Following faith in the fight against cancer

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Following faith in the fight against cancer“People who get cancer in their bones don’t usually get better,” said Julie Ertl. “I shouldn’t be here. Every doctor I talked to said I had a couple of months. That was two years ago.”

Every woman’s fight against breast cancer is different. Because Ertl found healing on her alternative path, she continues to share for those who need to hear it.

Seven years ago Julie and her family lived in Orange County. She was raising three children with her husband, Scott, and working as a ballet company director and dance studio teacher.

“We had actually just decided to move,” she recalled. Her husband had lost his job when the recession hit and had decided to pursue a second degree. “He had moved to Arizona ahead of us so he could return to school, so our lives were already in flux.”

At age 42 she was diagnosed with cancer. “I had actually been in to have it looked at the year before. My doctor examined it and dismissed it in my follow up. I did not return to that physician.”

With her confidence shaken, her family separated, Julie recalls the swirl of information and the demands for immediate decisions. “I was terrified by everything, and I felt like I didn’t even have time to think.”

She and her husband discussed all the medical opinions they had gathered “and we just didn’t feel like what was recommended was the path God had for us. So I thought, ‘Well, OK, then what now?’

“Before you have cancer, you don’t examine your options. You don’t research things ahead of time. But when the diagnosis comes you have so many decisions to make.”

One of the major concerns the Ertl family had about traditional chemotherapy treatments was the increased danger to people with small frames.

At barely 100 pounds, Julie knew that she faced a heightened risk of chemo killing her before the cancer did. So when her family arrived in Arizona, they pursued alternative therapies to target the disease with fewer side effects. The treatments went well, but did not eradicate her cancer.

Scott finished his education, and got a job offer at China Lake. The family moved to Ridgecrest.

“I knew we needed to connect somewhere immediately,” said Julie. “The kids especially needed to connect.”

She sent an email to the Christian Home Educators of Ridgecrest, where the Ertls were immediately welcomed. That network would serve as the backbone of support for the family when her cancer returned a few years ago.

“The sense of community we experienced here, when things were so bad – when I was dying — was unbelievable,” she said. “I remember my sister asking, ‘Do you just attract this? Do you create it? Or did God just give it to you?’”

In addition to raising her children and volunteering with CHER and other local organizations, she began teaching at a local studio — where students were also quick to embrace their beloved “Miss Julie.”

She continued her alternative treatment — including a very successful bout that helped clear her lungs. Then her legs started hurting.

“I thought maybe it was an injury,” she said. “I teach dance, so I thought, ‘Did I do something I wasn’t supposed to?’”

After being bedridden for two months, she got an MRI. It was the cancer, she found out. Cancer had spread to her bones, to her brain.

A friend of hers was in a Bible study with another patient who recommended a physician to her. “He calls himself an integrative cancer doctor,” she said. “He looked at his patients, and the success of their treatments, and decided to look at a more comprehensive picture.”

She made an appointment to see him. “He is always very careful not to tell a person how long he thinks they are going to live. He knows that is not his call — God controls that,” said Julie.

“When I came to him, I was in a wheelchair because I couldn’t walk. He said, ‘This looks bad, but I will see what I can do for you.’”

She started taking low-toxicity drugs coupled with all-natural supplements. “Some people call it immunotherapy, he calls it multi-targeted epigenetic therapy.” Soon, she was mobile with the help of a walker, then with the assistance of a cane. Now she walks unassisted.

“After two years, my doctor admitted to me that he did not know if he was going to be able to help me,” she said. “He calls me his miracle case.

“But he also told me that believers seem to have a better chance at fighting, because they know what to do with fear. Fear is your worst enemy when battling cancer.”

The Ertl family and their vast support network draw on their faith for strength, encouragement and direction. “God did not give me this cancer,” she said. “But God has sustained me through this.”

Like many cancer warriors, she knows the fight is a permanent part of her life. “My numbers go up and down. I’ve learned not to stress about that — about anything that’s beyond my control.

“But this experience has changed me from being on the defensive to being on the offensive in my prayer life. It’s been quite a journey, but God has been faithful to me and to my family. I know that if we had not gone through this, we would all be different people.”

Pictured: Julie Ertl (third from left) is pictured with her husband, Scott (second from right), along with the Ertl children and their significant others. — Courtesy photo

Story First Published: 2019-10-11