Melissa Hudson — the granddaughter of the late Marion Sluys, founder of Sluys Poulsbo Bakery — has been battling stage four breast cancer for five years but has recently seen improvement in her condition after trying a new treatment strategy in Houston, Texas.
But since the Burzynski Clinic is so costly at $17,000 a month, more funds are needed to help Hudson. Her cousin, Stephanie Sluys of Poulsbo, has been trying to raise funds in support of Hudson. She started a GoFundMe account in January and has helped raise over $46,000.
Because donations have slowed, Sluys decided to also start fundraising through the website heroeswalkstrong.com. The first event she hosted in July was a Superhero Pet Walk-A-Thon on Clear Creek Trail — where over $4,000 was raised.
The next fundraising event is Oct. 2-3 when Nikki Johanson, owner of Pheasant Fields Farms, will donate some proceeds from her annual corn maze festival to help support Hudson as they are longtime friends, having known each other since 1996. Hudson is friends with her daughter and spent a lot of time at her house in high school.
“I will continue to raise funds for her cause on a yearly basis as long as I operate this farm,” Johansen said. “She is very (dear) to my family.”
When Hudson, 40, was initially diagnosed, aggressive traditional therapies didn’t help the cancer from spreading to her lung and bones. Since starting her treatment with the Texas clinic, Hudson’s CT scans revealed her cancer bio-marker has reduced 75 percent, and she has had periods of being off oxygen 24/7. Hudson’s four kids and husband have also noticed color coming back to her face.
“I began feeling better almost immediately after starting treatment with the Burzynski Clinic,” Hudson said. “It was slow, but I was gaining strength and was off my portable oxygen for a time. We are currently working through some challenges and setbacks.”
Hudson said the Burzynski Clinic has joined her care team, alongside her local oncologist who has been with her for the past five years. She sees her local oncologist regularly for chemotherapy treatments as well.
“The Burzynski Clinic specializes in mutations and genetics associated with cancers,” Hudson said. “We frequently do blood tests to see how my cancer is mutating to adjust my treatments accordingly.”
Sluys talked about the effectiveness of the clinic. “It has less side effects than traditional therapies, and Dr. Burzynski discovered a strain of peptides in human blood and urine that has never been recorded in biomedical research,” she said. “He discovered that people who were inflicted with cancer lacked these peptides and by manufacturing these missing peptides and giving them to cancer patients he found that patients started to be cured of their cancer confirmed by repeated diagnostic testing.
“Over the past 30 years, Dr. Burzynski has treated and cured thousands of cancer patients, including stage 4 breast cancer, by administering these special peptides … He calls these special peptides antineoplastons, or ANP. Antineoplastons are chemical compounds found normally in blood and urine. They are made up of amino acids and peptides.”
Hudson goes to the clinic for treatment, evaluations and discussion on treatments but does telehealth visits from home in Belfair so she can be with her family and loved ones. “She wears a fanny pack that has an IV pump attached that delivers the ANP every four hours,” Sluys said.
Hudson worked at the Washington Veterans Home in Port Orchard as a nurse before her diagnosis. Her hobbies include coaching kids in basketball, Ragnar races, hiking and spending time with her family, whom she credits for helping her cope through difficult times.
“My kids are amazing,” Hudson said. “I am blessed to have people in my life that send me encouraging notes, messages, meals and help me to feel genuinely valued. I have people in my corner that want me to fight and win against cancer.”
Sluys said: “Melissa is the definition of what a hero is … when her body keeps telling her to give up her mind and heart never does. Her faith has given her the courage to have the perseverance she needs to keep on fighting. She’s resilient, optimistic and the bravest person I know.”
Upon her diagnosis, Hudson said she was “shocked. I was in complete disbelief. I was young, ran a lot, had a decent diet, and no history of cancer in my family, and so I requested a second opinion and was told I needed to start treatment immediately because it was very aggressive.”
Hudson described her spirits as “up and down” the past five years. “I decided I was going to beat it,” she said. “We thought I had, but in 2019 when it came back we had to regroup and take it on again. This time it is metastatic and has not gone into remission, so there hasn’t been any breaks from treatment. I am tired, but there is still fight in me.”
With something like cancer, it is hard to predict how many more months of treatment Hudson will need, saying, “We take things day by day, month by month – constantly evaluating how I am responding to treatment.”