22 February 2016

The challenge of unexpected survival - from metastatic breast cancer

Great news! Another remarkable story from another remarkable long-term cancer survivor. Karen Alexander is fit and well having survived extensive metastatic breast cancer from 10 years ago.

I love these stories. Sometimes they come to me from people I meet in the street, sometimes from people I have known for years, sometimes from people who simply read one of my books.

Yet some people react with trepidation to these stories, even some form of dismissal. “She did not do what I did... “, “Not sure if I would do what he did….”  Or, for the intellectually lazy – “She was probably misdiagnosed”.

For sure Karen’s story is challenging. She did do a lot I would recommend as well as some things I have reserve about. But that is a feature of most long-term cancer survivors – they got help with a good start, were diligent and steadily worked out what worked best for them.

Given all this, sharing your very personal story of survival is not always as easy as it first might seem, so many thanks to Karen for offering to do so. I know for a fact how inspiring these stories are, how much real hope they provide, and how much comfort they can be to those people just starting out, or to those facing tough times.

As Ainslie Meares so famously said about my case so many years ago “It only has to be done once to show that it is possible”.

The truth, however, is that there are many of these stories to be told and they all deserve far more recognition and far more intense study and analysis than mainstream medicine is currently giving them.

So this week, let us celebrate the survivors as Karen shares her story, but first

             Thought for the day

                    Nothing ever goes away 
                   Until it has taught us 
                   What we need to know.

                                Pema Chödrön

Here is Karen’s story as she sent it to me of surviving metastatic breast cancer. Karen calls her story

Inspiration Through Innovation
Over 10 years ago, I had a successful consulting business and post graduate Masters Degree in Business Administration - Specialising in Project Management.

THEN.... in January 2006 I had the misfortune of being diagnosed with Stage IV Terminal Cancer, metastasised into the bones.

After being very much a recluse for the past 10 years. I have decided to move on with my life. I have taken inspiration from you, and like you have decided to try and help other people by starting my own Life Coaching Business here in Mackay, Queensland.

Not long after I was first diagnosed my vertebrae broke in two places. Due to the tumours I was flown to Townville as it was the closest radiation unit and I spent 8 weeks on my back, being treated and recovering.

The following assisted me greatly:-
Your book "You Can Conquer Cancer" and also your book "Meditation Pure & Simple", inspired me when my days and nights were so black.  I wanted to come to one of your retreats and my husband offered to bring me, but the Doctors told me not to fly due to the fragile state of my vertebrae.

Firstly, I found unbelievable pain relief with the pain meditation in your book.  My beautiful husband used to lie beside me on the bed and read your pain meditation technique. As he did, I experienced the endorphin release equivalent to a pethidine injection.  The pain relief would last for about 3-4 hours and this gave me the confidence and belief that I could beat the odds.

After being able to get off my opiate pain medication, Physeptone, I then tackled getting of the most evil drug I have ever encountered, Dexamethasone. This was the hardest.  The depression and pain that came though every time I reduced the dosage was awful (to say it mildly)!

With all the synthetic drugs causing a domino effect on the rest of my body, I had been putting on .5kg a day in fluid, and the doctors just kept prescribing a higher dosage of diuretics.  After gaining 20kgs, and being fobbed off about my concerns about the drugs, my instinct and survival skills kicked in.

I rang a pharmacist late one Sunday afternoon, and told him the drugs they had me on.  He pointed out that they all affected my heart. That night I found Google was my best friend!  I made parsley tea, and did not stop peeing for a week! I stopped taking the diuretics. I know I would not be here today without my instinct and intuition.

By this time I had already bought the funeral plot and picked out a coffin as the doctors had been repeatedly subjecting me to the following words " You are going to die", as I flatly refused Chemo. I reasoned why subject myself to that poison when the doctors had already told me it would not help.  I remember coming home from that Oncologist appointment and crying for 8 weeks.  Of course it was me grieving, as all hope of living and life was taken from me. I loved life!

So by this time, getting the pain under control and finding that I could get better results with the fresh parsley tea, I saw a glimmer of hope! I discussed it with my husband, as it was a critical time...I could give up and die and he would grieve and move on with his life OR I could fight with everything I had and all the will power I could summon. We both knew it would take a long time, due to the injuries as I was riddled with the cancer in the bones.

Do not get me wrong. The medical system had its place for me in the critical stages with all the damage I sustained from the disease, but then the overuse of drugs prescribed was killing me. Since my port a Cath came out, 7 years ago now, I have not been near any medical doctors since!

In my recovery, I also used Wormwood (made it into capsules), Black Walnut Tincture, and Lugol’s Iodine. Vitamin C powder gave me great pain relief. Also I used Colloidal Silver and Magnesium Oil, plus I benefit from Amino Acids which I also make into capsules, and Castor Oil heat packs.

My husband did carrot, ginger and apple juices each morning before he went to work. Would you believe he still does this after 10 years?

I was ruthless, and slightly paranoid in the early days. I stopped using washing powder, cosmetics, shampoo and used the recommendations in Dr Hilda Clarke's book. I used your recommended fruits and vegetables.  I did not eat meat for about 5 years; this would have over burdened my poor body.

During my course of recovery, I become more and more involved with meditation. For one whole year, my only focus was to meditate on "Emptiness", as you would know this highlighted my false belief systems, delusions and my emotional pain gradually ceased. :)

It took me about 5 years to finally remove the mental blockage and those damning words from the Oncologist that were still ringing in my ears. EFT (tapping) also assisted with letting go of the intense rage I had felt towards the medical doctors.

I reflect on my journey and realise that in the early days, 80% was mind and willpower, focusing on trying to get my mind to believe and maintaining the high self-efficacy. I used a mantra when I could not block out the hopelessness of my situation. I chose to never give up hope, no matter what the doctors told me.

Focusing on diet was the other 20%. I became a recluse, and just focused on gardening, research and shutting out the negative beliefs from well meaning people.

Around this time I had an AHA! moment … I was watching my craving for meat... this was a turning point in my addictive behaviours and thoughts. I asked myself "Why do I crave meat so much?" It isn't a drug?”  I sought the answers in my meditation sessions. Oh wow!

Around the 5 year mark, my focus changed. I focused 80% on the diet and because I had made the behavioural changes and practiced meditation each day (sometimes up to 3 hours a day), 20% of my focus switched to the mind and willpower.

I studied and experimented on the ph and alkalinity diet. And studied not just my thoughts, negative emotions, and meditation techniques, but I studied how my body reacted to the foods I ate, and how to spike the alkalinity when my ph dropped below 6.0.  I always try to maintain the 7 to 8 ph reading. Wow! this was an eye opener.

I have studied the benefits of Herbs, and use many of the everyday herbs frequently. Another huge benefit was green coconut juice and the meat from the green coconuts.  Things were getting better and better.

I never touch sugar, most dairy products, alcohol, and especially soy, I still focus on not eating foods out of a packet or tin, although since I am in the maintenance phase, I have slowly relaxed my strict diet.

So to summarise .....

My experiences in bullet points:

My vertebrae broke in two places due to the tumours. I was riddled with cancer.

I had to learn to walk again.

I was subjected to medical Doctors repeatedly telling me I was going to die.

I let them take all hope of living and life from me.

A funeral plot was purchased and coffin picked out for my demise.

I lay on my bed waiting to die.

This was 10 years ago.

The first step I implemented was to learn to meditate to control the pain, instead of the pain controlling me.

I have not been to seek any medical Doctors assistance or help for the past 7 years.

Friends and work colleagues drifted away and this actually proved to be a huge benefit. It de-cluttered my days.

Despite the hopelessness in my life.... I set out on a quest.

Over the past 10 years, I have researched and studied my body's reaction to foods, thoughts, behaviours and emotions.

Other people started to contact me for assistance and help, as they did not want to fight cancer with synthetic drugs made by the big pharmaceutical companies either.

They want the right to fight it on their own terms and in their own right, like I do, after all when the Doctors have given up on you, what have you got to lose?

We make choices in our lives, and this is one road that you learn to fight alone. There is no magic pill or quick solution.  You become your own cheerleader when you overcome an obstacle.

It is a slow journey, but with it comes major milestones to celebrate.

I celebrated each additional week from the terminal life expectancy that I was given. After a while this became a month, then I counted by half years, finally I started to count by years again.

Be mindful that it is your body, and what is one man's medicine is another man's poison.

If you are fortunate like me, you will have a supportive group of people that stick by you through thick and thin. They believe in you and encourage you to fight this disease on your terms and your way.

I do not deny that the medical system has its place.

I do not blindly believe, however, that if the medical drugs start causing a domino effect, and more problems develop from what you are trying to fix, that you should continue. Search and find answers yourself... look elsewhere.

Why should you blindly follow someone's advice when they have never experienced cancer?

To those who try to instil fear in you just remember "Life is Terminal so what is so special about Cancer?"

Most importantly, I have found what foods trigger cancer.  If I was in charge of food in a palliative care hospital, the first thing I would change is the food on the menu.

Nature cannot be patented, and that is where I found most of the solutions to my own improved health. The win-win effect of being responsible for yourself is at very little cost to the patient, and no burden on the Australian Government Medical System.

Sometimes the enormity of what I have accomplished overwhelms me, after being so close to death, and it keeps me so very humble.
I trust this fills you in as to how grateful I am towards you, and granting me that spark of hope from your books, on those dark, dark days.

Kindest regards,

Karen Alexander

What happens when an oncology nurse attends a cancer self-help program? - Kathryn’s story 


Cancer Retreats
Full details of the specific cancer retreats Ruth and I will lead in 2016 CLICK HERE

08 February 2016


Any of you who are keeping track will know I have been on extended retreats quite a bit recently. Then there are all the retreats Ruth and I lead that are very useful personally as well. So what is the point? Why bother? What comes out of all that?

So back home again now, it seems like time to have a go at sharing an insight, but first

         Thought for the day

               Wherever you go
               The only thing that you experience 
               Is this moment
               This self
                       Hogan – San,   Zen Master

Maybe it is helpful to reflect upon this  …..

Think of an object. Maybe something you can see in front of you like the computer, a book; any object will do.

Now consider this. Commonly we are aware of objects dualistically. There is what we regard as us, and there is what we regard as the object. “I am aware of the computer.” “I am aware of the book.” There is me, and there is the object. Me and it. Two things. Dualistic.

Now, it is possible to be aware of the object non-dualistically. This is what in some circles is known as meditative absorption. The sense of separation between me and it is transcended, and we experience a sense of oneness.

So next consider your thoughts. Commonly we are aware of our thoughts dualistically. There is what we regard as us, and there is what we regard as the thought. “I am aware of the thought.” There is me, and there is the thought. Me and it. Two things. Dualistic.

Now, it is possible to be aware of our thoughts non-dualistically. This is what in some circles is known as meditative absorption. The sense of separation between me and it is transcended, and we experience a sense of oneness.

So here is the kicker. Next consider your awareness. Commonly we are aware of our awareness dualistically. There is what we regard as us, and there is what we regard as our awareness. “I am aware of my awareness.” There is me, and there is the awareness. Me and it. Two things. Dualistic.

Now, it is possible to be aware of our awareness non-dualistically. This is what in some circles is known to be something that is beyond even meditative absorption. The sense of separation between me and it is transcended and there is just pure awareness.

Getting this theoretically could well be useful.

Getting it experientially could well be extra-ordinary.

Going on retreat helps….

The 2 major benefits of meditation – what to expect, and how predictable are they?

Meditation Retreats
Full details of the meditation retreats Ruth and I will lead in 2016 CLICK HERE