Elizabeth's Healing Journey in Mexico

Join us in reading Babette’s inspiring journey as she connects with Heal Navigator and chooses the Immunocine clinic, leading her on a path towards complete recovery from stage four Ovarian cancer.

Third Update:
May 16th, 2023
Since completing her treatment, Babette’s health improvements have been remarkable. Now close to remission, Babette’s personal commitment and dedication to beating her cancer are finally near. With the most recent data and developments in hand, Babette has generously agreed to provide another update to her previous blog post.
Celebrating the Power of Immunocine’s Treatment


Well folks, it’s time for me to begin celebrating in a bigger way . . .the Immunocine treatment is continuing to do what it does best!
When I started treatment, I had three tumors located throughout my pelvic area with the largest one 5.2 x 4.6 cm in size. Today, the largest tumor is completely gone. And only one of the initial three tumors remains, which is quickly dissolving. It now measures a mere 2.5 centimeters at its widest point, with 1 centimeter being normal lymph node tissue.
Just 1.5 centimeters left to go. I am so incredibly happy!!!

Not So Patiently Waiting

I won’t lie – the suspense of the last four months has been a little uncomfortable. Although my bloodwork and imaging just before leaving Cancun showed the Immunocine Dendritic Cell Treatment (IDCT) had already stopped my cancer growth, I knew I would only feel safe if the tumors were completely gone.

So while I could have left my cancer stabilized, and it would likely have disappeared over the coming year or year and a half, I knew I wanted the final results faster.
And after consulting with the Immunocine team, they also wanted the final results faster. The Immunocine Team informed me that they have recently seen accelerated results when patients pair their IDCT paired with traditional immunotherapy “checkpoint inhibitors”.


Combining Immunocine with a Checkpoint Inhibitor

As Dr. Matt Halpert explained to me, checkpoint inhibitors “are primarily designed to overcome immune exhaustion and re-power cancer-educated T-cells”. With the support of my US oncologist, I decided to do three Keytruda immunotherapy infusions, spaced three weeks apart.
In conventional cancer therapy, if Keytruda is used, people often go through 60-80 infusions – so getting results in 3 sounded like the best bargain ever!
And it was! My results are amazingly good news. After battling this cancer for four and half years, I cannot tell you how ecstatic I am to see the end in sight. I know my immune system is continuing to work on my remaining hitchhiker, so I imagine that within the near future, I will be completely cancer free with BOTH feet planted firmly again in the real world.
Stay tuned for the ultimate good news soon . . . .
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Second Update:

January 2nd, 2023

It’s Christmas in Cancun!

December 24, 2022, Cancun, Mexico

I am SO excited!!! When I press down where my biggest tumor is in my lower right abdomen, it hurts! I know this is good. I know it means the tumor tissue is being dismantled, like when there’s tenderness and slight swelling around a bruise that slowly goes away.

Still – as happy as I have been with the evidence of the therapy working, I would be lying if I said that I had spent all of my dendritic cell immunotherapy “flu time” lounging on the beach drinking fresh coconuts straight out of the shell. 

The Start of an Immune Response

Dendritic Cell Injection #1
November 26, 2022

No, what happened is I felt sicker slowly – first a headache, then fatigue, then body aches and fever, then a sore throat, sneezing, and “tooth pain” (more likely sinus pain). I developed one or two new symptoms per day, each day all symptoms becoming stronger until day seven. I felt depressed, l had a poor appetite and even queasiness.

My fever reached 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.5 degrees celsius) and held for twelve hours. Though at all times, I had access to the Immunocine Team for support and guidance.

 This is exactly what happens with any immune reaction, such as to a cold or flu. The whole thing lasted nine days. It wasn’t horrible, but the worst three days were something to get through as best I could, and I did have a nagging thought that maybe this would go on for months.

 I did not make it to the beach as usual for the cool breeze during those three days. I sweated out my fever in my Airbnb bed and felt a bit irritated that the air conditioning must be broken – when it was not.

 Boy was I relieved the morning I woke up and realized my fever had broken, my room was cool, and my headache had diminished significantly. Within three days of that I felt at 100% again.

Receiving My Second Injection

Dendritic Cell Injection #2
December 8, 2022

On December 8, I had my second DCI injection at Gallenia Hospital. This time, the medical staff decided to skip the interferon injection because my white blood cell count was too low at 1.6 (normal goes roughly from 4 to 13).


Interferon during the treatment helps send white blood cells into the tumor to kill it and in doing so, removes circulating white blood cells from the bloodstream, where they are also needed in case of infection. 

For five days after the second injection, I felt mostly fine. Maybe a little bit tired, maybe a little bit breathless from the low white blood cell count when climbing stairs. 


On day five I began feeling pressure and some bloating in the pelvic area, and tenderness on the right side is. By afternoon a familiar headache had started, like after the first injection, and grew in intensity over the next hours, as did my fatigue. I intermittently read, wrote, and napped.

Preparing to Finish

It’s been almost a week of discomfort in my lower right abdomen, but the pain has waned the last couple days. Tomorrow is my last injection, and I will be formally discharged December 22.


From there the tumor tissue is likely to show up as larger initially on scans, typically for about three months I’ve been told, as the immune system continues attacking (and therefore inflaming) and killing it. After that, over the next six months the tumors should diminish or shrink down into scar tissue.

My Final Dendritic Cell Injection

Dendritic Cell Injection #3
December 21, 2022


Yesterday I saw my medical team for the last appointments, and Dr. Luisa came to my Airbnb this morning to give me my interon shot . I will miss this group of warm, funny, talented, and ultra dedicated humans.

I was given injection number three and now completed all three Dendritic Cell Injections of the Immunocine Treatment! 


I also had a CT scan and a biopsy of current tumor tissue, which will be compared to my baseline scans taken at the beginning of the treatment. The Immunocine Team will use these comparisons to confirm the immune response is targeting my cancer. 


In addition, this data is being collected to be ultimately shared with the US company that is currently testing this Dendritic Cell Treatment in FDA clinical trials. Not only am I excited about my personal results, but it is great to know I am helping further cancer research!

A New Chapter in Cancer Treatment

Medical groups have been trying to figure out the dendritic cell immunotherapy conundrum since the 1990s. In contrast to the use of toxic chemicals and radiation, enlisting a person’s dendritic cells to fight their cancer was an elegant, simple idea that inspired many medical minds. 


But it soon became obvious among the medical groups working on this that there was a complicated piece missing: dendritic cells did not automatically “do their thing” when put face to face with cancer cells in an isolated lab setting.

How to get them to “interact” and learn the information about particular cancer, design the attack plan, and lead the charge for all the other pertinent immune cells proved to be quite an elusive puzzle.


Various solutions have been tried over the decades but success among medical groups and clinics offering dendritic cell immunotherapies has been inconsistent and limited.


Enter Immunocine’s Dendritic Cell Treatment


The group that, through trial and error, finally managed to crack this problem is the same group that developed Immunocine’s treatment. They figured it out as far back as 2006 and have been slowly and steadily amping up their research and understanding of Dendritic Cells.  


Many stage four cancer patients with no hope left are alive today thanks to this one of a kind Immunotherapy. I hope and believe that I will soon be one of those patients in the coming months.

November 12th, 2022
Over the Gulf of Mexico, 33,000 feet high

I am on my flight to Cancun – so excited to meet the folks at Immunocine! Very grateful for this opportunity. I feel like I won the lottery and I know my angels are watching over me now (if I’ve ever doubted).

How will my mindset change when I no longer have cancer?

For four years the bulk of my focus has been on getting through this crazy diagnosis, on how to live longer to defy the odds. Now what? Who will I be if not the resourceful lady fighting stage four ovarian cancer in my own way?

And back in time we go, two months earlier ......

September 10th, 2022
Valle dell’Erica, Santa Teresa di Gallura, Sardinia

A Heal Navigator email titled “Cancer Treatment in Cancun!” had shouted at me as I checked my in-box during siesta time in Sardinia. My French aunts had gifted me a trip to this Italian island paradise for my 60th birthday and I was near the end of my seven week vacation. Two more weeks and I would be back in Virginia doing chemotherapy again to continue stalling my cancer, fingers crossed.

It seemed too good to be true and my first thought was to ignore it. I aimed for the “Delete” button when “dendritic cell immunotherapy” caught my eye. I backed up and read the email. Dendritic cell immunotherapy had interested me a lot the first year after my diagnosis but I hadn’t qualified for the one offered at the alternative cancer clinic I had gone to.

Dendritic cell immunotherapy, eh? A very promising therapy. I changed directions and hit the “Apply Here” button.

Fast forward two and a half months ......

November 29th, 2022
Playa del Niño, Puero Juarez, Cancún

And now here I am, seventeen days in, on the beach writing THIS.

My heart is full of gratitude for the caring, professional, amazingly competent staff of the Immunocine Cancer Center. They have carried me every step of the way with long conversations and answers to my questions, by phone, text and email in the United States at first, then later in person too in Cancun.

They assigned me to Nicole, a warm, kind patient coordinator who really listened to what I wanted to say about my journey so far. Unlike with many medical situations, I felt seen.

Babette's L. Immunocine Journey 1

Nicole carefully gathered my medical records and communicated the medical staff’s requests for more testing. She also facilitated a conversation for me with the director of Immunocine, Matt Halpert, who has a PhD in Immunology and who helped develop this therapy in the US.

This in turn led to an introduction between him and my incredibly smart UVA Charlottesville gynecologist and surgeon, Dr. Leigh Cantrell who had said to me “Go do this, Babette. You know we have no cure for you – the best I can offer you is more time.”

Becoming an Immunocine Patient

Babette's L. Immunocine Journey 2

Nicole let me know late on a Wednesday evening just after Halloween that I had qualified as a patient, and my housemates jumped for joy with me. I had been nervous to take the call, and tears sprung briefly.

Nicole then put me into Lucía’s calm, competent hands in the Cancún office for coordinating all my logistics related to travel, transportation, and appointments, and for accompanying me on my first appointments in the hospital.

Over my first week I met Dr. Najera, Antonio Zamudio, Dr. Ortiz, Susana Hernandez, Jay Hartenbach, Dr. Ferbeyre, Oncologist, and Dr. Viramontes. The whole team has been fully engaged in my care.

From blood draws and Covid/flu testing to daily injections four days in a row at my Airbnb to raise my white blood cell count, to door-to-door transportation for all my appointments including to the Galenia Hospital for my biopsy to gather the cancer cells needed to make my immunotherapy potion, the facilities have been immaculate and the care impeccable.


I was carefully monitored for five hours the following day during apheresis to harvest my white blood cell surplus with attendance by not one but two Immunocine MDs and their steel-trap-minded biologist who runs the lab and puts the immunotherapy treatments together.

I also had two appointments with their top oncologist who gave me an alternative viewpoint of some of my scans, and consistently answered my questions in a concise, to-the-point manner, sometimes even with humor! The subtle differences in how oncology is practiced in Mexico by Immunocine’s top-notch medical and research superstars has been enlightening and interesting.

Immunocine clinic nursing staff
Babette's L. Immunocine Journey 2

Can we say impressed?

As a holistic health practitioner myself, having helped many cancer patients, this has all been fascinating for me.

It took a week to grow the immunotherapy cells and join them in a powerful reaction where the dendritic cells, the generals of the immune system, take charge of teaching the more immature and/or different types of white blood cells how to recognize cancer cells and attack them.

Cancer hides itself from the immune system and that is what Immunicine’s work is all about – harnessing the body’s own immune system and its know-how rather than introducing medical therapies with toxic side effects. Immunocine’s simple genius is to teach patient dendritic cells to see and attack their specific cancer cells, so they can in turn direct the entire patient immune system in this attack. Cancer can no longer hide. And once taught, the immune system doesn’t forget. No cancer cell is spared its demise, and repeat therapy is not typically needed.

food cancun immunocine clinic
babbet healing journy cancun
babbet Immunocine journey

My week off saw me bobbing around in the waves at gorgeous Playa Delfines, relaxing in the calmer but equally beautiful waters of Isla Mujeres, and eating fresh fish, papaya, and Mexican style vegan food out with new vegan friends. My first morning in Cancún I had gone for a walk and met Angela, an engaging, enlightened young Canadian with a sunny personality and MS – she was staying just down the street from me, and we had a lot to talk about given our respective health journeys.

This past Saturday I had the first of three injections of my very own magic potion and an immune boosting injection to help my dendritic cells go into the tumors to do their jobs. I am just beginning to feel a bit achy and tired like I have the flu, which is good because it shows the immunotherapy is working.

And I don’t mind – I get to sit on the beach in the cool breeze under a thatched roof parasol or lay on my comfortable Airbnb bed and make plans for the coming years and decades … the universe and God willing.


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