24 July 2012

Ian Gawler Blog: Poetry, Zen and cancer

This week something different. A fabulous poem to meditate upon – to do with awareness and travel which fits with me being on the road. Also, a link to Ruth presenting a wonderful interview with a Zen master, and a doctor adds to the discussion on prostate surgery.  But first…

Thought for the day

If I had known I was going to live this long,
I would have taken better care of myself.

Average life expectancies in different eras:      1820 – 26
                                                                        1900 – 31
                                                                        2010 – 67

Australia is 5th highest in the world – 81.2 years. What sort of old age will you have?

Jewels           Thich Nhat Hanh

There are jewels everywhere in the cosmos--
I want to offer you a handful of them this morning.
The diamonds I offer will shine through days and nights.

Each minute of our life is an individual jewel,
Containing sky, earth, river and clouds;
You need only breathe gently and mindfully
and all the miracles will be displayed.

The birds sing. The pines chant. The flowers bloom.
There is the blue sky and there are white clouds.

The eyes of the people you love shine
And your smile reflects your full awareness.

You who are the wealthiest person on Earth,
But have been going around to beg in distant
lands for happiness,

Do stop being a destitute person;
Come back and receive your heritage.

Let us offer each other happiness
and establish ourselves in the present moment.

We should let go of our sorrow
And embrace life in our two arms.


1. Ruth interviews a Zen master

If you still need a reason to join the Mindbody Mastery program, check out the quality of the webinars.

This month we are providing free, retrospective access to the latest Mindbody Mastery webinar for readers of my blog. This month features an exclusive and fascinating interview with Brother Phap Lu, a Zen meditation master at the European Centre for Applied Buddhism. Brother Phap Lu is a teacher in the tradition of the legendary meditation master Thich Nhat Hanh. Just his presence is worth connecting with. But as a bonus, in the interview he talks about his own meditation practise, and offers practical suggestions for how to apply meditation techniques in daily life. The interview was conducted by Dr. Ruth Gawler in Germany last year while we were co-presenting a meditation based healing retreat with Br Phap Lu at Thich Nhat Hahn's retreat centre.

You can see the interview at http://vimeo.com/45878830

2. Forty percent of 40 year olds have prostate cancer and probably need no treatment.

It is rare for me to bring a comment onto the blog itself, but I thought this one, following up on last week's research re prostate cancer and surgery was too important and maybe some readers may have missed it.

Dr Mary Pease has left a new comment on "Ian Gawler Blog: Who needs prostate surgery?": 

"I am a GP, and I recently attended a Medical Conference. One of the speakers, an Oncologist, commented that investigation of elevated levels of PSA can lead to overdiagnosis and overtreatment. He cited a study of post-mortem findings of 40 year old men who died in car/road accidents. Of these men, a whopping 40% of 40 year old asymptomatic men had prostate cancer on post-mortem. The message he was making was that most of these men would never have developed aggressive prostate cancer if they had gone on to live out their lives. And yet it tells us that 40% of healthy 40 year old men have prostate cancer - the vast majority of whom will live symbiotically with their cancer, rather than be consumed by it. It is certainly true that prostate cancer is a spectrum of disease, not just one entity." 

23 July 2012

Ian Gawler Blog: Who needs prostate surgery?

This week, let us go “Out on a Limb” and examine crucial new research that adds another piece to the compelling conclusion that many men with early prostate cancer are not being well served by surgery. In fact, there is a high probability they would be better advised not to have surgery and instead to change their lifestyle. This is crucial information for everyone, as at diagnosis, fear often drives people to make poor choices that ignore the evidence. But first:

Thought for the day

“The great danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, 
but that it is too low and we reach it.” 

                                                                    – Michelangelo (1475-1564)

A long-running study has found radical prostatectomy (removal of the prostate) fails to save lives in most men with localised prostate cancer. 

In a randomised trial of over 700 men who were aged 67 years on average, and had a median PSA of 7.8 ng/mL at the time of enrolment, 47% of those who underwent prostatectomy died from all causes during follow-up of up to 12 years, compared to 50% of those assigned to observant management.

Specifically, there was no significant difference in deaths directly related to prostate cancer: 5.8% of men in the prostatectomy group died from prostate cancer or treatment, compared to 8.4% in the observation group.

On top of this, the side effects of the surgery were highly significant. Two years after treatment, urinary incontinence was almost three times as common in the prostatectomy group as in the observation group, and erectile dysfunction was almost twice as common.

The US researchers reported that “our findings support observation for men with localized prostate cancer, especially those who have a low PSA value and those who have low-risk disease.”

Remarkably, they said that currently, nearly 90% of men diagnosed with localised cancer received early intervention with surgery or radiotherapy, despite up to two thirds having a relatively low PSA value or low-risk disease.

It is important to note that the study found radical prostatectomy did reduce all-cause mortality in men whose PSA value at diagnosis was greater than 10ng per mL.

However, overall the authors could not conclude whether prostatectomy improved or worsened the risk of death: statistical analysis found the surgery could reduce all-cause mortality by up to 10%, or increase it by up to 4%.

An accompanying editorial said the challenge remained identifying which men had aggressive, high-grade cancers and would most benefit from surgery.

“Prostate cancer is not a monolithic cancer, but a spectrum of disease. The screening, detection and treatment we provide must focus on cancers that matter, and future clinical trials must do so as well,” the editorial said.

REF: Witt, TJ et al, New England Journal of Medicine 2012; 367:203-13

COMMENT: This study is very important for men diagnosed with early prostate cancer. It compliment’s Dean Ornish’s randomized trial with early prostate cancer that demonstrated a lifestyle program very similar to that set out in You Can Conquer Cancer and taught at the Gawler Foundation, was able to lead to significant decreases in PSA with a dose related effect – meaning that those men who followed the program diligently got the best results.

The challenge is to manage the fear associated with the diagnosis and the need to be confident in one’s own healing potential. In my observation many people diagnosed with cancer become so fearful they will do things that do not always have logic or evidence on their side, such as accepting being pressured into having radical surgery by medical staff as well as family and friends who believe that radical medical intervention is in their best interests.

This research provides good evidence. It would seem very reasonable that for early, localized prostate cancer, the treatment of choice may well be not to have surgery, not to sit idly by and hope for the best while you are being “observed”, but to actively pursue a lifestyle based treatment regime.

This is the sort of medical information one is wise to think of when well. In my experience, when people face a cancer diagnosis it is often hard to think clearly for a while, and as a consequence, sometimes decisions are made that lead to later regret.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Have you say in the comment section below.

1. Friends, control and power.

Friends of Science in Medicine have refuted claims in two Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) articles that the group is trying to get rid of all complementary and alternative medicine courses from universities.

FSM president Professor John Dwyer, said his organisation “clearly” supports CAM research where there is evidence for potential benefit.

“It will be a great pity if parallel health care still exists in 10 years, for science has the ability to see a convergence of CAM and orthodox medicine”, he said.

Two articles have been published in the MJA in response to an editorial written by members of FSM published earlier this year in the Journal.(1)

This current controversy was sparked earlier in the year by a letter sent from the FSM to vice-chancellors of universities offering CAM courses. It asked that the universities review their teaching of health sciences “to ensure that primacy is given to scientific principles based on experimental evidence”.

In an editorial this week in the MJA, (2) the authors, led by Professor Stephen Myers, professor of complementary medicine at Southern Cross University in NSW, wrote:

“The debate on whether complementary medicine should be a university discipline, when seen from a sociological perspective, says much less about good science and much more about control and power.

“This controversy is simply the latest episode in a long-contested battle between orthodox and divergent views.

“CAM courses clearly develop critical thinking and fulfill the criteria for legitimate university disciplines”.

In the second article, the authors, led by Professor Paul Komesaroff, of Monash University, called on members of FSM to “revise their tactics and instead support open, respectful dialogue in the great spirit and tradition of science itself”. (3)

The authors said that they believed the views promoted by FSM in the earlier MJA editorial, “exceed the boundaries of reasoned debate and risk compromising the values that FSM claims to support”.

1. MJA 2012; 196: 225-226 

2. MJA 2012; 197:69-70 

3. MJA 2012: 197: 82-83

To read an example of how the popular press is reporting this issue, link here to The Age

2. The travels.
Is Israel leading the way in integrating Integrative Medicine into the mainstream? Many think so and it was a delight to present last week to over 200 enthusiastic doctors, psychologists and other health professionals at a day Masterclass arranged by Tel Aviv’s Beilinson Hospital’s Integrative Medicine unit.

A delight to have such interest in meditation and its capacity to build resilience and satisfaction levels in health professionals, while enhancing empathy, decision making and clinical outcomes.

Over three quarters of the audience had done some meditation before and many indicated they were regular meditators. How the world has changed.

It has been another source of delight to be a part of Ruth reconnecting with aunts and uncles and cousins not seen for many years. And now we head for Jerusalem!!!

You Can Conquer Cancer

Mindbody Mastery – downloadable meditation program

Gawler Foundation programs


Over medicalisation

Recovery from cancer is possible

17 July 2012

Ian Gawler Blog: Multivitamins and cancer –

This week a very interesting piece of new research concerning multivitamins and breast cancer, and a little more of the travels, but first,

Thought for the day:

We believe nothing so firmly
 as what we least know
                                    Michael de Montaigne

Multivitamins improve some breast cancer outcomes 
– The Life After Cancer Epidemiology study.

Given how many people believe in and take multivitamins, it is a remarkable fact that little research has been published that scientifically investigates the relationship between multivitamin use and cancer outcomes.

Remarkable too, given this lack of research evidence, that many patients are told by oncologists that they are harmful, especially when taken with chemotherapy or radiotherapy. How do they know this? What is the evidence?

A new study, one of the first of its kind, provides some answers; answers that strongly suggest multivitamins may be helpful for women with early breast cancer, especially if they do have chemotherapy or radiotherapy. It also demonstrated that a healthy lifestyle extended survival.

In this study, 2,236 women diagnosed from 1997 to 2000 with early-stage breast cancer were questioned about their multivitamin use pre-diagnosis and post-diagnosis.

Outcomes were then tracked yearly by self-report and verified by medical record review. The results were analysed, adjusting for socio-demographic, tumour, and lifestyle factors.

Overall, 54% of the women reported using multivitamins pre- diagnosis, and 72% of them post-diagnosis.

The use of multivitamins after diagnosis was not associated with any outcome – good or bad.

Persistent use of multivitamins before and after diagnosis was associated with a decreased risk of recurrence and total mortality that was not statistically significant.

However, protective associations from the multivitamins were found amongst those women who had been treated after initial surgery with radiation only, and both radiation and chemotherapy. To be clear, this research showed that multivitamins were not harmful, but actually improved outcomes when radiation or radiation and chemotherapy was given.

The research also demonstrated that women who consistently used multivitamins before and after diagnosis and ate more fruits and vegetables, as well as being more physically active had better overall survival.

The researchers concluded multivitamin use along with the practice of other health-promoting behaviours may be beneficial in improving breast cancer outcomes in select groups of survivors.

REF: Kwan ML et al, Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2011 Nov;130(1):195-205. Epub 2011 May 11.

 2. Moscow is red.

We hear from the house sitter that the Yarra Valley continues to be cold and wet. Pardon me, but Russia’s weather was delightful – mid 20s and 5 minutes of rain in 2 weeks.

Who knew that in Russia, red means beautiful?

So the Red Square is the beautiful square. But it is next door to the Kremlin, which means fortress, and as we stroll across it like A-grade tourists, I cannot help thinking of James Bond and cold wars and Nikita Kruschev with his finger on the trigger of nuclear annihilation being stared down by JFK over the Cuban missile crisis.

It is a strange thing to be in this part of the world. The sun is shining. People are walking and talking. Children are laughing and playing. No obvious signs of revolutions past, of Stalin’s savage repression, of the communist regime’s days of power, or even of the Russian mafia and the move to democracy and a more capitalistic way of life. Just heaps of tourists, lots of work going into restoring things that interest tourists, incredibly clean streets, people getting on with their lives. As simple as that really.

And we walked through the Kremlin and across Red Square.

Then we did what so many of Russia’s Jews did – moved on to Israel.


 Israel workshops etc July 18 - 28

It will be a great pleasure to be back in Israel once more where I have been invited to make a variety of presentations. If you know anyone in Israel who may be interested, please forward the details.

i) Wednesday July 18th, 19:30-22:00, Evening Talk 
The Art of Living and Dying: contemplation, meditation and healing
Seminar Hakibutzim, Tel-Aviv
Sponsored by Tovana, Israel Insight Meditation Association

ii) Friday July 20th, 09:00-14:00, Master Class Workshop for Health Professionals 
An Integrative Approach for Major Illness - Applications of Meditation and Mind-Body Principles
Rabin Medical Center
Sponsored by the Integrative Medicine Department, Davidoff Cancer Center, Beilinson Hospital

iii) Friday July 27th, 09:00-16:00,One Day Workshop for the General Public
Health, Healing and Well-being: the Healing Power of the Mind
Beit Rishonim, Bitan Aharon
Sponsored by Taatzumot Association

iv) By Invitation Only:

Wednesday July 18th, 16:00-18:30: A meeting with leading Dharma teachers.

Saturday July 28, 19:00-22:00: An evening with leading integrative therapists and physicians.

For more information or registration:

Dr. Nimrod Sheinman, 0544-797466, nimush@zahav.net.il


Just give me the facts

Eating for recovery

Recovery from cancer is possible

11 July 2012

Ian Gawler Blog: St Petersburg and telemorase

This blog brings news from Russia, and fascinating research demonstrating how meditation can increase your levels of telomerase. But first -

Thought for the day:
Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.
                                                          - Mark Twain

St Petersburg. City of Tzars and Tzarinas, revolutions and opulence. A somewhat decayed edge with multiple restorations in progress. More like Paris than anywhere we have been; the similar pale blue/pink light and routinely beautiful.

Catherine the Great. Now there is a woman. Supplanted her husband when Tsar, installed herself as Tsarina, took multiple lovers and ruled over all of Russia from 1762 to 1796. Quite a role model for Queen Victoria in the next century - although not so sure about the lovers for the English Queen!

St Petersburg. Home of Ruth’s two grandfathers. Jewish men living in a city that did not welcome your average Jew at that time. Two men with enough talent to over-ride the obstacle of their bloodline. One a musician, the other an architect. Living in a city within a land that challenges conventional thinking.

Churchill’s famous quote “Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma”. At times there seems to have been scant regard for the blood of men when it came to revolution and staggeringly harsh reforms. There have been times too, marked by the excesses of power and the willingness to display it in lavish and finely adorned palaces. Long live the revolution!

Everyone we meet is warm and friendly, but this is a land where one is forced to think of man’s potential to wield power over his fellow man. Of what is fair and reasonable and just and honourable. And what to do when it is not. Of when to stay, and when to go. The grandfathers left in 1921, just before Lennin closed the doors and the intelligencia began to suffer deeply. Long live the revolution!

We take the soft option and tour the Hermitage. Get up close and personal with Leonardo – da Vinci that is, along with his mates Michelangelo, Raphael and Caravaggio. Close enough to examine the masterworks intimately and to almost feel we are in the presence of Rembrandt’s subjects; their psychology captured in time by strokes of paint that are either precise or imprecise as the occasion demands. Awe inspiring craftsmanship. Such a privilege to see it all so close.

On another day we enter the Cathedral of St Isaac, adorned with mosaics so fine they appear to be paintings. We move past the array of icons tiered on high, enter a vestry, and join with a Russian Orthodox service where the chanting reaches deep into the heart; stills and stirs it simultaneously. The growling depths of the men’s bass amidst those ethereal harmonies gets me every time.

Next we walk at the speed a tourist’s schedule requires in an attempt to find the Conservatorium of Music and the Marinsky Theatre, two venues for the violinist grandfather’s St Petersburg life.

For joy we manage to find them, enter the Conservatorium and persuade a warm-hearted but rather incredulous guard to let two Australian’s enter. The building is old and evocative. Maybe not so much has changed since grandfather’s day. We walk down creaking wooden halls with pianos, violins and operatic singing reverberating off the walls. I find it almost as moving as Ruth, who is delighted to connect with this part of her history.

We walked so far in St Petersburg I do not mind saying it took me a couple of days to fully recover. But then, recovery touring up river to Moscow, stopping now and then to visit Russian families, the most amazing wooden churches and recently revived monasteries; this is the price one happily pays for travel.

Tomorrow? Oh yes, tomorrow it is Moscow.

1. Correction. In a recent Blog, I inadvertently claimed Dean Ornish demonstrated how a lifestyle program very similar to that in You Can Conquer Cancer and taught at the Gawler Foundation could lengthen telomeres. This was not correct. The program led to significant increases in the enzyme telemorase, which has many positive benefits as highlighted in the new study below. My apologies for this error and thanks to the reader who corrected me.

2. Meditation retreats – good for you, good for your telomerase. Good for longevity? Probably!

In 2010, Alan Wallace, a renowned meditation teacher, writer and researcher, brought together a remarkable team for the Shamatha Project. During an intensive 3 month retreat led by Wallace, a vast amount of scientific research data was recorded. Analysis is on-going but already some remarkably significant findings have been recorded.

Telomeres are protective DNA—protein complexes at the end of chromosomes. Telomere shortness is emerging as a prognostic marker of disease risk generally, along with the specific progression, and premature mortality in many types of cancer. Once telomeres become too short, we die! Happily, telomere shortening is counteracted by the cellular enzyme telomerase, but this shortening remains one of the root causes of aging. Delay telomere shortening, delay aging.

While in 2008, Dean Ornish showed that a lifestyle-based program, very similar to the one I have been involved with for 30 years, could increase telomerase levels, Wallace showed meditation could also achieve this outcome.

Collaborating with Elizabeth Blackburn, an Australian Nobel Prize laureate, Wallace demonstrated that meditation may improve a person’s psychological wellbeing and that when it did, these changes are related to telomerase activity in cells. Telomerase activity was 30% higher in the meditators compared to matched controls, and these changes have the potential to promote longevity in those cells.

Ref: Jacobs TL, Wallace A, Blackburn E et al, 2010 Psychoneuroimmunology Journal

08 July 2012

Ian Gawler Blog: On being a traveller

Thought for the day
We travel half way around the world, to enter a new world. 
We leave the familiar and enter the unknown. 
The joys of travel.

Sometimes with relief, sometimes with regret, sometimes with the pure inevitability of it all, the day arrives when it is time to get on the aeroplane and leave it all behind.

We leave the familiar. We leave what we take to be good and meaningful and satisfying. We leave what we take to be bad and dangerous and hurtful. We leave all that is dull and apathetic and boring. We let it all go and we enter a new world of unknown places and events and people and possibilities.

Travel takes us back to beginner’s mind. We leave the familiar and we enter the unknown. The joys of travel!

Leaving the construct of a life that focuses on rural Yarra Junction and travelling around the planet and disembarking in Dubai, is about as surreal as it gets. If travel is about entering the unknown and opening the mind, this is about as good as it gets.

Yarra Junction with its low-level mountains rolling across a gentle landscape is easy to describe as beautiful. The trees are massive, nurtured by a high rainfall that has made a welcome return this year. The cold and the wet we leave behind, while not so familiar on the tail-end of years of relative drought, is natural for this place. The town is small and content. Some may say complacent, others just peacefully relaxed, happy with the relative ease of country life.

Dubai! My God what were they thinking? In the middle of the desert, where the desert’s heritage is all around and obvious to the eye, they have built a showcase of modern architecture, engineering and societal marvels.

What is a Sheik thinking when he builds 38 towers that hardly anyone lives in or works in? It is reported that he said something like “I wanted to show that we have buildings”. Does he know something we do not? If he builds it, will people come? Or is he making an offering to Allah to show what human beings are capable of? Or is it just that once the Ferrari and the Lamborghini fails to do it for you anymore, and you have incredible wealth, then you build buildings.

During a morning when the temperature is already well over 40 degrees Celsius, we take about 15 seconds in a lift that is so smooth you are only just sure that you are moving at all. And, we emerge on the 124th floor of Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.

So is it a technological marvel or another phallic folly? Technological marvel it certainly is. Human beings at their most extraordinary.  We are capable of such extraordinary achievements. The combination of vision, architectural and mechanical skills, the planning and delivery, make this a building to be awed by.

But the view from the 124th floor is sobering. First there is the drop! It is a long way down should modern technology fail. And, what you see from such a height in Dubai is countless beautifully designed skyscrapers. Hardly one is content to be a square box. Most are resplendent with their creative shapes, colours, facets and crowns. Here, amidst this desert, a premium is placed on beauty and intrigue, rather than the price that predicates so much of the modern ugly architecture of less affluent and creative cities.

But look a little further and it is there all right. The desert. Timeless. Dry. Stretching out like an infinite default, ground state.

Where will the energy come from to keep all these buildings going?

Currently they run on oil. The oil is running out. Thirty nine towers in one new complex. And heaps of other empty new buildings. Almost banal amidst a desert relying on oil. Where will the energy come from to keep it all going? If tourism is now a major source of income, what will bring the people once the planes run out of oil.

So we travel from the known to the unknown. Do we just marvel at what ever we see, enjoy meeting those who casually stray into our lives for a few moments of exchange, or does it open our mind? Our heart?

One day as a stopover in Dubai relieves the body but disturbs the mind.
It displays what waits for us.
What happens when the oil runs out?

Maybe it is easier not to travel, to stay amidst the comfort and ease and complacency of the familiar. And think that a carbon tax is just about money and we would rather not pay for it.

What happens when the oil runs out?

1. This weeks blog arrives a little early, as during travels in Russia now, uploading it has been something of a trick! Next week, some more travel news.

2.  Interview on Skype: Jess Ainscough, last week’s guest blogger, interviewed me as a link to her own excellent website and we ranged over quite a few topics.

Here is the link: http://www.thewellnesswarrior.com.au/2012/07/wellness-warrior-tv-interview-with-ian-gawler/  - cannot make it automatic from my end!

RELATED BLOG: Linking lifestyle, sustainability, the environment and health

02 July 2012

The Wellness Warrior

Jess Ainscough’s transformation from self confessed, twenty something “champagne-guzzling, Lean Cuisine-loving magazine writer to all-out nutrition nerd” was made after she was diagnosed with a rare, “incurable” cancer back in 2008. This week, full of beans, Jess shares her remarkable story. 

It is a challenging story. Medical treatment is declined, self-healing comes to the fore. There is total commitment, nutrition is taken to the limit, and the capacity to find meaning and joy amidst real adversity is revealed. But first:

Thought for the day

If you want something you have never had, 
then you are going to have to do something that you have never done.
                                                                                                                    Drina Reed

Some months back, when I was eating out with members of the family at one of Melbourne’s great vegan restaurants, Yong Green Food, I was approached by a vibrant young woman and her equally healthy boyfriend. It turned out to be the remarkable Jess and she was celebrating coming off the Gerson Therapy.

After her diagnosis, Jess had “decided I was not having a bar of that “incurable” nonsense, and I took responsibility for my condition”. Jess came to the Foundation’s residential program and then completed two years of Gerson Therapy.

These days Jess is a writer, holistic health coach, and the creator of the excellent health and wellness website, The Wellness Warrior  which I highly recommend. Via her e-books, daily blog posts, and videos, Jess’ goal is to empower people to take control of their health and to show that the quality of our lives is directly linked to how we treat our body and mind.

Here Jess shares her story.

What Cancer Has Taught Me – by Jess Ainscough, the Wellness Warrior

For the past four years, I have been living with the knowledge that I have cancer in my body. Like anyone who has ever been given a terminal diagnosis, this experience has changed me. I have gone through the usual changes – life becoming that little bit more precious, petty drama becoming totally insignificant, and priorities being completely reshuffled. However, there has been so much more.

Before cancer I was a big meat eater, now I am vegan. Before cancer I drank a lot of alcohol, now I am sober. Before cancer I was self-critical and full of self-judgment, now I love myself unconditionally. Before cancer I associated the disease with pain, sickness, hair loss and death. Now, cancer is my greatest teacher, my guru, and the catalyst that lead me onto a path far brighter and more fulfilling than I ever knew was possible.

I was one of the lucky ones – conventional medicine had no answers for me. My doctors wanted to amputate my arm to remove the cancer, but they said there was a high chance that the disease would come back somewhere else in my body quite rapidly. I decided that this wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t ready to die, I wasn’t willing to be an amputee, and I wasn’t willing to hand my power over to some people who didn’t really know what they were doing with it.

So I became one of those difficult patients and started thinking for myself. I researched anything and everything to do with healing cancer, and what I discovered is that our bodies have this incredible ability to self heal – as long as we provide the right environment for them to do so.

The first stop on my healing path was The Gawler Foundation. My boyfriend and I spent 10 days soaking up every bit of wisdom and comfort we could at the Life and Living retreat. We learnt how to meditate and how to express our emotions in a healthy way. But most importantly, we learnt that cancer does not need to be scary. It can be empowering, and the catalyst to an amazing life.

The other healing modality that resonated most with me was Gerson Therapy, so a few months after Gawler, I flew to Mexico with my mum to spend three weeks at the Gerson clinic. Here, I learnt how to implement the therapy, which involves hourly juicing, a specific vegan diet, various supplements, and up to five daily coffee enemas.

When the three weeks was up, I came home to carry out the Therapy for two years with the help of my family. For two years I dedicated every waking hour to saving my own life. To thriving against the face of adversity, and carving a new reality for myself based on the wisdom and inspiration I’ve gathered along the way.

It has been far from easy. For two whole years I have not been able to go out for lunch, go out for dinner, go out drinking with my friends, or even sit through a whole movie without having to get up and make a juice. But I would not trade one moment of this journey for anything. The power, wisdom, and deep self-respect that have been born of riding out these challenges is something I feel incredibly blessed to have.

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I thought I had something in my body that needed to be “killed”, “eradicated” and “beaten”. Now I understand that cancer is not the enemy. I have realised that you cannot wage a war against yourself and win. No one wins when you go into battle with something that is part of you. And contrary to conventional belief, cancer is a part of you.

Cancer doesn’t need to be “killed”; it needs to be “healed”. Cancer is simply your body’s way of giving you one final opportunity to clean up your health.
I have completed two years of Gerson, but healing doesn’t end now. Healing is ongoing, and I will live the rest of my life being as kind and respectful as I possibly can to my body.

Even now, after two years of intense natural treatment, I cannot say that I am cured. I’m not sure if I will ever be “cured”, but I will always be healing. Cancer is something I will always manage with my clean lifestyle.

I don’t plan to have any scans, partly because I don’t want to subject my body to the poison and radiation, but also because prior to my diagnosis scans were not detecting that I had cancer. Only a biopsy did this, so I don’t really see the point.

Many people think I’m crazy for not “checking up” on the status of my condition, and once upon a time I would have agreed. My path is not the right one for everyone, but it is right for me. The moment I stopped struggling, and fighting against myself and the cancer, was the moment that fear left my mind for good. Now, I never fear that I will die of cancer – and that is the most empowering feeling ever.

The number one thing I have learnt over the past four years is that our bodies heal in their own time. Sure, it is our job to do whatever we can to make sure this is possible, but we can’t force anything. Our bodies are incredible, and as long as we listen to them – truly listen to them – give them what they need to heal and remove any obstacles that will prevent the process from happening, healing is inevitable. Healing is possible for all of us.

Connect with Jess on …

Twitter: twitter.com/#!/JessAinscough

Facebook: facebook.com/thewellnesswarrior

Website: thewellnesswarrior.com.au


1. Overseas travels

Ruth and I will be in Russia, Israel and France over the next months for a combination of presentations, holiday and retreat. The winter being in full swing at home, it is a good time to be heading for the warm side of the planet. The garden is in winter hibernation, we have a house sitter looking after things and after a full on year so far, it feels timely to be having some time away.

People aware of the trip have been encouraging me to write more personally in the blog as we are going to such interesting places and will be meeting with interesting people, so maybe I will.


Eating for recovery - this blog presents the recommendations I offer to people with cancer, based on 30 years of experience working directly with people who have taken the nutrition seriously, as well as the available research