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Healing from stage 4 colon cancer ‘full-time job’ for Port Alberni woman

Surprise diagnosis after surgery spurs single mom Kama Money into action

Kama Money was tired. It was the end of June, she was a teacher-on-call for some high-energy high school students and her grandmother was in hospice. She was “teacher-tired” and didn’t think much of it.

Until July, when she landed in the emergency ward at West Coast General Hospital five times with extreme abdominal pain, bloating and low iron. It wasn’t until the last time, as she waited in tears, that doctors did some blood work and an ultrasound revealed endometriosis and fibroids.

Money underwent an emergency hysterectomy which she thought would solve the problem. Instead, she came out of anesthesia to a shocking diagnosis: Stage 4 colon cancer.

“The doctor came in and said ‘you have cancer, you have very serious cancer, stage 4,’” she said. “The pain I was in…my stomach was stapled up and I had just had a large section of my colon removed and my uterus.”

When the shock wore off, Money got busy. She read everything she could about healing from cancer, changed her lifestyle and diet, and contacted a naturopathic doctor in addition to her oncologist. “I kind of got into science experimental mode…because nobody really knows the cure to this. It’s all just a big crap shoot,” she said.

She spent two months healing and maintaining her weight before she started a combination of chemotherapy and naturopathic treatment. “Because I have stage 4 and I’m listening to my gut, I think a blended approach is the right approach for me,” she said.

While she had tumours removed from her colon and uterus, she still has one on her liver and some smaller spots in her peritoneal lining, or the lining of her abdominal cavity.

Money says she is often asked why she doesn’t go to Mexico for treatment. There are two main reasons, not including the cost. The first reason is her son: she doesn’t want to be separated from him.

“I wanted to keep my son and I in the Alberni Valley, around close family and friends as much as possible,” she said. “There’s really no other warmer community.”

The second reason is that most of the medical care she would receive in Mexico she can access either in the Alberni Valley or elsewhere on Vancouver Island. She works with local naturopathic doctors Dr. Jeannie Doig and Dr. Juan Rohon.

Money stresses that any of the naturopathic treatments she is doing have been vetted through her oncologist. “I’m lucky to have a very modern-minded oncologist,” she added. “It’s very important to cross-reference the natural treatments with the chemotherapy and make sure it’s complementary, not contradictory.”

She is taking chemo as well as acupuncture, acupressure, Reiki, light therapy and some home protocols “that kind of simulate what I could be getting in Mexico.”

She takes high-dose intravenous Vitamin C treatments, mistletoe therapy and supplements. She turned to a vegan diet and she fasts for three days before and after chemo treatments—again, all with her oncologist’s knowledge.

She hasn’t experienced the same cooperation with people from the BC Cancer Agency, who told her to stop taking all supplements.

“I mean, I have stage IV cancer. You can’t tell me what to do and what not to do. I’m going to do it anyways,” she said. “Your life is in your hands; I want to make sure that I’ve tried everything I can.”

While she is not quite finished with her chemotherapy sessions, Money has received some encouraging news from her doctors: her tumour has shrunk in half and her blood markers are normal.

Money says she is lucky to have supportive family close by. She and her son AJ, 11, are living with her parents while she undergoes treatment, and they have taken on most of her parental responsibilities. “I’m just having fun with him. I’m just going for walks with him, just watching a show with him…so I can just be a present mom to him, even if it’s for half an hour a day, just to have that quality time with him.”

The family has accessed some of the programs, such as art therapy, that are available through the Alberni Valley Hospice Society.

“He is very well supported at his school, and Stages Youth Theatre has been a huge support. We’re so grateful we moved back to the Alberni Valley.”

Money is also in a relationship with Mike Albrecht, a former Cherry Creek volunteer firefighter. They had only been together for a year when Money received her cancer diagnosis. “He’s been an amazing support,” she said. “He really leans in.”

Money, who a few years ago worked on a marketing campaign to brand Port Alberni the “community with heart,” feels the warm embrace of her wide circle of family, friends and supporters in the Alberni Valley. “There is no better place to live, to raise my son and to heal cancer.”

A teacher-on-call with School District 70, Money’s contract was not renewed for the second half of the 2023-24 school year. She has had to apply for medical Employment Insurance (EI).

“This whole cancer journey is about being humbled, starting from scratch and accepting help from people,” she admits. “I’d rather be the one promoting events for other people, but here I am.” A GoFundMe account (‘Please help Kama heal stage IV colon cancer’, started by colleague Erin Koszegi) and various fundraisers people have supported “has made a big difference in my being able to focus on healing rather than financing.

“This healing cancer thing is a full-time job.”

Susie Quinn

About the Author: Susie Quinn

A journalist since 1987, I proudly serve as the Alberni Valley News editor.
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