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Relief for radiation regimen

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ANN MARIE AMES
June 14, 2010
— One thing surprised Bonnie Medley when she finished treatment for breast cancer:

How often she started meeting people who had cancer or were in remission.


Luckily, it’s easy to propagate aloe plants.


Medley completed her own cancer treatment this spring with the help of the aloe vera plant on her kitchen counter. Now, Medley is buying dozens of aloe plants to share with other cancer patients.


Medley, who lives on Delavan’s east side, was diagnosed with breast cancer in December. She calls herself one of the lucky ones. Her cancer was discovered one month after a clear mammogram.


Medley had six weeks of radiation treatment in Beloit. At one point, doctors almost called off the treatment because the skin in her left underarm was so burned.


Even though the treatment itself only lasts for a minute, it leaves a burn like a bad sunburn, Medley said. Some people get blisters.


But Medley didn’t want to quit in the middle of treatment.


“I can’t have gone this far just to stop,” Medley recalls telling doctors.


Medley started using the gel from the aloe plant she kept in the kitchen to treat burns. To use the gel, Medley simply pinched off a couple inches of a leaf, squeezed and rubbed the smooth gel onto her skin.


The pure gel of an aloe plant is clear, unscented and slippery. It dries quickly.


Some people have adverse reactions to the gel, so Medley recommends trying it on a small spot that’s not too sensitive.


Members of the Beloit Memorial Hospital oncology staff, who treated Medley’s cancer, were surprised at how quickly the natural gel worked, Medley said.


She finished her treatments and now is cancer free.


Medley started looking around for aloe plants to share, but it was too costly to buy large numbers of plants at the store.


She hit the jackpot this spring at the Delavan-Darien High School FFA plant sale, where teacher Marty Speth has students propagating aloe plants.


He agreed to have students keep starting the plants and sell them to Medley for only $1. That covers the cost of the potting soil and pots, Medley said.


“They’ve just got a ton of them,” Medley said.


She’s happy to give the high school kids a reason to keep growing the plants, which propagate easily, Medley said.


She splurged and picked out pink foil and breast-cancer-themed decorations for the pots that she will give to cancer patients she meets.


“It worked for me,” Medley said. “I just want to show other people.”



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