Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Monitoring

Monitoring cancer after diagnosis is a hot topic. My oncology and breast team are bewildered that I refuse to have regular mammograms. Why? Because mammograms contain harmful radiation which can spark breast cancer, particularly if you have the BRCA gene. Compressing the breast in this unnatural way can also spread tumour cells if cancer is present. Mammograms have been largely credited with reducing breast cancer rates over the past 20 years by early detection, but the sad truth is that many of these cancers are non-invasive (like Ductal Carcinoma in Situ) and would never evolve into aggressive, life-threatening disease. In allopathic terms survival rates are measured by being alive 5 years after diagnosis. The earlier cancer is found, the higher the 'survival' rates are, purely because of the length of time it takes for cancer to metastasise and overwhelm the body. 

I choose instead to have thermal imaging with Dr. Nyjon Eccles. This type of monitoring has a lower incidence of false positives, and is better able to find cancer cells in their infancy, so malignancies can be detected earlier. It's non-invasive and is radiation free. It works on the premise that cancerous tissues hold heat, taking longer to cool down than normal tissue. Ideally one breast is monitored against the other to look for 'hot-spots' and abnormalities, but as I only have one breast, my 6 monthly scans are compared against each other.


Another conventional form of monitoring is scanning. When it comes to CT scans, tumours can generally only be picked up once they are at least 5mm in size. Consider that many cancers have doubling times of 80 days. This means that metastasised cancer is often picked up relatively late. CT scans certainly have their place when monitoring tumours in stable disease, but to their detriment they also emit large doses of targeted radiation (about 100 times the equivalent of a chest X-ray).

Blood testing is the final allopathic means of monitoring. However, cancer would have to be well established for metastasised disease to show in such a test. Some cancers (like that of the breast) are not reliably monitored this way as only a small percentage display the antibodies being looked for. My oncologist is monitoring my CA-153 levels every 6 months. The results so far have been stable, but are meaningless if my cancer doesn't produce this marker. Instead of relying solely on this information I opt for minimal residual disease testing with Nicola Hembry. This test is very sophisticated and measures the level of circulating tumour cells in my blood. If the level rises, or the characteristics of the cells change, something is happening which needs to be addressed. This test shows cancer cell activity, and risk of recurrence earlier than a conventional blood test, and as we all know, the earlier we act, the better our chances of survival are. 

Conventional medicine has certain monitoring modalities at it's disposal: mammograms, scans and blood tests, but these are not necessarily at the cutting edge of cancer treatment. No external screening is 100% effective, and with that in mind I will continue to reject dangerous or dated monitoring in favour of up-to-the-minute technology to keep an eye on my residual cancer.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Supplementation

Fifty years ago we would almost certainly have got all of the nutrients we needed from our food. Sadly this is no longer true. Most fruits and vegetables have been sprayed with harmful pesticides and herbicides and many are genetically modified. Picked before it is ripe, fruit is irradiated and flown half way around the world before it reaches our shops. Even locally sourced, organic produce, which is by far the best option, is often low in nutrients compared with it's predecessors as our soil is now heavily depleted. If the earth that our food grows in is lacking in minerals and trace elements, guess what? So is the produce which grows in it. Unprecedented levels of environmental pollution, and toxic fallout from chem trails have further negatively impacted the crops which we are eating. 

In addition, the quality of our meat is compromised by poor farming standards. Non-organic livestock are vaccinated, fed inappropriate fodder and dosed with hormones and antibiotics. They're stressed from lack of space, and rarely have access to their natural environment. We literally are what we eat. When we consume meat from these animals, we also ingest their toxicity.


















Supplementing is never an alternative to eating well, but for those of us with chronic conditions, it is a valuable way to obtain the volume of nutrients that we need to boost our bodies back to full health. Even through juicing (which is an easy way for the body to assimilate large quantities of vegetables and fruit) it's not always possible to get pharmaceutical doses of nutrients from food. For example, I take a broccoli supplement. One pill is equivalent to eating 20 heads of broccoli!

Here's an outline of what I take daily. This list changes according to my needs. Part of my current regimen is aimed at chelating heavy metals from my system following the removal of mercury fillings.


Multi-B 
Magnesium
Probiotics
Co-enzyme Q10 
Krill oil 
Bee pollen
Vitamin D3
Liposomal vitamin C 
Quercetin 
Angioblock 
Artemix
Broccomax
Calcium D Glucarate
Zeolite
Chlorella
Cilantro
Lugol's iodine
Candissolve
Flower remedies

These pills boost my immune system, regulate my hormones, strengthen my gut, and specifically target any remaining cancer cells. Some work best together, like krill oil and bee pollen. Others need to be taken separately, like chlorella and vitamin C. Some should be taken on an empty stomach, others with food. And of course, taking too much of something can be just as damaging as being deficient. 

Over the past 3 years I've taken many other natural supplements, from medicinal mushrooms to digestive enzymes. Each is as wonderful as the next, and each has a place in aiding healing. We can't take them all, and we don't need to - the key is in learning what we, as individuals, specifically need. I have a great functional doctor who regularly monitors me through blood and urine testing to determine and tweak my regime. He has established where I am deficient, and where toxicity lies. Supplementing is expensive and creates work for the liver, so it makes sense to get it right. 

Monday, 19 November 2012

Positive focus

In life we often have our heads down. We're so busy Doing that we're not conscious about where we're going, or what we want.

Happiness lies in being present, and a great way of reminding ourselves of this is by saying affirmations. By vocalising our ideals, we can actually manifest the good stuff and create personal harmony. 

I say affirmations to myself daily, usually during a coffee enema. They sound something like this:

I am healthy, I am totally well.
I love and approve of myself. 
I am listening to my body and I give it what it what it needs to return it to a state of homeostasis.
I am hydrated, alkaline and oxygenated.
I am relaxed.
I am contented.
I am positive.
I have great energy.
I love and am loved.
I am prosperous.
I live in a great space.

It's important to really imagine yourself where you want to be, and to believe it to be true in this moment. Sometimes I feel resistance when I say one of the above affirmations, which is great because it shows me which areas need my attention.

I also use visualisation techniques to imagine removing any residual cancer cells. This was elusive to me until I read some of Carl Stonier's work. He says that for many people the task of 'hunting and destroying' is difficult, but a kinder approach is more manageable. This has worked incredibly well for me. I lay quietly in a meditative state and imagine any remaining cancer cells in my body. I invite them to come to me, to be re-absorbed. And how they come. Prior to this technique I struggled even to visualise cells, and so found the experience stressful. However this more gentle approach is such a joyful, positive experience that I've made real progress.



































Another great way to achieve goals is to make a vision board. This works well because it challenges us to think about what we want to manifest in our lives, and to channel our energies in that direction. Here's mine from last year. Keep your vision board where you can see it, so that your goals are at the forefront of your mind.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Metastasis

I personally really dislike the phrases "a long battle" or "bravely fighting" with regard to cancer. For me cancer is not a war. I've made a conscious decision to work with my body, not against it. I did that for long enough prior to diagnosis. 

By the time a tumour is approx 2mm it will have it's own blood supply. This process of developing new blood vessels is called angiogenesis. From this point tumour cells can migrate into the blood system. When diagnosed, many people will already have circulating tumour cells (CTC's) in their blood, particularly if cancer has been found in the lymph nodes, as it was in my case. I have regular, specific testing done with Nicola Hembry to measure and monitor this 'residual disease'. I have low levels of CTC's and circulating cancer stem cells, which were most likely shed from my primary tumour prior to surgery. When the body remains acidic, it becomes viable for these cells to take hold in distant organs or bones. This is called metastasis. This was something that I didn't understand at diagnosis. I couldn't even say the word metastasis. I had to learn a whole new language, and quickly. 

Cancer cells are sneaky. They can 'hide' from our body's immune system, evading macrophages (the Pac-men of the immune system) and Natural Killer cells whilst continuing to grow undetected. They produce lactic acid as a by-product of metabolism, which adds to the body's acidic load. And they are constantly evolving and mutating, meaning that residual disease in the body may have different characteristics from the primary tumour. My original diagnosis was of oestrogen positive cancer, but my circulating cells are no longer hormone positive. If you think about this information in relation to conventional drugs, residual cancer is not necessarily well targeted, and chemotherapy is not great at destroying stem cells

Many people think that their cancer 'came back' or that they were unlucky to 'get it again', whereas in fact it was probably always there. Perhaps it was laying dormant until conditions were right to continue growing, or maybe it had been slowly advancing, undetected over time. But it's important to know that a large number of people have kept metastasised cancer at bay for years by making long-term lifestyle changes. Juicing, eating an alkalising, organic, mostly plant-based diet, taking personalised supplementation, healing emotionally and using visualisation techniques are all important ways to maintain health.

My level of cancer is stable and at the mid-range of 'safe' (3.8 cells per 7.5 ml of blood). In allopathic terms I would be deemed as having No Evidence of Disease, as this amount of cancer is too microscopic to be picked up on scans. However these cells can become active at any time, depending on my internal environment. That's why I continue to work hard at staying alkaline, hydrated and oxygenated. I want to keep my internal terrain as hostile as possible for those sneaky cells.


Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Choices

With cancer came the full and final understanding that at some point I will die. That's a sobering lesson to learn. It has certainly pulled my focus. There's no more luxuriating in the ignorance of blissful belief that I'm immortal! 

It seems that there are two distinct periods of my life. Before Cancer, and After Cancer. BC I was carefree and careless, fear-driven and disconnected. AC I am contented and present, motivated by love and constantly learning. But it can be lonely here. It takes a lot of effort to maintain health this way, and it's relentless. There's no ready-made network to tap into for support. There are no pink crowds running for me. However, it's important to understand that in everything we have choices. This is my choice, and one that I would make again and again. When I'm on top of it all: cooking each meal from scratch, juicing, meditating, supplementing and exercising, I feel amazing and invincible. But I'm not superwoman, and of course there are times when I feel overwhelmed, and tired, when carrying this load feels like a heavy burden.

I can never go back to life BC, and I wouldn't choose to. I've learned far too much over the past 3 years to want to go back to being unconscious. In this new life there is more breathing, more laughing, more loving, more feeling. I am living with cancer, not dying of it, and I intend to carry on this way for many many years to come.



Sunday, 11 November 2012

Detoxification

Cancerous cells have essentially mutated to survive a hostile environment. This could be due to inflammation from parasitic, viral, bacterial or candida overload, a poor diet, unresolved emotional conflict, chronic stress, or simply from exposure to environmental toxins. We also know that the herpes virus, hepatitis and HPV are potential pre-cursers to certain cancers.

In our busy, modern lives, we are bombarded daily with thousands of toxins which disrupt the delicate systemic balance of our bodies. Food dyes and additives, aspartame, hormones in factory farmed meat, heavy metals, exhaust fumes, industrial toxins, radiation, pesticides, chemicals in our water (fluoride, chlorine, oestrogen and Prozac), tobacco, carcinogens in cosmetics, paint chemicals, medications, phlalates (plastic chemicals which are hormone disruptors) and electro magnetic fields from WiFi are some of the worst offenders. Imagine the cumulative build up. Our bodies haven't evolved fast enough to deal with this onslaught.


The list is long but our bodies are programmed to heal, and there are many things that we can do to reduce our toxic burden. For example, eating a mostly plant based organic diet, with limited organic, free range (ideally grass-fed) meat, removing mercury fillings, drinking filtered water, avoiding antibiotics (which destroy the delicate eco-system within our guts, allowing fungus and parasites to take hold, putting our immune systems under pressure) and reducing our exposure to plastics are some of the ways which we can be proactive.

Cancer patients are incredibly toxic and acidic. It's imperative for anyone with cancer to not only reduce further toxic exposure, but to actively detoxify. The body's main organ of elimination is the liver. It processes and neutralises all toxic chemicals, whether they come from the body or the environment. As healing begins, and tumours are broken down, the already compromised liver can become overworked. Coffee enemas help the liver to eliminate toxins more efficiently. 

I've been doing enemas for almost 3 years now. They bring an incredible feeling of clarity, and provide fantastic pain relief. They're my go-to pain-killer for a headache. If I'm feeling overwhelmed, angry or negative, I find that an enema brings me back to a place of calm, as these feelings can be great indicators of toxic build-up within the body. The procedure is very simple, and surprisingly relaxing. Coffee is inserted into the rectum through an enema kit (consisting of a bucket, or bag, and a tube). Situated in the lower bowel is the portal vein, which supplies the liver with 75% of it's blood. This vein absorbs nutraceuticals in the coffee (like palmitic acid and caffeine), and delivers them directly to the liver. This stimulates production of certain enzymes and bile, necessary for the elimination of free radicals and toxins. The coffee (about 32oz) should ideally be held for 15 minutes, allowing all of the blood in the body to circulate approximately 5 times through the liver, vastly speeding up the cleansing process. Some protocols, like The Gerson Therapy, recommend up to 5 enemas a day, but it's important to remember that coffee enemas can deplete the body of potassium, magnesium and electrolytes, so for each enema, three green juices must be consumed.

Cancer is a complicated disease with many points of origin, and that's why a good healing protocol will involve a multi-faceted approach. To ensure that we don't maintain the internal terrain that lead to cancer in the first place, detoxification is key.


Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Telling

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, my husband and I were advised not to tell our children immediately. However, kids have an innate ability to sense when something is wrong, and in the absence of information, they came up with scenarios scarier than reality.

Overnight, our house was filled with people; visitors crying and talking in whispers. It quickly became clear that our children were feeling excluded and confused. We had always been open and honest with them, so telling them wasn't difficult. Maintaining a poker face was more challenging. We used child-friendly language, and kept it simple. We told them that I had found a lump and that it was called cancer. The doctor was going to take it out, and to do that he had to remove my breast. From that point on the conversations became child led. Our eldest son was six years old, and told me that I mustn't be cross with the lump - I would make it angry, and it would grow (so wise!). Our youngest was just three. I have no idea how you assimilate information like that at the age of three, but she gave it a good go. Lots of questions followed. Did it hurt? Was I scared? Would there be a big hole left in my chest after the operation? But they never asked me if I would die. The word 'cancer' holds no fear for children, because they have no negative associations attached to it.

I'd never been separated from my children prior to the operation. Being away from them for 6 days was tough, and they couldn't visit me in hospital because there had been a Norovirus outbreak. I was impressed at how quickly they jumped ship from Mummy to Daddy. Daddy was calm, nurturing and upbeat in my absence, and remained so on my return.

In the 3 years since that operation, our diets and lifestyle have changed beyond recognition. My children have never stopped asking questions. We talk about the importance of free-range meat and eggs, organic fruit and vegetables. They know why they have minuscule sweet rations (usually in the form of dark chocolate or liquorice). They understand their bodies and I'm so proud of them. They are growing up, and it's an honour to witness it. 

Recently I was talking to a friend who also has two young children, and breast cancer. We discussed the love that we have for our children - an intense love that's in danger of being suffocative, as it's born of the desire to survive and see them grow. In the midst of the uncertainty that cancer brings, it's important to remember that it offers a gift. It can teach us to be present, to enjoy the beauty of every moment, whilst understanding how precious life is.


Sunday, 28 October 2012

Emotional healing


I'm at a wonderful stage of my healing, and it's taken me almost 3 years to get here. Now that a clean diet, regular juicing and specific supplementation are second nature to me, I feel ready to tackle the big stuff. This has come to me in the surprising form of a holistic dentist, who is replacing my amalgam fillings with clean composites. Through kinesiology he has got the full measure of me. He's challenging how I think in the most beautiful way, and it's unlocking some powerful responses in my healing. On my first visit he told me that I don't want to heal. That stung a bit, but for me it was true. Having cancer had given me a voice, one which I was subconsciously not ready to give up. There have been many other 'Aha' moments, but the best thing he's taught me is that 'It's OK'. It's OK? Wow, no-one has ever told me that before. It's incredibly liberating and I've learned to be so much kinder to myself.

To return to health from cancer we need to change the internal environment that lead us to disease. This can come in many forms: detoxifying and re-nutrifying through diet, removing heavy metals from the body and addressing candida or parasite overload. Emotional beliefs are just as important to address. Negative emotions (held on-to hurts, feelings of not being good enough, jealousy etc) are toxic, and create acidity within the body.

In his book "Messages From The Body" Michael J Lincoln talks about the emotional origin of all disease. It makes for an interesting read! Healing at a physical level is so important, but for ultimate healing we need to look at our emotional patterns to see how we manifested illness in the first place. It can be a painful but liberating journey. Uncovering limiting behaviour, skewed self-protection mechanisms and wonky self-beliefs is truly enlightening, and from there real healing can begin. Once we become conscious we can start to unlearn unhealthy habits. 

Since I've started really working on my emotional self, my energy has begun to flow - I've literally been cleansing my body of old rubbish. On a physical level I've experienced a challenging healing crisis as my cells have been throwing off debris through every elimination channel imaginable. On an emotional level, I find myself observing situations and seeing what I can learn from them, rather than judging or using old behavioural responses. The best bit by far though, is that I'm no longer motivated by fear, but rather by this exciting story which is rapidly unfolding.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Diagnosis

I remember so clearly the moment I was diagnosed. The sense that it wasn't real, it couldn't be happening to me. The feeling of deep shock as I was ushered into the waiting room, a totally different person to the one who had been sitting there ten minutes earlier. The tears whilst waiting to have a blood test. 'True' cancer. What did that even mean? Within a day I had the measure of it. Although the tumours were small, my breast was littered with calcifications, and I understood that I would almost certainly need a mastectomy.

The following 5 weeks were the toughest. There were grim diagnostic tests - nuclear medicine bone scans, CT scans, MRI's. Tuesdays meant results. Usually there was a long wait as the doctors ran over their appointment times. Waiting to see if the cancer had spread to my bones (it hadn't) or to distant organs (it hadn't). 

I was a 'good' patient for a few weeks, and then I started asking questions. The answers didn't add up to me. By what percentage did chemotherapy improve my prognosis? Between 5  and 7 percent of surviving five years. I had just turned 40. Making it to 45 didn't feel much like 'survival'. What of the possible secondary cancers that chemo can cause? Was it true that radiotherapy had the potential to cause lung damage and cancer? Yes. Or that neither of these modalities could kill cancer stem cells? (these 'mother' cells are the micro-metastases which the oncologist was talking about 'mopping up'). Yes. What percentage chance was there that Tamoxifen would work for me? 12%. And what of the fact that almost 50% of women give it up within a year of starting because the side effects are so horrible? I'd been seriously ill prior to diagnosis, and was shockingly underweight - I didn't believe that I would survive chemotherapy. The statistics became meaningless. I am not a statistic. I am a unique individual who developed cancer by a unique route. I decided to find my own way back to health.

Writing a diary helped me to understand my fears. It made me realise how resiliant I was, and how hungry for knowledge. I tackled my feelings about death. It was a good place to collate answers to my many questions.

The impact that my cancer diagnosis was having on the people who love me was overwhelming, but it was strangely calm in the eye of the storm. In my little family, we were busy Doing. It seemed that more tears had been shed for me than I had cried for myself. Self-pity wasn't for me, and I refused to 'own' my tumours or let them define me. 

I started to read. A lot. I found people who had beaten cancer naturally. I felt sad and amazed that there were basic concepts about nutrition that I hadn't understood. As I became empowered, my fear disappeared.


I decided to have the mastectomy to remove the tumour burden. I couldn't conceive that my breast would be cut off. I would stare at myself in the mirror - what would this 'new' me look like. Strangely, the night before the operation, I realised that I would recognise my flat-chested self from when I was a girl, and found that thought comforting. 

The fear and anxiety leading up to the mastectomy were uncontrollable. I was wheeled into surgery in tears, holding myself - I literally wanted to hold onto my breast. It was surreal to wake up in the recovery room knowing that it had gone. There was no bandage, just a sticky plaster, and some drains, which I needed to carry around in a bag. The smell of the wound was disgusting to me - like an animalistic signal that something was wrong. When I finally looked in the mirror I felt faint, more from seeing the drains which were visible under my skin, above my ribs. 

Two weeks later I was back at the hospital. Another Tuesday, more results. One lymph node showed positive for disease. This indicated that cancer had potentially spread through my body via the lymphatic system. (What I later learned was that by the time a tumour is 2mm it needs its own blood supply, and from that point it's possible for cells to shed from the primary tumour into the blood system. These circulating tumour cells and circulating cancer stem cells are what gives cancer the potential to spread to distant organs).


The next part was the most difficult in terms of decision making. I felt very resistant to having another operation, this time to remove my axillary lymph nodes. I sought a second opinion which confirmed what I knew about chemotherapy and radiotherapy, but I was stuck. I finally decided to have surgery, to remove any further cancer burden. But somewhere in between the 1st and 2nd operations something had changed. I had begun to take responsibility for my health. I'd already started to make dietary and lifestyle changes, and had decided that I would not be having chemotherapy, radiotherapy or tamoxifen. I knew that boosting, not destroying my immune system was the way forward. 







Monday, 15 October 2012

The Importance of Being Alkaline

The link between acidity and cancer is well documented. Cancer thrives in an acidic environment and most cancer patients measure around 5.5 on the pH scale. Once established, cancer adds to that acidic burden by producing lactic acid. A healthy body is slightly alkaline, measuring a pH of 7.365. Changing the internal environment back to alkalinity is an essential part of returning to health after cancer.





















The body will always work in our favour - it will neutralise acidic blood by depositing toxins into our fat cells (in fact the opposite should be happening - our cells should be depositing THEIR toxicity into the blood for elimination via the liver). Toxic cells become oxygen deficient and need to change to survive. Cancer cells are able to function anaerobically, (using sugar to metabolise), meaning that they can function in this oxygen depleted environment. In addition, calcium is pulled from the bones in an effort to alkalise the blood. This can lead to low bone density and osteoporosis. 

Our modern diet is extremely acidic; meat, dairy, sugar, grains, caffeine, alcohol, processed foods and medications are some of the worst offenders. At the other end of the scale are the extremely beneficial foods which are highly alkaline: potassium rich greens, most organic fruits and vegetables. But it's not so clearcut. Even some foods we would perceive as healthy are acidic. The key, as always, is in balance, and we should aim for an 80:20 ratio of alkaline:acidic foods.



It's easy to check and monitor your PH with PH strips using either urine or saliva - ideally they will match. pH varies at different times of the day, depending on what you've eaten, whether you've exercised, and stress levels (!). The best way to test is several times a day over a 5 day period. The first urination of the day is not representative of your normal pH because it contains all of the acids filtered out through your kidneys during the night, so test your second urination of the day, then again before lunch, and then before dinner. It's important to check pH before meals because it will vary considerably depending on what you've eaten or drunk (try experimenting with green juices which are incredibly alkalising, and will change your PH almost immediately - a good reason to work up to 3 or more juices a day).

Saturday, 13 October 2012

The Immune System

Did you know that we each have a sophisticated cancer defence system? Every one of us has thousands of cancer cells in our bodies at any one time. The immune system is our body's first line of defence against these cells, and it works constantly to target and eliminate them via the liver and spleen.

When we are toxic, acidic, have candida, parasites, viruses, or are stressed, our immune system is overwhelmed. It can't work fast enough to remove pathogens, let alone deal with cancer. This imbalance (the amount of cancer cells being produced by the body vs the amount of cancer cells being eliminated by the immune system), is what leads to a cancer diagnosis. A tumour with a billion cells is roughly the size of a pea, and by the time it's been found has usually been growing for somewhere between 5 and 12 years. These cells have evaded a compromised immune system. 


T killer cell attacking a breast cancer cell


























Now, maybe I wasn't paying attention during biology at school, but prior to finding out that I had cancer there was an awful lot that I didn't know about the immune system. Like the fact that over 70% of it is housed in the gut. It's a body-wide network of cells, tissues and organs, highly specialised in seeking out and eliminating foreign bodies.

There are 6 main cell sub-groups in the immune system: T cells, Natural Killer cells, B cells, Granulocytes, Macrophages and Dendritic cells. Their jobs range from killing tumour cells, parasites, viruses and fungi, to scavenging for invaders. Some cells produce antibodies to alert other immune system cells to the presence of pathogens, others co-ordinate and regulate the entire system.

Then there are the organs of our immune system: the bone marrow, thymus, lymphatic system, spleen and of course the gut. A healthy adult has up to 2kg of healthy flora in their gut, providing a natural barrier which protects against bacteria, parasites, viruses, toxins and fungi. This 'good' bacteria plays a crucial role in keeping the immune system active. An imbalance in the gut flora (often caused by anti-biotics, sugar and grains) can create tiny holes in the gut lining. Once the integrity of the intestinal lining is compromised, there is a flow of toxic substances "leaking out' into the bloodstream, causing inflammation and creating extra work for our immune systems.

It may sound simplistic, but boosting your immune system, whilst reducing your toxic burden can help to keep cancer at bay.  As always a multi faceted approach is needed. 
  • Reduce the burden on the immune system by improving gut health: eat probiotics and fermented foods (like kefir and kombucha) rich in good bacteria. Reduce the intake of sugary foods and grains. 
  • Alkalise by eating a predominately plant based diet, rich in potassium (for example, dark leafy greens). 
  • Find ways of de-stressing: meditate, practice breathing exercises or yoga. 
  • Exercise daily to encourage lymphatic movement. 
  • Supplement with high dose vitamin D3 during the winter months. Cancer patients may need up to 10,000 iu's a day. Blood tests are an important way of monitoring levels.
  • Get enough sleep. Melatonin plays an important part in immune system function, and this hormone is produced when sleeping in a darkened room. 
  • Avoid anti-biotics.
  • Finally, boost your immune system through good nutrition; garlic, cartenoids (as found in orange/red foods like carrots, pumpkin, tomatoes), selenium, omega 3 fatty acids, zinc and bioflavenoids (obtained by eating a wide variety of fruit and vegetables) are amongst the best.


Monday, 8 October 2012

The cancer personality

There is such a thing as a 'cancer personality'. Who knew! Being a people-pleaser, needing approval, and suppressing toxic emotions, notably anger, are all traits of of the cancer susceptible personality. I used to start nearly every sentence with the words "I'm sorry". Now I rarely do, and not because I'm never in the wrong, I just don't apologise for myself any more. Cancer personalities take too much on, and find it hard to say 'no'. Well, surprise, that was me! I just didn't recognise myself as that person. 

In addition to the emotional stereotype, most cancer patients (particularly those with hormone driven cancers) are deficient in vitamin D3 (the highest breast and prostate cancer rates are in countries with low annual sunlight) and have poor sleep patterns (people who work night shifts, such as nurses, have almost double the risk of breast cancer). Of course our bodies are intricately woven organisms, so if you're not getting enough sleep, not enough melatonin is produced, which in turn disrupts hormone production and regulation, which in turn creates imbalances in every other delicate system of your body. Melatonin and D3 are incredibly important for a healthy immune system - the body's innate cancer defence.

I take full responsibility for having had cancer. Every choice I have ever made brought me to that point. I was driven by fear... fear of failure, fear of not being liked, fear of being perceived as selfish. The fear of my children dying kept me up all night, and I attended to every whimper well into their 3rd year. I was chronically sleep deprived, which lead to a compromised immune system. I was constantly ill and became depressed. I then chose to take anti-depressants - could I have tried any harder to tune out what my body was telling me? What a mess. 

Guess what. As soon as I was diagnosed I mysteriously managed to make time for all of those doctor's appointments, hospital stays, and subsequent therapies of my own choosing. It proved that time WAS available to me, I just hadn't been prioritising myself. Now I make time for seminars, private doctors, raw food classes, yoga, juicing, enemas, meditation and for generally filling myself up. My children have no complaints about this new and improved Mummy - in fact my 9 year old son has commented that I am much calmer since diagnosis.  

It's OK to love yourself. When I was at school "You really love yourself" was bandied about as an insult! What a thing to un-learn. It took me a long time to truly understand what self-love means, and it has nothing to do with vanity. The more you love yourself, the more centred you are, and the less you care about pleasing others, but conversely the better person you become.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

What I did do, what I didn't do - an overview.

Almost 3 years ago I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma of the right breast. Two tumours measured a combined 2.4cms. They were oestrogen and progesterone positive and HER negative. I had widespread calcification and onset of Pagets disease of the nipple. I had a mastectomy, and a full lymphatic clearance which showed cancer in 1 of 32 nodes.

I didn't do chemotherapy, radiotherapy or Tamoxifen.

What I did do was read, research, take responsibility, change my diet and become proactive. I learned what it meant to love myself, I changed into my best self. I began a journey into health and consciousness.


I un-learned what I thought I knew about cancer, and I now firmly believe that it's simply the outward symptom of a toxic and deficient body.

What follows is an overview of what I did, with links to doctors and practitioners where possible. I'll go into more detail in later posts. 

My initial focus lay in detoxifying and re-nutrifying my body, and in re-booting my immune system. I'm an impatient person, but I understood that it would take time to restore my body's homeostasis. It had potentially taken up to 7 years for those tumours to grow in my breast, but it had taken a lifetime to create the right environment for cancer to develop in the first place.

First step: change of diet. I had been a vegetarian for 25 years, but had no idea about nutrition. I was so lucky to be re-educated by my close friend Tea, who is a nutritional therapist www.teanovo.co.uk. I cut out alcohol, sugar, caffeine, salt and gluten. Eggs and dairy went last, and a year after diagnosis I became a vegan (although I'm now eating organic free-range eggs again). I stopped heating any oil other than coconut. It's the only oil that is stable at high temperatures, and that the body can easily assimilate. I began using only cold pressed flax oil for salad dressings. Flax oil is rich in the right balance of essential fatty acids and phytoestrogens (healthy hormone balancers). I think it's worth stressing that what is added to your diet is just as important as what is eliminated. A toxic, acidic body finds absorption difficult, so your diet needs to be as nutrient rich and unchallenging as possible. I started eating whole, unprocessed food, like short grain brown rice (which holds a lot of water, and is hydrating for the gut), nut milks and masses of organic vegetables and fruit in the form of juices, salads and smoothies. 

I invested in a reverse osmosis, alkalising water filter to avoid the many toxins in our water from fluoride and chlorine, to residues from drugs such as birth control pills (full of oestrogen) and Prozac.

Coffee enemas were an important part of my detoxification. Coffee stimulates the bile duct and helps to flush the liver of toxins. I supported my liver with regular castor oil packs and took epsom salt baths to further aid detoxification. I supplemented with magnesium, B vitamins, D3 and Krill oil taken with protein (the only non-vegan part of my diet). More supplements came as and when I felt my body could cope, and after intensive blood and urine sampling with a functional doctor, Robert Jacobs to determine exactly what was needed. http://www.afmhealth.com/content/aboutafm.html  

I had vitamin C infusions with hydrogen peroxide and hyperthermia. Vitamin C at high doses acts as a natural cytotoxin, in much the same way as chemotherapy, but without targeting healthy dividing cells (and on the up-side it makes you feel amazing!). www.hightreemedical.co.uk

Hypnotherapy helped me to address a deep underlying fear that I wasn't 'good enough'. I didn't want to sabotage all of my efforts with a belief that I would fail. www.zoezammit.co.uk. I read books about emotional healing, spiritual development, the power of positive thoughts and affirmations.

I saw therapists as and when things resonated with me: homeopathy, (Penny Hill), acupuncture, reiki, lymphatic drainage http://www.sossi.co.uk/index.htm. At times it felt great to have a massage based upon a loving touch, rather than an invasive prod from a surgeon.

Instead of mammograms I opted for safer thermo-scans with Dr Nyjon Eccles http://www.chironclinic.com/about_drnyjon.html.

Nicola Hembry recommended minimal residual disease testing. http://www.drhembry.com/. This measures the levels of circulating cancer cells in the blood, which can then be tested against natural compounds to see what is most effective at stimulating apoptosis (cell suicide) or inhibiting angiogenesis (stopping the development of new blood vessels).

With the financial help of Yes2 Life http://www.yestolife.org.uk/ I bought a FAR infrared sauna which I used daily as an aid to detoxification. Infrared saunas can also tip cancer cells into apoptosis.

Because I believe that cancer is caused by a cumulative burden it has been important to address every area of toxicity. For me that meant buying a unit to neutralise electromagnetic pollution from WIFI, mobile phones and computers in my home. http://www.healthy-house.co.uk/product/geomack-energetic-vitalisers-for-electromagnetic-stress. It also meant changing all of my skincare, make-up, toothpaste, and cleaning products for clean, organic, natural versions.

Finally (although she came somewhere near the beginning!) is Patricia Peat, an ex-oncology nurse, and a fantastic resource, who can direct you to treatments (allopathic, complimentary and alternative) specific to your cancer. http://www.canceroptions.co.uk/aboutus.htm

It's hard to understand the impact of a cancer diagnosis unless you've had one. For me it was an enormous wake up call. It forced me to un-learn lots of things which I had believed as truths my whole life. It encouraged me to learn about how my body works and to listen to it, to face my fear of death and to become present. Nearly 3 years on, my health is still a work in progress, and the best bit is that there is so much more to learn.


Tuesday, 2 October 2012

First post ...


First post …. Here’s some background info. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2010, just after my 40th birthday. I can’t deny that it was a huge shock, but looking back there had been enough signs that I wasn’t well – I just wasn’t listening. And then I woke up. What has followed has been the most amazing journey, which I will gratefully be on for the rest of my life. 

I’m fascinated by how little I knew… particularly about nutrition. But I’ve also addressed 3 other important areas of my life – my mental, emotional and spiritual health. In taking responsibility the rewards have been huge. I’ve never been ‘weller’. I’ve cured myself of  chronic conditions, which I had lived with for many years (migraines, painful periods, gum disease to name a few).

The interesting thing is that I now know how I came to cancer. Years of stress, poor sleep, eating badly, drinking alcohol, being hard on myself, never saying ‘no'. It was a cumulative burden, and my body was deficient in every way. When it comes to cancer we are so unique, so individual ... we each have a different series of events which lead us here, and for me the key to my healing has been to retrace those steps, to re-evaluate what I know, to constantly question and research, and to see what resonates.

This blog is an effort to catalogue my journey and to share what I've learned, in the hope that it will plant a seed of interest in others so that they too can grow.