Healing from cancer, my personal experience

read also Nutricines: food from nature that protect us against cancer.

Peter Haima (11 November 2013).Peter Haima

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010, Rijnstate hospital Arnhem. What started as a small painful spot on my tongue suddenly changes into a bad dream. As soon as I have entered the physician’s office, he looks at me with compassion and says: “I am afraid I have bad news for you….”. I see the shock on my wife’s face and I’m thinking: “This cannot be happening to me, I always had full confidence in my physical health. As soon as the bad news sinks in  I panic. Despite my medical background, emotions fully take over. What touches me the most is how to tell my children their father has cancer?

After a few days the rational and goal oriented Peter takes over again. I ask my colleagues in the medical community for advice. The reactions are overwhelming and then someone sends me a remarkable response, “do not panic, read the book AntiCancer by Dr. David Servan-Schreiber, it will change your life”.
David Serban Schreiber- AnticancerIn  his book scientist and medical doctor Serban-Schreiber, describes how he was  diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour. In addition to regular treatment he starts searching for alternative ways to heal. By doing so, he is able to live for another 20 years. David promotes the idea that, parallel to traditional medicine, healthy eating along with meditation, yoga and “a new way of life” can extend the lives of cancer sufferers. He explains that cancer cells lie dormant in all of us but are efficiently detected and removed by our natural defense systems. Only when they fail a real tumor can be formed. Failure of our natural defense systems is caused by factors we largely have control of. Of all cancer cases 70% is caused by smoking, obesity, industrialized food, no exercise and psychological traumas, less than 5-15 % is genetically determined. All his statements are based on sound scientific research and studying traditional cultures where specific cancers are very rare compared to Western civilization.

Now I am really getting interested. While reading this book I truly start to believe that I can influence my healing process, I don’t have to be a victim of cancer anymore. I decide to abide by his advice to eat “anticancer nutricines”,  natural food that can be bought at the local grocery shop (e.g. curcuma, green tea, broccoli, garlic, raspberries, flax seed), change my lifestyle and start yoga classes to restore the body mind balance.In the meantime, I read all I can find on the Internet and science literature on my type of cancer; all is collected in a folder named  “Peter is cured”. I start to feel like a real expert which makes me more confident in the conversations with my doctors. As they propose 8 weeks radiotherapy I thank them for their proposal. Only after a second opinion in a renowned cancer institute I agree to the treatment.  Christmas with my family is an emotional event, everyone is praying or wishing for my health.

Treatment starts the first week of January 2011, during radiation I try to visualize the beams killing the cancer cells and already after some weeks the tumour has vanished completely. I start to believe that this is going to be an easy ride but halfway my treatment I suffer from severe radiation burns on  throat and tongue. I cannot eat solid food and need morphine to kill the pain. At the end of the treatment  I am exhausted and have lost a lot of weight.
My recovery takes 6 months, but then I suddenly experience headaches and loss of balance. I am diagnosed with meningioma, a benign brain tumor which is causing pressure on the cerebellum (“little brain“). An operation is planned for February 2012, in the mean time I am on steroids to  suppress the swelling in my brain responsible for the headaches. After brain surgery it takes another 3 months to recover after which I finally feel strong enough to start yoga again.

Westervoort, NL, Thursday October 10th 2013. I start reflecting on what I learned during my healing process. The essence is summarized below. If you are healthy and want to stay healthy, you can start at point 4.

  1. Experience your unique grief and talk about it, it will help you to heal. In between periods of emotion, there will always be rational episodes, use them to think about the next steps.
  2. Turn to family, friends, colleagues, neighbors for emotional and practical support, you cannot do this on your own. Accept that some people close to you seem to ignore your illness. It is simply their way of coping with it, they are afraid.
  3. Make the conscious shift from being a victim to an important player in your healing process (be careful not to deny that the situation is serious).
    • Learn all you can about your disease and seek someone with medical training to help you.
    • Discuss with your doctors all the diagnostic & therapeutic options available; always seek a second opinion before agreeing to any treatment. With the help of friends and relatives, you decide on the treatment.
  4. Mobilize and strengthen your own defense and inner healing system by eating good food and changing your lifestyle.
    • Set positive goals (you can even make a contract with the disease and put it in writing as a ritual).
    • Change your eating habits, start using the healing and preventive power of nature (see the books below).
    • Start a new ‘caring’ relation with your body, yoga is an excellent way to do that.
    • Seek help to heal your inner wounds (we all have inner wounds, you are not an exception).
    • Change your lifestyle and rethink what is really important to you, your family, your dream…?  Go for it, do not postpone any longer.
    • Contemplate the bright side of your disease. What positive lessons have you learned about yourself and life?
    • If you are open to it: develop yourself spiritually, go inside and ask for answers to your questions.

5.    Accept and be grateful for everything that follows.

References:
•    Anticancer: A New Way of Life,  by David Servan-Schreiberbeliveau_foods that fight cancer
•    Foods to Fight Cancer. Richard Béliveau, Denis Gingras
•    Cooking With Foods That Fight Cancer. Richard Béliveau, Denis Gingras.
•    http://www.richardbeliveau.org/en.html
•    Placebo, salvation lies within by Arjen Lievers (in Dutch only).
•    Mind over medicine, scientific proof that you can heal yourself. Lisa Rankin, M.D.