Lindsey Mescher Topping always was conscious about her health.
An athlete during her college days studying physical therapy at the University of Iowa, where she graduated in 2004, the Cascade, Iowa, native exercised and knew what foods were best for supporting and fueling her body.
So in 2017, as she sat breastfeeding her newborn baby, she was alarmed to discover a small lump on her tongue.
The diagnosis: Cancer.
“I had surgery,” said Topping, now 43 and living in Dubuque with her family. “It was completely contained, and they were able to get it all. I didn’t need to go through chemotherapy or anything like that.”
Despite being cancer-free, Topping continued to research the disease, curious as to how it could have manifested in someone so young and healthy.
Then, eight months later, she noticed a new lump had emerged in a lymph node located just below her jawline.
“I knew immediately what it was,” Topping said. “I was reluctant to have surgery again because doctors had cut it out before and it came back. The second time around, I was going into it with more knowledge. My philosophy was that my body created it, and it could also destroy it.”
While it was recommended by her medical team that she explore a more traditional approach — such as chemotherapy, surgery and radiation — Topping instead began incorporating Chinese herbs into her vegan diet, in addition to using infrared saunas two to three times per week, as well as acupuncture, chiropractic care and massage therapy.
To the surprise of the watchful eye of her doctors, a PET scan in May 2018 revealed there had been no new growth of the tumor.
“The doctors couldn’t believe it,” Topping said. “They said they had never seen such control over growth before and wondered what I was doing.”
Then, in November 2018, Topping became pregnant with her fourth child. Due to the hormones present in her body, within six weeks, her blueberry sized tumor had grown to the size of a plum. It also had invaded her nerves, setting her at a stage four cancer diagnosis.
This time, both her traditional and holistic health teams advised surgery, followed by 30 rounds of radiation, which she completed at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
“It was terrible,” said Topping, tearing up. “It’s something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t swallow. I couldn’t talk. In the meantime, I was trying to grow this baby, so I had a feeding tube. At 40 weeks pregnant, I was still at my normal weight. I had never been so weak in my life. I couldn’t even walk across my house.”
In August 2019, Topping delivered a healthy baby and received another clean slate from cancer.
Despite a stage four cancer diagnosis, which in many cases shifts curative care to systemic care to control further spread of the disease, Topping has remained in remission for more than three years.
She attributes that not only to advancements in Western medicine, but also in the balance of integrative healthcare that she has continued to maintain and now offers through her business, Restore & Renew Therapeutics in Asbury, Iowa.
A new beginning
Following her cancer journey, Topping opened the location at 5070 Asbury Road, Suite C.
In addition to offering her physical therapy services — including counterstrain therapy, a manual technique using passive body positioning to treat spasming muscles and joint pain — the business recently expanded to include holistic healing services, including acupuncture, massage therapy, two infrared saunas and fitness classes.
The classes include strength training, circuit training, a functional fitness class to increase strength and flexibility and an “essential fitness” class for a full-body workout.
It also includes a juice bar with a quaint countryside view and featuring a variety of Topping’s signature cold-pressed combinations, made on-site.
“The business incorporates everything I used during my cancer journey,” she said.
It’s her hope that such offerings will be a “whole body” health benefit to those prior to receiving a detrimental diagnosis, as well as a healing center for those undergoing treatment and looking to incorporate alternative therapies.
She also hopes it will lead to further exploration by more traditional medical outlets.
“There is absolutely a place for Western medicine,” Topping said. “Obviously, I use it as a physical therapist, and as a patient, it was a big part of my treatment. But I think people are becoming more open to the idea that a one-size-fits-all approach might not always work for everyone. There are other therapies that might be considered, and they should be accessible for people who want to take advantage of them.”
The business also has informed her approach to physical therapy, giving her a new assortment of tools when working to meet the differing needs of patients.
“I believe our bodies are capable of healing if we give them what they need,” Topping said. “Cancer softened me. It made me more empathetic and open-minded. It made me a better mom to my four kids (ages 3, 5, 8 and 11). But I never once thought it was going to take me. I never once thought, ‘Why me?’ Because if not me, who else? What it really did was give me the tools to create this space to not only continue to heal myself but to help heal others as well.”
Megan Gloss writes for the Telegraph Herald.