Grace Gawler - Helping You Navigate the Cancer Maze

I’m alive because

Two cancer practitioners ignored NO and survived

Grace Gawler - Independent Cancer Navigator

Grace Gawler: “In 1997, my colon was paralysed after complications from surgery. I endured many surgeries,  colostomies, ileostomies, poor health and faced a shortened life span.

Believing something must exist to improve my prognosis, I consulted with 15 different doctors, most of whom were highly trained experts in their field. All said nothing else could be done.

I refused to accept their NO. Later, when I found a potential option in Holland, many of the same doctors advised against it. Again I refused to believe their NO. Happily, I was right; they were wrong. My surgical solution in the Netherlands in 2002 was successful, and, also a world first.

It’s 2024 and my health is excellent. I have been able to continue my work with cancer patients.”

Dr Mark Roby, also refused to accept NO

Dr. Mark Roby (USA) meets his own Cancer

I recall my initial introduction to cancer, the ’emperor of all maladies’ when I was 21 years old. It was 1976, and I had just completed my undergrad degree from Central Michigan University. I was working as an orderly in the emergency room at Ingham Medical Center in Lansing Michigan to gain experience toward a medical degree.

It was Christmas Eve. I was cleaning up a procedure tray in the ER when they wheeled a new patient into the cubicle  Walking back to her station, the triage nurse asked me to start taking the woman’s medical history. 

I could see the patient’s weary, frightened , blue eyes as I made my way towards her stretcher. She had a lovely pointed nose and dark grey hair with white streaks. She told me that she had been diagnosed with late stage stomach cancer 12 months earlier and had just finished another round of palliative chemotherapy. Over the past few days, she had been dizzy and had experienced numerous falls.

Prepping her for evaluation by the emergency room physician, I took her vital signs and glanced over her pale thin body. Taking my hand in hers, she confided to me that this would be her last Christmas on this earth, and it made her very sad She went on to tell me how much she would miss her children and grandchildren when she was gone. Tears streamed down her cheeks, as my heart sank to the floor. This was my first face to face experience with an end-stage cancer patient.
At the time, I had no idea that 30 years later, I would be the patient on the bed, fighting off the horrible, dark disease called cancer.

I have worked hard to forge a way through hell and back to survive. My survival isn’t just luck. One of the primary reasons I am still alive is because I filled in the gaps that I experienced while traveling to numerous oncology offices all over the country.

Though some of my clinicians played a critical role in keeping me alive, others were lacking the education, experience and knowledge in a range of integrative protocols. These ranged form basic anticancer nutrition to genetics, diet, targeted treatments and circulating tumour cell assays.

I am shocked each month as I work with cancer patients who do as they are told and often receive the basic standard of care. Many of them are not offered anything else .
Additionally, a significant portion do not research their own case, seek out second opinions, or look for more novel treatments or testing. Holding onto fear is a risky business.

Dr Roby – Cancer Where Is Your Lifeline?

In late March of 2003, I was lying in a large cavernous chemo room in Michigan. As 10 million units of interferon coursed into me, I could feel myself going into this dream state.  I can remember my oncologist whispering in my ear, “Mark, why are you going all around the country looking for answers? There aren’t any. This interferon isn’t going to work: neither is Avastin, Sutent , or even a clinical trial drug. Why can’t you accept the inevitable? You’ll be gone in the next three to four months. Just take your last vacation with your wife.

I couldn’t believe what he was saying to me. I was in shock and disbelief . I thought his job was to save my life! 

I said to myself, ” What are these doctors telling their patients? I become madder than hell. Over time, I turned that anger into action and started looking for Lifelines.

Lifelines are eclectic clinicians, researchers, cutting edge testing, molecular profiles, and liquid biopsies of your own serum and tissues that may carry the secrets to your survival as they did mine. Experts guess that only around 35% -40% of current patients are offered these tools.

When I was hit with cancer, there was no handbook or roadmap on how to survive it. My last recurrence was 2019 and I am still searching for Lifelines for myself and my patients.

The media loves to herald successful cancer patients as heroes.  I am no hero , but I know what it takes to survive.

There is a way through it. You can survive!

After many failed surgeries, Grace found success in Singapore

Read Article in Global Health and Travel Magazine