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How to survive Cancer: Freak or Fanatic?

February 4, 2011

Take two very different approaches….

If you prefer the soft, lighthearted and slightly freaky approach, you can’t do much better than to follow the irrepressibly jolly Arina Nikitina.

If you want to be more fanatical, try one of the many health practitioners, such as Dr Nalini Chilkov. I just read her 25 reasons not to have breast implants, and became even more depressed than I was already.

To cheer myself up I looked up the symptoms of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy’ (BSE). I’ve always thought it would be sweet and fitting for someone who could write a book like mine to die of Mad Cow Disease. (Alas, the reprieve from hypochondria that came with Breast Cancer has worn off. Last week I had Parkinson’s.)

To be serious…

After a mastectomy and several reconstructions, I have so far survived moderately-aggressive breast cancer for 14 years, despite having some local “spread” and refusing the recommended chemotherapy and hormone treatments.

When people who fear cancer come to me for advice on how to survive, I demur. I explain that I’m not an expert and point them to, where they will find all the information they need.

I can only share my own experience, which was this:

I was ignorant, so I researched.
I was afraid, so I joked.
I lived badly, so I cleaned up my lifestyle. Especially my diet.

In particular, I lost seven stone, got rid of my husband and became a writer. Now I’m slim, lonely and broke. But I still recommend it.

I’ve just watched Laura Linney in Channel 4’s new sitcom, The Big C. It was great. It made me laugh and I’ll watch it again, but two things irritated me. Firstly, the character is wealthy enough to follow her dreams, which most of us aren’t. Secondly, she’s given up on life. She’s been told she’s dying and she’s waiting for the hearse.

I wasn’t as seriously ill as this character, but even so, I’m pretty certain I would have put more effort into surviving. Perhaps it was because I found Dr Patrick Quillin’s excellent book, Beat Cancer with Nutrition:

‘Fungus grows on a tree because of warmth, moisture and darkness. You can cut, burn and poison fungus off the tree, but the fungus will return as long as the conditions are favourable. Similarly, there are conditions that favour the growth of cancer. My extensive work with cancer patients shows that the cancer patient will thrive or wither, live or die based upon being able to change the conditions which favour cancer growth.’

So I set about changing the conditions in which the cancer would survive. And that included massively changing my diet. Here’s what I did, allegorically speaking…

The princess picked up her shiny pink notebook, labelled ‘Getting Abreast of Things’. At the top of a new page she wrote ‘Local Wisdom’ in large letters.
“I’m listening,” she said, pen poised, “what shall I do?”
“You must change. Most importantly, change your habits.”
“Fresh air, exercise, fruit, fibre and vegetables. Change your household products for safe ones. Cut out sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. No stimulants of any kind must pass your lips. Of course you don’t smoke?”
The princess shook her head and wrote ‘Help me’, thinking that she might wrap the page around a rock and throw it out of the window. The wise woman poured her a glass of water.
“Drink plenty of this,” she said, handing over the glass. “If you can drink a couple of glasses of water first thing in the morning, and then jump up and down on a mini-trampoline, you will find that you want to go.”
“Go where?”
“You will find out.”
She gently nudged a piece of paper across the table.
“Get these,” she said. It was a list of books. The princess picked it up and looked at the first three names on the list. Chicken Soup for the Soul; Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway; You Can Heal Your Life.
“What’s all this?” she said. The wise woman went on.
“You must visit healers, natural healers and spiritual healers; also herbalists, aromatherapists, psychotherapists and hypnotherapists. Then there are naturopaths and, naturally, homeopaths.”
“Psychopaths…” wrote the princess and looked around the room for a clock. There were none.
“To sum up,” continued the wise woman, “You must learn about nutrition and care for your body. Take vitamins and supplements. Eat tons of vegetables. More vegetables than you can possibly imagine. Eat them. And you must begin to love yourself and let go of all your resentment. Cancer thrives on resentment”.
“What do you mean?” asked the princess. “I have no resentment.” She bit her thumbnail and looked shifty.

Why did I do these things? Some people pale at the sound of this regime and say they’d prefer the chemotherapy.

I suppose it was because I didn’t want to die and I thought it would help. Now that I’m older, wiser and – since the last Election – suffering from depression, I’ve changed my mind. I do want to die.

But like the song, I’m scared of dying, because I suspect that God will be waiting for me at the Pearly Gates with a rolling pin and shouting: ‘What time do you call this?’

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 6, 2011 4:10 pm

    another excellent blog Janice, gald to see you are writing again, the world needs your wisdom xx

  2. Janice Day permalink*
    February 6, 2011 5:26 pm

    Thanks Gabby!

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