The first time Darla Parker was diagnosed with breast cancer, she was getting ready to begin another school year.
“I was a teacher and I met my third graders on the first day of school and said, ‘I am your teacher and I’ll be back next week.’”
Then she left and, before long, was in surgery.
“That’s how I started the school year,” Parker said.
That first diagnosis was in 2004 and she had a lumpectomy, plus radiation. Then, in 2017, Parker was diagnosed again, in the other breast and this time it was in one lymph node.
“My sister had breast cancer twice, about 20 years apart. She didn’t survive her second bout with breast cancer so it was disconcerting for me to get it again,” she said.
Parker’s brother is being treated for prostate cancer and her father also has had prostate cancer which meant that, in some ways, she’d felt like it wasn’t a matter of “if” you get cancer, it was a matter of “when.”
Despite this sense, Parker met the second diagnosis with the determination to make lifestyle changes and she jumped into research.
“I thought, ‘I may try a more natural approach this time,’” and she watched a documentary and read a book on natural cancer treatments. Then she canceled the surgery to have a lumpectomy, feeling that she wasn’t ready to make the decision.
After the cancellation, a pathologist friend called and shared his concerns about her interest in only doing treatment the natural way. He said, “Darla, what you have is very curable, it’s stage two.”
She also talked to a naturopath who had gone through the surgery but had combined traditional medicine with homeopathic treatments and after more thought, Parker decided to go ahead with the surgery and also radiation.
At this point, Parker threw herself into learning more about nutrition. Despite being raised as a vegetarian and having worked for the health department, Parker knew she could make lifestyle changes.
“Even though I am a vegetarian and have been my whole life, since I started this I’ve never eaten so many vegetables. I now eat as many vegetables in one day as I used to eat within a whole week.”
The fact that her sister had died with her second diagnosis was a strong motivator.
Parker asked herself, “What can I do? I better not play with this anymore I need to get real serious here.”
In addition to adding more vegetables, Parker now includes flax in her diet and she gets supplements from her naturopath. She and her husband are working on eating a sugar-free, gluten free, dairy free and organic diet. In addition to nutrition changes, Parker has a renewed dedication to movement, alternating between speed walking and regular walking for 30 minutes each day and stretching each evening. She is also working on getting 8 hours of sleep a night.
Parker has also read about the importance of meditation and, because she believes in a higher power, she makes sure to sit down 20 to 30 minutes a day to spend time communing with her higher power, reading, and listening to music.
“I’m taking things step by step,” she said.
Parker was diagnosed with breast cancer during October of the past year and finished all treatments on the last day of February. Now she’s moving on. “The way I see things right now is, I will not go back to eating sugar or refined foods or gluten. That doesn’t mean I will never eat any of them, but they will be on the back burner. That is what I see from now on.”
“Whether I think I’ll ever get cancer again or not, I don’t know, but I’m certainly doing everything in my power to make my body less receptive to getting cancer again.”
Read or Share this story: https://www.greatfallstribune.com/story/life/2018/10/12/great-falls-darla-parker-using-diet-lifestyle-battle-cancer/1521687002/