Cancer Survivor Story: Brett Lark

Brett Lark was just a little, 6-year-old boy when he and his family received his diagnosis of basal cell carcinoma. By 21, Brett was given another diagnosis of stage 4 non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, which was spreading to his brain. He was going to college, all while secretly battling cancer. Watch his entire cancer survivor story to fully understand what changes he made in order to naturally shrink his golfball-sized tumor. Stay tuned until the very end of the video to hear a personal message from Brett if you have recently received a cancer diagnosis.

Transcript:

My name is Brett Lark and I was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma at six years old. Every year since then, until 21, I went in for more and more surgeries after surgeries to remove basal cell carcinoma. At 21 I was diagnosed with lymphoma stage four spreading to the brain, non-Hodgkin’s. The emotional impact that being diagnosed with cancer at six years old had on my family and myself was almost too much to bear. My family didn’t know what to do. I was the only child and they were very sad. We were all very shocked. I felt upset as well that I had friends and classmates that had no problems or seemingly no problems and it felt like I was targeted to pass away early or something like that.

I was diagnosed with dysplastic nevi and that basically they told us that I would have more and more aggressive forms of cancer, until I would have a cancer that was so aggressive that it basically took my life before I was age 30, they predicted. Here we come after surgery, after surgery, more cancer, more cancer every year, at 21 I have a golf ball sized tumor on my neck and I didn’t want to go in. I feared about what they were going to tell me, but sure enough I went in, they tested it and said, “Yes, stage 4 lymphoma, non-Hodgkin’s, spreading to your brain and we need to do surgery.” Now when they’d said that, I had said, “Well, I’m not a newbie to surgery. We’ve done this before so let’s just go ahead and do it.” This time there was a complication because there was nerves that ran through that tumor.

This time there was a complication because there was nerves running through that tumor and there was a 50% chance that I would never use my right arm ever again. So now I’m looking at a death sentence in the face and at that point I knew I needed to take action, 2007. So throughout the cancer diagnosis, I tried to live a normal life as much as possible and I was actually really embarrassed about having cancer. I didn’t like talking about it. I didn’t want anyone to know. I felt that it was kind of like a mark of shame and that’s how I wore it when I was younger. I would lie about the scars on my body. I would tell people that, “Oh, it was from an accident or you know, this, that and the other.” Sometimes it would come out, but I didn’t like it when it did. At 21 I still had that same mentality when I was diagnosed with lymphoma spreading to my brain. So I didn’t want anyone to know.

When I was diagnosed with lymphoma spreading to my brain, stage 4, I had that complication where I might not use my right arm ever again. Because of that, surgery became not an option in my brain, in my head. That night I went home and I went to my dorm and I locked the door and I knew I needed to find something. I believe in the Bible and I prayed that night and I believe that God put this conviction within myself to find a way to beat cancer naturally.

Internet wasn’t what it is today in 2007 and so there wasn’t as readily available information as there is now. There wasn’t the truth about cancer really then at that time online and so I was being directed towards medical journals and other scientific studies, Dr. Esselstyn and some of his writings. I realized that there were people that were getting rid of cancer through natural remedies and a lot of it had to do with food. So anything that I ran into and I found, I would actually implement and blanketly cover my lifestyle. This was also done without many people knowing. My mother knew that I was going to try to do this without surgery and a few other close friends of the family.

They were actually against it. My mother was very against me trying to get rid of cancer naturally. She believed that if I had any chance of success, I would need to do surgery and I would need to do chemotherapy. This would be the first time I would be doing chemotherapy, by the way. I’d never had chemotherapy or radiation, all the other cancers was taken care of from surgery. All my mother knew was that I was still alive from what the doctors were doing so far. So in her mind, if there was a remote chance for me to get through this, I would need to follow their directions completely. She did not like the idea of me looking for alternative treatments. She said, “Do those, but also follow the doctor’s directions.”

Not at the time. No, it was the hope of the stories that I would read about and it was the hope from the knowledge that I was learning, that this was the answer. So I blanketly tried all these different things. I would change my lifestyle for the way I ate. I understood that stress had a component to creating a lot of deformities in ourselves, so I would practice stress management techniques. For three months I rigorously pursued alternative treatments, because I had three months away from my appointment for surgery. When that day came for pre-operation appointment, I went in kind of feeling defeated because the mass was still there visibly. The doctors were freaking out at that appointment. They were measuring the tumor, they were measuring the mass and they were freaking out. I got one of them to slow down and I said, “What is going on?” And he said, “Your tumor has shrunk and that never happens with stage 4 cancer.”

So I was celebrating at that point, but at the same time it’s not complete victory. I don’t know if this is going to work. I don’t know why and if this is more of like a fluke or you know, not completely confident here. But they said, “Let’s push out this surgery and come back every two weeks and be retested and see if it’s shrunk more or if it’s growing.” Understand that this was very invasive surgery and there was a big risk that I may not ever use my right arm again. It was a high liability surgery. The doctors, though baffled, were encouraged that if there was a possibility that we could avoid surgery, they wanted that for me. Luckily I had a wonderful doctor who didn’t push into surgery and wasn’t trying to make a buck.

At the time of me trying these new remedies, these new alternative treatments, I didn’t know much about it other than I heard stories of them working. So I blanketly applied them to my lifestyle and I religiously just kept applying them. Some of the examples of the alternative treatments that I had found were eating a plant based diet. There was a lot of studies showing that animal protein, a lot of animal consumption, creates a lot of abnormalities in ourselves and can cause a lot of inflammation, causing cancer. So I went cold turkey basically and went the complete opposite and started increasing my vegetable intake, my fruit intake and moving toward the plant based diet. It wasn’t cold turkey.

I was still eating meat, but dairy was out 100% and major inflammatory products were out 100%, but I knew that I needed to switch to a plant based diet. I was more encouraged after the three months that it shrank knowing that, okay, let’s up the intensity, let’s go further here. That was one. Number two was stress management and understanding that stress is a huge component in creating abnormalities in cells and creating damage in our DNA. So a lot of it was practicing not stressing. I was a very stressed filled person, especially with the cancer diagnosis and just being upset at the world and being frustrated that your life is different than other people or seemingly different than other people. Now I know that everyone goes through their trials and tribulations. But at the time, when you’re younger, it’s easy to be consumed about what you’re going through and not necessarily other people.

So three months after the diagnosis, we had the pre-operation appointment and the doctors say that the cancer is shrinking. That’s very encouraging to me and I want to apply more and more of the alternative treatments that I’ve been doing. I go back and every two weeks I go in to get checked out. The cancer is shrinking and shrinking and now it’s noticeably, visibly diminishing, diminishing, diminishing. Now it can’t be seen and I feel comfortable wearing normal clothes outside of the dorm room and I start going to classes again and things start changing. Eventually I just stopped going to my two week appointments because I knew where it was going. I knew that this was it. It’s done.

You don’t know what you don’t know. I don’t hold it against my family, I don’t hold it against anybody out there. We didn’t know. We were told that these food products were safe for our consumption and that they were not going to hurt us or give us cancer. I help people now when they come because this information needs to be out there just like Ty and his lovely wife sharing with the truth about cancer. It needs to be out there. More people are out there that are dealing with the same kind of diagnosis that I was dealing with or their child is being, I’m sorry. There’s children out there right now, six years old, two years old, eight years old, that are dealing with a cancer diagnosis. They don’t know what’s going on. They don’t know much about life at that time anyway. My daughter could be one of those. But she’s not. I’m sorry.

It’s very difficult and unless you’ve been through a cancer diagnosis, no one can tell you what that’s like or a death sentence. I don’t want any anyone to go through it, but especially children. What Ty is doing, and what I know that I’m charged with doing with the information that I have, is to share it readily so that at least the information is out there and parents can be informed and individuals can be informed and know that cancer is a choice. It’s something that we can control.

I mean it sounds crazy and it sounds almost cocky, but short of a nuclear disaster, I know that I’m not going to have cancer anymore. I know that because of the lifestyle that we’re creating for my daughter, who’s nine years old, if she continues what we’ve taught her, she’ll never have to deal with it in her lifetime. It is really bittersweet to be given the knowledge on understanding what cancer is and how it’s created and how to get rid of it. Because sure, there’s a lot of freedom in my life and I don’t have to stress and worry anymore about the future and whether I’m going to get a deadly disease that will take me away from my family, early, before my mission is complete here. But it is bittersweet.

There’s a lot of people out there that are very resistant to this information and they’re resistant because of what they’re being told by the media. They’re resistant by what they’re being told by professionals that don’t know any better either, that aren’t educated. As educated as they are, they just don’t know, and I don’t believe that there’s a mass amount of people trying to hurt people out there in this world. I really do believe that they’re trying to do what they think is best, but it just comes down to a lack of information in my opinion.

If you’ve been recently diagnosed with cancer, my biggest piece of advice that I can give you is to research. Do some research online, check out a few different materials. If you have Netflix, check out Forks Over Knives. It’s a documentary on Netflix. It’s free if you have a Netflix subscription. That would be my number one suggestion is to do the research with the internet. There’s so much available out there and there’s so much that people have access to that we didn’t have access to before and information is out there if you are seeking a way to beat cancer without evasive surgery and chemotherapy, not to say that I’m against those things, sometimes they’re needed in an extreme case.

But you also need to have a lifestyle change because poison, which is chemotherapy attacking cancer cells, also attacks your body and without a lifestyle change, cancer will come back with a vengeance almost every single time I’ve seen it. No matter what, whether you’re going through chemotherapy or surgery or you’re wanting to not do those things and avoid those things, there has to be a shift in creating healthy cells so that you don’t have to deal with cancer after your diagnosis.

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