Healthy living - it's never too late

Thursday 1 December, 2011

It all began in 1990; I was 47, newly married to my beautiful wife to this day and a new baby girl entered our world. And then, cancer! It was squamous cell carcinoma on my neck and in my throat.

Let me back up a little.

I was the kind of guy that had learned a lot about healthy eating and lifestyle when I was much younger and as life happened, my healthy eating lifestyle went by the wayside.

I did however work out at the gym about 5 or 6 mornings a week before going to work. I took a lot of supplements. However, my diet consisted of a lot of junk! I kind of figured that as long as I'm getting all this exercise and taking all these supplements, my health was probably doing pretty good. I was wrong!

One morning on the way home from the gym I just happened to rub my hand across my neck and there was a small lump that I had never noticed before. I showed my wife and we were both concerned enough to make a doctor's appointment.

The doctor was a general practitioner. He looked at it, did a blood test, called me a few days later and said, "There's no sign of cancer in your blood. Don't worry about it, watch it and if it changes, come back." I felt relieved!

About 4-5 weeks later, I noticed it was growing and it was also under my skin. The general practitioner referred me to another doctor who wanted to do a biopsy and perform an endoscopy. I was very hesitant but allowed them to hospitalise me on a Friday and the endoscopy was scheduled for Monday morning.

Laying there in the hospital, I recalled my healthy eating experience, with a whole foods diet called the macrobiotic diet. (Great life diet!) I remember reading and learning how some people had even healed themselves from cancer with this lifestyle. I asked my wife to go to the health food store and pick me up a macrobiotic book. When she returned to the hospital I scanned through the book and read enough to encourage me to ask the doctor to let me go home for the weekend and then return on Monday AM for the endoscopy. He did.

I called my doctor over the weekend, cancelled the Monday procedure and a few weeks later went in for the biopsy. It was squamous cell carcinoma and it was also inside my mouth at this point and beginning to form tumors on the other side of my neck.

I had already begun to eat healthy to the best of what I had learned but now decided that I needed to learn more about macrobiotics. I made the sudden, drastic change. It was hard for the first few weeks but after that I really started feeling full of energy and quite good. My counselor told me that the cancer could grow more before it gets better, and guess what, It Did!

That's when I really got scared. I saw it in my throat and I was afraid I was not going to be able to eat anymore and what if it cuts off my airway? I saw my medical doctors again and reluctantly submitted to all the conventional treatments they recommended. All of them - chemotherapy, surgery and finally radiation. It took all three to totally destroy all the cancer.

I continued on the macrobiotic diet during all the treatments and several times when I mentioned something about it to a doctor I got no response or a negative response. They did get rid of the cancer but because of all the treatments they told my wife that I had about 10 years left. I'd be lucky to make it past that.

That did nothing to me but made me become very vigilant about my diet and lifestyle.

I continued to adhere to it for about 8 years and at every follow up appointment with a doctor I was cancer free and in pretty good health. I say "pretty good health"? Some side effects of the chemo, surgery and radiation are with me for life.

Today I have some doctors tell me, I'm the miracle guy.

After the 8 years of a strict diet, I expanded out into just plain really healthy eating. I think sometimes it takes a very strict regimen of diet until the condition is reversed or restored. After that a person should be able to broaden their diet to maintain that health.

One thing worth noting is that with modern agricultural techniques used throughout the world; we can't depend on food providing what it is supposed to. Out of necessity we do need to be taking some good supplements.

I'm now 68 years old and still cancer free. That newborn baby girl is now in her third year of college and I have two beautiful grandsons from my stepson and his wife. Just their existence contributes to my health!

And, of course, I still have my great wife and she still has me.

Conclusion: Don't wait until you're stricken with a disease to start thinking about prevention and healthy eating. Start before that happens and if it does happen, still, START! You'll have a much better quality of life.

And allow me to say, if you're a parent, teach your children and be an example. I'm retired now and spend the majority of my time promoting skin cancer awareness.

While Cancer Council Victoria promotes healthy eating we do not recommend that people with cancer follow any strict or specific diet. There is no scientific evidence to prove that any diet can control or cure any type of cancer, but eating a well balanced diet can help you feel better.

We have information about nutrition and exercise for people with cancer and eating a healthy diet to help prevent cancer

Our booklet Complementary and alternative cancer therapies has a section on alternative cancer diets and the precautions you should take if you are thinking of following an alternative diet during cancer and its treatment. For more information and support contact the Cancer Helpline on 13 11 20 to speak with a cancer nurse.

Updated: 01 Dec, 2011