Elonna's Cancer Recovery Story

My Story of Recovery
by Elonna McKibben
Elonna gave an interview on the "How to Live Cancer-Free" radio show hosted by Bill Henderson on Web Talk Radio. Click the play button to hear Elonna tell her story.
I hope you will bear with me as I set our story to print. I want to start with a couple scripture verses, but rest assured that this is not going to be a sermon. The following scripture verses have been sources of encouragement and strength to us when we have needed it most:
  • Jeremiah 29:13: "And you will seek Me, and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart."
  • Jeremiah 33:3: "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know."
(NKJV). We think as our story unfolds you will understand why these passages are very precious to us.

After nearly 10 years of marriage, 1 miscarriage, 7 years of infertility studies and hours of prayer, we finally were successful, and I was pregnant at long last. A sonogram, performed at approximately 8 weeks, confirmed that I was actually pregnant with quintuplets. At this sonogram, we could see their strong beating hearts, kidneys, arms, legs, and spinal cords. Their tiny hands still had their webbing and they appeared to be very active and healthy.

As multiple pregnancies go, mine was a breeze. I never had any morning sickness, no high blood pressure or sugar problems, no toxemia or preeclampsia. But let me tell you, it sure gets tiring spending 24 hours a day on your left side. Around 18½ weeks into my pregnancy, I developed pain in my left hip which would not go away. It was a very deep pain and no amount of rubbing, heat or ice, etc., eased it. The pain progressed into my legs and up into my back. My doctors felt that the pain was due to my inactivity and the pressure of the babies. At this point, I was already as large as a full-term pregnancy and still had a long way to go. About a week after the pain began, I noticed that when I stood up my legs were very shaky, and I would have to stand still for a few seconds before walking. Soon after this, I could no longer do stairs or step up onto anything.

The pain continued to worsen as the days went by, so my doctors admitted me to University Hospitals of Cleveland at 23 weeks into my pregnancy. The second day there, I was examined by a pain specialist, who, after some non-evasive testing, also came to the conclusion that it was the pressure of the pregnancy on my pelvic area and hips causing the problems. I was told there was nothing they could do about it, and that it was something I had to endure until the babies were born.

As my pregnancy progressed further, the weakness in my legs increased. One day while walking to the bathroom, I fell and could not get up off the floor. Two orderlies helped me up by lifting me up from under my arms. This put too much stress on my already overtaxed uterus, and by that night, I was in labor. I was only at the end of week 27 -- way too early for a successful outcome. After about 36 hours of labor, with the use of IV drugs, the doctors were able to finally stop the labor. For 8 days I was not allowed out of bed for any reason. By the end of that time, I could no longer walk or even stand. My legs just would not support me.

Through all this, the pain also continued to increase. It got so bad that the doctors put me on an IV morphine pump the last 6 days of my pregnancy as they were trying to sustain the pregnancy as long as possible for the babies' benefit. However, I was in so much pain, that I needed some kind of relief and they had hoped the morphine would provided us all benefit. I honestly do not remember really being helped from the morphine as I still remember being in horrific pain when I was awake. What I do recall is that the dosage effected me so strongly I just did not care that I was in that pain and that I basically slept 22 out of 24 hours a day.

At 32 weeks, on September 9, 1989, labor started again around 3:00 a.m. Delivery Day was upon us. For obvious reasons, it was standing room only for the delivery. Jade, Ivana, Zachary, Brenna and Taryn were all born within 4 minutes. Our first miracle was complete: Jade was 3 lbs. 4.5 oz., Ivana was 2 lbs. 6.8 oz., Zak was 3 lbs. 4 oz., Brenna was 3 lbs. 8.5 oz. and Taryn was 3 lbs. 6 oz. Although, our precious Ivana ("God's Gracious Gift") was stillborn, the other babies were healthy, and all began to thrive with their medical care.

However, their mother was very sick.

After the babies were born, my doctors expected that I would be back on my feet within a few weeks with the help of physical therapy. They also expected the pain to disappear with the relief of the physical pressure from pregnancy. Instead, I began to get sicker. My legs were like Jell-O, refusing to work properly no matter what we tried. I also started having trouble keeping food down; even the smell would make me nauseated. And always, there was the pain.

When the babies were about 2 ½ weeks old, the doctors decided they had better find out what was wrong. They did a Nerve Conduction Study (NCS) and EMG, and found that there was a break in the connection between my brain and my spinal cord. So, a CT-Scan was performed next. A tumor was found in the thoracic area of my spinal cord. They did an MRI several days later, and brought in a neurosurgeon. The neurosurgeon advised us that 95% of spinal cord tumors are benign, and that it was just a matter of having surgery with some physical therapy to regain mobility. I was terrified of the surgery itself. The thought never even crossed our minds that we would be facing far worse.

On October 12, 1989, I had surgery. When I woke up, I was completely paralyzed from my waist down. I had no feeling, no movement, no balance, no muscle tone. I could not roll over or sit up. I had no control over my bowels and very little control over my bladder. The lower half of my body felt like a dead weight. From this point on, I could no longer keep any food down, and if someone touched me, I felt like I was on fire because my body was not receiving the right nerve impulses/signals.

On October 16, 1989, they told us the biopsy results. I was diagnosed with a "Glioblastoma Multiforme" (GBM), a nervous system cancer or brain tumor -- Stage IV. GBMs are rare and always fatal. Their characteristics are that the tumor starts out with its main nucleus; then it sends runners (like roots or branches of a tree) out from all directions. These runners grow, attach and begin forming more nuclei which continue the process of sending runners out, etc., basically creating spider like webbing throughout the area. My spinal cord was compromised extensively and they were unable to remove all the cancer during the surgery as to do so would have caused me much more physical damage. Further, after surgery, my neurosurgeon advised that I was now also dealing with "free floating cells". These were cells that had been cut away during surgery but not seen or sucked out with their equipment. It was explained to us that these cells would float freely in my spinal fluid and travel throughout my brain and spinal cord, attaching where they may and beginning new tumors. Now, not only was I paralyzed, but my entire nervous system was compromised with this disease.

We were told in 1989 that there were only about 200 reported cases in the entire United States of spinal cord GBMs. Most GBMs are found in the brain. As mine was in the spinal cord, it made it even more rare, more aggressive and faster killing. When diagnosed with a GBM in the brain, most people will live between 18 and 24 months with about 5% living 3+ years from diagnosis. However, when found in the spinal cord, survival time is between 3 and 6 months. I was told I would not survive long enough to see my children's first birthday.

My neurosurgeon wanted me to do bone marrow chemotherapy which totally destroys your immune system, devastates your body and internal organs as well as requires a period of isolation for anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks for recovery from the procedure. This I refused. The next medical option, of course, was radiation. He recommended 30 treatments at a high calibration. I was told that I would be a permanent paraplegic before the treatments were over. We were further advised that there would be continuing deterioration of my spinal cord after the radiation, and that the likelihood of my being a quadriplegic before I died was pretty much 100%. The type of cancer I had would have done this to me without any help; however, the radiation would speed up the process. Then they told me that they still could not guarantee me more than 3 to 6 months to live. At this time, we thought radiation was our only option for the remote possibility of some additional time. The radiation treatments were to be performed at a hospital in my home town, and therefore, were delayed for several weeks due to my further complications and extended hospitalization in Cleveland.

It was so hard to pray when you are faced with this situation. This is truly one of those times when the Holy Spirit made intercession on our behalf. Our prayers were always that God's Will be done and that He be glorified in whatever happened. It was never a matter of my being afraid to die. I just was not ready yet. We especially could not understand why we had been given the miracle of our precious babies just to be told that I would not be there to help raise them. It was hard to think that I would not even be a memory to my babies. They would not know who I was. I would only be a photographic image. It just broke my heart.

You see, we believe in the awesome power of prayer and that all things are possible through God. We believe our God is truly wondrous and all powerful! And as Jeremiah said: "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know." So, we did this, and we trusted, and truly were "Prisoners of Hope" (Zechariah 9:12) waiting upon the Lord.

Immediately, we began to see God working in our lives.

There came such an outpouring of love from the extensive news coverage surrounding our children's birth, and then later, my cancer diagnosis. It was so unbelievable to us that total strangers could be so generous. Along with this outpouring, we received information on unconventional cancer treatments. This was in the day well before the Internet and home computers so unconventional cancer treatment information was not available with a few strokes of a keyboard. Some of this information was very questionable, BUT much of it seemed very legitimate. Rob started pouring through everything. One of the items we were sent was a videotape on a product called Cancell® (now called Protocel®). Rob was really impressed with the tape. He felt that he kept being led back to it, so he finally shared the tape with my father.

When Rob told me about Cancell®, I was very skeptical. My first words to him were: "If there was a cure for cancer, don't you think they would be using it instead of letting 1,000s of people die." I was so worried that Rob would spend money we did not have on a possible cure, only to have me still die, leaving him in debt with 4 babies to raise and no wife. He, however, refused to discuss the fact I was dying. He did not consider that an option. He had so much faith that God was going to work another miracle in our lives, and that the Cancell® would help bring about that miracle.

I finally came home from Cleveland on November 10, 1989, on quite a bit of medication and to round-the-clock nursing care for myself and the babies as, unfortunately, my physical condition had continued to worsen during the weeks in the hospital. I had experienced several serious infections (one of which went septic), rapid unhealthy weight loss, blood clot problems and a severe pulmonary embolism, as well as low hemoglobin count and extremely high roller-coaster fevers, to just name a few. My condition was deteriorating rapidly with each passing day.

I watched the videotape on Cancell® on November 12, 1989, and started taking it that afternoon. We canceled my radiation therapy which was scheduled to start the following week.

In many respects, it was very hard for me to make the decision to take Cancell®. I had no one to contact who had taken it. All we had was the word of a gentleman named, Edward Sopcak, who was making Cancell®. We knew nothing about him other than what we saw on the videotape and perceived through telephone communications. I felt like I was the only person who had ever done something like this, and oh so, so alone. However, when we realistically looked at our situation, we came to the conclusion that we had nothing to lose by trying it, and everything to gain. No matter what I did medically, I was going to be dead in less than 6 months. So, if the Cancell® did not work, I was no worse off.

We could see very early that Cancell® was working. However, it was weeks before we noticed any change for the better in my condition. During this time, Rob was my strength. No matter what type of day he had, he had an unfailing belief that this was our answer. I, on the other hand, was a complete basket case for the first several weeks. I finally had to stop worrying about the "What ifs", and actually start living each day and only that day. I literally told myself each morning, "You made it through yesterday, you will make it through today". Then each night before I went to sleep, I told myself, "You made it through today, you will make it through tomorrow".

I began to eliminate the cancer waste product about 18 hours after my first dose (see What is Lysing?). It literally poured out of me: I threw it up; my bowel movements were extremely loose, stringy and frequent throughout the day; I lost it in my urine; my nose ran so much I had to keep a tissue with me at all times; I sweated it out profusely; I had hot/cold flashes and night sweats. When the nurses would give me a sponge bath after a sweating spell, the water would be a golden brown color with what they referred to as "tapioca balls" floating in it. My eyes had extra matting in the corners frequently throughout the day and often, I would wake up in the mornings or from a nap with crusted "junk" on my lashes. I even had some dizzy spells in the early weeks when I would roll over in bed. These were often associated with the vomiting spells. I was so exhausted the first three weeks I was on Cancell® that it was literally an effort for me to lift my head off my pillow. My body was working so hard to heal and was eliminating the cancer waste so rapidly. I think one of the reasons my body eliminated so quickly was due to the fact that I had basically not eaten for almost 2 months, and my body was really cleaned out from the prolonged fast.

I ended up back in the hospital in my hometown on the Saturday after Thanksgiving due to some of the other complications I had been experiencing prior to beginning Cancell®. My family doctor was very supportive and allowed my family in around the clock to administer the Cancell® during this hospitalization. I was taking Cancell® rectally and needed help to do so due to my lack of mobility.

Sunday was an extremely bad day for me. Actually, my Mom was afraid that I was slipping into a coma and woke me up about every 2 hours to make sure I was still with her. I do not remember much about that day, other than when I woke up I kept telling her that I was "Just so tired. Just so tired" and that I needed one minute without pain. She was fearful that I was giving up. However, by the end of the week, I was sitting up in bed. I was starting to eat a little and actually keep it down. The roller-coaster fevers I had been experiencing (103 to 105 degrees about every 2-3 hours) had started to go away as the blood clot problem was once again under control.

By the end of the week, I also had started to feel different inside. There really was not any one thing that I could put my finger on to justify these feelings, other than I was just not as tired and I was starting to feel stronger. I came home again on December 3, 1989.

By the end of December, there was a very noticeable difference in my condition. At this time, we were able to have a physical therapist come to the house to help me learn to stand again. By mid-January of 1990, I started physical therapy 3 times a week for 4 hours a day at a rehabilitation hospital in my hometown. The second day there, I took my first 3 steps since the first week of August of 1989.

By February of 1990, my condition had so radically changed that I went for CT-scans (with and without contrast) of my brain and entire spinal cord. Due to the extensive area which had to be scanned, my CT-scans were performed on two separate occasions and weeks apart. All the scans came back negative for any signs of cancer. My doctor said that the radiologist told him that he read and reread the scans as he could not believe there was nothing there to see. As far as he was concerned, it was amazing that I was still alive and even physically able to come in for the testing as I had done nothing "medically" to prevent the re-growth of my tumor since my original surgery in October of 1989.

I have personally chosen not to return for any further testing. We felt that if we truly believed that God answered our prayers, and also trusted what Edward Sopcak told us about Cancell® and James Sheridan's (original inventor of Entelev®) theory/research to be true, then we needed to take that next step of faith and believe that I was, indeed, cured. I did not want to live my life in increments always waiting for a test and/or waiting for results. I am not advocating here that others not seek medical testing. This is solely an individual's personal choice, and many find consolation in their good reports. This is just the decision that Rob and I felt was right for us and our situation.

I stayed on the Cancell® for 2 years and about 3 months as it was helping to repair my extensive nerve damage. During this time, I did a year and 9 months of physical therapy, and I progressed to the use of a quad cane. We had hoped that all my nerve damage would be completely repaired and that I would returned to 100% normal function, but, this was not the case. I do have sensation from the waist down now. It is not what you would consider normal sensation, however, it has become normal for me after all these years. Unfortunately, due to severe damage to my knees, I was forced for a period of time to return to walking with a walker, but am now, thankfully, back to using a quad cane after some more physical therapy. I returned to work 2 days a week as a legal assistant when our children turned 3 years old and worked for 13 years in this capacity leaving this job in January of 2006. I am now at home, doing of all things, medical transcription for a pain specialty practice. I home-schooled our children from 1st through 8th grade. They then switched over to an online charter high school which they will be graduating from in early June of 2008. We live as normal a life as a family with multiple birth children can live. I have learned to live within my disability — I am not always happy about it, but I am thrilled to be alive.

I feel very strongly that having faith/belief in your choice of therapy, as well as having a strong will to survive and remaining as positive as possible during the course of healing, will aid in an individual's recovery. Your mind is a very powerful healing tool. I, personally, had some very strong incentive to make my doctor's prediction of my death untrue.

We thank God every day for the miracle of my healing and the gift of my life; for James Sheridan's dream, his absolute drive to find a cure for cancer and his strength of character to stand up and actively pursue that dream; and further for Edward Sopcak's willingness to continue Jim's dream at the time of my need.

We will leave you with these final thoughts — LIFE is so very precious. None of us knows when we will take our last breath. All any of us has is each new day that we are given whether we are a brand new baby or an elderly individual or anywhere in-between that we fall age wise on the time-line of life — just each new day that we wake up. Even then, we are not guaranteed that we will live through that new day. There is no promise of tomorrow. So, all we have is TODAY. We must learn to live TODAYLIVE each day to the fullest you can and as if it were your last. Just live your TODAY!

Finally, it is our hope and prayer that you too will come to the BELIEF that there is hope, as well as an alternative for healing, from this horrid disease called cancer, through the use of Protocel®. Make the choice to BELIEVE with us in one man's DREAM!

Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to share our miracles with you.
Elonna & Rob