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City woman just says ‘no’ to chemo

Published on

Cathy Dobson

A Sarnia woman who is seeking a costly natural treatment to fight her fourth battle with cancer says she is overwhelmed by the community’s financial support.

Cindy VanHoogenhuize is well known as the owner at Sharky’s Athletic Club on London Line and as a tireless supporter of local non-profits and charitable causes.

When she was diagnosed recently with non-Hodgkins lymphoma follicular cancer for the fourth time in 20 years, she decided not to pursue chemo and radiation therapy.

“I told my doctor no, I don’t want to poison my healthy cells with chemo. I’ve done that before and it annihilates your whole body,” she said.

“The doctor was shocked. He said the cancer will spread without chemo, but I don’t believe that.”

VanHoogenhuize, 59, underwent chemotherapy for six months the first time she had cancer.

“It made me so sick.  You feel like someone soaked you in chemicals. I just felt like a shell,” she said.

Afterward, she and her husband Bill read extensively about natural cancer therapies that involve diet, raising body temperature to kill cancerous cells, coffee enemas, autologous cell vaccines, B-17, vitamin C treatments and others.

Five years later when VanHoogenhuize was diagnosed for a second time she had surgery and then headed to a local store for health food and homeopathic remedies.

“I spent $1,000 there to boost my immune system and increase my T cells. When I went back to the doctor, the tumour was shrinking.”

Two years passed and a new tumour was detected. VanHoogenhuize said she caught it early, had surgery and avoided chemo.

That was 11 years ago.

This time, cancer has been found in her chest, neck and armpit. She has made the decision to go to CHIPSA Gerson Hospital in Tijuana, Mexico for three weeks of natural therapies to shrink the tumours.

But the approximately $35,000 cost is more than she can afford, and she isn’t the sort to ask for help. That’s when the community stepped up.

VanHoogenhuize’s friends and employees started a gofundme online campaign three weeks ago that has taken off.  At press time, $26,517 of the $35,000 goal had been pledged.

“Cindy was uncomfortable when I told her I was going to create a gofundme page for her,” says employee Corrie Elliott.

“She is such a giver. She’s given so much to so many charities and never asked for anything in return.

“It’s about time we paid her back.”

About $4,000 was raised the first 24 hours of the campaign, said Elliott.  “That made her smile.  She is shockingly happy and positive all the time and is still coming in to the gym.

“But we know she wants to get to Mexico as soon as she can.”

VanHoogenhuize is now hoping to leave for Tijuana in early June.

Other fundraisers are ongoing including a silent auction and a draw. Tickets are available at Sharky’s. Employee Jessica Simourd is also organizing a June 17 fundraiser at The Station Music Hall.

“I just can’t believe this outpouring,” said VanHoogenhuize.  “Friends have even offered to buy the plane tickets. We plan to go as soon as we have the money.”

To donate and see a video about VanHoogenhuize’s 20-year battle with cancer, and her decision not to receive chemotherapy, visit gofundmeCureCindy.

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