Devi Hart dedicated her life to wellness as a yoga coach. She ate organic food, used natural cosmetics, cleaning agents and pesticides, and even slept on an all-natural latex mattress, so when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer (twice), she was put in a state of shock. After both diagnoses, Devi, persevered and discovered the power of a chemosensitivity assay, which ultimately saved her life.
I began studying yoga and meditation in 1972 and it developed into a lifelong passion. Along with that lifestyle, I became a lacto-vegetarian eating as much organic food as I could. I also used only natural cosmetics, cleaning agents and pesticides — even sleeping on an all-natural latex mattress! So when I had surgery in September 2007 and found out I had Stage III ovarian cancer, I was in a state of shock. “How could this possibly happen to me?”
After my diagnosis, I spent about six weeks deep in research and finally decided that the Block Integrative Cancer Center in Evanston, Illinois was a great fit for my beliefs about healing. I began treatment with them in October 2007, which included six rounds of Chronomodulated Carboplatin and Taxol every three weeks. Their nutritionist suggested a modified Asian diet and lots of supplements.
I had noticed a small lump in my left breast three years earlier and had been doing thermography screening regularly, which reported no vascularization, and suggested that it was probably a cyst. Because of my ovarian cancer, I didn’t take any changes so I had the lump checked as well. Much to my deep dismay, it also turned out to be cancer. I had a lumpectomy in March 2008 shortly after I finished chemotherapy. I was then tested for the BRCA1 gene mutation, which came back positive.
Over a period of ten years, I had developed a very successful business as a private yoga coach and had just, three years earlier, purchased my dream home in Delray Beach. The many cancer surgeries followed by chemo left me debilitated and unable to continue working. My family helped me pay my mortgage for a few months, but it soon became apparent that I was going to lose my home. My accountant said “Devi, file for social security disability – this is why you have been paying into the fund all these years.” So, I lived on disability for two years while I slowly recovered my health.
Just as I was starting to make plans for a new career as a wellness coach, my CA-125 tumor marker rose dramatically. My local surgeon and oncologist Dr. Recio sent me for a PET/CT scan which showed peritoneal lesions (2.8 + 2.2cm) under my diaphragm and small areas near my pancreas, colon and scalloping my liver. I felt unbelievably traumatized to learn that my cancer was back again after everything I had done to heal myself.
I called Dr. Block and he suggested that a very important first step in dealing with my recurrence would be to contact Robert Nagourney, MD, at Rational Therapeutics and discuss a chemosensitivity test. He said it would probably require surgery to acquire tumor tissue but that knowing what chemo agents really work would be so worth it. After my initial surgery, tissue had been sent to Oncotech (another cancer testing laboratory), but I noticed no one really paid much attention to the results.
After quite a bit of research, I found out why — all chemosensitivity tests are not created equal. Dr. Nagourney confirmed that I would need surgery, but I felt hesitant to go under the knife, again. I then contacted Ralph Moss, PhD, of The Cancer Report fame. He also suggested chemosensitivity testing at Rational Therapeutics, which made me think more seriously about the test.
Dr. Recio called Dr. Nagourney after the results were in and Dr. Nagourney explained in detail how to administer a protocol that their Ex-Vivo Analysis – Programmed Cell Death (EVA-PCD) platform had chosen for me. It was not standard of care chemo, and Dr. Recio had not used it for someone in my situation.
After the very first round (they had decided on six rounds, one month apart) my CA-125 dropped from 139 to 87! Each successive month saw a dramatic drop and now my tumor markers are all in the normal range.
The quality of the EVA-PCD platform was revealed when we got the results from the ChemoFX sensitivity test done by Precision Labs. Dr. Recio had been participating in a clinical trial and had sent samples to them, the results turned out to be quite different from the Rational Therapeutics’ test. My chemo nurse, Paula, has been continually amazed by how well I have done throughout the treatment. Both my red and white blood counts have rollercoastered a bit, but have remained close enough to normal that I have not required Neulasta or Procrit to bolster my blood cells.
During my treatment I had many questions about my symptoms (from nausea to some hair loss). Each time I contacted Shari requesting an opinion, she took the time to ask Dr. Nagourney and responded to me graciously and rapidly. I have felt amazingly supported by them and it is so obvious that they truly care about their patients.
I feel that anyone facing chemotherapy should consider chemosensitivity testing with Rational Therapeutics to find a treatment plan that actually work!