoms. It was only an inch in size.

“Size doesn’t matter” the doctor insisted, “a small tumor can spread as fast as a large one.” Though it had been five days since Dr. K performed the procedure, he said that my cancer may have spread already in those few days.

The biggest reason I wanted time was that I wanted to continue taking a supplement of fermented wheat germ. It takes at least three months to see any results. I did not share what I was thinking.

Reading my mind, Dr. K emphatically asserted that “no diet, no supplement, and no prayers are going to save you.” He made it clear that surgery was the only route and I could do it now and stay safe, or do it later when it spread. Urgency was of the utmost importance.

Ed was torn. I could see it on his face. He had said earlier that he believed I should have the surgery.

“I will get another CT scan in three or four months and then decide based on results,” I stated. Taking advantage of the doctor’s shock, I stood up and said: “Thank you. I’ll be in touch if I decide to have surgery.” We shook hands and parted without any bad feelings. Dr. K was gracious, suggesting I could get a second opinion if I had doubts.

Very relieved the exchange did not get ugly, I walked out to the hallway knowing I had no intention of having surgery before I gave my best to another way. While I had a plan in mind, I did not know if the one supplement and the no-sugar diet was enough to sidestep the spread of cancer in a few months.

And what would stop cancer altogether? While having no clue, I was committed to searching for something. I did not know what or how.

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