I learned, recently, about the father of a friend who committed suicide because he couldn't handle the painful side effects of radiation and chemo. It's tragic in every sense of the word that someone resolves their cancer but can't live with the agonizing, life-limiting challenges caused by the treatment. I wish there was more publicity given to the hard facts about long-term side effects of conventional cancer treatment. We don't shy away from the fact that there are soldiers who come home from battle only to take their own lives. Why don't we talk more about the casualties of modern-day cancer treatments?
I have my theory: Because doctors, nurses and patients alike have been trained to believe that nothing on the face of the planet can effectively treat cancer other than what's presented by oncologists, radiologists and surgeons. It's that simple. If we believe these treatments are our only hope, then what are we to think about the numbers of people for whom these treatments don't work, or how they can leave us with debilitating and painful side effects for the rest of our lives? It is practically unspeakable. It just isn't nice. It isn't... positive.
What if conventional treatments aren't our only hope? What if there are doctors and healers around the world who are effectively and safely treating cancer with natural, drug-free therapies? What if food can actually play a vital role in resolving cancer? What if your emotional health mattered as much as your physical well-being both in the creation of cancer cells and the normalizing of them? What if these things are true; would you believe them?
Most people don't. I was attending a lunch with a table of very intelligent professional women while writing my book, Embrace, Release, Heal. I recited one of the stories from the book about someone with terminal cancer who healed himself with creative visualization after the conventional options failed him. Everyone ate in silence, eyes bowed to their salads, as I described this hopeful, albeit unusual, scenario. When I finished, more silence. I was surprised that there wasn't an enthusiastic response. Instead, only a handful glanced at me with knowing eyes and a hint of a smile. Finally, one woman sternly said, "I don't believe you."
I don't blame her. We're pretty much hoodwinked about the viable treatments that take place outside of our cancer centers. Rather, we're rallied into the cheerleading effort to run or walk for a cure, contribute to one or another cancer association, and buy ribbons of all colors to show our support for the troops. Oops, I mean patients. It's a charade if you ask me.
If you ask me, some of the people and organizations who accept our hard-earned money to "find a cure" should be a little bit more honest. Is our money going to find a cure or create another high-dollar drug that might treat cancer a little differently? Are they researching the drug-free modalities of successfully treating cancer that have worked outside of the cancer industry, or are they looking for another type of high-tech, astronomically-expensive radiation? Are they researching the foods we eat and how cancer might find delight and vigor from some foods while being stunted by others? Oh, right, we already know that cruciferous vegetables and certain herbs like turmeric are cancer-fighters. Why, then, don't oncologists insist on restrictive diets for their cancer patients rather providing candy and donuts in the lobby for a post-radiation snack?
I don't blame doctors for the false premise that lays the foundation for our cancer culture. In fact, I believe that virtually all cancer docs are well meaning and want desperately for the treatments they administer to work. I maintain deep affection for the oncologist, radiologist, and many of the practitioners in the cancer center who worked with me. But they, too, need to question the money-making machinery that systematically feeds the beast that has become our cancer culture. Perhaps if they paid closer attention to their patients' post-treatment suffering, they would concede that we need something other than the standard fare. Instead, I fear they accept that this suffering is the price to pay in order to stay alive. But if well-documented, non-invasive treatments around the world are working, I don't believe we have to make these painful sacrifices. I don't buy it for a second.
I know a naturopathic doctor in a small town in Colorado who has consistently healed late-stage ovarian cancer through food, natural supplements and addressing emotional wounds. Can you believe it? I know a woman who was so riddled with cancer that her doctor told her that no one has ever survived that type of cancer. She worked with a Tibetan doctor who put her on a specific diet and herbs, and she is now cancer-free. Unbelievable, right? I get emails almost every week from people who thank me for opening their minds to the possibilities that there are cancer treatments outside the box that can and do heal cancer without side effects. These people believe that there's got to be another way. And they find them.
That said, I'm not suggesting that we trash conventional treatments. They do work for some people, and for that we can be grateful. But it's like depending fossil fuel for our energy; it's too expensive, there are risks involved in depending on them, they aren't good for our health or the health of the planet, and we have other, cleaner ways of getting the job done. Likewise, if we're really committed to a cure, we must look at a global menu and invest research dollars into completely drug-free protocols (I know that's unlikely given the politics behind medicine and the pharmaceutical industry, but I thought I'd throw it in anyway). We have to get real with what finding a cure actually means. Mostly, we have to educate ourselves and make choices based on that knowledge rather that remain blindly loyal to a system that doesn't necessarily have our best interest at heart.
If you're still having a hard time believing in anything other than what the cancer centers offer, or if you think I'm just promoting some feel-good spas that will take your money and keep you comfy till you die, then check out the article by Harvard educated Kelly Turner, Ph.D., "When Cancer Disappears: The Curious Phenomenon of "Unexpected Remission." Or start asking around. There are people everywhere who are mad as hell and have lost faith in the medical system. Between the expenses and barbaric treatments that leave people with a miserable quality of life, many people have found new ways of healing. If you take a hard look at what propels the cancer industry, I'll wager it won't take long to realize that it's not only possible to create a new healing paradigm, but it's the only sane option for humane patient-centered care.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Leigh Fortson has been writing and editing books about health and nutrition for decades. She is the author of "Embrace, Release, Heal: An Empowering Guide to Talking About, Thinking About, and Treating Cancer" (Sounds True, 2011).
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