Friday, July 30, 2010


Doing Cancer Differently

An Oasis of Healing is an amazing place. It is simply crawling with Canadians, who can’t find an alternative like this at home, apparently. The two toughest cases are from Toronto, and family members have been shuttling back and forth, staying a week or so, then going home and someone else coming. These are people who really do need someone here to help them. Yet, they are strong in spirit and they know this is the best chance they have – certainly better than the death sentence given them by their own doctors back home.

Abba, a Lebanese Canadian, is tiny, gentle, strong and accepting of what is, or whatever will come.  She told me, “It is all good. Whatever happens, it is all good.” Her husband, four daughters, and her mom and dad have been with her this week. The daughters are little clones of her, especially the oldest, who is 19. The youngest is only six. All have wildly curly black hair and an exotic beauty. She wears a scarf, not because she lost her hair, but because she is Muslim. She sits with her legs curled under her 82 pound body, seemingly at peace. They discovered a tumor on her pancreas when she went in for surgery to correct what they thought was a hernia.

Her dad and daughters come to the early morning yoga class. When we did an exercise called Stirring the Pot, Dad, who grew up in a village in the old country, was reminded of binding and tying wheat sheaves with a hand-operated machine when he was a boy. And, of course, they cut the wheat by hand, using a scythe. They didn’t have a lot of cancer in his village, where everybody grew their own food and ate it fresh, and nobody sprayed poisons on their crops and gardens. And of course, they worked hard in the sunshine to earn their dinner, while making lots of vitamin D – an important cancer preventive.

Another Canadian, Martie, lives far to the north in British Columbia, in the small town of Ft Nelson, where she works as a bookkeeper in an oil-driven economy. She had a bit of chemo at home after they told her she was terminal. She is having a tougher time than some, because of the toxicity of the drugs, and her hair is slowly coming back in. Still, she remains cheerful and positive, and is improving, with a couple of glitches that will go away. She can’t wait to get away from the Arizona heat. There’s nothing like it in Ft Nelson, BC.
Being here with such people, so much sicker than me, is a humbling experience as I watch them and listen to their positive comments and see them accepting what comes, giving their bodies the best chance possible to cure their cancers. After all, the only real cure for cancer is a strong immune system, and everything they are doing is aimed at strengthening theirs. It is rewarding to see incremental improvements, to share the joy of a good blood test or positive PET scan.

The most exciting news came late today, when Recita finally had her appointment with Dr. Lodi and found her PET scan came back clear of cancer. Recita grew up in Argentina, but moved to Houston as a young woman, married there and has lived there ever since. She, too, is tiny, slim, and has a lively, spicy Latin personality and heavy accent. She feels her highs and lows strongly, and she was positively beaming when she came to tell us all. She has been here five weeks and her husband is driving over to pick her up Friday. The breast cancer that returned two years after mastectomy has been conquered, and she has learned how not to continue producing cancer.

Last Friday Tatiana, from Russia, flew off to London, also with a positive PET scan, and then on to meet her husband in Paris for the flight home to Moscow. She struggled with English, and I found her courageous and strong, to come to such a foreign situation alone. Tatiana and her husband, if I understood correctly, have a publishing company that publishes books about the arts. They recently spent months on one for the queen of Sweden. Tatiana will be back in a month for some follow-up treatment.

As for me, I’m doing great. I enjoy the peace and tranquility of my simple life. Since the center prepares most of my food, there is little work for me to do. I have various therapies all day six days weekly. Yesterday I began my 10-day (or maybe 2 week) juice feast. This is a period of intensive detoxing by drinking only fresh green veggie juices, which are surprisingly good.

Today started with EWOT (exercise with oxygen therapy), which is riding an exercise bicycle for 30 minutes while breathing lots of oxygen through a mask hooked to an oxygen concentrator or generator. Next it was into the sauna to sweat out toxins, followed by massage. Then it was time for the IV – a mixed, but low, dose of chemotherapies. While still on the IV, I had a session of colon hydrotherapy. Then, back to the recliner in the IV room, to finish and fall asleep for a good nap before driving back to the condo.

Only two days after the first dose of chemo, I began feeling changes in the tumor. Dr Lodi said, “Cancer is hard. When it begins to break up and degrade it becomes softer and more diffuse.” That seems to be happening already. Because of the low dose, and the way the drugs are targeted at the tumor, there are far fewer side effects. No nausea, no hair loss, nothing noticeable – at least so far, and nothing expected. The nurses check my blood weekly or more often for signs of anything that shouldn’t be happening, watch closely and test blood sugar to make sure it drops to just the right number, so the insulin receptors on the tumor will open wide and invite in the toxic medicines. Did you know that tumors, which ferment on sugar, have 17 times the number of insulin receptors of normal tissue? That’s why this therapy works miracles.

I will be forever grateful to Sheri Bade, a woman I’ve never met or talked with, who is lending me her lovely home to live in while she cools it on the Oregon coast. And I thank Fran Kelly for brokering the deal.
Enough. I hope you’re all well and happy, and that if you ever need a place like this one, you won’t hesitate to come here. But please, if you can, time it for winter!

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