Main Street News

Journey of Holistic Medicine: Fundraiser for Local Mom Battling Lymphoma

By Published On: November 26th, 2023

“In the beginning, it took me a while to come to terms with it. I got diagnosed, and I remember laying in bed and thinking about how I didn’t want to do chemotherapy,” said Erica George of Pine Plains, NY.  

The start of the journey

Erica first noticed a lump on her neck while she was six months pregnant with her second child. Initially, she didn’t think much of it. She just assumed she was exhausted from being pregnant and fighting a bit of an infection. 

“After I had Lennon, I had really bad night sweats, but I had them with Willow too, so I again didn’t think much of it,” she explained. 

Additionally during this time, she and her husband were tackling the daunting task of moving while having a newborn and a preschooler. “When we finally got into the house, I was just exhausted all the time. It was really hard for me to function because I was so physically depleted, and that’s when I knew something wasn’t right.” 

She was officially diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in January of 2023. She ultimately decided to choose alternative and holistic medicine over traditional chemotherapy treatment. 

Her choice to do so was driven partially by research and partially by a desire to be there for her children while she goes through treatment. 

“I thought to myself, ‘I don’t want the girls to see me like that and I don’t want my parents to see me like that,’” she said. “I didn’t want to make a decision based on fear. I needed to do my research and figure out what feels best for me. Nobody knows your body better than you do.” 

Her second child was three months old at the time of diagnosis, and she said that she “refused to be sick, in bed, and missing any types of moments with either of my kids. I really wanted to value my time with my children, and I was afraid that chemo would take that away from me.” 

Holistic treatment

That began the long process of trial-and-error and a ‘throw everything at the wall and see what sticks’ approach. 

Erica sticks to a diet of completely organic whole foods, which means nothing processed, no gluten, and no sugar. She’s also done a lot of detoxing, as well as loading up on immune-boosting supplements. 

Her current schedule includes traveling down to Manhattan twice per week for treatments, doing the sauna five days a week, attending weekly appointments for acupuncture, hyperbaric chambers, and mistletoe injections. 

Mistletoe is a semi-parasitic plant that grows on many types of trees and has been used for years for different medical conditions, including epilepsy, asthma, infertility, and more. 

According to the National Cancer Institute, “mistletoe extracts are one of the most widely studied complementary and alternative medicine therapies for cancer. In Europe, mistletoe extracts are among the most prescribed therapies for cancer patients.”

She also takes Helleborus, which is used in conjunction with the mistletoe. According to Integrative Medicine of Central New York, Helleborus is frequently used on patients who have lymphomas and leukemias, as well as for other chronic inflammatory diseases including autoimmune diseases and chronic Lyme disease. 

“It’s hard to say what’s working and what’s not because I’m doing a million things,” she said. “After I started taking supplements and being vigilant about what I was eating and how I was taking care of my body, I immediately felt better.” 

But not every day is great. Some weeks, days, and even hours, she feels amazing, and others not so much. “Last week I felt amazing, but this week I have flu-like symptoms, which is all part of detoxing. It’s challenging.” 

Shifts in perspectives 

Erica said that her perspectives on health and wellness have changed tremendously throughout her treatment process. 

“I think with going the holistic route, I’ve met people that I truly feel like I was supposed to meet,” she said. 

She’s found a nutritionist via one of her daughter’s homeschool groups that perfectly aligns with what her and her family’s goals are. Another woman in the homeschool group is a therapist who works on healing the nervous system. 

“They were both things that I really needed and they came to me at the right time,” she said. “I’ve become a lot more spiritual, too, and I truly believe that I was meant to get sick for a more positive outcome. A lot of people don’t know about integrative and alternative medicine, so I’d like to think that I was meant to raise awareness so people know that there’s other things you can do other than chemo.” 

She also believes that this journey is bringing her somewhere that she’s supposed to go. “I’ve always believed in alternative medicine and supporting our bodies, and this forced me into doing more research,” she said. “It’s led me to a whole new life, and for the better, because my kids will be healthier and I will be healthier.” 

Erica has removed all plastics from their home, well as much as she can in this day and age. She has also started making her own cleaning supplies and laundry detergent. 

While chemotherapy isn’t completely out of the picture, Erica doesn’t want to go through with it unless she feels it’s absolutely necessary. “It’s all going to depend on my progress. I might choose to go down that path in conjunction with my immune supplements,” she said. “I guess we’ll see where things take me.”

Community support and fundraiser 

Initially, Erica kept her diagnosis and treatment a secret from the community because she was afraid that the opinions of others would alter her perspective on her choice. 

“It’s such a different path, and I didn’t want anyone altering my decision or making me feel bad for what I’ve chosen. I’ve been pushed many times to do chemotherapy, and in my heart, I knew it wasn’t the right choice for me at this time. I needed to build the confidence in my choice first before telling everyone.” 

While she was apprehensive to openly discuss her treatment with the community, she said that the support she’s received has been overwhelming. 

“People I haven’t seen or spoken to in years have reached out to me offering support, and people are sharing my story and wanting to help. It’s been so overwhelming, but in a good way,” she said. “No one’s asked me or pushed their opinions on me. I’ve had so many people say, ‘I know this person who works at this hospital, so let us know if you want us to get you in,’ and things like that. We’ve had so much love and support, and we’re just so grateful.” 

A Day of Love for Erica will be held at the Stissing Center in Pine Plains on Saturday, December 16. All proceeds will go directly to Erica, as her insurance does not cover holistic and alternative treatment. Fundraiser tickets are available to purchase at the Angels of Light website, or directly at this link. If you cannot attend the event, but would still like to make a donation, visit this link

The Bar on West & Main will also be hosting a karaoke campaign in honor of Erica on Thursday, December 7 starting at 8 p.m. $5 to sing, 50/50 raffle, and 10% of the day’s sales will be donated to Erica and her family. Visit West & Main’s website to learn more. 

*Disclaimer: All medical claims made in this article are information provided by the subject. The information is general in nature and not specifically meant for any particular individual. You should always seek out medical assistance from a medical professional based on your individual needs and circumstances.