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Sarah Wilson’s Story | Finding Freedom

From Arkansas to California and Mexico to Spain, Sarah Wilson has gone to great lengths and even greater distances seeking treatment throughout her cancer journey.

It all started in June of 2015, when, at the age of 36, Sarah discovered  a lump in her breast while taking a shower. She immediately made an appointment with her OBGYN, who recommended that Sarah have her first mammogram. When the mammogram confirmed a mass, her physician recommended a follow-up biopsy, which came back positive for stage 2 ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), both more commonly known as breast cancer. Sarah recalls her immediate thought as, “God is with me. He had already been preparing my heart, so a sense of peace washed over me.”

Sarah’s initial peace would soon be replaced by fear when the days that followed brought increased medical visits and a proposed course of treatment. It was in these early days that Sarah says “every single human emotion rushed over me. Little did I know these emotions would follow me in the days, weeks, months and years to come.”

While it was initially recommended that Sarah undergo a bilateral mastectomy, she chose instead to undergo an experimental therapy in Spain. After that alternative option failed to slow the progression of her disease, Sarah returned to have the previously recommended surgery.

When Sarah‘s cancer markers peaked again in the fall of 2017, she felt it was time to get “a bit more aggressive.” This time, she headed to southern California to take an integrative path that married a low-dose chemotherapy protocol with numerous non-toxic therapies.

This new therapy, called Insulin Potentiation Therapy (IPT), had little to no noticeable side effects since the combination only used 20% of the standard dose of chemotherapy. Combined with additional immune-boosting therapies, Sarah said she finally felt normal and was even climbing mountains and swimming in the ocean.

The weekly travels back and forth between Arkansas and California were paying off and her cancer markers neared normal for the first time in years. Unfortunately, that all changed when an auto-vaccine custom-made from her own cells quickly turned into a “nightmare.”

In January 2018, new tumors were discovered and her cancer markers again became elevated. She knew something was very wrong. Sarah said she was “weary of the war ahead of me. I just wanted to stick my head in the sand, and, to be honest, I kind of did. I continued to watch my markers rise month after month, but I wasn’t ready to face it either.”

It would be a few more months before she would be forced to face it head-on. In May 2018, her health declined to such a dangerous level that Sarah felt like she couldn’t breathe, her heart rate was at 135, her blood pressure plummeted and her oxygen level fell far below her normal range. She said that while she hated to admit it, “I felt like I was dying.” 

It was at this point that she returned to CARTI where Dr. Gentry recommended she have full-body scans. Her pain was so bad that on the morning of her brain MRI, Sarah said “I couldn’t hold my arms up above my head in the machine. I cried out in pain throughout the entire test. Reluctantly, I asked my husband to drive me to the emergency room, and within 24 hours we found out that I had 2.5 liters of fluid around my heart and lungs.”

Simultaneously, Dr. Gentry arrived with the results of her MRI. Sarah remembers the exact word that Dr. Gentry choose to describe her current recorruence – “innumerable.” Her cancer had spread beyond her breasts to her chest, neck, bones and brain. 

Looking back on the moment she heard the news, Sarah says “I was so weak in the physical, but so strong of spirit. I said, ‘I hear you, Doc. I know you have to tell me, but I need you to know that is not the report of the Lord. With tears in her own eyes, I told Dr. Gentry that a stage 4 cancer is no harder for God to heal than a common cold and that I would fight it in faith.”

Under the care of Drs. Gentry and Talbert, Sarah returned to CARTI to undergo chemotherapy and multiple rounds of radiation. From July 2018 to January 2019, she did 14 radiation treatments for her brain cancer and an additional 20 treatments for her chest wall and neck. Additionally, she did five rounds of chemotherapy and immunotherapy. 

Today, Sarah continues to return to CARTI for infusions of Herceptin and Perjeta every three weeks.

As she’s navigated her cancer journey, Sarah said it was her family that kept her going. “I had a HUGE determination to watch my girls grow up, to see my children’s children and to fulfill the purposes of God in my life.”

And while she’s been through more than one would expect at such a young age, Sarah chooses not to call herself a ‘survivor,’ and instead prefers to use the term ‘thriver.” She says, “for some reason, I’ve always associated being a “survivor” with being a victim of something. I choose instead to be a thriver. This helps me turn what could easily be a victim mindset into a victor mindset. While I know that I am going to survive this, it’s my prayer to do so while not just keeping on living, but instead living life to the fullest.”