Receiving a cancer diagnosis and going through cancer treatment was bad enough to handle as an adult. I can’t even imagine the pain as a parent being told that your child has cancer. Let me introduce you to a family who not only was told their baby has cancer, but turned this tragedy around to share with the world how their kid cures cancer. You need to hear their story and find out what they are doing…
A few weeks ago, I had an incredible opportunity to meet the most amazing parents, Teddy and Ryan Sternagel of My Kid Cures Cancer. Their son Ryder was diagnosed with neuroblastoma cancer around his first birthday. I was extremely emotional when I met Teddy and Ryan, partly as a cancer survivor, and partly because a very dear friend recently lost her 8 year-old son to cancer. It breaks me at the very core. I couldn’t contain the pain and empathy that I felt for them. After the tears were dried, I got to know two of the most amazing people, with a laser targeted mission to help others.
I couldn’t wait to share their story with you.
Before we get into the Q&A, you need to watch their story….
Please join me in welcoming Teddy and Ryan Sternagel to the Pink Fortitude family. The answers are as told by Daddy Ryan.
Before Ryder was diagnosed, you felt in your gut that something was wrong, despite the doctors telling you everything was ok. This is unfortunately very common across many different diseases and patients. What is your advice for anyone who is trying to get an answer either for their condition or for someone they love?
If you let it, your intuition will tell you more about the overall state of health in yourself or a loved one than any health expert or diagnostic tool ever could. You know what is “normal” and what isn’t. Not someone who’s spent a total of ten minutes with you.
You’re also capable of doing your own research and as objectively as possible evaluating what you’re experiencing against what you’re learning. It’s a fine line as you can also go overboard and worry yourself about every little thing, but Teddy literally had neuroblastoma diagnosed in Ryder before we had ever heard the word come out of a doctor’s mouth.
Why Did You Stop Chemo?
How did you make the decision to stop chemotherapy and traditional cancer treatment and focus on a more natural approach?
It wasn’t easy. It was actually sort of ironic as we moved states in search of an oncology team that would work with us in our desire to stop early (the standard of care dictated at minimum eight cycles of chemotherapy for Ryder’s particular diagnosis and we stopped after four), but once we found them and the choice was indeed ours it did require pause.
This meant our son’s life was solely in our hands, which is part of the reason many parents shy away from any sort of integrative therapy whatsoever. The minute they make a decision outside of what the hospital calls for they’re, well, making decisions and therefore at least in part responsible for the outcome.
We would argue you’re responsible no matter what you do or don’t do, as even inaction is still a choice. And the only way we can feel good about ourselves is if we know in our hearts we’re doing everything we possibly can for him.
That being said, we tried to be very rational and pragmatic in our decision making. The decision did not come from a place of dogma 100% against conventional treatment for any reason, although this was the type of advice and counsel we were getting at the time.
We just wanted to get him better with the least damage done and knew there was research indicating with this type of cancer, even by conventional standards it’s not necessary to blast away every last cell. You just need to get the car over the hump of the hill, as the current oncology team likes to draw on a whiteboard, and the car will often coast the rest of the way back down.
We ended up figuring that as Ryder was so much further along than anyone expected him to be at that point it was worth trying. We did keep chemotherapy on the table as a backup if what we were doing wasn’t working, but fortunately this is just over three years later and that did end up being the extent of his conventional treatment.
Why Did You Make Your Fight So Public?
What made you decide to go public with your trials and create this amazing platform to help other parents whose children have been diagnosed with cancer?
It was an idea we’d had fairly early on after realizing that with all the holistic, integrative, etc. information available on cancer treatment, virtually nothing along those lines existed for parents who wanted to do their own research.
Everything we implemented, we did so through pure trial and error.
The idea stayed on the back burner for the first year or so but after a while it became obvious that’s what we were supposed to do.
We’d set up a dedicated Facebook page, Fighting for Ryder, for fundraising purposes. This is a fairly common thing to do when facing childhood cancer as the children often don’t have existing pages and something needs to be created to draw attention to the need.
The difference is not many of those pages feature children getting fresh pressed green juice mixed with dozens of supplements shot down their feeding tube. This quickly lead to a relatively large following, and a lot of questions about how and why we were doing everything we did. So the website, My Kid Cures Cancer, just seemed like the natural thing to do at some point to begin answering everything in article form.
What’s in Ryder’s Cancer Fighting Arsenal?
Obviously, everyone is different and this is not meant to be a diagnosis or medical treatment, but what are some of the top all natural cancer-fighting foods and supplements you have Ryder take?
It’s certainly a very long list, and rotation has been a big theme in the long run as well.
We want to be sure we’re addressing his gut, detoxification, the mitochondria, epigenetic expression, and so on, but not taking the same products all the time to do each one without changing anything up to avoid cancer finding a way around what we’re doing.
First, we always remind ourselves that the polyphenols and vitamins you hear about all the time as having a lot of research behind them, have a lot of research for a reason. So molecules like curcumin from turmeric, EGCG from green tea, high dose vitamin C, and others have always been staples.
We do a lot of research in the published medical literature on various compounds in combination with neuroblastoma as well. Also just figuring out what pathways are involved with the disease and what products would turn them on or off depending on what we were going for.
At our peak we likely had him on 40-50 products at any given time. That has been paired down quite a bit now.
While again it is a huge list, we’ll list a few that we feel strongly about as there are thousands of published studies on them in conjunction with cancer, that for whatever reason haven’t gained quite as much popularity in the blogoshphere so maybe it will be helpful to someone:
From cruciferous vegetables, especially broccoli sprouts. Lots of positive epigenetic effects including ramping up detox pathways and boosting the body’s own antioxidant production system. We use a broccoli sprout extract product super high in sulforaphane mixed with a lot of other goodies (black seed, curcumin, resveratrol, quercetin, etc.) that actually tastes really good that Ryder loves.
Found in legumes and soy. Many more positive epigenetic effects. This is the one thing I’ve found that has been shown to down regulate the NMYC oncogene protein prevalent in the most aggressive forms of neuroblastoma. Conventional medicine does not have anything to offer for this. We use a super concentrated fermented soy (fermentation removes questionable estrogenic properties) product. 50 pounds of soy beans go into every bottle. It doesn’t taste quite as good to say the least, but we mix it with the first product I mentioned and make it work.
This is actually a mixture of several polyphenols depending on what plants and trees the bees were touching but the most prevalent ones have all been very well studied. Again, lots of epigenetic effects and also very strong natural antifungal and antiviral properties. We use a product that combines the propolis of bees from three different regions to get the best variety. It comes in a capsule form which we were just mixing into juice before Ryder learned to take capsules. Now that he does take them it makes things so much easier!
What Recommendations Do You Have for Parents?
What recommendations do you have for parents who are currently in this situation? How do they hold it all together?
From a practical implementation perspective, the first thing we always recommend is putting in an NG (the kind that goes up your nose) feeding tube in immediately. The hospital usually saves these for when kids start to become emaciated but we insisted on being proactive and got one placed before Ryder ever received any treatment.
We knew it was going to be the only way we were going to be able to get meaningful amounts of nutrition and supplementation into a one year old consistently. It was so effective we kept it in for over an entire year, well beyond when the conventional treatment stopped.
You also can’t let the fact that there is not a whole lot of integrative cancer information out there written as it applies to children (aside from on our site) stop you from figuring out on your own how to go about applying what you read about to your child. There wasn’t much we wanted to do that we weren’t able to make work… besides coffee enemas… still have no clue how you’d get a kid to do those. J Castor oil packs are a great substitute though!
On the emotional side, we always just knew we didn’t have time to lose it. There was too much research and strategizing and implementation to be done. Just being sad or even in denial was not going to be what was going to save our kid’s life and make sure he made it out the other side as healthy as possible.
I’m not saying we never had our moments. We’d certainly break down here and there. But it was always very temporary and when it passed we put our game faces back on and got back to work.
On this note, we also didn’t have much time for BS and people that weren’t in 100% support of us. We’ve lost a lot of friends over the past few years as this is the sort of thing that has a tendency to bring out people’s true colors. If there was one thing we could change about this it would be to let go of them even faster than we did. When everything becomes about your kid you just can’t let a situation like that bring you down.
Finally, you’ve got to take care of yourself. This is something we would change big time if we could go back and do the first couple years over again. For the first year especially WE looked like the cancer patients more than Ryder did. We felt guilty doing anything that could be considered self-care that wasn’t going to Ryder.
The bottom line though is that we would have performed so much better, for our son, had we been taking care of ourselves the whole time. Hearing JJ Virgin talk in The Miracle Mindset about doing sprint drills up the hospital stairs while her son was inpatient after being hit by a car because she knew she needed to stay sharp for him was really the turning point for us and we’ve been taking much better care of ourselves ever since and Ryder has directly benefited.
How Do You Help Parents?
You provide so many resources to parents in your same situation. Tell us a little about your podcasts and coaching.
The My Kid Cures Cancer podcast is really neat. Bill Henderson, a well-known cancer coach featured in The Truth About Cancer had a long running podcast interviewing various health experts specifically about holistic approaches to cancer. Ryan listened to every episode he ever made within the first couple months after diagnosis.
Bill was older though and passed on a while back and since that time we’ve seen a gap in the podcasting world as there were no shows dedicated to integrative cancer information. So it was sort of an “it might as well be us” type of situation.
We release a new episode every week interviewing doctors, health experts and cancer survivors on a particular topic pertaining to healing from cancer.
As there aren’t many people like us that we’d be able to interview specifically about childhood cancer, the discussion is mainly on cancer in general with a few childhood specific questions thrown in. On the Our Kid Cures Cancer website however, we write a detailed summary article of every interview we conduct and the very first section of each article is “how this information applies to childhood cancer.” This way parents can sort of learn how we think and how we’re able to take what we learn and make it relevant to our situation.
We’re also very glad to be offering a coaching program. To be frank, we got a lot of bad advice from many people in the natural health world starting out. Not purposeful of course, it’s just that there are so many nuances to dealing with childhood cancer that aren’t an issue in adults that unless you’ve been there yourself you really don’t know what to be speaking to.
Our program helps parents get up to speed faster than we were able to. As we mentioned, the past three years have been trial and error for us. We’re really enjoying taking all of that uncertainty out of the equation for parents. We certainly don’t consider ourselves a replacement for a naturopathic oncologist, bit a complement to one to make sure everything actually gets implemented, that parents know how to deal with the hospital, and so on.
How is Ryder Doing Today?
And last but not least, how is Ryder doing today and what is next on your horizon?
Ryder’s doing great. He started out with a tumor larger than his kidneys inside of and growing out of his spinal canal and two secondary tumors, all of which had metastasized into his bones. Fast forward, there is no more metastasis, the secondary tumors are gone, and the primary tumor is a small fraction of what it was to start and has remained unchanged for over a year.
Everyone is fairly confident at this point that what remains of the primary is purely scar tissue as it started out so large, but knowing what we know we aren’t taking any chances and still keep up a very active regimen. On that note, we don’t really consider it a “regimen” in the traditional sense of the word anymore. Anticancer is now just our lifestyle.
Right now we’re focusing on Ryder’s development as it’s becoming more and more apparent that he’s well behind his peers in many areas. Lately it seems that there is likely something more definitive to address.
Whatever it may be though, after everything we’ve been through and learned this realization is certainly rolling off of us more than it might some parents. We know what the body is capable of and this is simply just another learning opportunity for us, and opportunity for Ryder to show the world what’s possible.
Ryder is also incredibly gifted in many ways that far exceed where he should be on that note. His memory is uncanny and continues to surprise us and he’s able to count as high as you’ve got time for and to ten in five languages. The only thing that holds him back on this end of things is our time to teach him.
So we’re excited to see where it all goes. Ryder has been an inspiration to so many parents and children alike in all the videos we post on Facebook and especially on our YouTube channel already and we know what he’s here to do is much bigger even than that.
Thank You Teddy and Ryan!
Thank you Teddy and Ryan, for being the amazing people you are to give of yourselves to help others. You have such an inspirational message of hope, love, strength, and fortitude! I am beyond honored and blessed to call you my brother and sister.
Thank you for giving so much of yourselves to the childhood cancer community and a very special thanks to Ryder for being the brave little dude and inspiration that he is.
If you want to learn more about My Kid Cures Cancer, please visit Momma Teddy, Daddy Ryan, Warrior Ryder, and Baby Channing at –> http://www.mykidcurescancer.com/
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Love, hugs, and sending love and healing prayers to Ryder.HERE.