Cancer affects so many of us both directly and indirectly. It leaves us with feelings of helplessness, fear, and frustration. Do we trust the initial diagnosis, or do we search out a second opinion? Should we choose the recommended treatment, or do we search for alternatives?
Ryan Sternagel and Teddy Guss Sternagel, both graduates from Woodinville High School in 2003, were faced with these questions and so many more. You see, five years ago, they welcomed a son, Ryder, into the world. Just before his first birthday, they discovered he had cancer. He was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma-a childhood cancer of the nervous system. Ryder had a tumor larger than his kidney growing inside and out of his spinal canal as well as two secondary tumors, all of which had metastasized into his bones. In an instant, their lives were changed. The doctors told the Sternagels that Ryder would have to undergo chemotherapy immediately.
Chemotherapy treatment began on Ryder here in Washington while his parents continued to research other options for a cure and his wellbeing. Ryan and Teddy consulted with naturopathic doctors, cancer coaches, and health experts all over the world to employ an integrative approach that minimized the amount of conventional treatment Ryder received through a mix of super nutrition, targeted supplementation, energy medicine and healthy lifestyle practices. This included providing Ryder with supplements that they gave him through an NG feeding tube as well as bringing a juicer into his hospital room and providing food for Ryder.
Miraculously and very fortunately, Ryder’s tumor shrunk faster than anyone expected. Ryan states, “We were able to avoid virtually all other conventional medicines and procedures that usually come with chemotherapy, and his overall appearance and energy levels were much more vibrant than the other kids in the oncology ward.”
The next MRI revealed even more progress and after four rounds of chemotherapy and four months since his diagnosis, the Sternagels made the decision to stop chemotherapy halfway through the conventional protocol. This decision was not taken lightly nor easily made.
This also prompted a move to Utah. Why Utah? Ryan explained, “We were not seeing eye to eye with hospital, and the hospital wasn’t open to hearing input from us.” They knew they had to make a change and researched many options. “The facility in Utah seemed to be the best option for us. It was more laid back. They [Doctors] were much more open to making decisions together.” Ultimately, they agreed to a wait and see approach verses continued chemotherapy.
It should be noted that Ryder continues to be under the care of an oncologist and closely monitored with MRI’s and labs.
Rather than congratulating themselves on escaping a tragedy and then returning to their pre-diagnosis life, they decided to begin sharing their journey and provide information to others who have a child with cancer.
Ryan and Teddy knew how hard it had been for them find paths to alternative options since most available literature focused on adult cancer. Their Facebook/YouTube/ Instagram/Website/ Twitter accounts (first mykidhascancer.com, then, mykidcurescancer.com, and now, thesternmethod.com) all are directed to help caregivers determine the steps that need to be taken when a cancer diagnosis is given.
They have produced a weekly podcast (over 50 to date) where a specialist is interviewed to discuss cancer treatments and healthy living in general as it applies to childhood cancer.
They recently offered a free online event called the “Toxic Home Transformation Summit” addressing how to make your living environment healthier.
Ryan commented, “People are taking notice.” 100,008 watched the event. It is the biggest thing they have done to date and he said, “We received tons of great feedback and opened many people’s eyes.”
He added, “We are now fully immersed in the online health world.”
Ultimately, it started because they “didn’t want to sit back and not do whatever they could to help make sense of it [Ryder’s cancer].” The Sternagels saw other parents going through the same struggles and wanted to share their findings and help.
What is the message and/or advice that Ryan would offer to other parents?
“You are the CEO of your kids health. A CEO isn’t necessarily the financial or marketing expert, but they have a hand in it. They bring people in to do the job as they see fit. At the end of the day, they look to the CEO to run a good company and your child is the company in this case. In this day and age there are so many experts available. Don’t pin your child’s health on just one person [i.e. Doctor].”
Ryan ended with, “We have always wanted to do something that made a difference. We are trying to make the world a better place.”
I would say they are right on track and Ryder and his little sister, Channing, are lucky kids to have them as parents.
Visit thesternmethod.com for more information.