‘I also said no to chemo’
While we often read stories from cancer survivors who have chosen the conventional route, those who have taken the natural path are so rarely given a voice.
But hearing from others who have taken the road less traveled and come out the other side can be just as important as any dietary change or treatment plan.
In the last few months I’ve received a steady stream of emails from people telling me about their own alternative cancer journeys. These stories have filled Mum and I with hope and joy and so we thought we’d share with you some of these uplifting tales.
In May 2007, I was diagnosed with a 3.5cm Stage two invasive, ductal carcinoma (a large breast cancer), and was recommended a partial or full mastectomy and removal of lymph nodes, intensive chemo, radiotherapy and five years of drugs. Six years on I’m extremely fit and well having had no medical treatment whatsoever.
I held off deciding on any particular treatment until I’d had a full diagnosis and seen the results of my tumour biopsy and lymph node biopsy. I then investigated each treatment I had been prescribed and the first thing I decided against was chemotherapy. I gradually became aware that what I was being offered was not necessarily my best option when weighed up against the risks from ‘side’ effects and the negligible benefits.
Ultimately my choice was a simple one:
A. If I’m going to live, could I face life with the long-term side effects of chemo and radiation, which would have impaired my health and wellbeing in the long term? The answer to that was, No.
B. If I’m going to die anyway, do I want to spend the last year or so of my life in and out of hospital wishing I were dead? The answer to that was again, No.
The alternative route seemed to offer me the best chance of recovery with no damaging side effects. I would like to make it very clear that I did not base any of my choices on belief. I simply made rational decisions based on the facts and evidence presented to me, in that I did everything I could to support my immune system (rather than destroy it) and at the same time, wreck the cancer environment within my body.
When family and friends eventually found out about my decision their reactions ranged from, ‘Wow you’re bold!’ to, ‘What!?!’
I would like to add here that I did everything under medical supervision. I have friends and colleagues in Harley Street where I’ve been based for 20 years and I found a very supportive consultant who agreed to monitor me. My book includes an interview with him and other members of my medical and health care team.
One of the most difficult aspects of choosing the alternative route was paying for all my treatments privately. I also had difficulty finding genuine clinics and practitioners from amongst the cranks and charlatans and those seeking to financially exploit cancer patients.
Many people assumed my situation wasn’t very serious because I didn’t lose my hair and wasn’t in and out of hospital. I found, as a result, that sometimes I wasn’t offered the same level of support as those taking the conventional route. It seems that many people think hair-loss, sickness and general illness are caused by cancer rather than the treatments they’ve endured.
I have little doubt that intravenous Vitamin C (which I had with Dr. Andre Young-Snell in Brighton) was the most vital treatment to my recovery. In fact, when I had ultra sound scans at the time, the radiologist said that the tumour was breaking down in exactly the same way that a tumour breaks down with chemo.
There’s no question in my mind that mental attitude is everything in cancer recovery and I have dedicated a chapter of my book to a step-by-step guide on how to develop the attitude to enable you to recover. It’s not what life presents to us which defines who we are but who we choose to be in relationship to it.
The one piece of advice I would offer anyone facing a receiving a cancer diagnosis is, unless you’ve been told it is a medical emergency, TAKE YOUR TIME. I believe this was the best decision I made at the beginning and, interestingly, this advice was echoed when I later interviewed my team members. When diagnosed with cancer, we are all in a serious situation but few are in an immediately urgent one. We need to get over the shock of the diagnosis before we can even begin to think about some of the very complex and critical decisions we have to make.
Jessica Richards is a leadership development specialist and author of The Topic of Cancer which can be purchased from Amazon or from her website: www.jessicarichards.co.uk
When I started getting up to go to the bathroom about four times every night, I knew that something was up and I decided to go for a check-up. The doctors initially thought I had a prolapse of the bladder, but a young trainee Chinese doctor working in the hospital knew it was more serious. She did a manual feel inside me and said she thought I had a tumour. But her diagnosis was dismissed: another doctor said to me she was ‘only a trainee’ and ‘didn’t know what she was talking about.’
Only when I started to hemorrhage lots of blood did the doctors agree that something was wrong, and after I had a camera inspection they found the cancer. It was rated T4- the most virulent type according to the specialists. They told me the only answer was to have my bladder and most probably my kidney removed as this had also stopped working due to the tumour’s location.
On the same day I received the news we called in to see our good friend Dave on the way home. Dave – who had been convinced that the chemo treatment killed his first wife and not the cancer – put some apricot kernels into my hand and said ‘here, these are what you need!’ How right he was.
My husband Nigel is a dowser and so we ‘asked’ if the apricot kernels and other dietary changes I’d researched were going to be good for me and the answer was ‘yes.’ I know many people believe that dowsing is all nonsense, but over the years I’ve found it incredibly helpful in many different areas.
Within what seemed like a few days my symptoms improved. So when the hospital contacted me to schedule my operation I told the surgeon’s PA that I had decided against it and that I was going to treat the cancer myself.
I will always remember the total silence that followed, before she put the phone down. A few minutes later she rang again to ask what I was doing before telling me she hoped I realised my cancer was really bad. I assured her that I understood but this was my decision and that I would write to the surgeon to explain.
A few days later I got a call from my local doctor asking me to come in and see him.
He tried very hard to persuade me to have the surgery. As he was talking I glimpsed a copy of the letter I sent to the surgeon on his computer and saw that he had scrawled all over it with rude comments. One remark that I remember vividly was; ‘who does this bloody women think she is’. When the doctor realised I could see it he switched the computer off very quickly.
That was the last time I went in any doctor’s surgery – over six years ago. It only took eight months for my body to be 100% cured after starting to take the apricot kernels and I’ve been well since then.
My background in alternative healing no doubt informed the path I chose. I previously trained as a spiritual healer, and my teacher always said ‘cancer is the body’s suicide note, and it will carry it out unless the person changes’. She had noticed over many years that those who got better were the people who changed what was dysfunctional in their lives.
So this really helped to give me strength to change what I knew I must. I now see my cancer as a kind of ‘temporary changing room’; somewhere where I ‘changed’ by getting rid of all the people, situations and habits that I had to ‘take off’ and leave behind.
Certain books really helped me through this transformational process. Gregg Braden’s The Divine Matrix taught me that the world is not as it seems; that it’s jam-packed with the kind of miracles that the ‘white coats’ might tell you are impossible. Other eye opening books I read included Dirty Medicine by Martin Walker and Quantum Healing by Deepak Chopra.
It was inspiring authors like these who showed me that the real healing is possible but you need to know and trust, deep down, that you will get better.
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