Jenny Bradley was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017 and has been thriving ever since. In this episode, she shares her journey through diagnosis and integrative treatments and how she helps others become cancer “thrivers” too.
Jenny is the founder of Shrink The Mutant School where she teaches courses for cancer patients and their friends. You can also find her at @shrinkthemutant on Instagram where she shares helpful tips and has awesome interviews with some of Integrative Oncology’s top experts.
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Welcome everybody to the real health podcast. I’m your host today, Leah Chischilly and joining me today is Jenny Bradley. And just to give you a brief background on Jenny, she has been thriving with her cancer diagnosis since 2017. She equips others to confidently advocate for themselves and have more peace and less overwhelm on their cancer journeys. Jenny has a master of arts and intellectual leadership and is a Certified Culinary Nutrition expert who shares her cancer insights and tips at shrinkthemutantschool.com. And you can also find her at @shrinkthemutant on Instagram, and we’ll be linking those up in the show notes after this interview today. Jenny lives in Kansas with her husband Mike and their little dog poppy.
So thank you for joining me today, Jenny.
Jenny Bradley: Thanks for having me. It’s my pleasure and honor. Oh, we’re so happy to have you here. We see you here quite a bit and we’ll talk a little bit more about that, but first and foremost, what does it mean to thrive with a cancer diagnosis? I know you call yourself a cancer thriver. What do you mean by that?
Jenny Bradley: Thank you for asking that. Okay. So the biggest thing to me is I want to do more than survive it. I want to thrive through it. So overall it’s, you know, looking at my whole entire integrative holistic self and learning how cancer affects all of that, or maybe cancer came out of all of that, not just one thing and learning how to live life to the fullest through and in the midst of all that.
Leah Chischilly: And that’s wonderful. That’s such a great approach to it. I want to go back to kind of the beginning and if you don’t mind sharing your story about diagnosis and what made you choose this holistic approach and what that’s looked like, what kinds of things have you done?
Jenny Bradley: Sure. So I actually have kind of a weird diagnosis story that I was not immediately diagnosed in the midst of something that was pretty obvious. I was under the age of 40 when I was diagnosed and in respect to that quote unquote young adults, which is what we are called in the medical world. You’re under 40, and young adults don’t typically get diagnosed with cancer. And so all the signs, the very obvious outward, you could see it with your eyes signs or kind of missed if you will, by the doctor who was engaging with me on it. So she watched it for two years before sending me to a specialist and then the specialist took literally one look at me without even touching me and said, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I think this is cancer. We need to do a biopsy.
And at that moment, so that was in 2017, the week before Christmas. And then my husband was with me because we just thought that I was going in for a consultation for how we excite this lipoma, which is a fatty tissue. So we didn’t think anything of it. Well, like literally cancer was not in our mind at all for this appointment. And then she said, you know, I think it’s cancer. We need to do a biopsy.
We just kind of went into business mode. Honestly, it wasn’t a big emotional moment for me. It was like, well, what do we need to do? What does that look like? It was me going into logistics mode and because it was the end of the year, and I actually said since there’s only like a week and a half before the insurance year rolls over, can we wait till January to do this biopsy so I can start my deductible with it. And this is telling too, as a part of my story the doctor said, well, how long have you had this bump? And I said, oh, at least two years, if not more. And she was like, yes, we can wait a week is not going to matter.
So anyhow, longer story shorter. We decided actually to just go ahead and do it that day and start the ball rolling on the information. So I actually got a phone call on the Thursday before Christmas, which Christmas was on that weekend. And we found out in that phone call that it was a carcinoma, invasive ductal carcinoma, which is a breast cancer and that they were going to need to send it out for further testing. So they would send it to a further pathology. And then we didn’t find out until about a week later, the actual details on the pathology and the details are what informs the doctors and practitioners, how they would recommend treating it.
So I had about a week before finding that information out, but I went home that day in the car going like, okay, well, it’s pretty clear, I probably have cancer. So my little research brains started that night, you know, looking into things.
Now I grew up in Wichita. So I was familiar with the buildings over here, as a lot of people are, but I had really no Idea what they were. But, I knew that it was something that had to do with medical stuff. That was not exactly standard of care. And so I started looking up what this was and I mean, thank God magically, my Google search, you know led me to find out that it was Riordan Clinic, and that Riordan is the leader in IVC and cancer research. So, that led me down a path of going through, I mean, you guys have a ton of resources on your website and there’s so many videos, so many articles, all that kind of stuff. And so even just starting with the Riordanclinic.org website, I was able to find out so much that helped me kind of, you know, what we all do on the, on the internet, on the interweb, as we’d like to say, right? It’s a spider web that you go from one thing to another. So I was able to pretty quickly figure out that it didn’t matter what else the Western allopathic specialist, oncology doctors would say. I knew no matter what they would say, I would also want to be a patient at Riordan.
And so I started calling Christmas week and I left a message every day. And my thought process was it’s a holiday week, so I don’t know what their hours are. So I kept calling and, literally left multiple messages and my husband called and left messages. And we did that until we had voice to voice contact with somebody.
And I just said, you don’t need to sell me on anything. I know I want to be a patient here. When can I get scheduled please? And within two weeks I was here doing all the nutrient testing. And I mean, it was, so it was so revealing what all was going on in my body that was fueling and informing the cancer, you know, before I even had my first official oncology appointment. So Riordon has been a part of my cancer journey since before I could get in with the oncologist.
Leah Chischilly: Wow. So then what did it look like after? I have so many questions after that. What did it look like after, when you went to visit your oncologist? Cause I think a big misconception when people think either integrative oncology or taking a naturopathic route, that it’s, you kind of shun all the other stuff and just go with nature now, but that’s not the choice for everyone. So what did that look like when you talked to your oncologist? What was their response to, and how has that been?
Jenny Bradley: So the first month after diagnosis, I had already started here and then I had my first oncology appointment and they’re not, oh, I should say my doctor. I don’t want to say they, my oncologist was not negative about being a fellow patient somewhere else. It was that, that isn’t his world. And so he didn’t really, I’m trying to think of how to say this because I don’t mean a negative towards him. We really like him. I still see him. I have not divorced allopathic care. And like you said, I think that’s a misconception that it has to be all one or the other, that it’s black or white. It’s actually, we use both and we, my husband calls it our checks and balances system type of thing. And still four years later, I am still seeing allopathic MD’s and you know, anytime you get a scan, you’re a part of that world and radiologists, they’re a part of that world and all that. And so yes, I still see them. So it’s not that he had anything negative to say about it. It was more that isn’t his world. And so he wasn’t gonna give us any more information, wisdom, insight, or whatnot in the things that integrative could provide. Does that make sense when I’m saying he didn’t see the value in it, or just didn’t understand quickly.
Then I came with my, I have a binder of all my records and when I showed him in that first month, the Riordan 14 pages of blood work from that initial and workup, it’s almost like, like he looked at it and he was like, okay, that’s nice. But it wasn’t going to make a difference in how he was going to recommend that he was treating me.
Leah Chischilly: Interesting. Okay. So what kind of things did you discover with your blood work? And you said that you discovered some of the things that may have been fueling the cancer, what were some of those things?
Jenny Bradley: So in my case, I have a ER, PR positive her2 negative cancer, and that means it’s hormone receptor positive. So I asked the oncologist, do I need to go to an endocrinologist? Like, would that be helpful if we like check out my hormones and what, you know, are things out of whack and whatnot? And he said, no, there’s no need for that. Well, here it’s one of the pieces of the puzzle that that doctor originally did with me was a bigger hormone panel. And we saw that I was extremely estrogen dominant and estrogen receptor positive 100% on my cancer. Which there’s different percentages and you could ask anybody who has hormone positive cancer, and they will give you a different percent. I could be sitting next to a person that has a similar diagnosis and we’re going to have different numbers. So in my case, I was 100% estrogen receptor positive.
And it was my doctor here at Riordan that was like, okay, here’s some things that we’re going to do to help bring your hormone level back in balance. And I’m not going to say that any one person was saying, and that’s going to cure your cancer. That’s not what I’m saying. But overall, it was a, these are things that could potentially fuel your cancer even more. So why wouldn’t we want to get them in better balance and get your body overall and better bounce. Now side note to that also I was on hormonal birth control pills for about a decade until I was diagnosed and on the phone call where the physician’s assistant is who called me, not the doctor. And she said, and if you haven’t quit your birth control yet, you need to do that today. And I was like, oh, I’m on the middle of the pack. Don’t I need to like, you know, wait and work out the cycle with it. And she was like, no, literally today you have to stop immediately. Yes.
And that was a big, like light up moment for me too, of like, oh, there’s something that’s not that great about hormonal birth control pills. So I also started to go down that path and learn about that and how with hormonal birth control pills you have a 30% higher risk for breast cancer and no doctor and no pharmacist ever had that conversation with me beforehand. That’s not to say that it wasn’t my job to do my own reading in the insert, you know, and all that type of stuff. But those are some of the things where it was again, little sparks of like, okay, I’m not supposed to take that pill anymore. That’s a big deal. She’s not really telling me why. And then I would go look at why.
Leah Chischilly: And I know that’s definitely a strength of yours is kind of digging into the research and really understanding everything that’s going on. Now for a lot of people that’s really intimidating and they don’t speak science or they don’t speak the medical language. And so they don’t even bother with that. And I know that’s something that you help people with. And let’s talk more about that, but where would you advocate someone start when it comes to doing research?
Jenny Bradley: Well, first of all, I would say literally just start. So, you know, I guess fortunately I have literally had college classes in how to do proper research, et cetera, and reading proper research, I should say. And, you know, there’s, it’s really important to use primary sources. So yes, you can come and you can come to my blog, let’s say, and you can read my story and that’s the primary source of my testimony, but it’s not necessarily a primary source of the science. Right? And so it was important to me to not only look at testimonies of how things were affecting individual patients, but to also try to actually read, you know, there’s a site called pub med, P U B M E D. And it’s an open for anyone can go read scientific academic abstracts. So an abstract is basically like a summary of the research and you can read the summary and you can decide if you want to go further down that, you know, path in that research.
And sometimes the full article is free. Sometimes it’s not. And depending on what I’m going to say, it like this, depending on what your library or education credentials are like, if you have a .edu email address, you probably have a way to access the full article online. There’s other ways probably that your local librarian can also help you, any who there’s so many free resources online. And so that’s a place to start. You also have to look at, is it an animal test? Is it in a human, is it human cells, but still in a Petri dish, you know, et cetera. So there’s different things that we have to look at when we’re considering what the research is. And then also in the cases of like comparing one substance to another, what is that placebo substance? I think a lot of times we just think sugar pill, but it could be that the quote unquote control or placebo was a surgery, or it was another drug in the same category, or, you know, so some of it is just starting to learn what to look for.
So maybe that’s where to start. Maybe it’s learning, you know, what some of those parameters are on how you need to look at it. And then this is my one other thing that I like to share with people too, is you can do an internet search for a term called Boolean operator, B O O L E A N, Boolean operator. And that’s how you can either put words together or reverse words, if you will omit some words. So like, if I want it to look up shrink the mutant, I could put shrink, plus sign, the, plus sign, mutant. And that would give me the hits that were, or the sites that showed shrink the mutant, all those words together. Or you could use the word and or you could use the word not and not find shrink the mutant. It could just be, I want to find the word shrink, but not anything that shows the mutant as an example, so that’s another way to go further on your research and find maybe some deeper things as to use Boolean operators.
Leah Chischilly: And that’s it great advice. I love first and foremost, just get started because I think that is the, the analysis paralysis before you even get into the research, like, wait till you get there and you get analysis paralysis, but what happens before you even get into it? So, yeah, it’s just getting started and then that those are great little pointers on helping people find what they’re looking for. Now, did you use research to help make your decisions in the directions that you wanted to go, and what made you choose the integrative approach versus just one or the other?
Jenny Bradley: Yes. Okay. So for me, I come from a Christian worldview and I believe at my core level that God created us to heal. Like he created my body to be able to heal. And so for me, it wasn’t ever a mindset of cancer as a death sentence. A phrase that I heard a long time ago, and I love thinking and saying is cancer is a word. Period. It is not a sentence.
For me, I think, you know, a lot of it started with a mindset of, okay, if I believe that my body can heal, then I want to find a variety of ways that it can heal. And I would also say at first, maybe the precious, naive Jenny thought that like, oh, I can do this, and it’ll be like this overnight thing. So to speak overnight. Right? You know, I’m into my fourth year on this journey, I will say like, praise God, I haven’t ever had metastasis. There’s no spread. You know? So it’s been under control overall and we can get more into the different things I’ve done later if you’d like to. But the that’s me saying my short version of the story is for me, it’s not an overnight thing, but I wholeheartedly believe in supporting my body overall in all of the things that I may be doing to treat my cancer and support my body.
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Leah Chischilly: So I want to talk about Shrink the Mutant because going through cancer, going through a diagnosis, it’s a very personal thing. It can be a very emotional thing. What made you decide to want to share that and what Shrink the Mutant, what does that mean?
Jenny Bradley: Good question. So if we believe that cancer is a mutation of our own cells and that first breast specialist, that was a surgeon said that she was not going to do a surgery on me for a minimum of six months until we shrunk the tumor. And so to me, it was like, okay, well, my job here in this first six months is to shrink the tumor, but that’s not a fun name.
Jenny Bradley: Okay. This almost goes back to your last question too, about the integrative approach. It’s my own cells as my own cells that have mutated. So again, that informs kind of what I think and perceive and look at as what treatments, you know, fit me, so to speak. Okay. So how did I decide to start sharing? Is that, yeah. So at first I did not share, you know, my family knew and some very close friends and my work knew. So, you know, the people that needed to know immediately. As I grew in understanding what I was doing or what I was going to do and what not. I started my Instagram account first within that first month of getting diagnosed to show the people in that circle, what I was doing and what I was doing at these, what looks like weird dome places, you know?
And I always joked like, And darn it there’s not aliens over here. So I started that those first couple of months just to show my like inner circle, what I was doing. And then after a few months, some of those friends were like, I really want to show this to some of my other friends that also have cancer or so, and so that I know in my world has cancer. Can you let them see your stuff too? And so it was kind of other friends encouraging me to open it up to a public account, that little push that led down that path. And then you know, I found that more and more people were like, DM-ing me, I’m not an expert. Right? But I’m a few steps ahead of people that might ask me questions about stuff. And so that’s where it comes from is like my genuine heart and desire to help people.
And that led to creating the Shrink the Mutant websites and whatnot. So it was at first to share my own story. And then now as it’s evolved into the fourth year, as I say, you know, it’s like, okay, I have like resources that I have created out of the questions that people have continued to ask me about. You know, what could be helpful on their journeys. And I don’t at all claim to have the cure. That’s not what people are asking me for by any means, but, you know, I do like I have a resource that’s my top tips on how to have more peace and less overwhelm on your cancer journey. So it’s, you know, five little tidbits of things that I do when I’m in. So for those of us with breast cancer, we also, some of us get to have breast MRIs. And for that you lay face down totally still for 20 to 30 minutes, or more, depending on your case. And some people get to put their arms up like Superman flying. So that’s a time where like, you cannot look at anything, your eyes are closed, or you’re looking at like the plastic at the end of your nose, basically. Well, that’s 30 minutes of sitting there that you have to control your mind in a way, or, you know, there’s a term in cancer world called scanxiety, and it’s the anxiety you have around the scans and around waiting for your results and whatnot. And so I kind of placed those two things together of whether it’s me laying face down in a machine that’s clunking really loudly around me, or whether it’s, while I’m waiting for the results or whatnot, you know, what are the things that I can do to bring myself into the moments of peace instead of, you know, freaking out about, well, first of all, things that I don’t know. I don’t know what the results are going to be. Why would I want to put myself in those shoes of worrying about that? So I try to be proactive in what am I going to visualize or meditate, scriptures that I’m going to think on or songs that, you know, soothe me so to speak.
Leah Chischilly: Yeah, that’s great. Those are great ideas and great tips, and we’ll be sure to link those in the show notes so that people can get to them. And I know that you’ve created a couple of courses and just, what are some of the things that you are currently helping people with?
Jenny Bradley: So, funny that you use the word helping to one of the most frequently asked questions I get is actually from friends of cancer patients. And I’ll get a message that says like, Hey Jenny, my friend just got diagnosed with cancer. I really want to help her, but I’m really not sure what to do. And so I have a resource out currently that is a guide that is videos that tell a little bit of my behind the scenes patient perspective of what help can look like as well as PDFs that are a guide that you can download and print out. And it has 50 in depth ideas of what you can do, whether you live in the same city as that person or not. So that’s helpingyourfriendwithcancer.com.
Leah Chischilly: Awesome. So not just helping cancer patients by sharing your story, but helping the friends of cancer patients help them get through it, which I think is so beneficial because you often, you, when someone gets any sort of terrifying diagnosis or even just really bad news in any part of their life, you feel helpless as a friend and you don’t know what to do. So I think that’s really an awesome thing that you’re doing.
Jenny Bradley: Thank You. There’s a lot of us in the integrative world that, you know, in my particular case, chemo was not recommended. So I didn’t have chemo, but people still want to help me. But there’s an idea that, you know, I don’t look like a typical cancer patient in what most people’s paradigm is. I have all my hair, I can drive myself most of the time, you know, the different things. And so there’s also, I wanted to put ideas in there for, it didn’t matter what exactly the diagnosis or treatment was. There’s still ways that people with cancer or for that matter, just a health crisis need help. And the household needs help. As I like to say too, it’s not just about the one person, you know, one of the things that, and I’ve shared this on my Instagram and stuff too, is that one of the things that like still blesses my little socks off is that
someone, like we literally to this day still don’t know who it is. Somebody in our neighborhood rolls our trash cart up for us to the garage on our trash days. And when those days correlate with my IV days here, like the IVs here aren’t toxic to me, but for me it does take a lot out of me. And so it’s nice not to have to like even exude that much more physical effort and like pulling with my arms that just had IVs in them, you know, or whatever. So there’s all kinds of little things that people can do. And I think that people forget that or they think that it has to be either food-related or they have to send a major care package or something like that. And there’s so many little ways that you can bless your friend that’s in a health crisis.
Leah Chischilly: Yeah. Wonderful. Tell me a little bit about your experience with some of the treatments that you’ve had here. What have, what have you done and you know, like what does that take and how often do you do it? And this is not medical advice. I would like to be sure to point that out. And this is Jenny’s personal experience of course, but I think it’s nice to know just what someone else has been through if you’re thinking about seeking out these particular types of treatment.
Jenny Bradley: So one of the things that I love about the Riordan approach is that it is personalized. So anything that I will share it is what is in my particular case. And it might not be what somebody else, even with the same diagnosis would do or have. So it’s all based on our lab work and the lab work that we do regularly and through those medical practitioners guidance here, right? So for me, I have done IV vitamin C and that started the month, really, within weeks after I got diagnosed with cancer. So high dose vitamin C and there’s different amounts, gram amounts, et cetera, in that. And so I’ve been right around 50 grams, the majority of my years of doing this. And by the way, part of why I keep doing this is because it’s supporting my body overall. It’s not just for the cancer, although I’m here originally because of cancer, but it does so much more than that, which I’m sure there’s plenty of Riordan resources on that. But I think of, you know, it’s helping lower my inflammation. It’s helping with some detox, it’s helping, you know, even at times I would say relieve some pain symptoms. So IV vitamin C, I’ve done mistletoe shots. I’ve done mistletoe IVs. Mistletoe IVs for me are also a quality of life thing to where those help with pain management as well for me. And then Hellaborus shots and some other different modalities here, like P E M T. And maybe we can talk about that one another time.
Yes. That will be a whole other podcast. I’m sure, and actually, a lot of these therapies I think deserve greater depth, but it’s really important to just kind of hear your experience with it
Jenny Bradley: And then sauna infrared sauna, and there’s a foot detox bath, an ionic foot bath that I have also done here. So just kind of different mixes at different times of what my body needs. And it’s not, I wanna say this too, and I’m not getting paid to say this, by the way. She’s not, there’s not any one treatment that they’re like, oh my gosh, you have to go do the foot detox bath because, and that’s going to be the thing that, you know, quote unquote, cures you or whatever. It’s also some of me saying like, I’m feeling these type of symptoms. Is there something that we could do to help alleviate this particular thing? And then we kind of go from there on would a foot detox bath help me? You know, so there’s different things. It’s not that all cancer patients or all of, any of the Riordan patients are gonna do exactly the same things that I did. It’s just kind of based on what fits the patient at that current time.
Leah Chischilly: Yeah, Absolutely. And that’s always, our goal is to provide the individualized care and give the patient really only what they need and not going overboard on things. If that person doesn’t need it. And I, and I have to throw in a little bit of the disclaimer here in that none of this is medical advice and that the treatments that Jenny’s gone through may not necessarily be applicable to your situation or something that you would be able to use as a patient. So it’s just nice to hear her story and kind of understand. And if you are listening, maybe it’s a place you can start. You know, she talked a little bit about the research before, maybe that’s where you start your research. That’s, what’s gets the ball rolling and then starts that snowball of information that you can collect to find the treatments that are best for you.
Jenny Bradley: And I would say too, that beyond just what you think of if I can say like “killing the cancer cells” or whatnot, there’s other things that we need to do to support our bodies let’s say around scans and dealing with the radiation or the heavy metals that come in with scans. And so that’s something else that I’ve been able to be supported through the Riordan Practitioners of. So I literally drive from, well, I don’t drive. I ride on those days, I’m chauffeured. I ride over here directly from my scan so that I can immediately get an IVC. And for me, in my case, and IV push of glutathione to help detox my body after those situations. That’s not for everybody, that’s for me. And the dosage is prescribed for me type of thing. But that’s the other thing too.
It’s not all just about, like, you just go do this one treatment for killing cancer reasons. There’s so many other things that we do these treatments for than just cancer cells in and of themselves. It’s holistic, whole body care of supporting my entire system. It’s as that first doctor here said, I’m not here to treat cancer. I’m here to treat the whole entire Jenny. And that’s the thing that’s probably stuck with me the most of why do I keep coming back and why do I keep doing IVCs and whatnot? It’s because it’s supporting my whole entire body.
Leah Chischilly: Yeah. That’s awesome. Well, thank you so much for sharing your story. I do have one last question for you, and this is all part of the real health podcast and that’s, what does real Health mean to you?
Jenny Bradley: I feel like this could be another podcast in and of itself, right. For probably everybody tha answers, but real health to me is being confident in my choices at the time, that I have informed consent, and that I understand what I’m doing. And then I have a whole body, mind, soul spirit alignment in what I’m choosing to do in that moment. Oh, does that make sense? Yeah.
Leah Chischilly: I love that. Well, thank you so much, Jenny, for coming on the podcast and sharing your story. This will not be the last time you hear from Jenny I’m sure because she’s a wealth of knowledge and has so much to share with us. So thank you everyone for listening and where can people find you?
Jenny Bradley: You can find me on Instagram @shrinkthemutant or on the website shrinkthemutantschool.com. If you want to find that resource for helping your friends, that’s helping your friend with cancer. Calm. Perfect.
Leah Chischilly: Thanks Jenny. And we’ll talk to everybody soon.
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