What follows is an interview with one of my clients (Scarlett) whose story about surviving cancer is deeply inspiring.
“My cancer was a reproductive type. It had to do with having a child. At first I had a Molar pregnancy in which they gave me injections of chemotherapy. Molar pregnancy is a noncancerous (benign) tumor that develops in the uterus. It starts when an egg is fertilized, but instead of a normal, viable pregnancy resulting, the placenta develops into an abnormal mass of cysts. And your cells are dividing abnormally because of the hormones from having a child, so your body is not able to stop producing the hormone HCG which causes tumors all over the body. The tumor took over the fetus; so there was no baby. When they did an ultrasound, it was just a huge abnormal tumor. They had to give me a D&C. This was in 2002.
I was trying to have a child so I waited, and I did chemotherapy injections for six months and I waited and I felt really sick but I really wanted to have a child. So when they told me it was okay to try to conceive again, I did. I was really scared at first because I thought it might be a molar pregnancy again, but it wasn’t.
I got pregnant again. They confirmed that this was actually a child and everything looked good and I had my healthy daughter.
About six months later, things just started happening abnormally. The doctors wanted to put me on all kinds of prescription drugs, so I followed their advice and went on them, and I just felt so horrible, that finally, when my baby was six months old, I had a brain hemorrhage (stroke) from a tumor that was pressing on my spine. I was rushed to the hospital.
At that time, my prognosis was really horrible. They did brain surgery. They found tumors elsewhere in my body. I wasn’t responding well to the surgeries. And I was already so far in… the tumors had advanced so much in my body that they thought they would have to give me radiation.
I don’t remember what stage cancer it was but I know my prognosis was really poor at that time because it was a different kind of cancer. It was called Trophoblastic disease, which is very similar to cancer and is treated the same because the cells are abnormal and they multiply.
I had tumors in my stomach, in my brain, and in my lungs. They had not metastasized into my blood stream yet. They did radiation on my head – two treatments. And I was a little bit more responsive, I guess, but I was kind of out of it. I was in the hospital for a while.
This whole ordeal lasted two years during which I was in and out of the hospital. All they could do was take parts out of me. I remember when they gave me a hysterectomy, which was really sad to me. As soon as they removed it, they found there was nothing in it. No cancer. So it was kind of uncalled for.
Then they did a lung surgery on me. They said that when they got into the lung to remove what they thought was a living tumor, they found that it was dead. But at that time I had gotten to a point where I thought there was nothing they could do and I felt out of control. I felt that if I want to take control of my life, I’ve got to participate in this somehow. I can’t just go to the doctor and let him tell me what my fate is, pretty much.
And so I started looking around. All the tumors in my body had been removed and none were malignant. I don’t believe there were any biopsy options to find out if the tumors were malignant, before they did the surgeries. They had done scans, and seen the growths. That was the protocol.
This was in 2005. At that point, someone had given me a gift of going, in Santa Fe, to a macrobiotic lesson. So I went to the lesson; it was expensive but this person had paid, and I attribute that to saving my life because that put me on a totally different track. As soon as I talked to that lady, she gave me advice on how to eat, and I changed my whole diet. I became mostly Vegan and started drinking soup, for breakfast! I was trying to alkalize my system and that just started taking over my whole outlook on this disease.
I started being less afraid. It was as if I started being more enlightened. I started feeling like there was power when I prepared my meals. I felt like I was doing something important, giving myself medicine through food. After the surgeries, I still had cancer. After they did the lung surgery, they kept taking blood samples weekly and they said that there were still low levels – that they weren’t going away, it was some kind of number they were doing.
I remember the last time I saw the doctor. I took my little girl, she was two at the time; I took her with me to the appointment. She was kind of used to going into my appointments with me. So the last thing my doctor said to me was I would probably live the rest of my life on chemotherapy. At that point I was kind of numb to the whole system and I just said, “Okay, have a great day,” and I walked out and did not return.
Instead I went to Chinese Southwest School of Acupuncture and I told them what was going on. I felt like I was a walking zombie at that time. I was bald from the chemo; I was skinny, I was pale. I did not really feel like a human. I was eating macrobiotics, which was enlightening me and returning my sense of empowerment, and the food had begun to heal me slowly but it wasn’t able to cancel out all the negative effects of the Western medicine I was still doing, which was dragging me down so much.
The first thing that they asked me in Chinese medicine was how my emotions were. I was perplexed. I thought, “What? You actually care about how I feel?” “Wow. Somebody cares about how I feel about this.” And so they interviewed me about my emotions too, which made me more aware of things that I was feeling about it.
I went in as a patient. At that point, I didn’t know where else to turn. I had been led to the macrobiotics, which I continued doing, but I knew that my case needed more.
At that point I went into Acupuncture and right away they were so great… This was Southwest College of Acupuncture in Albuquerque. They gave cancer patients a discount. That’s how I could afford it at that time. They actually put me in the student clinic and used me as a teaching model. They gave me acupuncture, sometimes up to three times a week. They put me on a Chinese diet: at that time it was slightly like macrobiotics, guided by what foods are in season and grow in your climate area, and you’re going by tongue diagnosis. If you’re running cold, or if your spleen is damp, stuff like that would indicate your challenges. And they would give me foods that matched the environment of my body to balance me. That’s what it was all about: balancing.
They didn’t actually come to my house and teach me to cook, but the instructors sometimes would give me recipes such as making congi for breakfast, which is rice gruel, and umeboshi plum and miso soup. They also put me on herbs that I would make myself, I would brew them in boiling water – they were loose herbs and I can’t believe how much that helped me to just start coming back to life and regaining my strength, so much so that I turned to many other kinds of different alternative medicines.
I started doing Wheatgrass… I just started exploring how amazing the field of alternative medicine was and I was like, “Wow, I’m not at a dead end stop here.”
At that time I decided to try hypnotherapy and I also had Reiki. These modalities deal with the emotional and mental/psychological aspects, which at the time I didn’t know were even incorporated with the physical being. Over the process of the illness, by the end, I realized the mental and emotional strongly affect the physical body. They are all just part of the same human structure and we need to work on each aspect of ourselves if we want to retain and gain our health on every level.
At that time I hadn’t yet heard about colonics. I have since. I use that procedure too. At that time, I drank straight Wheatgrass shots; I didn’t do implants or anything like that. I had gotten ahold of Ann Wigmore’s book. Her protocol for healing cancer conflicted somewhat with my Chinese diet and that was confusing for me, but then I just felt that I had to use my intuition because my intuition had grown so much from listening to my body. And what I actually needed was just so strengthened, it’s like it just came alive, I gave it some kind of life by listening to it like I did.
The Raw Foods protocol and the Chinese diet were conflicting in some ways, so at that time I just felt like it was better for me to practice more of the Chinese diet; having the steamed food, because I felt like I was running cold, and I actually needed the warmth at that time.
But I did use the Rejuvelac recipe/remedy, which is from Ann Wigmore. It’s wheat berries that have been fermented. It’s very alkalizing. You soak them in water and let them ferment. It’s like when you sprout but you let them stay in the water instead of changing it daily, and you drink the water because it’s full of alkalizing substances that are good for your blood. I drank a glass full every day. My mom was making it; my family had become involved in helping me. It nourished me. Alkalizing makes your gut able to absorb the nutrients of the foods you’re eating. If we are too acidic, we can’t absorb, no matter how many vitamins we take, no matter what we eat, it goes right through us and we don’t absorb the nutrition.
This brings me back to colonics. I was originally led to colonics by going to the New Mexico School of Natural Therapeutics where they have a program to certify colon hydrotherapists and I decided to give them a try.
The first time I had a colonic, it was such a profound experience for me; I would say it changed my whole outlook on it. Not only did it totally clear my intestines out, but I felt lighter in my body, and in my mind. I felt like it pulled out toxicities from my thinking patterns and I felt like I was on a high for at least a day after I got my first colonic just from the removal of toxins. I felt totally different.
The teacher and the students gave me the colonics over the course of their training. I received 3-4 colonics within a few days. It was intense. I had some concerns because I had heard a lot of fear from people saying colonics remove all the beneficial flora and fauna, but the colonic felt really good to me, and they told me there were easily ways to replenish those bacteria. You can do it with your food. You can do it with fermented sauerkraut, with miso soup, (although that has sodium), you can do it with fermented kimchee, and vegetables, and kombucha, kefir. They all have living probiotics and that’s what you need.
At that time, what they explained to me was that it is possible I might need to replenish quite a lot; that I might need to go and get additional probiotic supplements because of how sick I had been. So what I did was I got something called Inner Echo, which has a large amount of probiotics, and it’s the coconut water-base, and I felt fine and I did that. There were no symptoms from it, other than it cleared out my gut so well that I feel it started clearing out other things from other areas of my body as well.
I actually did not go through the colonic therapist training, but I let them practice on me. I became a massage therapist and I prescribe colonics to my clients often when they have issues with chronic illnesses. I really feel a lot of disease can reproduce pretty fast in the gut and I think colonics are a good start for detox processes. Now I know modalities such as colonics are able to help with mental states as well as the physical – healing the entire human.
The class was in 2011 and now, regularly I can feel when I need a colonic and I do try to do one every season. I was a little bit unsure at first of what was going to happen, exactly. But I was curious, and I wasn’t scared because I had heard so much good stuff about it from others. And when I had the colonic, I was so impressed. It’s very private and intimate. You enter into a trust relationship with the therapist. It’s just so healing and there was nothing in it that made me feel hesitant or nervous, it was just second nature, it was a regular, routine kind of thing. You just have to get past some of those obstacles in your own mind that you might hear out in society about it. You just have to give it a try and see the benefits of it. They clearly outweigh any negativity.
I didn’t continue to get diagnostic testing done once I left the Western Medicine path. I think I developed White Coat syndrome from all my experiences with doctors. I got a fear of being poked and prodded and told scary, bad things that I had no control over. I’m not condemning Western Medicine because I feel, in a way, they saved my life, but also feel that if alternative medicine and preventive measures were more accessible and affordable, I don’t think that this (removal of my womb) would have happened.
Once you learn to follow your intuition and you feel your own voice, it’s just so powerful and enlightening. You feel so empowered, there’s really nothing more fulfilling than having that. It’s a wholesome feeling in your life. If society perhaps helped people find that in themselves, that they do have control of their health, and their emotions, greatly of their wellbeing and their health and they’re not under the control of any one institution or person, that they actually have many, many options, I don’t believe I would have gone as far (or gotten as sick) as I did with Western Medicine.
I really feel like I polluted my body. I had things taken out of my body. It felt like I was just another number to them. I didn’t feel like I was human to a lot of them. Some of them were really great, I will admit. Some of the nurses especially, it was awesome. They really did a great job of trying to help me, and they were so good-natured and caring. But it was the approach to the disease that was objectifying. I felt like I was on an assembly line doing routine things, going down to surgery and some of them not even necessary. My emotions, my individuality didn’t even come into play anymore. When I learned in Chinese medicine, “Wow, everybody is different, what’s going on in everybody’s body can be alkalized or balanced, it’s kind of like a scale, you have to find out what’s going on in your own body.”
Today, Scarlett has a thriving massage therapy practice in Albuquerque and is living a healthy life.