A Personal Guide to Healthy Living : A Struggle Against Cancer
Surviving Cancer that Never Was : The Symptoms
I call it a cancer that never was, but it is hard to explain why. The experience was so depressing no less than the real cancer. The thought of dying and the glory of surviving were at the same level; and that is basically the reason why I am sharing this to the world. Cancer or not, the things I went through, the fight that I put up, the tears that I shed, and the depression that I battled with until the end was for real; only that the cancer was not for real, or at least allow me to think about it that way. Who knows? Who can claim it wasn’t cancer anyway? It was over. The most important thing is I am well today. Let me tell you the story, so you’ll be the judge.
How did it start and how did it progress?
The Symptoms – Being keen with ones body gives a person a higher rate of survival.
- I had erratic bowel movement.
It was July of last year (2012) when every morning I had an urge to dispose every 4 am. From the moment I wake up till 9 am, I would have 4 to 5 visits to the rest room. it was diarrhea by nature, only that it stops pegging at 10 am and I would be alright for the rest of the day. This went on for three months. I brushed it aside, although I knew it meant more than just a bowel malfunction. I lived miles and miles away from home, with just one ex- sister-in-law and a cousin to turn to. They lived a thousand kilometers from me too, having their own lives, struggling in a big city; so hospitalization was not one of my options. If I had to, then it would mean quitting my job and my daughter has to stop studying as well; so I postponed getting to a doctor.
- Abdominal pain
Three months later, an excruciating pain in the abdomen started in October. I could barely walk. The pain would start in the middle, just two inches below the navel and would travel slowly to the left side where the pelvic bones and the legs met. This was the start of my agonizing moment. Since I was with a 5-year old girl, I had to cook, wash clothes, go to the supermarket, etc. all by myself. When that pain hit me, I braved it all, not minding the excruciating pain. Until one day, it was impossible to stand. I was helpless, but I didn’t want my daughter to feel the same fear that I had, although, she could sense something was terribly wrong. One day, she had to eat egg for breakfast, egg for lunch, and egg for dinner which prompted her to ask if I was dying. Eventually, quitting my job and withdrawing my daughter from school happened, after a doctor hinted that I might have colon cancer. I had to act fast. I went home mid-November to seek moral support from my family.
In November, I maintained a soft diet and had to use Senna pods daily to eliminate waste properly. Right after using Senna for a couple of weeks, my problem escalated to higher degree. Disposing was extremely impossible. December came and my discomfort grew. I had to stay an hour or two in the rest room. One week of no proper disposal weakened me. I felt even my saliva has become too sour and acidic. Breathing has become difficult too. Spending Christmas and New Year like this was never easy. It was harsh feeling seeing everyone ecstatic, so excited for a brighter year ahead, shouting with joy and elation, while me? I was lonely, tired, and exhausted.
I felt air were all over me, farting too many times in an hour. I felt full all the time and my appetite has extremely dropped. I had no desire for food, even for fruits that used to be my favorites.
- Loss weight.
From 118 lbs my weight dropped to 99lbs dramatically, in a matter of two months.
- Nausea and Vomiting
I was teaching English to more than a dozen Korean students when all of these were happening. The constant visit to the rest rooms affected my performance. I eventually had to give up teaching too.
The energetic me was a history at that time. Gone were the cheerful dances, the melodious singing, the lively conversation, and the hopeful views. Everything about me became a history, as I struggled not to think about acquiring the same disease that held my mother and my sister down consecutively, in 2006 and 2007. This is not to mention my aunts and uncles, from both sides, who also inherited the same cancer cells from their parents. Yes, I have these bad cells in my genes; and even when it was hard not to be angry at the situation, it was also a consoling fact that I was not alone. But I tell you, acceptance may be easier said today, but during that time, it was the hardest thing to do; and if this condition may recur, I will still be having a hard time saying “Yes, thy will be done”.
Although my depression has also something to do with family trouble - seeing my ex husband every now and then visiting my daughter, I was 100% convinced that all the other symptoms have nothing to do with our domestic rumble.
With my doctors's initial assessment, he has suspicions that a colon cancer like that of my dad's sibling is developing.
The Emotional Side of It : Real Struggle
Emotional Hurdles- Harder than the Physical
It was hard to accept the reality of dying at an early age and leaving a 5-year old girl in this world with no one to turn to. She had overheard me talking about leaving her in one of my phone conversations. She cried one night; she obviously took the episode of me leaving her that time so differently from the usual mommy-working instances. The saddest part is being raised in a broken family; she was used to having me and only me by her side. The thought of a little girl feeling lost superseded all the other fears that I felt that time. I vowed not to submit to this dreaded cancer without putting up an honorable fight. Just like any war, I have a mission in that battle, and that was to make my daughter remember how much I love her by fighting hard till the last ounce of courage dries up. Truly, 90% of the battle that cancer victims has to go through is the emotional side, the ordeals of the family, the pain of the children, and many more are a real torture than the physical pain.
What made me mention about courage above was the lack of money to start any medical treatment or even further tests. The battle, time and time again is said to be half money, half destiny, but without money I seemed to be halfway to my defeat. To make the long story short, I decided surgery would be out from my options, if ever.
Under a normal medical check up, a colonoscopy followed by a biopsy is supposed to be 99% ultimate test in diagnosing cancer, but the history of cancer in the family misguided me in acting out things according to what I presumed it to be. I did not pursue any thorough checking, initiated the fight without a real opponent, and had fought depression without checking if there was a reason to be depressed. Two ultrasound results, two months apart both indicated an echogenic mass about 5.7 cm x 3.8cm x 4.5 cm was noted posterior to the bladder. These initial findings, plus the symptoms and the initial diagnoses of a family doctor who happened to be the same doctor who took care of my uncle with a colon cancer. I did not have to wait till I knew what it was; because if it was really cancer, I can’t go for any surgery anyway or have any means to continue the tests for lack of financial assistance. I was thinking, cancer or not, I have to start the battle right away, and it has to be with CAM.
Conventional Medicine or CAM?
If you were in my shoes, what would you have done?
What is CAM - Complimentary and Alternative Medicine?
For lack of money, I resorted to Complementary and Alternative Medicine or CAM creating my own definition of it. Since there was no widely and universally accepted definition and description of what alternative medicine is, I created my own definition and widened its scope without identifying each as complementary or alternative. I saw no need to identify which and which belong to each category. The only thing that mattered to me, at that time, was how effective these practices are. More importantly, the boundaries and limits to these practices are essentially set to determine how far the person can get involved into such practices without reversing the effect.
Normally, CAM differs in parameters according to culture and location. Other regions in the world may have healing processes that are purely conventional. These processes and procedure are not considered alternative in some regions, but chances are they are considered alternative in others. I didn’t really care. As long as these things heal and not destroy the body, they must belong to my self-defined CAM. The complementary and Alternative medicines that I have discovered are far from the controversies that CAM is facing all these years. Complementary and Alternative medicine have been opposed widely especially because of two main grounds listed in Wikipedia; It is not scientific, that it is based on religion, tradition, superstition, belief in supernatural energies, pseudoscience, errors in reasoning, propaganda, or fraud. Secondly, that it typically lacks any scientific validation, and their effectiveness is either unproved or disproved. Who cares? Any CAM practices, as long as they are practical would be appreciated by someone like me who wanted to live.
Complimentary and Alternative Medicine : Approaches I Tried
- Mind-Body Interventions
- Manipulations and Body-based Approach
- Spiritual and Traditional
- Natural Products
LEARNING HOW THE CELL WORKS
I have gathered a full overview of how cells work and how to prevent or reverse the malfunctioning of cells within the system. Although the body is a complex system, it is easy to learn the most basic part which is taking care of the cells; no more, no less. Certainly, understanding how cells work and its components includes how to manage those cells that are genetically prodigal - . Let me use that word to make it easy to understand. These cells are prodigal in the sense that they become uncontrolled, shunning away from the controlled production of cells in the body to keep it healthy. Generally, the body produces cells, and when cells grow old, they die (successfully eliminated by the body’s natural defense- the white blood cells) and will be replaced by new cells. However, cancer cells refuse to die when the white blood cells (the fighter cells) lacks a certain kind of co-stimulated molecules. The enzyme telomerase caused the cancer cell to be immortal. They mutate into something else we commonly call “tumor”. As these mutations develop, cancer cells divide and spread in the body, destroying the good ones.
To make it easy to understand, Telomerase enzyme makes the cancer cells immortal and is impossible to defeat without a certain kind of co-stimulated molecule present in the white blood cells. Thus, cancer in its higher stage is hard to treat, if not impossible. This co-stimulated molecule remains blurry to the world of Medical Science and has become the center of all cancer research in the world. If the process on how this will be scientifically reproduced will be identified, no one will worry about cancer anymore.
With this knowledge, ordinary people have two things to remember: to lower the chances of having more Telomerase enzyme in the cells and to increase the presence of a co-stimulated molecule in the white blood cells. However and whatever is to be done, that remains a question. If Science has nothing concrete to offer yet in cancer cure, then science does not have any right to question the validity of the complementary and alternative medicine.
MY PERSONAL APPROACH TO CANCER
Allow me to present to you all four approaches that I have discovered along the way.
Manipulative and Body-based Practices
These are the most relaxing physically-focused activities which includes Massage (Touch Therapy), Spa, Sauna, PT Sessions, Reflexology, Stationary jogging- Daily, and etc.
There might be different approaches to manipulative and body-based practices, but all of these are geared towards encouraging our very own system to work and repair irregularities. Since the dawn of history, from the early civilizations of China and Egypt, people already recognized the body’s capability to heal itself. From the traditional system to the modern one, body-based approach to healing focus on manipulating bodily structures like bones, soft tissues, lymphatic systems to act alone in resolving malfunctions within the whole system.
Refer to the table below for my daily activities.
PT Night - applying slow electric impulses to the muscles at the neck and back
3-mile Brisk Walk
Aroma Therapy and Sauna
Parlor and Whole Body Spa
Whole Body Massage
3-mile Brisk Walk
Mind-body interventions believes that the central nervous system, the immune system, the peripheral nervous system maybe influenced by some mental activity which is designed to relax the mind and restore the body into its regular rhythm which most of the times bothered by stress. Stress is one of the most active participants in acquiring cancer. Most mind-body techniques are geared towards getting the body minimized physiologic response to both physical and emotional stress. Meditation truly affects the endocrine. The changes in the heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, pulses, auditory and visual reaction can largely affect the whole system. All these irregularities are the focus of the mind-body interventions.
The Bright White Light - every morning when I wake up, I start my day with a 20 minute meditation called Bright White Light.
- Close your eyes. Feel your breath, feel the bed, and feel the air.
- Imagine the many parts of your body.
- Imagine a bright white light upon your head, so pure, so white, and so bright,
- Let the bright white light travel in each part of the body slowly.
- Imagine the bright white light cleansing these parts while getting darker in the process.
- End this activity up as the bright white light, so dark, tries to escape from your body through the feet.
A Short Yoga session follows the 20-minute meditation by maintaining just 3 simple Yoga steps.
- Stand in one foot 30 counts each, 4 repetitions while.
- Kneel down and lay your hands flat on the floor. Breath in and breath out while carrying the body up and down. 12 counts – 2 repetitions.
- Bend your body fully touching the floor with the tip of your finger. Perform 12 counts, 2 repetitions.
Note: Check for more yoga steps that are practical and easier to do. Check which one is more appropriate for you by consulting a yoga expert.
Music Release Method - just before the twilight sets in, I frequent a Karaoke Bar in the neighborhood, play songs dear to my heart and loudly belt each tune, releasing all frustrations and sweating out stress in the process.
- Choose favorite songs, songs that bring good memories.
- Bring your best buddies with you and share light stories.
- Make sure every session is relaxing by choosing the right buddy.
- End the day by visiting a favorite place for hang out. Strictly no liquor. Choose fresh and nutritious foods all the time. No junk foods, No fast foods.
Spiritual and Traditional Approach
The Spiritual Dimension - This is considered one of the essential components of health, which I agree up to a 100% degree. This includes freeing oneself from extra baggage. Sometimes, a person’s life becomes too heavy because of pride, being too unforgiving, and being too assuming that everything is under control and there is no need for God. I come from a religious family, but I am not that pious. However, I have learned from my experience that integrative medicine is all about the importance of the spiritual dimension into the healing process.
While there were not any scientific and physical evidence of the effects of spirituality and religion to wellness in the past century, it has been testified by millions of believers who have surrendered completely to their faith, that giving God or Buddha or Allah (whatever name you have for Him) the chance to reverse the impossible and make it possible is the only way to be delivered from cancer. Sometimes it is hard to make a conviction on this, but just simply put it this way – if being affiliated to any religious practice has been scientifically proven to have played a bigger role in better health and longer life; how much more if you drive closer to Him? It gathers more positive results, not because He truly helps, but because there is acceptance, there is complete submission of what was to come; therefore, there are no worries, less stress, and no negative vibes.
Miraculous Places - I am a believer. I go to church to hear the Holy Ceremony twice a week, Sundays and Wednesdays. The famous Sto. Nino Shrine and the Chapel of the Miraculous Lady of Simala was recommended to me by a friend.
Sto. Nino Shrine is just within the city while Simala chapel on the other hand – is a two-hour ride from the city of Cebu. It is a popular place where thousands of people visit everyday and ask the Blessed Virgin Mary for divine intervention. The place has loads of testimonial displayed and posted in one part of the building, attesting to the miraculous help that Virgin Mary has given. In this place, I have seen all statues of Virgin Mary in different nationalities, portraying her role as a mother to all races.
Traditional healing - On the other part of the country (Philippines), there is a denomination, run by the Independent Church of the Philippines which had been known to offer free healing sessions Fridays and Tuesdays of the week. The healing sessions should at least run for 4 weeks. Thankfully, even the location was quite remote; I finished the 4-week schedule.
Faithful Departed - For some reason, someone told me that the souls of our loved ones still listen to our call for help, so I called on my mother who was a very pious woman when she was still alive.
TRY ALL THESE PRODUCTS (Processed or Raw)
Guyavano / Graviola
All Green leafy Vegetables
Natural Products Approach
People, nowadays, had been resorting to natural products as anti-cancer drugs. In fact, some natural products had been backed by scientific evidence to contain anti-cancer lead molecules, and they become focuses for cancer research and cancer cure development. Natural products are considered one of the many possibilities that can address the lack of that co-stimulated molecules needed by the body to fight cancer cells. Although there is no solid evidence yet of these natural products being the catalyst of good cells to defeat cancer cells, a very huge percentage of the market today relies on either processed or raw natural products to complement any conventional medicine.
4:30 am .
- 2 glasses of liquid (either lemon grass, Guyabano concuction), Bright White Light Meditation and Yoga follows
6 am - 6 pm
Take in 2 capsules of MX3 (from processed Mangosteen) and 2 capsules Flax oil daily
7 am - 7 pm
Oatmeal (with one teaspoon of Flaxseed every meal), green leafy vegies only, fresh fruits etc. (all natural products mentioned above)
9 am and 3 pm
Snacks (limited to carrot juice, Guyabano fruit, and Pepino salad) and green bananas - 5-8 pieces per day
Water /Liquid therapy - at least 10 glasses per day, taking in all natural drinks, green tea and guyabano tea are mainstays
30 minutes daily
Stationary jogging - breath in and breath out
I am personally suggesting these approaches. After three months of religiously following the table of activities above, I have gotten good results.
First, my colonoscopy test came out clear. I considered this a miracle because during my preparation for colonoscopy –during cleansing, two pieces of half-inched in diameter unidentified mass was successfully excreted. I don't have any idea what were those. Second, the next round of Whole abdomen ultrasound and ultra vaginal (camera inserted inside) revealed a clear colon and clear ovary. The previously noted Echogenic mass was nowhere to be found. Thank God.
Even when these practices are neither properly defined by science nor recognized by the society, but emerging well from the situation is a personal witnessing; so much so that I want everyone reading this to also do the same. I am happy about the result, and although I am now on another battle – a lump in my right breast. I will continue these practices until I am safe from cancer or when I eventually succumbed to it.
I also would like to make it clear, that these practices worked for me and are based solely on my personal experiences. It is then advised to ask professional help when in doubt.