Healing and Cancer: Food for Thought
Even before receiving a diagnosis of stage IV colon cancer, I was aware of a correlation between nutrition and cancer. Post diagnosis, the emphasis on diet was insurmountable. As part of my own healing journey, I purchased the Chris Beat Cancer, Square One program. I read, How to Starve Cancer, by Jane McLelland. I watched the documentary, The Truth About Cancer. I researched the medical literature through PubMed, to learn what medical science had to say specific to colon cancer.
"Leave blame at the door", is a saying I acquired from Caroline Myss. It serves as a reminder not to blame myself for past dietary choices; That an environment of guilt is not a healthy healing environment. These feelings of guilt were being fed by the inundation of messages around lifestyle factors, particularly dietary habits, being responsible for cancer. One message was that if I was not committed 100% to a plant-based diet for at least two years while dealing with an active cancer, then I should not expect a positive outcome. My response was defensive, because I had been practicing a mostly whole food, plant based vegan diet for the two years prior to the diagnosis. There had to be more to it than just diet (past or present).
More than just diet
In one PubMed article, Cancer and Mediterranean Diet: A Review (published in Nutrients September 2019), it stated, "Risk factors in cancer incidence are mainly linked with individual and environmental characteristics (heredity, particular exposure to noxious substances, or clinical conditions as hormone imbalance) or with peoples’ lifestyle: Physical activity, sedentary lifestyle and diet play a crucial role. Particularly, a high body mass index, a low intake of fruit and vegetables, the lack of physical activity, the use of alcohol and smoking represent the five and most important risk factors in the onset of several neoplasia, together with some chronic infections (e.g., due to Helicobacter pylori, Human papillomavirus, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and Epstein-Barr virus)".
Again, the emphasis seems to lean heavily towards lifestyle factors, though heredity, toxins, and viruses are given mention. Part of the reason I gravitate towards the works of Kelly Turner, Anthony Williams, and Anita Moorjani is that their work does not evoke a shame or guilt response in me. Their work and teachings resonate with me at the soul level. Kelly Turner, PhD, researched and wrote about Radical Remissions and cancer; Anthony Williams (Medical Medium) writes about his experience with "Spirit" and guidance on viruses, toxins, nutrition and health; Anita Moorjani, in Dying to Be Me, shares her message of healing from terminal cancer.
What Changes Are Factors in Remissions
In Radical Remissions, a "radical change in diet" was one thing that everyone who had a radical remission from cancer had done. Everyone had increased their intake of fruits and vegetables. Not everyone followed a strict vegan or vegetarian diet. Some apparently followed a Ketogenic protocol. A Ketogenic diet was mentioned as one pathway to "starving cancer", by Jane McLelland.
Other than adding more fruits and vegetable to your diet, here is what is suggested from the Radical Remission's research:
- Using supplements: The supplements used were unique to each person. Find out what your body needs. I currently take zinc, vitamin B, and D on a regular basis. My body was also low on iodine and selenium (found in brazil nuts).
- Take control of your own health: Read books, watch documentaries, check out the research. I did my homework and combined it with the next suggestion.
- Follow your intuition: I have been listening more to my intuition this past year. I have had to become aware of when I was making a choice from fear or to please other people, rather than following my instincts.
- Release suppressed emotions: This is an ongoing process. I worked with a councillor in the past. The transformational acupuncture sessions with Michel of GreenSpirit Acupuncture were tremendously beneficial. I am also doing ongoing introspective shadow work through the teachings of Robert Ohotto.
- Have a good support network: Fortunately, I have had amazing support from both friends and family right from diagnosis. This support became even more apparent when I was unable to work because of the colostomy surgery in October, 2020. I have had to put aside my pride, humble up, and accept the support from others. In other words, be a good receiver. Thanks everyone.
- Have a strong spiritual connection: This has built up over a lifetime. It was about 10 years ago that I became more devoted to a daily spiritual practice. Dealing with a cancer diagnosis has felt like a final examination in the power of my faith.
- Increasing positive emotions: This is for me about re-discovering what brings me joy (writing - including this blog; watching Bauer run free in the farm fields or play in the snow; listening to great music, and dancing - yes even by myself; connection with friends and family - even through zoom; getting out in nature;)
- A reason to live: It only takes one, but I have many.
- Movement/Exercise: This was added in later, as most people didn't think that just doing a daily walk was exercise. But everyone kept on moving. I started doing Qigong (almost daily), and doing a daily walk if nothing else. Sometimes I cycle (indoors or outdoors), and I help out at a farm.
Don't eat negative emotions
Anita Moorjani, in Dying to Be Me, describes her journey with cancer. The big take away for me was that when we eat out of the fear of getting cancer, we are eating fear and guilt. Eating should be done with pleasure and enjoyment, as well as out of love for the body. If I am eating a salad and feeling resentful about it, then I will be vibrating my cells at the frequency of resentment. If I make a stir fry for dinner, I now include asparagus, as it is a food that has been recommended for liver health. I do add a bit of chicken and use a mango chutney sauce. I am getting an abundant of vegetables into my body and I love it. I am eating for both my health and with pleasure.
Genetics versus Lifestyle Choices?
There does seem to be an ancestorial link to cancer in my family. Is it genetic, or were certain pathogens and environmental toxins passed down through the bloodline? I did have was two episodes of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). The first when I was seventeen. The second at age nineteen. I never felt like I fully recovered after the second episode. It is possible that some people are born with a higher viral load in their systems? At the age of four, I was in hospital for two weeks with a high fever after having my tonsils removed. In the BMC Fam Practice 2019 (20:62) journal publication on Epstein Barr and its association with disease, it was indicated that "severe tonsil enlargement" was one possible acute complication.
What army are you feeding?
The link to EBV and health is why Anthony Williams' work resonates with me. It was August 2018 that I heard Anthony speak about the EBV and nutrition. Anthony provided me with the why I needed to eat a certain way. Following his suggestions, I started eating to feed my immune system army more than my viral/pathogen invaders. It was working. The frequency of my cold sores reduced significantly and I had more energy. I was feeling the best I had since first being diagnosed with mono back when I was seventeen.
Looking at my own lifestyle factors, my higher red meat consumption (research supported for colon cancer) that went along with a standard western diet put me at risk. Especially because this was my norm in my early years (supported by the research on colon cancer). I loved and ate fruit, but my vegetable intake was less than ideal. I had a sweet tooth and my sugar intake was high up until my early forties, when I pretty much took refined sugars out of my diet. I had been feeding the viral invaders. The better they ate, the less my immune system could function during times of stress. I was starving my immune system and sending them into battle fatigued and without ammunition.
The other lifestyle factors were not as significant. My body mass index had always been within an ideal range, and my activity level was generally in the moderate range. I never smoked and would have been classed in the low alcohol consumption group, if you exclude my younger years, where it was more moderate.
Dietary Links to Colon Cancer
All this is not to say that dietary choices are not important. The research I found for colon cancers, support the increase of fruits and vegetables (especially cruciferous vegetables); having adequate vitamin D, calcium, folate, selenium; reducing red meat consumption. There also seemed to be a consensus that a more traditional western diet earlier in life had more harmful effects than later in life. Continuation of the traditional western dietary habits, post cancer diagnosis, did not correlate with positive outcomes for survival. So dietary changes are a must.
Living My Best Life
It has now just been a little over a year since the shocking diagnosis of stage IV colon cancer. I did my homework and decided on a course of treatment that did not include chemotherapy. Intuitively, it felt like I would not be able to survive chemotherapy. It felt like introducing more toxins into my compromised immune system would be counterproductive. My faith was tested, as my blood work got worse (elevated tumor markers, liver and gallbladder enzymes). What I had not considered was that some of the medications I had elected to use were still hard on my liver (Artesunate, Low Dose Naloxone, and Vermox). The knock down punch came in the form of a full bowel blockage, even though the colon tumor removed was very small. Since the colostomy in October 2020, I have decided not to actively treat cancer. I am focusing on proper nutrition for supporting my liver, based on The Liver Rescue protocol and some detoxification work. Instead of chasing a cure, I am focusing on finding my joy.
Healing for me does not mean that I will not die. We will all die. Healing for me is about living the life I was given more fully, more honestly, more lovingly, and more joyously.