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  • Writer's pictureCynthia Chin-Lee

My 1000-day Journey or "Honey, I Shrunk the Tumor"

Updated: Dec 28, 2023

Cynthia Chin-Lee on the beach
Cynthia Chin-Lee at sunset at a Half Moon Bay beach

December 19, 2023

It’s been about 1000 days (2 years and 9 months) since my breast cancer diagnosis in March 2021. I’ll never forget getting the phone call from a nurse navigator at Sutter Health San Francisco. The call came 3 days earlier than expected and it was not the answer I had prayed for.

Mara, the nurse navigator, asked me to sit down and then patiently went through the biopsy facts:

  • Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC) on the right breast. The tumor was in a milk lobule and has grown beyond the lobule so it is invasive.

  • 6 mm in size (that’s the height of 3 nickels stacked or about ¼ inch)

  • Estrogen positive (abbreviated ER+) means that my cancer is stimulated by estrogen.

This is actually good because they could give me hormone-blocking drugs called aromatase inhibitors. The most common drug for post-menopausal women is Letrozole and the most common one for pre-menopausal women is Tamoxifen. I took and am still taking Letrozole though there are some side effects like joint pain. I get joint pain sometimes, but it’s hard for me to pinpoint this to the drug because I already had arthritis in my hands and it flares up when I garden or cook from all the chopping. The other major side effect from taking Letrozole is osteoporosis (low bone density) which I had even before my cancer. The good news is that I’ve been able to build bone density despite the Letrozole. See

Tomatoes, squash, kale and Swiss chard
Vegetables from my garden

My doctors at University of California San Francisco recommended the standard protocol for this cancer: surgery and radiation. I declined the standard protocol and asked them to monitor my cancer while I ate a low-methionine whole foods plant-based diet, nutraceuticals/supplements, and a hormone blocker. Add in exercise, meditation, family, friends and community engagement, and good sleep!

On my last ultrasound (and mammogram) on Dec. 19, 2023 the radiologists at University of California San Francisco (UCSF) could not find my tumor any more. It was a mere shadow. There I was laying half naked on the table in a hospital gown with sticky gel all over my right breast. I looked up at the computer screen and there’s nothing there.

The attending radiologist wrote in my report that it was a “vague area of focal hypoechoic shadowing.” They were able to locate the area because during my biopsy they had surgically implanted a titanium clip that they call a “savi scout.”

Here are key dates in my 1,000 day cancer journey.

March 26, 2021

Biopsy results at Sutter Health San Francisco: Stage 1A invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC) in right breast, tumor 6 mm. Estrogen-positive. Stage 1 means under 2 cm in size and the “A” means not detectable in lymph nodes, the bean shaped nodules connected in a network in the armpit, near the throat and in the groin.

March 27, 2021

Overnight vegan! Eliminate all animal products (meat, seafood, dairy, eggs)

May 3, 2021

Start Nutritional Oncology Research Institute (NORI) protocol, pro-oxidant treatment including sodium selenite, bromelain, pH compensator, molecular iodine, vitamin E, boswellia ginger extract Whole food plant-based low-methionine diet (3 weeks on, 1 week moderate-methionine)

May 6, 2021

​Took CA 15-3 blood marker test (11.9 which is below level for cancer)

May 28, 2021

PET scan No. 1 (mammiPET using radioactive estradiol) confirms high uptake of estrogen in right breast.

​Jun 14, 2021

Start Letrozole (hormone blocker/aromatase inhibitor). Declined biphophonates for osteoporosis, MRI with contrast (gadolinium), surgery, and radiation

Sept 7, 2021

Start medicinal mushrooms recommended by integrative oncologist (Stamets 7 for one month, followed by reishi for one month, followed by turkey tail)

Dec 1, 2021 (about 8 ½ months after biopsy)

​PET scan No. 2 (mammiPET using radioactive estradiol) shows remission. “The previously seen focus of uptake in the posterior upper central right breast is no longer clearly seen. Overall, uptake throughout the breast is significantly decreased compared to 5/28/2021. No new suspicious foci of uptake.”

Dec 14, 2021

Ultrasound shows tumor down to 4 x 5 x 5 mm

March 2022

Reduced NORI nutraceuticals. Life Extension amino acid blood test shows low protein so increased plant-based protein

May 2022

Started methioninase from AntiCancer, Inc.

June 2022

Ultrasound shows tumor down to 5 x 3 x 4 mm

Dec 2022

Ultrasound shows tumor down to 4 x 3 x 4 mm

June 2023

Ultrasound shows tumor down to 4 x 2 x 2 mm

Dec 19, 2023 (about 1000 days or 2 years and 9 months from diagnosis)

“We can’t find it any more.” “Vague area of focal hypoechoic shadowing.”

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Mehul Shah
Mehul Shah
Dec 28, 2023

Very moving and inspiring journey of bravely fighting the cancer. Congratulations Cyndi. Stay Healthy and Happy. = Mehul Shah

Cynthia Chin-Lee
Cynthia Chin-Lee
Dec 28, 2023
Replying to

Thanks, Mehul. Happy New Year to you. Great to hear from you. Feel free to share this cancer strategy so more people can benefit.

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