Hormone Heresy – A Book Review

 

During the heat of my battle with Endometriosis, I was referred to quite a few articles, publications and physicians, mostly focusing on clinical trials for Endometriosis.

At the time, 1998-2000, the focus of research was on low grade Stage I & II Endometriosis – the point in the disease progression where fertility can be preserved.

One of the biggest contributors to the Endometriosis battle in 1998 was Dr. John Lee. Dr Lee’s research into hormones and specifically his work with Pregnenolone was my introduction to Young Living Essential Oils and the gateway into Alternative Healing.  It was also through Dr Lee and various listservs (email lists/groups) that I had joined which consisted of women with Endometriosis and Medical Professionals in 1998 & 1999; I was introduced to Dr Sherrill Sellman.

I was approximately 8 weeks post-op from surgery at Cedars Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Center when I began attending Endometriosis Support Groups in the South Bay area of Los Angeles.  I had a hysterectomy bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, Sigmoid Colostomy, two bowel resections, Appendectomy, and Excision Therapy for my kidneys, bladder, urethras, liver and abdominal wall.  All of this was due to Chronic, Aggressive, Recurring Stage IV Endometriosis.  The Ovaries presented with early stage Ovarian Cancer, the Uterus presented with Adenomyosis and early stage Uterine Cancer, and the Sigmoid Colon presented with early stages Colon Cancer.

To ensure the disease was completely eradicated, I was given a choice for post-op treatment and long term care.

Choice A:
I could spend 3 months (12 weeks) with no HRT, and then begin a 6 month round of Chemo Therapy (Lupron) and then one round of radiation focused on the abdominal area.  If I could survive the Lupron & Radiation side effects, I could get close to 6 or 8 years of a normal life – that’s including the 2 years of treatment where quality of life is not really a consideration.

Choice B:
I could spend 6 months or longer with no HRT, and use only natural alternative therapies for my HRT needs.  The “or longer” meant, “as long as I could stand it”, and most research I had found at the time indicated 6 months was the ball park time line without HRT.

I had not yet made my choice in treatment options, settling on the fact that I had 3 months, 12 weeks, to decide what to do.  During my recovery, I began researching HRT and its long-range effects.  It didn’t make sense to me that I should take Estrogen, when the disease I had, fed on Estrogen and was caused by Estrogen Dominance.  It was this research that ultimately became the basis for my decision to avoid synthetic estrogen at all costs.

One of the first outings I had after the March 1999 surgery was to attend Sherrill Sellman’s seminar in Los Angeles during her book tour for Hormone Heresy: What Women Must Know.  Still on pain meds and absolutely no hormone replacement, with a continued adherence to the low residue diet that I had been surviving on for the previous 6 months due to Endo on the Sigmoid colon, I was thin, weak, high as a kite and ripe for starting life post-Endometriosis without synthetic hormones in my body.

I was introduced to Sherrill Sellman at a seminar on Women’s Health.  The focus of the seminar was naturally managing hormones, and Sherrill was giving a presentation on her book “Hormone Heresy”.  I learned quite a bit from her on that day.  The important thing was that she made me ask questions of myself and of my physicians and my choices.  I also discovered in my research that the synthetic drugs I so wholeheartedly believed in were most likely the cause of the Endometriosis progressing so rapidly, to the point of near fatality.

To the chagrin of my doctors, I refused all of the synthetic options they presented me.  All of them told me I would eventually come around, and use the synthetic estrogen “just like the other 3 million American women did before me”.  The natural route was far too confusing and difficult to maintain, especially if I wanted to resume my high-speed life-style of working 14-hour days.  Ultimately, I settled on plant based HRT compounded at an all natural pharmacy.  The HRT began in June 1999 and ended in September 2000.

My grandmother passed away from Pancreatic Cancer in September, at the same time a new cyst formed near the site of a previous resection.  My grandmother also suffered from Endometriosis and she died at the same time I experienced a Post-Hysterectomy reoccurrence of Endo on the Bowel.  .  The only difference was that mine was progressing much faster than hers ever did.  My mother was convinced she was going to loose both of us.  When my grandmother was transferred from the hospital to my mother’s home so we could help her pass, my mother stole her medical file from the hospital.  What we discovered from that file was amazing.  My grandmother had been taking synthetic estrogen for 30 years.  She had suffered from endometrial cancer, Osteoporosis, and a heart condition.  The Pancreatic Cancer was definitely related to the Endometrial Cancer, it had traveled up her digestive tract.   All of the ailments synthetic estrogen reportedly protects us from were manifested in my grandmother.  It was this experience that validated my decision to avoid synthetic estrogen, and use a natural approach to managing my hormones.  By using Essential Oils for six weeks prior to surgery, a 6 mm implant was reduced to less than 2mm, and helped me to avoid a second Bowel Resection.

Having experienced this all first hand validated all of the things Sherrill wrote about in her book.  Watching my grandmother suffer from the very ailments that the medical and pharmaceutical communities insist estrogen protects us from was the basis of my opinion that there is key information about the drug being kept from the general population.  My own experience with synthetic hormones is the basis of my opinion that the medical community is not interested in curing illness.  Instead, women are herded into the medical machine where they are expected to do what they are told without regard to their free will.  I can’t help but think that my faith in the synthetic hormones that I believed would serve to cure my Endometriosis, was actually the agent that caused the disease to progress so aggressively.

In the end, my decision to eliminate synthetic drugs from my life was the result of disappointment.  For all their knowledge and education, the medical community could not provide me with a cure for Endometriosis that allowed me to keep my reproductive organs.   To add insult to injury, not one medical professional has adequately explained to me the long-term effects of using synthetic estrogen yet every medical professional I have consulted has had negative comments regarding my choice not to use them.

In the 10 years since my experience, it has been proven that Estrogen is not the cure all the pharmaceutical companies have marketed it to be.  The dangers of estrogen have been widely published.

It is thanks to the work of people like Dr Sellman and Dr Lee, who opened the scientific door leading us away from the over use of estrogen as an effective treatment.

I have been hormone free for coming up on 11 years now.  My diet fluctuates from healthy to absolutely wrong.  I have not had a hormone related reoccurrence of Endometriosis in as many years.  That is not to say I have not had hormone fluctuation issues.  I still have my share of hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings.  It is the managing these hormone fluctuations that Dr Sellman’s books and articles have and do help significantly.

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