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Rare Cancer Treated With Native and Modern Medicine

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In June 2011, Steven Fisher Sr. learned he had Rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancerous tumor of the muscle attached to bone. It took a grueling three months of testing for doctors to diagnose the rare cancer. It would take another year of treatment.

But Fisher would recover—with a combination therapy of Native and modern medicine. 

"Right from the get-go I just said, 'I'm not choosing one over the other. I'm just going to take both of them and look at them on an equal basis and mix them together,'" Fisher told

In between more than a dozen rounds of chemotherapy and 68 treatments of radiation in Billings, Montana, Fisher sought out traditional Native treatments from his tribe’s medicine man.

"It's called a cloth ceremony," Fisher explained of the first treatment. "He wiped down all my family. My family got together all in one circle and they all prayed for me and then I went off to Billings and started doing the chemo."

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The medicine man also treated Fisher with Native herbs and roots.

Today, Fisher has been cancer free for 13 months. Fisher hopes his determination will serve as a source of inspiration for others battling cancer.

"Don't lay down and let the disease take you. Stand up and fight everyday for your life," Fisher urges. "Never give up."

Tonight at Billings West High, Steven Fisher will lead the Survivor Walk for the St. Vincent Healthcare team at the Yellowstone County Relay for Life event.

Studies by the American Cancer Society show Natives greatly benefit from incorporating their culture into treatment for a number of ailments including cancer.

“One clinical trial examined 116 people with a variety of ailments (such as infertility, chest and back pain, asthma, depression, diabetes, and cancer) who were treated with traditional Native American healing. More than 80 percent showed some benefit after a 7 to 28 day intensive healing experience.”