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A Holistic Cancer Strategy with Julie Stevens: Rational Wellness Podcast 364

Julie Stevens discusses A Holistic Cancer Strategy with Dr. Ben Weitz.

[If you enjoy this podcast, please give us a rating and review on Apple Podcasts, so more people will find The Rational Wellness Podcast. Also check out the video version on my WeitzChiro YouTube page.]

 

Podcast Highlights

1:29  Cancer diagnosis.  Julie Stevens talks about being diagnosed two years ago with stage 4, aggressive and inoperable chemo resistant colon cancer.  She had no signs or symptoms but she had low iron on labs and her primary care physician recommended an upper and lower endoscopy.  Her gastroenterologist told her that she did not need a colonoscopy since she was under age 45 and had no family history, but she insisted to do the test and the gastro woke her up and told her that she had a tumor so large that she could not get the camera through.

3:19  Insistence of data.  Julie’s colon closed and she had to get surgery to remove 12 inches of her colon and 61 lymph nodes.  She met with her first oncologist who told her they would do 6 months of chemo and then do a PET scan.  But Julie wanted to test the treatment for efficacy as they went, so she refused to work with that oncologist.  She set out to build a team around her that would help her to track if the treatment was the right treatment for her as they went along. She hired an herbalist, who told her that she needed to stop eating sugar and that she could test her tumor DNA to find out if the treatment would work. She did this test and found out that her tumor would not likely respond to traditional chemo, which she told her oncologist. But she went through two chemo sessions and she tracked her response by looking at a lab test that indicated that it was not helping her, so she refused further chemo.  Then she went through immunotherapy. 

7:54  Julie also worked on building up and balancing her immune system, so that her cancer treatments could be more effective.  She focused on her diet, getting plenty of sleep, and exercise. She also was suffering with GERD and idopathic urticaria, for which she was taking biologocial shots every two weeks and eight Zyrtec a day and 3 different pharmaceuticals.  She got off her acid blocking medications and she did food sensitivity testing from Dr. Russell Jaffe and discovered that the green grapes that she was eating every morniong were giving her hives every day.  

 

Julie Stevens: I think the important part is you want your body, and the way that this was described to me by my healers was, listen, you have an army of ten, and when you deploy your army so that they’re worried about this inflammation, and this, you have this glig plug in that creates this, and you have this toxicity, and this chemical that you’re having a reaction to, and you’re using this makeup, your body’s fighting all these wars, there’s no troops to fight cancer left. And we want all of the troops fighting cancer. So the job is to create homeostasis in every way you can so that your troops are [00:12:00] focused on what’s important. That’s cancer cells, not on helping to moderate the impact. Because for me, it was green grapes. I was poisoning myself every morning by eating green grapes because that was my favorite food.  And come to find out that was giving me hives every single day. So, by helping my body avoid fighting the trauma of green grapes and focus on cancer, I was able to heal that. But, I think it’s important to notice, besides the, the urticaria, besides the cancer, I’ve also had a complete body transformation.  So, I’ve lost 140 pounds, every single part of my body, if you were to look at my blood markers, I look like a totally different human being. But, it’s because I was able to refocus on grounding myself every day. getting enough sleep, really healing my body the way it needed to be healed and giving it that homeostasis so it could work in its most functional, optimal option way.

 

 



Julie Stevens had a successful challenge with colon cancer and now she is helping others have a successful journey through her MOJO Health website.  Julie published a book about her cancer healing journey, Mojo Healing.

Dr. Ben Weitz is available for Functional Nutrition consultations specializing in Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders like IBS/SIBO and Reflux and also Cardiometabolic Risk Factors like elevated lipids, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure.  Dr. Weitz has also successfully helped many patients with managing their weight and improving their athletic performance, as well as sports chiropractic work by calling his Santa Monica office 310-395-3111.

 



 

Podcast Transcript

Dr. Weitz: Hey, this is Dr. Ben Weitz, host of the Rational Wellness Podcast. I talk to the leading health and nutrition experts and researchers in the field to bring you the latest in cutting edge health information. Subscribe to the Rational Wellness Podcast for weekly updates. And to learn more, check out my website, drweitz. com. Thanks for joining me, and let’s jump into the podcast. Hello, Rational Wellness Podcasters.

Our topic for today is building a holistic healing strategy and maximizing joy on a cancer journey. We’ve had a number of discussions on the podcast. on an integrative or functional medicine approach to helping to manage cancer patients, including Dr. Nalini Chilko, Holly Lucille, Naysha Winters, Thomas Seyfried, Paul Anderson, Elise Altshuler, Gio Espinoza, and others, [00:01:00] but only a few with someone with personal experience with cancer. which is what our discussion today with Julie Stevens is about. And Julie will share her experience of how she developed a strategy and worked her way through a successful cancer journey.  Julie, thank you so much for joining us today. And perhaps you can start by telling us a little bit about your journey.

Julie Stevens: Yeah, happy to. So hi everyone, my name is Julie Stevens and today is probably my 45th birthday, so I just want to remind everyone who’s listening to be a DataG and go get your data.  That could be colonoscopies, mammograms, or annual physicals, but get your data because that’s really the story of what’s unlocked in the cancer journey.  So, it was just shy of two years ago I was diagnosed, so it was June 14th of 2022, I was diagnosed with what ended up being stage 4 aggressive and inoperable chemo resistant colon cancer.

Dr. Weitz: A heck of a diagnosis. That’s a hell of a diagnosis for anybody to deal with, especially somebody who’s new to, really, the healthcare world.

Julie Stevens: With no symptoms, no signs, no family history, under the age of screening, which was 45, so it really was.

Dr. Weitz: Which is interesting how you say you had no signs, no symptoms, and it just is something that we all need to keep in mind.  I hear so many people say I’ll let my body tell me what’s going on, and unfortunately, sometimes that’s not the case.

Julie Stevens: For me, it was just, I had lower iron than I’ve ever had before. And luckily my primary care physician took that really seriously. And I was just in the middle of a major work transition.  I was leading a piece of an acquisition we were, we had just purchased. And so my life was wildly stressful and I thought I had an ulcer. And she said, let’s go ahead and get an upper and lower endoscopy. And so I called my gastro three times. They told me, you don’t need a colonoscopy. You’re under 45. You have no family history.  And my response was like, I’m a data gal. Let’s just go ahead and get it. I’m willing to do the prep. So let’s get the data. And thank God I did because my gastro woke me up and said the tumor was so large. They couldn’t get the infant size camera to the other side.

Dr. Weitz: Wow.

Julie Stevens: That was the beginning of my journey in June of 2022, and in July of 2022, unfortunately, my colon actually closed.  So I had to go get a right hemicolectomy and have about 12 inches of my colon removed and 61 lymph nodes. Those came back, and of course, the cancer had spread. And so they had suggested six months of chemotherapy. And while I don’t know really anything about science, I’d had the luxury during the rollout of Obamacare of working with the American Hospital Association in the world of industrial psychology to define different jobs, so I understood the job and the industry of healthcare very well.  I just didn’t know science. But also taking into account my history working in the field of industrial organizational psychology, I understand how to use data to predict outcomes. That’s what I do every day. And so when the oncologist said, we’ll do six months of chemo and then we’ll do a PET scan, I said, oh no, that’s not my story.  We’re actually going to do six months, like right after the first chemo, I’d like to test for efficacy. And she rolled her eyes and said, oh honey, that’s not how we do it. So in this condescending voice, and I was like, then I’m not going to do chemotherapy. And that was the moment I went rogue because I don’t know science, but I knew data.

And if they weren’t willing to let me track the data my way, I didn’t trust that doctor. So I had to start from scratch and really build a team around doctors that would really suit what I was looking for. And I even built, again, as I’m using my industrial psychology hat. a criteria for what I’m looking for in a doctor, and actually built a selection system to find the doctors that would really play my way.  And my way was using the most current data, willing to think outside of the box, willing to challenge the standard of care. I understand why the standard of care was created, and that was to create operational efficiency. I helped organizations understand how to do that. So, I don’t look up for Operational efficiency. That’s exactly right, and that’s [00:05:00] not what I’m looking for when your life is on the line. I’d have 14 percent chance of survival.

Dr. Weitz: Interesting. And we see that all the time, unfortunately, in conventional medical care.

Julie Stevens: That’s exactly right. So luckily my first, the first hire on my team I would say was an herbalist and I walked into his office thinking he was going to tell me to align my chakras and stop eating sugar, which he did.  But in addition to that, I said, he’s like, why are you here? And I said I want to understand the data I can measure, I can use to measure treatment efficacy. And he’s oh yeah. And he pulled up a website from cancer. gov and it had,  And then he goes, but wait, I can top this. Do you want to understand the data you can use to predict if the treatment will work before you ever start? And I was like, yeah, I didn’t know that was possible. And then the third thing he told me was, listen, we can not only do that, we can build your body up so you won’t feel the side effects.  That had my attention. So hence, right away, he was hired onto the team. And in fact, he did all three of those things. So I knew I was chemo resistant before I started. My oncologist did not trust me and told me, trust me, I know what I’m doing. I’m the expert. And so I went through two chemotherapy sessions where I tracked my data outside of what they were doing.  So I was able to identify I was chemo resistant, inform my oncologist about this, do the required testing, and then pivot to what actually worked.

Dr. Weitz: Wow.

Julie Stevens: But it wasn’t just the herbalist. I also had hired, I should say, an acupuncturist, a reflexologist, a chiropractor. So I had all sorts of traditional healers all designed to really heal different parts of my body as my oncologist was working on treating cancer cells.  So I really felt like it’s up to me knowing 92 percent of cancer is built because of what we eat, drink, think, and do, or epigenetics. So it was up to me to figure out why the root causes of cancer were expressed, because it wasn’t genetic in my case, and to also use the best of any science that was available.  And for me, the science that worked was science that was released in 2020, 2022, 2023. So it was very real, like it was happening real time as I was going through my treatment. And that was not the way my, my oncologist was working. And he was the chief of staff at a major academic health center in Atlanta.  So this wasn’t a slouch or a small person I was working with,

Dr. Weitz: My podcast is devoted to Functional Medicine and you just beautifully explained what the Functional Medicine concept of how we treat patients is by looking for the root causes, getting your body as healthy as possible to be able to handle whatever care we’re going to have etc. So that was a great statement of the functional medicine mission statement without even really having any experience in functional medicine.

Julie Stevens: That’s, that’s the part of this that’s been the most shocking to me, is that I truly did not understand how much power we had when we build up our immune systems, and how critical it was, and how hard it is in today’s world.  I’ve had to change just about everything about how I live, from the food I eat, to the activities I do, to the stress I keep, and the sleep I make sure I get, and the rest. And it’s really difficult to do that, and it really takes a lot of effort when you think about how we actually live in today’s standard American lifestyle.

Dr. Weitz: What you just said about the immune system is really significant. I don’t think most patients, even cancer patients, understand that without your immune system playing a very vigorous, active role in helping to kill cancer cells no matter what other form of treatment you get, whether it’s the strongest chemo in the world, whether it’s the strongest radiation.  You’re only going to kill a certain number of those cancer cells, and there’s always going to be a certain amount of cancer cells that are not directly killed by that.  And that’s your immune system needs to be stepping in and playing an active role. And then whenever you stop your treatment, the immune system needs to be continually working on eliminating cancer cells and controlling their growth, etc. Or your care won’t be effective. And of course, you utilized immunotherapy, which is an example of some of the newer forms of cancer therapy that involve getting your immune system to play an even more active part in eliminating cancer.

Julie Stevens: I think it’s important to note though, while immunotherapy was a huge part of my strategy, I had done all sorts of work to my body so that the immunotherapy would work. So I’d gotten off of the medicine for my GERD. I also had looked at every single reason for inflammation. I think this is a really important part of my story of before cancer, I was diagnosed with cancer.  I’d had a disorder called chronic idiopathic urticaria. That means for every day for 13 years, I had hives. Sometimes from head to foot, I was miserable. Sometimes I couldn’t even brush my hair or hold a pen or walk because of these hives. And I had gone from doctor to doctor to doctor to figure out what was driving these hives.  And everyone just put me on more pharmaceuticals. So before I was diagnosed, I was taking biologic shots every two weeks, up to eight Zyrtec a day and three different pharmaceuticals to mask the hives. And it didn’t mask the hives. So flash forward to, listen, my very first meeting with Oscar, my herbalist, he said, we’ve got to worry about your inflammation because cancer feeds on sugar, inflammation, and copper.  So let’s go ahead and figure this out. And he did this test that was by Dr. Russell Jaffe. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with him. It’s an ELISA.

Dr. Weitz: Oh yeah, He’s been on the podcast.

Julie Stevens: Sure, it was the ELISA LRA test.

Dr. Weitz: And it’s like a food sensitivity test.

Julie Stevens: Exactly. And it unlocked every single reason why I had hives. So for 13 years, I’ve been miserable with this diagnosis. So not only did I heal the cancer, I healed the root causes of why I had so much inflammation. And I had to do all that preparation work for the immunotherapy to work so flawlessly. And it’s important to say, not only from immunotherapy, but also chemotherapy, I didn’t have side effects.  I was going to music festivals in Mexico during treatment, and that doesn’t happen to the average person. But because I’d done such a beautiful job of having enough magnesium and vitamin D and vitamin K, my body rode through the waves without any problem.

Dr. Weitz: That’s great. So explain how preparing your, explain how getting off your Omeprazole and doing some of the other things you did to heal your body, how did that play a role in helping your body fight cancer?

Julie Stevens: I think the important part is you want your body, and the way that this was described to me by my healers was, listen, you have an army of ten, and when you deploy your army so that they’re worried about this inflammation, and this, you have this glig plug in that creates this, and you have this toxicity, and this chemical that you’re having a reaction to, and you’re using this makeup, your body’s fighting all these wars, there’s no troops to fight cancer left. And we want all of the troops fighting cancer. So the job is to create homeostasis in every way you can so that your troops are [00:12:00] focused on what’s important. That’s cancer cells, not on helping to moderate the impact. Because for me, it was green grapes. I was poisoning myself every morning by eating green grapes because that was my favorite food.  And come to find out that was giving me hives every single day. So, by helping my body avoid fighting the trauma of green grapes and focus on cancer, I was able to heal that. But, I think it’s important to notice, besides the, the urticaria, besides the cancer, I’ve also had a complete body transformation.  So, I’ve lost 140 pounds, every single part of my body, if you were to look at my blood markers, I look like a totally different human being. But, it’s because I was able to refocus on grounding myself every day, getting enough sleep, really healing my body the way it needed to be healed and giving it that homeostasis so it could work in its most functional, optimal option way.

Dr. Weitz: What sort of nutritional approach have you been using in your Cancering journey?

Julie Stevens: The first thing I [00:13:00] did was kind of anything that was non-organic left. So I really started to use grass fed beef and eggs and all the things. But then I started to so first thing was just as clean and as pure as I could without any chemicals.  But then I started to really get choosy about the types of food I eat. So the majority of my diet is plant based as much as I can. I do eat some seafood, I eat eggs every day, and I have some poultry but not a huge, not a ton. So I’ve really been able to shift that to be almost all plant based. I make sure I focus on getting five colors of vegetables a day.  That was my challenge for this year. Once I understood the different nutritional value of having green versus red versus purple vegetables. I understood that you can’t just eat a bunch of broccoli and think you’re going to have enough. It really is the diversification that allows your gut microbiome to really thrive.

Dr. Weitz: So you reduced your consumption of animal protein?

Julie Stevens: I did. And for me, as I mentioned, I did the ELISA LRA test and it [00:14:00] showed gluten, soy, sugar, green grapes, tuna, and scallops. So I have completely eliminated those things from my diet. Sugar was probably the hardest. And that still is the hardest because when you travel or eat out, you never know if sugar’s in the sauce or the, the salad dressing or things like that.  So it is challenging to really make sure you have a zero diet, a zero sugar diet. But as much as I can, I’ve gotten, gone to zero sugar. And then of course gluten was the thing that was, is, was a challenge to begin with. But really the reality is there’s so many beautiful gluten free products now, I don’t even miss it.

Dr. Weitz: Did you change your diet around the times that you got your treatment?

Julie Stevens: Oh, yeah, I so I should say my treatments don’t look like the average person’s treatment. So I think that’s okay. So when I did chemo, yes, I fasted. So I didn’t, I didn’t, I really, So part of my my training as an industrial organizational psychologist was I broke down every single [00:15:00] side effect that could impact me during the treatment, and I built a plan to moderate it.  So that’s part of why I didn’t have side effects. So I fasted for every single infusion. I made sure I had

Dr. Weitz: Did you fast for how long?

Julie Stevens: 24 hours before for the 24 hours of the infusion and six hours later. So I really tried to do before and after. I also like iced. So cold sensitivity, I was on oxaloplatin, cold sensitivity is a reality for that one treatment.  So I put my hands and feet in ice and I ate ice chips the entire time. So I had no problems with cold sensitivity. I had to fight really hard against my healthcare system to allow me to do that. But I was able to avoid that entire side effect of any cold issues.

Dr. Weitz:  Cool. What are some of the other important lifestyle factors that you utilized?

Julie Stevens: So you mentioned one when we started and that’s, you mentioned my mantra of maximizing joy. And I think that’s a really interesting one because that is something that’s kind of uniquely me and I think in my journey. I [00:16:00] decided when I was diagnosed and because you feel overwhelmed with fear and I immediately decided I will not do this journey in fear, I will do this journey in joy.  And that takes a lot of mental practice and really work to be able to do that. So I started to feed my mind superhero movies. So instead of watching the news, I watched Iron Man to understand what I could do. So I read books, I asked my network to send me pictures of rainbows and puppies and, flowers and all of the things because I really wanted to utilize

Dr. Weitz: In other words, Marvel Comics is directly responsible for your recovery.

Julie Stevens: For me thinking I was a superhero, that’s fair. That’s fair. And I brought that in. So part of my strategy is I went to my first treatment and I hated being there. As you can imagine, it is the worst place on the planet when you look around and you think all of these people are dying around me. And that’s what I thought.  And I thought, I can’t have this energy. So the next one, I got dressed in costume. And I brought, so basically I decided to have a [00:17:00] luau. You can imagine I walked into my second, my, my first chemo, my second chemo, my first party and walked in and said, Hey, you want to get laid in chemo and had lays for everyone and glasses and gift bags and, But part of those gift bags were I had a lot of frustration.

So I hand hammered bracelets for everyone that said, ride the wave. And I gave out 60 gift bags that day. So at the end of my first meeting this woman walked up to me and said, listen, Julie, I was planning to commit suicide tonight, and I’m not going to, because I met you and I know I can ride this wave.  And I realized right then I might be the only person that’s crazy enough to get dressed in costume and give, bring gift bags to an infusion, but every single person here needs it just as I did.

Dr. Weitz: Right. Awesome. You discuss how you use genomic data to predict treatment success. Can you tell us more about that?

Julie Stevens: Yeah. So this is pretty cool. And I think for, I’m guessing most of your listeners know this, but for anyone who doesn’t, I thought colon cancer was a thing or breast cancer was [00:18:00] a thing, but come to find out, it kind of matters where it is, but really what matters is the genomic makeup of the tumor cells.  So for me, I was a GKRAS13D, was what my tumor cell was genomically named. Well, come to find out, because I was KRAS positive, my herbalist had done research in lung cancer that showed that the platinum based chemotherapy wouldn’t work with a KRAS positive tumor. So I brought this research and my genomic data the morning of my first chemo to my oncologist and I said, listen, this isn’t going to work, let’s just go ahead and pivot to immunotherapy.  But come to find out, because of the standard of care You have to fail at chemotherapy before they’ll open up immunotherapy. He didn’t know I understood why he was forcing me to do chemo, but I understood the red tape was there because of my experience working in the field of industrial psychology. So I laughed.

So I was like, all right, I’ll do this, but I don’t trust you. But it was really the understanding the genomic fingerprint, which is required to have some sample of the tumor. So it’s not possible for all cancers right away, [00:19:00] but as soon as you can get this, I would implore you to utilize this data. And let me share, I didn’t call one time to get this data, I called over 20 times to get my oncologist to pull this data.  This is not standard to pull it this way. Typically they let you do 6 months of chemo, they fail, and then they’ll do genomic testing. But once I understood that could predict treatment efficacy, I was willing to do whatever it took so I could get that data as fast as I could and have that early in my process.

Dr. Weitz: Unfortunately, the reason why you were forced to get this traditional chemo first, it has to do with the attempt by the healthcare system, by the insurance companies, to spend the least amount of money possible and, taking traditional chemo is less expensive than immunotherapy and unfortunately that’s a factor.

Julie Stevens: It sure is, but you know what else is a factor? how your doctor is compensated. And unlike almost any other drug on the planet, your [00:20:00] oncologist is compensated based on the number of chemotherapy sessions administered. So it’s important to understand this is, and if they want to do something that is not the standard of care, the amount of paperwork and challenges and meetings they have to go through to get that approved, it’s not a small task.  So you want to find an oncologist that is a maverick, that is willing to think outside of the box and challenge those assumptions? It took me an army to get this done, but it is worth your energy.

Dr. Weitz: Yes, sometimes you have to swim upstream in the healthcare system to get the care you really need.

Julie Stevens: It’s true.  And you are your best advocate. Nobody cares about you like you do. But I knew the squeaky wheel got the oil. That’s true in everything we do. But I also knew the squeaky wheel that was positive and not a pain in the butt got better oil. So again, by throwing these parties and bringing stickers to everyone and postcards and showing my appreciation for everyone there, I got what we call incremental [00:21:00] effort from every single healthcare professional, whether it was the front desk person, whether it was a nurse, whether it was my oncologist, they all spent a little extra time with me, or came by to see me, or checked in with me, or checked in with me after my session.

So by bringing the best of who I was to these sessions, I got the best of my healthcare team as well. And I would encourage anyone listening to really think about, don’t bring sticks, bring carrots, and get them to really engage in your story.

Dr. Weitz: What was the particular genetic test that you utilized?

Julie Stevens: I used the neogenomics.  So that was, sorry Secretary, that was the specific genomic test. The genetic test I used was just through my hospital system, and they did the standard, yeah. Yeah,

Dr. Weitz: I meant the genomic test, the cancer characteristics, yeah.

Julie Stevens: Perfect yeah. So I used Neogenomics and that was really important to me. I actually had two different, I was switching oncologists at the time, so I had both of them pull, so I had Keras and Neogenomics, so I was able to compare what we thought were the two very best genomic providers out there.  It was almost the same data, but Neogenomics gave you a few extra factors. [00:22:00] And one of those To go back to your earlier question about how I change my diet, this is an interesting one. So my herbalist did mention, listen, if you’re HER2 positive cancer and olives are natural indicator of, or not indicator, but natural reducer of HER2 positive cancers.

So while I hate olives, I’m willing to eat eight olives a day if that’s what I need to do to keep my body cancer free because this is a HER2 positive cancer and olives can help reduce HER2 positive cancers. So those are the sorts of things that when you understand it, you can actually feed your body the tools it needs to repair itself.  Same thing with kiwi. Kiwi actually repairs your DNA. I had no idea until I got on this journey, but so now I’m willing to eat two kiwis a day. It’s easy when you feed your body the right things.

Dr. Weitz: I don’t think most people are aware of that. There’s data to show that kiwi repairs your DNA.

Julie Stevens: That’s exactly right. I have a podcast as well, so I have an episode with a person named Peter Broadhead, who was an herbalist, he had a nutrition store, he’s had all sorts of different environments worlds. And he came on and gave us [00:23:00] some really beautiful data about the types of foods you need to eat, so things like mushrooms, kiwi, etc., that can really impact your health outcomes. Yeah,

Dr. Weitz: mushrooms we know for their immune strengthening properties, the mucopolysaccharides. Thank you. In terms of you mentioned a few things what are some of the other ways that people can decrease some of the side effects of traditional cancer care like chemo and radiation?

Julie Stevens: Well, I’m going to say this. I actually built a tool. So it’s all available on our website for free. So you can go on and put in what chemotherapy you’re taking or any side effect of any medicine and understand the supplements, the diet, the lifestyle, or the healers you could use to avoid that side effect.

And so your question might be, how did I collect this data? Again, I’m an industrial psychologist by trade. So I understood how to build the formula and the protocol for how to do this. Then I went out and worked with experts around the globe to get the feedback on what would you do if, what can a chiropractor impact from a side effect perspective?

What can an acupuncturist impact? So I went out to each of these specialties [00:24:00] to understand what the opportunity was and did surveys to experts in those areas. So I got their feedback and then I used a number of different practitioners to help me build the list of what these supplements could be to avoid these side effects.

Come to find out, and this is one of the things that my team taught me. is if you start chemotherapy and your body’s idling at an 8, you’re going to drop to a 6 and you’re never really going to feel it. But if you start chemotherapy and you’re at a 5, and you drop to a 2, you’re on death’s doorstep.

So make sure you start these treatments as strong as you physically can be, so that when you take the hit, it’s no big deal. And so that’s part of it is, beyond everything, make sure your overall health is as strong as possible. That means staying Sleep and meditation and giving your body a rest before you start treatment.

I was walking. I literally have walked and exercised more than I ever have since I’ve been in treatment, knowing how important that was, not only from a health and wellness perspective, but for example, that helps express your lymph nodes. And for me, that was really important. [00:25:00]

Dr. Weitz: Yeah. Absolutely. I think a lot of times patients going through traditional cancer therapy like chemo feel like crap and don’t have a lot of energy.  So they tend to avoid exercise and conserve their energy.

Julie Stevens: And that’s the whole point. You, your body needs the right fuel to have energy. There was never a day, besides when I was in surgery, so let me say that, once I was healed from surgery, there was never a day when I was in treatment that I wasn’t strong enough to go to work, to go out for a walk, to make my own food.

I never had a day where I wasn’t well enough, but that was because I had done all the preparation work to make sure my body would sail. And so you’re either going to pay for it before or after. When you pay for it before, it’s a lot more enjoyable for the way you live your life.

Dr. Weitz: Yeah, you’re mentioning another concept, which is one of your principles that you mentioned, which is that when you have a diagnosis of cancer, all [00:26:00] the treatment is focused on trying to kill the cancer.

And yet, the health of the host is super important, as you’re mentioning, if you go in at a level 5 instead of a level 8, your ability to even handle the treatment is going to be greatly diminished there needs to be equal or, equal amount of focus on making sure you, your body, your health overall, I don’t know, is at a highest level possible, that you have good energy, that your blood flow is good, that your immune system is good, all these things that are going to play a secondary role in helping you to fight the cancer, survive, and also make sure you don’t die from something else.

Julie Stevens: That, so that was kind of the big thing that was a takeaway for me, is, your, is, and again, I’m using my industrial psychology brain, your oncologist job is to reduce cancer cells, it is not to make you live a long and happy life 15 years after treatment, [00:27:00] so they’re really focused on one, one microscope, and when you understand that microscope, you want them to do that, But you also need support so that you, that doesn’t kill you.

So things like when you think about certain types of radiation, that’s cool that you don’t have cancer anymore. You just died from radiation or you had this horrible chemo. I just talked to someone who was a a saxophonist for one of my favorite bands and he was diagnosed with the exact same genomic type of cancer.

And I talked to his wife. A couple weeks before he died, he had gone through the standard of care where it was one chemo, a more intense chemo the third hardest chemo. That chemo is what killed him. It wasn’t the cancer.

Dr. Weitz: Yeah, it’s sad. You mentioned six toolbox to build your strategy. Maybe you could summarize what are those six toolboxes that are important in your Cancering journey?

Julie Stevens: Yes, can I give a, I’ll give a really fast history lesson too.

Dr. Weitz: Sure.

Julie Stevens: One, you think your doctor is trained on all these things. So again, using [00:28:00] my history, I went back and studied medical school curriculum because I believe we can only hold our doctors accountable for what they know and the data they have access to.

So when I’m back, but went back and studied medical school curriculum, I understood the little that they knew about six toolboxes. So I consider the six toolboxes Pharmaceuticals, Botanicals, Nutraceuticals, Diet and Lifestyle, Environment, and Facilitated Healers. In their curriculum, is pharmaceuticals. And when I went back to understand why, it was because of something in the 1909 that was published called the Flexner Report.

So many of you might be familiar with the Flexner Report, but that’s basically where they went out to have some continuity of medical school curriculum. And in that, if you taught acupuncture, or herbalism, or chiropractic as part of your medical school curriculum, You lost funding. So in 1910, our doctors went from being jacks of all trade to masters of pharmacology.

So it’s really important to understand it’s a really valuable toolbox, but it is one toolbox and it’s up to [00:29:00] you to get your botanicals, nutraceuticals, diet and lifestyle environment and healers in line to heal everything else.

Dr. Weitz: Yeah, it’s absolutely the case that traditional medical doctors know little or nothing about nutrition, herbs, alternative care.  They’re basically taught that those things are not super important. Yeah, nutrition matters somewhat. So, don’t eat a couple of foods and that’s about it.

Julie Stevens: Don’t eat lunch meat, don’t eat sausage, don’t eat bacon, and don’t eat meat, or what they told me, but the reality is that’s so far away from the reality of how I can make my body thrive.  And when I understood that, I was like, cool, this is your box, but it was important to note, It’s not that they didn’t tell me not to take the herbs. It’s not that they didn’t tell me to do the, to eat the food. They told me, hey no, you shouldn’t do this.

Dr. Weitz: Oh, a hundred percent. In fact, those herbs are unproven.  They contain [00:30:00] antioxidants that can counter your treatment.

Julie Stevens: So I was strong enough to push back and say, if you can show me one research article that this is true versus your fear of how it’ll impact, I will stop right away. And they couldn’t come up with one research article. So I was like, cool, this is my body, what I do outside of your office, you’re responsible for cancer cells, I’m responsible for my body, you keep working on my cancer cells, I’ll keep working on my body.

But I don’t think most people are that bold.

Dr. Weitz: Right, yeah, this has been a discussion that comes up over and over again, every time we have a discussion about cancer is it’s known that traditional chemo and radiation, that One of the things that happens in the way that they kill cancer cells is by creating free radicals in the body.  So therefore, anything that contains antioxidants like vitamin C or vitamin E or any of these other antioxidants are therefore going to uncouple the chemotherapy. And yet, [00:31:00] many studies show that the more vegetables and fruits. that you eat, the more likely you are to beat the cancer, the less likely you are to get cancer.  And those are containing huge amounts of antioxidants. So it’s never really made sense.

Julie Stevens: Also, again, I’m a data girl. So let’s just say that when you look at this, your doctors, the data set they have to make decisions is disgusting. So I’ll give you a perfect example. There is one study of people who have been successful.  Like I have been. on, on, on immunotherapy with colon cancer. There’s one study. There’s not a study if they, if, what if you stop at 18 months? That data doesn’t exist. What if you do this drug for four years? It doesn’t exist. There’s one study that if you do it for two years, here’s the outcomes you can expect to achieve.

So when you’re listening to your doctor, actually look at the research they’re referencing. Understand this, the limited scope of the data they have to predict outcomes. Efficacy. It is not what you think, where they would understand, listen, if I stop at 18 months, here’s the reality of [00:32:00] your outcomes. No, they’re using the best guess based on the limited data they have, which is all we can hold them accountable for.

But the data is lacking because most companies only need data to get FDA approval, not to actually prove how to optimize the drugs so you live your best life. And that’s a different approach.

Dr. Weitz: There’s a lot of issues around data. We could talk for hours about it, but one thing to keep in mind is to conduct a randomized double blind placebo controlled trial on anything other than a drug, of course is very difficult. So, to try to run a study like that on a food, when nobody’s gonna benefit from potentially making billions of dollars from eating pomegranates or broccoli or whatever it is nobody’s gonna want to fund that study. So, those studies are not done, and we have limited data from these food frequency questionnaires, which are [00:33:00] completely inaccurate, and so we just don’t have comparable studies on Common Herbs Fruits and Vegetables many of the lifestyle factors because there’s no funding mechanism for that other than the NIH which is basically doing some of the basic research to help the pharmaceutical companies develop their drugs and

Julie Stevens: I would say yet.  I agree with you, but the answer I would say is yet. And that is why I started this non profit, Mojo Health Exist, to build the data set. Because I know my doctors have continuously said, we’ve got your data, and I’m like, you have a core of the data of what I actually did to heal this. So I know the reality is of what you did, you’re just giving credit to the pharmaceutical.

But much more went into my story than just that one drug. And so Mojo Health Exist, because I believe you’re absolutely correct. No one company is going to pay to understand the interplay of how all these things impact health outcomes. So this needs to be based on a [00:34:00] patient led revolution, and that is what I’m leading.

I want to invite patients to join together with me, so we build the data set on what we are doing, so this might not be a double blind placebo, but I can give you a correlation study to understand, listen, people who have your genomic type of cancer in Chile do this, and in Turkey they do this, and in Japan they do this, and the U.

  1. they do this, and here’s the difference in outcomes. And when we can drive people to understand how the globe heals differently, and what options can give them the optimal outcomes, and what interplay of options really helps that’s how we can change cancer. We take this out of the corporation’s hands, and we put it in the patient’s power.

Dr. Weitz: That’s great. You’ve mentioned already about using cancer biomarkers, blood biomarkers to track what’s happening with cancer. Maybe as opposed to when your oncologist told you that you would do six months of chemo and then get a PET scan to see what happened. And [00:35:00] you distinguish between the fact that the PET scan is a lagging indicator versus some of these biomarkers that can help you identify what’s going on right now. Which are you progressing? Are you regressing? Is can you talk more about some of those most important biomarkers?

Julie Stevens: Yeah, so, there’s a couple different types of biomarkers you can look at in your blood. And I think the, this is like measuring how many invitations were sent to the party.  So you understand how big is this party? What’s happening with my cancer? So when I understood the proteins that were being developed as a result of the cancer, and if those proteins are going up, You have more cancer activity. And if they’re going down, you have less cancer activity. So the first thing I looked at was something called CA 19-9.  That’s a blood marker that’s traditionally used for pancreatic cancer, but it can also be a good indicator for colon cancer as well. This is not something that’s used around the globe. It’s only used in a few countries. So it’s one of those things that my doctor said, Hey, I don’t follow that. I think you’re fine.  You’re not chemo resistant. [00:36:00] When I came back and said, Hey, I’m chemo resistant. Cause let’s be real. That was a 30 blood test that I was doing outside of my doctor. I did that on my own. I tracked and it was going up after my second chemo administration. So I texted my doctor and said, Hey, listen, I’m chemo resistant.

I’m not coming back for chemo three. And he’s like, Julie, I’m the expert. Trust me. That’s not a data point we follow. And I was like, these six industrialized countries follow this. So this is what I follow. So you need to pull data to disprove my theory in order for me to come back. Again, I don’t think most patients are quite that bold, but he, so he did two tests.  One is a PET scan and the other was CT DNA. which most of your listeners might know, but for those that don’t know, that’s looking for tiny broken particles of cancer. You’re circulating tumor DNA. And so the reality is we don’t want to use one of these tests to make a huge treatment decisions. We want to use a lot of different data points, looking at different aspects of the cancer to drive our treatment strategy.

So would I have made this decision on CA 19-9 alone? No. Was it a great indicator that we needed to collect more data? Yes. And [00:37:00] the idea here is we want to collect as much data as you can. before you start treatment. And I think that’s a really important thing. Doctors don’t tell you, hey, this tumor is not urgent.

They don’t tell you that. And as soon as you’re told you have cancer, you think, I want this out of my body as fast as we can. But the reality is my cancer was growing for over 10 years. I had a month to stop, collect my data, get all my baseline information, build my team, build my body, take the time to do that, because then the way you ride is much smoother versus jumping into treatment, and you’re like, and then you’re already knocked down a few pegs.  So I just wanted to mention that urgency thing is really important and to get all that baseline data so you can measure the score of the cancer early on and know when you need to fail and pivot.

Dr. Weitz: Right. I was reading that Your herbalist acupuncturist was also looking at things like zinc and copper and CRP and inflammation levels and things like that.  And some of these markers indicate what’s [00:38:00] happening in the body that is gonna change the terrain that the cancer is growing in.

Julie Stevens: That’s exactly right. His biggest focus was, are you going to have a blood clot? Because you’re going to die way faster than the blood clot than the cancer. So let’s make sure your blood’s in great order.  Your neutrophil and lymphocytes are in line. Like, let’s look below that first level to understand really what the score is of the health of your body and the health of your terrain. So it’s not just one, it’s really all of it.

Dr. Weitz: Right. And most cancer patients are going to die from heart disease despite the cancer.  So you don’t want to beat the cancer and die of heart disease.

Julie Stevens: Which that’s, when I understood, I was a little angry when I learned this fact, that most cancers are a metabolic disease. And in fact, if you keep your body in line, you will not only not have any heart tumor cancer, you won’t have heart disease.  So why don’t, why didn’t I know that until I dug into this world? That to me is such an important fact for everyone to understand. You can avoid heart [00:39:00] attacks.

Dr. Weitz: Yep. And that’s called the Metabolic Theory of Cancer.

Julie Stevens: Yeah.

Dr. Weitz: And that’s something a lot of people in this space have been talking a lot about, including Thomas Seyfried and Nisha Winters.

Julie Stevens: Nasha Winters was the book where, I mean, my herbalist said this, and he is a friend of Nisha’s, so he talked about her, and I was like, I don’t believe you. And so I had to go do my own research, and after talking to so many doctors and going to conferences and reading these books, I was like, I believe you and not only do I believe you, I want to shout it from the rooftops because I know we can create a body that’s inhospitable to cancer.  And if given the opportunity, we need to prove exactly what we need to do to do that because everyone who’s had cancer will do that to not have a recurrence.

Dr. Weitz: Yeah, Nasha had a diagnosis similar to yours. She had a stage 4 ovarian cancer and basically was left to die and probably the fact that she felt so horrible and couldn’t eat and end up fasting for close to a month is probably what [00:40:00] helped her body fight the cancer.

Julie Stevens: For sure.

Dr. Weitz: So let’s bring this to a close. Let’s finish on the topic of trying to find joy in your healing process. And then tell us about your contacts.

Julie Stevens: Yeah, so, I think, one of the most things, the best things you can do for your body is to not live in fear, as I mentioned, and so I worked really hard to use joy.  So as I mentioned, I dress up in costume, I bring gift bags, but it’s more than that. It’s I look at every single day and realize what I’m grateful for. I start every morning by focusing there, not on the fact that I had to fight cancer. I never once looked at that as a cross to bear. That’s an invitation to change.

Right. And you reframe your thinking as, okay, the world’s got to change. Like my world is not the same as it was yesterday. Things are different. I’m willing to accept this change. I’m willing to take on the change and do what I need to do. It wasn’t a hardship. My life is better and I’m happier [00:41:00] post cancer diagnosis.

Dr. Weitz: Nasha Winters often talks about instead of fighting cancer, cancering, and how you’re basically going through this journey.

Julie Stevens: It is not a death sentence. It is a life sentence though.

Dr. Weitz: That’s great. So how can listeners find out more about your program? You have a podcast, you have this website with helping cancer patients figure out how to work their way through this process.

Julie Stevens: Yeah, so I basically, as soon as I was declared no evidence of disease, I made a list of all of the reasons why cancer sucks. And I have one by one tried to systemically answer those reasons. So it started with I wrote a book so that you would understand how to build your team. And then it started with, wait, we can do better than this.

Actually, I’m going to write a job description so that you understand what your role as a patient is. Okay wait. Now I’m going to write tools so that you understand how to select a doctor and how to build this team. Now we went forward to, as I was working with my herbalist in this team, I was like, Guys, we [00:42:00] can build this so that anyone can go and figure out how to avoid side effects online.

So, that is all available for free on MojoHealth. org. Mojo Health, which stands for More Joy. Because that’s why every joy comes back to everything. So mojohealth. org is the place where you can go and we have built all sorts of resources. I just launched a what now guide for newly diagnosed so it’ll walk you through the very first questions you should be asking, the types of data you can really start to gather to change your strategy, how you can build your team so it walks you through step by step.

But we’re also just about to launch a what now guide for caregivers because we want to help people understand how they can gift better. And so this is one of the things I would mention is just this week one of the challenges I’ve faced and let’s be real, very little of what I did to save my life was covered by insurance.

I’m facing financial devastation as a result of saving my life and no one should have to face thousands and thousands of dollars in debt despite the fact that I have a wonderful job and a healthy savings account. All of that is gone because [00:43:00] this is, these are the reasons why you have a healthy savings account.

So one of the tools we’re building is a registry so you can go on there and build your strategy and share that with your network and someone else can buy you a bottle of magnesium or vitamin D instead of a coloring book or a Or dropping off lasagna or flowers that dies. So let’s actually teach people how to help you with what you need.

So I am just taking this off one list at one, one challenge at a time. And you’ll see that in my podcast. We’ve done podcasts, everything from how to have financial wellness after diagnosis to how to prepare. So you don’t lose your hair with capping. to most recently we just did one on how to prepare your body for radiation.

So we are talking with experts around the field, just all about cancer, the stuff that isn’t what your doctor teaches you, but really can change your game. So we’re going to not stop until I’m in the grave, because I know from what I know that we can have, we can make cancer suck less, only if we work together and share the best practices and tips that each one of us share and that one on one level to a [00:44:00] much broader audience.

Dr. Weitz: We can make cancer suck less only if we work together.

Julie Stevens: That’s exactly right. Hence the name of my podcast is Mojo Rising, How to Make Cancer Suck Less,

Dr. Weitz: thank you so much, Julie.

Julie Stevens: So grateful to be part of this and thank you so much for helping me spread Mojo with the world.

 


 

Dr. Weitz: Thank you for making it all the way through this episode of the Rational Wellness Podcast.  For those of you who enjoy Listening to the Rational Wellness Podcast, I would appreciate it if you could go to Apple Podcasts or Spotify and give us a five star ratings and review. If you would like to work with me personally to help you improve your health, I do accept a limited number of new patients per month for a functional medicine consultation.  Some of the areas I specialize in include helping patients with specific health issues, like gut problems, neurodegenerative conditions, autoimmune diseases, cardiometabolic conditions, or for an executive [00:45:00] health screen and to help you promote longevity and take a deeper dive into some of those factors that can lead to chronic diseases along the way.  Please call my Santa Monica Weitz Sports Chiropractic and Nutrition Office at 310-395-3111. And we’ll set you up for a new consultation for functional medicine. And I look forward to speaking to everybody next week.

 

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